Book Review: **Win a FREE Copy**

Title: Here Burns My Candle

Author: Liz Curtis Higgs

Publisher’s Synopsis: A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Historical fiction has never been my favorite genre, but I do like Liz Curtis Higgs and I am always interested in the Scots and Scotland (it’s that heritage thing).  Furthermore, I am a huge fan of Bonnie Prince Charlie!  So, I was eager to read this book.  However, I was really busy this week with the whole finishing up Aggie fiasco and felt pulled.  So, my friend Christy (who loves historical fiction and Liz Curtis Higgs– we’re identical opposites that way) volunteered to read it for me and give me her .02.

Pros:  The book is marvelously well-researched.  Full of rich details regarding life, clothing, mannerisms, and of course, my favorite… DRESS, the reader will not be disappointed with the setting of this book at all.  Next, and possibly more importantly, the characters are well-developed.  There is nothing more frustrating than reading a book about a character you don’t feel you “know” when you think you should (This is, of course, not applicable to characters that are supposed to be a bit ambiguous or unreachable for whatever reason the author deems necessary).  In Here Burns My Candle, you love the characters you’re supposed to love, and despise the ones who deserve it.  I love that in a book.

One scene in particular is excellent.  The dragoons (king’s men) arrive just as the Elisabeth is helping wounded Jacobites– excellent scene.

Cons:  The book is slow.  This is one drawback for most historical fiction for me.  You have to spend so much time setting the scene and making the reader familiar with the surroundings that you lose their interest.  I wonder why fantasy isn’t that way more often (I’ve seen it, but not as often).  I mean, with that you’re also setting a scene.  Perhaps historical fiction writers could learn something from fantasy writers.  I wonder.  Anyway, it takes a good hundred and fifty pages for it to develop into anything significantly interesting.  That’s a little blechy .  Even then, once the plot is interesting, it is still somewhat slow because most of the action takes place away from the main character.

So, if you’re into action-packed books that you soar through before you know it, the book might not be for you.  Race car readers are likely to be frustrated.  However, if you like to walk your books, take your time, enjoy the scenery, pause and reflect before moving onto the next scene… Here Burns My Candle might be the perfect book for you.

I want to thank Water Brook for providing this copy for review and for the give away copy!  Yes indeedy, there’s one to be had.  Just post a comment and let me know how much you know about Bonnie Prince Charlie and you might just win one for your home library!

Book Review: Deep Harbor ** Win Copy**

Title: Deep Harbor

Series: Northern Lights Series

Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

Publisher’s Synopsis: As they build new lives in America, Tora, Elsa, Kaatje, and Karl each experience a personal tragedy that threatens to destroy everything they left Norway to find. Tora’s web of lies has cost her a successful future with the man she loves. When tragedy strikes, Elsa must draw upon her faith and the strength she can muster to discover who she is and the path she must follow. After her husband’s disappearance, Kaatje struggles to raise two young daughters and tend her farm, and Karl finds himself caught in a life of loneliness and emptiness. Only by placing their trust in God—and in each other—will they pass through these rough waters and find the safety of the harbor.

From the richly forested banks of the Washington Territory to the burgeoning city of Yokohama and across the turbulent, danger-filled waves of the open sea—experience the epic saga of perseverance, pain, faith, and calling in the Northern Lights series.

Well, I confess.  I didn’t think I was going to like reviewing this book when I discovered it is the sequel to the book The Captain’s Bride, but fortunately, and unlike me, Ms. Bergren knows how to write a continuing story that can stand alone.  I was suitable captivated by the Norwegian women.  After all, if they were real, they could have been my children’s ancestors.

While Historical Fiction is not my favorite genre, Ms. Bergren did an excellent job creating a tale that grabbed and then held my interest.  I love her flawed but endearing characters.  Too often, authors seem to give their characters token faults, but these women, as admirable as they are, had serious character flaws that made them believable and helped the reader grow sympathetic.

There were a couple of minor historical errors… I THINK… I haven’t looked them up so I won’t say what, but they were minor and honestly, if I didn’t have parents that were closet etymologists, I doubt I would have noticed one of them.  So, I really don’t have much complaint at all with the book, but I can recommend it and do.  I think one of the nicest things about this book is the ability to disappear into a different place and part of history.  Instead of Victorian England or  the American Prairies, this book takes you onto the open sea with people from a place not often found in Christian fiction– Norway.

I want to thank Waterbrook for providing this copy for review.  I would also like to share the bounty and offer a chance for someone else to enjoy it!  So to enter, simply post a comment and tell me what part of history or place in history you’ve never read fiction about and would like to OR that is where/when your favorite book is situated.

Promise for Breanna- Drawing Winner!!!

Ok!  And the winner is….

LINDA!!!  YEEEEEEEHAW!

I’ll be zipping that across the ocean this week unless you’d rather I wait for an Argosy for you?  (Or, if my proof copy is a good one tomorrow, I could pop that in for you)

Just let me know.  I aim to please.  This is exciting.  I’m getting books outta my house and into readers’ hands!  This is the goal.

Holly, your’s will be going out this week too!

Book Review: A Gathering of Finches *WIN COPY*

Title: A Gathering of Finches

Author: Jane Kirkpatrick

Publisher’s Synopsis: Based on historical characters and events, A Gathering of Finches tells the story of a turn-of-the-century Oregon coastal couple and the consequences of their choices, as seen through the eyes of the wife, her sister, and her Indian maid. Along the way, the reader will discover reasons to trust that money and possessions can’t buy happiness or forgiveness, nor permit us to escape the consequences of our choices. The story emphasizes the message that real meaning is found in the relationships we nurture and in living our lives in obedience to God.

Wow.  Where do I begin.  I didn’t know how I’d like the book when it arrived.  It looked interesting, but because of the unusual beginning, I expected to love or hate it.  Instead, I developed a love/hate relationship with the main character Cassie.  She has all of the spunk and vivacity of an amazing main character, and yet she’s stubborn, irascible, and so very lost– seeking that which will never fulfil her.  I found myself wanting to scream at her in nearly every chapter, “You’re making your own misery, woman!”

The most amazing part of this story is that it is a fictionalized true story.  Cassie Stearns Simpson was a real woman.  This larger-than-life character was real and did many of the very things written about in this book.  I found it difficult to read the story and I’ll give away the book if I’m not careful.  Suffice it to say, she made many terrible and selfish choices that affected her life until the day she died.  Her life was dedicated to “doing her own thing” and without the help or sanction of the Lord.

The author leaves us with the impression that near the end of her life she finally surrendered to the Lord (the book is kind of a fictionalized biography so it starts at the birth of her adulthood and carries you through to her death).  I like how the author was careful to leave it as an impression and a hope rather than tell the reader what they might want to hear or leave us with the despair of a life wasted. She balanced Christian hope with probability and left us trusting that the Lord alone knows and He cares far more than we ever could.

It wasn’t an easy read.  It wasn’t a happy story, and yet it wasn’t morose.  It was real.  In this age of an almost insatiable thirst for realness… reality… this book gives it all with a healthy reminder that just because something is real, doesn’t mean it is right.

I never thought I’d read a book that so thoroughly dealt with the topics depicted in this story and not feel sullied or tainted by them, but Mrs. Kirkpatrick managed to do it with a sincerity that only an excellent writer can manage.  Five stars on this one.  I can’t recommend it enough, however,  if you’re looking for fluff… keep on looking.

Giving this book away.  I have drawings to do and ship for already so I’m making this one short.  You’ve got until 9:00 p.m. PST Sunday so that I can ship everything waiting to go out on Monday.