Showing posts with label Adult Christian Realistic Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adult Christian Realistic Fiction. Show all posts

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Water’s Edge by Jane Riddell

Publisher: ThornBerry Publishing (UK)
Pages: 273
Source: I received a review copy in exchange for my honest review
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Fiction

From Goodreads:
When Madalena invites her four children to Switzerland for a family gathering, she isn’t prepared for the excess baggage of their lives they bring along – secrets they are compelled to keep and those that must be divulged; the compromises they make, and, ultimately, what can and can't be resolved – for Madalena, too, has things about her past that she would prefer not to reveal.

Set against a backdrop of mountains and lakes, Water's Edge is a tapestry of love, lies and family

My Thoughts:
This is more than just a great story.  It is a story that makes us look at our relationships with our own family members.  In this story we have Madalena who owns a lake resort in Switzerland. She is wanting to pass the business on to one of her children and retire.  She invites them up for a celebration of their 40th year in business.  She has three daughters and one son. 

Portia is a divorced lawyer with a rebellious daughter.  Her daughter unexpectedly ends up at the reunion because she is kicked out of boarding school.
Vienne is a famous concert pianist.  All of her fame doesn’t make her happy  because she isn’t sure if her husband really loves her.  There are definitely some issues between Portia and Vienne.
Annie is part owner of a cafĂ©. She is a chef.  She is having personal relationship issues.
Lawrence is the only son and is a journalist. 
All three of the girls live in the UK, Lawrence lives in Scotland.  They all go back to Switzerland, but not without bringing their issues with them.  Not only do we learn about their issues, but we learn that some of their underlying problems go as far back as to when they were younger and sent to boarding school.  Add to this the fact that their mother has always felt guilty about sending them off to boarding school and you have the setup of a lot of drama. 

Some of the issues get resolved and some of them don’t.  Anyone reading this book will be able to find themselves in one of the characters or situations.   The author does a great job of bringing us along to Switzerland.  The reader feels like they are there.  This is a book I would definitely recommend to other adults.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Multiple Reviews: Random Souls, Scored, The Goodbye Man

It is my hope and desire that I can read and post 2 - 3 book reviews throughout my winter break.  My family has given me the gift of quiet.  They are leaving me alone to do what I love best.  Read and write.  So here are three more books that I have read and reviewed. As you can see, I am a very eclectic reader.

Random Souls - Deanna Rutledge
Publisher:  WestBow Press
Pages:  320
Source:  Review copy from author
Genre:  Adult, Christian, Realistic Fiction

In This Day and Age, it is not uncommon to turn on the television and find a scandal involving a church or members of its staff.  So it is with "Random Souls".  Aloha Community church is no stranger to scandal.  This tends to make the congregation stay alert.  Then we have Miss Lottie.  She seems to always be on the lookout for the negative or evil that may or may not exist.  She isn't content to look for trouble, she gossips about what she "thinks" is happening.  When Pastor Jason makes a mistake in the way he handled a situation with a woman he was counseling, Lottie sees it, puts her own spin on it and then her tongue goes to wagging.  God uses Pastor Jason and the events that threaten to destroy this church to actually begin the healing process.  Lives are changed because God shows that love conquers all.  Love for fellow man and church.  This was a wonderfully written book.  It demonstrates how rumors can ruin a church.    I whole-heartedly recommend this book.

Scored – Lauren McLaughlin
Publisher:  Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages:  240
Source:  I received a copy from The Picnic Basket for review
Genre:  YA, Dystopian

From Goodreads:
Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily foreseeable future.

My Thoughts:
As a teacher, I’m always trying to get my students to work hard.  We all know that the state test scores determine so much for a student.  It looks like someone finally wondered what it would be like if we went to the extreme and came up with this awesome book.  Imagine a world where you are continuously watched and judged.  Imani is a teenager who has bought into the whole ScoreCorp garbage.  Why?  She has a high score.  Everything affects your scores,  who you are friends with, who you date, who you work with or help in school.  There is no privacy.   Step out of line and you could ruin your whole life.  Of course, isn’t it funny that ScoreCorp is the one in control?  Only the rich can afford to go to college.  If you want a chance then your parents must agree to have you scored.  Imani’s score drops.  She is paired with Diego to complete a project.  Diego doesn’t have a score because his family is filthy rich.  This pairing up opens Imani’s eyes to many things that are going on around her.

I have to say this would be a wonderful book to read together in class.  The debates that could occur would be great.  I could see picking an issue from the book and using Socratic circles to discuss those issues.  I guess I see it this way because I am a teacher and we see so much pressure put on teachers and students about test scores.  I think this is a book that parents, teachers and students will enjoy.
I hope there is more from this author on this topic.  If not I look forward to reading more of her work.

The Goodbye Man – Chad Barton
Publisher:  AuthorHouse
Pages:  220
Source:  I received a review copy from his publicist
Genre:  Adult Thriller

From Amazon:
As more people filled the packed church, Jack was forced to move down the wall toward the front, until he was very near the altar. From that vantage point, he could see the young mother's face. He found himself staring at her, unable to look away. He didn't know why. Perhaps it was the terrible sadness in her face. He watched her intently as she clutched a little brown teddy bear and a picture of her daughter, who now lay only feet away in a small casket. The size of it made him wince. Jack felt the anger rise within him At sixty years old, Jack Steele has long since retired from putting criminals-especially those that hurt children-in prison. Following his retirement from law enforcement, he built a successful multimillion-dollar company, allowing him financial freedom in his golden years. Following the unexpected loss of his wife, Sarah, however, he withdraws into himself. He becomes a loner whose only companion is his German shepherd, Sadie. Sick of a court system that lets monsters out of prison to torture and kill again and again, he decides there is only one way to stop them. Using his own resources, his credentials as a retired police officer, and his .380 Walther, he and his dog begin to hunt-bringing justice to those whom the system cannot control. After all, enough is enough.

My Thoughts:
The Goodbye Man is one of those books that makes you think about heinous crimes and vigilantes.  As I read about Jack Steele who takes justice into his own hands I thought back to all of the Charles Bronson movies I watched when I was younger.  I understood why he exacted justice, yet I did not completely agree with it.  If we let vigilantes rule the world we go back to the beginnings of the Old West days when people exacted their own justice. In the book, I understood the Jack’s feelings.  Let me give you a personal example. 

I graduated with a young man who was nice looking, extremely polite, expected to marry his high school sweetheart and become a success.  He did all of that.  His wife, also a girl I graduated with was best friends with a family with whom I attended church.  This young couple often babysat the niece of this family.  When this man’s marriage began to fail, his wife temporarily moved in with her friends.  Out of anger and revenge toward his wife, he picked the young girl he had babysat up on her way home from school.  No problem for her, no fear, she had been picked up by him before.  This six foot two, 280-pound man raped, murdered and cut up the body of this sweet little seven year old.  I was devastated when she went missing as we had lost a young girl who lived at the end of our street the year before. They hunted for her.  The parents who were in the Bahamas trying to reconcile their own marriage flew back.  A month later hunters found the girls body.  When the young man was convicted, I danced around the room.  We had the electric chair at that time and I watched for years as he sat on death row waiting his turn.  When it finally came, I was glued to the TV because I wanted to know it was over.  The funny thing is, I was not thrilled like I figured I would be.  My heart ached because another family had lost a child.  True it was due to  his own fault.  The young girl’s family had met with this young man on several occasions and let him know that they forgave him.  They were vilified for doing such a thing.  As a Christian, I understood why they did so, and understood why I felt so bad about my own feelings.  Do I believe in capital punishment?  You bet I do.  However, I have known of several cases where people were wrongfully convicted, served time and released and then the courts system comes back and says, “Oh yeah, we found the guilty party but didn’t have enough evidence at the time and someone had to pay.”  That was a true story.  That person’s life was ruined.  His reputation was ruined.  It didn’t matter what the law said, because they had been convicted, so there had to have been some element of truth to the matter.  On the other hand, I have seen people go free on technicalities or lack of good evidence only to repeat the same offence.  We all want to see justice done.

Now that I’ve gotten off my high horse let me finish my review.  The characters were well fleshed out and it was an on the edge of your seat read for me.  It kept emotions flowing throughout.   I did enjoy it for that very reason.  I enjoyed it because I know the difference between fiction and reality.  I can justify reading something like this because we all feel like Jack Steele at times.  It gives us an out for those feelings.  Would I recommend this book?  You had better believe it.  If I didn’t like crime novels like this, I wouldn’t read them in the first place.  This was a very good book and I will definitely read anything else this author writes.  I highly recommended it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky

Publisher:  Waterbrook Multnomah
Pages:  338
Source:  This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. All opinions expressed int his review are my own.
Genre:  Adult, Christian Fiction

If you wish to purchase this book please go to Amazon or Multnomah to purchase your copy

Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of paper, scribbled with her regrets, sins, and sorrows. But that’s nobody else’s business. Her bookstore/coffee shop patrons, her employees, her friends from church—they all think she’s the very model of compassion and kindness.

Then Marnie’s past creeps into her present when her estranged sister dies and makes Marnie guardian of her fifteen-year-old son—a boy Marnie never knew existed. And when Emmit arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome—and that she’s woefully unprepared to care for him. What’s worse, she has to deal with Taylor Cole, her sister’s attorney, a man Marnie once loved—and abandoned. As Emmit (and Taylor) work their way into her heart, Marnie begins to heal. But when pieces of her dismal past surface again, she must at last face the scripts of paper in her box, all the regrets and sorrows. Can she do it? Or will she run again?

Author Bio
Marlo Schalesky is the author of several books, including Beyond the Night and Empty Womb, Aching Heart. A graduate of Stanford University , Marlo also has a masters of theology with an emphasis in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. Married over twenty years, she lives with her husband, Bryan, and their five children in California .
My Review:
I am so glad that I was allowed to review this book.  Marnie has had so many problems in her past that are now affecting her future.  She has never really felt worthy of love.  That comes out all through this book.  How many times do we feel like we don't deserve to be happy, or loved?  At an early age Marnie runs away and ends up owning a coffee/book store.  She has broken all ties with those in her past, including her only sister.    Marnie's past comes back to haunt her when she receives a letter from the man she loves but ran away from.  She is informed that she is to become the guardian of Emmit her sister's son after her sister was killed in an accident.  Taylor the lawyer has grown to love Emmit and it tears him up to send Emmit out to Marnie.  It means they both must face their past.  Marnie has dealt with her past by keeping reminders of her mistakes in a box.  When Emmit, a downs-syndrome boy arrives he finds the box.  As he slowly picks the pieces out he teaches Marnie to face her past and learn to love.  The great thing about this book was just when you thought you had it all figured out there is another boy thrown in the mix.  Who is the real Emmit and why has all of this happened.  I loved this book and can't wait to recommend it to all of my friends.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh

Publisher: Multnomah, 2009
Pages: 370
ISBN: 978-1-60142-166-1
Source: Publisher's review copy

This book can be purchased from Random House

What is forgiveness? If someone has hurt you and you say you forgive them and then go to great lengths to avoid them, have you truly forgiven them?

Piper Wicks is faced with this very dilemma. It has been twelve years since she and her mother left Pickwick and all of their backstabbing relatives behind. They never treated her or her mother as if they were really a part of the family. She seems to live by the scripture found in Luke 9:5, "If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town as a testimony against them." This is exactly what she has done. She has created a new life for herself. She has dropped the "Pick" part of her last name. She is a partner in a PR firm. She has a client who has recently talked about them becoming "engaged to be engaged". Of course as a Senator he must wait until the timing is right. The more successful she becomes the more she keeps telling herself that her walk with God is still okay.

Piper's past comes back to haunt her when she receives a phone call from her uncle's lawyer. Her services are being sought to change her uncle's mind. He has decided he and his family have wronged enough people of their town. He plans on making things right with them and with God by changing his will. Unfortunately when he changes his will he will set into motion something his relatives don't want, negative publicity. They have all had their problems displayed before the town. They are not all looked upon in a good way. Some of them have actually made changes to their life for the better.

The last thing that Piper wants is to return to the town she left behind. Who is the strange godson who has persuaded her uncle to change his will and what is his agenda? Piper wants to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Things rarely happen the way one wants. Piper wasn't prepared for all of the work she would have to do to help her uncle. She wasn't prepared for the change in her relatives. Most importantly she wasn't prepared for Axel. He seems to have used his relationship with God to help her uncle make some changes. Maggie and Bart also seem to have a closer walk with God. Why is it that everyone keeps trying to tell her what God wants. She knows what he wants. All she has to do is open her Bible to the passages she has highlighted. The funny thing is they all seem to carry the same theme. Is it possible that she has not truly forgiven? Is it possible for her to do so?

This was a wonderful book. I absolutely loved reading it. I felt sorry for Piper being dragged back into a town and a situation she had put behind her twelve years before. I loved the romance part. It was not your typical romance, boy sees girl, boy gets girl immediately. This was more like real life. It had real life problems with real life solutions and the solutions were sometimes messy. I am looking forward to reading Maggie and Devyn's story when it comes out next year.
I was able to relate to Piper. I told myself that I had forgiven someone but just couldn't forget what they had done. I felt no peace because I had not truly forgiven them or tried to find peace. Once I did that we were able to start fresh again. This book is a great read for anyone who likes romance, realistic fiction and stories that portray life as it really is, even if it isn't all pretty.

I am so glad I was given the opportunity to read and review this book.