Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Lady of Bolton Hill - Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden is Bethany House's new, talented author. After reading "The Lady of Bolton Hill," I just hope she can write as fast as I can read! This book boasts an intricate plot, excellent detail about life in the late 1800's including business practices and the opium drug trade.
On Elizabeth's website, she writes that her novels "have a brisk pace, plenty of intrigue, romance, and fiercely intelligent characters..." All of this is true. The book was moving fast from the very beginning, the romance felt genuine, the struggles of the characters were realistic, and the mystery tied all parts of the plot together.
Let me say once more -- I'm really looking forward to the next novel. If my hunch is correct, and I hope it is, then the next main character will be Alexander Banebridge. If this isn't the plan, then I sincerely request it. There's so much potential there for a good story, that I hope Elizabeth doesn't feel overwhelmed by it and choose to focus on someone else.
Now for the suggestions. I have only one suggestion for this most excellent book. Toward the end when the mystery is solved, the criminal mind behind it all surprised me. I love surprises (in books!), but when the villain is revealed and I either haven't heard the name before or have heard of it just a couple times, I am slightly disappointed. I prefer to be given a few clues throughout the book so that I can narrow down the suspects and find out if I am correct toward the end. In this case, I feel that it was impossible to have a fair chance to solve the mystery.
That said, Bethany House is lucky to have Elizabeth Camden! I will definitely keep posted about new books from her. I hope to see several published soon! Elizabeth, please don't take three years to give us another one!
This book was a gift from the publisher in exchange for a non-biased review.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

When God Created My Toes - Dandi Daley Mackall

"When God Created My Toes"
is an adorably written children's book about questions a child may ask regarding the moment God created them. The wording rhymes, which makes the book fun to read. The girls (my children, ages 6, 4, 2, and 1) all loved Dandi Daley Mackall's book, and I have no doubt that they will request it many, many more times. The cover was well done, and the quality of the book itself was excellent. This would make a perfect birthday present, especially since the book celebrates the creation of "me"!
I have two recommendations. My first recommendation is that a fun, upbeat story such as this get equally fun illustrations. I'm not recommending a different illustrator, because David Hohn is very talented. I'm recommending that the colors used be brighter, less drab colors. Currently, the colors set the stage for a more serious, melodramatic storyline. They didn't seem to flow with the author's goal of sharing the enthusiasm of a child discovering that God made every part of them.
My second recommendation is to the author. As a parent, I saw several opportunities to spark conversation with my children about God being our Creator. This can be an awkward thing for a parent to do, and for those of us who are teacher-challenged, discussion questions at the end of the book would be very helpful. My kids were enraptured with the story, and if there were prompts the book would have become a tool to spark meaningful conversation about God in addition to being a source of entertainment.