Friday, May 13, 2011

Mine is the Night - Liz Curtis Higgs

After finishing "Here Burns My Candle" I couldn't rest until I read "Mine is the Night." As I read, the story kept getting better. I worried that there would be a book three that hasn't surfaced yet, and that I wouldn't get closure until next year. However, this book completes the duo.
Let's recap. These two novels comprise a rendition of the book of Ruth, with the setting being in Scotland in the eighteenth century. I reviewed the first book of this duo about a month ago. It was historically detailed and the emotions were right on. Although there were opportunities to show more grief the author kept it from becoming too melancholy. Let me just tell you, the first book was good, but the second book is so much better. "Mine is the Night" is when the story really gets moving.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this duo. However, if you have a bit of ADHD and you choose to skip straight to book 2, here are my comments. As I read I noted that -- technically -- you will not be left out of the loop if you do skip straight to book 2. The author did an excellent job of presenting all the facts to you in the second book so that if you did happen to miss the first one, you will still fully enjoy the second. That said, I do recommend reading "Here Burns My Candle." Even though it moves a little slower, there's a lot of fun information in there and you'll enjoy the second book even more if you've read the first. Some minor characters make a reappearance, and their backstory adds a nice depth. Again, it's not technically necessary, but it will add immensely to your enjoyment. Specifically, I can't see reading the second book with the same perspective if I hadn't already gotten to know Lord Mark Kerr and Rob MacPherson.
Overall, excellent. Five stars.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Larkspur Cove - Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate is a veteran novelist who has released somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-15 Christian fiction books for women. "Larkspur Cove" can be read as a stand-alone novel. However, it is the first in a series and the second book will be released July 5, 2011. There is a wide variety of books available from this author. She has written several contemporary novels ranging from the fun and superficial (i.e. "Talk of the Town") to the serious and melancholy. "Larkspur Cove" lands on the serious side of the scale.
The book hops back and forth equally between the viewpoints of Andrea, a new divorcee, and Mart, an eligible game warden. Andrea's character is 38 and struggling to recover from her divorce from a philanderer ex-husband. She has a troubled junior-high student and juggles a new job as a Social Services aid. Mart is working through his own issues related to the death of his brother and nephew that took place three years ago. Both characters are flawed emotionally, and the story is about their journey to emotional and spiritual freedom with light romantic overtones and mystery.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give this book a 3.5 star. My reasoning is this: the emotions of the characters are deep, the plot is well thought out, but the mystery falls flat throughout the book until the last few chapters when it really becomes a page turner. Until then, reading the story made me feel a little depressed, as though I was taking on the emotional drama and burdens of a friend. Although it ends on a nice note, I wouldn't classify this one as a "feel good" book. I do want to give Lisa props for her description of the game warden; although she kept it safely conservative, the job description and character development of this hero/man's man was hot.
This book was a gift from the publisher in exchange for my free and unbiased opinion.