Thursday, June 28, 2012

Glamorous Illusions - Lisa T. Bergren

"Glamorous Illusions" is a women's Christian historical fiction novel written by Lisa Bergren, known famously for her Little Cub children's books.  You might recognizer her name from such books as "God Gave Us You," "God Gave Us Two," "God Gave Us Love," and many more.
This novel centers around Cora Diehl, who learns that the father she has known her entire life adopted her, and that she is actually the illegitimate daughter of a well-known copper king.  I genuinely enjoyed the characters in the book, and very much appreciate the author creating flaws within the characters to emphasize their humanness.  Lisa did a fantastic job with every character.  
Cora is transported to a small town where she meets her half-siblings and joins them on a Grand Tour of Europe.  I consider this a strong start to the novel.  There is a lot of potential for plot, but I thought we spent quite a bit reading time focusing on the changing setting.  
After reading "Glamorous Illusions," I can tell that children's books are her sweet spot.  The story line was lacking in interest, and the excitement at the end (in my opinion) should have been drawn out longer.  The deal-breaker for me was the ending.  I had no more told my husband "The book just got good!" and within a couple minutes it was over.  I couldn't believe it!  It was as if the back pages were missing. (In a traditional book you know the ending is coming, because you notice only a few pages left.  I was using an e-reader, and had lost track of where in the book I was picking up from.  I didn't realize I was nearing the end until it was over.)
My recommendation is to write in more dialogue between characters and start the excitement much earlier in the book.  The ending did not resolve, and I was left completely hanging.  Even pieces of a series should provide a sense resolution when you finish the novel.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough suspense to tempt me to read the second book in the series.
I believe this author is exceptionally talented and has a lot to offer the world of Christian fiction.  Because of this, I look forward to seeing some changes in future novels.  Lisa T. Bergren will continue to have our business, since we adore her children's books.  I highly recommend them to every family.
This was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Stubborn Heart - Becky Wade

Bethany House is branching out, and I'm so happy to see it!  Considering Bethany House's undefeated streak with their historical novels, I was eager to try this contemporary novel.  I wasn't disappointed.  You'll feel its newness when you read things like "I'm holding out for Prince Harry."  There are parts that are serious, but mostly this is a light, fun romance novel with believable characters facing today's issues.  
The plot centers around thirty-one year old Kate, disappointed (but resigned) to her singleness and athletic Matt Jarreau, an ex-professional hockey player with tragedy in his past.  When her grandma hires him to remodel their historical house in Pennsylvania, a this-could-maybe-happen-to-me romance ensues.
The author didn't overdo it with too many characters.  In fact, the majority of the time you spend reading dialogue between the two main characters.  This makes for fast, easy reading that keeps you hooked.  My attention span never wandered.  I was so addicted to this book I read it straight through in one day.  Thank goodness I started it on the morning of my day off, or I would have had to go through withdrawal to put it down for work!
My only criticism for the author is directed toward the end in chapters twenty and twenty-one.  I didn't feel like the crisis was necessary.  Okay, a crisis was necessary for the plot to dip and rise like it should, but this particular crisis didn't feel justified from the characters' perspectives.  I think a juicy secret one person had deliberately kept from the other person might have justified it, though.  Certainly food for thought.
That said, I adored the author's writing and can't wait to see more from her.  In fact, I had to search Amazon just to see if there were any others released yet.  Sadly, no.  Thank you, Becky Wade, for one of the most enjoyable novels I've read all year!  Please don't make us wait too long for the next one!
This book was a gift from the publisher in exchange for my objective opinion.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Rose of Winslow Street - Elizabeth Camden

I recently read "The Lady of Bolton Hill" by Elizabeth Camden and gave it the highest possible rating online.  So, naturally, when I saw "The Rose of Winslow Street" also written by Elizabeth Camden, I snatched it up a.s.a.p.!  As I was reading, I noticed this book has something in common with the first Camden book I'd read.  Just when you get the feeling it's over -- WOW -- she brings in more characters and more story.  I love this about her writing!  It seems that with many novels, you can laboriously read the entire book before the plot ever escalates, and when it does the books wraps up summarily.  Not so with Ms. Camden.  She creates a masterpiece that escalates at several different times in the story.  It's very much like reading a trilogy all packed into one book.
This book, "The Rose of Winslow Street," is about a young woman who has a difficult relationship with her father, who she lives with.  While they are gone on a summer vacation, a Romanian and his family move into their beautiful home and claim ownership.  Since notice was never served to the Romanians, and the former owner had left it to him in his will, the gentleman feels the house is his fair and square.  A court case ensues... and so does a romance between the two main characters!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I am absolutely looking forward to Elizabeth Camden's next book "Against the Tide," due to be released in October 2012.  Pre-order?  YES!