Monday, November 25, 2013

Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea & Caryn Rivadeneira

Shades Of Mercy [Paperback]

Title: Shades of Mercy: A Maine Chronicle
Authors: Anita Lustrea & Caryn Rivadeneira
Pages: 260
Year: 2013
Publisher: River North
Notes: I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

     This is an incredibly well written novel.

     Mercy Millar works hard to help her father on his potato farm in Watsonville, Maine. She also dreams of someday having him see her as the young woman she is, not as the son he never had. She also dreams of someday being able to move her relationship with her boyfriend Mick out from the shadows. The barrier to their being open about their attraction to each other is that Mick is a Maliseet Indian. There is a huge amount of racial tension between the white people of Watsonville and the Maliseet tribe of Maine’s Northwoods during the summer of 1954. Then suddenly disaster strikes, even though it looks surprisingly like the grace of God.

     I was caught up in this book from the very beginning. I wanted to see how Mercy and Mick would be able to navigate the rocky road of racial strife. I had heard much of the way African Americans had been treated. But I had never really heard about the harsh treatment of Native Americans other than through school history books. This book is an eye opening look at the living conditions that many of them were forced to live in, even as recently as the middle of the 20th century. My heart ached for them as I rooted for them to rise above the conditions and the way they were treated.

     This story is so well crafted and the descriptions are so clear that I can totally see the picture painted by the authors. I would love to see this made into a movie. It definitely deserves 5 stars. I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Miner's Lady (Land of Shining Water #3) by Tracie Peterson

The Miner's Lady [Hardcover]

Title: The Miner’s Lady (Land of Shining Water #3)
Author: Tracie Peterson
Pages: 331
Year: 2013
Publisher: Bethany House
Note: I received a free copy of this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.

     This is a heartwarming look at what trusting God can do.

     Isabella Panetta has fallen in love with Orlando Calarco. She is asking her older sister Chantel to help her sneak away to spend a few minutes with him. The only problem is that the Panettas and the Calarcos have been sworn enemies for decades. As Chantel tries to help Isabella and Orlando have time together she keeps crossing paths with Orlando’s older brother, Dante. As the families deal with the aftermath of finding out about the young couples’ love for each other they find that they also have to deal with a tragedy at the mine that the men all work at in Ely, Minnesota. Is there any hope that the hatred that has simmered between these two families might be resolved?

     Tracie Peterson is an award winning author and therefore it is no surprise that she has written incredible characters that quickly wormed their way into my heart. The story she developed for this book takes a very long and deep look at what unforgiveness can do to people. I was quickly drawn in and found that I needed to see how God was going to work in their lives to bring about changes. It was a very satisfying book and I was taken on quite an emotional journey along with the characters.

     There were a number of the characters that had a strong faith in God from the very beginning. There are others that didn’t see a need for Him. Throughout the book those who trusted God were encouraging the others to either trust Him more or to begin to trust Him.

     I found this to be very encouraging and uplifting to read. Therefore I give it 5 stars and highly recommend it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

Title: Stella Bain
Author: Anita Shreve
Pages: 272
Year: 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Note: I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads, First Reads giveaway in exchange for my honest opinion.

     This is an interesting look at memory loss.

     Stella Bain is an American woman who is found wandering in an exclusive garden in London in 1916. She only has memories going back a few months. Surgeon August Bridge and his wife Lily selflessly take her into their home and try to help her regain her memory.

     The premise of this story is very good. The slow development of the main character as well as the revelations of her past intrigued me.

     The problem that I did struggle with was it was written in the third person. Yet whenever it went into a long period of dialogue it seemed odd to me, like it had an uneven flow to it. I’m not sure if it switched from the third person or not. It just felt awkward.

     I do recommend this book based on the quality of the storyline. Yet I felt that with the distraction from the third person presentation/dialogue issue I can only give it a 4-star ranking.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Return to Me by Lynn Austin

Return To Me (Restoration Chronicles V1) (Oct) [Paperback]

Title: Return to Me (The Restoration Chronicles #1)
Author: Lynn Austin
Pages: 459
Year: 2013
Publisher: Bethany House
Note: I received a free copy of this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

     This is an awesome Biblical fiction novel! I give it a 5-star rating.

     After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true – King Cyrus has declared that the Jews may return to Jerusalem. There are a handful of the returnees who remember the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Most of them though were born in exile. Will what they have been taught about the Almighty One give them the strength and the courage to follow and trust Him?

     Iddo and his wife Dinah are one of the families that is returning. Iddo has been looking forward to this day since he was taken into captivity as a boy. He is from the priestly lineage and has studied the Torah his whole life preparing to minister in the temple. The only problem is that as a captive of Babylon there has never been a temple to minister in. Dinah was born in captivity and all she knows is life in Babylon. The emotional conflict that develops between these two is so well crafted that my heart ached for both of them as they tried to navigate the path that they are set on.

     I am amazed at the incredible amount of research that had to have been done in preparation to write this fantastic fictional account of Biblical history. There are numerous characters who are at different points in their belief of God. Each of them is well fleshed out and presented. Their relationships with each other are very easy to understand. They have very clear points of contention with each other as well as very deep connections.

     This story paints a very clear picture of what life was like trying to please God under the Abrahamic covenant and the law given to Moses. It made me very glad that I live now, under the new covenant of grace and mercy. Where our right standing with God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and the free gift we are offered by His death and resurrection.