Friday, November 16, 2012

At Every Turn - by Anne Mateer

In At Every Turn, Alyce Benson has a heart for God, and when she's presented with the situation of starving children in Africa who need to hear His Word, she immediately rises to the occasion and pledges a large sum of money to the missionaries returning to serve them.  The only problem is that she had counted on her father granting her request, as he has every request before now.  When her father learns of the purpose for the money, he refuses, and Alyce is left having made a promise that she doesn't know how to fulfill.  Additionally, she has asked the people of the church to match her generous offering and can no longer count on them to assist her in raising her half.  What Alyce does have is a skill few women of her era possess, the ability to drive and to drive fast.  She and her mechanic, Webster, concoct a scheme to race incognito and to use the earnings to raise her donation amount.  But can Alyce trust Webster, who has shared very little of his past with her?  And what of her seeming suitor, Mr. Trotter?  Is he as godly and trustworthy as he seems?

I loved the idea of Alyce's character - a woman in the early 1900s going against the norm of the day and developing her own passion in a male-dominated pastime.  I loved that she wasn't interested in just going along with her mother's plans to "marry well."  Yet, the independent thinking that would develop that sort of character and hobby didn't seem to jive well with her inherent trust of Mr. Trotter and her naivete in trusting others opinions.  Her fear of gossip and scandal also seemed inconsistent with the life she wanted to live.

My favorite characters turned out to be rather minor in terms of storyline, but very important in Alyce's life.  Her grandmother, blind and mostly bedridden, was such a source of accountability to Alyce, and I loved the spiritual legacy she was passing on to Alyce.  Webster Little was a man of mystery, but his character seemed much more consistent about his hidden secrets, and the revelation of his history at the end of the book fit with what we'd been told about him.  I really enjoyed the interactions between Alyce and Webster, and was eager for them to know the truth about each other.

Alyce's determination to help the children in Africa was admirable, and her continued efforts to raise the money while simultaneously being able to hold on to it when faced with the needs of others was humorous and honest.  Her desire to serve God and to find His call for her life made her an admirable character, even while I wanted her to be stronger in the rest of her life.

I give this book 3 stars.  There were definite positives to the book, but I would have liked my main character stronger in her decisions and actions.

You can find the book HERE.
The author's website is HERE.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Wreath of Snow - by Liz Curtis Higgs

In A Wreath of Snow, Meg Campbell has returned to her family's home for Christmas, but finds her brother's bitterness and demanding nature unwelcoming, and she decides to spend the holiday alone in her cottage instead.  However, the train she is traveling on becomes unable to reach its destination, and the passengers are forced to walk back through the snow to the station they originated from.  During this time, Meg finds herself engaging a fellow male traveler and reveals some of her hurtful past in conversation, only to find out too late that the stranger knows more of her past than she realized.  Gordon hasn't meant to hurt Meg, he only means to make up for the hurt he has caused her family in his youth.  Can Meg and her family make room for his apologies and extend forgiveness?  Can Meg trust the man who made her feel comfortable spilling her own secrets when she finds he's been hiding some of his own?

Although it's a bit early to be reading holiday stories for me, this one was a good story that just happened to take place at Christmas.  Although gifts are exchanged, and the timing plays a part in the setting, it was an enjoyable read even now.  The characters were charming, and the setting was believable.  It was definitely a light, quick read that would make an enjoyable Christmas gift, or a lovely afternoon in a comfortable chair with a hot cup of tea.

The story was almost too quick for the depth of the hurt and betrayal and lies that were woven within it.  The conclusions of healing and forgiveness came too quickly to really understand the characters' journeys to the place where they could understand what had brought them there and how it had changed them.

I give this book 3 stars - a light read where many will enjoy the quick conclusion, but that, for my tastes, I would have enjoyed getting deeper into the characters' lives and transformations.

You can see Ms. Higgs discussing the book HERE.
You can read an excerpt from Chapter 1 HERE.
The author's website is HERE.

Please consider taking a minute to rate my review:

I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program, in exchange for my honest review.