Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Wishing Tree - by Marybeth Whalen

Ivy Marshall left Sunset Beach, North Carolina, five years ago, turning her back on everything that her family expected of her, and assuming they slammed the doors behind her.  Now, the husband she left everything behind for has cheated on her, and so Ivy decides to use the excuse of helping her sister, Shea, with her televised wedding as a reason to run away from Elliott and return home to her family, her childhood memories, and...her ex-fiancee.  Can she mend fences within her family while she's here?  Can she re-fan an old flame?  As she is asked to work on Shea's Wishing Tree, an old family wedding tradition, Ivy is forced  to face her own wishes for the wedding she never had, and try to figure out what wishes she has for her future.

This book did not wow me.  Ivy, as the main character, drove me a little crazy.  For most of the book, she is so focused on reconnecting with Michael, her ex-fiancee, and ignoring Elliott, that she's not even trying to evaluate how she's gotten where she is.  She unceremoniously dumped Michael 5 years ago for Elliott, and now she's equally quick to want to switch back.  There is no sense of her even wondering if this is the right thing for her to do.  She eventually comes to realize that she needs to be forgiven as much as she needs to extend forgiveness, but it was hard to care about things working out for her when she seemed to care so little for the lives of the people around her.  While some of the other characters in the book were more likable, none of them were really given enough depth to save the book.  The theme of forgiveness and family, and looking to make a better future, no matter your mistakes in the past, could have been hit a little harder and made this book much richer.

I give this book 2 stars.  I kept hoping that Ivy would get beyond herself to make some changes, and so I kept reading, but I wish there had been more.

You can find The Wishing Tree HERE.
You can find the author's blog HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Zondervan, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Barefoot Summer - by Denise Hunter

Madison is determined to put her twin brother's death, and the resulting nightmares, behind her, and she thinks that fulfilling Michael's dream of winning the town's annual regatta before their 27th birthday will accomplish both.  Only two things stand in her way: her terror of water, and her fear of Beckett O'Reilly - the man who is going to teach her to sail.  Beckett has his own reasons for being apprehensive about this arrangement, but is determined to see it through.  Can Madison win the race?  Can she find a way to move on?  Will Beckett be the key to helping her heal, or will he only bring more pain?

I found myself really enjoying this book.  I loved Madison's determination to train and win the regatta, even though she froze at the mere sight of water, and didn't even know how to swim.  Although storylines of dead twins are really starting to freak me out, I could feel her grief that she'd refused to release about the loss of her other half.  Her search for healing, and how faith might relate to that, was compelling, and I wanted her to find a way to live her life well without Michael.  Beckett was an intriguing character on his own; his past and how he'd overcome it felt realistic and honest.  He had scars from his past that still affected the way he saw himself, but he was trusting God to see him through his new life.

I was excited to see that this was the first book in a series; I hope that the following books continue to expand on the other characters in Madison's family and that we continue to keep tabs on Madison and Beckett.

I give this book 4 stars for enjoyability.

You can find Barefoot Summer HERE.
You can find Denise Hunter's website HERE and connect with her on Facebook or Twitter from her site.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.