Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley - by Katherine Reay

Due to a past where the only characters she could trust were fictional, Samantha Moore has developed a habit of retreating from reality when things get tough.  Her life is peppered with "she does not relate" comments and rejections. Now, faced with one last chance for a better future, she is not only pushed into a graduate major she doesn't want, but she is asked to write regular letters to her anonymous donor.  Can she find a way into this future, or will she continue to seek solace between the pages that have encompassed her past?

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book; I liked the idea of Sam's character, who felt more comfortable with fictional characters than real people.  However, and I hesitate to even admit this on a book blog, I am not really a fan of Jane Austen, so most of the references to her works blew by me without adding anything to the book.  Once Sam began to be more of herself and reveal more of her past, she became much more interesting to me, and I became engrossed in her search for how to handle real relationships. While I saw the ending coming fairly early on, it didn't seem ridiculous that Sam did not.  I could really appreciate Sam's efforts to pull herself out of her fictional world and engage with the people in front of her, especially her self-realizations that she had hurt others by retreating.

I give this book 3 stars.  If I were a true Jane Austen fan, I think that my rating would not fall in the middle; I would either hate what the author had done with Austen's fictional characters, or I would love the story with the added understanding of the wealth of quotes and characters.

You can find Dear Mr. Knightley HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, as part of their BookSneeze program, in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sisterchicks Do the Hula - by Robin Jones Gunn

Hope and Laurie have been best friends since college - when they first made plans to travel to Hawaii together.  That plan fell through, but now, as they approach their 40th birthdays, they have reconnected and decide that now is the time to do it.  While enjoying the beautiful sites the islands have to offer, they also find themselves digging a little deeper into what they've been made for by the One who created such beauty for them to enjoy.

This was the first Sisterchicks book I've read.  It was light, it was enjoyable; Hope and Laurie weren't especially deep characters, but that's what I was expecting when I started the book.  I loved the idea of two friends turning 40 and taking a trip of a lifetime together to enjoy the trip their way.  It didn't quite ring true that Hope would be concerned about the price of a "bargain" sun tanning lotion, versus the "expensive" one, but then order room service over and over again without blinking an eye, but if you suspend some disbelief and just enjoy the trip with them, then the book is a fun read.  It certainly made me wish I could take a trip like this!

I give this book 3 stars.  It didn't exceed any expectations, but it was a light, easy read.  There's a time and a place for such a book, and this was a good time for one for me.

You can find Sisterchicks Do the Hula HERE.
You can find Robin Jones Gunn's website HERE.

Please consider rating 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.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stones for Bread - by Christa Parrish

Liesl McNamara's life revolves around bread and the bakery she has opened to follow her passion for the bread.  Her memories of her mother and grandmother are wrapped up in the bread and she has sacrificed her dreams of travel for the bread.  When it comes down to it, will the bread be more important than her relationships?  And how does she fit faith into her life when she's so consumed with the bread?

How do I express how much I loved this book?  While it's not very plot-driven, it is rich with characters and emotions and vulnerability.  It took me awhile to adjust to the switches between current story, back story, and church history, but in the end, it was woven together so well that it made the book full and deep.  The history of bread would not normally be exciting for me to read by itself, but as integral as it was to Liesl's life, it made me care about the bread.  So much so, that I actually felt guilty buying plain white sandwich bread while reading this book.  That's an absorbing story!

There were so many relationships tied into the story that revolved around bread, but they were intricate and deep and real.  At first, I thought that the half-sister story line was distracting, and then I thought maybe it just wasn't filled out enough, but in the end, the purpose of the story was for Liesl to find herself both in the story of the bread and who she was without it, and the family story line served its purpose to help her.

I did find the recipes for bread sprinkled throughout the story a bit distracting; I would have preferred that they maybe be in an appendix at the end, but it did give me an appreciation for how much of an art these breads are.

As with Christa Parrish's other novels, I loved this one, and I give it 5 stars.  I will continue to eagerly await her future releases!

You can find Stones for Bread HERE.
You can find Christa Parrish's site HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers, as part of their BookSneeze program, in exchange for my honest review.