Tuesday, October 28, 2014

House of Living Stones - Katie Schuermann

Emily Duke has come to Bradbury, Illinois, to seek a fresh start.  Hired by Pastor Fletcher to be the new choir director at Zion Lutheran Church, and teaching classes at the local college, she feels like this small town will be the perfect place to settle in and move on with her life.  However, as seems typical for small towns, there are histories and quarrels and jealousies inherent with the community that Emily unwittingly sets herself into the middle of.  Can she be open about her past? Can  she find a way to actually move on, trust people, and God with her future?

This book had so much potential: small-town gossips and rivalries and broken relationships; a young, single, woman moving to a town home to a young, unmarried, cleric, and a handsome English professor at the college, an eccentric organist at the Lutheran church, and a brilliant piano student with piercings and black eyeliner who agrees to accompany the choir.  The book was full of quirky, interesting characters, and I loved them, but I wanted more.  I wanted to see the friendship between Emily and Rebecca be more; the little that there was was precious, and they could have added so much more to the story.  I loved Ben Schmidt, the lawnmower, and Caroline, the tortured heiress.  Mrs. Scheinberg, the church secretary was well-developed, turning into a character you couldn't be irritated at, even after her rough introduction.  But in the end, the book was just a little too clunky for me to fully enjoy; some of the characters seemed to be there only to serve a means to the end of the plot the author had envisioned, without giving them enough weight to be enjoyed in their own right.  There were several sections that encompassed a single analogy, but ones that didn't fit the book.  Comparing communion to a football game?  Maybe if the pastor is an NFL fan.  An entire scene compared to fishing and boating? Would make sense if the characters involved shared a passion for bass, or trout, or anything related to fish.  But they didn't, and it made those scenes feel like the author was reaching for a tool that wasn't quite right for the job.  Additionally, the title was intriguing and grabbed me immediately, but other than a question in the discussion questions, the author didn't build upon it.  It felt like a title worthy of entering the story to enrich it, but it was left to the reader to ponder it, or leave it behind on the cover.

It looks like this book is to be part of a series, and I liked the characters enough that I'm looking forward to see how the town moves forward.  I hope that the writing will smooth out as the author settles into her characters, and that the writing itself will enhance the story rather than detract from it.

I give this book 3 stars; I loved the cover and loved the characters, but felt that the book didn't reach its potential.

You can find House of Living Stones HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

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

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