Monday, January 26, 2015

The Dandelion Field - Kathryn Springer

Ginevieve Lightly and her daughter Raine have landed in the town of Banister Falls, Wisconsin.  After bouncing from town to town, Raine asks her mother to stay put until she graduates.  Gin agrees reluctantly, but keeps her suitcase packed in her closet.  With such tentative roots put down, Raine finds herself drawn to the popular Cody Bennett, a senior that the whole town looks after since his dad, Max, died in a fire when Cody was six.  Gin is equally drawn to Dan, a fellow fireman, Max's best friend, Cody's confidante, and who has a tangled relationship with Cody's mom, Evie.  Will Dan's loyalty be tested between the family he's cared for all of these years, and the single mom and daughter who have come to town?  Will Gin and Raine run at the first sign of trouble, or can they weather it together, and strengthen these fragile relationships?

There were so many complex relationships in this book, and they were handled well.  The single mom and her daughter, the teenage romance, the lifelong friendship with romantic undertones that hadn't been explored, the widowed mom and her son, the mentor relationship between Dan and Cody, and Dan's extended family.  The lives of the characters were well-woven together and the complexities served to deepen the book beyond a romance or teenage trouble story.  I especially liked Dan's family; while they served as minor roles in the book, they anchored who Dan was and were there to serve as mentors and shoulders to lean on.

I don't want to spoil the "scandal" in the book, but I will say that I felt like it was dealt with well.  It wasn't condoned, but was handled with compassion and grace, and all outcomes felt realistic and honest.

I give this book 4 stars; it handled a tough topic well, and the characters were realistic and likeable.  The minor plot lines were woven in well-enough to serve the main story, but developed just enough to enrich it.

You can find A Dandelion Field 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.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Secret of Pembrooke Park - Julie Klassen

Abigail Foster and her family have been accustomed to a certain quality of life, a lifestyle that may now be in danger due to a failed investment that Abigail herself recommended to her father.  With her younger sister's debut on the horizon, and their dowries in danger, Abigail makes some tough decisions for her family.  One of which includes moving to an abandoned house that belonged to some distant relatives, but that has a mysterious past.  What made the occupant of the house leave so quickly? Why has it sat abandoned for 18 years? Why do the townspeople look at them so suspiciously? And how much stock should Abigail put in the rumors that there's a secret treasure hidden within the house?

I have read several Julie Klassen books at this point, and they never disappoint.  Her settings are so fleshed out that I feel myself in the abandoned house, with tea still on the table, and hearing the noises in the hallways.  I can envision the walk to the groundkeeper's house, and the small church with its graves of relatives gone too soon. The author's setting of the scenes really serves to enhance her stories.

In the end, I did enjoy this book.  I am an impatient reader, however, and there was a large portion of the book where I was going, "alright, already, just answer the secrets!!"  There was an abundance of foreshadowing, and hinting at the past, and a lot of wondering whether the main character was actually listening to anything the other people were telling her.  I was satisfied by the conclusion that most of the questions had been answered and loose ends were neatly tied up.  It was a complicated story, but I think that it was done well.

I give this book 4 stars.  I can appreciate a story that takes awhile to bring everything together, even if it makes me antsy while I'm waiting for answers.  I also enjoyed the friendships that built over the course of the book, and the fact that the female characters weren't instant best friends, but that they kept trying.

You can find The Secrets of Pembrooke Park HERE.
You can find Julie Klassen's site HERE.
You can find an excerpt from the book HERE.

I am excited to have been invited to be part of a Pembrooke Park Blogger Bonus team, so look forward to some fun things regarding this book forthcoming!

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