Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tapestry of Secrets - Sarah Loudin Thomas

A Tapestry of Secrets is both the conclusion and the prequel to the Appalachian Blessings series.  Blending together Perla's story in the present, and her look back into the past, as she attempts to convey her life's story and lessons to her daughter and granddaughter, this book fills in the questions raised by Perla's mysterious appearance in Wise, West Virginia, so many years ago.  Who is Sadie's father? What makes a family?  How do we convey the lessons we've learned to the people we love, while allowing them to learn their own lessons?

Ella has come home for several reasons, to escape her former fiancee, and to assist her grandmother as she recovers from a stroke.  As she spends more time at home, she is forced to examine why she's there, and what she wants her life to be.  There's a section in the book where she "thought about how Jesus told His followers again and again that He would be back.  But they didn't understand.  [She] sympathized with them.  She might have a knack for understanding people, yet she knew how easy it was to miss hearing God's voice when blinded by the world."  Therein lies the truth and depth of this novel; Ella has to be able to search for God by herself, without allowing all of her fears and reservations and ties to this world to deafen her to His voice.

I read that this novel was actually written first, but took the author years and a complete rewrite to publish.  While it stands alone as a well-written book, it doesn't have the flavor of the other two to wrap it into the series; there are no carryover characters, apart from family, and it doesn't touch as much on the supernatural gifts that the other novels center on.  There is an allusion or two to Perla's gift with food, but it is easily overlooked.  Several times, Ella's "knack" for understanding her grandmother without words is key to their communication, yet it's never the focus.  It almost feels that this book could be read first or last, as its timeline fits in both places, and there's a slightly disjointed feel with its focus.

I still really enjoyed this book, and I give it 4 stars.  I am looking forward to the author's next release that she's already previewing on her website.

You can find A Tapestry of Secrets HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

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

To Have and to Hold - Three Autumn Love Stories

This collection of wedding novellas includes:
Love Takes the Cake, by Betsy St. Amant
The Perfect Arrangement, by Katie Ganshert
Love in the Details, by Becky Wade

Three authors join together in this autumn-themed collection of short, romantic wedding stories.  In Love Takes the Cake, Charlotte finds herself baking for a wedding involving the worst Bridezilla she's encountered, but also giving her the chance to interact with her mysterious weekly patron.  Is he available or isn't he?  Should she even be wondering, because he doesn't look safe, and "safe" is what she wants, isn't it? Amelia finds herself literally running into a handsome man in The Perfect Arrangement, and somehow that invites him into her life more than she intended.  What will happen if he finds out just how intertwined their lives are?  In Love in the Details, Holly is coordinating a wedding where her ex-boyfriend, her high school sweetheart, is the best man.  Having broken up with him years ago, under false pretenses, what kind of interactions can she expect?  Should she let her heart get more involved?

This collection involved some of my favorite romance authors, and I jumped at the chance to review it.  I probably shouldn't have jumped quite so quickly, as it turned out I had already read two of the three novellas!  I guess I'm consistent in my author choices.  Despite the slight disappointment of 2/3 of the book not being new, I enjoyed the book anyway.

Novellas are a difficult genre for me to enjoy; either there isn't enough time to develop the characters well, or the characters are well done and the story feels too short.  These three stories, however, manage to create well-rounded characters, and feel complete within their limited space.  Of course, it doesn't mean I wouldn't love to read longer novels with these characters!  In particular, I would love to see Will and Charlotte take on life together, and to see how their difficult backgrounds play out in their life as a family.  I really loved Nate and Amelia's e-mail exchanges, and would enjoy reading more of their movie-banter references.  Also - who was the mystery man for real?!  Holly and Josh's story served pretty well as a stand-alone, but how would their lives change going forward?

I give this collection 5 stars; short, easy to read, yet complete, this is a great book for some light, fun reading.

You can find the authors:
Besty St. Amant HERE
Katie Ganshert HERE
Becky Wade HERE

All three authors have active social media presences, and I recommend you follow them!

You can find To Have and to Hold HERE.

I received this e-book, via NetGalley, from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.

The Domino Effect

"Esther unfolded the paper and read silently, 'Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'"

Esther Larsen is a brilliant mathematician; she fought her way into college at 14, and graduated with dual degrees at 17.  For the past nine years, she has turned her amazing gifts into a job as a top risk analyst for one of the country's largest banks.  In her own time, she gathers data and analyzes the implications.  Now, she begins to fear what those implications mean for the country, and the global economy as a whole.  Does she risk speaking up?  Will anyone believe her?  Like her biblical namesake, has she been brought here for "such a time as this"?

Books with brilliant heroines are an immediate draw for me.  Esther is above and beyond even the typical gifted character, if there is such a thing.  The world of banking and investments and economies is completely over my head, and yet, this book is so well written, and the characters so well drawn, that it didn't matter.  I felt their tension, and their fear (perhaps a bit too much, sometimes!), and I was completely engaged in their journey, even though I didn't understand even a fraction of what they were afraid of.  I actually had to put the book aside for a short time, to let my own fears generated by the book subside!  But the author draws his characters together so well, and they come to care for each other in such honest ways, that I had to come back to them to find out how they fared.

I give this book 4 stars - if you're interested in the banking world, I'm sure you'll love it even more, but even if you don't know what an algorithm is, you'll still find plenty in this story to enjoy. I have read several of Davis Bunn's books in the past, and have found them all equally engaging.

You can find The Domino Effect HERE.
You can connect with the author on Facebook HERE.
You can also connect with him on Twitter HERE.

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