Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Home - Ginny Yttrup

Melanie Vander has an approaching deadline for her sixteenth book, but she can't seem to find the same sort of escape in her characters this time.  Rather, her characters seem to be pulling her in a direction she doesn't want to go, forcing her to examine not only their lives and backstory, but her own.  Meanwhile, her husband, Craig, is trying to keep his business and family financials above water, while watching his wife run away yet again, and Melanie's friend and neighbor, Jill, is facing her own rising issues.  Where can these folks find safety?  What does it take to find one's way home?

I have read a lot of books where the main character is writing a story, and the "story" turns out to be the book the main character is a part of.  This book sort of did that, but with the twist of the main character (and author?) using her main character to work through emotions and grief that she'd been unable to process in real life in real time.  The other characters in the book, however, who surround Melanie in her real-life are suffering their own emotional crises, and as she works through her character's problems, she is able to begin coming out of her hole to help them.  As she says in a phone call to her friend, Jill, "New is good, I think.  Let's do new."  There was a good balance of Melanie understanding her own problems through Chloe, but then working them out in her real-life relationships.

I loved how this book worked its characters through their problems; even though the easy thing was to run away, to ignore the things that kept coming to the surface, each character was eventually able to confront the hard things in their lives.  Nothing was glossed over, sometimes the only solution to the problem was not a fun one, and I appreciated that.  Usually, there's a conveniently timed rich uncle, or promotion, or romance waiting in the wings, but these characters faced everything in their own way, eventually together, and together, they made real-life choices with real-feel consequences.  My only complaint might be that I want to see where they all go from here!

I give this book 3.5 stars.  It's never easy to be vulnerable in fiction, and a lot of readers probably want their fiction to turn out like a fairy tale, but there's not a lot of truth or growth in that.  Sometimes, we need to see that faith holds true even when the world around us does not.

You can find Home HERE.
You can find the author HERE.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Love Story - Karen Kingsbury

If you've read any of the Redemption series, Sunrise series, Firstborn series, Bailey Flanigan series, or the Above the Line series, you're familiar with the Baxter family and the other characters that fill out their lives.  This book is described as being the Love Story of John and Elizabeth Baxter, the heads of the Baxter clan, as told through John's memories as a class project for his grandson Cole.  However, their story is only a piece of this novel, and readers will catch up with several characters from throughout the Baxter Family Series, including Cody and Andi, Bailey and Brandon, and Ashley and Landon.  As Ashley listens to her parents' story, that was far from perfect, she is forced to revisit the past that led to Cole, and how her story led her back to Landon.  Bailey and Brandon are about to have a baby, and Bailey is keeping in touch with Andi as Cody and Andi try to figure out how to move forward with their lives.  This novel will dip you back into the Baxter family as if you'd never left them.

As part of Cole's project, he hears the tale of the man who prayed for John and Elizabeth that one day "God [would] give [them] a marriage and family so beautiful all the world [would] want to know [their] secret."  The early Baxter books conveyed that family so well that I think most readers probably wanted to be a Baxter; I know I wanted to come home to that cozy house and enjoy the family picnics and camaraderie.  The Baxter past hasn't been an easy one, and while I do feel that some of the trials get glossed over in these books, if you look, the story of grace and redemption is still there.  Several of the main characters in this installment are forced to confront their previous mistakes, and learn from them to live more godly lives, and to begin a legacy that will live on in the faith of future generations.

While this book lacked some of the depth and faith searching of the early series, it was a good step forward for the Baxter family, with a good review of their past.  It did a good job reminding readers of the characters' connections, without rehashing too much of the previous series.  A reader new to the family might be drawn in enough to go back and live with them throughout the earlier series.

I give this book 3 stars; I enjoyed checking in with a favorite fictional family, but I felt that it both tried to cover too many stories at once, and yet didn't catch up with enough of the family to feel like coming home.  I also felt that it was a little light on how the consequences of past choices affected the characters' lives; everything always seems to work out perfectly for the Baxter families, and while I know it's fiction, it would be nice to see that there are always ramifications to mistakes, even where there is grace and forgiveness.

You can find Love Story HERE.
You can find the author, Karen Kingsbury, HERE.
There have been articles for awhile now that they're making the Baxter Family into a TV Series.

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