Friday, June 19, 2009

Tea & Read: Love's Rescue

Title: Love’s Rescue
Author: Tammy Barley
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

Boy am I a sucker for a cowboy book! And Love’s Rescue doesn’t disappoint. This book stirred up every John Wayne emotion I have.

It is the story of Jessica Hale, living in Navada Territory. When her brother leaves to join the Confederates, she is attacked for supporting him. Enter Jake the cowboy. He risks his life to save her twice and when she suffers a great loss, he is there to help Jess sort out the mess of her life.

This book was well written. I especially like the way Barley put you in the setting of the Sierra region. I loved the descriptions of the houses on Jake’s ranch and the unity between the cattlemen and the Paiute people living nearby. And there were plenty of characters to love beyond Jess and Jake. I especially loved Jake’s posse, loyal to the end, just like good cowboys should be. I think my favorite part is when Jess “alters” the men in the camp's britches. Hilarious.

Good book. Looking forward to reading more from Barley.

Tea & Read: So Not Happening

Title: So Not Happening
Author: Jenny B. Jones
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

As I writer, one of the challenges I face is coming up with original plot ideas. The Bible is clear that there is nothing new under the sun and that certainly goes for plot lines. But sometimes, you come across a predictable premise told in an incredibly fresh and entertaining way. That was So Not Happening.

The novel follows the classic “city mouse in the country” format. Isabella Kirkwood is a spoiled daughter of a plastic surgeon forced to go to live in Truman, Oklahoma with her mother and her new husband and her two step brothers. She has to leave everything she knows and loves (including her access to fashionable clothing) to learn a new way of life, one she doesn’t like. But she soon discovers that God may have sent her there for another reason.

Bella is the most lovable brat I’ve read about in a long time. She is funny, sassy but not so much that you can’t connect to her plight. You almost feel sorry for her because she really believes that her New York life is better. And the best thing is that there is a serious plot to the book. It’s not completely about Bella’s whining (which would have been annoying because she whines a lot). It had a solid mystery going that kept me guessing till the end. The supporting characters were great (Robbie her little step-brother is hilarious) and have some surprises up their sleeves.

I think the biggest surprise is that this book is YA, but it doesn’t dumb it down. I totally enjoyed it for someone my age (and I’m well beyond YA age, trust me.) I got halfway through it and told my 14 year old daughter that she had to read it. It’s a great read. Finished it in twenty four hours!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tea & Read: Beyond Corista

Title: Beyond Corista
Author: Robert Elmer
Rating: One Cup of Tea

This book surprised me. I was a little afraid when I first started this book, I stopped and handed it off my thirteen year old son, thinking it would be better for him than for me. Boy am I glad I got it back from him.

This novel broke all my rules. First, it’s the third book in a series and I didn’t read the first two, which I thought would be a set back. But I had no problems jumping right into the story and connecting with the characters (see review for Enduring Love).

The second rule it broke for me is that I normally don’t read YA. I’ve read a Margaret Haddix Peterson book once but thought it was a fluke that I liked it. This book is not written as basic as Peterson’s books so it didn’t feel like YA.

The third rule it broke is the face that it’s Sci-Fi. Now don’t get me wrong, I love watching sci-fi and everything from Mork and Mindy to Star Trek to Star Wars. I just don’t read sci-fi too often. Ok, none that I remember.

I think the best thing is that Elmer laid the Christian symbolism on thick, but it wasn’t annoying. I know it was done so that younger readers could catch the symbolism but it was tastefully done. I loved the Pilot Stone and Jesmet. And I particularly love the way Elmer showed that biblical truths can transcend time and space. Oriannon’s encounter Alymas was quite beautiful.

I would recommend this book to any tweener, especially boys. Now I can give the book back to my son.

Tea & Read: Enduring Love

Title: Enduring Love
Author: Bonnie Leon
Rating: Wall Target Practice

Sometimes you have to write a bad review. I don’t like to do it, but honesty wins out.

I was very excited to get a copy of this book. I had moved to a place of reading historicals again and thought this book would provide a good opportunity.

I don’t know what went wrong for me and this book. First, I must say that I know part of the problem is that it was book three in a series. I hadn't read the first two. As soon as I read the first page, I realized it was going to be a struggle. There was no introduction of the main characters except that they were happily in love. I didn’t have any emotional connection with the characters and really didn’t form one.

Second, and I think the deal breaker for me, was the emotional angst. The main character’s internal dialog didn’t succeed in connecting with me. After a while, it started to be annoying. And what she was concerned about was a legitimate issue. It’s just there would be several pages of nothing but her emotional upheavals and no forward progression of plot.

Another issue was that the character didn’t develop in the book. Hannah, the main character, ended the book the same way she began. I don’t know if the goal was to show her struggle with her faith in God, but it didn’t see like that faith was strengthened.

I even tried reading the first two books in the series and I didn’t even make it through the first one.

So to Bonnie Leon, I’m sorry. Someone out there enjoys your books (I read your and reviews). Unfortunately, I don’t fit your books. Blessing be on you.

Tea & Read: Tour de Force

Title: Tour de Force
Author: Elizabeth White
Rating: Two Cups of Tea

Sometimes, you read a book and think you've discovered a new author, until a character you recognize shows up in the book. This is what happened with this book.

Last year, I read Off the Record and enjoyed it. It was funny because I started it the year (2007) before and then it just sat on my shelf. I picked up Off the Record again to keep myself from buying another book.

The main character of Tour de Force, Gillian Kincade, made a brief appearance in Off the Record and I immediately connected with her quirky style. I was very pleased to find that she was now the star.

In this novel, she is taking the New York ballet community by store when she is given an opportunity of a lifetime that quickly moves her up in the ranks of the ballet scene. She meets Jacob Ferrar and is cast in his small company. But when she injures herself and her world starts to fall apart, the story gets interesting.

This was a compelling novel and well written. Even though I don't know all the ballet terms, I didn't feel lost and overwhelmed by them. And I must admit, I did get a little choked up with the moving description of her dance as Mary. I found myself wishing I could actually see the dance and not just imagine it in my head. The supporting characters were also great and I especially like the way White weaved her sister Laurel into the plot.

I think this book would make an excellent book for the dancer in your life, and I'm not a dancer.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tea & Read: The River Runs Dry

Title: The Rivers Run Dry
Author: Sibella Giorello
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

The Christian fiction scene is changing so rapidly that it's easy to discover a new writer you love. This is the case with Sibella Giorgello. Even though The Rivers Run Dry is the second book in the series, it didn't feel like it (which completely impressed me). I normally can't jump into a series without reading the first book first.

I think the thing that impressed me the most about this novel is how well it was written. Giorello doesn't add an ounce of fluff to her narratives and descriptions, but they are powerful and moving. I enjoy her writing for the same reason I like Earnest Hemingway: they both employ a minimalistic style. It's also reminds me of the style of Paul Robertson (I'm reading According to Their Deeds right now, but you'll get a review later).

This novel has all the making of a great suspense novel. The ticking clock, the troubled detective and setbacks. Sibello also gets cool points for the main character, Raleigh Harmon, being a forensic geologist and the relationship she has with her boss is quite entertaining. Also, the all the characters, not just the main characters, are memorable and draw you deeper into the story, especially the stranger ones. And best of all, I didn't guess who the bad guy but once it was revealed, it made sense. I love it when an author cleverly hides the clues in plain sight throughout the book. Suspense should be unpredictable but logical and this book meets that requirement.

Normally I end my reviews with saying that I can't wait to read the next book, but in this case, I'm looking forward to reading her first book, The Stones Cry Out and her next book.