Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Second to One, Again.

One More Last Chance

Cathleen Armstrong

Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason--because it doesn't change. After an engagement gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip 'n' Dine, he's shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.

As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance--just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.

With the same evocative writing and fascinating characters that won fans for her debut novel, Cathleen Armstrong invites readers back to Last Chance for a soul-searching, romantic story of two people navigating the twists and turns of small-town life.

I’ve read a ton of Historical Westerns and I know every single archetype associated with it, and I have found that this contemporary western fit right in with the bunch. The title ties in with one of the smaller plotlines and is also the name of the town: Last Chance. Which I personally think sounds kind of ominous, but it wasn’t. The very small town. The town is very realistic, and I enjoyed the typical small town with larger personalities. The focus wasn’t really on Sarah’s family, as is normal, but on the people who live in town. I liked the change in focus from the family on the ranch to town. The minor characters were very life like and well developed, but I noticed some minor inconsistencies in Sarah. A the beginning she is very hung-ho no change, but that almost disappears with no reason why in the first half. I was under the impression that it was going to be a thing throughout the book so I found it’s rather abrupt abandonment confusing. Other than that, the characters are pretty predictable, which isn’t a bad thing. They acted just like normal humans would in the situations they faced.

The story is obviously a romance, and it is predictable in that facet, but the other plot line did come up quite unexpectedly and surprised me frequently (the plot line following Chris as opposed to the one mainly following Sarah). It switches between Sarah’s and Chris’ point of view and thankfully is not first person. The spiritual undertone is pretty subtle, but it does how through their actions. There is no cursing, nothing inappropriate, nor anything suggestive, but it does mention teenage pregnancy that isn’t aborted. Other than that everything is pretty fly.

It is the second book in a series, and I haven’t read the first one. It would certainly add to parts of it, but I don’t think it is necessary for understanding. It would add to certain parts of the book for deeper knowledge. I don’t know if I would spend the money on a paper copy of the book. I would definitely read it, but I would probably go the inexpensive e-book route or maybe to the library. I have already reread it once and it fell flat. It isn’t captivating enough to withstand too many rereads time after time. I reread books a lot, I actually go to my favorite sections and just relish in those parts. I don’t think this one would end up like those.
 I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Bunch of Brides on a Boat

The Pelican Bride

Beth White

It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for
the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself.  

Christians have been persecuted for as long as they have been following Christ. Now, in the United States we are blessed to be mostly separate from those afflictions. How often do we forget that our people are still being persecuted, still facing trials we consider to be ancient and only biblical. There was a time when Christians were not only persecuted but persecuted other Christians over doctrine and reading the Bible. One of the cool things about this book is that I am also descended from a French Huguenot and found it easy to relate to.

Genevieve is a French Huguenot, a far cry from the state religion of Catholicism. persecuted for her faith, and when put in a situation we couldn’t image she runs away to be a mail order bride. I thought from the summary that they were already given to specific men, and that those men had already paid the passage. It is not so, the women are brought over by the French Government to a Louisiana fort to help populate the area and keep the fort alive. They are allowed to choose (by accepting and denying proposals) their husbands. Which I personally think is a step up from the regular practice of answering newspaper ads.
The point of view kept it interesting, Most books are told from the heroine’s and the hero’s point of view. Somare are told from a whole cast of characters like the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, but Ms. White actually got a point of view from one of the snooty and really quite annoying characters. It was absolutely wonderful and very refreshing and kind of mind numbing because her thoughts and problems were so petty.

The novel did have a lot of historical facts, and they sometimes got really confusing so I had to skim over them. The nice part of so many unnecessary facts was that the reader got a really indepth sense of what it was like to  live in that time period in that area. Most of the characters in the book are fictional, not one of the young brides who comes to the fort was based on an actual bride. The two share several events. I was actually surprised that the rest of the characters were all fictional, they seemed to fit the area and time very well.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When the Lilacs Come and Bloom

One Perfect Spring
Irene Hannon

Claire Summers is a determined, independent single mother who is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Keith Watson is a results-oriented workaholic with no time for a social life. As the executive assistant to a local philanthropic businessman, he's used to fielding requests for donations. But when a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk, everything changes. The girl isn't asking for money, but for help finding the long-lost son of an elderly neighbor.

As Keith digs reluctantly into this complicated assignment, he has no idea how intertwined his life and Claire's will become--nor how one little girl's kindhearted request will touch so many lives and reap so many blessings.

Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, Irene Hannon offers readers this tenderhearted story of family connections that demonstrates how life is like lilacs--the biggest blooms often come only after the harshest winters.

     Spring has come (and fled) from Washington DC already this year. With every day of the week crawling hopelessly into the high eighties and nineties I am desperate to crawl back into the cool delicacy of Spring. Northerners, sigh. One Perfect Spring is a great reflection of almost everything spring represents. It is also contemporary fiction, which doesn't show up on my bookshelf very often because for some reason historical fiction seems to be really popular right now. So I find all of it very refreshing. (FYI, maybe half of the books this month will be contemporary fiction, a perfect cleansing from all the historical fiction to go along with Spring.)
cute doo-dad

     I enjoyed all the little subplots in the book, practically every character had their own little details to be busy with. Technically speaking, the book is third person but it switches so often between all the characters, even the ones that don't seem as prevalent. It does have a lot more of Keith's and Claire's point of view than anyone else's, but those little glimpses are really cool.  My dad was telling me the other day that he didn't like the third book in the Divergent series, he is really into fluffy sci-fi it is kind of funny, because it switched the point of view at the chapter and he found it hard to recognize which person was speaking. It really bothered him, thankfully point of view does not change at the chapter mark, but all over and is handily signaled by these cute little doo-dads.  Plus, she always manages to subtly but noticeably point out who is talking in the first sentence or two. 

     With almost four hundred pages to read, it is pretty hard to put down because you just want to know if Maureen, the older neighbor lady, gets to meet her son. I am telling you I was on pins and needles. Yup. Now I know, and you have to read to find out. The whole book revolves around adoption  and new beginnings. I don't get a chance to read much in the way of adoption books, especially modern ones, so I relished this one. I have to admit, it did make me cry. A lot. I cried through one third of the book easily, in my defense I am a bit of a leaky faucet so I have a good excuse. You can try it out for yourself and see how much you cry. Not that the crying was all sad, mind  you, sometimes everything gets so happy you absolutely must cry. Besides, crying is healthy. It washes out  your tear ducts. Plus, the Lord keeps your tears and they are precious to him: 

You number my wanderings;

Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
Psalms 56:8

     The whole book reflects this idea of seeking comfort in the Lord. The book cover the backsliders and the mourners. The one thing I did not like was the lack of power concerning healing. Other than that, it slowed everything down to contentment. 

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