Thursday, May 28, 2009

Age Before Beauty, by Virginia Smith

Virginia Smith's contemporary novel, Age Before Beauty, is a delight to read. The protagonist, Allie Harrod, is a new mother who undertakes a home-based business (the kind that involves house parties) to avoid having to put her baby in daycare. 
The scenes where Allie is obsessing about her new infant’s well-being are laugh-out-loud funny. Smith brilliantly displays her knack for humor writing in Age Before Beauty, the second novel in her Sister-to-Sister series.
Allie's struggles to keep everything together will resonate with any woman who has attempted to balance a job with her homelife. 
Age Before Beauty is an entertaining novel. Smith incorporates a heart-warming spiritual message smoothly into the plot, enhancing the story line, which isn’t always true of inspirational fiction. 
The attractive cover invited me to pick up the book. Once I began reading I was hooked. I believe you will be, too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A great read!

Enduring Love, by Bonnie Leon, is Book 3 in Leon's Sydney Cove series, and an exciting and satisfying finale to a compelling adventure. 
Enduring Love draws the reader into the Australia of the early 1800's. The settings are so realistic that I could feel the heat and dust of John and Hannah Bradshaw's sheep farm.
Even more, I felt the tension in the story as Hannah and John struggle against the reality of his first wife's reappearance in his life. How could she be alive when John had been told of her death years before? What would happen to Hannah and John's marriage in a time when divorce was almost never permitted?
Leon's book is filled with unexpected plot twists, humor, and the warmth of an enduring love. The conclusion had me racing to turn the pages.
If you've missed this series, I recommend you return to the beginning and read Books 1 and 2--To Love Anew, and Longings of the Heart. You'll find yourself transported to another time and place.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Amazon gift certificate winner and another contest.

I'm happy to announce that Linda is the winner of the contest on the Rose House blog. I'm waiting to hear back from her as to whether she'd like her gift certificate sent via email or through the Post Office.

Thanks to all who entered. 

Right now, there's another contest going on for readers of my novel, The Edge of Light. Let me know who your favorite character was and your name will go into the drawing for a free copy of the last two books reviewed on my blog as of the closing date of the contest, May 29.
Sign up for blog posts to see which two books you may win. 
The winner will be announced here on June 1.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In Search of Eden, by Linda Nichols

The cover illustration for In Search of Eden shows a little girl, her face partly hidden. Is she the one being searched for, or is she the one doing the searching? A compelling picture, and the reason I picked this book up. The story didn't disappoint me!
In Search of Eden is the story of Miranda DeSpain and her quest to heal the pain inflicted on her as a teenager. That quest takes her to Abingdon, Virginia, where she becomes part of a community filled with warm, believable characters. Those characters are so well-drawn that I spent hours thinking about their lives after I finished the book.
Nichols tells Miranda's story through several points of view. She handles this often difficult plot device masterfully. By getting to know the people Miranda meets, the reader not only learns what's in their hearts, but sees Miranda's many qualities as well--qualities Miranda herself fails to acknowledge. The many threads of the plot come together in a page-turning conclusion that left me smiling but sorry the story had ended.I liked In Search of Eden so much that I turned back to the beginning and read parts of it again. 
In Search of Eden won a well-deserved ECPA medallion of excellence. If you've read it, I'd love to hear from you. We can share our thoughts on the discussion questions, especially #9.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rose House, by Tina Ann Forkner

Tina Ann Forkner's second novel, Rose House, is an engrossing and worthy successor to her outstanding first book, Ruby Among Us. In Rose House, Forkner revisits La Rosaleda, a fictional town set in the beautiful Sonoma Valley of California.

I'd call the plot of Rose House "a mystery wrapped in an enigma," to paraphrase Winston Churchill. The main character, Lillian Diamon, is mourning the loss of her family when she finds herself drawn to the fabled Rose House in La Rosaleda. Forkner starts the pages turning right away, with a mysterious photographer who is spying on Lillian. From there the story spins out question after question. We walk in Lillian's shoes as she lives through her grief and confusion--each new revelation deepening the mystery of what happened to her family.

As always, Forkner evokes emotion with her skillful phrasing. One line I particularly loved has Lillian reflecting, "My house is worse than an empty shell. It is full and overflowing with what is missing."

The story is filled with a sense of menace. We share Lillian's doubts about whom she can trust. The reader is drawn further into Rose House to answer questions raised about each of the fully-drawn characters that Forkner introduces. As the plot lines converge, the book sweeps to a heart-stopping conclusion.

The characters became real to me--I'm still thinking about them. I loved the way this novel resolved. I had tears in my eyes when I read the ending.

I recommend Rose House!