Posts Tagged With: Christian fiction

Book Review: Lady In the Mist

Lady in the Mist, by Laurie Alice Eakes

Tabitha Eckles is a unique woman in a time when women and men had very defined roles in society. It’s 1809, and Tabitha is an unmarried midwife for a coastal Virginia town. Tabitha focuses on her patients, other townspeople who need medical help, and her garden – until she meets a mysterious British man early one morning on the beach.

Young men from the area have been disappearing, and most people think the Brits are guilty – that they’re forcing the men to join the British Navy with its ever-patrolling ships nearby. A disappearance is why Tabitha is still unmarried – her fiancé Raleigh disappeared right after proposing, though no one knows whether he ran away for some reason or if he was snagged by the British.

The mysterious newcomer complicates Tabitha’s life on multiple levels. Each has secrets they’re afraid to share, even though they could help each other. Each suffers public disapproval because of their convictions. And each wonders what the future might hold, especially when Raleigh returns with a story some people don’t quite believe.

Laurie Alice Eakes has been a prolific writer in the last few years, but Lady in the Mist was the first book of hers that I’ve read. I’m always a softie for historical romances, and it definitely filled that bill. There was also a little intrigue/suspense woven through the story that kept it interesting. I knew how I wanted everything to end, but wasn’t absolutely sure Laurie Alice had taken her characters in that direction until just before the end. The story itself was great, and I learned a lot about midwifery and the time period because of the details she included (the kind that help make the story come to life, not the kind that bog you down and make you skip to a more interesting part). 🙂

Lady in the Mist is one of my favorite books in 2011 so far. I’m looking forward to the other titles in her midwives series.

(This book was provided to me for reading and review by the publisher, Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group.)

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Review: The Fine Art of Insincerity, by Angela Hunt

Ginger, Penny, and Rosemary are as different as three sisters could possibly be. They’re all married (with 9 marriages between them) and they all loved their Grandmother Lillian dearly, but that’s about as far as it goes.

The story starts about a year after Grandmother dies, when Ginger gets a call saying Grandmother’s beach cottage has sold and they have two weeks to clean out all personal possessions. Ginger – always the super organized one – jumps right into planning a cleaning spree with Penny and Rose over Labor Day weekend.

What they don’t know is that a lot more than Grandma’s house is about to get cleaned.

Long-buried secrets and hard looks at themselves (and at each other) get unpacked during three days of trashing junk, claiming favorite possessions, and scrubbing the cottage spotless. Each sister comes to the beach with one agenda in mind, but leaves with a completely new one. How quickly things can change – and how much we can learn we need each other – when we let ourselves peek beneath the surface.

*******

Angela Hunt is one of my favorite authors, but she hasn’t had a new book out in a while. I was so excited when I heard about The Fine Art of Insincerity and could hardly wait to read it. She’s a master at writing stories that pull me right into the pages and characters I care about from the start. Insincerity isn’t what I would call a light, entertaining read, but it’s also not heavy and depressing. The best way I can think to describe it is
full-fledged realistic – funny on one page, tearful on the next, making me think about my own life and relationships on the next.

If you’ve never read any of Angela’s books, I highly recommend them. She’s written contemporary women’s fiction, Biblical fiction, romance, and even some slight suspense. In other words, she’s probably written something you would enjoy, no matter what your taste in reading might be. Plus, if you’re a writer, she’s an incredible teacher. I had the chance to take one of her classes at a conference two years ago and she was amazing. If you get the chance to learn from her, don’t pass it up!

Check out her website and blog to learn more about Angela and her books. And if you’ve read The Fine Art of Insincerity or any of Angela’s other books, let us know what you think.

 

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More Favorite Reads from 2010

Earlier, I posted about a few of my favorite books that I read in 2010. The problem is, I read so much and like so many stories that it’s hard to whittle things down to a manageable list … but I try.

I’ve already mentioned The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, So Over It, and Tour de Force. Today I’ll share the highlights of three favorite historicals.

A Tailor Made Bride, by Karen Witemeyer. This was Karen’s debut novel, and just the cover was enough to catch my attention (love that dress!). But, no matter how the cover looked, the story snagged me from the very beginning. Hannah is a feisty woman who takes a lot of townspeople by surprise when she buys a storefront in Coventry, Tx. and moves in sight unseen. They aren’t quite sure what to do with a lady who takes walks and does exercises each morning, who befriends the most unlikely people, and who isn’t afraid to start her own business alone. That’s not to say things are easy – and one of her biggest challenges is in dealing with Jericho Tucker, the town’s liveryman. Sparks fly, but in a fun and realistic way. Their conversations were so well written that I could hear them in my mind; their bantering made me laugh. Karen might be a debut novelist, but her skills are on par with some of my favorite longtime authors. I haven’t had the chance to read her second novel (A Head in the Clouds), but would like to. I’ll definitely be looking for more of her titles in the future.

Within My Heart, by Tamera Alexander. Tamera ranks as one of my very favorite authors, no matter what genre I’m reading. Her characters are well-rounded and realistic, her descriptions put me right in the story world, and she always includes something in the plot that surprises me. And, of course, there’s always the happily ever after. Many of Tamera’s fans had been waiting for Within My Heart to release because it finished her Timber Ridge Reflections trilogy. We finally learned the histories of characters Rachel Boyd and Dr. Rand Brookston – which explained why they were simultaneously drawn to each other but determined to stay apart. We also finally had closure to the tension between Rachel and Daniel Ranslett, the boyhood friend of Rachel’s first husband Thomas. I love how Tamera reveals her characters’ imperfections without making them wimps; instead, it just makes me love them more. Yes, I’m always looking for her next release.

Dancing Through Fire, by Kathryn Lasky. I love working book fairs at my kids’ schools because they’re fun, but I also like checking out some of the latest titles for kids. I actually bought Dancing Through Fire at a Scholastic book fair – partly to satisfy the long-ago dancer in me and partly because wanted to read a story set in that timeframe. The story takes place in Paris during the 1870s and focuses on a girl names Sylvie. She’s what’s known as a “little rat,” or a young student in the Paris Opera Ballet. Then war comes to Paris and changes everything. Even the dancers immersed in their own world of ballet are forced to deal with reality, and girls like Sylvie grow up quickly – and learn some important lessons. I wouldn’t want my third grader to read it yet, but it’s a good blend of history and fiction for upper elementary or middle school girls. Author trivia: Kathryn Lasky has written more than 100 books for children and adults, including  the books that the movie Legend of the Guardians was based on. We haven’t seen the movie, but one of our son’s buddies said it was his favorite movie of all time.

 

And, there you have it — three of my favorite historical novels from 2010, though they’re certainly not the only ones I enjoyed. So many books, so little time … and blog space! 🙂

Categories: Book reviews, Christian fiction, Fun Friday | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Some Favorite Reads of 2010

Although I always try to read a lot of books, I don’t usually think to stop and decide which were my favorites. Actually, if you asked me for a list right now I probably couldn’t even tell you all of the books I read in 2010! I’d like to do better with that in 2011 so I can have a “real” favorites list by the end of the year.

In the meantime, though, here are a few that I really enjoyed in 2010.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, by Joyce Magnin. I met Joyce at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in August; she taught the “Not yet published novelist” clinic I was able to participate in. I love reading a book when I’ve met the author because everything comes even more alive than usual. Joyce is open, honest, and has a quirky sense of humor – just like her book. Agnes and the other characters had some of the funniest lines and characteristics I’ve read lately. Small rural town – people who love each other but don’t spare the punches – yummy pies and other home cooking – rumors that fly quicker than a transatlantic jet. I heard Joyce’s voice throughout the story and thought it all came together in a very entertaining read. The follow-up book, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, was part of my Christmas goodies so I’m laughing over it now!

Tour de Force, by Elizabeth White. This story intrigued me from the get-go because it’s about professional ballet dancers. And, even though my dance class days are far behind me, I’ve always been a softie for things related to ballet. I loved how the story tackled the issue of being a Christian in a corner of the world where lots of other lifestyles are “the norm.” I loved how the story handled things realistically but also with respect. I fell in love with Gillian and Jacob and could tell that Elizabeth had spent hours of real-world research time around dancers to help keep things realistic. Tour de Force took me along for a wonderful adventure that I didn’t want to put down.

So Over It, by Stephanie Morrill. This was the final installment in the “Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt” series for teen girls and didn’t disappoint. Skylar’s over all the games and politics of high school so jumps at the chance to spend time with her grandparents in Hawaii after graduation. Maybe she’ll even get a job and stay there instead of heading back home. But Skylar learns some important lessons in Hawaii – like running away to hide doesn’t fix the issues, and sometimes even the most wonderful seeming places aren’t so great. The battles she has with herself and her family are so common to teenage girls, and I loved how Stephanie showed her working through things and making her own decisions. I’ve passed the series along to a couple of girls in my Wednesday night group at church – they have some great lessons without being preachy. I hope she has some new books coming soon!

 

I have several others to mention, but this blog post is getting too long! I’ll save the other 3 faves for next week. Happy new year!

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