Thursday, February 15, 2018

Review: The View from Rainshadow Bay

The View from Rainshadow Bay The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The View from Rainshadow Bay (Lavender Tides #1)
by Colleen Coble

SUMMARY: It’s been a year since her husband’s death in a tragic rock-climbing accident, and Shauna struggles to raise their young song and make ends meet. A friend’s final words to her before he is murdered convinces Shauna she is in danger. She teams up with her husband’s best friend to unravel secrets that have been around since her childhood.

MY REVIEW: Well, I wonder if I’m the only one who has never read Colleen Coble before? I admit I picked this one up because I love the smell of lavender and it’s got a gorgeous cover. LOL. Although murder mysteries are not my usual cup of tea (because I never know “whodunnit” until the author reveals it!), I have seen this author’s books everywhere and thought “Why not?” And I was pleasantly surprised. I actually enjoyed it!

I really liked the characters. They felt realistic in their struggles with their faith and with their grief. There was enough doubt cast on various characters in the story to make you suspect several, and yet a few surprises were also thrown in. I would recommend it to my friends, and I will be purchasing this one for our church library. I also plan to read rest of the series when they are published. Hmm, perhaps Colleen Coble will get me hooked on murder mysteries!

The only thing I felt was off in the story was that the killer seemed so much more cold-hearted in the beginning than the end. At the end, he didn’t really want to kill again. I don’t know it just seemed inconsistent with the development of his character at the beginning.

MY RATING: 4 stars. I decided to go ahead and give it 4 stars despite the off feeling with the killer at the end. I did really enjoy the story. It kept me wanting to read to find out what happened.

=======
At my request, I received a free electronic copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to give a positive review.  This review reflects my honest thoughts and opinions on the book, and I received no compensation for this review other than getting to keep the e-book.

View all my reviews

Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill

SUMMARY: On a particular day each year, the leaders of a village place a baby in the forest to keep the forest witch at bay. However, the witch does not understand why on earth the people would leave a child out each year and takes the child and places him or her into a loving home in another town. But one year, she keeps the child. And that’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

MY REVIEW: This enjoyable, fairytale-like book had many humorous scenes and had good messages of love and forgiveness. Good discussions can be had on abuse of power, control, prejudices, and following without questioning.

The witch—with the help of a poetic bog monster and a Perfectly Tiny dragon—is kept on her toes raising Luna, a child full of magic. Parents reading the story will laugh at some of “joys” of child-rearing. This story covers Luna’s first 13 years of life.

While there is much fun, adventure, magic, and love in the story, there is also much sorrow, depression, grief, and madness. There are also a few creepy parts. Like paper birds that attack “without mercy” and disfigure and sit in trees, watching you. This story might be labeled for grades 5-8, but perhaps it might be better suited for a bit older of an audience.

I did find the middle of the book slower than the beginning or the end, but overall I enjoyed the story immensely. I’m going to give it to my fairy tale-loving 17yo daughter to read next.

In many places, the writing is lyrical and beautiful. In others, it’s repetitive. Here are a couple of quotes I enjoyed.

“My love is not divided. It’s multiplied.”
and
“She dreamed of oceans of ink and forests of quills and an endless bog of words. She dreamed of all of it in abundance.”

3.5 stars. I deliberated over how many stars to give this book. In the end, I came up with four stars because it is very enjoyable even though it has some slowness and repetitiveness, but I felt I needed to deduct half of a star for being marketed to as low as 5th graders when it will be best understood by older students.

This review reflects my honest thoughts and opinions on the book, and I received no compensation for this review.


View all my reviews

Review: A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home

A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great children's book with delightful drawings

This story has such delightful drawings! As an adult, I enjoyed the story. I learned about Audubon's techniques and that he employed a young boy to draw the backgrounds. I did not realize that Audubon killed and then positioned most of his subjects for drawing. I think children who are not sensitive to death of animals will enjoy this story.

Celeste, the main character, spends much time avoiding death by the household cat. She is also bullied by fellow rodents. And she is seeking a home. Along the way, she finds friendship, love, and many adventures.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Review: Marabel and the Book of Fate

Marabel and the Book of Fate Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun fantasy story for middle schoolers, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys girl heroes or fairy tales and myths.

Marabel is a princess and twin to her "Chosen One" brother. She lives in his shadow but loves him, her family, and her kingdom. When he is kidnapped, she sets off to bring him back. There is so much fun in this adventure: many references to familiar tales and even to some modern things (like "elfies," pictures of you drawn by elves). While there is a lot of fun and puns and hilarious times, along the way Marabel learns about biases and prejudices and teamwork. She also learns she's stonger than she thinks.

I enjoy a good story that makes me chuckle and gives me something to think about. This story did that. Many middle-grade stories that I read these days seem to "dumb down" the wording or sentence structure within the story; this one did not. While it may not be rich in its vocabulary, at least I did not feel talked down to. I definitely would recommend Marabel and the Book of Fate for school libraries and language arts classrooms.  

=======
At my request, I received a free electronic copy of this book from NetGalley.  I was not required to give a positive review.  This review reflects my honest thoughts and opinions on the book, and I received no compensation for this review other than getting to keep the e-book. 

View all my reviews

Monday, January 22, 2018

Review: Bread of Angels

Bread of Angels Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great story! I love how the author takes a few verses from the Bible and then creates a great backstory. I did not realize until after I had finished this book that her novel The Land of Silence tied into this novel and actually comes first in sequence of time. However, it is not necessary to read it first. The books can each fully stand alone.

For this novel, Tessa Afshar creates a backstory for Lydia, the seller of purple who has a brief mention in the New Testament. The story is plausible and enjoyable. I learned so much about business and dyeing in the early church time. Lydia definitely had to be courageous and determined to make it as a businesswoman of that time period. I enjoyed the humorous spots and fell in love with some great quotes. My favorite was “I follow a scarred Redeemer. Somehow I think our scars become holy in the shadow of His. And His plans are made perfect in the demolition of our own devices.” (page 290). We can learn a lot from Tessa Afshar's Lydia!

I highly recommend this author. I have enjoyed three of her novels so far and have purchased all three for my church library. I look forward to reading more of her books.

View all my reviews

Review: Land of Silence

Land of Silence Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again, Tessa Afshar has done an outstanding job of taking familiar scenes from the Bible and turning them into an amazing story. This is my third novel from this author. I ended up staying up until 1:00 a.m. to finish it because I just couldn't put it down!

The author is very talented at creating a plausible backstory for the various Biblical characters within her stories. By the time we get to the scenes of the Bible that we already know, the backstory has made us feel so deeply for the characters that we forget this is just a fictional scenario of how the Biblical characters came to be part of that passage. The Bible gives us glimpses into various people's lives. Some more than others. Tessa Afshar gives us one possibility of their life fleshed out. And, oh what glorious tales they have been! Can't wait to read more of this author. I also hope some of the characters from Land of Silence make it into a book of their own! I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who likes historical or Biblical fiction.

5 stars and I also purchased a copy for my church library. :)

View all my reviews

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: The Man He Never Was: A Modern Reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde

The Man He Never Was: A Modern Reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde The Man He Never Was: A Modern Reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde by James L. Rubart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not the first book by James L. Rubart that I have read, and I'm sure it won't be the last. As with the author's other books, this intriguing novel gives you much to think about. If you've ever read and studied [i]The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde[/i], then you know where this story is going. And if you're a Christian, then you really understand this story. Inside each of us is both good and bad; the one we feed the most is the one we show the most.

As with other books by this author, there are supernatural elements, but it's not a Sci-Fi or fantasy novel. It's the story of a modern-day man who wakes up one day and discovers he disappeared eight months before after leaving a note that could be construed as a suicide note. He's not the man he used to be, and he never wants to be that man again....and that's the struggle.

Well worth a read, even if books with a few supernatural elements are not your normal cup of tea.
=====
At my request, I received a free electronic copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to give a positive review. This review reflects my honest thoughts and opinions on the book, and I received no compensation for this review other than getting to keep the e-book.

View all my reviews