May 28, 2015

Together with You

Together with You
by Victoria Bylin

This was my first book by Bylin but one look at the cover and I knew I had to read it!

Looking at the cover I expected this to be a fun romantic read without too much seriousness. Little did I know that I was walking into a fairly serious novel meant to both entertain and educate readers. But that worked out well for me because I'd just assume read books that have more of  purpose than just entertaining.

Unfortunately a serious problem in the United States and all around the world is FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) because so many women drink while they are pregnant and the alcohol affects the baby. In this story Penny falls in that spectrum and has trouble with loud noises, changes in routine, strong flavors, and conversations just to name a few. I worked with a child one summer that dealt with this and it was incredibly hard to see a child struggle with things that I take for granted like even simply leaving the house to go to the park. Bylin did an excellent job raising awareness for this disorder.

I fell in love with everyone in this story because they all seemed so realistic. The story has been done before countless times but the affects of a child with FASD on the family made for just the right amount of originality to keep me interested.

Overall the bonding of Carly, the nanny, with Penny and her brothers was very touching. Almost makes me wish we could all afford a nanny! And the romantic tension in this one is unbelievably thick along with the tension of having two characters falling in love even though one is a Christian and the other isn't.

Hopefully the more people read this the more awareness can be brought to FASD.

Bethany House provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

May 24, 2015

A Worthy Pursuit

A Worthy Pursuit
by Karen Witemeyer

Karen is among my favorite Christian authors and I was so excited to get the opportunity to review her ebook! A Worthy Pursuit is every bit as good as all of her other books - but perhaps even better!

I really enjoyed the characters in this one. A teacher/musician and a bounty hunter? I have no idea where she comes up with the ideas but she always has interesting characters! I really enjoyed getting to know Lottie and Stone in this book. The children in the story were also quite remarkable. They all have talents that were fun to read about. I especially loved how Karen used music as a theme for much of the book and talked about how different songs played by different people can evoke different reactions.

I'm not sure if I enjoyed the adventure or the love better in this book. It was full of action but it was also full of wonderful swoon worthy romantic scenes. I really loved watching the love story unfold in this one! The kisses exchanged in this book truly wanted to make me melt!

Typical for Karen's books this one moved fairly quickly but not in a rushed sort of way. I couldn't stop turning the pages and didn't want it to end. I lost sleep reading this. I just didn't want to stop reading! Karen is superb at making the setting, people, and action come to life in a way that no one else can.

This story is wrought with more tension than some of her books since children's lives are on the line. I found myself nervous at more than one point in the story because i was so worried about the kids. And true to form there was also tons of romantic tension. I loved how at first Lottie tried to avoid looking at Stone and how he was constantly having to re-focus his thoughts on something other than her!

If you are looking for a great love story with some action thrown in this is the book for you. And if in addition to that you want something that hasn't been done before then I especially suggest Karen Witemeyer's books. She comes up with excellent, unique characters with interesting professions.

Now I just have to wait for her to come up with another great idea and get it published!!!

Thanks to Bethany House for the copy of the book in exchange for my honest review!

May 22, 2015

In Firefly Valley

I first discovered Amanda Cabot’s writing with the first book in this series, At Bluebonnet Lake, which I found to be a light read with sweet characters and a charming setting. In Firefly Valley is no exception and was a delightful, fast read.

An edited version of this review was featured on The Christian Manifesto:

Cabot describes her scenery in a way that makes you feel like you are at Rainbow’s End, the resort where most of the story takes place. She also writes with a good balance of prose and dialogue but at times it was hard to keep track of all the secondary characters in the story. I loved the multiple love stories but I almost felt like there was enough in this book to have made it two books instead of one. I think Blake and Marisa’s story would have been stronger if Lauren and Drew’s had been told in a separate book. It is a relatively fast read as you get sucked into finding out more about the love lives of Marisa and Lauren. I really enjoyed the pace of this book.

Conservative readers might be alarmed by the mention of alcohol, smoking, and deceit and also the abandonment of family but in the end all of these vices are brought full circle by learning about forgiveness and second chances and will make for great discussion in a book club or parent/child relationship. I love when an author takes difficult concepts and turns them into ways for people to learn about the grace God provides.

Conflict abounds in In Firefly Valley. Marisa deals with a great amount of internal conflict resulting from abandonment, Blake has internal conflict from the way he grew up, and multiple characters have conflict with each other as they work through their internal conflicts. Cabot doesn’t sugar coat hard topics but instead uses them to allow for deeper levels of connection with characters. And even though this isn’t written in the romantic fiction genre she includes just the perfect amount of romantic tension as characters learn how to love each other. She also writes some pretty great romantic scenes where you think you won’t survive if you swoon any more.

I really appreciate Cabot’s attention to her character’s spiritual lives. I love reading books where the characters experience real life difficulties and still keep going back to God to be their rock in hard times. But I also appreciate that reading her book doesn’t feel like you are reading a sermon.

This book is quite predictable but I think that is what makes it such a sweet story. You can get lost in the book for a few hours and simply enjoy reading a typical contemporary Christian fiction book.  This book is perfect to take to the beach or read in a hammock. I think it is a great find for young women and even teenagers.

This isn’t a book that I will read over and over again but it was a lovely story with strong themes of friendship, community, forgiveness and love. 

Revell provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.