Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden. Covenant Communications, 2011. 280p. (9781608612819)

Did you know that the Beauty & the Beast story can also be found in Greek mythology? I didn’t. Or at least if I did learn that in high school, I forgot. But Sarah M. Eden caught the similarities between the classic fairytale and the myth of Hades and Persephone and created a delightful story using a different interpretation of Persephone’s motives in the myth.

Seeking Persephone is set in 1805 England. Adam Richard Boyce, Duke of Kielder, Marquess of Kielder, and Earl of Falstone does not have an heir. And he thoroughly despises the heir presumptive, a distant cousin. Adam is very proud of the Kielder estate, the family’s 450 year history and does not want to see it fall into the hands of Mr. Hewitt.

His man of business suggests that perhaps he should marry thus providing a way for the estate to stay in the family line. A preposterous and nauseating idea as far as Adam is concerned. He is a proud, angry man who learned at an early age how to make others fear him and do his bidding. Scars from surgeries during his childhood have disfigured the left side of his face and he never expected to marry. And he never wanted to marry, not after watching his parents grow apart as his mother frequently left home to spend time in town. 

But perhaps if he found a homely woman of limited means desperate enough to marry him, he wouldn’t have to fear her leaving. Unfortunately for him Persephone is not homely, but she is of limited means with few if any prospects and decides to marry the duke so that her many siblings would have a chance at a better life.

She also takes her role as duchess seriously and tries to understand the enigma that is her new husband. He may strike fear into the heart of everyone (with a few exceptions), he may curse up the storm (but not in the presence of a lady) and he may be terribly scarred (in his opinion). But with the help of Harry, Adam’s only friend, and her own observations and tenacity she slowly starts to understand her husband. But what will it take for Adam to understand his wife?

I really enjoyed this story. It is clean fiction (just a few kisses) set in a great era (Regency England). It was fun reading the tie-in between the Greek myth and Seeking Persephone. Although the title doesn’t quite fit, as the story is told mainly from her perspective and when we read from his perspective it doesn’t seem like he’s exactly seeking her.

Persephone is a wonderful heroine and her strength of character shines through, but at the same time we are allowed to see her vulnerability. I loved the dialogue between Adam and Harry – Harry is a true friend. I don’t expect Sarah Eden to write a sequel, but I’d love to see Harry happily married. (Update 8/27/2013: Obviously I didn't do my homework! There is a sequel and it's about Harry! Now to figure out how to get a copy...)

The only thing that didn’t quite click with me was how vengeful Mr. Smith was. Sure he was unhappy that the duke closed down his business, but attempted murder? Seemed a bit farfetched to me.  

Disclosure: I borrowed this book through ILL.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Forever After by Deborah Raney

Forever After by Deborah Raney. Howard Books, 2011. 393p. Series: Hanover Falls, #2 (9781416599937)

A fun read on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I had picked this up because I thought the first book in the series had been made into a movie and I enjoyed the movie. Well now that I’m writing this I can’t remember the movie’s name nor can I find any record of it on the author’s website.

But it was a fun movie – about a fireman that fell in love with a girl writing a cookbook based on dishes the men in his fire station cooked. I think he rescued her from a fire before any of that happened. If anyone can remember which movie that is, I’d be most obliged if you’d tell me. (It’s at the church library.)  

Anyway, back to the book. Forever After is about a fireman recovering from a tragic homeless shelter fire that affected many people in Hanover Falls. Lucas Vermontez had always wanted to be a firefighter just like his dad and had achieved that goal. But the shelter fire left him severely wounded – emotionally and physically.

A year later he still has a limp and uses a cane - which is a huge improvement to the wheelchair and walker he had been using a few months ago. But he is frustrated by his limitations and worries he’ll never be able to return to the job he loves.

Jenna Morgan lost her fireman husband, Zach, who was also Lucas' best friend, in that fire and has spent the past year trying to continue with life and properly mourn her husband. But she’s starting to realize that they had been relying too much on his parent’s money and had always lived beyond their means.

She is forced to sell her home and rely on others for housing. Through that and her growing friendship with Lucas she begins to face her past and figure out who she is and wants to be. Not an easy task for someone who has spent years being someone that others wanted her to be.

I liked how the story would switch from Lucas’ to Jenna’s point of view. In different ways they are each haunted by the past so the alternating point of view was a good way to get to know both characters and understand where they were coming from.

At first I wasn’t quite sure why this was “Christian fiction” since no one seemed to have a very strong faith in God or even any faith at all. But right around the time I really started to wonder Lucas started to pray more and openly acknowledge that he wouldn’t have gotten through his depression without God’s help.

His mom is a strong believer and I love the contrast between the Vermontez family and the Morgans (Jenna’s in-laws). One is welcoming, loving, and caring, the other proper and controlling. Jenna notices and slowly starts to question where the Vermontez family gets their peace and love.

She learns first hand that God really does listen to prayers. An important lesson that many people, many Christians, don’t quite grasp. Not only does he listen but he also answers; just maybe not in the way we were thinking of. But whether His answer is “yes, I’d love to do that for you”, “no, if you knew what I knew you wouldn’t ask that”, “wait, the timing is just not right yet”, or “I’ve got a better plan” – He still listens.

One thing I didn’t like though was that Lucas continued to be attracted to and pursue Jenna even though he knew she didn’t share his belief in God. Missionary dating is not a good idea. And while it “worked out” in the story it isn’t something that ought to be promoted.  

Go read it! Wake County; Greene County; Find it at a library near you; Buy it from CBD (ebook also available)   

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my church library.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another Blogger's Giveaways

Megan over at Hardcover Feedback is celebrating her first blogoversary and has a bunch of author interviews and giveaways by those authors. The contests end March 2nd or 3rd. Many of them are open internationally as well - so all you folks living overseas you can enter!

Here are just a few of the books that you could win:

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner
The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck by Kathleen Y'Barbo (I fun story that I just reviewed)
Surrender the Dawn by MaryLu Tyndall
Protection for Hire by Camy Tang
Mr. Darcy's Dream by Elizabeth Aston
The Lady's Maid by Susan Page Davis
Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin
The Wedding Journey by Cheryl St. John

And more!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck by Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck by Kathleen Y’Barbo. Waterbrook Press, 2011. 342p. Series: The Women of the West #3 (9780307729644)

It’s never a good idea for me to start a book after midnight…or later. I just don’t like stopping in the middle of a book. I got this book as a free ebook from the publisher and thus was reading it on my laptop in bed. So I did contemplate stopping once my laptop battery got really low. But that didn’t happen. Instead I stretched the power cord across the room and finished the story.

Charlotte Beck is an American heiress who is making her London debut under the watchful and caring eyes of her stepmother, uncle and grandfather. And Colonel William F. Cody. A family friend who had recently brought his Wild West show to London.

Unfortunately Charlotte, a willful and creative girl, has a knack for getting into trouble and a lot of the trouble seems to stem from her interactions with Viscount Alex Hambly. Although the society shocking stunt during Colonel Cody’s show was entirely her own fault.

The Hamblys have their title, lands, family heirlooms and jewels but very little money. Alex does not wish to marry but is forced to realize that he must find a rich wife if he hopes to keep his mother comfortable and uphold the family honor.

When Charlotte and Alex happen to meet again in Denver, Colorado, Mr. Beck is confirmed in his suspicions that Alex gives as good as he gets and doesn’t let Charlotte get her way completely. Mr. Beck loves his daughter and wants to see her settled in a good marriage. Mr. Beck is persistent and shrewd. He knows Alex needs money and Charlotte wants to go to college, and he has the ability and power to fulfill both. All he wants in exchange is for the two to get married after Charlotte graduates.

This is book three in The Women of the West series and I have not read the other two. There were a few things that were not fully explained that might have been clearer had I read the others, but I think each book can probably stand on its own.

I really enjoyed the dialog between Alex and Charlotte, their interactions are always entertaining. Although I had hoped Charlotte would be a bit more mature and less selfish after college. Mr. Beck would seem quite tyrannical if it weren’t for the obvious fact that he dearly loved his daughter, that he was quite certain that the marriage was the Lord’s will, and that Alex and Charlotte are well suited.

One thing that bothered me though, was that both Mr. Beck and Alex claimed to be “praying men” but I can’t remember either of them ever praying. This is supposedly a Christian historical fiction romance but there is nothing about Christ or Christianity in the book. Just “faith” – a very generic word that the author didn’t elaborate on. Perhaps I was just expecting more after reading Sabrina by Lori Wick. It is a clean read for the most part – there are several kisses (before and after the marriage) and caresses (after the wedding).

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sabrina by Lori Wick

Sabrina by Lori Wick. Harvest House, 2007. 302p. Series: Big Sky Dreams, #2 (9780736920780)

Last week I read Cassidy and liked it so much I immediately went and got the rest of the books in the series from the library. Book two was even better than the first and am looking forward to book three.

The story starts out in Denver, CO and at first I was saddened because I had hoped the stories would continue to take place in Token Creek. Well, I just had to be patient.

Raven is a prostitute. Danny Barshaw is a police officer investigating a murder on the street when he notices the young woman with sad eyes amongst the spectators. After finishing his investigation he takes Sabrina Matthews, known on the street as Raven, by the arm and leads her home to meet his wife Callie.

Danny and Callie are completely unlike anyone Sabrina has ever met. They are kind, loving, are not judging, and they are offering her a chance at a new life:
“I don’t know why you’re a prostitute – that’s not the most important issue here – but I do know it’s not a life that will be satisfying to you. No matter what the reason you got involved, it’s wrong to sell your body. God has better for you.”

Sabrina’s heart began to pound at the mention of God. Part of her wanted to run for her life, and part of her couldn’t move.

“I don’t know what you know about God,” Danny continued quietly, “but I can tell you that the Bible calls what you’re doing sin. The Bible also says that Christ died for that sin, and if you’ll trust in Him to save you, He will.” (pg. 9)
He goes on to share several verses from the Bible showing Bri that God does know all of our sins and can create a clean heart in us. Over the next week Bri learns that because of the love God has for her (and everyone else) Christ died on the cross to take the punishment of her sins. Danny also has her read the account of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42 NIV84) and about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11 NIV84).

After a couple weeks of attending church with the Barshaws and reading the Bible, she finally understands and believes the gospel, the good news, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again.

When men from her past come looking for Raven, Danny and Callie come to the decision that it would be best to send Bri where she wouldn’t be haunted by her past. She agrees to their plan and finds herself on a train to Token Creek, Montana Territory with only her bag, her sewing skills, her pluck and a one way ticket back to Denver to fall back on.

I really, really enjoyed this book. A clean read (yep! it’s possible to write a clean story about a prostitute!) with a couple of hugs and sweet kisses. It was a great reminder of God’s love for us, how dirty our sins are before him, how much He cares for sinners, and how important scripture memory is.

At one point Sabrina is asked why she prays “in the name of the Son.” She didn’t know the answer but asked another woman who immediately directed her to Colossians 1:7 and explained, “We want to remember when we pray that we need to do it in Christ. His name is everything. … If we can’t ask in His Son’s name, then something is wrong with what we’re praying.” (pg.241-242)

These are just characters in a novel, but novels can teach us about truth and remind us of what is important.
What truths have you been reminded of recently?

I borrowed this from my public library.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Currently Free on Amazon: Muirwood trilogy

This is a quick public service announcement! Today (and yesterday, but that's a moot point) Jeff Wheeler's Muirwood trilogy is available for free on Amazon. Here's the link to his Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Jeff-Wheeler/e/B004SBCEK6

I read several reviews of this fantasy trilogy on Amazon and everyone loved the books - said they were pretty clean, interesting, a page turner, etc. And I mean literally everyone loved them - it doesn't have a whole lot of reviews but everyone gave it 5 stars. On Goodreads each book in the series has an average rating of 4.2 stars or higher.

So it sounds like a good series and I'm looking forward to reading them. Many thanks to Books are Sanity!!! for bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cassidy by Lori Wick

Cassidy by Lori Wick. Harvest House, 2007. 302p. Series: Big Sky Dreams, #1 (978-0-7369-1618-9)

It’s been a while since I’ve read any of Lori Wick’s books, although I love The Princess and Bamboo & Lace, just to name two. I’ve seen this series on library bookshelves for a while and just never felt like picking it up. Until last Sunday. And then I read it in one day. 

Cassidy, is an independent young lady who is making her way in life as the owner of Token Creek Apparel in Montana Territory, 1880. She is a wonderful seamstress, has a great head for business, and does her best to please her customers – even when they are cranky and demanding.

Once a week Cassidy goes to visit her best friend Meg, a rancher’s wife, to socialize and sew baby items. Meg and her husband are expecting their first little one in a few months and are worried about the safety of both mother and child. Their fear isn’t without reason since lots of women died in childbirth back then, but I thought the fear wasn’t very well explained given how much they worried about it. It also made me wonder which way the story would go.

Meg, Brad, and Brad’s brother Trace, who lives with them, are like sister and brothers to Cassidy. Not much is said about Cassidy’s family and past, since she has only shared her story with two people – Meg and Pastor Rylan. But when someone from her past shows up in town, her world is shaken and life in Token Creek won’t ever be the same.

I liked Cassidy, both the book and the woman. Lori Wick does a great job of drawing you into the lives of all the characters, not just the ones I mention above – those are some of the main people, but all the supporting characters are well done. Sometimes when an author includes sermons or Bible verses it comes off stilted, not here. They are a part of the story and help you understand the decisions Cassidy and others make. There is some kissing – mostly between married couples, and it’s implied that the couples enjoy each other behind the bedroom door.

If you like clean Christian, historical fiction set in the western frontier in the 1800s or any of Lori Wick’s other works then you’ll probably enjoy this one.

 Disclosure: I borrowed this from my church library.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury, 2010. 266p. (978-1-59990-478-8)

Princess Poppy is one of the famous twelve dancing princesses. The spell has been broken by her now brother-in-law Galen, but there is political tension amongst the kingdoms due to the death of so many princes who tried and failed to break the spell.

In order to restore good will and strengthen alliances the various monarchs agree to send some of their children, the princes and princesses, on visiting trips to make friends with each other. Of course this is also an excellent opportunity for the heirs to the thrones to also find a spouse. All of the unmarried dancing princesses are sent off to different kingdoms and Princess Poppy finds herself in Breton. Prince Christian of the Danelaw also finds himself being sent to Breton.

Poppy and Christian do become friends but their friendship (and potential romance) is threatened when a mysterious and beautiful young girl, calling herself Lady Ella, appears at a royal gala. Not only does she seem to bewitch every young man present but she also has the audacity to wear a more resplendent copy of Princess Poppy’s gown.

But something isn’t right. Poppy knows magic when she sees it – after all she danced in an enchanted world every night of her life until the spell was broken. She knows who the girl is, but can’t figure out where she is getting her beautiful gowns or fabulous dancing slippers (they appear to be glass!). Nor can she understand the motives behind all the magic. She needs all the help she can get to rescue the girl and break the enchantress’ hold.

Jessica Day George does a wonderful job giving a new twist to Cinderella. I really enjoyed that “Cinderella” was not the main character but that her story was woven into a sequel of another fairytale. Looking forward to reading more of Jessica Day George’s books! Especially Princess of the Midnight Ball which tells how Galen broke the spell Poppy and her sisters were under.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Rose Garden Husband by Margaret Widdemer

The Rose Garden Husband by Margaret Widdemer
The Rose Garden Husband by Margaret Widdemer. Grosset & Dunlap, 1915. 208p.

Miss Braithwaite, or Liberry Teacher as the children call her, is a public library employee who loves her kids and books, but finds that living in the city and working leaves very little time (and even less money) for herself. One particular trying day she exclaims to herself, 
“I’m sick of working hard fifty-one weeks out of fifty-two for board and lodging and carfare and shirtwaists and the occasional society of a few girls who don’t get any more out of life than I do! I’m sick of libraries, and of being efficient! I want to be a real girl! Oh, I wish – I wish I had a lot of money, and a rose-garden, and a husband!”

Well, watch out what you wish for because you just might get it. That same day an elderly couple that had befriended Miss Braithwaite during their interactions at the library approach her with a unusual proposition. A proposition that includes a lot of money, the potential for a rose-garden or two and even a husband.

There’s nothing scandalous about the proposition, it is merely an arrangement to ease the fears of a dying woman and provide a faithful companion to an invalid. Liberry Teacher is a sweet, patient, conscientious girl with a dash of stereotypical librarianness who takes her job very seriously.

I loved this book. It’s so much fun and written in such a different style than what is common today. The story is sweet, it’s a clean marriage of convenience/arranged marriage story and it’s about a librarian. What’s not to love? :-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry. Bloomsbury, 2009. 306p. (978-1-59990-334-7)

Half way through this book I wasn’t quite sure how much I liked it because of all the theft and deceit. But then I also decided that Peter and Lucinda couldn’t be just anybody and that I most definitely wanted to know who they’d be. By the end I liked this book a whole lot better, although the thievery still bothers me.

Lucinda had been born to a wealthy, loving family, but a tragic accident killed both her parents when she was very young. Now Lucinda is an orphan living with her uncle and step-aunt, although her uncle wasn’t a blood-relative either, he had just been married to her mother’s sister. He is a jeweler but with little business, and the step-aunt is a harsh, unforgiving woman.

Julie Berry brings in elements of Cinderella, but this is not your typical Cinderella story. Sure Lucinda is an orphan and Beryl is a fairy godmother of sorts and she dances with the prince, but the plot isn’t girl-meets-prince-then-happily-ever-after. The plot centers on an unusual gem that a strange and beautiful woman brings into the shop one day. The same day the woman comes, a handsome young man wanting to buy a gift stops by and then a charming rogue (and the city’s best pick pocket) drops in. Literally. And that’s where the trouble starts. And I wish I could tell you more but I hate spoiling any parts of a story for anyone.

It’s a fun book. Amaranth Enchantment is the first book Julie Berry has published. And she does a good job. The characters are interesting – Beryl, especially, has quite the interesting history. I can only think of one instance where the dialogue was a bit stilted and could have used a bit more work. And I wish the treachery of the villain had been dealt with better at the end. My favorite character was Dog, the goat. So loyal and smart! Overall a fun, fairytale-ish story.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin. Bethany House, 2011. 388p. (978-0-7642-0498-2)

This is a very satisfying read. Enough mystery, adventure, life and death situations, love, romance, danger, buried treasure and books to make for a great read. And the irony is that the librarian heroine thinks all the adventures she’s living through are like scenes and settings from the novels she’s read. Until she realizes that God is control of her life and living life is better than living vicariously through fictional characters.

Set in 1936 Illinois and Kentucky, Alice is the newest librarian at the Blue Island public library and has been dating respectable Gordon T. Walters for nearly a year. But between Depression budget shortfalls and the death of the library’s main patrons dies, the library must cut back its hours and its staff. The day before Alice found out about losing her job, Gordon accused her of living in a fantasy world and broke up with her.

Alice would rather not keep busy with the tasks her parents give her so she jumps at the chance to travel to Kentucky with her aunt and uncle to deliver the boxes of book donations she has been collecting for the Acorn Public Library. And that’s where her adventure begins.

I don’t want to say anything more about the plot for fear of spoiling your fun. But I will tell you about some of the people. June Ann, Clint, Gladys, and Ike all made me think of some of the people from the Christy movies – feuding, moonshine and a distrust of outsiders is in Acorn just as it was in Cutter Gap. Miss Lillie is a great character, so much wisdom, quirkiness (love potion anyone?), knowledge and history. A woman of great faith, she taught Alice more about God in a short period of time more than she learned from going to church and hearing her father’s sermons all her life.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were entertaining, the mystery interesting and was a great reminder that God directs our steps. He has a wonderful purpose for our lives and we need to be listening to his directions.

Did you have the Steve Green cassette or VHS (or even CD or DVD) Hide ‘em in Your Heart growing up? If so than you know that there is a friend who sticks, kinda like peanut butter: 

The verse, There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24b NIV84) plays a two part purpose in the book. The first is obvious, but for the second you’ll just have to read the book.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow

Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker. Harper, 2011. 272p. (978-0062007285)

I read this last summer and am writing this review completely from memory. Since the Super Bowl is tomorrow (yes, I know, the Broncos aren’t playing) I figured I ought to review a football book, and since this is the most recent football related book that I’ve read, I figured it was appropriate. Especially since the only other one is the novel Hometown Legend by Jerry B. Jenkins that I read back in high school. (A fun novelization of the movie.) Plus Tebow has been discussed quite a lot in the past few months.

I really don’t care about American football, but I actually requested this book from the library before it came out. Why? Because Tim Tebow is a missionary kid (and a homeschooler). I was hoping to learn more about that aspect of his life but his family returned to the States when he was still quite young – around age three or four if my memory serves me correctly. So naturally he doesn’t remember much about living overseas, but it still influenced his life – his dad travelled there frequently, he went there on a mission trip in high school, and his foundation is helping orphans there.

Instead, and rightly so, the book focuses on his football career. How his love and passion for the sport developed while a kid, how much time he spent in high school developing his skills, how he agonized over what college to attend and then his college career. I’m sure it also talks about his move to the NFL and his games there but I really can’t remember much about that part of the book.

Through My Eyes tells a lot about what goes on off the field. All the training and exercise, perseverance and dedication, self-discipline and focus that is necessary to play at that level. It’s no wonder the apostle Paul uses athletes as an example of how we should live a Christian life – focused on Jesus Christ.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV84)

Tim Tebow’s great work ethic and dedication to his training are very evident throughout his book and Paul mentions the strict training athletes subject themselves to, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV84) And Tim Tebow knows that there is “a crown that will last forever” and he is running hard in that race as well.

I enjoyed this book – even if the football details got to be a bit too much at times. His drive, determination and his love for Christ is inspiring.

P.S. An edition of his book recently came out for younger readers, Through My Eyes: A Quarterbacks Journey And I like this book cover better because you can actually read (and notice) the title.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009. 451p. (978-0-399-15534-5)

So much has already been said and written about this book. But I wanted to review this in honor of Black History Month. I saw the movie before I read the book and I thought it was a very good adaptation. A couple things were changed or shortened of course but overall I liked the movie. If you don’t read the book, watch the movie. But if you're planning on reading the book, don't watch the movie until afterwards, otherwise you'll know the Terrible, Awful Thing and that takes away from the plot (at least it did for me).

Set in the early 1960s, the book is written from the point of view of three women – Aibileen, Miss Skeeter, and Minny. Aibileen and Minny are both maids in Jackson, Mississippi. Miss Skeeter, whose actual name is Eugenia Phelan, has just graduated from college and wants to become a writer, but her mother wants her to get married like the rest of her peers. Aibileen and Minny both work for some of Miss Skeeter’s friends. And Skeeter gets to know them when she gets a job writing a cleaning advice column for the local newspaper but knows nothing about cleaning.

Before graduating Skeeter had applied to a job in New York with a famous publishing house, a senior editor took interest in Skeeter and encouraged her to send her best ideas in. She did but Ms. Stein told her to find something she was more passionate about. And that’s when it hit her. To write about life in Jackson, Mississippi from the point of view of the help. A risky busy, considering the racial tensions in Jackson, the civil rights movement underway and the KKK. It isn’t easy for Skeeter to convince Aibileen to join her in this venture and it isn’t easy for Aibileen to convince other maids to tell their stories.

But this isn’t just a story about three ladies who join forces to write a book from a controversial point of view. It is the story of what daily life was like for black maids in 1962/63 Mississippi. It is the story of a single, college educated, career desiring young lady living in a time when all the girls she knew were married and had only gone to college to find a husband. It is a story that makes Jim Crow laws come to life. And it shows that everyone has hopes and dreams and secrets no matter what their station in life might be.

I liked this book. It opens a window onto an era and setting that I have not read much about and that is very different (and yet not different) from life today. Kathryn Stockett does an excellent job in giving life to her characters and weaving the story together as it is told from three points of view.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Month in Review – January 2012

At the end of each month I plan on listing all the books I reviewed and noting which were the most popular. This time I listed them in order of popularity. Many thanks to all of you who have encouraged me in starting this blog! I couldn’t have done it without your love, kind words and good ideas.

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl Searching for imaginary monsters during summer vacation is one thing, but when a real dragon makes his appearance Leo needs to defeat the monster. But at what cost? (This was by far the most popular post. And it deserves it. It’s a fabulous book!)
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock This book is about a princess who needs to learn how to be a princess and save her kingdom does a great job of mixing and weaving together many fairytales.
Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake Inspirational fiction set in 1890s Arkansas and Texas about a couple learning to overcome their differences and love each other.
The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson A wonderful retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a medieval, Christian twist.
Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray Running from an abusive boyfriend Anna finds refuge amongst a friend’s Amish family but needs to face her past.
Chalice by Robin McKinley Interesting story about a young girl who suddenly finds herself in a position of great importance.
Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble A fun story about an estranged couple who are trying to figure out the mystery behind their daughter’s kidnapping.
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