Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

This story’s premise (see summary below) intrigued me, and I enjoy this author’s work so I was glad to read this title for review.

Let’s begin with the summary:

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it’s already too late.

Sounds interesting right? And now my review:

Brock has a lot of regrets, especially in regards to his relationships. He’s made several mistakes in his life as a result of not valuing people. I’d say that is the overarching theme of this story. Readers will relate with carrying regrets and wishing there was a way to go back and advise your younger self. The hitch? What if she doesn’t listen? The hope? What if she does and your whole life changes for the better?

The story was unpredictable and kept me hooked. There were times I was confused reading this ARC, even though Jim used dates to help orient us. I enjoy reading Jim’s voice. And his premises are oftentimes outside this normal, physical world, which is fun. Looking forward to his next book.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Love in the Details by Becky Wade

Love in the Details by Becky Wade

I love the Zondervan wedding novellas! Pair that series with this author, and I was thrilled to read this title for review.

Let’s begin with the summary:

When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over.

Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she can’t help but feel horrible for the pain she caused him. And even though she longs to be with Josh, she doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?

And now, my review:

Oh the fun of reunion romances! I’ve enjoyed Becky’s books from her first release. So glad Zondervan included her in this series. I’ve just finished reading two regency romances (historicals), so coming back to a contemporary was a fun change.

Here we have a couple who were once in a relationship and who run into each other again years after they broke up. That’s a fun conflict. The fact they are each unattached, that there is still electricity between them, makes it even more enjoyable. But their secrets get in the way.

The hero’s directness was delicious. So often in romantic fiction we see characters who miscommunicate or have misunderstandings. I enjoyed watching a character speak the truth outright.

The heroine’s noble in keeping the secret she keeps, but I still longed for her to be open and forthright. (Which may have been why I appreciated the hero’s approach.) Her best friend, Sam, is a hoot! Their banter was delicious. As I read, I saw this story as a fit for a TV movie.

This was a fast read, with a theme of personal worth. In fact, the author snuck that theme in such a way that I questioned my own understanding because I didn’t see it coming—it just seemed natural. Ah, the sign of a good story—a profound lesson without preaching, for the discerning reader. 

As always with these Zondervan novellas, the first release is in e-book format before three are combined for re-release in paperback format.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Getting Through What You Can't Get Over by Anita Agers-Brooks

Today’s review is for a non-fiction title that I kept hearing about and decided might be helpful. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

There are some things in life people never get over. No matter how much they want to.

Many experience abuse, financial disaster, serious illness, death of loved ones, and other common traumas making them believe they’ll never move past the pain, but through research and true story compilations, author Anita Agers-Brooks offers emotional, practical, and spiritual insights from experts and people who have survived intense trauma—and have made it through seemingly impossible situations.

And now, my review:

Sometimes the only way beyond something is through it. 

Anita’s extensive work in counseling with trauma victims provides unique wisdom in this area. As I read, I was impressed with her expertise in the field of psychology. No wonder this book has been so well received. I will say, some of the stories were too difficult for me to read but I gleaned the key application—just keep going. Don’t give up. Move forward. Get help.

Because this book addresses real issues and because the author knows her field, and because the chapters offer genuine inspiration, I believe this book will help many people. She includes God in the narrativethe best Counselor. I believe every reader will find nuggets for personal application, or the means to help others. 

If you’re in a situation that seems impossible, or you’ve suffered trauma or love someone who has, I highly recommend this book. I believe highly sensitive people will benefit, but should proceed cautiously. Pick and choose the stories (chapters) that work for you. There are plenty of anecdotes to choose from.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

London Tides by Carla Laureano

London Tides by Carla Laureano

I’ve been working intermittently on a novel for some years that begins in a way very similar to this story. That can happen. I found it intriguing. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and mentor in the field, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?
And now, my review:

I loved Five Days in Skye—one of my favorites from the year it came out (2013). This story references characters from that book, which was fun. 

I enjoy reunion romances. These characters have changed a lot since they’ve seen each other. They’re very mature now. I like Carla’s voice and prose. The heroine’s a professional photographer, so it was enjoyable to watch her work her craft. These two had some fun, innovative dates. 

My challenge with this story is I didn’t stay hooked. I lost interest around the 30 percent point. (I read it as an ARC  in e-book format.) Though I didn’t love the book, I wish the author all the best. I'll be watching for her next contemporary title.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Together with You by Victoria Bylin

Together with You by Victoria Bylin

I enjoy Victoria's writing so I thrilled with the privilege of reading this title for review. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs...

When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Pennyand Penny's handsome fathertugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?

And now, my review:

This story began with a great hook—a missing child. As a parent, that gets to you, makes you keep reading. And it’s a great scenario for authors to introduce their characters. Throughout the story, the author throws in wise nuggets, like how fathers are created as they father. (Same for mothers, but our protag is a dad.) 

Our heroine longs for a family and Penny, the protag’s daughter, tugs on something inside Carly. But getting involved in her life means facing down demons she’s successfully avoided for a season. God’s probably not going to let her get away with avoidance for long because that isn’t freedom. And He’s all about freedom. Carly is good for Ryan’s family, and they’re good for her.

I liked how the author kept us hooked in this romantic story. She was skilled at even taking us into the little girl’s thoughts—showing her confusion and motivations. The author obviously understands her subject matter here. Well written.

All in all, an enjoyable story.