mountain brook ink

Book Review: Make Haste Slowly

I sat down to read this book and really didn’t know what to make of it. I read it in relatively few sittings and I never really knew where the story was going, and it ended in a way I didn’t expect. In short- Make Haste Slowly does good work of being a mystery.

Callie Erickson has started a new life in small town Texas, content to live life with her friends, her pugs, and her new flower/knitting/book shop. She is settling in nicely to routine and the author made me laugh out loud a few times at the antics of Callie’s pugs. This new calm life is not meant to be when Callie discovers a mystery bag and a dead body on her doorstep.

In feel? This reminded me of watching Murder She Wrote with my mom. I liked how it told a solid story, but definitely left room open explore more about these characters. My only criticism is while I generally really like references to other stories and books, these references were so ingrained into the story that if I wasn’t familiar with the book the characters were talking about, I couldn’t follow that part of the story. It seemed to assume the audience had read all the same books.

I look forward to reading where this series goes next.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Advertisements

Book Review: At The Crossroads

I loved this book. I was having trouble figuring out what I’d say in this review because normally I do a small summary, the stuff I liked, the stuff I didn’t like and then my concluding thoughts. But I can’t think of anything that wasn’t done well. It was that good.

At the Crossroads has a widowed mother with two kids who is making do and getting by, and lives in a manner that she is always expecting the other shoe to drop. And unfortunately? You don’t blame her, she has had a rough go of it. The last thing she needed was a crush on the pastor who may or may not be staying because his heart really is in the mission field overseas.

Christa MacDonald expertly portrays both small towns and private Christian schools, in that she shows the good, and the bad that come with those environments without feeling like she’s trying to make a point to the merit of either of these things. Private Christian schools can be great, but they can also be legalistic and condemning. As a single mother the heroine Erin, gets both ends of that. In the previous book her daughter was pregnant out of wedlock, and now she gets nastygrams from parents saying she should resign from her position as the physical education teacher. And she is clearly treated as a “lower class” than the other moms.

Dan Cooper is the pastor of the small town church, but he always meant this to be a temporary gig while he waited for his mom to recover from a stroke. Then the years rolled on and his mom didn’t improve, and he was still pastor. At the same time that he really notices Erin is when he reaches a crossroads. Is he going to lay down roots, or still aim for far off lands.

Yes, this is a romance novel, but that isn’t what I got out of being the point of the novel. Whether you get on a plane to serve in a mission field with a brand new language and culture, or you preach to a small town, or are a single mom to your two kids- that is your mission field and an equal calling to any.

What pushed me over the edge from “this is a really good book” to “ah I’d love to meet this author and tell her how good she is” is this one scene where you have this character who is in full time ministry and she’s preparing to go overseas and she is on fire. And while she’s in the small town she offers to help this newly divorced woman move. Now this divorced lady not only had her husband cheat on her, leave her, she’s having to majorly downsize her life. Our on fire ministry lady has zero compassion for her because she’s “an educated white woman. she’ll be fine. She’s better off than so many woman in the world.” Just because she’s not wrong about the facts, doesn’t mean she hasn’t missed the point. How are we to show love to people if we’re always comparing their sorrows to “well it could be worse”.

As I said, I think this is a great book, and I think especially people who have been in ministry will love it and probably be convicted by it as well.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: Finding Love at the Oregon Coast

This, was a fun collection of stories. When I first heard this was a collection of novellas and not just  one story? To be perfectly honest I was kinda disappointed, I’m not a big fan novellas. But each story connects in such a way that it feels more like a new self contained chapter in the book.

Christina decides on her wedding day that she is making a mistake and standing there with makeup done and her wedding dress on cancels the wedding. She is supported by her three friends and bridesmaids and each following novella tells what happens next to each of the bridesmaids and concludes with Christina’s story.

First we meet Liz. Liz is a reporter who has lost her spark, and is feeling stuck at her magazine. Her life gets much interesting if she likes it or not when her old friend (and one of the groomsmen) comes to work with her. Next is Anabeth who takes this time to visit her mom and literally runs into a new friend…and meets his son. And last, Kadence, whose life is just crazy right now and looking for inspiration to write her next song. And finally coming back to Christina, who is starting over and seeing what her life will look like now.

I really enjoyed how each of these ladies had very different lives, in different parts of the country, and they were living their lives and careers and not just waiting for someone to come change their lives. They build each other up and are there for each other and we cannot have enough stories like that.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: The Genesis Tree

The final book in the The Tethered World series and I’m still torn over whether this is the best one. At the very least it’s a toss up between this book and the first book.
The Genesis Tree starts out with the threat of the Tethered World being exposed to the world up top. Very quickly things get complicated and our main heroes, Sadie and Brady get separated to go their own paths to help protect their friends and family.
The feel of this final book is very different from the first two. This story hones in all the growth and how far the characters have come so far and then throws a couple unimaginable variables at them. As I was reading the book I kept thinking to myself that I had no clue how the author was going to tie all this up. For the record, none of the versions in my head ended up being correct, but I did guess one of the plot twists. It’s been a while since I have be so much “along for the ride” and didn’t know where it would end up.
While this story clearly showed an ending to a specific chapter in the characters lives, the ending also felt like it could be the launching point to further stories. The Tethered World is too vast to be contained in just three books.
Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: Finding Love in Park City, Utah

park-city

CJ Lancaster is having a “Monday” of a day trying to get an interview she needs for her job at a tabloid. And it wasn’t even her job to start with. Running to catch a flight, it’s cold, and she misses her time slot for her interview. It just seems to be another chapter in a series of difficult times.

Sam Lake is acting as bodyguard for his actress sister in law when a reporter tries to flirt her way past him to get an interview. Her charm skills are not the greatest, but he promises to look up her work and get back to her.

This is my second favorite book in Angela Ruth Strong’s “Finding Love” series. There is nothing flat about CJ and Sam. Normally I would be like “umm really?” when characters fall for each other that fast, but it felt natural here. Both have their challenges, CJ is recovering from a recent divorce and Sam is a veteran working through PTSD. What I love about Strong’s writing is she tackles hard subjects, and while characters do get their “happily ever after” there is never a glossing over of the issues.

I dragged my feet finishing this book not wanting it to end, I look forward to future books by this author.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review- The Paradise Protocol

61oqv08wbl

Aric Lindquist believes she’s alone on an alien planet. A beautiful paradise that keeps on her toes as she tries to survive. Originally arriving as a bio-scientist to study that world, her assistant has disappeared and it appears the organization that had sent her has also abandoned her. Until she is no longer alone.

Sean Reese was sent to Empusa III as Aric’s new assistant. Or so that is the story he is telling her. There is very little he is telling her that is the truth, and as he spends more time with her, the more he finds out that what he had been told about her isn’t the truth either.

The Paradise Protocol is a unique little book. It is a romance novel, no question there, but it is also a science fiction novel, and I just haven’t read that combination too often. Anna Zogg builds a unique world and it feels alien. I am always impressed when and author can carry a whole book with (for the most part) only two characters. Other characters are referenced, and we get small glimpses into their lives, but for the most part it is just Aric and Sean.

I would have liked to see more about Empusa III and the creatures that live there, but the story sets a good foundation to go back and learn more about this world.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review- The Flaming Sword

img_3632

I will be completely upfront, I did not care for this book as much as the first. It felt like for the first 3/4ths of the book there had been zero growth from the characters, with the exception of Brady. I really enjoyed seeing him step up and the tension between him just about being his own man and still growing up was really well done.

YA and children’s literature are my current favorite genres, but The Flaming Sword was the first time I really had trouble getting through a YA book because I felt like I was too old for it. Maybe this is a sign that it really has been a long time since I’ve been 16…

I will say Heather L.L. FitzGerald’s gargoyles should be the standard for gargoyles in fiction, because those things were the most most vivid portrayal I have ever seen/read of the mythical beasts.

I appreciated the ending, it was a very good set up for the third book while still being fulfilling.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.