Thursday, September 13, 2012

Band of Sisters By Cathy Gohlke

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for no charge for my honest review of this book. The opinion expressed here are my own! 

Book Description: 

New York City, 1910
Driven by a shameful past and a perilous future, Maureen O’Reilly and her sister flee Ireland in search of safety, liberty, and opportunity. But after surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor has died, and his family—refusing to own his debt—casts her out. Impoverished and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to find employment in a prominent Manhattan department store, only to discover the elegant facade hides a dangerous secret.

Despite her family’s disapproval, Olivia Wakefield vows to honor her father’s promise but can’t find Maureen, the woman her brother-in-law so rudely turned away. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, who Olivia dares hope will become more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he’s hiding.

As women begin disappearing from the department store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But will they be too late? And in the midst of a world gone mad, can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring? 

My Thoughts:

As a huge fan of Cathy Gohlke I was so excited that Tyndale House Publishers offered her latest book, Band of Sisters for us bloggers. I love Cathy Gohlke's style of writing and the topics she has written about so far.  Band of Sisters takes place mainly in New York 1910 where two sisters come to America from Ireland to find a man, Wakefield, who promised their father a place to live, money, and work should he and his family come. When they show up to this man's home, they find out he is deceased and his heirs have no idea of his arrangement.  Maureen, finds a job at a department store and quickly finds out that things are not what they seem.  Girls that Maureen works with are stating to go missing after their "promotion" to the next floor in the department store. While there Maureen also observes Olivia Wakefield's brother in law heading to the upper floor. Maureen soon finds out that people are selling these girls to the highest bidder, human trafficking.

I absolutely loved this book. Cathy Gohlke gives us a look at a horrible crime, human trafficking, that has been going on for years. Cathy Gohlke writes with authority on immigration of 1912, United States and Ireland in 1912, human trafficking, and the history of this time frame.  I found myself drawn into this book right away and held me until the end.  Band of Sisters takes many twists and turns that keeps you guessing.  I loved the characters in this book, they are well developed and well written.  The descriptions of the surroundings and time period really made me feel like I was there watching it all unfolding.  I truly enjoyed this book and Cathy Gohlke as a writer.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Christian Fiction, you will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to see what else Cathy Gohlke writes, I know it will be fabulous.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Girl in the Glass By Susan Meissner

I received this book from WaterBrook Press through their Blogging for Books Program for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this book. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Book Description:

Renaissance is a word with hope infused in every letter.

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

My Thoughts:

The Girl in the Glass is the second novel by Susan Meissner I have had the privilege to read. The first story I read by Susan Meissner is A Sound Among the Trees and from the start I was hooked on Susan Meissner's style of writing. I find her writing style unique. In The Girl in the Glass her unique style really made this novel very deep. The prologue introduces Nora Orsini from Florence, Italy in October of 1592. As you enter the first chapter, it is now in San Diego California where Meg is imagining Florence Italy, a place she has never been but is waiting for her Father to take her. Meg's Nonna (Grandma) wanted to take her but she died before she and Meg could go but Meg imagines the Florence, Italy that Nonna describes. In between each chapter we learn more about Nora Orsini's life, family, and Florence in 1500's. Nora is a descendant of the Medici Family. A very wealthy, influential family that had been part of great artists like Michelangelo and DaVinci.

Susan Meissner tells a few stories in this one book: Nora's, Meg's, and Sophia's. The stories are beautifully haunting and in some cases heartbreaking. I was drawn into this story from the beginning and completely enjoyed it. Susan Meissner writes with authority about Italy now and going all the way back to the 1500's, Italian Artist and their art, writing books, and publishing books. I loved all of the characters in this story, felt a kinship with Meg and Sophia. These two women really left a lasting impression. The story lines are wonderful and the descriptions of Florence Italy Susan Meissner writes makes me want to visit Italy even more. I truly felt like I was seeing Italy and the art through Meg and Sophia's eyes. I highly recommend this story to those who enjoy historical fiction, it will not disappoint! I look forward to reading more from Susan Meissner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

River's End The Inn at Shining Waters Series Book 3 By Melody Carlson

I received this e-book from Abingdon Press through for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this e-book. The opinions expressed here are mine.

Book Description:

In the final story of The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna Larson's granddaughter Sarah is beginning to find her independence. But her relationship with her parents suffer as a result and she travels away from all that is familiar.

While the solace of the river calls Sarah back, surprises await upon her return. Three generations of family heartbreak and disappointments converge at Shining Waters as Sarah finds God right in the center of it all.

My Thoughts:

River's End is the third and last book in The Inn at Shining Waters Series by Melody Carlson. Melody Carlson does a wonderful job to bring everything to a close. I am sad to see the series end because I have truly enjoyed this journey with Anna Larson and her family but very happy with the way Melody Carlson brought it to an end.  I had the privilege of reading all of this series and from the first book, it had me.  River's End picks up where River's Call left off. The Inn at Shining Waters trilogy follows the story of three generations of women: Anna Larson, daughter Lauren, and granddaughter Sarah, through the decades of the 1950s-1970s. In River's End, their story comes to a conclusion with the primary focus on Sarah, and her two year journey from the familial inn to a religious cult and back to her family. In the first book we meet Anna Larson, in the second book we meet Lauren, Anna's daughter and throughout the book follow the healing between mother and daughter.  In River's End the focus is on Sarah, Lauren's daughter, Anna's granddaughter. Again we watch mother and daughter work to heal wounds of the past. 

The cast of characters Melody Carlson put together in this trilogy are very well written and very real people. These characters are not perfect and they have to work through ghosts of their past to move on with the future. I truly loved the characters in this story and really felt like I knew them.  Melody Carlson writes with authority about running an inn, life on the Siuslaw river, and the Siuslaw Indians. This series focuses on family, disappointments, reconciliation, and truly relying on God for all things no matter what.  I really lost myself in these books.  If you are a fan of Historical Christian Fiction, you should give this series a try.  You won't be disappointed. I look forward to seeing what is next from Melody Carlson.

The Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar By KD Homberg

I received this audiobook for no charge from the author and Celebrate Lit Blogger Program in exchange for my honest review of this audiobook...