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Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Second Life by S.J. Watson

Second Life by S.J. Watson, AF, 2015, Hardcover, 402p, My Rating=4
Source: library
Adult Content: Sex/Affair

The sensational new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Before I Go To Sleep ...She loves her husband. She's obsessed by a stranger. She's a devoted mother. She's prepared to lose everything. She knows what she's doing. She's out of control. She's innocent. She's guilty as sin. She's living two lives. She might lose both ...

It appears that this author’s debut book, “Before I Go to Sleep”, was quite popular therefore high expectation was anticipated for this book. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I haven’t read BIGTS nor seen the movie version. Thus, I review this book, “Second Life”, by its own merit, without comparison to BIGTS. That said, I found this book to be a page-turner for more of the plot than intense suspense. I had several “I-knew-it” moments which I enjoyed. But I sensed that the author wanted me to have these good guess periods to trap me into a direction. That furthered the ease to turn the pages to see if he was going to tell me, “Jig is up, Jinky. You didn’t guess this ending, right?” And so he’s right, I didn’t guess the ending. Oh, what an ending! In reflex I threw the book and yelled in disgust because I do not like cliffhanger endings. But in second thought, it was the perfect ending so kudos Mr. Watson! You got yourself another fan.

What a fun fiction read!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: The Gift of Angels by Rachel Ann Nunes

The Gift of Angels by Rachel Ann Nunes, AF, 2011, Kindle edition, 128p, My Rating=5
Source: own

Angela Thornberry is facing the greatest challenge of her life. All around her people talk about miracles happening to them and how God acts in their behalf. Even the scriptures are full of angels and miracles. As she and her family teeter on the brink of losing everything, Angela needs one of those angels now more than ever.

Her faith wavers as everyone around her seems to receive divine help—everyone except her. Doesn't she too, deserve an angel of mercy? Does the Lord have a plan for her or has her lifetime of faith been misplaced? Then something strange begins to happen, and her entire life changes yet again.

In this fast-moving novella, Rachel Ann Nunes has given readers a vivid peek into the life of a regular Mormon family facing an impossible trial. Or is it impossible? The Gift of Angels will not only make you aware of the angels in your life, but inspire you to become someone else’s angel.

A quick and engaging book about a Mormon mom's struggle with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  I especially enjoyed the scripture-come-to-life daydreams that the main character, Angela, experienced.  It proved to be a personal revelation that helped her to not only understand the scriptures but how it specifically applied to her ...particularly in how to better approach life with the devastating illness.  Another aspect of the book that I admired was the family involvement.  Angela and each member of her family were given proper page time to demonstrate genuine life reactions and ultimately authentic acceptance or resolve.  Moreover, the title was appropriate and well presented in content.

Overall, I believe this short book packed heartfelt insights that might comfort those and families facing terminal illness.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Review: The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans, AF, 2014, Hardcover, 251p, My Rating=5
Source: library

Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.
Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:
1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day
The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.

Tragedy, struggle, hope, forgiveness, and love ...ingredients that can be found in most of Mr. Evans's romance books. For me, it doesn't get old and works each time! This one was particularly heartrending and with an eye opening perspective that it invoked quite a bit of empathy from me. Truly, this author has a gift with words in relating tender messages of humanity's stretch in dealing with life's difficult circumstances.

I suspect that one reason many take to Mr. Evans's books is because the fictional characters can very well be me or you. Since his fictional characters always find light at the end of the tunnel, therefore, so shall we. It's an inspiring and comforting report.

An excellent sweep you off your feet romance even to the most seemingly unbefitting individuals.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Walk On Water by Richard Paul Evans

Walk On Water (The Walk #5) by Richard Paul Evans, AF, 2014, Hardcover, 320p, My Rating=3.5
Source: library
In this fifth New York Times bestseller in the Walk series, Richard Paul Evans’s hero Alan Christoffersen must say some painful goodbyes and learn some important lessons as he comes to the end of his cross-country walk to Key West.

After the death of his beloved wife, after the loss of his advertising business to his once-trusted partner, after bankruptcy forced him from his home, Alan Christoffersen’s daring cross-country journey—a walk across America, from Seattle to Key West, with only the pack on his back—has taught him lessons about love, forgiveness and, most of all, hope.

Now Alan must again return west to face yet another crisis, one that threatens to upend his world just as he had begun to heal from so much loss, leaving him unsure of whether he can reach the end his journey. It will take the love of a new friend, and the wisdom of an old friend, to help him to finally leave the past behind and find the strength and hope to live again.

This has been an eventful series. Many sights, food, and people. This final installment concluded the 3,000+ mile walk (from Seattle, Washington to Key West, Florida) that Alan undertook. No incredibly memorable people stories along the walk in this book but I did appreciate the time spent with the key characters of the series. There was a sad and poignant moment here but finished with a satisfying ending.

Generally the entire series was entertaining and a breeze to read. One for the file for good comfort reads.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review: Adultery by Paulo Coelho

Adultery by Paulo Coelho, AF, 2014, Hardcover, 272p, My Rating=2
Source: library

Linda knows she's lucky.

Yet every morning when she opens her eyes to a so-called new day, she feels like closing them again.
Her friends recommend medication.
But Linda wants to feel more, not less.
And so she embarks on an adventure as unexpected as it is daring, and which reawakens a side of her that she - respectable wife, loving mother, ambitious journalist - thought had disappeared.
Even she can't predict what will happen next...

I truly enjoyed Coelho's Alchemist so when I saw this book with his name in big letters, it caught my eye. But, the title caused me pause. I was curious so I picked it up. Well, it was intriguing at first but overall I didn't feel I got anything substantial out of it. Comprehensively it was raw and honest, however, it bordered into the erotica genre. Not what I was expecting from Coelho! So clearly, I was disappointed.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: The Butterfly and The Violin by Kristy Cambron

The Butterfly and The Violin (Hidden Masterpiece #1) by Kristy Cambron; 2014; AF -Historical, Christian, Romance; Paperback; 330p; My Rating=5
Source: library

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz--and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.
Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.
In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.
A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.
As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

I find books based on the holocaust to be a magnet because I anticipate being moved. But unlike ones I've read before this one didn't make me cry. Not because it wasn't stirring but rather intriguing.

This novel was a two for one love story between Adele and Vladimir of World War II and Sera and William of today.  I was especially mesmerized with the developing and mysterious tale of Adele's life.  A daughter of a high ranking member of the Third Reich caught in the midst of the Auschwitz community because her innocent and decent heart found way to participate in smuggling Jews out of Vienna.  And it was in her life story that Sera hoped to find meaning in her own life and for readers, the report of a happy ending.

The alternating stories flowed well and so the read was easy on the eyes.  But more than that, the beauty of the read was in the connection of how both women learned courage to believe in a God amid darkest or heartbreaking times.  Hence, you will clearly see Christian influence within the narrative, heavily towards the end.  Reasonable exploration because at such hours, one might question the existence or allowance of a God when seemingly forsaken.

I liked that this book did not end with a cliffhanger.  That makes for a less stressful anticipation for the sequel.  Well done, Ms. Cambron!

Exquisite novel with remarkable main and supporting characters.  I definitely will read the next installment.

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