Thursday, April 30, 2015

Small Town Girl (Rosey Corner) book review

Small Town Girl

Small Town Girl (Rosey Corner)

In the autumn of 1941, rumors of war whisper through Rosey Corner. The town practically vibrates in anticipation, as if it is holding its breath. But for Kate Merritt, it seems life is letting out a prolonged sigh. As Kate watches her sister marry the man Kate has loved since she was fifteen, her heart is silently breaking. And even the attentions of Jay Tanner, the handsome best man, can’t draw her interest.
Then suddenly, Pearl Harbor changes everything. Kate’s friends are rushing to get married before the boys go off to war. The newspapers talk of women making airplanes and bombs. Everyone in town begins rolling bandages, planting victory gardens, collecting scrap metal. Kate finds herself drawn to Jay in surprising ways, and when he enlists she can hardly breathe worrying about him getting killed. Could she truly be in love with him? And if she is, will she ever see him again?
In her gentle and textured style, Ann Gabhart tells a timeless story of love, sacrifice, and longing that will grip the heart and stir the spirit. Fans of Angel Sister will be thrilled to see Kate Merritt all grown up. New readers will find that Ann Gabhart weaves in Small Town Girl a beautiful story that will touch their hearts and win their loyalty.

My Review: 6/10

I put off reading this book for so long because I wasn't crazy about the cover or the title. And actually, now that I've read it (and enjoyed it) I like the title even less; Kate is not a "small town girl." She has small town roots and values, perhaps, but she wants to travel, to see the world, to go to a university and move away. Doesn't sound small-town to me.

I couldn't put this book down. Kate was very relatable. I got swept up in wanting to see her recover from a broken heart, and then things started to get interesting with Jay and then Pearl Harbor happened, so I just couldn't walk away.

It was interesting to see the generational difference between the dads that were in The World War with sons now dealing with the possibility of a second world war. The story was infused with historical tidbits (I didn't now that in the early 40's, Thankgiving wasn't a fixed holiday, nor that the timing was ultimately chosen to allow more time for shopping for Christmas) and Ms. Gabhart did a great job of giving me a feel for the attitudes, the values and the expectations of the people back then.

Jay was definitely likeable and I thought his spiritual struggles were realistic and understandable. I could easily sympathize with Mike, though, wishing I could just make it happen. I liked that part of his problem was that he didn't know if he could trust himself either.

Their relationship happened naturally and so did their problems. I loved the resolution- I even loved that no explanation was ever actually given about the misunderstanding- just a steadfast denial til the end.

The only complaint I really had was that, though I thought plenty was implied with the ending, I would have appreciated an epilogue. And then when searching for this book to write the review, I stumble on the fact that this is actually book 2 of 3 (so far). Yay, I've got a book about Lorena and a book about Victoria (I assume) to look forward to, and the latter will likely give me all the updates I desire.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

All The Rage book review

All the Rage

All the Rage

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

My Review: 8/10

Though this is not up my usual alley, I was fully warned about what I was getting myself into with that synopsis, and the plot intrigued me.

This was so well written. At first, the writing is jarring, not knowing who is narrating, what's happening, what tense we're in, trying to get your bearings as the reader. That was a little annoying. But you get your feet under you quickly enough and before you know what hit you, you missed dinner, you've been reading for hours and you're snapping at anyone making noise around you, because, because... intense things are happening.

For full disclosure, at 50% of the way through, I couldn't take the suspense anymore and the synopsis had promised me a twist and I was hoping against hope for a happy ending somehow. So I skipped to 87% and finished the book from there.

I felt like this book did such a good job of exploring the emotional and psychological effects of rape and the ramifications of villainizing victims. I thought Romy's actions, reactions, thoughts and feelings were realistic.

This was more of a 6 for me because, though I thought it was well written and I liked it, I didn't *love* it and probably won't read it again. However, I rated it higher because since it was just a personal preference over content, that wouldn't stop me from recommending it to others. If you like young adult thrillers and/or fiction that explores the psychological effect on tramautized teens, I do believe you will really enjoy this book.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Together With You book review

Together with You

Together with You

A Tender Contemporary Romance about Finding Unexpected Love
When a Lost Child warning blasts over the mall's PA system, toy store manager Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about five-year-old Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that Penny suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's own past suddenly confronts her. Never again will Carly become involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart. Before she has time to think it through, she agrees to a much-needed job as a nanny.
Dr. Ryan Tremaine knows he messed up his life. But this summer he will redeem himself. 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 is dedicated to his sink-or-swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruiting 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?

My Review: 4/10
A warning to those sensitive souls who cannot stomach graphic violence: this is probably not the book for you.

This book reminded me with I stay almost exclusively in historical fiction. While I know that the violence that plays a role in this book (murder, rape, etc) has always happened, I do believe it was less... casual, if not less prevalent. Therefore, my chances of stumbling upon a book with a subplot of *SPOILER* teen drug-related serial rape/beatings/murder (where the child is only discovered because his mother finds his "trophy" and inadvertantly turns her kid in to the police) are much less. Even worse, it seemed to serve no purpose but to force the heroine into living at her employer's house against her better judgement. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I wanted to know how their story ended, but I just couldn't finish it. A little more than halfway through and I was already having trouble sleeping. In the end, it wasn't worth it.

On a side note, I was wondering why Ryan kept saying that was just as responsible for Jenna's drinking during the pregnancy. I definitely could be wrong here, but I thought FASD was caused by continual drinking during a pregnancy, not just on the night of conception. In fact, I'm not even sure how drinking that one time would have any effect on the baby- to begin with, it can take days to get pregnant. Unless they carried on their relationship, while regularly drinking heavily (which did not seem like the case), this just didn't make much sense.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Love Letters book review

The Love Letters

The Love Letters

When her sister falls gravely ill, twenty-year-old Marlena Wenger takes on the responsibility of caring for her infant niece, Angel Rose. Worried that this turn of events portends a more complicated future than he is prepared for, her beau ends their relationship. Marlena is devastated, but is determined to give Angel Rose the best care possible.

Though from the Beachy Amish herself, Marlena meets Ellie Bitner, an Old Order Amish mother who offers quilting and needlepoint classes. They soon form a bond, and Marlena is drawn into the circle of Ellie's family. Ellie's handsome cousin seems rather taken with Marlena, but after her recent breakup, she is cautious where her feelings are concerned.

But things begin to change when Ellie's young son Jacob discovers an older homeless man camped out in the nearby abandoned mill. Suffering from some cognitive disorder, the man has few prospects and fewer possessions--among them a small clutch of letters apparently from his own courting days. Could these letters be the key to the old man's identity? And can they bring healing and hope to Marlena and Ellie as well?

My Review: 6.5/10
This was a very sweet, quiet kind of story. It was a little too quiet for my taste (you spend a lot of time in the character's thoughts, just pondering things, or remarking about the state of things), but was still a nice book to read before bed and here and there.

This is the first Amish book I've read that involved the "Beachy Amish" and there was little explanation about the different sects, so I didn't fully understand what the big deal was about some things.

I really enjoyed the unique characters and their resolutions. I loved the Christian themes of sacrifice and submission within a marriage and really waiting patiently on God and His plan.