Monday, September 12, 2011

Love You More by Jennifer Grant

This is the story of one woman's journey to become a mother; not for the first time but rather the fourth. She is waiting to bring home the daughter who, although not born from her body, was born in her heart. This little girl's Guatemalan name is Maria but eventually comes to be known simply as Mia...mine. It's not always an easy journey, as adoptions rarely are, but when it's over lives will be changed-and not just Mia's.

Jennifer Grant deftly guides us through the adoption process gracefully, insightfully, and at times, humorously. Every day life is included to give perspective on the background of her family, herself and those significant to her. She explains the ache in her heart, even as a newlywed, waiting for her children to come, to share in her experiences. She misses them before they are even born. After having three children, Jennifer knows she's still not done adding to her family, even if it's not in the traditional sense. And so, after introspective consideration between she and her husband, they go forward with the search for their missing daughter, the one who God picked to be part of their family.

As a journalist, Grant has a knack for writing engagingly; effortlessly conveying her point of view through the universally relate able lens of motherhood. Who hasn't experienced the months of sleepless zombie like existence that precludes the feeding and care of newborns? Or the worry your pre-baby adult brain may have fallen down the rabbit hole, via Alice in Wonderland, never to be seen from again? At the very least, intelligent non Barney conversation will require some effort. Being a mom is a privilege but also a lot of work. Not your typical 9-5 job, it is also often a thankless, under appreciated, business. Pay raise? Forget about it. Off the clock? Not in this lifetime. But there are perks such as; watching your child's face light up when you're in the room, those little hands reaching for you with such trust and delight, endearing interactions that are as spontaneous as they are affirming...priceless.

Jennifer brings all these aspects and more to the love story she shares with her daughter, Mia. Honest about her failures and shortcomings, she allows us glimpses into the mysterious bond formed between two hearts from two separate worlds. While not everyone reading will find themselves in the same situation as the Grants, they can relate to the human emotions expressed without too much difficulty. For anyone who has ever, or will ever, have a child in their life, Love You More is truthful, refreshing, engaging reading. It's a love story. And what could be more beautiful than that?

A complimentary copy of this book was given to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinions.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A River to Cross by Yvonne Harris

This story revolves around Texas Ranger, Jake Nelson, and Elizabeth Madison, senator's daughter, and aspiring journalist. They meet under unpleasant circumstances-Elizabeth's kidnapping by outlaws-yet there is an immediate, unwanted, attraction between the two. Still trying to get over past losses, they don't want to further complicate matters by falling for each other. Meanwhile, Jake and his fellow Rangers have their hands full dealing with renegade Mexicans wanting to overthrow the government and put lives in danger. With the clock ticking, Jake and Elizabeth face some important decisions about their future...

If you enjoy westerns, hunky men, strong damsels in distress and fast paced adventure then you'll like this book. It's a fairly light, quick, read with just enough action to propel you to the next page. Nothing too unpredictable happens but there is a sweet romance between the main characters, along with plenty of action. If you're looking for something deep, angsty, or soulful you won't find it here. This is closer to pleasant escapism, not reality, which isn't a bad thing as long as you're prepared for that. One thing that was noted by several other reviewers, and I agree with, is that it did feel a bit modern throughout. I didn't find myself fully immersed in the period, which might have been corrected by more research and the addition of small historical details relating to that particular time. It didn't seem quite as authentic or intricate as some of the other books I've read recently.

I still found A River to Cross to be a fun, end of summer adventure, with all the elements western romance lovers enjoy. If you're in the mood for some southern flair, Texas Ranger style, give this one a try!

A complimentary copy of this book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall

The Harvest of Grace is book three in the Ada's House series
and having not read the previous two, I hoped I wouldn't be too confused by the continuing story lines of several characters. Thankfully there was a brief synopsis of past events which was helpful in understanding their back story.

In this book we meet Sylvia Fisher and Aaron Blank. Sylvia has grown up on a dairy farm her whole life with a passion for the land, work, and dedication it requires day in and day out. After a series of events cause her to flee her own home in shame, Sylvia lands at the Blank farm, run by Michael and Dora. Living alone, they desperately need assistance to keep things afloat amidst rising debt and lack of help. Sylvia longs for escape so this seems the perfect option-until Michael and Dora's son, Aaron, shows up. Unfortunately, he has a past of his own despite attempts to move on with the future. And that future doesn't include running the family farm, much to his parents and Sylvia's chagrin. Despite conflicting goals, can Sylvia and Aaron work together to save the Blank's lively hood or will everyone's dreams be dashed?

This was an enjoyable story, nicely paced, with a simple flow to it. I imagine for most Amish fiction lovers, it would be right up their bonnet. I liked Aaron and Sylvia. They seemed very realistic and normal without being too proper or bland. Aaron's dry sense of humor made me chuckle aloud while adding a pleasant sparkle to the conversations between he and Sylvia. I wasn't as invested in the story lines from previous books but, most likely, it's because I haven't read them. I'm sure the follow up was a welcome addition to most who have already been immersed in the series characters from the beginning. I did find the story between Cara and her father poignant, very relate able, and well written. It was also interesting to see Cara's transformation into forgiveness, as well as the Amish community.

Aaron and Sylvia's relationship was sweet and tender in it's gradual awareness. I generally like a bit more passion/edginess in my stories-more kissing, tension, etc. but this fit with the book's gentle style so I won't complain too much...

All in all this was a pleasant way to spend some time in Amish country, showcasing good, hardworking, people who love each other, their land, and God.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for giving me a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
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