Friday, August 2, 2013

RE:View Friday | A Variety

I've been a busy reading like crazy when I'm not working on photos or my next book... It's always a difficult balance to keep as a writer. You need to be writing, but you also need to be reading!

If you're a writer, how do you keep the balance? Any creative ways you keep up with your reading and your writing?

I have had the chance to read some great books though, so I thought I'd share them all together today. Maybe this will help you bulk up your 'end of the summer' reading list?

The Soldier's Sweetheart | Deb Kastner

Set in Serendipity, Texas (and part of the Serendipity Sweethearts series from Love Inspired) Samantha Howell is in for a surprise when Will Davenport, recently retired from active duty in the Army, shows up on her doorstep. Samantha is a self-sufficient woman who's used to running her own business while Will is a man with a plan as well as a past he can't seem to get away from.

I really enjoyed reading this novel by my dear friend and critique partner Deb! She paints a vivid picture of small town life in Serendipity, and her characters leap off the page with their real-life struggles and authentic emotions. Will is a hardened Army veteran and Samantha is a woman who wants to take the world on her shoulders. They both must find ways to overcome themselves in order for them to work together against a threat to the quiet way of life in this small town.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who want's to read a sweet love story that portrays genuine characters who overcome real-life problems to find not only love, but a deep reliance on God.

Darkest Hour | Nike Chillemi
--> Set in New York in 1948, Darkest Hour follows the story of Hank Jansen, the Nassau County’s medical examiner and working single mom, Lucinda Bryne, on a search for the truth about the death of Lucinda’s employer, Doctor McCloud. Hank takes an unusual interest in the case when Lucinda is unjustly accused and he gets to know her loving family and adorable son.

As I was reading this novel, my mind immediately filled in the blanks with the film noir feeling. I could see the locations clearly and the factual details, time-period specific, were helpful to picture the rest. Being a fan of the 40s, I enjoyed these details, which really enhanced the story.

It did take me a bit to get into the story initially, but I believe the style is best suited to this genre and time period. It has a drier feeling, more factual and straight forward, like watching a crime show from the 1940s. I was satisfied with the ending though there were a few times when I felt like the details were a little contrived or too coincidental to be realistic. It didn’t take away from the overall story too much though.

In all, if you enjoy crime fiction, especially historical and from this time period, I think you would enjoy reading this. I hadn’t read any of Nike’s other novels, so you won’t be at a disadvantage to understand/enjoy this novel.

The Nun and the Narc | Catherine Castle 

-->Sister Margret Mary O’Connor is not your typical nun. In the style of The Sound of Music, we follow Sister Margret as she embarks on an adventure in Mexico that will end up changing not only her life, but that of Jed Barringer. Jed, part of the DEA in Texas, is following a lead on a drug cartel when Sister Margret butts in, putting not only herself but Jed in danger, too.
I loved following the relationship between Sister Margret and special agent Jed. It’s an intriguing idea to have a nun who is placed in a situation where she is challenged – both literally and spiritually. I will say that, as you may expect, the novel has Catholic undertones due to the fact that Margaret is a novace (or, a nun in training). Obviously, this is not a bad thing at all, it is just a part of the novel I wanted to point out.

I would definitely recommend this novel by Catherine! It reminded me, just a little bit, of a MacGuyver story (one of my favorite television shows) not that it was gadget oriented, but in that it had that type of feeling. It was a fun read!

The Real Deal on Love and Men |  Michelle Mckinney Hammond

So what is the “Real Deal” on men and dating? I think that Michelle puts forth a comprehensive explanation of all things related to men, dating, relationships, and marriage. She doesn’t avoid any topics and approaches each of them head on with bold enthusiasm. I found her approach to dating refreshing – she explains that it is not for “mating” but for “fact finding”. It’s used as a way to find out if you’ll have a lasting relationship with someone. She also addresses online dating, expectations in relationships, setting boundaries, and even divorce.

Another thing that I appreciate about this book is that Michelle includes letters she’s received from women from all over and then her response to those issues. It is always helpful to hear from other women who have the same (or similar) issues as you do. I found a lot of her responses to be helpful and straightforward.

On a note of caution, I would say that I “heard” Michelle emphasizing a lot about self. There were a few times I interpreted what she was saying as “rely on you to change things”. She did emphasize the Lord’s role in it, but there was a lot of focus on getting the “life you want”. As I said in my post about self, I don’t think it’s about us getting anything. I don’t think it’s about us at all. Sure, it would be great to “get” a husband, but that’s not the ultimate goal, Christ is.

With these slight reservations, I’d definitely recommend this book (coming out September 1st)! I think her practical applications and the wide range of subjects that are portrayed definitely make this a good resource. As you’d do with any book you’d turn to for advice, read with caution and discernment always turning back to the Bible for the final word on anything.

I received a free copies of these books for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the books or post reviews. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in these reviews are honest and entirely my own.

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