Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tidewater inn by Coleen Coble

Libby thought it was just a routine call to her business partner/best friend to catch up on the details of a potential historic restoration job on  Hope Island.  Instead she received news that would change her future and her past.  Nicole  just uncovered that Libby is the heir to Tidewater Inn, a quaint cornerstone building on the quiet island.  The father whom Libby believed had died when she was little, actually had been alive until just recently, and his last wish was that Libby would inherit the inn and have an opportunity to meet her half siblings.

And that, friends and readers, is just the first pages.  Within minutes, Libby is encouraged by Nicole to access the island's 24/7 web cam of the old lighthouse, so she can secretly get her first glimpse of a sister she's never known.  Instead, the web cam reveals a real time crime-in-the-making as Nicole is accosted by three men in masks and thrown into a boat. 

Unbelievably over the next seconds and hours, Libby makes two big mistakes that thrust her into the prime suspect seat.  Plus her "new" family greets her arrival on the island with disdain.  To add a little more confusion to the mix, a category one hurricane approaches, making it necessary for the inn to open its doors to villagers whose own homes are damaged by approaching winds and flooding.
Libby takes on three separate, but equally impossible tasks: 1. Convince law enforcement that she would never hurt her friend and that they should spend all efforsts trying to find Nicole. 2. Begin to run the inn so that it can safely care for those in need. 3. Begin to establish a relationship with her siblings as her father requested.  While others are willing to believe the worst about her, only Alec, a Coast Guard officer, seems willing to believe her story, but when Libby learns that he has been asked by the sheriff to watch over her, Libby doesn't know if she can trust anyone. 

Coleen Coble is an established Christian fiction author and this title didn't disappoint.  I wanted to dig my toes into the sand (after the hurricane) and smell the breezes from the inn.  Really enjoyed the debate over the future of the island - would it lose its quaintness and special appeal if a ferry service provided a way for increased tourism?  Would what they gained in employment outweigh what fulltimers would lose in peace and quiet?  Also, Coble carefully constructed the back story of Libby's father and his life of faith in action 

Bottom line, if you've enjoyed other Coleen Coble books, then try this one.  Or if you are a lover of historic houses, the beach, or just want a little suspense mixed in your romance, spend some time at Tidewater Inn.  I received an e-copy of this title for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Room a novel by Emma Donoghue

Room A Novel by Emma Donoghue was our book club's pick for September and did we ever have a great discussion!  It's the kind of book that most of us will approach with apprehension and many may find the topic and details too disturbing to finish.  Told through the eyes of five year old Jack, it is the story of his and his mother's captivity in an 11 X 11 room with only a skylight.  For Jack, it is the only world he has ever known, a world filled with small routines, such habits that they are almost rituals, but also imaginative adventures created by a mom who has made her son's survival her only reason to live. Kidnapped when 19, the young woman has been held captive for seven years.  In her mind, Jack is not the result of her constant rapes, but a gift.  To keep that idea pure, she never lets Old Nick (her captor) see the child, keeping the boy safely hidden in the wardrobe each night.

I don't want to spoil the story by revealing too much, but I have to say that the author did an awesome job in writing this emotional story.  Our book club ladies came armed with floor plans to the 11 foot room, plus tape so we could measure out that size ourselves and visualize sitting in that space day after day.  We talked about how the author captured the dichotomy of a boy who had no understanding of the outside world (did not even know that others except evil Old Jack existed) yet had a highly developed imagination.  Filled with stories, he didn't realize the difference between the cartoons and "real" animals he saw on television.

Reviewing this book is difficult because it would be so easy to slip in a spoiler that would ruin it for future readers.  Certainly we've all heard news stories of horrendous captive situations.  What we can't know is the small details behind the minutes, days, weeks, years of imprisonment.  Nor do we truthfully know the emotional fragility that follows the survivors past their rescue.  Donoghue's craftmanship and sensitivity give us a window into all that.  It's not a pleasant read, but it is a read that will leave an impact.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The River by Michael Neale

Five year old Gabriel Clarke witnessed his own father’s heroic death as the river guide rescued a drowning rafter. Too young to really understand the sacrifice his father made, Gabriel only feels abandonment.  The young boy left the Colorado River behind as he and his mother began a new, simple life on Great Plains farmland.  With an overwhelming need to live a secure life, Gabriel settles for a dull life working in a small town store after high school.  When a childhood friend seems intent on including Gabriel in a summer trip west, Gabriel finally agrees to go. 

At their Colorado camp, the others excitedly prepare for a rafting trip down the river, but Gabriel is sure he will not accompany them, choosing instead to stay in camp.  But the river calls to him, and his timid demeanor is changed by interactions with an old river man, a young rafter named Tabitha. Gabriel’s life changes and in the end he’ll learn important truths about himself, his father, and all of us.
As you read the passages of his first river trips you’ll know this book is more than a story about a young man’s summer trip.  It is a parable about overcoming fear, embracing life with all its dangers and uncertainties, and the strength we gain when we relinquish our own “wimpy” hold on the details of our lives.  In other words, the creator has a much bolder plan for us than we have, but first we have to let go of our fears, even those founded in pain such as Gabriel’s.  As Gabriel learns to put his trust in the current of the river( place your feet downstream), we must learn to place our faith in God's strength.
Author Michael Neale is an accomplished Christian musician and this novel is part of a new ministry.  The trailer for the book describes the experience this way (paraphrase from the video clip) – The more you experience the river, the more you want to stay close, the more you experience the river, the more you want to live. 
I received a review copy of this title from NetGalley for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Surrender Bay: A Nantucket Love Story by Denise Hunter

Part way through reading Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter I flipped to the back of the novel and  read a series of comments by the author.  That side trip totally changed my perception of the novel.  On the surface, this is the romantic story of young single mom Sam who returns to the Nantucket house she has inherited following her estranged step-father's death.  The setting for both her happiest childhood memories and years of sadder, lonelier memories, Sam now sees the property as something to sell, then use the proceeds to guarantee her 11 year old daughter a better life.  What she does not count on is the presence of Landon, childhood friend and first love, who will not let her quietly retreat back to Boston.  Sounds like the typical romance, right?  Readers could read the whole story that way and be satisfied, at least somewhat.  Landon is admirable, Sam's daughter adds depth to the story, and a cast of neighbors round out the story.  However, I think many readers will be disappointed in Samantha who seems to be stuck in the past and in a narrow, destructive view of her present/future.

Had I not read the back of the book notes, I would have been stuck there, wondering why I was reading another of the countless romances I've read over the years. Having long ago captured the best prince charming for me, I really don't gravitate to simplistic romances, finding them, well, too simplistic.  But I did read the notes at the back and Denise Hunter's revelation that she had been asked to write Surrender Bay as an allegory about the love that Christ has for us, the love that never gives up, the love that looks beyond our past and sees our future with Him.  Having read that, I began to see Samantha in a different light.  She wasn't just a young woman with a wounded attitude; she was all of us, still bent on living life our way, still denying that we need God in our lives.  Samantha's daughter and the troubled past represent the burdens we all keep trying to push down in our memories.  Or maybe we're trying to fix them in our own ways.  Sam's sometimes rash and dangerous actions stand out as so wrong, but who doesn't have our own "dangerous" choices?  If reading this story as a pure romance, Landon would have been too perfect, but as I read more of the story, I thought less of him as an actual character.  Instead, I saw his actions as ones we seen in Christ's life and in his promises to us.  As he puts his own life in danger to save Sam and her daughter, the parallel is even stronger.

As an English teacher, I've read and taught allegories over the years.  Although they often make for strong lessons, even avenues for discussion, they have never been a favorite literary form.  Unlike Christ's parables which capture the profound essence of his word in simple stories, too many allegories seem contrived and rigid.  Surprisingly, I think Surrender Bay tells a powerful story of surrendering the past to the Lord who only wants our unconditional love. I received my copy of Surrender Bay from a blog-hop give-away.  My copy was published in 2007, but last week I saw new paperback editions at the bookstore.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Vow by Kim and Krickett Carpenter

Over the past week several books I had placed interlibrary loan requests and holds on have come through to the library. This means I will be busy reading over the next weeks. One title, The Vow by Kim and Krickett Carpenter, I have been waiting several months for.  Many of you probably know this story or you may have seen last winter's movie loosely based on their story.  Well, if you have not read the book or don't know the actual details of their 1990's love and faith story, then I highly recommend it. 

Thanksgiving Eve 1993, Kim and Krickett and a friend began a drive home to Krickett's parents for the holiday.  Several hours later, they were involved in an accident with two trucks.  Kim, who himself had serious injuries, could see that his wife, who was trapped in the vehicle, was bleeding to death and had serious head trauma.  From the moment she was cut out of the car and transported to the nearest medical facility, everyone began to prepare Kim for the inevitable - that his wife of less than three months would die.  When emergency room staff decide to medflight her to a larger facility, Kim himself refuses further care for his own wounds so that he can travel to see her "one more time,"
As family rallies around him, they pray first that the pressure on Krickett's brain go down and then that her blood pressure rise above the current dangerously low level.  Miraculously both occur and doctors begin to prepare the family that although Krickett will live, she will probably never be the same woman she had been.

Physically, she does begin to heal, but once out of the coma, it is clear that her short term memory is permanently gone.  In her case, she remembers nothing earlier than 18 months before the accident. 
That means she not only does not remember that drive to her parents', she does not remember her husband or their marriage.  See, Kim and Krickett had had a whirlwind romance and actually knew each other less than one year before they married.  This is where the story takes on its greatest impact.

Kim could have easily walked away from this marriage.  His wife would never again be the woman he had married.  Her personality and temperment had changed.  She didn't remember him and never would those memories.  She looked at him with suspicion and resented his attempts to push her physical recovery. Plus, the aftermath of the accident had just about ruined his career and their finances.  Krickett could have refused to have anything to do with this man who was a stranger, but both people knew they had made vows before God to be married for life, in good times and in bad.  For Kim, he remembered saying those vows and remembered Krickett's glow as they had begun their wedded life.  Krickett did not actually remember her own vows, but she knew what a Christian marriage meant, and she wanted to honor that commitment. 

I began reading this book at about 8 oclock on Saturday night.  I intended to read as I watched a movie with my hubby.  I used to be able to do that quite well - read and watch tv.  Not so much anymore, and quickly I lost all interest in the movie and soon I was 170 pages into the book, wishing I could finish it before I went to bed.  Unfortunately, I was also nursing the beginnings of a sore throat and knew I needed sleep.  Sunday, despite a full fledged cold, I raced to the end of this
inspiring story.  The edition I read was published in 2000, but the book has been re-released with an additional chapter updating the family's path over the last decade, including the recent movie.
After finishing the book, I was still caught up in their story of faith and commitment, so I searched the internet for more news about them.  I watched several recent videos of the couple and would recommend this GuidePost interview.

Having had a student once who experienced severe head trauma in an accident, I can remember some of the same recovery issues that Krickett dealt with -- a more volatile personality, a loss of the conventional "filter" that prevents us from speaking what we think, a sense of loss without understanding what one has lost.  A major thread to this story is Krickett's continued relationship with God which sustains her when she can't relate to her husband or their future.  She places her faith, not in the good man that Kim is (despite his faults); she places her faith in God and prays that God will change both herself and Kim into a couple that can love and live together.  That they renew their vows in 1996 (?) and are still married today in 2012 shows that her prayers are being answered daily.

If you want a fair, concise version of their story and the saga of making the movie, I suggest you read this newspaper article

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Wooing of Jane Grey by C.E. Hilbert

Thirty two year old Jane Grey is in a dating slump and a work rut.  Her older sister is married and has that perfect family going.  Her younger sister is ready to tie the knot with her knight in shining armor (or in this case, a good looking guy with a fancy law degree).  Now Jane's mom will be able to obsess over Jane's old maid status full-time.

All that changes within 24 hours.  Jane takes a big risk and applies for a job as an event planner, her idea of a dream job.  No, she doesn't get the job.  (I still chuckle over the interview scene as Jane is effectively shut down by the interviewer after Jane spews out her practiced "perfect interview" speech.  But within minutes, Jane won't have time to think about a failed interview when a classically handsome man bumps into her as she leaves the office building, then asks her out.  Delighted over the prospects of a date with someone who seems to truly be a nice guy, Jane returns to her old job to find a message from her longtime best gal pal Millie who has news that they have been given tickets to the hockey game AND a charity event following the game.  Even more importantly, they will share a table with hockey star Lindy Barrett.  Jane has followed Lindy's career since she was nineteen.  As he holds out the chair for her to be seated at the dinner that night, she can't help wonder what he would think if he knew that she kept  his poster on her dorm room wall throughout college.

Soon Jane's days are a blur of testerone.  Matt appears to be the perfect match.  A Christian like Jane, Matt shares her faith and values.  He is considerate and appears to have no flaws. Flowers and compliments abound. Very quickly, he makes it clear that he sees Jane as more than a casual date.  Meanwhile, Lindy continues to send Jane passes to the home games and they often spend time talking on the phone.  Lindy shares that he IS NOT interested in dating anyone, and the two settle into a comfortable guy/gal friendship. Matt isn't even jealous, at least for a while.  He does wish that Jane could work a little more on getting Lindy interested in church.  It is only everyone else in the world that can see that something special is brewing between the two friends.   

C. E. Hilbert is a young author, and the target audience for this book is definitely young  Jane is portrayed as an old movie buff.  For the first hundred pages or so, I felt I was drowning in movie/movie star metaphors and allusions.  I do have to say they were done with humor, and despite the heavy hand, they helped bring Jane to life.  Midway through the book, a more authentic story replaced the contrived writing.  As the days and hours tick toward Matt and Jane's wedding, you'll be wanting Lindy to sweep Jane away or for Matt to turn out to be a louse, but that won't happen.
Just what and who is Jane's future?  Younger romance readers will like this title.  Some may not gravitate to the book due to its simple black cover, but give it a read. 

To find out more about the book and C. E. Hilbert, check her website or Deep River Books

I received a review copy of this book from Deep River Books amd Bring It on Communications.

The review opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake follows the lives of three very different women through the pivotal war year of 1940. World events and age old themes of love and loss will bind these women together in ways that one of them will never realize. Iris James is 40 something, single, and only recently assigned as the Postmaster (as she says, there are no postmistresses in the US Postal Service) to Franklin, Mass., a coastal town. Her duties are a sacred oath to Iris until the day she decides not to deliver a letter given to her by young Doctor Fitch with the instructions to give the letter to his young wife Emma if no daily letter should arrive for her from London where he is going. Young

Emma, it appears is a fragile thing. After the loss of her parents, she felt herself simply disappear, an almost invisible being, noticed and cared for by no one until Will Fitch enters her life. Their love and marriage give her a new reality and hope. When the nightly news reports from the bombed city of London drive Will into making his own journey there to offer his medical expertise, Emma is devastated but does not stop him. It is Will’s decision to go there that will put in motion the events that bring the three women of the novel together.

Frankie Bard, a young American journalist, whose strong emotional voice narrates the novel, as well as gives voice to daily European radio reports on Edward R. Murrow’s broadcasts, meets Will Fitch one day in an air raid shelter. The few hours that they spend together and a scene that she witnesses right after both leave the shelter will change her life and views. Feeling the weight of all she has experienced in London, she accepts an assignment to travel the trains of occupied France and war torn Europe to record the voices of ordinary people – people we will later see are Jewish families trying to escape the unspeakable. All the while Frankie travels, she carries, but does not mail, a letter to Emma written by Will. It is through Frankie’s eyes that readers will experience the human side of WWII, first in London’s air raid shelters and then later across the European countryside. You will hear the tears and screams that she hears along side the quiet voices of courage and determination. When she returns to America months later, emotionally exhausted, you will understand why. Being a modern reader, you may even have a name for her state of mind – post-traumatic stress syndrome. As the tourist season wanes, Frankie makes her way to Franklin, Mass. Always the observer, she watches the small town and listens as they prepare for war. Still with her is the letter from Will to Emma. I borrowed an audio version of this book for my mp3 player. It was a compelling listen. The shift among characters and places was well done and I found myself equally interested in London, the European train scenes, the American seaside, and the radio broadcasts that tied them together.

In an afterward, the author shares that the portable recording device that she had Frankie use while on the train did not actually exist until 1942 or 1943, but it was a writer’s license she employed to give the impeding horror of Europe more impact. Actually, I thought putting the device into the story detracted from historical authenticity. I guess you can argue authenticity of feeling and emotion vs. authenticity of facts. For me, the biggest impact is despite each American’s assurance that they were “informed” and understood the world an ocean away, they actually knew nothing and understood nothing. More than a half century later and with instantaneous communication, our ability to understand what is happening anywhere else is probably as flawed.

I would recommend The Postmistress to those who have liked other recent historical fiction like The Reader, Sarah’s Key, The Help, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

My laptop is acting up today so I am relying on an older one, which means that blogger is not cooperating. Can't get a picture posted. Sorry!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Man in the Blue Moon by Michael Morris

Years before Ella put aside all chances for a genteel lady’s life and perhaps even an art education to marry Harlan, a mystery man who had charmed both Ella and her best friend Neva. Quickly Ella’s life turned to one of babies and debt darkened by a drunken, gambling husband. When drunkenness and gambling give way to an opium habit, Harlan just leaves. With three sons, one of whom is extremely ill, Ella barely can keep their little general store open, let alone make the next payment on the mortgage – a mortgage Harlan had taken out without her knowledge to cover a gambling debt. When word comes that there is a shipment from a clock company at the dock, Ella hopes that it might be grandfather clock sent by Harlan, a clock that she can sell and make a payment to the bank. She realizes it is a foolish hope, but since all indications are that the shipment has been paid for, Ella and her boys make the trip to the dock for the box. One review I read compared author Michael Morris’s story to Mark Twain’s stories of the south. There are some similarities. First, when Ella and family open the box to find not a clock, but a dirty, silent man, it seemed just the kind of surprise that Twain would subject his readers and Huck to. After Ella learns the man’s story and allows Lanier to stay, we really remain uneasy about the stranger throughout most of the book. Morris, like Twain, will let Lanier’s actions speak for him. He appears to have the gift of healing, but a murder and a dark past follow him into the Apalachicola, Florida town. The town will be split as to where his gift comes from. The supporting characters in this book are a sign of quality writing. From his first appearance, you will mistrust and dislike the banker. Little by little, the author reveals the man’s devious hold on the city and many of its residents. When the “famous” preacher Brother Mabry and his wife hit town ready to proclaim the Apalachicola River as the original Garden of Eden and the little springs on Ella’s land (soon to be the banker’s land) as a healing miracle, I couldn’t help but think of the characters Huck met on the Mississippi River. Despite some surface comparisons to Twain, Morris’s story is a much different one. Yes, there is apparent hypocrisy and it is evident that the poorest and weakest in this story are also the noblest and most loyal. But The Man in the Blue Moon is frankly told and with that greed and hatred comes a stronger story of violence than any Twain book. In the end, I liked this book. It is definitely a book that could be read by both men and women. It was published by Tyndale, but it does not fit an easy categorization. You really have to stop and think to recognize the Christian themes of weak being mighty and the mighty being weak and others. For a while I was unsure what Morris was trying to show with Lanier’s healing powers, but I was satisfied with how the story unfolded. I especially liked the backdrop setting of World War I America and the American South. To anyone who does read this book, make sure you read the comment by the author at the end when he talks about the “old story” in his family about a man in a box being shipped to distant family – it makes the book even better. Sometimes when I read books for review purposes I begin to think I am reading “formula” stories. This title surely will never be described as that!
Along with my recommendation that you read Michael Morris's new book, I also suggest that you stop in at his website to see other titles he has written. I am really impressed with the topics he has chosen to write about.
I received an ecopy of this book for review purposes from NetGalley and Tyndale Publishers. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Reunion by Dan Walsh

In 1987 Aaron Miller found a new life when he found God.  He left behind the drugs and alcohol that had cost him his family and propelled him into homelessness.  Now over twenty five years later, Aaron works as a trailer park handy man, too poor to even afford one of the run down trailers he fixes daily.  Most would see him as an insignificant man doing menial, basically insignificant work.  But within the first pages, readers will see Aaron for his true self, a man whose daily steps live the gospel as he treats each person in his path with dignity and care.  Within the trailer park and his church, those who appreciate Aaron's caring ways have no idea that the aging man is a true war hero, a medal of honor recipient who saved three Marines back in Vietnam.

Those three men, who have gone on to successful lives, have the means to gather each year for a reunion.  Only now in their sixties do they realize that they still owe their lives to Aaron, who seems to have totally disappeared. Committed to finding Aaron if he is still alive and finally thanking him, they seek the help of Dave Russo, a reporter who has recently decided to research Vietnam War veterans as a way to honor his own father who died in that war. 

Starting with little more than a name, Russo eventually finds that Aaron Miller had two children -- children who are now adults - children who grew up with only vague memories of a father who disappeared when they were toddlers.  They do not even know that Aaron won a medal of honor.  For daughter Karen, especially, there is only emptiness where love for a father should be. If Dave finds Aaron, will Karen be strong enough to meet the man she feels abandoned her?  Dan Walsh has written an emotional tale that reminds us that there are amazing stories everywhere if we stop and listen.

I don't believe I have read any books by Dan Walsh prior to this, but I am going to be checking out other titles.  He writes with a heart that reminds me of Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans.  To find out more about Dan Walsh, check out his website.  I received a copy of The Reunion for review purposes from NetGalley.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry

Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry was our bookclub read for August.  Set in the rural midwest of the 1950's, it is, on the surface, the day in the life of 92 year-old Jack Beechum.  All his life Jack has been a farmer, always on the same family farm.  Now retired and safely settled in the town's boarding house due to his age, Jack has no real purpose and his day is spent shuffling from the general store, to the barbershop, to his nephew's farm for lunch, and to the boarding house.  As he moves from one place to another, his mind travels the nine decades of his life, and readers are given truthful windows into his childhood, youth, courtship, marriage, and most importantly his deep ties to his land.

Berry published this work in 1974 and it has earned a place in American literature as a realistic novel of the "land."  When surfing the net to learn more about the book, I found that several communities have chosen this book for an all community read.  We found at book club that we had plenty to talk about. 

Perhaps most significantly was Jack's marriage.  What began with a great attraction between the two soon settled into a life of disappointments which totally lacked intimacy and passion.  Perhaps the depth of that distance can be summed up by his wife's observation that she could not tolerate being touched by such rough hands.  In essence she was rejecting everything about Jack.  How could he care for the land and not have rough hands?  Later when she is dying, Jack takes her hand and is amazed at its gentleness and fragility.  Some readers may be touched that a thread of love remains between the two after decades of emotional boundaries; me, I couldn't get past the loss of opportunity for a real relationship.

While many who have read this book have admired Jack's tenacious relationship with the land, I felt a deep sadness that his personal life was so constrained and empty.  Having grown up in farming communities, I feel like I may have witnessed similar dedication to the land at the expense of everything else.  It is a similar story to the business person who gains success at work, but loses family and happiness.  In the end, Jack accepted his life, cared for his farm digilently, and earned a deserved respect from his community, but I believe readers are meant to be unsettled by the price he paid.
The flip side of that view is that when Jack's life did not unfold as his dreams planned, he did not give up.  He stayed true to his wish to make the family homestead a success, and his life was a testament to that decision.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman

The Ozark mountain setting for The Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman caught my attention and I was ready for an all-American down home story.  What I got was a romance with way too much emphasis on the "spirit" presence for my tastes.  Young widow Corrie has inherited her deceased husband's grandparents' house near Saunders Creek.  Still devastated by his death in Iraq, she decides to remodel the house partly because she believes moving there will bring her closer to Jarod.  She begins to believe that the unusual occurrences such as doors slamming and the sounds of footsteps when no one is present are indications that her husband has not left her.

When she learns some of Jarod's extended family believe in the healing arts and others actually practice witchcraft, she feels torn.  Her Christian upbringing, despite her adult laxity, never addressed spirits.  And Eli, Jarod's cousin, who you will quickly target as the love interest, warns Corrie spirits can and do represent evil.
In fact, he is certain what Corrie is feeling is the presence of a demon.

I would like to give this book a high recommendation for a couple reasons.  Basically, I want to like a book with a setting just miles from Branson.  Also Eli is a strong character with a good heart.  His lifelong competition with cousin Jarod who we only know as deceased is an interesting twist. There is an interesting side story of Corrie rediscovering her passion for art which she had given up for Jarod.  Unfortunately, I just felt uncomfortable with this book.  I know that the young adult market is filled with fantasy titles and contemporary plots "peopled" with characters who are werewolves, vampires, or such.  While this title is not in those camps, I see it as a Christian title book that is trying to pull in some of those readers.  Its journey into the occult-Christian battle is not as strong as say,The Exorcist, but there is a present battle, certainly generations old.

It certainly was not "my cup of tea" even if it was brewed with fresh herbs for Eli's mother's natural foods shop.

I received a review copy of this title from WaterBrook Press.  I am not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.