Sunday, January 29, 2017

Shine Like the Dawn


Shine Like the Dawn
Carrie Turansky

Separated by an inconceivable tragedy, can faith and love reunite childhood friends and light the way to a bright future? 
In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart because she wonders if what happened that day on the lake might not have been an accident. 
When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his son and Maggie s estranged childhood friend, Nathaniel returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father s vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend. 
Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?"

     I was drawn to this book because of its fresh, colorful cover- it looked like spring. While I have gotten away from reading as many Christian historical romances as I once did, I decided to give this one a try. Unfortunately, I found this one couldn't really rise about the generic formula of the genre, and I struggled. It's not any worse than most books of its type, but I was looking for something more and didn't quite get it.

Rating: 6

I received this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Blog Tour: The Returning

The Returning
Rachelle Dekker

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant's baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they've never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he's ushered the city into a new era of "peace" -- one where the Scientist Roth Reynard's Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion. But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned -- a truth she'll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil. 

     This is going to be a hard review for me to write, because I haven't written a review this negative in some time. However, there were several things that kept me from liking The Returning. I won't overwhelm you with all of them, but my top three issues are as follows.

1) The spiritual aspect of this series was not to my liking, something I suspected in the other two books but became especially prominent here. The vague, mystic form of spirituality used in this novel, so focused on power within an individual, felt very theologically flawed and untrue. Not that it's entirely wrong when combined in a Christian context, but I felt like only a portion of faith was shown here to the exclusion of anything else so that it didn't work as a Christian metaphorical message or as a secular storytelling device. Many will probably disagree with me on this, but I did not think that so-called "Christian" aspect of the story worked well at all.

2) The spirituality also served as a deus ex machina; by a certain point the "stressful" bits lost their punch because I knew there would be a fix coming. They were always saved by supernatural power, so very few of the consequences of decisions, deaths, and illness lasted.

3) I don't know if this was really only a problem in this book, or I've just forgotten or didn't notice this in the previous books, but the writing here was cluttered with clichés with an occasional poetic sentence and was difficult for me to get through.

     Was there anything I did like? Well, despite my complaints about the "out" that the spiritual element continually gave the characters, I did appreciate the scene where there was a confrontation between physical science and supernatural power: I do believe that God is the creator of the laws of the universe and so is not mastered by it. Some things we just can't scientifically explain, and to deny that is...well, bad science. Also, I did appreciate Jesse's character journey and found it the most interesting part of the book.

     I thought the other two books in this series were okay but this one just didn't do it for me. If you loved The Choosing and The Calling, then you may enjoy this one, but I thought The Returning just had to many problems, both literary and theological, for me to get past.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Q&A With The Author, Rachelle Dekker (Courtesy of Tyndale)

Rachelle Dekker

1. Set the scene for The Returning. What has happened since The Calling ended? Well, it’s been nearly 20 years, and the world has changed. I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the first two, so I’ll just say the world is very different and much more dangerous than it once was. But something is brewing under the surface. Change is coming, and people know it.

2. What themes are explored in this book? Identity is something I am always exploring, so that’s no different in The Returning. But in this novel I took a really hard look at forgiveness and how that relates to our journey of discovering who we really are.

3. How have Carrington and Remko developed as characters throughout this series? Well, we meet them as young adults, just out of their teen years, and we find them middle-aged in book three. So we’ve journeyed quite a bit of life with them. They have grown and changed, as people do, and even in this last novel they struggle with remembering their true identities. I believe life is always stretching us and showing us different ways to love, so their growth reflects that.

4. The Returning focuses on Carrington and Remko’s daughter Elise. Tell us more about Elise’s character and her growth throughout the book. Elise starts the book in a pretty dark place. She grew up without parents, believing she was abandoned, only to discover there’s an entire world that has been kept from her. Her journey can be divided into two parts, in my opinion: first, learning who she really is; and second, learning how to live that out. It’s the same journey we all take, and I believe that makes her pretty relatable.
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