Friday, November 30, 2012

The Girl in the Glass



Title:  The Girl in the Glass
Author:  Susan Meissner                                                                                                               
Pages:  334
Year:  2012
Publisher:  WaterBrook Press
                Meg Pomeroy is finally going to Florence, Italy!  Well, maybe.  Ever since she was a little girl, she has wanted to go to Florence.  Her grandmother on her father’s side was born and raised in Florence.  She has loved this city for as long as she can remember.  She longs to see the art of the city, which she feels is the heart of the city.  Her father promised he would take her after her grandmother died when Meg was 12.  Meg is now 30 and still hasn’t set foot on Italian soil.  Broken promise after broken promise mars her relationship with her father, but she still loves him.  She hasn’t gone on her own to Florence because her dad promised her he would take her and she wants him to ask her to go.  She doesn’t want to see the city without him.
                Meg works as an editor for a company that produces travel books.  The owners and some of the staff know about her dream of Florence and her troubles getting her dad to fulfill his promise.  As they see time after time of disappointment for Meg, they don’t get their hopes up as once again he has promised to take her.  Does he really mean it this time?
                A FedEx envelope arrives at her door with a ticket to Florence taking off in five hours.  Should Meg go?  Her father has enclosed a note for her to go as he wants her to see the city of her dreams.  Where did he get the money to pay for the ticket?  Her dad has always been great on dreams, but poor on follow through.  He has never been good managing money.  After his divorce from Meg’s mother, she saw him less and less.  She hopes to meet up with him now in Florence so they can experience the city and its’ sites together.  Will he be at the airport to meet her if she goes?  Where will she stay?
                She contacts a brother and sister writing team, Lorenzo and Renata, born and raised in Florence that she has done lots of business with and lets them know she is thinking of making the trip finally.  They, too, know the story of her many let-downs in not getting to make the trip.  They introduce her to their neighbor, who is writing a book.  Meg is sent the first two chapters of the book and likes them.  She asks to see more and takes a liking to the author’s style immediately, except for the part where she says a relative from the distant past speaks to her through the artwork.  Is this woman crazy?  As she gets to know the author, she begins to like her more and more.  She even likes the fact that someone speaks to her through art.  She also interacts more and more with Lorenzo and begins to develop feelings for him, but won’t admit it.  Lorenzo doesn’t have those kinds of feelings for her, right?
                This book is so very unique and spellbinding.  I enjoyed it very much.  It touches the heart and makes the reader feel.  The art and its’ history provided were very interesting, and I learned a lot.  I would recommend this book and am looking forward to reading Susan’s other books.
                My rating is 4 stars.        
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Greenwood & Archer



Title:  Greenwood & Archer
Author:  Marlene Banks
Pages:  352
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Lift Every Voice
Greenwood & Archer is the sequel to Son of a Preacherman.  Though fictional, the story is borne out of an actual historical event.  One of the reasons I love historical fiction is learning about history I have forgotten or was never taught.  Many historical events can be lost due to the nature of the multitude of everyday life happenings.  It seems that we are accustomed to seeing something on TV and then forget about the event unless it is brought to the forefront of our life through some report, novel, or other medium.
In this story, readers are thrust back into the year 1921, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Characters introduced in the prior novel are again present here.  (I read this novel without having read Son of a Preacherman.).  It may have helped to read the first book in order to understand some of the references in this novel that characters made to prior events, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless.  Reading a tale based on actual events reminds us that what we have today has not always been the case whether it is good or bad.
There are two main families learning and grappling with differences of just believing in Jesus and living for Jesus.  Women in the story suffer some horrendous trials and watching how the author developed their response was intriguing.  Some of the lead male characters are at different times at odds with each other, a couple even more intensely angry and unforgiving until a life-threatening loss awakens them.  During the timeframe of the novel, women are learning to break out from what they see as confining boundaries.  One woman’s endeavors come at a very high cost, especially when women aren’t allowed to have a profession outside the home.  Just what is this female character willing to do that will come to be known by many, and eventually causing her to disappear from the story?
One of the challenging themes in the story is learning to be obedient to the Holy Spirit even when no one seems to support the decision.  There are many examples of characters in the story pressured to choose differently than they desire because of race and laws at that time.  Add to the story’s dimension mob violence and a mob boss moving into the small area, bringing big-time crime and trouble to an area that had already suffered from local riots.
Though many other themes exist in the story, I will highlight two more.  The themes of sacrifice for the love of another and the willingness to ask for forgiveness when the flesh cries out for a different direction are carried throughout the book.  Marlene Banks is a new author for me.  I know she has another novel or two coming out, if, in fact, they aren’t already available to the public.  I recommend Greenwood & Archer for those who love a fictional telling of an actual event.
My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Greenwood and Archer
Lift Every Voice; New Edition edition (September 20, 2012)
by
Marlene Banks


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Marlene Banks has worked 30+ years combined in nursing and the business arena. Her goal as a writer is to create inspiring, gripping and realistic stories with an emphasis on African American literature. She believes her gift and desire to write is from God and desires to use it to fulfill His purposes. Marlene lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she is a member of Bethel Deliverance International Church.





ABOUT THE BOOK

Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot continues the stories of Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman and the residents of the Greenwood District after the historical Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Though a sequel to Son of a Preacherman, Greenwood and Archer can be read as a stand alone book.

The White Glove Society has all but destroyed the Greenwood District, home to the affluent blacks in Tulsa. Now those who have survived are trying to recover what is left including Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman. Billy Ray and Benny are engaged but Benny is hesitant to set a date. Jordan Franks, Benny's ex-fiancee shows up in Tulsa and Benny is confronted with the memories and emotions of the crippling break up she experienced with Jordan. She must decide whether she will stand and face her past or allow it to drive her back into the dark place she'd grown used to before meeting Billy Ray. Billy Ray's attempts to keep Benny from running away are challenged by his own struggles as he wrestles with God's call on his life to preach.

DP Dooley, plagued by a past that prompted him to turn from God and become a government agent, is in a turmoil as he wars against enemies seen and unseen. Internally, he fights against the darkness of his soul as the anger and resentment he has harbored against God for most of his life wears him down. Externally, he continues to fight against the threats of the bigoted White Gloves Society, which is growing and trying to increase its racist activities.

The once hard-edged racial views of Chief Tobias Parnell have noticeably dulled and he no longer enjoys the favor of the White Glove Society. Teaming up with Dooley, Chief Parnell fights against illegal racketeering, bootlegging and racial crimes. A new brotherhood forms in Tulsa, the interdenominational Christian clergyman (ICCA). Braving the social struggles of Tulsa, five clergymen attempt to and bring together God's people, regardless of race, economic status, gender, ethnicity and even doctrine. Their goal, along with the people of Greenwood is to see a new Tulsa rise from the ashes.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Greenwood and Archer, go HERE.

Out of Darkness



Title:  Out of Darkness
Author:  Darrell Case
Pages:  250
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Self-published
                Darrell Case has written a very good mystery.  Out of Darkness is a contemporary fictional story set in Indiana.  The author uses good suspense building skills to progress the story.  There are many minor characters in the story that contribute to the plot, and make it a well-rounded one.
                The main character is Pastor David Padgett.  He began as a small-time minister, working at as a grocery bagger in the evenings while evangelizing in the mornings house-to-house.  He has little success in drawing people to the small church building he built with his own hands.  He is about ready to throw in the towel when he reads an advertisement for a “self-help” guru.  He attends the conference, taking copious notes.  He uses the last of his savings to meet personally with the guru.  He takes his advice, and begins to turn to himself and his “advisors” for supposed ways to reach the masses for Christ.  These advisors are labeled as “ghosts”, but I think they are far more evil.  His ministry sky rockets.  He becomes a very highly paid minister, highly paid guest speaker, and author.  Along the way, however, he sacrifices his relationship with his wife, son, and God.  Everything is about his ministry and all else comes after.  He talks of turning things over to his son soon.  His son never really wanted to be a minister, but is eager for the power, wealth, and other benefits he sees his father receive.  David’s wife, Anne, who so devotedly supported him in the beginning of his ministry, starts a guest speaking career of her own to earn her own money.  She covets a Mercedes Roadster.
                Suddenly, he finds himself covering up what appears to be a suicide to protect his church’s reputation as well as his own.  Is it a suicide or murder?  Then, he finds himself the prime suspect in this murder as well as others.  Everyone turns against him, including his family.  He blames God.  Hasn’t he sacrificed his life to serve God?  He is taken to jail to await trail.  His personal assets are frozen so he can’t pay his lawyer, who then quits.  He is assigned a public defender fresh from passing the bar.  How much more can he take?  He is innocent of these crimes, but who could be framing him?  Who hates him this much?  Is it is own son?  Can he humble himself, admit his sins of greed and pride, and return to God?  Can he give up all he has worked for?
                His son deserts him and his wife as soon as he is taken to jail.  His son is angry, shamed and guilt-ridden by his own behavior.  He mourns the death of his young wife.  Was it an accident or did she too commit suicide rather than remain with him?  While he is on the run, he too is caught fleeing the scene of a crime.  He is caught and jailed.  Who visits him while there?  Who can save him?
                Anne relishes her newfound fame and money of her own.  She imagines writing a bestselling book as well.  If her husband doesn’t want her to be a guest speaker, then that is just too bad for him.  Now she faces eviction, homelessness, and hopelessness.  She believes in her husband’s innocence, but she is alone with her son and husband in separate jails, both accused of murder.  Who can help her?  Will she realize how far she has fallen away from God?  Can she give up her lifestyle?
                While there are a few clich├ęs, one being the “good cop-bad cop” routine, they don’t take away from the story.  However, there were numerous typos, punctuation/grammar errors, inconsistencies with verb tenses, and a few poor chapter breaks.  These can be easily fixed with a good proofreader/editor’s keen eye.  Otherwise, the story was interesting and easy to read.
                My rating is 3.5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Razed




Title:  Razed
Author:  Paula Wiseman
Pages:  390
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Mindstir Media
                Razed is a groundbreaking story that brings the heart and mind into a fictional story built around a familiar relationship.  A son and mother are very close to each other and share a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Doug, the father, is very unwilling to listen to what he calls their “religion”.  Why does he seem so extremely adversarial?  Until the author peels away the layers hidden deep within Doug’s heart, it is a nagging question for readers.  Doug owns his own homebuilding business.  When people look at him, they believe he has everything he would ever need or want, right?
                Judy, Doug’s wife and mother to Mark, is trying to help her husband recognize his need for Christ before she passes.  She presses for promises from both her husband and son shortly before she dies.  While the promises are made, the continued fighting between father and son doesn’t seem to make the reality of those promises possible.  Yet, as Judy’s life history becomes apparent, something has happened that her son Mark was totally unaware of.
                Mark is a young man who marries Julie, a pastor’s daughter.  Three months after being married, Julie becomes pregnant.  Mark’s future is changing from many angles.  His main confidante is his father-in-law.  With each step Mark takes toward his wife or his career, Doug’s view is that Mark is rejecting him and favoring his father in-law.  Torn between the counsels of each parent, the hostility continues to grow and comes to a head, causing father and son to make a decision.  What is that decision?
                Regardless of marital or family status, all readers will enjoy the unfolding of the drama.  There were times I could identify with some of the characters choices or actions, which made the story for me more plausible.  I could envision the interactions, scenes and more.  However, what I didn’t see was the way the author brilliantly ended Razed.  Readers will see this as a contemporary and compelling tale that will keep pages turning until the very last one.  It is with eager anticipation that I look forward to the sequel to see how faith, relationships, and forgiveness come to fruition.  There is a chapter of the sequel, Refined, included at the end of Razed.  This is a beautiful story to share with everyone.
                My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457