Sunday, August 22, 2010

LOVE, CHARLESTON by Beth Webb Hart

I know what you're thinking, because it's the same thing my wife said to me. "What are you reading? It looks feminine."

Yes, I'm reading a girly book. But I have good reasons.

First, I love a good story, and I've come to realize that great stories come in all kinds of packages. Sometimes the best tales are from books I wouldn't normally give a second glance. So, rather than only reading stories that capture my interest, I challenge myself to read books I think my wife might like. Which is why I read this book. I'm always on the lookout for stories that will capture my wife's heart, and by reading the same books she reads, I connect with her in deeper ways. It's another link between our hearts, another bond that strengthens our marriage.

Author Beth Webb Hart's book "Love, Charleston" is not a light, easy read. It revolves around some pretty painful themes like postpartum depression, adultery, and family jealousy. Which is why this book is a powerful story. As Christians, we hate to admit our downfalls and sins. If Christ is in our heart, our lives should be joyful and complete. But we all deal with struggles that we hope our friends and family will never discover. But that's exactly why three women can pull through their own struggles, the power, love, and support offered by family.

Anne is a few years away from being over the hill and longs for a husband. Years ago, she heard God's voice giving her a promise. But now she is starting to wonder if she misheard or misunderstood God. Alisha has a perfect family, home, and family, but when a frightening depression emerges, it completely unravels her life. Della struggles with feeling like she's made a mistake and married the wrong man. She is jealous of Alisha's lifestyle, especially compared to her home without AC and a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.

This story doesn't provide a perfect ending, but it does offer a theme that is true in every Christian's life. Hope. We have hope in Jesus Christ, who offers joy that overcomes the messes of this life. And if offers an encouraging tale that captures the importance of female friendships.

Of note, I felt the back cover's book description didn't capture the true heart of this book. It implies that the book will revolve around Anne, but most of the viewpoint comes from Alisha and Della. I kept waiting for the book to focus more on Anne, but it never did, and her story felt more like a sidebar than a major theme.

3 out of 5

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson publishes as part of their blogger review program. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use and Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, August 20, 2010

BY REASON OF INSANITY by Randy Singer

I love a good courtroom drama. I grew up watching Law and Order and reading John Grisham. Legal thrillers are some of my favorite stories, and By Reason of Insanity captured my attention and kept me turning the pages.

By Reason of Insanity follows Las Vegas defense attorney Quinn Newberg on two cases as he uses the insanity defense to argue for his clients' innocence. Quinn's first client is his sister, Annie, on trial for murdering her husband. The second is a young newspaper reporter, Catherine, who has had visions of recent murders, and the police arrested her as prime suspect number one. Quinn believes that Catherine suffers from fractured personality disorder, which has motivated her to pursue a vigilante justice against rapists and their lawyers. As he tries to discern the truth and keep Catherine from being found guilty, he's also faced with caring for his niece while Annie sits behind bars.

Randy Singer is one of my new favorite authors. He's an experienced trial attorney and award-winning author. This book was nominated for a Christy Award in 2009, and its intense writing, well-designed plot, and believable twists make this book an excellent read.

4 out of 5.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

JUNE BUG by Chris Fabry

It's rare for me to find a book that captures my attention with a single sentence:

I believed everything my daddy told me until I walked into Walmart and saw my picture on a poster.

And it's even more rare for me to find a book that not only lives up to its potential but also surpasses my expectations. It's books like June Bug that touch my heart and remind me why I love a good story.

For as far back as she can remember, June Bug has driven around the country in an RV with her dad. There's never a destination, only an adventure to where the road leads. At night they park at Walmart. During one stop at Wally World, June Bug pauses to look at the Missing Children posters hanging at the entrance. To her astonishment, she sees a girl named Natalie who looks just like her. This discovery starts June Bug on a journey of discovery and truth. If this man in the RV is not her father, who is he? And where is her family? From the very beginning, this book captured my imagination. I fell in love with the characters, cared for them, and felt their joy and pain.

This is the second book I've read by Chris Fabry. Last year, Dogwood mesmerized me and became one of my favorite books of all time. I liked this one even more. And I'm not the only one. This book was nominated for a Christy Award this year. I read about 25 fiction books a year. This is the first one I've rated a 5 out of 5 in the past three years. I can't wait to read Fabry's newest book coming out this fall.