Sunday, February 27, 2011

THE SHAPE OF MERCY by Susan Meissner

When Lauren answers a simple ad requesting transcription services, she has no idea how much the job will change her - and the lens through which she sees the world. Lauren spends a few evenings a week transcribing a 300-year-old journal written by a young woman who witnessed the Salem witch trials - and became a victim before it was over. The deeper Lauren digs into Mercy Hayworth's story, the more she is overwhelmed and moved by the woman's heroic acts. And the more Lauren understands, the more she realizes that just like Salem's citizens, she too passes judgement on others without considering truth first.

This book captured my imagination with its promising premise. What was it really like for a young woman who had her future ripped away from her because of hysteria and the accusation of witchcraft? Written within the safety of a journal, what might she say? I quickly found myself caught up in this story and read it over a weekend. I found the subplots compelling and wondered how this story would end - even though I know Mercy Hayworth would meet a timely end. But what of journal's new owner, an elderly woman with long-hidden secrets? What is she hiding?

Ultimately, this book has me wondering about how easily I judge others and how quickly I make a determination about the lives of others. I've never thought much about judging others, always assuming that I don't. Now I'm not so sure, and it'll be on my mind for a while.

I struggled a little with the ending and how the author justified a particular action as an act of mercy and love. Although I may not agree with the conclusion, I was captivated by this unique plot and enjoyed my escape into Susan Meissner's story.

3.5 out of 5

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

THE MOUNTAINS BOW DOWN by Sibella Giorello

This ain't the Love Boat.

Forensic geologist and FBI agent Raleigh Harmon was looking forward to exploring the Alaskan landscape during a much needed vacation. That was until a passenger is found hanging off the side of the cruise liner. Instead of relaxing in the sun on a deck chair or hiking through the wilderness with a rock hammer, Raleigh is pulled into a confusing mystery linked to Hollywood starlets. And the more she digs, the more she discovers a web of deceit and narcissism. And she only has a few days before the cruise ship ends and all her suspects disperse throughout the world.

I'd been reading a lot of good things about Sibella Giorello and her Raleigh Harmon series. This is book three in the series, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what all the buzz was about. The mystery was good, but it never fully captured my attention. I found the plot a little confusing with too many characters and suspects. Because Raleigh is a forensic geologist, there was a great deal of information about science and rock properties. This makes Raleigh a very unique character and Sibella's story lines different from any plots I've ever read. But I've always had a difficult time wrapping my brain around scientific subjects, which may have been a reason I found it difficult to become engaged in this book.

Sibella Giorello is a good writer, and her book The Stones Cry Out won a Christy Award. Maybe it would have helped if I'd read the first two books in the series, but The Mountains Bow Down didn't meet my expectations. If you're interested, you can read an excerpt from her book.

2 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."