Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Bride in Store

Eliza Cantrell was done with emotional reasoning.

It had cost her far too much, her livelihood, her inheritance, her heart, and her dreams of running a business.

So, when Eliza receives a business offer of marriage and a store, the smart decision seemed to lay before her. However, Eliza wasn't counting on her intended's business partner, shady alliances, or the gentle call of her faith pulling at her healing heart.

This was my fist foray into a Melissa Jagears novel, and overall I really enjoyed the ride. There's always been something about period stories that feels like coming home and with Ms. Jagears characters such as Eliza, Mrs. Lightfoot, Will, and the Stantons A Bride in Store felt like reuniting with friends you've yet to meet.

I enjoyed walking alongside the characters as each fleshed out the realities of life. Mrs. Lightfoots isolation, Will's seeming loss of his dream, Eliza's journey to find her direction. Each seemed real and honest in their own way as well as completely believable scenerios for someone to encounter. I'm not a fan of unlikely scenarios in a realistic setting and Ms. Jagears doesn't disappoint.

I was also intrigued at the books attempt to bring light to epidermolysis bullosa. Though lightly touched upon, the fact that the author used her platform to bring light to an often overlooked and potentially devastating condition was an encouragement to myself fighting my own rare condition. The world needs more authors who are willing to bring awareness to matters without voices.

My one misgiving with A Bride in Store comes from the internal monologues, particularly surrounding Eliza and Will. Though Eliza spends most of the novel attempting to be seen for her intelligence, business sense, and forthrightness, it is often noted how plain, dowdy, and unattractive Eliza is due mostly, it would seem from later chapters, to her fashion choices. This mentality, especially given the lovely young woman on the front cover, seemed unnecessary and reinforcing of many negative stereotypes young woman wrestle with each day. The fact that many of the reflections came from Will who claimed to be infatuated with Eliza despite her unattractiveness rubbed even more harshly.

I enjoyed A Bride in Store.  I stayed up late reading to see how the plot resolved, I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the faith elements that felt so natural in a genre where they often feel forced. However, the issues of body image and attractiveness relegate this book to a 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey

4 out of 5 stars

I received this book through NetGallery in exchange for my honest opinion, the thoughts reflected are my own.

I didn't enjoy this book but I give it 4 stars. That bears an explanation just like this book deserves a chance.

I have long found myself digging into novels based upon WWII and the people who lived during that time. Books that return voices to those who have lost them have always attracted me and there is no shortage of those in historical fiction.

Most novels I've read based upon this era catch me, make me think, and tell a story whether accurate or more creatively incline. Finding Rebecca, on the other hand, is a story that can haunt.

Centering around the story of Christopher - born to a German father and British mother who was raised on the isle of Jersey. Finding Rebecca starts (after a particular difficult to read introduction) by introducing us to a tried and true classic- a romance. Boy meets girl on his first day in a new place. Girl needs rescuing. Boy and girl fall in love, life separates them, life reunites them and love wins out.

Except this love is on the eve of WWII and Rebecca is Jewish, and love only wins until Rebecca receives her deportation papers to Germany.

Here's where the book gets haunting.

I should mention some reviewers have complained about grammatical issues but for once I was so lost in the story I couldn't see them. Because Christopher goes to find Rebecca in Auschwitz as an SS guard and finds himself confronted with an evil that he can't bear.

This book was haunting to me as I've rarely read a novel from this prospective where the protagonist actually wrestles like Christopher wrestles. His horror in the beginning, his fight to remain connected when it is easier to conform, his relationship with Anka and the women of Canada. Each of these points served to help readers draw into the story and, perhaps, for those of us with imagination place ourselves in Christopher's role, wondering if we too would have acted as he did.

I did have issues with the ending which I'll refrain from going into as they contain massive spoilers and I refuse to give you the easy way out ;)

However, I highly recommend those who are interested in this era to give this book a chance. I can't say you'll love Finding Rebecca and I'm not sure you're supposed to but it is a book that will stay with you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Preparing for Adoption - Julia Davis

As my husband can well attest, I have a growing passion when it comes to the topic of adoption.
Realistically, our family is nowhere near taking a step like this, too many logistics not in place, however, it is an open topic for discussion which means I love getting the opportunity to sink my teeth into the findings of those who have come before.

Enter Julia Davis.

I was curious how well a book based on adoption in the UK would translate into what I know of the Canadian system. While there were areas I know are different I was thoroughly pleased to see the universality of Davis' presentation.

Directed towards adopters rather than professionals within the system, Davis presents a step by step mental/emotional and physical preparation for members of the family from start to welcome home of the adoption process.

I was quite impressed to see Davis' inclusion of attachment theory, including her examples and working out of how different childhood experiences such as trauma and neglect could impact attachment and stress management even well after a safe and stable home environment has been introduced.

From the research I've done this honest and open dialogue regarding some of the common issues which adoptive families could face as well as methods to help introduce new and healthier patterns is still an underrepresented area of adoptive family care. Her willingness to open up and express this real need is a refreshing way to begin dialogue and inform families who are struggling or may struggle that they are not alone.

My one concern with Davis' book is that some of the research may, in fact, be somewhat heavy for families in the midst of their adoption journey if they do not have a scholastic background that would allow them some familiarity with attachment theory/trauma/counselling (something my counselling background readily provided). Aside from that, I could see Ms. Davis' book being a welcome part of many adoptive families journies providing welcome guideposts on a unfamiliar path.

I received this book through NetGallery in exchange for my honest opinion. The opinions stated here are my own.