Monday, January 31, 2011

Found in Translation -review

Found in Translation by Roger Bruner

Found in Translation is a Young Adults (misnomer, I feel like they should call "Young Adults" the "Old Juveniles" or "Preteen/Teen." Young Adult is college students, not high school students) novel about a spoiled southern girl who goes on a mission trip to Mexico. There she is encountered with a situation she was not prepared for, and it changes her life.

I thought it a good book. Since the main character, Kim, was slightly spoiled and strong-willed, it made for an interesting first-person narrative. At times I had to remind myself that Kim's thoughts were most probably not the author's thoughts, because she annoyed me at times. It worked out well though, because by the end of the story I had experienced Kim's maturation with her. I was able to watch her thoughts change as the mission trip made her a better person.

Since the description of the book said Kim was 18, I was expecting something a bit more grown-up, for lack of a better word. Instead I got a girl fresh out of high school. I was instead expecting a college-age girl, so it was a bit jolting to deal with high school thoughts instead of college thoughts. As a Young Adult (Old Juvenile) book it worked well. I imagine Young Adults (Old Juveniles) would like this book and the way Kim acted like a teen. I did not find the tone of the narrative at all cliche or condescending like some Young Adult books tend to be. It actually felt like an 18-year-old telling her story.

I did think the inclusion of a black girl, Aleesha, in the story was a bit weird at moments only for the fact that her race was continually pointed out. Perhaps it is a cultural thing, but race has never been a big deal where I live, so it was jarring to read a story where the fact that a girl was black seemed to be a central point of the story. It was nothing racist (I got the distinct impression that neither Roger Bruner nor Kim were racists. Kim was just sheltered). Just something weird.

Personally, even though the story was well-written and had a good premise to go on, I did not feel emotionally invested in the story. I thought it taught great lessons about surrendering our will to God, but it didn't really touch me personally.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Love on Assignment -Review

Love on Assignment -by Cara Lynn James

This is a romance story about Charlotte Hale in the beginning of the 19th century. Charlotte Hale takes an undercover assignment as a reporter at a Professor Daniel Wilmoth's home to try and discover any sordid information about him that can be published in order to ruin his reputation. Charlotte takes a job as Daniel's governess for his two children so that she might spy on him, and while working for him she finds her faith in Christ growing and her feelings for Daniel blossoming into something romantic. As her feelings change, Charlotte finds herself presented with the dilemma of fulfilling her job and ruining Daniel or failing as an undercover reporter so that she might protect Daniel against her boss's unscrupulous scheming.

Over all, I was not a fan of the story. I felt as if the story dragged on at a lagging pace, and it made it less than enjoyable to read. The story may have better served as a novella instead of a novel, because all of the important bits of the story could have easily been condensed into one. If it had been a novella, I think I might have liked the story well enough.

That is, of course, except for the fatal flaw. As I expressed earlier, I am not a fan of romance novels where either the male or female character must become a stronger Christian in order for the romance to work out (the only novel I've ever read where this worked at all was Redeeming Love). I did not like that Charlotte went from a poor Christian to a good Christian for the sake of romance. I do not mind people being saved in books, but I think it should be done for some other purpose other than a successful romance.

I don't particularly enjoy giving bad reviews, because I realize it is very hard to write stories, so who am I to critique another person's labor of love? And so I will say that this book will probably be enjoyed by a great many people. I just happen to not be one of the people that enjoyed the book. Not my cup of tea, I suppose.

Pale Demon(Rachel Morgan/The Hollows #9) -Review

Yay finally got to read on of my guilty pleasures. I must say I wasn't disappointed, which could have happened since I waited so long to read this book. I still find Rachel slightly irritating, but she was slightly less irritating in this book than I remember her from the previous books.

This review will be pretty much pointless for anyone who hasn't read the first 8 books, so I'm not going to try to make it understandable for anyone who isn't familiar with the series.

First for the likes:
1) like how much Trent was in this book. He and Jenks are my favorite.
2) barely any sexual content (I'm probably one of the few people that could do without the sexual content in this series. romance is fine, but I'm not big on reading about other people's sex lives)
3) less Ivy/Rachel drama.
4) the plot was not predictable (to me at least, but I don't pick up on things, so maybe it was predictable to others), and I liked the plot twists thrown in there (I won't tell you what. As the Doctor would say, "Spoilers.")

1) Rachel is still having issues getting off her high horse (admittedly, she was able to at least slightly admit the hypocrisy of disdaining Trent even though she does things just as bad)
2) Despite the unpredictability of the plot, it did rather drag on a bit.
3) stupid witch ghost boy is still in the picture. Although I guess he couldn't just disappear. Kim Harrison could have conveniently left him out of the story. Maybe in between the last story and this one, Algaliarept could have killed him. I would have appreciated that.

If you're a fan of the series, I guess you will either love or hate this story depending on how much you like Trent. Since I would be content to read an entire series centered around him, this was good for me.

Deadly Ties -Review

Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze was a nice break from otherwise dreary fiction lit that I have been reading for the past month or so (yay for decent books!). Not that I read boring books intentionally. It just sort of happens. In any case, it is a story mainly about Lisa Harper, an emotionally scarred women that wants nothing more than to have a happy and easy life like the other Christians she knows. Things don't work out as planned when her psychopathic (well, I deem him psychopathic) stepfather does everything within his power to try and ruin her life so that she will be permanently separated from her mother. To help defend Lisa against the psychopath Dutch is her (handsome) friend, Mark Taylor.

It's a suspense story with a dose of romance, or maybe a romance story with suspense. I'm not quite sure. Either way, it is not straight-up romance, so it's good. What I loved most about the story is that neither Mark nor Lisa were nonbelievers at the beginning of the story that had to become a Christian by the end of the story so that they might marry each other and be happy. That plot is overdone quite a bit in the Christian romance drama.

Even though the plot is not something that would happen to your average Joe, the emotional struggles are something that other Christians can find themselves going through at different levels. This made the story more intimate for the reader. Instead of just reading about some crazy suspense story or some fantastical romance, we read about two Christians struggling to survive trials. It was nice that they were not super Christians who could handle anything without a single emotional response.

I also enjoyed the plot itself. It was fast-paced enough to keep me interested, but not so fast it was ridiculous. Hinze also made an effort to develop her characters, make them realistic, so that the reader could become emotionally invested in their story. My only problem was toward the ends things got a wee bit cheesy for me. That is to say, the overwhelming girl-power stuff at the end killed it for me. Men not being allowed to cuss without fear of getting hot sauce in their tea, people having weddings planned for them by moms and elderly women friends, wives/girlfriends manipulating their men into submission. It kind of killed it for me. It was only for the last few chapters that this became a problem though, so I wasn't completely turned off from the story. Just mildly.

All in all, it was a good story, and I look forward to reading more from Vicki Hinze.

*I acquired this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers