Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chasing Sunsets - Karen Kingsbury

Chasing Sunsets (Angels Walking #2)Title:                Chasing Sunsets

Author:            Karen Kingsbury

Publisher:        Howard Books

Market:            Christian

Genre:             Fiction

Series:              Angels Walking #2

Length:            336 pages

Pub. Date:       April 7, 2015


Description (from Amazon):

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes the second novel in a brand-new series about divine intervention and the trials and triumphs of life; the dramatic story of a woman desperate to find deeper meaning in her life.

Growing up in a comfortable home, Mary Catherine wanted for nothing. Though she loves her wealthy parents, their lifestyle never appealed to her. Instead, Mary Catherine pursues meaning through charity work, giving away a part of herself but never giving away her heart.

Mary Catherine lives in Los Angeles with her roommate, Sami, and volunteers at a local youth center with coach Tyler Ames and LA Dodger Marcus Dillinger. Despite Mary Catherine’s intention to stay single, she finds herself drawing close to Marcus, and their budding romance offers an exciting life she never dreamed of. That is, until she receives devastating news from her doctor. News that alters her future and forces her to make a rash decision.

Inspirational and moving, Chasing Sunsets is the story of one woman’s deep longings of the soul, and the sacrifices she’s willing to make in search of healing.

My Review:

As an avid Karen Kingsbury fan from the start, I thought I had read every book she’s written.  However, I somehow missed book 1 in the Angels Walking series.  Perhaps because of that, Chasing Sunsets seems to jump right into the middle of an in progress story.  While that was disconcerting for the first few chapters, Kingsbury does a great job filling in any gaps for readers like me who didn’t read the first book. 

I do believe the description of the book is a bit misleading.  This book is as much about Marcus as it is about Mary Catherine.  It is the story of their individual journeys in relationship with Christ and to find purpose as well as the story of where their journeys intersect with one another.  It is also a story of reaching out to help those in need of hope.  Intermingled is a look at the story from a spiritual perspective – what is going on behind the scenes that the human characters are unaware of. 

There is a good balance of dialogue between characters as well as introspection of the characters themselves.  There is not a lot of description of setting or appearance, but I didn’t feel anything was missing as a result.  As usual with Kingsbury’s books, there was a long list of characters involved in the story telling.  While that can be overwhelming initially, she does such a great job fleshing out each character, it doesn’t stay confusing for long.

As mentioned earlier, this is as much Marcus’s story as Mary Catherine’s.  And I found myself rooting for him more.  While Mary Catherine seemed a bit more self-focused, Marcus was just an all-around likeable guy.  I found Mary Catherine’s quick emotional changes and waffling a bit indulgent.  One moment she’s secure in truly living her life and giddy with love.  Then a few paragraphs later she’s forgotten all of that and is scared and lonely.

The budding romance between the two seemed to blossom quickly.  I’m not a very sentimental person, so at times their interactions seemed over the top.  But overall I think that most readers will enjoy that aspect of the story. 

The parallel stories of what was happening with the people alongside what was happening in the spiritual realm with the angels were fascinating to me.  While I have not ever thought much about angels among us or what they are like personality-wise, I think the picture that Kingsbury painted could be an accurate one.  Jag and Aspen, the two angels assigned to the mission, were both believable.  In the days since I finished reading, I have found myself pondering the spiritual realm occurring in conjunction with my own life. 

The book does deal with gangs, gang violence, and prison.  However, none of these topics are handled lightly or offensively in any way.  They give dimension and movement to other aspects of the story. 

The ending left me with my mouth hanging open.  I couldn’t believe it was the end.  There was so much still to be resolved.  How could it be the last page?!  I guess that means I’ll be anxiously awaiting the third installment…and going back to read the first book while I wait.

My major complaint about the book is that the text is full of little inconsistencies (i.e. for Jag’s past failed mission is it Tom or Terrance Williams?).  They don’t disrupt the overall flow for the story but could be annoying to a discerning reader.

This book would appeal to teen girls and women who like sweet romances, character growth, and pondering the spiritual warfare going on around us.  I think the spiritual realm would be off-putting to some secular readers.  If you are a fan of Karen Kingsbury’s other works, this latest novel will be right up your alley.

Pros:  fast-paced story; likeable characters; leaves the reader wanting more

Cons:  inconsistencies

My Rating:  4 out of 5 (very good)
*This review will also appear on The Christian Manifesto website 4.13.15

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