Friday, May 15, 2015

The Choosing - Rachelle Dekker

The ChoosingPublisher:        Tyndale House Publishers

Market:            Christian

Genre:             YA, Fiction, Dystopian

Length:            464 pages

Pub. Date:       May 19, 2015


Description (from Amazon):

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.


My Review:

I received this book as an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

I have been reading Ted Dekker’s books for years and have read most of them.  They are intriguing.  So when I came across a book written by his daughter on Edelweiss, I knew I wanted to read it.  Regardless of what it was about, I wanted to see how her writing compared to her father’s.  

While there were some similarities between the two, Rachelle shows in this book that she is more than capable of standing on her own and writing a story worth reading.  I was very pleasantly surprised with the story telling, character development, and overall message targeting her Young Adult audience.

The book jumps right into the action of a Choosing Ceremony.  While it was puzzling to jump right into the middle of a scene and a character’s thoughts, it certainly made me want to keep reading.  I wanted to follow Carrington as she is questioning all that is occurring as well; I was putting the pieces together to understand what was happening.  This book was definitely a page turner from start to finish.

I will say the text was full of typos, and that is probably the main negative I have to say about the book.  However, since I was reading an ARC, I imagine those have all been fixed in the final copy.  Additionally, the story was so engaging that I was able to overlook the annoyances, even as a former English teacher.  That is rare for me.

The story is very smooth flowing between dialogue, character interaction, character introspection, and description.  I would say the only thing that broke the flow was when the first few chapters each ended with retellings of the society’s history.  While this was necessary for an understanding of the story world, it was jarring at times.  I was glad when those history lessons dropped off early in the book.

Carrington was a very dynamic character.  She has a very visceral struggle between all she’s been taught to believe as truth versus what her heart tells her truth really is.  What is her worth?  Where does her value come from?  How do you navigate what your life is to be?  What do you do when you work so hard but don’t get the results you expect? 

Her challenges were portrayed in a very realistic way.  The other characters were equally as realistic and their motivations as believable.  I could feel Carrington’s father’s emotion for her and her pain.  I understood Larkin’s feelings of loneliness at her ostracism.  The whole set up of The Authority and its cast system was troubling to its very core.  The growing feelings between various characters (including Carrington’s own conflicting emotions) were handled in a manner appropriate to the intended audience and in a true-life manner.  All of it together drew me in to the story world and kept me captured. 

While I did find parts of the story line predictable, like the mystery behind the murdered Lint girls and the budding romance, that didn’t detract from the overall story for me nor did the predictability detract from the well-developed characters and plot.  The much needed message of value and worth just because of whom we are and WHOSE we are (children of God) more than compensated for the predictability. 

Scriptures are quoted throughout the book.  At times, members of The Authority twisted them for self-serving purposes or to justify actions.  This showed that if you don’t know the Word for yourself you can be easily led away from the truth by those in leadership. 

There is some violence in the book.  It is not gratuitous in any way. 

I look forward to having both my tween and teen daughters read it and discussing the book with them.  I think the book definitely reaches its target audience of young adult girls and can be an opening to important conversations.

I did feel the book wrapped up too quickly.  It left several threads loose.  I am hoping there will be a second book to carry on the characters and their story.

Pros:  an important message packaged in a story that is intriguing and focused; kept me up late nights turning pages

Cons:  I want a sequel  J

My Rating:  5 out of 5 stars (near perfect)

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Bit of a Sabbatical

With a new little one soon to join our family, I have much to do in the next few weeks and then even more to do afterwards as I adjust to a new normal.  That being said, I probably will not be posting full reviews on here for a bit.  I will be trying to keep up with some short few paragraph reviews of what I'm reading.  And you can always check in on what I'm reading on Goodreads.  At the very least I'll be keeping track and giving star ratings over there.


London Tides - Carla Laureano

London Tides (MacDonald Family Trilogy #2)Publisher:        David C. Cook

Market:            Christian

Genre:             Fiction; Christian Romance

Series:              MacDonald Family Trilogy #2

Length:            340 pages

Pub. Date:       June 1, 2015

Description (from Amazon):

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and mentor in the field, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?

My Review:

I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy via the publisher at NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This is another book that the editor at The Christian Manifesto sent out for review, and I picked up based solely on reading the description.  As a result, I didn’t have many expectations going into it.  I didn’t even know it was a part of a series until I added it to my Goodreads.  It definitely is a book that can be read as a standalone as I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from the previous book while reading this one.

I really enjoyed the characters of Grace and Ian.  Grace clearly has issues she needs to work through from her past.  However, she was in denial to that; it wasn’t until push comes to shove that she realizes she doesn’t have it all as under control as she thinks.  I was cheering her along the whole time.  Ian is just a genuinely nice guy.  Really, a picture of forgiveness and grace.  In fact, if I have one issue with him it’s that he forgives even when I don’t think I would be able to.  He’s almost too perfect.  But isn’t that how we like our heroes in romances?

The supporting characters of Asha and others in the story strike just the right night of supportive, adequately developed characters without stealing the show.

The book is well paced without dragging description or convoluted prose.  The last bit did seem rushed to get to the conclusion.  It was almost like the author wasn’t sure what new conflict to add and so was ready to get to the happy ending.

The story world of both London and glimpses Grace’s previous photojournalist life were easy to immerse myself in.  Having been to London, it was fun to “visit” places again. 

The romance in this story was believable.  Ian and Grace seem to genuinely care for each other, yet their individual issues (specifically Grace’s) seem to get in the way at times.  Ian’s patience goes above and beyond, a picture of forgiveness that Grace needs to see.

The book isn’t overtly spiritual.  Grace’s faith is mentioned a few times throughout the book.  It comes into play that her belief in God and Him taking care of her is what has helped her get through many of her difficult times.  However, her faith doesn’t seem to be helping her work through the issues those difficult times created.  None of the characters seem to have a vibrant, growing relationship with God. 

There are some scenes that get a bit steamy but none cross a typical conservative line.  There are also words used that are considered British curse words.  I don’t think either of these things are enough to alienate any but the most conservative readers.   I tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to those two areas and was not offended. 

I think this book would appeal to readers of contemporary romances who want a sweet story with authentic character growth.  It can be read by both Christians and non-Christians alike.  I sped through the book.  However, I have no idea where they would take the series from here.  All the loose strings seem nicely wrapped up.  Perhaps the next book will bring one of the supporting characters into the spotlight?

Pros:  likeable characters; true feeling; realistic

Cons:  a few seriously romantic scenes; some British swear words

My Rating:  4 out of 5 (very good)


***This review is also posted on The Christian Manifesto and Goodreads.