Book Review: Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey

Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey is a story about faith, family, and love. I’ve read all of Emily Sue Harvey’s books so when the opportunity arose to review Homefires I jumped at it. Homefires is a pretty chunky novel at 450 pages and they are certainly filled with a lot of drama. While I can’t say that this is my favorite novel by Emily Sue Harvey, I still did enjoy it.

Janeece and Kirk are fresh out of high school when they marry. As a young couple they are full of hope and dreams for the future. Janeece is quite happy staying at home and making sure she takes good care of her man. In their marriage, Kirk is pretty much the boss and takes care of the money, bills, and makes the decisions. Soon enough Janeece is pregnant and along comes their first child Heather. Krissie, Toby, and Dawn follow in the years to come.

After some time Kirk comes to Janeece and tells her he has received the calling to be a pastor. They’ve always been believers and gone to church and while Janeece doesn’t really know how to take this revelation, her first priority remains to her husband and supporting him. Kirk takes the classes he needs to become a pastor while Janeece starts to feel left out. It seems that now that Kirk is in school and learning all these things Janeece’s company is pretty dull. After all she only has the kids to talk about.

Being a pastor takes Kirk, Janeece, and their kids to a few different churches. In each place Janeece makes a home for her family and keeps the homefires burning. That is, after all, the job of a pastor’s wife. Although Kirk is very busy all the time and often not at home he is still very attentive to Janeece and she knows she’s loved. Then things begin to change and Kirk starts to become a man that Janeece doesn’t know; he’s not acting like her old Kirk. As startling revelations come to light and tragedy hits the family, the faith and love that Janeece always believed held her family together begins to unravel.

I loved the premise of this story but for some reason the characters fell flat for me. I didn’t connect with them as I would have liked to. Janeece was a sweet woman and a good mother but to me she was much to much of a pushover. She let Kirk control her life and everything in it. She needed a backbone and instead of always being so sweet and nice, she needed to be looking out for herself and her needs a little more. Kirk was much to controlling for me. I’m not fond of men like him so he rubbed me the wrong way at many times even though for the most part he was a good man, husband, and father.

Really this is a story of a family. A family who faces tragedy and a couple who faces the everyday things that test us in so many ways. Do they have the faith and the strength to battle it out and keep their relationship intact? Can they get past hurts to move on and become a stronger couple in their marriage and lives? This is a Christian based novel. I did not find it preachy but I also enjoy Christian novels quite a bit. There is much talk of God and such as this is a novel of a pastor, his wife, and their family. Homefires basically follows this family from when Janeece and Kirk are first married all the way to the end when their children are grown up with families of their own. For those who like a story that will have you happy and break your heart at the same time, Homefires is the book for you!

I read Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey for her book tour with Pump Up Your Book. To find out more about Emily you can visit her website or Renewal Stories. You can purchase your own copy of Homefires here in the US and here in Canaada.

© 2010, Darlene of Peeking Between the Pages. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Peeking Between the Pages or Darlene’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

My copy of Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey was received for review from Pump Up Your Book and the Publisher.

Book Review: Elizabeth I by Margaret George

You know when you pick up a book by Margaret George that you’re in for a great novel that weaves fact with fiction and leaves you feeling immensely satisfied. Her newest novel, Elizabeth I, is a wonderful and in-depth journey into the life of this queen and what her life might have been like back in the late 1500’s. This is not a novel to be read in a day or even two (it’s almost 700 pages) – Margaret George’s novels are meant to be savored and absorbed slowly.

The Tudor period is my favorite to read about. I’m not sure why; maybe it’s because the first book I read was, in fact, Margaret George’s, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, and from then on I was hooked. I was especially interested to read more about Elizabeth I as she was the daughter of Henry VIII and the infamous Anne Boleyn, who are two of my favorites from history. I was not disappointed in this novel as it taught me so much more about Elizabeth I and the type of woman and queen she was. I’ll admit that with as long as the novel is, it is slow going at times, but there was never a moment that I was bored. I found it fascinating to read.

This novel takes place over the queen’s later years and what I really enjoyed and am kind of surprised by is that it is narrated by both Elizabeth and her cousin Lettice. Normally I would not like that. If I’m reading a novel about Elizabeth then that’s what I want to read but the way that the author wove the parts of Lettice and her son, the Earl of Essex, into the story was so well done that it all just fell perfectly together. Of course I developed a liking towards Lettice which didn’t hurt either and really looked forward to the parts of the book narrated by her and would certainly like to learn more about her in the future.

The way that Margaret George has portrayed Elizabeth in this novel had me liking her. Yes she could be indecisive at times, especially about the Earl of Essex, but it showed her in a real light. She was a queen but she was also a woman who found herself aging and noticing the effects finally of it on her body. She was no longer the young, strong woman and yet she couldn’t let anyone at court see her failing in any way. To do that was to give up your power because there was always someone ready in the wings to pounce. I found myself really admiring her. She was a woman in a man’s world and she bore up well under it all. She lived to do her best for her people and for those closest to her, she would do anything.

The novel is very detailed in it’s historical facts as all George’s novels are. Some novels like this are boring but not Margaret George’s. She manages to weave her fictional side in with the factual in such a way that you don’t feel like you’re in a history class, yet at the same time you come away knowing you’ve just learned a lot about an important time in history. I can’t even imagine the amount of time it took to research this novel but it shows in every last page. You find yourself absolutely absorbed in the court happenings, the parties, the politics, the wars, and the very real lives of the people who existed alongside the queen.

Elizabeth I is yet another beautifully written novel by Margaret George that invites us into the life of one of England’s favorite Monarch’s. It’s a must read for all those historical fiction fans who love a story well told, well researched, and those who want to learn more about the Tudors or just want to read a different perspective on Elizabeth’s life.

I read Elizabeth I by Margaret George for her book tour with Pump Up Your Book. You can check out other tour stops as well to see what others thought of the novel. Be sure to pop in and visit Margaret George’s website and follow her on Facebook as well. Elizabeth I by Margaret George can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.

© 2010, Darlene of Peeking Between the Pages. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Peeking Between the Pages or Darlene’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

My copy of Elizabeth I by Margaret George was received for review from Pump Up Your Book and the Publisher.

Book Review: Exposure by Therese Fowler

Exposure by Therese Fowler is an emotional and gripping novel that will resonate in your heart and mind long after you turn the last page and put the novel down. I’ve read one other novel by Therese Fowler and that was Souvenir which totally pulled me in as well and I loved it, but she has really outdone herself with Exposure. I found myself becoming so emotionally involved with this novel, ranging from shock and anger at the situation all the way to amazement at how the characters in this novel handle what has happened.

Exposure’s subject matter has such presence in our headlines today as it deals with teens ‘sexting’, which if you’re not knowledgeable on the subject is teens sending explicit photos of themselves to other teens. But what happens when two teens, almost adults, are in love and wanting to spend their lives together? What if they, for fun, send photos to each other of themselves with nothing on in artful positions? Even worse, what if they are discovered by an extremely overbearing and overprotective father? The story of what these two teens, 18 year old Anthony and 17 year old Amelia go through is what makes the novel Exposure so powerful and real to life.

Amelia has a father who sees the world through his own rose tinted glasses. He sees Amelia still as his little girl and he has a whole list of things he’d like to see her accomplish in life including who the right type of boy is to date and eventually marry. Does what she want matter? – no, not at all because according to Mr. Wilkes he knows better than a teen girl ever could and it’s his job to steer her in the right direction. The problem with that is love nor do dreams just wither and die because someone wants them to.

Amelia and Anthony have been secretly dating. Amelia isn’t allowed to date and even if she was her father would never allow it to a boy like Anthony who loves the arts. The only parent privy to this romance is Anthony’s mother Kim and that’s because of the strong relationship she has with her son. Kim is a teacher and pretty in tune with teens so she gets young love and she trusts her son. She feels he has a level head on his shoulders, he does really well in school, and has never given her a reason not to believe in him.

The simplest act can turn a world upside down though. Amelia forgot her laptop at home and when she goes home to pick it up she finds her father has managed to worm his way into her account and has found explicit photos of Anthony. He is outraged and immediately flies off the handle and phones the police. Mr. Wilkes is a wealthy man and he uses everything he can think of to convince everyone that Anthony is a sexual predator that lured his daughter into something sick and twisted. As time goes on he becomes even more angry as he finds that his daughter sent explicit photos of herself to Anthony but still he doesn’t see the truth – he still believes that Amelia was forced into all of this.

No good ever comes from a father using all the influence he can that money can buy or a DA who is dead set on making these teens an example not to mention a tool in furthering his political ambitions. Amelia and Anthony are torn apart, arrested, and charged with a multitude of charges. Desperate to be together they take matters into their own hands and risk absolutely everything to prove to everyone that by being in love with each other, they ultimately did nothing wrong.

I had such a reaction to this novel as I was reading it. I don’t condone teen ‘sexting’ in any way but what really angered me was the father’s reaction. Instead of sitting down and listening to his daughter and trying to work things out on a private basis, he exploded and took the worst turn he could by calling the police. Not only did he ruin Anthony’s life but he ended up dragging his daughter through the coals as well and that was something he hadn’t expected to happen. A lot of what bothered me was that Anthony was already eighteen and Amelia would be in months – legally adults. What they did was wrong – yes – but they were in love and certainly not thinking of the consequences of their actions. There is so much more I could say about this book but really, it is a book you need to read for yourself.

Exposure by Therese Fowler would make a fantastic book club selection! There will be no shortage of topics to discuss from the huge problem of sexting among our teens, teen relationships, parent/child relationships, and just what you would do if you found yourself in this situation. In fact, while Exposure is fictional, it is also inspired by the author experiencing this very incident in her own life with her son and I have such a great respect for her for opening up something that would have been a really difficult time in the lives of her family. I think most of all Exposure is important in that it brings to life this very real issue of sexting among teens and shows that lives can be changed forever and not in a good way because of it. It’s important that teens understand that it’s not ok thereby making this an important book for parents and older teens to experience.

Exposure by Therese Fowler is one that would come highly recommend by me. I read Exposure for her book tour with Pump Up Your Book! You can visit other tour stops to see what others think of the novel as well. Be sure to visit Therese Fowler’s website and you can find her Facebook too! Your own copy of Exposure by Therese Fowler can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada. Be sure to pop by tomorrow as Therese joins us with a guest post here at Peeking Between the Pages.

© 2010, Darlene of Peeking Between the Pages. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Peeking Between the Pages or Darlene’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

My copy of Exposure by Therese Fowler was received for review from Pump Up Your Book! and the Publisher.

Book Review: The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark is yet another of her novels that will have a special place on my keeper shelf. Elle Newmark has an amazing way of bringing both her characters and the setting of her stories come to life. Her first novel The Book of Unholy Mischief was another favorite of mine so I was really excited to read The Sandalwood Tree and I was not disappointed. Once again Elle Newmark held me captive and this time around brought war torn India of the past to life for me.

There are two story lines with a span of almost a hundred years between them. The first being Evie, her husband Martin, and son Billy. They travel to India in 1947 on a scholarship that Martin earns to write up his thesis on the end of British rule. Martin had not wanted to bring his family as things were not very calm in India at the time but eventually Evie convinces him it’s the right thing to do as she is secretly hoping that getting away will help to mend their marriage that has taken a hard hit by World War II which Martin served in and came back from a shell of the man he once was.

The second story line comes to life starting with letters that Evie finds hidden in her kitchen while scrubbing down a wall. These letters appear to be correspondence between two English women who had lived in the same house back in the 1800’s – Felicity Chadwick and Adela Winfield. Evie is fascinated by the little she is able to read and with not much else to occupy her time she decides to find out as much as she can about the two of them. She manages on a few different occasions to find out yet more information about these women. What she ultimately learns about them has resounding effects on both Evie and her family as well as others in Simla where they are living.

The novel alternates seamlessly between Evie and her family in 1947 to Felicity and Adela and their lives in the 1800’s. In both settings India is in turmoil and the author brings the sights, sounds and smells to life for us. While I found the parts about the turmoil in both time periods interesting, it was more the relationships between Evie and her husband and between Felicity and Adela that I found the most intriguing. Of the two story lines, while I liked both, I think I found the one of Felicity and Adela more interesting although I can’t really pinpoint why. Maybe it was the characters themselves or what was happening to them but I loved the parts of the book that had to do with them. What I enjoyed most was the whole aspect of hidden letters and someone finding them almost a hundred years later – how exciting it would be to actually have something like that happen! I also liked the way the two stories intertwined together in the end to come to a very satisfying conclusion.

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark has all the elements of a good book to me – love, relationships, betrayals, the historical aspect, and a setting in another time and place. Above all else, Elle Newmark’s writing is exquisite. She writes with such passion and vivid descriptions of the people and places that you can’t help but feel you are a part of it all and I absolutely love that quality in a writer. For those who love a book that will take you out of yourself for a while and give you a deeply satisfying reading experience, I would definitely say The Sandalwood Tree just might be the read for you!

I read The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark for her book tour with Pump Up Your Book. Be sure to pop in and visit Elle Newmark’s website. Your own copy of The Sandalwood Tree can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.

© 2010, Darlene of Peeking Between the Pages. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Peeking Between the Pages or Darlene’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

My copy of The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark was received for review from the author and Pump Up Your Book.