Wednesday, March 30, 2016

'The Goodbye Bride' by Denise Hunter

She only remembers loving him. But he can’t forget the way she left.

Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancĂ© Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

It’s taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He’s thrown himself into his family’s farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy’s back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he’ll lose her all over again.

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance 

I enjoy a good amnesia story, and the premise of this one hooked me from the start. Lucy regains consciousness to find herself wearing a wedding dress, but discovers she's about to marry some random stranger rather than Zac, the fiance she was madly in love with. Zac in turn, is upset and confused when she calls on him to help her, since she walked out on him with no explanation seven months earlier. They discover that Lucy has totally forgotten those months of her life, and as far as she's concerned, she's still madly in love with him. What had he done to upset her? 

The different facets of the memory which pop up in amnesia stories continue to intrigue me. Although Lucy has lost seven months of her life the same way a computer file may be wiped out, her short term memory continues to be remarkable. While she's waitressing for Zac, she remembers all sorts of detailed orders from pedantic diners, and moves from table to table, without ever needing to carry a notepad.

I wished the pace would pick up at times, but maybe that was because I wanted to discover the solution behind the mess, and side characters kept slowing things down. Since we all trust from the start that Lucy and Zac are soulmates who will surely end up together, the presence of  Morgan and Nick just seems to provide a bit of filler. Morgan is the jealous and nasty other woman who is romantically interested in Zac. Even her name, Morgan LeBlanc, sounds like an anti-heroine. And Nick is the typical nice guy women on the rebound seem to hook up with. There's nothing wrong with him, except that he's not Zac. We get the picture, so come on, what happens?

I wasn't sure how I felt about the ultimate revelation. You might be either disappointed or impressed, depending on whether you'd prefer Lucy's desertion of Zac to be based on intrigue and foul play, or more of a psychological basis, grounded in personal history. I'd gone into it half expecting it to be a crime story, but it's definitely a romance first and foremost. 

There's quite a bit of information about minor characters in this story. They are mostly members of Zac's family. This is a giveaway that the book is part of a series. Yes, Beau and Eden were the main characters of the first novel, and Riley and Paige's story is still coming.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for my review copy.

3.5 stars

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Nine books to help us do our housework

I thought I'd clean out the kitchen pantry before Easter. After piling everything on the bench, scrubbing away sticky smears, spills and dust, and making two bags or pots into one where there were double ups, I discovered a disaster in the fridge. My youngest son admitted he was responsible. He'd laid the milk down without tightening the lid, and all the vegetables in the crisper were floating in milk, looking like some sort of raw, creamy soup. Housework isn't my favourite occupation, and sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in it. 

Still, it has to be done, so we might as well use any help to improve our frame of mind about it. I've found housework often crops up in stories.

Several old movies I've come across are so riddled with stereotypes, we may want to cringe rather than clean. In fairy tale land, Disney's Snow White scrubs up the seven dwarfs' messy little miner's hovel. She even checks that they've washed their hands before meals. Elsewhere in the wild west, Katie Brown suggests that Calamity Jane's grubby cottage needs 'a woman's touch' and shows her how to make it sparkling clean. Wild Bill Hickok and his friend Danny Gilmartin are so impressed by all the fussy trinkets and frilly curtains, Calamity decides she needs to follow Katie's example if she wants to win the heart of a good man. If you want to avoid these gems, there are warning signs to look out for. I think the main one is lots of cheesy singing. Heroines trill like little birds as they wield their feather dusters. What we're really looking for are stories that might inspire people in the real world to bother to get off our backsides for just as long as it takes to get the job done. I think I found a few.

1) The Hired Girl
The Hired Girl 14-year-old Joan Skraggs makes cleaning seem like an art form. Her willingness to just get stuck into the job helps improve the quality of her own life on several occasions. Once, her employer's son reproaches his father for keeping such a bright girl stuck cleaning the oven. The old man replies that somebody has to clean the oven, and Joan is being well paid for it. He adds, 'I notice you're not putting up your hand.'  It's true, that since we all like our ovens to be clean, we might as well get them done with Joan's matter-of-fact attitude. My review is here.

2) Until the Harvest
Until the Harvest (Appalachian Blessings #2) It's set in the 1970s, and while other girls are thinking about careers and women's lib, this heroine, Margaret, is happy to admit that she quite likes cleaning. You can make a difference to your quality of life straight away and go to bed pleased with your progress. What's not to like? You can bless others too. Wiping smears of toothpaste off the sink for her needy neighbours only takes a second and makes them happy and grateful. My review is here.

3) Jane of Lantern Hill
Jane of Lantern Hill In theory, it sounds like a plot fail. The young heroine is coerced away from her clingy mother to stay with the father she barely remembers, and finds great satisfaction in keeping his house clean for him. It might not have worked for many other authors, but L.M. Montgomery could pull it off. We feel Jane's genuine pleasure when she manages to get a recipe right, or finds a method to remove stubborn stains. She's a born lady-of-the-house, and since our homes are our havens, whatever makes a girl happy is fine. Her dad, Andrew, gives the impression that he's doing her a great favour by standing back and letting her have her way with all the cleaning, since she's never had the opportunity to be in charge of anything before. What a guy!

4) The Thirteenth Tale
The Thirteenth Tale This wasn't one of my favourite novels, but I did like the character of Hannah, who revolutionises the dysfunctional household for a short period of time. The bedraggled young narrator eventually realises that the bright, angelic aura Hannah seems to wear is simply because she's clean. Of course things quickly slide downhill again once Hannah leaves. My review is here.

5) Little House on the Prairie series
Little Town on the Prairie  (Little House, #7) These books make the weekly drudgery of a woman's daily grind sound noble and interesting. There's a chapter in Little Town on the Prairie when Laura enlists the help of Carrie and Grace to help her do a tremendous spring clean to surprise Pa and Ma, who are taking Mary to college. The descriptive writing makes it sound like a marathon, and the girls come off as total winners and heroes when the job is achieved.

6) Clara Morison
Clara Morison This is a colonial novel set in my own home town, Adelaide. The heroine hopes to be a governess, but finds she can only be hired as a housemaid. Next door to her employers live three sisters who do their own housecleaning, because they can't afford a maid of their own. They are my heroes. My review is here.

Some non-fiction

1) How to Win at Housework by Don Laslett
He's a male cleaner by trade, and asserts that he really is passionate about his calling. That makes me sit up and take notice. I mostly remember his chapter entitled, 'What to Expect from your Husband and Children.' You flip to that page number and find nothing but blank pages with a few grubby hand smears.

2) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I haven't read this new release yet, but lots of other people have been talking about it. It would seem the author uses a heartfelt approach as the basis of her method. If an item sparks joy, keep it, and if not, toss it. Reminds me of some advice I once heard that everything we own should be either beautiful or useful, or as a bonus, both. If any of my blog readers have read Kondo's book, I'd love to hear your recommendations.

3) Spotless by Shannon Lush
I bought this, along with 'Speed Cleaning' from K-Mart, because they looked pretty enough to motivate me. There's nothing like photos of other people's lovely rooms to inspire us to imagine that ours could look the same. Her tips for cleaning each room or area are pretty comprehensive too, and I doubt there's anything she didn't cover. Shannon Lush's enthusiasm for cleaning isn't quite contagious enough for someone like me to catch, but I do get inspired to think that others really do enjoy it.

As always, if you can think of any other books which might inspire us to get stuck into, or even like our housework, please let us know. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

'The Pounamu Prophecy' by Cindy Williams


 Since she watched her village burn to the ground, Mere's life has been anything but dull. Now as an older woman she has come to stay with Helene and James to finish writing her life story - a tale of injustice, revenge and reconciliation. But Helene and James have their own problems. After five years together, their marriage has become dull, predictable, boring ... and it starts to unravel. Weaving fiction with the traumatic history of the Ngati Whatua tribe of Auckland, The Pounamu Prophecy sweeps from the sultry heat of Australia to the verdant shores of New Zealand.

Genre: Contemporary fiction with some historical flashbacks, suitable for both Christian and general market. 

Mere is a wise Maori woman who is concentrating on writing her memoir now that her children are all grown up. She has plenty to share, about how she and her tribal family were victims of some corrupt political decisions in New Zealand in the twentieth century. She's staying as the guest of James and Helene, the son and daughter-in-law of an old friend of hers, and discovers their marriage of five years is a bit shaky.

I get James and Helene. Sure, it's easy to tell them to pull themselves together from behind the pages of a book, but hey, they're just being sucked into the trap of wanting to live the Australian dream and have it all (whatever that means). They both have consuming occupations, as she's a doctor and he's trying to start his own graphic design business. She's bored with the routine they've sunk into, he feels she doesn't support his dream, and their 'needs' stretch along with their budget. Then the unscrupulous but attractive Steve and Nicolette step onto the scene, adding to the main couple's illusion that maybe their lives should have panned out way different.

No matter what their faults, both James and Helene are generous hosts, honouring his mother's request and making Mere feel welcome. They never treat her presence as a burden, even though they're both trying to juggle many other stressful time commitments. That earned them my respect, because I get sick and tired of stories in which protagonists use their preoccupation as an excuse for rudeness. I also like the feeling of anticipation which is set up from the start. We know Mere's presence is bound to have something to do with James and Helene changing their attitudes, and her input will probably be something the reader can take on board too, since we live in James and Helene's same world and sometimes battle with similar feelings. 

The significance of the book's title only becomes evident toward the end, tying everything together. On the surface, it would seem that Mere's sad personal history is poles apart from the first-world, metropolitan problems that James and Helene are living. You have to get to the end to see what happens, especially around the themes of forgiveness and deciding what really matters. 

4.5 stars

Friday, March 18, 2016

'One Thing Stolen' by Beth Kephart


Something is not right with Nadia Cara. She’s become a thief. She has secrets she can’t tell. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. In Florence, Italy, with her epicurean brother, professor father, and mother who helps at-risk teens, Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom no one but herself has seen. While her father researches a flood that nearly destroyed Florence in 1966, Nadia wonders if she herself can be rescued—or will she disappear?

Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is about language and beauty, imagining and knowing, and the deep salvation of love.

Genre: YA contemporary, general market, medical theme.

This novel provides a compassionate insight into the mind of a 17-year-old girl who suffers the onset of a sudden mental disorder, which is revealed down the track to be a form of early onset dementia. The condition enhances Nadia's appreciation of beauty, while simultaneously tearing apart her ability to express herself clearly.

While events which take place around her are still clear in her mind, Nadia's ability to express her feelings about them to others in spoken words is affected, and her confusion and pain shows in the scattered style of her narrative. With the use of flashbacks and treasured memories, she describes her bewilderment at becoming somebody so different to the person she considers to be her 'real self'. The bafflement and concern of her family come through strongly too.

As a backdrop to the events, Nadia's father, a university professor, has moved his family to Florence where he can research a major flood which took place there in 1966. Nadia's mother is a social worker who focuses on at-risk teens, and her younger brother Jack is a budding chef. The new environment gives Nadia plenty of scope to indulge her new habit of stealing objects which she can form into secret nests. She also develops a fascination with a strange boy, Benedetto, although other members of her family have never seen him.

The narrative becomes confusing at times, and it takes more sensitivity than I probably have to keep track of the progression of Nadia's illness, twisting her self-expression. Although research on her diagnosis is still in its early stages, the novel provides a note of hope that discoveries which have already been made in brain science and neuroplasticity may have more potential to help sufferers like Nadia in the future.

The bond of loyalty and affection between best friends is a good theme. Nadia's friend Maggie, so often the subject of fond reminiscences, arrives in Florence to do all she can to help, the moment she learns what Nadia has been going through. The section of the book written from Maggie's perspective stands in stark contrast to Nadia's confused piecings together. Nadia's heartfelt reaction to Maggie's presence is lovely to read. The two girls prove that the roots of true friendship go far deeper than what may be evident on the surface.

Overall though, it wasn't an easy book to read in spite of its good points. I never got drawn into the story to the extent that I forgot I was reading a fairly arty novel.

2.5 stars

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

'The Face of the Deep' by Paul J. Pastor

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What genre is your life?

Like the characters of books, and figures all through history, we all have good and bad stories we can tell about the way our lives shaped up. Maybe one of the secrets of living a contented life is to keep focusing on the best ones we have, even when the worst ones have the potential to really drag us down. If somebody asked which genre best describes your life, what would you say? A lighthearted comedy, a heavy drama, a feel-good romance, a page-turning adventure? Maybe we could reply, 'All of the above, in different ways.'

For example, consider Bible hero Jacob. He was an elderly father, when he arrived in Egypt with his family, was reunited with his son, Joseph, and introduced to the Pharoah. The ruler asked how old he was, and this was Jacob's reply. 'The years of my sojourning are 130 - a short and hard life, not nearly as long as my ancestors were given.' (Genesis 47:9-10)

Our natural instinct may be to laugh at his opinion about the shortness of his life, but I was thinking of his assessment about it being 'hard'. It's an interesting statement, coming from a man who was chosen, just like his father and grandfather, to be abundantly blessed. Since he was one of the three patriarchs, why would he choose to make such a glum declaration?

Jacob was visited by an angel and the ground upon which he lay was promised to all of his descendants for years to come. His cheating uncle didn't want to take him off the payroll, because it was obvious how abundantly his flocks and herds were being blessed while Jacob worked for him. Jacob inherited a birthright that didn't even start out being his. He was clearly given precedence over his older twin brother, who didn't value the things of God as highly. He had twelve fine, strong sons and two women who loved him. (Well, at least two. Those maid servants may have been fond of him too.) At the time of his return to his childhood land, he was very wealthy, and made peace with his brother. When we hear anything like, "You'll be like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," we get excited, thinking that means great things will happen to us.

Yet I get how Jacob could make the gloomy claim he did. Even a blessed life doesn't mean sitting around living the good life every day. We each have more than one story we can tell.

This describes the same man. He was treated as second best by his father, who favoured his brother. In fact, he was given a name which meant 'heel' and had to live with it. He had to flee his angry twin for fear of being murdered, and never saw his beloved mother again. Tricked by his scheming uncle into working hard for twice as long as he'd expected, he had to leave by stealth. He lost his most beloved wife in childbirth. His daughter was raped. His eldest son slept with his concubine and the next two went completely berserk and massacred a whole group of people in a town. He was tricked into thinking his favourite son had been savagely mauled to death by wild animals, which grieved him for years until he found out he'd been tricked.

My own life could make a fairly dreary book about the woes of an insecure teenager who had one issue after another with peers at school. It could also be a 'poor us' bio about bringing up three kids on a really tight budget, or a tear-jerker about suffering multiple miscarriages. But on the other hand, it could be a laugh-out-loud saga about events in a homeschooling household, a feel-good adventure about being homeless and whizzing off in a caravan with a 9-year-old, 5-year-old and new born baby, or a reflective journal about my writing and publishing journey. I think I like those last ones the best.

What genre is your life?

Monday, March 7, 2016

'Flirtation Walk' by Siri Mitchell


Genre: Christian historical, comdedy, romance

West Point History Comes Alive in this Warmhearted Romance

Trying to escape the shambles her con-man father has made of their reputation, Lucinda Curtis arrives in West Point, New York, determined to land a husband from the military academy. Campbell Conklin is first in his class and preparing to embark upon a storied career in the U.S. Army. Lucinda thinks Campbell will make the perfect husband . . . as long as he does not find out about her father.

Seth Westcott also has taken a liking to Lucinda. He's kind, smart . . . and working extremely hard to graduate last. Tradition states that the worst cadets are assigned to the cavalry out west. And west is where Seth must head to track the swindler who stole all of Seth's mother's money. Seth is smart enough to vie for the top spot, but life isn't fair and this is his chance to catch the man who ruined his family. It's too bad Campbell is all shine and no substance, but Lucinda will surely see through all of that, won't she?

This is a comedy plot that takes place around the Civil War era, at the West Point Military Academy and a small nearby town, Buttermilk Falls. Lucinda Pennyworth has been brought up by her con-artist father and taught to be a lady at an expensive finishing school. Now she's heard the report of his death, and decides to throw herself on the mercy of her mother's family. They were victims of his trickery, so he wasn't their favourite person.

Meanwhile, highly esteemed cadet Seth Westcott discovers all his family's money has been swindled by a crook, (no prize for guessing who it was), who he's determined to track down out west. However, only the worst cadets get assignments out there, so he knows he'll have to become a low achiever fast. He enlists the help of some his smart but lazy friends who call themselves 'The Immortals.' They never bother to compete for high grades because all that hard work takes valuable time when they could be having fun.

I kept asking myself whether conscientious Seth really had it in him to slacken off like the Immortals. That would take an entire character change, and if he managed to pull it off, I wasn't sure I'd believe it. It was clear that his studious and neat reflexes were second nature to him, so being a high achiever was actually easier than being a failure. It was a relief when the unfolding of events ended up fairly believable and satisfactory.

Some of Lucinda's predicaments are interesting, as she decides to become a better person and discovers that she's fallen prey to her father's wiles herself, the same as any innocent victims she's helped him swindle over the years. As the point of view switches from to her to Seth each chapter, the story's flow is fairly fast.  

It's a fun read for anyone who likes the sort of witty one-liners that make us laugh, and then sit back and think, 'Hmm, there's a bit of wisdom there.' The dialogue is full of these. There are two villains who are equally easy to want to see brought down, and a few paragons too. They're the sort of larger than life characters who are designed to be either hissed or cheered.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for my review copy.

3.5 stars

Friday, March 4, 2016

Books and Movies featuring Photographers

I love to travel, but haven't been interstate or abroad anywhere near as much as I'd hoped.
I love to delve into stories of the past, but wasn't around in the nineteenth century, or a huge chunk of the twentieth.
I love to see images of science and nature, rather than just reading about it.
I love rare opportunities to see what my heroes and heroines from the past actually looked like.
When my loved ones are far from me, I appreciate glimpses of what they've been up to. My two eldest kids went up to Cairns with their cousins and friends last December, and it was great to see the occasional photos shared on facebook.

Twice StolenAll of the above is why I have such great respect for photographers. The training which enables them to produce lifelike images is phenomenal, their cameras and equipment cost a small fortune if they intend to maximise their skills to the utmost, and some of them risk life and limb, going where others fear to tread. So as an expression of my appreciation, here are several books and movies featuring photographers as main characters.

1) Twice Stolen by Susanne Timpani
Still Life I mention this first because it is hot off the press. The story's hero, Dimitri, is a passionate photographer who has a chance to go and use his skills in the remotest outback Australia. Along the way, he discovers a personal connection to Australia's Stolen Generation which leaves him reeling with shock. I featured this book here.

2) Still Life by Christa Parrish
The novel's photographer hero, Julian, is involved in a fatal accident at the start of the book, and the significance of his career unfolds all through the story of the people he left behind. It's an uplifting tale of triumph, inspiring a young admirer to want to be a photographer too. My review is here.
The Risky Way Home
3) The Risky Way Home by Paula Vince
Yeah, this is one of my earlier books, and one of the main characters is a pretty intense and talented photographer named Eric, who takes glamorous photos of ladies but has other aspirations in mind for his passion. The story's heroine, Casey, ends up working in his studio and finding things aren't as she expects. To see some reviews, check here.

4) Pollyanna's Castle in Mexico by Elizabeth Borton
Motive GamesThis is a really old and obscure book which belonged to my grandma and mum, and may even be hard to track down in print. When Pollyanna of the the Glad Game married her childhood friend, Jimmy Bean, their son, James Junior, becomes a photographer at a time when professional photography was probably still in its infancy.

5)  Motive Games by L.D. Taylor
Phil, the hero of this young adult novel, has inherited his father's passion for creating computer games, but a good part of the job involves precision photography, which he's willing to try his hand at.

Framing Faith: From Camera to Pen, An Award-Winning Photojournalist Captures God in a Hurried World6)  Framing Faith by Matt Knisely
Back to Resolution This is the only non-fiction book of my selection. Knisely shares from his career as a photographer, explaining why his job has always ticked all his boxes. My review is here.

7) Back to Resolution by Rose Dee
This tropical romance set in Far North Queensland was written by one of my lovely Aussie co-authors. Bay Anders is a photographer who is passionate about capturing moments in time, and she has plenty of scope when she is moved from LA to the tropical region of Australia's east coast. 

8) The Harry Potter series
I feel little Colin Creevy deserves a mention. He was the pint-sized student who irritated Harry by tagging along after him, pleading for a photo. At one stage his camera saved his life. Alas, he was one of the casualties of the final war at Hogwarts. Such a waste :(

And now for a couple of movies featuring photographers which I really enjoyed.

1) Where the Heart Is
Natalie Portman plays the main character, Novalee Nation, who has a rough start in life, even giving birth to her baby in Walmart when she's homeless. Photography becomes the grand ambition which she's able to pursue with the help of good friends.

2) The Big Year
This is a great comedy about a specific type of photographer. They are bird watchers, all vying for the title of best of the year. They each aim to take the most photos of different bird species, and take some pretty desperate measures to put themselves ahead in the race. It has a great trio of main characters, played by Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson.

If you can think of any other stories featuring photographers, in any genre, I'd definitely like to know about them. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

'Room for Hope' by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Genre: Christian fiction, historical family drama.

In a desperate time, can Neva find forgiveness for a grievous wrong—and make room for hope?

Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.

When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”

Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?

The year is 1936. Mrs Neva Shilling has fourteen-year-old twins and a travelling salesman husband, Warren, who she loves dearly. One evening, she learns that he's passed away suddenly, along with another wife he had in a different town. With his dying breath, Warren left desperate instructions for three small children to be delivered to Neva to take care of. Reeling with shock, she has to figure out what to do with Charley, Cassie and Adeline.

People don't want to live a lie, but when the alternative is being shunned and criticised by former friends for something which isn't your fault, it's easy to understand Neva's instinctive reaction to keep the facts to herself. What Warren did is pretty shocking even by twenty-first century standards, but at least these days you'd expect people not to take it out on the innocent children (I'd hope).

One of my favourite characters is Neva's girl twin, Belle. What a loving and sweet spirit she has. My other favourite character is Charley. Having two sons of my own, my heart goes out to sad little orphan boys, and I found it easy to imagine myself in his position. You're eight years old, you've just lost your parents, you're worried that you may be separated from your two younger sisters, you know nobody likes you, and you can't understand why. I just wanted certain main characters to wake up to themselves where he was concerned.

For awhile, it seemed there was an interesting love-triangle sort of thing happening, with two equally worthy contenders sharing Neva's attention. There's Jesse Caudel, the new sheriff, and Arthur Randall, a lonely single dad who owns the furniture emporium next door. Even though Warren had two wives, Neva couldn't have two husbands, of course, so it became a guessing game. I can often pick them right, but this time I was thinking it would surely be one of them when it turned out to be the other. It was nice that there was a bit of romance, but the focus of the story is definitely the family.

For anyone who loves stories which delve into relationships between brothers, as I do, this fits the bill, even though the cover emphasises the feminine side of the story. Charley has the whole wistful little boy thing going, as I already said, and Bud puts on a big, tough guy front while deep down, he's bewildered and resentful about the changes taking place in his life. The dynamics between these two are one of the highlights for me, with some fairly dramatic happenings.

I read through the story pretty fast, and it left me wishing for a sequel about the five siblings once they've grown up.

Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah and Blogging for Books for giving me a review copy through NetGalley.

4.5 stars