Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review of Not by Sight

From the back cover:

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.

My thoughts:

My expectations for a historical romance are different from that of a contemporary, young adult, or even a dystopian novel.

That being said, Not by Sight lived up to my expectations!

I had forgotten how much I enjoy historical romances. There's a certain amount of charm that comes from being swept to an enchanting era, while knowing full well that when you close the cover you still have access to modern plumbing.

It's the simple things in life. ;)

I really liked Jack's character, and I thought he was well developed. He was egotistical and wounded, with a touch of brooding. I love that combination for a hero! I liked Grace, too. She was obviously meant to be the strong, shining example, but there were times I wished she had been a little more reckless. That seems strange to say, but we are all human, and sometimes act rash. I think that would have made her a teensy bit more relatable, but I honestly thought the author did an excellent job with Grace's character.

While Grace needed to remain strong in her faith towards the end of the story when her world fell apart, it was really Jack who needed to learn to live by faith and not by sight. A few chapters into the novel, you learn that Jack has lost his sight while in service to his country. He truly has to live his life relying on everything but his sight. However, he has trouble living by a faith that's failed him. The title, Not by Sight, was quite fitting for this story!

Grace is an aspiring writer, and when Jack finds out during their time together, he uses Grace as his "eyes." Jack has an uncanny ability to navigate his surroundings despite his blindness. He hires Grace to be his driver, has her drive to the middle of nowhere, and then describe the scene to him. Long descriptions of their surroundings were instead used as dialogue. As a writer myself, I enjoyed this little trick that the author used. :)

Not by Sight was a very enjoyable story. While I still had some questions at the end, I quite loved the resolution between Jack and Grace. I highly recommend this book!

I received Not by Sight by Kate Breslin from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

See you guys on September 1st! God bless you guys!

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review of Hope Harbor

From the back cover:

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

My thoughts:

Not every book written by every author is for every person. This wasn't my favorite book. I didn't realize that both Tracy and Michael had suddenly lost their respective spouses. That's not a favorite storyline for me - generally because it's too awful for me to even think about - so I generally avoid stories like this. Hope Harbor dealt a lot with grief, pain, regret, and trying to forgive themselves for the mistakes they had each made in their previous marriages.

However, just because this wasn't a story for me doesn't mean that it wasn't well-written, with a message that a lot of hurting people need to hear.

Or read in this case. ;)

The book was a little slow for me, and I was surprised that Tracy and Michael were not the only points of view in the story. Michael strolls into town with the mission to disappear during his two month leave, but God has other ideas. When his lodging plans go array, the town shut-in, Anna Williams, spontaneously offers him lodging because Michael has an uncanny resemblance to her estranged son, John. Anna becomes entwined in Tracy and Michael's lives, and is a key element in the plan God has for them.

When Michael sends Tracy crashing to the curb, he tries to make up for his part in her bicycle accident. This soon leads to a lot of extra volunteering on his part, mostly to be around Tracy.

I thought it was cute how the book was set on a cranberry farm, and I liked how the answer to saving the floundering cranberry farm was right under their noses. I found the ending to be pleasant, with a happy resolution for all the characters.

I received a copy of Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon from Revell in exchange for my honest opinion.

See you guys on August 20th! God bless!

V. Joy Palmer

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Little Writer That Could (I sold a book!)

Hey everyone! I got to tell you, rejection is the hardest thing in the world to handle.

I also have to tell you, that you can't escape it.

*Insert sad, little sliding flute sound that I couldn't find a clip of anywhere. The internet has failed me.  :\  *

I can tell that was just the news you all want to hear today. I know, not very uplifting. And in the life of a writer, it's one of the hardest things to accept. I have met writer friends who have spent years trying to get published. Manuscript after manuscript.

Heart wrenching rejection after heart wrenching rejection.

Then we get told that it will all happen in God's time.

"Well, I'm looking at my watch God, and I think it's time. If you don't, get a new watch."

That line doesn't go over so well.

There are about a billion things in life that don't come easily. It requires a lot of hard work. Followed by a few rejections, ice cream, a treadmill, and then trying again.

"But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

You can't stop believing. You can't stop going. Lying in bed eating chocolate only helps for a little while. Then you start to break out, and you are still in the same place you were before.

Keep going!

I have a very motivational book for you to read. I think it's one you are all familiar with. (And if not, then I feel old.) Get it. Read it. Even now, many years later, I still remember the message. The main character had to fight insurmountable elements to make it to the top.

The Little Engine That Could!

There's a lot to learn from this. Mostly, never give up. Never surrender. You can do it! God has given you wind and wings and a dream! Keep going until you are soring!

For a writer, it doesn't stop the moment you sign the dotted line. but you keep pressing forward. Eventually you come to trust God with the details.

I pitched my first novel, and I got a good response to it. I sent it out to editors and agents. I checked my e-mail more times then I'd care to admit.

And I waited.

I kept writing. Rewriting. Plotting. Re-plotting.

Then some rejections started to come.

It crushed me. Like I said, rejection isn't easy. For awhile I felt like God had let me down. (Thankfully, He's got big shoulders!) I moved past that.

I kept going.

Then I got an e-mail.

One that filled me with a hope and stopped my heart all at once.

My book was going to committee the next day! And thus began the longest day of my life. A day spent in prayer. Seeking God's will. And truly knowing it would be okay, no matter the outcome.

It was a yes! I signed a contract with WhiteFire Publishing! I am beyond excited!

I'm the little writer that could, you guys.

See you guys on August 10th! :) God bless you!

V. Joy Palmer