Monday, June 16, 2014

Torn Canvas by Donna K. Weaver


Modern-day pirates took more than Jori Virtanen’s friends; they stole his face. Not only does the twenty-four-year-old former model have to confront months of reconstructive surgery, he discovers his previous life was as superficial as his looks. Jori struggles to make a new life for himself as an artist while evading the press. They expect a hero, but he knows the truth. His beauty masks a beast. Olivia Howard’s given up a normal life for her job, and the sacrifices are finally paying off. The twenty-six-year-old talk-show host’s ratings are heading to the top of the charts. Her dream is to make a difference in people’s lives, but the studio wants mind fluff—like interviewing hot model Jori Virtanen. When Olivia learns the guy helped rescue passengers on a cruise excursion from kidnappers, she knows this is the story she needs to make her case. The only problem is the hero was injured, and now he’s disappeared. The more Olivia learns about the man behind the scar, the more intrigued she becomes. But Jori is no girl’s happily ever after. Once she finds him, Olivia has to free his heart and heal the beast. (book jacket summary)

I really enjoyed the A Change of Plans the first book in these series, and so jumped at the chance to read Torn Canvas. This book covers a lot of the same events as the book Change of Plans, but tells the story from the perspective of Jori Virtanen the mysterious and interesting model that Lyn befriends on the cruise. Jori has a major perspective shift after returning home from the traumatic pirate attack. He has to confront many inner demons and finally has the courage to pursue a career in art. I really liked reading more about one of Weaver's more interesting characters Jori Vertanen and how the author portrayed his journey to find healing from his past experiences.

Hosted by:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Family Size by Maria Hoagland

Family Size by Maria Hoagland
"Jessica loves being the mom of an ever-expanding family, but when an ultrasound throws her a curve, can she adapt with grace?

Dragged away from home, Maya feels deserted by her workaholic husband in a land of confusing accents and church cliques. What will it take to acclimate and save her marriage—or does she even want to?

Sloane is an algebra teacher and runner who would give up both to be a mom, but no matter what she does, pregnancy remains elusive. Can she adjust her thinking and find purpose in her life?


As their lives intertwine, can friendship and faith help these women hurdle expectations of an ideal family size?" (summary from author's website)

Family size tells the story of three women going through trials. Sloane is the math teacher that just can’t get pregnant, Jessie the worn out mother, who has a pregnancy with dangerous complications, and Maya, who deals with chronic pain while her husband is often away on speaking engagements for his new book. I  thought the author did a really good job of dealing with a lot of sensitive issues very realistically and honestly. From prescription drug dependence to infertility and adoption she leads her characters through their trials with sincerity and realism that makes the reader relate to and understand their choices.
That being said I think the author relied too much on offensive comments to fuel the tension for her scenes. The trope began to feel old hat about halfway through the novel to the point that it started to feel unrealistic. Another thing is that I thought the author could have improved many scenes by giving the reader critical details to set things up. For example we are never told that Jessica’s husband is an OBGYN and we have to just infer that from the context. He is also part of the bishopric, I think, but that never really factors into Jessica’s point of view as a reason for why she is so overwhelmed all the time. That is kind of a significant impact on Jessica’s family and I thought that should have been treated as thoughtfully as the rest of the challenges in the novel. 

Despite these weaknesses I still felt like the book was a worthwhile read and would be willing to read more books written by the author.
Find out more about Maria Hoagland at her website.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fresh Courage Take by Dean Hughes

Fresh Courage Take by Dean HughesThe United States turned a blind eye when the Mormons were driven from Missouri to Illinois and finally out of the country altogether. How can the government—and Brigham Young—now be asking the Mormons to come up with 500 able-bodied soldiers to assist in the war with Mexico? And how can Will Lewis be asked to join the Mormon Battalion when it means leaving Liz and their two little boys on their own in the wilderness? How many sacrifices will be required in order for the Saints to create Zion? And in modern-day Nauvoo, Jeff and Abby Lewis are facing challenges of their own. Juggling family priorities, professional responsibilities, and Church callings becomes and almost impossible feat. It is clear that building Zion in the latter days will require sacrifices, just as it did in the time of Jeff's ancestors. In this concluding volume of the Come to Zion trilogy, beloved novelist Dean Hughes provides a unique perspective on the struggles and sacrifices—and ultimate joy—of faithful Saints in any generation. (book jacket summary)

The story of Will and Liz continues in the third volume as they are chase out of Nauvoo and Will is called to serve in the Mormon Battalion. While we read about his long marches with no water, Liz is trying to survive in Winter Quarters without him. Finally, compelled to build her own house she manages to get her children inside for the winter. Jeff and Abby are facing their own challenges when Jeff decides to start his own handyman business, working from dawn till dusk to provide for his family. In this volume we follow the characters as they are pressed through their lowest times. I still really loved the honesty of the characters emotions in this book.  The ending of the book was sort of abrupt, but we couldn’t stay with the characters forever, I suppose. All the characters do make interesting journeys even if the ending leaves a lot of the rest of their saga untold. Hughes writes a story that is inspiring and relevant to our times. I would highly recommend this series to everyone.