Wednesday, 18 September 2019

B Book Reviews

October 2013 Book Reviews

THE BARGAIN by Stephanie Reed

Reviewed by Linda Attaway

 

Stephanie Reed has penned an Amish novel with an unusual twist and the resulting juxtaposition of cultures and personalities is as colorful as a tie-dyed shirt from the era in which the book is set.

 

Betsie Troyer's steady and predictable way of life is turned upside down in 1971 when her parents quietly decide to leave the Amish community and become followers of Christ.  Heartbroken and  trying to maintain the facade that her parents are on an extended trip to visit relatives, Betsie must also fulfill an apprenticeship in her cousin's stead to an English harness-making family in a nearby community. (Her cousin is fulfilling his draft commitment at an army hospital in Chicago during the Viet Nam War.)   Her determination to keep the Englishfamily at arm's length wavers as her heart is drawn to 11-year-old Sheila, who desperately needs a friend and whose mother is more concerned about making a big break in Hollywood than she is caring for her family.  Sheila's older brother, Michael, is an enigma--at times friendly and other times brooding and sullen, with occasional eruptions into shouting matches with his dad.  Betsie determines to bring some peace to this family, all the while wishing her own fractured family would heal.  She must convince her parents to come home before the bishop finds out what they've done. If they don't, will she still be able to marry Charley Troyer?

 

Set in the troubled and contentious times of the Viet Nam War and following events such as the Kent State shootings, The Bargain portrays the struggles of both Amish and English families in  such a pivotal era.  Written primarily from Betsie's point of view with occasional changes to Michael's viewpoint, Reed keeps the pace moving.   Betsie's efforts to mend Michael's "hippie" clothes provide some amusing moments as cultures collide.  Somehow they manage to forge a friendship in spite of--or maybe because of--their differences; it's not certain who stands to benefit and grow the most.  Betsie's parents' defection and their faith journey provide a fresh perspective, making this book stand out from other more typical Amish novels. 

 

Readers who prefer stand-alone stories should be prepared that this is book one of the Plain City Peace series and as such, not all the threads are up in a bow at the novel's conclusion.  Neither the title nor the timing of book two's release has been announced yet.


THE CIRCLE GIRLS: ONCE UPON A WITCH by Anya Novikov

Review by Samantha Coville

 

Deliverance, or "Delli" as her friends call her, is having strange dreams about the Salem Witch Trials. And now the events of 1692 seem to be coming alive in her modern day life as girls at her school turn against each other and lies spread. Now both Delli and the dream girl with the same name will have to learn a lesson the hard way.


Anya Novikov's debut novel mixes religion, relationships and humor in a fast paced story of lies vs. truths, darkness vs. light. It keeps you on the edge of your seat right from the start and doesn't let go. Add in Delli's unusual life style, living on a farm with hippie parents, and you've got a winner. My only concern is that some topics brought up by the teens, all related to relationships and sexuality, aren't really family friendly so it might not fit younger readers.


I really enjoyed the story of modern high school and legendary history that collide in fascinating ways. I'm giving The Circle Girls: Once Upon a Witch four and a half bonnets out of five.

TOKENS OF PROMISE by Teresa Pollard

Reviewed by Deborah Piccurelli

 

Biblical fiction always fascinates me, because of the extensive research that must have gone into each story. Additionally, if the plot makes perfect sense, as to how close to the absolute truth it could be, I would assume the book is God-inspired in the same way the Bible is.

 

This beautiful work is about one of Israel’s sons, Judah, and his daughter-in-law, Tamar. Those who study the Word know only what the Bible tells us happened between these two characters. But in Tokens of Promise, Teresa Pollard adds all the correct details that give it just the right touch of credibility.

 

I don’t want to give away any of the particulars that give power to the story, because I’d be doing a disservice to the readers. Suffice it to say that I was drawn in from the very beginning, and would have liked to read the whole book straight through, had it not been for everyday responsibilities that got in the way.

 

One other thing that merits mention, here: Pollard pulls no punches. This might be what is considered “edgy Christian fiction,” because of authentic elements equating to Biblical times where marriage, sex, and customs are concerned. You will not find these elements vulgar by any means, and Pollard includes an end note explaining her choices in those areas.

 

If you like reading Biblical fiction, you should not pass up a chance to read Tokens of Promise. I also believe that some who do not gravitate toward this genre will also enjoy this book. I highly recommend it!

DARK BIOLOGY by Bonnie Doran

Reviewed by Kim Ford

 

“It was up to God now. It always had been.”  (Hildi’s thoughts after visiting the prison.)

 

Hildi Hildebrant and her brother Chet live lives driven by the fierce competition to achieve greatness in their field – vaccinologist.  Both work to find vaccinations against the world’s most deadly diseases.  Their work for the CDC is highly rewarding and highly dangerous!  In addition to a very unhealthy sibling rivalry, both Hildi and Chet live in the shadow of their infamous father – a pastor who now conducts marriage seminars after his own marriage survived a very public revelation of multiple affairs.  Their relationship with both parents are strained and broken – a brokenness that reveals itself in their own failed relationship attempts.

 

Dark Biology is a very multi-layered, deeply involved novel on many levels.  At the beginning, it seems that the sibling rivalry between the Hildebrant children will be the main thrust of the story.  Suddenly, you are plunged into a tricky situation among the astronauts working with Hildi – a complicated romantic triangle that is only exacerbated by their close proximity as they train to go to the international space station. Then Chet goes rogue and sets a deadly pandemic in motion that actually impacts Hildi’s work on the space station!  Honestly, this book has so many twists and turns, is so fraught with intrigue and danger, both emotional and physical, that you will not be able to read fast enough!  This is an amazing thrill ride that ends both with realistic resolution and a few loose ends.

 

I highly recommend this book to everyone, and fully expect to see this on the big screen in the future! Pick up your copy of Dark Biology today!

 

 

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