Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Road to Testament by Eva Marie Everson

Ashlynne Rothschild never wanted to be a people person. She learned a long time ago that the more she protected herself from the details of people’s personal lives, the better off her life would be. So it comes as a surprise when she finds herself liking—if not loving—the good, God-fearing people of Testament, North Carolina, where she is sent to earn her chops as a reporter. And it is with some anxiety that she unearths a story that could turn these people against her. Beneath the picturesque setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains, secrets are buried—one secret in particular. Keeping it hidden would go against Ashlynne’s journalistic integrity, but publishing the story would hurt those she’s learned to love—even her gruff, unapproachable boss, William Decker, who harbors mysteries of his own. Ashlynne has two options: run away or expose the truth of Testament . . . whatever the cost?

It’s funny sometimes how books find their way to me.  This book was one that I received from the author because she stole my question during an author chat that we were both attending.  I told her since she stole my question, that she owed me her newest book.  About a week later, “The Road to Testament” was in my mailbox and I was on my way to reading, and now reviewing, this book.

Unlike most people her age, Ashlynne has her life all planned out.  Working for her family magazine, she knows that as soon as her Grandmother retires, that he father will take over and she will move into his role.  A position that she feels is just hers for the taking.  When her Grandmother announces her retirement, Ashlynne finds out that her father won’t let her take over his role until she moves up to North Carolina to a newspaper owned by friends of her Grandmother’s and makes some changes in her life.  Assured that six months will pass before she knows it, she heads up to fulfill her obligation to her father.  Never having been out of Florida, she isn’t quite prepared for what life is like in a small town in North Carolina.  As she digs up secrets that have been buried for years, she also digs up feelings for her new boss that she hasn’t felt in a long time, if ever.  Can she make it through 6 months so that she can get her position back in Florida? Why is her new boss so mean to her and why can’t she stop thinking about him? What kind of secrets does she uncover and will this small town ever be the same again after everything is aired? Wait till halftime of the football/basketball game and then go BUY THIS BOOK!

So as I sit here and think about this book and whether or not I liked it, I’m really perplexed.  This book was what I consider a very solid read.  There weren’t any plot twists or turns that came out of left field.  The story line flowed from beginning to end with great character formation and brilliant descriptions of locations.  I could picture this book being made into a movie, a great Hallmark Channel movie that you sit down with the family on a Sunday night and watch.  At the same time, there wasn’t anything that really stood out that made this book exciting.  I appreciate the strength of the writing and the way everything fell into place, but there were times I would have liked to see something explode or somebody get gunned down, but that’s the “guy” side of me talking.

Is this a "guy's book"?  Not in the sense of suspense and intrigue, but definitely because it is a great book.  There’s nothing overtly romantic about this book, even though there is romance involved.  This is a contemporary novel about second chances and redemption and being able to take a different look at what makes you happy in your world.  There isn’t very much suspense, but there is a great side story about some uncovered graves and who they might belong to that makes this book one that would be enjoyed by anyone.

About The Author

I was born and reared just outside of Savannah, Georgia. Yeah, I have a southern accent. It gets a little more southern every time I cross the Florida/Georgia state line.

If I had all the time in the world, I'd probably lie on the sofa all day and watch old movies. I usually have to get sick for something even close to that happening.

I can quote entirely too many lines from Pretty Woman (You do? You think I've got potential?). In fact, I quote lines from movies and songs so often that most people are unaware of what I'm doing. I may or may not have offended some folks. If I have...I'm sorry.

I'm an ex-nurse and a seminary graduate. I hated nursing but love God with a passion and can hardly get through a conversation without talking about our relationship! I think the Old Testament is totally FUN to read (I mean, HOW much stuff can one clan of people get in to?) and the New Testament draws me closer to Heaven. Yeah!

I'm married even though my hubby had to have his wedding band cut off due to an infected spider bite. The nurse said either that or the finger would fall off. I was going for the second option, but was alone in that. :) Now he wears it on his right hand. I can live with that. We have kids and grandkids and two absolutely adorable dogs, Hope and Poodar.

You can connect with Ms. Everson at the following locations:

Eva Marie Everson's Website
Southern Voice Blog

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Turning by Davis Bunn

The message was unexpected but instantly recognizable. 

A voice resonated from a distance and somehow from within.  Against all earthly logic, it carried a divine command.  And five very different people knew they were summoned to obey.

Their actions were demanding, but not particularly grand.  Only later would they see a pattern emerge - one that links their tasks together and comes to challenge the cultural direction of the nation.  They realize that one small personal response unveiled a new realm of moral responsibility.  And this affirmation of everyday hope captures the attention of millions.

But power and money are at stake.  Malicious elements soon align themselves to counter the trend.  To succeed they must also undermine its source.  Can we really believe that God speaks to people today?  Surely this must be dismissed as superstition or delusion.  These well-intentioned but misguided individuals should not be allowed to cast our society back into the Dark Ages.

The public debate and media frenzy place an unprecedented spotlight on knowing and doing God's will.  The five encounter threats, but try to remain steadfast in their faith.  Had God indeed imparted wisdom on selected individuals?  Is this sweep of events part of his divine purpose? 

The movement may herald a profound renewal - one that some are calling The Turning...

When you read Brandilyn Collins, you expect suspense.  When you read Wanda Brunstetter, you expect sweet Amish stories.  The great thing about picking up a novel by Davis Bunn, is that you never know what you are going to get.

Are you ever still enough to “hear” God speak to you?  The five people in this story sure didn’t have any problem making a distinction between any still small voice in their head and the thundering voice of the Almighty.  But would they follow it?  By doing so, they have opened up a difference in their lives, they’ve taken a path that is leading them to something more than they could ever imagine.  By following this voice, they are allowing themselves to travel down a road that will require them to take a higher road between the moral right and the moral wrong.  Can their small band really go up against the powerhouse media conglomeration?  Are they putting all their lives in danger? Is there a way to stand for what you believe in in the face of the society that we have become today?  Turn off your TV and go BUY THIS BOOK!

The best part of this book, in my opinion, is the fact that it kept giving me a reason to read it.  I love to get close to the end of a chapter and get that nudge that “one more chapter will be enough for tonight”.  By the time you get to that “one more chapter”, you’re seeing the beginning of a new day and you’re finishing the book.  This book is that way.  Mr. Bunn takes you down this journey and continues to entice you to read more.  You can never get enough, and even at the end of it, you are hoping that there is more to be shared about the book.  It was fascinating to me how Mr. Bunn brought the characters together, almost in a way that said, “I need you to listen and help me, but before you do that, there’s some baggage in your life that we need to reconcile”.  The characters were everyday people from every day walks of life with every day sin in their lives and He was still able to use them to further His kingdom.

Is this a "guy's book"?  Hang onto your hat.  This is a simple read, but it is a read that keeps you going, always wanting to read just a little further and never giving you a rest until you’ve turned the final page.   

About The Author

Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Defined by readers and reviewers as a "wise teacher," "gentleman adventurer," "consummate writer," and "Renaissance man," his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages.

Twitter: @davisbunn

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I received a complimentary copy of The Turning from River North Fiction in exchange for my honest review.