Elsie by Jessica Marie Holt

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Elsie: Homecoming Series Book One by Jessica Marie Holt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“I will wait,” he said… “But only if you do something for me.”
“Anything, George, name it.”
“Forgive me. And go on.

Elsie finally settled into contentment after becoming a widow. But now that her sons have convinced her to make a life change she never wanted, she comes to a pivotal crossroads in Elsie by author Jessica Marie Holt.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of short stories. I don’t place all the same expectations on them that I place on novels, as I prefer to appreciate short fiction for what it is, rather than what it’s not. Oftentimes, short reads give me a nice snack in between longer works.

However, when a story has a greater impact on me in twenty minutes of reading than many novels have on me in five to ten hours, it reminds me how amazing short fiction can be. A story like Elsie’s could easily be a quick shot of syrupy, dreary, shallow, or simplistic fare, something I’d fly through without taking too seriously. But this story is none of those things.

It’s beautifully written. Down-to-earth, yet intensely felt. Contemplative, poignant, and unafraid to do something outside of the predictable. Hey, it even gets disturbing. I sighed, smiled, or gasped here and there, cried “No!” out loud at least once, and found myself tearing up a good two and a half times besides.

Yeah. All that. In twenty minutes.

And without the unresolved, jarring halt of a cliffhanger, this story’s touching conclusion indicates that there’s more to come. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next story in the Homecoming series.

___________

The Homecoming Series

  

 

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

In a bizarre and unsettling moment, a frustrated woman shoves a crying baby into the arms of Special Agent April Ramos and then disappears. Right afterwards, a man who says he’s the baby’s father abducts April and the child at gunpoint. After learning that the man, Jason Snyder, is a fugitive accused of murder, April will have to find out the truth of the situation—fast—in Burden of Proof by author DiAnn Mills.

This author has pretty much become my go-to for romantic suspense. While I enjoy suspense with little or no romance just fine, I’ve yet to read a book by this author that I didn’t either like or love.

Now, I’ll admit this one had a bumpy start for me. Through the first quarter or so, I had some trouble making technical and emotional sense of the story. And because I couldn’t get too good of a handle on Jason and his logic for some time, I wasn’t feeling him.

I’ll further admit that I didn’t buy into the romance. First kisses when one or both of the characters are injured, bloody, and dirty doesn’t strike the most romantic note. Also, in most cases, I have a hard time with stories where the hero or heroine is “finding God” for the first time while simultaneously getting romantically involved with someone. Because both of these brand new relationships require such soul-deep connections, adjustments, and commitments, I can’t help thinking that if one relationship hits a big bump too soon, the other one (or both) might not stick, especially when both relationships formed over just a few days.

Besides that, yes, I know it’s fiction, but if desperation drives a man to abduct and proceed to order a woman around by threatening her with a gun (while she’s holding his baby, no less), I just don’t see the abductor becoming a wise or fitting option for a romantic partner, and certainly not in less than a week’s time. Sure, he may not be a bad person at heart, but he’s shown what he’s capable of in a crisis. What happens the next time a huge crisis blindsides him and he again becomes desperate?

If you’ve not heard of Stockholm syndrome, when hostages form an emotional bond with their captors, you may want to look it up.

Anyhow. With all that said, I still enjoyed the suspense storyline in this novel, and I found the heroine relatable in other ways. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next book in this series.

 

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Detroit reporter Elizabeth Balsam is doing someone else a favor (in part) when she travels to a remote farmhouse to return an old camera and a box of photos to an aunt she doesn’t know. But Elizabeth’s farmhouse visit soon pulls her into a family mystery tracing back to the Civil War in We Hope for Better Things by author Erin Bartels.

It was nice to find this story is split into three timelines—a bonus for someone who loves historical fiction as much as I do. Although I didn’t get that attached to the characters, and the present-day developments in Elizabeth’s life weren’t a big draw for me, I really got into the story during the last quarter or so.

Now, extramarital indiscretion is sometimes vital to a plot. But whether affairs are physical or emotional, I just don’t enjoy watching them unfold and escalate over the course of a book, especially if the affair stretches out for years. I get frustrated with the characters.

While this wasn’t groundbreaking or that deep of a read for me personally, it does tell a timely story. I think it’s good when a novel doesn’t paint the Civil War era with a nostalgic, romantic, Gone-with-the-Wind kind of brush. Fiction that connects historical and contemporary times like this serves as a reminder that America’s racial problems didn’t end after slavery, or after the Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s, or after the inauguration of the nation’s first black president, and that racism is in no way confined to one region of the U.S. or another. Nor is it a problem for any one race of people to confront alone.

I did get a little emotional during this story’s strong and poignant finish. It isn’t tied up with a neat and perfect “happily ever after” bow, but it’s beautiful all the same.

 

2018’s Top Ten Posts

Prismatic Prospects just had its busiest year yet! Check out 2018’s Top Ten Posts.

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Favorite Reads 2018

 

Noteworthy Reads 2018

 

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