Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

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. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Out on a westward journey, a wagon accident has forced Clare’s husband to go back for help, and pregnant Clare is left alone with her four-year-old son, Jacob. When her labor pains begin, Clare leaves the wagon during the night, only to return and find Jacob gone. A passing frontiersman, Jeremiah, offers to help Clare search for her son, but getting the boy back from the Shawnee people who took him will be no simple task in Many Sparrows, a novel by author Lori Benton.

I must say I was gripped early on in this novel. I hadn’t encountered a childbirth scene as harrowing as the one here since the last time I watched Michaela Quinn in labor in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t remain quite as gripped the further I got into the book, but I hadn’t expected to. Having previously read three other novels by this author, I expected to gradually wade through a dense story and look out for the striking, brilliant parts, especially like the memorable ones in The Pathfinders series.

While this novel isn’t without its own striking moments, I did find the pace too slow at times. I’m used to the “waiting” feeling I’ve also encountered in other stories by this author, and waiting is indeed a theme of this novel. But I got a little weary here and there, waiting for the plot to move forward. Also, though I understood Clare and her plight, I wish I could have liked her more, at least as much as I did Jeremiah.

Nevertheless, I think this novel will be right down the alley of other historical ChristFic fans. And like the author, I’d also recommend readers to check out The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn after reading this, if they haven’t already.

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The Worst Christmas Ever by Elizabeth and Juliet Rowe

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. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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The Worst Christmas Ever by Elizabeth and Juliet Rowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it should almost be the most wonderful day. Christmas is tomorrow! But when mishaps and accidents suddenly hit a family–from the babysitter trapped in the bathroom to a car wreck–the family will learn what can turn around The Worst Christmas Ever, a play by Elizabeth and Juliet Rowe.

That’s right. It’s been a while since I’ve read a play. Moreover, this is the first time I’ve read and reviewed a play for children, written by a young pair of sisters. I’m glad I didn’t read the play’s description/blurb beforehand, since it pretty much gives away the crux and conclusion of the matter. It was more delightful to discover the story’s crux and conclusion for myself.

This was an enjoyable read for me. It’s cute and humorous with a serious and heartfelt holiday message in it. There’s one aspect tied to the message, concerning the child characters, that I wish could’ve been a tad more realistic, but it doesn’t ruin the story.

I’d recommend this play to any Christian group looking to put on a children’s production–or to anyone else who can appreciate a quick and uplifting tale with refreshing innocence and Christmas warmth.

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

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.
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The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Amelia and her fiancé James had planned to marry right away, but she hears that he’s been killed in the war, shot down with his plane. Hence, Amelia can’t legally claim the benefits of a war widow, even when she gives birth to James’s child, Jimmy. With nowhere else to turn, Amelia seeks out James’s parents–even though they don’t know that she and Jimmy exist in The Christmas Blessing by author Melody Carlson.

I’ve enjoyed a few World War II Christmas novellas in the past. Without reading much of the blurb for this one, I took a gander at the soft, Christmassy book cover and decided to check it out.

I think this story has much that fans of nostalgic WWII fiction will enjoy. The plot is serious, but not too heavy, and the holiday theme is strong. Except for the very end, which may be somewhat rushed, I found the pacing to be steady, even a bit slow at points, as characters stop to think or re-think things over maybe a little more than necessary. However, I can appreciate a complete tale on the shorter side that doesn’t hurry through or skimp on all the important parts.

There’s some “info-dumping” in the opening conversation, and although it’s not unrealistic for a woman in Amelia’s position to cry a lot, her sobbing loses some of its effect on the page when it happens over and over. Also, I hope this isn’t something widely common that I’m just starting to notice in general now, but it seems that far too many sentences in the story begin with the word “And,” until it feels monotonous. I’m not sure if this issue appears in the final version of the book; I read an ARC.

Overall, it was refreshing to find a holiday tale that wasn’t completely predictable to me, and I think many other ChristFic readers will like this one.

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

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. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Kate has earned the position of lead counsel in a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company. More than the chance to further her career as a lawyer, she wants justice for the people whose lives have been severely damaged by a dangerous drug on the market. But when a whistleblower from the company is murdered, Kate soon learns that she may also become a target in Deadly Proof, a novel by author Rachel Dylan.

I’m quite a fan of legal fiction, and it was the pharmaceutical aspect of the plot that most drove me to pick up this romantic suspense novel. While I think the characters tend to repeat or explain the obvious sometimes, the legal points of the story are laid out well. I most enjoyed watching Kate in her professional element.

Overall, however, the characters didn’t really “pop” for me. I found the romance and the spiritual side of the story to be rather trite, relying too much on clichéd phrases and situations without digging deeper. The naiveté of a couple of the characters didn’t feel realistic, especially for people near or past middle age. I saw most of the dangers and twists coming before they happened. Also, on a minor note, I felt like too many sentences, both in the narration and the dialogue, began with the word “And.” I’m actually fond of beginning sentences that way myself, but it can be easy to go a little overboard with it.

Still, I think other fans of ChristFic legal thrillers and romantic suspense may want to check this book out.