Hold the Light by April McGowan

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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. WhiteFire Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Hold the LightHold the Light by April McGowan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Art is Amber’s passion and lifework, expressed through her paintings and her job teaching art to children. Hence, it’s infinitely more than an inconvenience when she learns that her vision problems are due to the fact that she’s going blind. The unresolved pain of Amber’s past comes to the fore as she wrestles with her faith and the gradual loss of her eyesight in Hold the Light, a novel by author April McGowan.

The book cover excellently captures the brilliant essence of this story: a lone woman, possibly depressed, slowly approaching the edge or end of something, headed toward obscurity—obscurity that’s full of light. I saw this novel classified as a romance; while it does include a love story, I’d classify the novel as contemporary or women’s fiction, since the romantic relationship isn’t the biggest or central focus of the plot.

It’s no sugar-coated walk in the park that Amber is taking. Admittedly, I found her difficult to like when she’d let loose a sarcastic and spiteful tongue toward the people who care about her. Her anger is understandable, though, and she does feel remorse. It wasn’t always easy for me to follow the story’s train of emotion, there were places where the style and development felt rushed and simplistic, and the novel’s villain wasn’t the most convincing to me.

But in other places, the main characters’ experiences rent my heart. It’s not the first book I’ve read about a sighted person losing her vision, but it still gave me some new thoughts to consider. And besides a plot twist I didn’t anticipate, the story came most alive for me at Amber’s easel: the colors, the flow of feelings and creativity and purpose, the appreciation of nature, the communication with God. The light. Brilliant.

And the novel does leave room for one character or another’s story to continue, perhaps in a sequel…

A New Beginning by Rosie Goodwin

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.
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A New Beginning by Rosie Goodwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A church graveyard may be a place most associated with endings. But a springtime visit to the resting place of loved ones has something else in store for a widowed mother, a widowered father, and their two dogs in A New Beginning, a short story by author Rosie Goodwin.

Well! A most pleasant piece of flash fiction if I ever read one. That is, I’m pretty sure it’s flash fiction. I didn’t count the words or anything.

But it certainly is a charming, nostalgic kind of story about memories and second chances. I find it refreshing to read about seasoned characters who have experience and much to remember, but life can still give them more to look forward to.

There was a spelling and capitalization issue with one of the dog breed names, as well as a few minor issues with apostrophes, but they didn’t ruin the reading.

It’s worth taking a few minutes for an inspiring little pick-me-up like this.

Paige Rewritten by Erynn Mangum

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.
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Paige Rewritten by Erynn Mangum

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Accepting a raise at work should be a no-brainer for Paige Alder, right? And when her “prodigal sister” shows up a genuinely changed person, Paige should be happy about it, yes? And what girl wouldn’t be thrilled when her handsome ex-boyfriend shows up a genuinely changed guy, ready to make amends? It seems that as soon as Paige gets on track, everything gets complicated again in Paige Rewritten, a novel by author Erynn Mangum.

Yeah. It still baffles me somewhat that the Paige Alder novels are labeled as young adult fiction, and even categorized as children’s books on Amazon. These books are clearly chick-lit with grownup characters in grownup situations. If any “age” had to be put on them, they’d be new adult novels, not YA, and certainly not children’s ones.

Anyhow, enough about that. For now.

Another enjoyable installment of the series, this is. It’s refreshing to read a story about the prodigal son’s brother, since the brother who didn’t leave home had issues to deal with, too. (Or, I should probably say the prodigal child’s sibling.) I get a kick out of Paige’s humorous take on things, and I laughed so hard at one point, I had to step away from the book for a while to cope with the hilarity.

There were a few things about the story that bothered me a bit. I mean, after Paige spent a whole previous novel learning how to tell folks no, if she now has a low-level stalker who’s annoying her, how come she doesn’t give a solid NO and nip the whole nuisance in the bud? She keeps saying “annunciate” when I’m pretty sure she means “enunciate.” There are places where the story seems to idle or stroll around in circles, sharing no important or new information. And though, after reading the first novel, I was prepared for another cliffhanger ending, I’m still not a fan of the cliffhanger. Endings that hang off a cliff just make a book feel incomplete.

Nevertheless, this novel can bring readers right along into the heroine’s world, whether or not they’ve read the first book in the series. And, as before, since I’d decided early that I wanted to read all the Paige Alder novels, the cliffhanger isn’t the reason why I’ll be moving on to Book Three, which I happily will be.

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Here’s my review of the first Paige Alder novel, Paige Torn.

 

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*UPDATE* May 22, 2017: I did indeed move on to Book Three, which was rather interesting in its own way.
My thoughts are here.

Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum

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 which I’ve given an honest review, through a publisher’s rewards program. I received no monetary compensation.
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Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

It seems Paige Alder is so many good things to everyone. But between volunteering at church, wearing various hats at work, and helping her best friend prepare for an anniversary party and subsequent wedding, Paige barely has a minute to herself anymore. When she’s got no time to eat right, to make crafts, or to spend with Tyler—this great, new guy she’s met—something’s got to give in Paige Torn, a novel by author Erynn Mangum.

I find it unfitting that this book has been officially categorized and more or less marketed as youth/young adult fiction. YA fiction is about teenagers and teenage problems, isn’t it? Given that Paige and her friends are in their twenties, and Paige is dealing with grownup problems, I’d easily classify this book as new adult fiction instead, in all of its chick-lit-ness.

And chick lit it is, with the downright funniness to prove it. I had some good, satisfying laughs while running with Paige through her hectic life, even as her hectic life exhausted me. But I did have some time to breathe. Although I wouldn’t call the story dull anywhere, it’s the kind of read where I can’t recall anything too vital or memorable happening in certain chunks of it, but reading those chunks was enjoyable anyway. And the practical faith message is tied nicely into Paige’s life, doesn’t feel like a lesson unnaturally forced in to make a point.

Now, the novel pretty much ends on a cliffhanger, which I don’t like. Still, the cliffhanger won’t be bullying me into reading on to find out what happens next. I’d already decided less than halfway through the book that I wanted to continue Paige’s series.

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Here’s my review of the next Paige Alder novel, Paige Rewritten.