BOOK REVIEW: Chasing the Sun, by Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson’s latest novel (of more than 90), Chasing the Sun, is based on a remote Texas ranch during the Civil War.  Beautiful Hannah Dandridge is orphaned on a large ranch with two younger siblings to care for, when she discovers that the ranch may not legally be hers.  Conveniently, the guaranteed-handsome William, (son of the previous owner) returns, and initiates flying sparks and fluttering lashes, and a generous slap of Baptist belief and pat Scripture application.  Complete with Comanche warriors, a smattering of Spanish phrases, and a growling geezer as William’s rival, it competes with a Pop-Tart for my attention.

If this is as good as it gets after writing 90-plus novels, it proves that anyone can write.  Thank you, Tracie, for dispelling my fears.

The plot was predictable, the characters uninspired, (yet quoting Scripture right and left), and the ending so pat I expected to hear the echo of “Ole’!” in the background.

One scene gave me the desire to respond with a “ROTFL”: Hannah has just approached  a Comanche warrior to make the gesture of peace, which is granted due to her recent display of excellent nursing skills on the son of the Chief, when William interrupts her.

“She tried not to notice how his rather disheveled appearance only served to draw her attention.  His brown hair seemed a little more wavy than usual, and the top of his bib shirt was unbuttoned and folded back to reveal a hint of dark chest hair.  She looked away quickly, lest her thoughts betray her.”

The few women I have known who would have been capable of presenting the Gospel to a Comanche warrior in full battle dress (Mother Theresa?  Corrie Ten Boom?), would not have had the slightest interest in chest hairs, attached or otherwise.  I also found it irritating that Hannah is not the least bit attracted to the son of the Chief, but perhaps he was lacking in chest hair.

I give this paperback one star: for being written in passable English, and assisting in bonfire-production (the cover makes pretty colors!)  If this is what sentimental Christian women are choosing to read, then the Enemy has already won.  On a more serious note: for a commendable alternative, with edgy plot and insightful characters, I would suggest any work by Francine Rivers, or Lois Henderson.

My thanks to Bethany House Publishers, for kindling: I enjoyed my roast.  (Translation: my  unvarnished, uninhibited and generally negative review is in trade for the receipt of this book).

Resources:

Tracie Peterson

Tracie’s writing tips (oh, goody!)

Texas (just thought you might need a little of the real thing)

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BOOK REVIEW: The First Gardener, by Denise Hildreth Jones

Drawing upon the perspective of gardener and governor’s family in a historic Tennessee mansion, Denise Hildreth Jones‘ novel The First Gardener examines the faithful response to overwhelming tragedy.  Interspersed with humor, patience, and Southern pride, it is an easy read for such a difficult subject.

The family of Gray London, governor of Tennessee, fills the mansion with light faith, laughter, and familial joy.  Then an auto accident strikes, and all are affected, beginning with Gray’s wife Mackenzie, mother to Maddie, their only child.  In the wake of the accident, their faith, family, and even functioning are challenged – to exist, even to make it past this terror.  The joy of the book is the soulful gardener Jeremiah, who monitors both the plants of the mansion, and tends gently with the inhabitants by gifts from his greenhouse.  Mackenzie’s mother Eugenia, with her gaggle of elderly girlfriends, rounds out the support system with laughter and nearly impossible Southern spirit.

I found the novel thoughtfully written, the faith fully functional with deep trials, and the interactions sincere.  There were points that found me laughing out loud, and Jeremiah’s quiet reflections about the Lord were balm, while his idiomatic speech was a bit strained at times.  The first sentence, “The sides a my bologna gone and curled up in that cast-iron skillet when a pop a grease splattered out.”  I almost laid the book down.  I did also struggle with the trials, because the well-drawn characters made me hurt with them, and for them, but I thought the author’s conclusions were well drawn.  Pulling through infertility, pride, denial, depression, adultery, or death, Jones does not take the easy way out on any topic, and the journey is worth a few bumps.

As this is not her first book, you may enjoy the author’s website, which includes the first chapter to most of her prior writings.

I rate this book 3 stars, for enjoyable Christian contemporary fiction, and was pleased to receive a complimentary copy for which to complete my review from Tyndale Blogging Network, of Tyndale House Publishing.  You are welcome to join their team!

Book Review: Delivery, by Diana Prusik

Diana Prusik has brought double entendre into the meaning of her latest ebook: Delivery.  I was intrigued by the plot concept of a flowershop staff in touch with the pulse of a small town due to the sales of its wares, but this light Christian fiction accomplished far more, by revealing the deliverance several main characters needed.  Pulling together both the family that runs the shop, the tragedies they and town endure, with the tenderness of Scriptures exhibited by caring friends, the author breathes hope into this small web of humanity.  The story spans many years, tying together friends and kin in a positive manner akin to Jan Karon‘s fleet of Father Tim stories.  I cannot rate this quite as high, as Prusik’s characters seemed a bit flat, but the effort, ingenuity of plot, and gentle faith lessons allow me to rate it a 3 star.

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers (digital publishing section), for the new opportunity to review this ebook, for which I have received a copy via Netgalley.