Saturday, July 6, 2013

Review: The Chance

Title: The Chance
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Rating: 5/5


In The Chance, New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury delves deeply into a theme that resonates with us all: It’s never too late for those willing to take a chance.

Years ago, the day before Ellie moved from Georgia to California, she and her best friend Nolan sat beneath the Spanish moss of an ancient oak tree where they wrote letters to each other, and sealed them in a rusty old metal box. The plan was to return eleven years later and read them. But now, as that date arrives, much has changed. Ellie, bereft of the faith she grew up with, is a single mom living in a tired apartment trying to make ends meet. Sometimes she watches television to catch a glimpse of her old friend —Nolan, now an NBA star, whose terrible personal tragedies fueled his faith and athletic drive in equal measure. But Nolan also suffers from a transcendent loneliness that nothing has ever eased.


I have a general hate for religious books/movies/spouting people.  BUT Karen Kingsbury is my exception to this.  She is such an amazing writer, and yes, God is on every other page.  She has this amazing way of intermingling her faith in her characters, and putting all the characters into such a position that you're not so much itching to know how the story ends, but to know what the characters have grown and learned.

Character love:

Ellie - I see her as the "sane/normal" one, I suppose because I see a lot of myself in her.  She has a hard life, but she does the best she can, and through the whole story she questions her faith every step of the way, but she never gives up on the life she's built.

Nolan - PERFECT MAN!  Yes, he's way religious, but in such a sexy way.  Is that possible?  To be religious in a sexy way?  I say yes.  He is the all american good boy who has grounded family values and life goals he actually fulfills.

Caroline - Don't have a huge opinion on her, even though she was one of the biggest catalysts of the whole book.  I believe she made a huge mistake, but I love how she never gave up on Ellie and her part in the ending.

Alan - HATED HIM until the last couple chapters.  If you read, you'll see why.

Kinzie - Best little ball of sunshine in the entire book.

A must read for everyone of any faith who wants a story with values, morals, and something that isn't written just for the sake of getting to the end and finding out the resolution to all of life's problems.

I think I'm going to post an author profile on Karen Kingsbury next, so keep a look out for that.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: Below

Title:  Below
Author:  Meg McKinlay
Rating: 3/5


Secrets have a way of floating to the surface. . . . Mystery, compelling characters, and an abandoned town beneath a lake make for a must-read adventure.

On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, who wears oversized swim trunks to cover the scars on his legs, joins Cassie in her daily swims across the off-limits side of the lake. As the summer heats up, the water drops lower and lower, offering them glimpses of the ghostly town and uncovering secrets one prominent town figure seems anxious to keep submerged. But like a swimmer who ventures too far from shore, Cassie realizes she can’t turn back. Can she bring their suspicions to light before it’s too late — and does she dare?


This really wasn't that bad for a slightly futuristic juvenile book.  It took a while to really understand what was happening though.  I'm not sure if that was the author's intention, to not give us any straight answers about how/why they sunk the old town/city.  I also didn't realize the setting was in Australia until at least halfway in.  That certainly changed the picture in my head (considering I was picturing some mid-west small town in the U.S.).

But despite the confusion in my picturing of the situation, I liked the concept, and I liked the characters.  It took a good 200 pages to hit the climax of the story, but that seems to be getting more normal these days, we don't get the cool down after the climax in books, we get the climax right before the end and that's it.

Being inside Cassie's head for the entire story was probably perfect.  She thinks so differently than the rest of her town (except perhaps Liam), and she also isn't afraid to question everything and do something about it, which makes the story infinitely more interesting.

Overall, 3 out of 5 stars, because the setting wasn't well developed and I thought that was essential to the story, but the rest of it was good.

Recommended to those willing to question their existence a bit (and children over the age of 8 or 10 I think).