Betrayal Book review and Giveaway.

by Jennifer Dyer

Three orphans sent to find new lives out west at the turn of the twentieth century. Separated against their will as children, will they find one another again now that they are grown? And will they ever find love and redemption?

Last week I received Robin Lee Hatcher‘s newest release Betrayal in the mail to review. Also included was Belonging, the first novel in this Where the Heart Lives series.

I stared at the books and wondered if they were my type of book–it didn’t look like anything was likely to explode and there probably weren’t any superpowers. But I opened the first book Belonging anyway. And I finished it that same night. I even had difficulty hiding my irritation every time someone interrupted me while trying to finish the book. I was trying to work, after all! Lol.

I loved the redemption in Hugh’s life, the fact that he had a painful past, but wasn’t steeped in anger and bitterness. He had overcome some of his pain already and by his gentle strength he helped others. Hugh, in my eyes, was a true hero. I understood where both main characters were coming from and could identify with their emotions. And I loved the dog. :-)

By the next afternoon I finished both books. I even devoured the preview of the third book Beloved. The first sentence is wonderful. I cracked up. I don’t think I can print it here, so you’ll have to read it for yourself. It is one of the best opening lines I’ve read. Can’t wait to read that one too!

Safe for the whole family, these are great reads. Felicia in Belonging and Hugh in Betrayal, the two older of the orphaned siblings, must both find peace in their circumstances and try to open their hearts to love, something they have never experienced in their lives.

To learn more, see the Where the Heart Lives series story trailer.

Definite good, fun and touching read! Robin Lee Hatcher has a new fan in me.

Zondervan, the publisher, was super generous and gave me copies of the Where the Heart Lives books to giveaway! Leave a comment on this blog or on the link on my Jennifer Dyer Facebook author page to enter to win a copy of Belonging and Betrayal. Giveaway ends midnight December 14, 2012.

What are your favorite types of books? Do you like endings sad or happy? Do you like things to blow up or have a sedate pace? Do tell!

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Book review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

By Jennifer Dyer

The other day I picked up Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan. In half a page I was hooked. Percy starts his epic journey as an awkward, dyslexic, troublemaking student. He lives with his dreaming mother and horrible-excuse-for-human-being stepfather. His future looks pretty bleak until he discovers he is a demigod (son of a Greek god and a human).

As a mom, a small part of me admired Percy’s mother for staying with that wretched human Gabe to protect Percy, but the rest of me didn’t like it at all. But that’s all right because the reader is not supposed to identify with her. Percy is the important one, and he is magnificent. A true hero. He puts other’s needs before himself, and as the series goes on, Percy proves he is more than willing to sacrifice even his own life to do what is right and to save his friends. Percy is faced with tough choices, and although a bit impulsive, he is the best Greek hero I have ever read about.

Another mom thought: I do have few issues with this series, and they have nothing to do with Riodan.

The first is those Olympian gods… Riordan holds nothing back. He writes the gods as they were in Greek literature. They are reprehensible, irresponsible, self-absorbed, miserable, backstabbing, vengeful, devoid of morals, and completely corrupted beings. They give deeper meaning to the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Rats have higher standards, and alley cats are more selective about their mating habits.

Furthermore, the idea that these gods might possibly reflect on the character of the one and true all-powerful God is insulting. (I refer to the Triune Judeo-Christian Trinity: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) I hate that some might confuse the traits of the Greek Olympians with the actual one and only God. It is the highest insult to Him. That being said, I do not think Riordan confuses them, nor do most people, but that is something I plan to discuss with my daughter when she reads these books someday.

As far as age level goes, just be prepared for some questions, such as how come those Greek gods have children with all those different people? The pantheon is one big dysfunctional family, and I’m sure my daughter will have plenty of questions as she tries to wrap her mind around that. I hope the questions include: if the Olympians are gods and they are supposed to know almost everything, why are they such jerks? And why do they spend all their time making others miserable instead of helping them?

There are also some battle scenes and monsters that could be scary to younger readers. I’d probably say the Olympians series is for 5th grade and above, but then again, I was reading Star Wars and Sherlock Holmes in elementary school, so it’s hard to put an exact age on it.

Happy reading!

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Linger book review

When I heard all the buzz about the new Maggie Stiefvater book Linger, I decided to check it out for myself.

Linger is the second book in the series following Shiver, which I haven’t had the chance to read yet. The story follows a group of four teens whose lives are changed and shaped by their connection to a local werewolf pack. I wondered if this would be another YA book about love struck supernatural teens. Although the pages contain plenty of angst, I found the story touching on many levels.

I don’t want to spoil anything for a reader, but I will tell you what I felt both as a person who loves the genre and as a mom.

First, as a mom, I wanted to scream and cry many times. All four main characters deal with deep family issues—three of them with parents I wanted to slap upside the head. One set of parents have no room in their life for a child and act as though their only role in parenting is to throw down an occasional rule. Another set of absentee parents are so caught up in their narcissistic lives that they have no emotion to spare their child. And that is only the beginning.

The book strengthened my desire to remain close to my daughters and to make certain I don’t pursue my own goals at the expense of those I love. Children need their parents no matter what age they are. Perhaps many teens who feel isolated from their parents will connect to these characters.

I did not like that two of the characters were so desperately in love that they spent every night in each other’s arms. I must point out that I didn’t mind the intense depiction of first love—it can feel that way. While I sympathized with both characters’ need for each other’s comforting presence and appreciated the lack of overt sexual scenes between the two, I still don’t want a boy sneaking in my house to spoon with my daughter all night, nor do I want her to read about such things in a book and think, “Hey, what a great idea.”

There were a few almost-steamy scenes between two other characters. I appreciated the choices one of those characters made when faced with the temptation to give into desire, and I agreed with his reasoning. But I still imagined my daughter missing the reasons to abstain and thinking, “Hmm, that sounds like a good idea to me.” (And to be honest, I didn’t like the idea of my tween/preteen/early teen daughter reading something that depicted desire quite that well.) That being said, I think the dialog and thoughts in those few scenes would make a nice stepping stone for an open discussion.

I remember a few curse words, but nothing more than most PG movies include. Overall, I would give it a PG-13 rating for sexuality and some slightly gruesome scenes that involve blood and tragic actions by mislead characters. I read the bulk of the book in a few hours, so it kept me engaged. I felt emotional ties to the characters and enjoyed Stiefvater’s writing style. And I’m still mad at several of the secondary characters. I mean, really. I’m sad to think that there are real people like that. But there are.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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