Sunday, November 30, 2008

Author Spotlight and Book Reviews: Deborah Raney

Well, I've discovered a new author. Not new to most of you, by any means, but one that I've yet to have the pleasure of reading. I've read 3 books by this author in the past 2 weeks, and I have been thoroughly impressed! Deborah Raney has written about 18 books, and I've started at the beginning, reading some of the first books that she wrote.

My first experience was with Beneath a Southern Sky. Just reading the blurbs inside the front cover really encouraged me to read it. It was like nothing I have ever read! Deborah tells a story of a young couple, the Camfields, serving as missionaries in Columbia. Very quickly into the story, there is a horrible fire in a nearby village and Daria Camfield finds out that she has lost her husband forever. She returns to her hometown in Kansas, where she eagerly awaits the birth of her child, a child that her husband will never get a chance to know. A year or so goes by, and Daria gets some shocking news. Her husband, Nathan Camfield, has been found alive. What should be a joyous reunion for the two of them is going to be pure agony once Nathan learns that Daria has remarried. How will Daria be able to choose between two men that she has loved so deeply? This book is such a remarkable story about trusting in the Lord, even when everything in you wants to move in another direction.

My next experience came with the previous book's sequel, After the Rains. This story follows Daria and Nathan's daughter, Natalie. In case you haven't read the first book, I don't want to reveal too much!! :o) However, this is another heart-wrenching story. Natalie has a wonderful best friend, Sara, who is like a sister to her. One night, Natalie makes some decisions that will forever change their lives, and will leave Natalie with a load of guilt that she wonders if she will ever be free from.

Lastly, I got to read her novella, Playing by Heart. Maddie Houser is a successful novelist that has moved from the big city of New York to a small town in Kansas. Several different things bring her to Kansas, one of them being her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Also, she is helping her sister remodel a house. Too bad that she's got a writing deadline to meet in the midst of it all! With all of the craziness going on in Maddie's house, her neighbor, Ginny, kindly suggests a local bed and breakfast for her to go and write. The owner, Art Tyler, is a professor and won't even be at the inn while Maddie is there writing. After her first day at the inn, she leaves Art a short note of thanks and tells him that she hopes her being there is not an inconvenience. She returns the next morning to find a note that Art has left for her. Slowly over the next couple of weeks, they get to know a bit about each other through these small notes. However, neither one realizes that they've already met each other in town!

I have loved, loved, loved each one of these books, although there is a bit of partiality toward the first one. I was thankful to have the tissue handy! I am so eager to read the rest of her books. Next up in my TBR pile by her is A Vow to Cherish and A Scarlet Cord. The big decision will be which one to start first!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Review: Seed of Seerling by Amy Kennedy/4 Stars

Seed of Seerling by Amy Kennedy

About the book:

An act of compassion in her childhood forces Astril and several of her fellow Seerlings into slavery to the Harkans. Once she finds that her new owner is taking her to Augur, a priest in the service of the One True God, Astril seizes the opportunity to fulfill a promise to her beloved grandmother. Augur teaches her of true sacrifice and helps her to see clearly the horrors of her family line. Her new passion and belief push her further from her destiny to become the next High Priestess of the evil Great Goddess and into the saving arms of her new God. Meanwhile, Astril is haunted by her past and shocked to find out what her future as the Seed of Seerling will require.

Toren is in constant rebellion to his grandfather, King Kortan’s plans for his future. After studying under Priest Augur for more than two harvests, the prince returns to Harkan ready to begin his service in the King’s army. The unexpected capture of a group of Seerling soldiers brings back the memory of a kindness shown him as a child. Staring into the large, gray eyes of the Seerling girl, Toren is overwhelmed with a desire to protect her. His desire to protect his new slave leads him on a journey of self-discovery and true love. Toren faces the hardest decision of his life when he finds that her past will conflict with the future he has planned.

My thoughts:

First off, let me say that I do not typically read anything in the Christian fantasy genre. However, when I read what this book was about, I was intrigued, and I was not disappointed. Amy Kennedy's debut novel was simply fabulous! 

Come to the land of the Seerlings and the Harkonians where you are taking your life into your own hands if you cross into the enemy's territory. The Seerlings have a deep heritage in an old magic that has taken hold of nearly everyone that lives in their land. Astril, a Seerling, has been borne into the bloodline of the High Priestess, and her mother greatly desires that Astril follow in her footsteps of evil. Astril's grandmother, on the other hand, desires that Astril follow the One True God.

In the Harkonian lands, Toren is the grandson of the current king. As a young boy, Astril saved his life, and he vowed that he would always protect her and not let any harm come to her. One day many years later, everything changes completely. The Seerlings and the Harkonians engage in a battle, and many of the Seerlings are taken as slaves, including Astril. Toren recognizes her, and remembers the vow he made. He begs his grandfather, the king, if he can have Astril as his own slave. The king agrees to this, and Toren takes Astril to live with the priests of the One True God. What Toren does not know is that evil is now lurking right under his nose.

As I mentioned before, I don't typically read this genre, but I know it must be good when I managed to read it in 24 hours!! I would love to read a sequel to this book if there is one planned.

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.

You can also visit Amy on ShoutLife: