Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Hi again. BookLook Bloggers provided this volume free in return for a review. So, I received it before the official release date.

The book starts with the last moments of Allie's decade long imprisonment for killing someone who we soon know was a in her mind a travesty of justice. She comes back to try to rebuild her life, her sister (Emma) basically the only one on her side in prison.  Her now teenage daughter (Caroline) has learned to see her aunt as her mother and Caroline's relationship with Allie is in shambles. Allie's father still suspects she did the crime and her mother seems to be trying to keep appearances, not wanting to face up to what happened and is happening.  Meanwhile, the local sheriff has to deal with a sick wife and Emma with the stress of taking care of a teenage niece.  The book provides us with different perspectives in their voices -- Allie, Caroline, Emma and the sheriff too.

I have seen complaint that the last book by the author was not really "Christian" fiction, defined ("Christian novel") by Wikipedia as "a Christian world view in its plot, its characters, or both, or which deals with Christian themes in a positive way." That is rather open-ended, but often is taken to mean a certain conservative type of Christianity as well as requiring a certain lack of offensive language or sex.  This book to me fits the rules -- the basic plot involves redemption, forgiveness and trying to start again while not letting one's situation get you down or let despair win.  But, this isn't really the basic point here. The point is to tell a good story -- in particular, Allie trying to find out the truth.  That works too.

I would give this book an average rating.  The different perspective technique is one I like -- there are various ways to look at a situation, each person has their own way of doing that.  And, stepping into their shoes, looking at things through their eyes, is to me a good way to go.  Plus, the author basically does a good job doing that.  I cared about these characters and believed what was said about them, what they did.  The book itself -- a paperback -- was attractive, easy to read and good as a product.  The explanation of the mystery was believable and things kept our interest as the plot developed -- being purposely vague here.  On the other hand, the book was not that "next level" sort of book -- it was basically workmanlike -- that "wows" me.  I did at times find it plodding.

So, I would recommend this but give it three stars.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Code 13

Hi again. BookLook Bloggers provided this volume (of "The Navy JAG Series") free in return for a review.  As last time, others might be in better stead to review this if they didn't come into this cold. OTOH, there is something to be said to a reader who is coming at this as a stand alone novel.

This is the second volume in "The Navy JAG Series" of novels by Don Brown, who has more than one series for those who like adventure stories with a Christian flavor.  An early tell here is the copyright page with reference to various biblical quotes.  But, the reader can enjoy this as merely an adventure story bouncing around per whatever location we are at the beginning of the new chapter.  

The narration is a bit clunky for my tastes and go tedious soon enough.  The title drop comes soon: "Administrative Law Division (Code 13). The book is topical -- the drone warfare plot device the subject of one or more recent films.  There is action, romance ("her old flame, P.J. MacDonald" etc.) and some appropriate Bible quotes.  The author's own experience in JAG (Judge Advocacy General's) Corps does give things a sense of real life though I'm not knowledgeable enough to judge really.

Didn't really like it.  Two stars.