Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

The Butterfly and the Violin
by Kristy Cambron
(Thomas Nelson 2014)

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of place; the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Kristy Cambron does a great job in bringing the reader into a story rich with description and detailed in history. The hidden meaning behind the title becomes apparent soon into the story and adds a romantic depth and one that keeps hope and love enduring throughout the story. It's not only a romance of two hearts, but one between the characters and God, especially Adele and God. In the ugly harshness of the Nazi evil, Adele finds true beauty and the meaning of true worship.

The Butterfly and the Violin is a wonderful work of literary detail and hidden symbolism throughout. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I wished it was more in depth concerning the characters' point of view. I longed for a deeper read into their emotions. I understand the necessity the author may have felt by "glossing" over the horrors of the concentration camps of Auschwitz, but for me I would have wanted a little more detail to heighten the juxtaposition of the horror at the hands of the SS and the unfailing hope in the prisoners' hearts. The present day scenes of Sera and William read more romance novel than a reflection of Adele and Vladimir.

Another thing that distracted me from the novel was the flow of the timeline. I would have preferred Adele's story to be consecutive in order and not back up a couple of years then jump forward three and back another two. It didn't detract from the story any, and it played in my head as though a movie character's flashback scene, it's a preference that I prefer in literary works.

Kristy Cambron's The Butterfly and the Violin is a work that is exceptional in concept and beautifully executed. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso

Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso
(Realms 2011)

Out of a job and feeling worthless, Sam Travis is awakened one night to the sounds of a Civil War battle raging outside his Gettysburg home. But it's the middle of the night, and the summer's reenactments are long over. A search for the source brings him to an old journal by a Union soldier...written in his own handwriting.

When more of the mysterious writings appear and begin to mimic Sam's own life, his search for the truth puts him on a downward spiral that eventually drives him from his wife, his daughter, and his home--and into an evil plot that could cost many lives, including his own.


As you read: Pay attention. See the clues. Understand the signs. 

Only light can hold back the darkness. And evil spirits follow generations.

In Mike Dellosso's Darkness Follows, readers find themselves in a gripping tale of darkness and the battle for a man's soul.

How far would you go to protect your child? What would you do? Who would you trust?

Keeping me enthralled and flipping pages to uncover the truth, Darkness Follows is a suspenseful thriller that pushes a reader into a corner or leaves the reader huddled under blankets.

Take a pause. Grab the Bible and read. Then devour the story some more.

I immediately started writing down clues from the Gettysburg journals. I kept my mind on the daughter's mysterious companion. I prayed for the character.

With original and detailing descriptions the reader will forget that these are fictional characters. So deep is the emotional river that the reader will be swept away by the story.

Like many of my other favorite authors, Mike Dellosso never disappoints me.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Distortion by Terri Blackstock

Distortion by Terri Blackstock
(Zondervan 2014)

When Juliet Cole's husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her sons. But a threatening voicemail escalates this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.

Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too--unless she meets the killers' demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband's dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?

A continuing story of Truth Stained Lies, Distortion delves deep into the faith and life of Juliet and her family.

"These are the good days." These words were spoken to Juliet by her husband, Bob. Before long she discovers that what she thought was the truth had been a distorted illusion.

Terri Blackstock brings the reader on a fast-paced adventure dealing with a family of brothers and sisters.

If you think you know the culprit, Blackstock throws in a red herring bait. Do you take it and be reeled in or ignore it and keep circling for the answer to the mystery.

Either way--you still end up with a long list and everything connecting but no closer to the truth.

Distortion is not only a twisting and turning suspense novel, it is also a story of faith. The characters are not perfect, just as no one is perfect. The faith and love within the book flows naturally, as do the anger and hurt from feeling betrayed. The characters bring forth tough questions about people's preconceived assumptions of Christianity and a Christian's walk. They make you think: what would you do in that situation?

This is the Scripture that drives the storyline: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 

It's the perfect verse for this story. Small nuances throughout the novel show you the grace and love of God, evident in the some of the choices the characters make.

One thing I have always enjoyed about Terri Blackstock's novels is the heartwarming ending. She never fails to bring a page turning story full of action, emotion, and forgiveness.