Christian fiction, Historical Fiction

Book & Cover Review of "A Heart Most Worthy" by Siri Mitchell

 Heart Most Worthy, A
Book Review
A Heart Most Worthy was one of those books that I enjoyed from page one. It begins with a recounting of a barely noticed article in the Boston paper referencing a missing heiress and a bombing in Italy that killed her father. And from there I was absorbed into the lives of three different young Italian women – all working in Madame Fortier’s dress shop – and dreaming of a better future. I had trouble putting this book down. It was full of such vivid details about what life was like in Boston for immigrants in the early 20th century. Additionally, the author kept several plots running that intermingled into one beautiful story about love, family, and the secrets that each can be hiding.

Cover Review
I don’t know where they found this dress but it is beautiful!  And this is very appropriate since probably 50% of the book either happens in or revolves around these girls’ lives working at the dress shop (and the secret of the dress shop’s owner.) Anyone intrigued by the beautiful dress to pick up the book might also be interested in the dress styles of the early 1900’s and the daily business of an upper-class dress shop filled with immigrant workers. The cover artist has also done a good job of pulling the pink color from the dress into the repeat-pattern embellishments that appear beneath the authors name and on the spine. The background image of a mirror and dress form also hint that this book is about a dress maker or a dress shop before the potential reader even reads the marketing copy on the back.  This cover is well-designed and on target to capture the right audience for the writing within.

* This book was provided via the publisher for review by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Additional information about the author and the book, from the CFBA, can be found below.

This week, the  Christian Fiction Blog Alliance  is introducing  A Heart Most Worthy  Bethany House (March 1, 2011)  by  Siri Mitchell   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

Her ninth novel, A Heart Most Worthy, follows prior Bethany House releases: A Constant Heart (October 2008), Love’s Pursuit (June 2009), and She Walks in Beauty (Apr 2010). She Walks in Beauty won the inaugural INSPY Award for Historical Fiction in Dec 2010. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. Love’s Pursuit was a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award.

Publishers Weekly proclaimed, “Mitchell delivers the historical goods.”   

ABOUT THE BOOK   

The elegance of Madame Forza’s gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream–and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times.

Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer’s son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza’s most important client.

Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Heart Most Worthy, go HERE.

Christian fiction

Book & Cover Review of "Hunter's Moon" by Don Hoesel

Book Review

This is a well-written novel, that definitely strikes off the beaten path when it comes to Christian fiction. My guess is that Don is trying to appeal to both a Christian and non-Christian readership. His main character, CJ Baxter, has only recently become a Christian, and it’s made abundantly clear that he is still struggling to remember that this should be affecting his life choices. His conscience does eventually begin to prick at him, but the overall tone of the book is similar to main-stream political/crime novels for over 90% of the book.

Without giving too much away, the premise of the story is about a well-connected family that has been driven by aspirations for political power for generations. Driven to the point of murder. There is more than one family secret that comes to light in this novel, and the main character struggles with his anger over having to shoulder some of these secrets so that others would avoid the consequences. Learning to forgive, or at least to choose not to want to be angry, is a large theme in this story that features back-stabbing, domestic violence and the bitter war that can be waged using personal property in separation or divorce.

A good story, but leaves you feeling winded and more like you’ve finally reached the beginning of his spiritual journey – at the very end of the novel. I would like to have seen more spiritual growth in the character by the novel’s end. (Perhaps this character will be seen again in another book that will cover that? Time will tell.)

Book Cover Review

Again, I think the cover design also reflects the fact that this author is trying to reach both a Christian and a non-Christian audience. The cover is very reminiscent of many popular suspense or crime novels as it is dominated almost entirely by the image of a smoking gun. There is a very faint background of a dark wooded area faded into the top inch or so of the cover, but it is barely noticeable compared to the large, and vibrant red title text and the smoking gun barrel.

The only hints on the cover that elude to a Christian message are the fact that this book is noticeably published by Bethany House, a well-known inspirational fiction publisher, and one critical review printed on the back cover from the Library Journal “This intelligent drama will appeal to readers who enjoy stories about … the faith that guides one through life.” Even this critical review seems to hint that the end of his sentence might be a little bit of a surprise.

It is my opinion that the cover style matches the tone of this novel, and should help the author accomplish reaching a wider audience with his message (I just wish the message had been a bit clearer by the end of the novel. Not that I wanted it to to become preachy … just that I wish it hadn’t ended quite at the spot that it did.)

* This book was provided to me for review by the Bethany House Book Reviewer program.