Saturday, September 20, 2014

All Right Here by Carre Armstrong Gardner

Read first chapter excerpt here

Ivy Darling can’t have children of her own, and her husband Nick’s resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick’s family has never welcomed her into the fold.

When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally barren marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late?

All Right Here by Carre Armstrong Gardner was an enjoyable read that showed family life as it really is...complicated, difficult, and challenging, but still the most important and deepest relationships possible to have. This is the first novel in the Darling Family Series, and it ended in a way that left me waiting expectantly for the next novel to come out so that I could figure out what was going to happen next. The plot line moved at a steady pace that allowed me to connect with the characters and their past and present challenges. The story also contained a good mixture of humor, tragedy, conflict, and suspense, but no real romance. I appreciated that romance was not the focus of this novel, but unfortunately it is also a sign of the unhappy state of Ivy's marriage. The focal point of this novel was relationships, particularly between Ivy and her husband as well her extended family. I thought at times that the story dragged along too much and that there was not enough redemption in the story. I am hoping that the next novel introduces some hope and clarity to the situation between Nick and Ivy as well as Ivy's twin sister's situation. The characters in this novel were very interesting and unique, and I did feel like I had a very good understanding of the characters by the end. I appreciated the conflicted and realistic nature of the characters and their relationships, but I also liked how both Ivy and Nick reached breaking points where they surrendered their mistakes and pride to God. I did wish there had been more resolution to Lisa's plight, but I am hoping this will be part of the next novel. 

I received this novel from in exchange for an honest review.

Mindwar by Andrew Klavan

New High Score! New Record Time!
Rick nodded with grim satisfaction. He laid the game controller aside on the sofa and reached for his crutches.

Rick Dial was the best quarterback Putnam Hills High School had ever seen. Unflappable. Unstoppable. Number 12. But when a car accident left him crippled, Rick’s life as he knew it ended. He disavowed his triumphant past. He ignored his girlfriend. He disappeared into his bedroom—and into the glowing video screen.
But Rick’s uncanny gaming skills have attracted attention. Dangerous attention. Government agents have uncovered a potentially devastating cyber-threat: a Russian genius has created a digital reality called the Realm, from which he can enter, control, and disrupt American computer systems . . . from transportation to defense. The agents want Rick, quick-thinking quarterback and gaming master, to enter the Realm and stop the madman—before he sends America into chaos.
Entering the Realm will give Rick what he thought he’d never have again: a body as strong and fast as it was before the accident. But this is no game, there are no extra lives, and what happens to Rick in the Realm happens to Rick’s body in reality.
Even after Rick agrees to help, he can’t shake the sense that he’s being kept in the dark. Why would a government agency act so aggressively? Can anyone inside the Realm be trusted? How many others have entered before him . . . and failed to return?

Mindwar by Andrew Klavan was an interesting and intriguing young adult novel that delves into the virtual world of 'video games' games that can have serious physical consequences. The plot line was well written and exciting with a healthy dose of mystery, suspense, danger, and romance. I liked how the author wove the real and virtual worlds together seamlessly as well as how repercussions in one world affected the other. The themes of the novel were clear and well developed and included topics such as trusting God and others, forgiving others, and being honest. The characters in Mindwar were also interesting and well developed. Rick was a very conflicted character who pushed away all of his friends and family after his accident and spent his time playing video games. However, his talents soon pulled him into a new game where his life and his family's lives hung in the balance. The other characters in this novel were less developed than Rick, but they still added important elements to the overall story and helped Rick's character stand out more. Overall, I enjoyed this first installment in the Andrew Klavan's new trilogy, and I look forward to reading the next two novels!

I received this novel from in exchange for an honest review.