An encouraging light read on the theme of Christian transformation.

I WANT A NEW LIFE

Three friends seek out new lives in Poydence’s debut religious chick-lit novel.

Casey Swanson, Eliz Wilding and Amana Anne Moore are three friends whose lives reach a crossroads. Casey is unappreciated by her husband and two sons. Eliz’s reckless, booze-filled lifestyle reaches a critical point when she loses her job. Amana Anne, a widow, has closed her heart to romance and God’s plan for her. One day, Amana Anne encourages Casey and Eliz to join her on a spiritual adventure to get a “new life.” That same day, Casey listens to the voice of God telling her “This is the day” and spontaneously heads off on a weeklong mission trip. Eliz has a reckless tumble that nearly kills her, and she decides to try following God for the first time in her life. Amana Anne falls in love at first sight with the handsome Jake Sandstone while simultaneously trying to let God lead her toward a career as a motivational writer and speaker. Each of the three women is at a different point of her life and faith. Many Christian readers may relate to one or all of these stages, and the transitions between characters are always smoothly managed. The events that lead Casey to the mission trip, Eliz to God and away from the bottle, and Amana Anne to Jake are all a little too coincidental. For instance, Casey just happened to have a “getaway bag” in her car when her pastor announced a sudden opening for the mission trip, and Amana Anne’s professional advancement occurs faster than would usually be possible, but this may only bother more skeptical readers. Overall, the changes the main characters undergo may surprise, but they still inspire.

An encouraging light read on the theme of Christian transformation.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0988486706

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Anything's Possible Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2013

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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