Open the pages of the book of Esther in the Old Testament and one cannot be caught up in the age old story of a king and his search for the most beautiful woman in his kingdom to be his queen. In her book, Esther: Royal Beauty, Angela Hunt takes the reader back to the days of the great Persian Empire. We walk the streets of Susa, and meet Hadassah (Esther), her cousin Mordecai and his wife Miriam. As she recounts the Biblical story, Hunt makes a strong effort to fill in the gaps not mentioned in the Bible by using other historical accounts. (more…)
When the Soul Mends is the 3rd book in the Sister’s of the Amish Quilt series by Cindy Woodsmall. It follows the story of Hannah Lapp who left her Old Order Amish community two years prior under shadow of disgrace and shame. Now, having carefully built up a new life, and excited about her future, Hannah finds herself pulled back into her old life when tragedy strikes among the Amish where she grew up.
A thread of tension weaves together the pieces of Hannah’s life. Currently happy and soon to be engaged to an Englisher named Martin Palmer, it becomes apparent that she hasn’t severed all the ties to her past, as her mind occasionally wanders back to her former love, Paul Waddell. When the need arises for her to temporarily return home, old tensions flare and questions arise. While helping her family deal with her sister’s mental illness, she finds herself confronting old problems from a different mindset.
Hannah’s struggles stem from trauma in her past combined with the ordinary dilemmas that occur as young adults make their way in the world. She must decide who she will be. As I read this story, I enjoyed the way the author compared and contrasted life her life among the Amish versus among the English. On the outside, there were obvious differences in clothing and transportation, but Hannah found that the biggest changes were in her heart. Most of the the characters in this story were minimally developed, but I’m sure reading all three books in the series presents them more fully. However one character rapidly changed in the story leaving it feeling disjointed. Initially Martin Palmer is presented as a doting boyfriend who absolutely adores Hannah and is excited to start a marriage together. However, as she needs to return home to deal with family business, he quickly becomes distant. That alone isn’t that odd as relationships can be strained, but the way he starts to pressure her to dress more provocatively and participate in his intense social obligations was a major swing from the way his character was initially established. At the beginning of the book, the English world seemed like a great fit for Hannah but by the end, due to Martin’s huge shift, she no longer seemed to fit despite the fact that nothing else in that world had changed. Despite that, the overall story was interesting and provided interesting insights into the Amish culture.
I grew up in a lawyers house. There are a dozen lawyers in my family. The love of law and justice flows through the veins. Growing up, our evenings were often spent with my dad discussing cases we heard about or things in the news. So, it’s no surprise that I enjoy legal novels. I rarely read them though because I haven’t had time to look for great authors that are authentic and exciting. After reading another book by this author a year ago, I’m glad I finally tracked down a copy of Critical Reaction. My poor husband will attest that I neglected the house the day I cracked this book open. He was greatly relieved when I finally came up for air after reading the final page.
The story centers on an old Hanford nuclear research center, long closed, that is still monitored for radioactive material until it can be torn down. While doing a routine job, inspecting and checking the facility, an unexpected explosion occurs injuring several workers which eventually leads to a spiral of events that causes doubt, suspicion and fear. Not knowing what chemicals he was exposed to, and finding no help from Hanford who only seems interested in limiting their liability, Kieran decides to purtsue legal action against the giant company with deep pockets and government contracts. What follows is a suspenseful, masterfully told woven tale of uncovering ever so slowly a carefully crafted web of Hanford’s deceit that threatens the lives and well being of anyone willing to expose the lies.
This book is for anyone that enjoys a legal thriller. Like a rollercoast of plot twists, this novel has all the elements of suspense and surprise that make for an exciting read. I highly recommend!
(This review is my own opinion. I received nothing in exchange. I’m thankful to my local library for offering such a great read!)