Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review: Tiffany Girl by Deanne Gist

Book Cover and Synopsis:
As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the New York Art Institute. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

Tiffany Girls is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
I had previously never before heard of the "Tiffany Girls", but this book easily brings them and their unique--but often unknown--profession to life. Flossie (I love that name!) was an entertaining heroine; her spunky nature combined with her occasional cluelessness made for some very amusing moments.

The scenes involving the creation of the stained glass windows were interesting and gave a look at the unbelievable amount of time and work just one window required. Also, I previously never knew how Tiffany jewelers and Tiffany glass were related, but now I do! :)

I must admit that initially I didn't like Reeve at all due to his negativity and bad attitude towards Flossie and other girls with jobs outside the home. I couldn't imagine my opinion about him changing... until I found that it actually did! Suddenly I liked him, and upon looking back I could see that he had slowly changed, and it was handled so smoothly that I barely realized it was happening. I love when an author can pull off such a smooth transition, displaying a large amount of growth and development of the character.

Something that really stood out to me was how when Reeve took in a stray cat, it wasn't at all considered un-manly or anything like the stereotypes of men and cats today. This was extremely refreshing for me. You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat animals, and going by that standard Reeve is a winner! :)

While the conflict between Flossie and Reeve was extremely predictable, I still enjoyed the overall journey. The amount of time it took them to reconcile was a bit longer than I would have preferred, but I was ultimately still happy with the outcome. I actually generally like contemporary stories more than historical, however this one had the power and story to really pull me in. It's definitely a winner, and I'm sure established fans of the author (and also new-comers!) won't be disappointed.

My Rating: 5 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Howard Books) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: Married Til Monday by Denise Hunter

Book Cover and Synopsis:
With a big anniversary party in the works for her parents, Ryan will pretend to be Abby's husband for just one last weekend.

Ryan McKinley has tried to move on from his ex-wife, Abby. He’s sulked, he’s gotten angry, and ultimately he bought her dream house. Big mistake. Living alone in the massive 2-story has only made him miss her more. When her parents call him out of the blue about their anniversary party in Summer Harbor, Maine, Ryan believes God has dropped a golden opportunity straight in his lap.

Abby McKinley never exactly told her parents about the divorce. A strained relationship with her dad has culminated in a distant relationship with her parents, but she’s finally succumbed to her mom’s pressure to make the drive for their 35th-anniversary party.

Then Ryan shows up on her doorstep, looking as devastatingly handsome as ever. When he insists he’s going to Seabrook, with or without her, Abby knows she can’t say no. Her parents still think they’re married and now Ryan knows it too. Besides, he only wants to check in with his best friend from college—her cousin Beau, who just lost his dad. It’s just a one-week road-trip with the man who broke her heart. What could possibly go wrong?

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
I'm generally not a fan of stories that revolve around divorce, but with Denise Hunter's name on the cover I knew I had to give this one a chance... and I'm glad I did. The story is very engaging, and even though certain aspects are fairly predictable, it's still an entertaining and amusing journey.

The point of view alternates back and forth between Ryan and Abby, and in addition there are also two alternating timelines. The "now" timeline is the most prominent, but the story of their first meeting and subsequent relationship development is also woven in. This was a touch I wasn't expecting but really appreciated, as the timeline from the past is a bit lighter in nature. Getting to see the events from the past helps to flesh out the characters and at the same time it gives valuable back-story to some of their personality traits.

The story ultimately shines a light on how our pasts can effect us in ways we'd never imagine, and how we might not even realize it...even when the effects are reeking havoc in our lives. It has definitely caused me to pause and consider some things in my own life from a different angle, and I suspect this viewpoint will likely stay with me for quite a while.

While it's true this isn't my favorite in the Chapel Springs series--simply because the plot isn't really my normal thing--I did enjoy it for the most part. I admit it did seem to lose a bit of steam towards the end, causing my focus to waver, but ultimately it ended well and overall I'm glad I read it. Honestly it's hard to go wrong with a Denise Hunter novel, and this one is no exception! 

My Rating: 4 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Thomas Nelson) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.