Friday, April 02, 2010

A Return to the Norm

The fasting is over, and I'm back to book reviews! I've learned a lot from my fast, and I hope that you've been reading my posts the last six weeks to see what I've learned. Today I have two book reviews from two of my favorite authors.

An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick is the powerful sequel to A Flickering Light. The author calls it historical speculative fiction as she writes about the story of her grandmother Jessie Gaebele as she tries to make her way as a professional photographer in 1910. The story picks up shortly after the events of the first book in which Jessie had fallen in love with her married employer, Fred Bauer, and their relationship crossed the boundaries of what is acceptable, so Jessie fled to Milwaukee, WI from her home in Minona, MN to try and forget about Fred and start a new life on her own two feet. Jessie loves her chosen profession and eventually wants to own a studio, but few men take her seriously. Jessie comes to life on every page, and I was deeply saddened to learn that the series ended with just the two books. Some readers may not agree with decisions Fred makes throughout the course of the story, but it's important to remember that these characters are human and so make mistakes, and that it does not effect the beautiful writing of Kirkpatrick. She completely immerses the reader in the early twentieth century with lots of historical detail making the characters and scenes come to life.

Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer is a fast-paced historical mystery set in Germany in the days after World War II. Betty Lake arrives in Bayreuth, Germany to perform in a USO tour. She's thrilled to be singing in such a prestigious theater, one that was designed by Wagner, but her excitement quickly turns to fear when her roommate mysteriously dies, and Betty is certain that the label of suicide is wrong. Army photographer and undercover spy, Frank Witt not only believes her, but is falling under the spell of her beautiful looks and song. The couple must put aside their own fears and work together to discover the truth before someone else dies. While not up to the standard of Goyer's other work, this is still a great read. The look behind the scenes at the USO as well as the political climate in post-war Germany is compelling. The mystery itself is a bit obvious and the machinery for it creaks in spots. That said, I wouldn't mind at all if Betty and Frank decided to team up again and continue solving mysteries while serving in the military.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group and LitFuse Publicity for providing me with copies of these books for review!

Hopefully my surgery went smoothly yesterday, and I'll be home tonight (it feels weird to write that considering I'm writing this Wednesday evening). I'll try to blog tomorrow with an update of how I'm feeling and with another book review. If not, I hope that each and every one of you has a Happy Easter!