Book Review: The Invoice will make you think


What if you had to pay for your perceived happiness? Not your actual happiness but how happy someone else says you are based on factors they determine and measure. I imagine if this were the case there’d be a lot less folks portraying picture-perfect lives on Facebook.

So in ‘The Invoice‘ by Jonas Karlsson this guy gets a bill for his happiness quotient, and he completely disagrees with the charges. I mean, the bill is egregious. He owes millions of dollars (actually kronor, which it turns out is Swedish currency; who knew?) and he doesn’t feel like his life is that great to owe so much. Especially when friends who he thinks have happier lives owe less than him.

See how this book will make you think? Cool, eh?

So he sets out to prove how crappy his life is so that the people who decide such things will lower his bill. In the process he discovers that maybe his life isn’t so bad afterall.

Quick, quirky read that made me think. And since I like thinking, I give the book 3/5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

 

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Book Review: The Tea Planter’s Wife


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Two things attracted me to The Tea Planter’s Wife at first glance: the beautiful cover and the intriguing title. I wanted to know who this woman was and what her life was like. In the cover art she looks troubled and deep in thought. With no other information about her other than her husband’s profession I wanted to read what was it that made her sit on this balcony looking quite forlorn.

And the book didn’t disappoint. I loved it! The characters captivated my interest from the very beginning, and the slow reveal of everyone’s secrets kept me reading with great anticipation of how all of this was going to work out in the end.

I mentioned secrets. There’s several secrets in this book, which kept me pondering most of the time. Even when I knew the secret, I wondered how on earth the other characters were going to respond once the secret was out. Author Dinah Jefferies doesn’t just come out with the secrets either, but draws them out with subtle hints and sometimes just enough details to lead you to guess 2-3 different possibilities. This is very skillful storytelling on Jefferies’ part.

The relationships in the story are quite complicated too, from a sister who is over-attached to her brother and gets in the way of his marriage relationship, to a secret child whose very existence threatens to tear apart the marriage, to the tea planter himself still grieving the loss of his first wife and child. I like reading about complex relationships because struggles like that usually reveal characters’ true selves along with their strengths and weaknesses.

Having not read much historical fiction set in the 1920s, I enjoyed the time period, with mentions of ’20s fashions (flapper dresses!) and the worldwide impact of the Great Depression in America comes into play as well. The story is not set in America (plays out in Ceylon, modern Sri Lanka, an island off the coast of India) yet investors around the world were impacted by the American market crash.

Overall I’d say it’s a fun little piece of historical fiction.

I received this book free from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Book Review: Wildflowers from Winter


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When reading realistic fiction, I most enjoy a book that develops believable characters and situations, and “Wildflowers in Winter” does just that, incredibly well.

I connected so much with author Katie Ganshert‘s characters that I found myself throughout the story identifying plot lines that I’d like to see her explore in future books about these same characters. The good news? This is the first in a planned series; the second book “Wishing on Willows” is to be released March 2013.

There is such richness and depth in the characters, yet they are easy to relate to and sorta down to earth, like people I could really know. Bethany, the big city architect who couldn’t wait to leave her small town roots. Bethany’s childhood best friend Robin, who’s dealing with the sudden death of her husband while carrying their much-wanted first child. Evan, the man in the middle, so to speak, as Robin’s brother-in-law and the man who stands in the way of Bethany finally ridding herself of her old hometown once and for all.

The events in the book are genuine, and the spiritual elements from Ganshert are also genuine. She doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. Her characters are seeking and I believe so is Ganshert and she knows that her readers are too. And that’s OK.

After events in her young life turned Bethany away from faith in God, experiencing with Robin the loss of Robin’s husband and the birth of their child tugged at Bethany’s heart.

“Which God would she believe? Which God would she embrace? She gripped Pastor Fenton’s God in one hand — a God who made her mother cower, a God who showed no mercy to a broken man in a wheelchair, a God Bethany spent the last 16 years ignoring. She examined Robin’s God in her other — a God who brought peace when there shouldn’t be peace. A God who brought joy when there shouldn’t be joy. A God who didn’t leave a widowed woman alone in her grief. … How could she accept this God-without-boundaries and remain who she was? But how could he deny the truth lying before her?

I enjoy that Ganshert and the book does not assert to have all the answers like so many Christian fiction books try to do. I found it refreshing to read a Christian fiction that wasn’t neat but started and stayed frayed, like real life, and the characters’ stories were not tied up in a nice neat bow at the end but they were going to continue to search and learn and grow, just like real life.

I look forward to the next volume and to future books. Ganshert did an amazing job setting up characters and potential plots for many, many volumes to come, I hope.

Check out Ganshert’s author page for all kinds of “extras,” like the story behind some of the names and characters, outtakes, music related to the story, and more. You can also read the first three chapters right on Ganshert’s page!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.