Center of Gravity: A Book Review

_140_245_Book.1624.coverWhat if everything you think is true and real about your life is a lie?

Ava’s life in the coastal South appears nearly perfect after her recent marriage to the powerful and handsome Mitchell Carson. She loves her husband and the family they have created. Even Mitchell’s young son from a previous marriage, Jack, with his superhero ambitions, can’t imagine life without Ava. Outwardly, Mitchell appears to be a caring husband and doting father, but as Ava soon discovers, there is a dark side to Mitchell Carson that she never imagined.

When Graham Thomas, a lawyer with a secret past, stumbles into Ava’s life, everything changes. Mitchell’s jealous streak emerges after an innocent encounter between Graham and Ava, and Mitchell soon convinces himself that Ava is unfaithful. When Mitchell starts divorce proceedings and a custody war, Jack is caught in the middle, which soon makes him question Ava’s pure intentions. As Ava searches for a way to save her family she begins to uncover her husband’s secret past and capacity for unhinged jealousy and rage.

 

My Review: When I first chose this novel for review, I had absolutely no idea that this was Laura McNeill’s debut novel. Now that I am aware of this fact, I am even more impressed with her work.

The premise of this story sounded intriguing, and it definitely lived up to it’s description. I would describe it as a psychological thriller, and a very good one at that! The book switches between the perspectives of all the main characters, so you get a wonderful variety of viewpoints. This book does a really good job of introducing you to the characters, so even though the narration is shared by multiple protagonists, you are never left feeling confused about whose perspective is currently being shared.  The author does a tremendous job of gradually intensifying the story, building it piece by piece and keeping you intrigued throughout.

I loved the character of Ava. She was such a strong woman and her love for her children was fierce, pure and selfless. Graham is an intensely creepy character, and the author does a great job unraveling him throughout the story. My favorite character had to be Jack. He’s such a brave, strong little boy and he was definitely a hero in this story.

This book is subtle in it’s intensity, perfectly timed as it develops and thoroughly engaging. It will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. It is a fast-paced book, and very hard to put down. I could have easily read it in one sitting, if I had the opportunity to do so. I am rather glad that I was able to savor it over a few days time though. I really can’t say enough good things about this book! It is well written, satisfyingly chilling and completely captivating. I highly recommend this author, and she will definitely be one to watch.

 

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

 

About the Author

Laura McNeil is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

One Thousand Gifts, A Book Review

Drawing heartbreaking beauty out of the simplest of details, Ann Voskamp invites you into her grace-bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing—and deeper still into your own life. Here you will discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.

Description:
Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. “How,” Ann wondered, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long—and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?”

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted … a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved — by God.

Let Ann’s beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive.

Come live the best dare of all!

My Review: I love the basic concept of this book. Giving thanks in all things. The idea of being thankful in all of life circumstances isn’t new, but this was a nice reminder of all the little things in life to be thankful for.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

New International Version (NIV)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I also love the idea of keeping a list of things to be thankful for. It’s a great way to remind yourself that there is much to be thankful for, even in life’s difficult moments.

The writing style of this book wasn’t exactly my thing.  It is very poetic, very flowery and just much too overdone for me. I prefer a more straightforward writing style.

I don’t know if it was the author’s intent, but I came away from this book feeling like I was to believe that everything that happened, good and bad was sent by God. The bible says that every good and perfect gift is sent from above.  I know firsthand what it is to be thankful and joyful during difficult times, but I do not believe that all the bad things that happen are sent from God.

I also thought that some of the descriptions of things she was thankful for were a bit over the top:

April sun pools into a dishwater sink, liquid daylight on hands. The water is hot. I wash dishes. On my arms, just below the hiked sleeves, suds leave delicate water marks. Suds glisten. And over the soaking pots, the soap bubbles stack. This fragile tension arched in spheres of slick elastic sheets. Light impinges on slippery film. And I only notice because I’m looking for this and it’s the rays falling, reflecting off the outer surface of a bubble . . . off the rim of the bubble’s inner skin . . . and where they meet, this interference of light, iridescence on the bubble’s arch, violet, magenta, blue-green, yellow-gold. Like the glimmer on raven wing, the angles, the hues, the brilliant fluid, light on the waves (Voskamp: 62).

I appreciate the concept of thankfulness that this book has to offer, but I would have enjoyed it more if it had been written in a straight-forward way.

 

*This book was provided for review by Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review.

Amy Inspired: A Book Review

With rejections piling up, she could use just a little inspiration…

Amy Gallagher, aspiring writer, has an unabashed obsession with words. She gave up a steady, albeit unexciting, job to pursue a life of writing. However, two years and one master’s degree later, she finds herself almost exactly right back where she started. Discouraged by the growing pile of rejections from publishers and afraid that she has settled, Amy knows something has to change.

Then she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli. Amy finds herself struggling to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as she tries to cope with the feeling that her friends and family are moving on without her. When the unexpected begins pouring in, Amy doubts the love and fulfillment she seeks will ever come her way. Forced to take a close look at who she has become, the state of her faith, and her aspirations for her life, she must make a choice: play it safe yet again or finally find the courage to follow her dreams.

About the Author:
After completing a master’s in Creative Writing and working as a visiting instructor at Miami University in Ohio, Bethany Pierce now lives with her husband in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is a member of the McGuffey Art Center and continues to write. Her first book, Feeling for Bones, was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2007.

My Review: I really, really liked this book. It was well written and engaging, and very unconventional for a Christian novel. I loved that it didn’t fit the typical book formula. It wasn’t tidy and neat. It was complex, meaningful and a bit quirky. The writing style was great, the characters were very well developed and the story was full of real-life stuff. I thought the spiritual aspects of the book were well done. I identified very closely with one character as she grieved a very personal loss. I thought the author did a good job examining grief and the comfort of friends. Huge applause to Bethany Pierce for stepping out of the box and writing a top notch and Christian novel. I definitely look forward to reading more of her work!

*Many thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.