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I’m taking a break from certification studying to review a couple of books. I graduated from Nurse Practitioner school two weeks ago. Since graduating, I’ve traveled every week and was able to get some reading done. Yaay! I also took some time off studying since one of the trips was to attend an intensive review for certification. I figured no reason focusing all my time studying until after that class. So, now, here I am studying since about 9 am this morning (its now almost 3PM) and I’m going get started on this review before leaving in to pick the kids up from school.


The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Miller tells the story of Hope and her father as they live out of a train car and ministering to a mining town. He is a preacher and she assists with the music and children’s ministries. Miller also tells the story of a coal miner, Luke, and the mine owner’s son, Kirby. Hope and her father settle into life in Finch, West Virginia. Hope uses many opportunities to spread God’s word throughout the West Virginia countryside. Her trusting disposition has her trusting Kirby despite Luke’s cautions.

This story is a great Christian read. It was an easy and quick read. I think it took me only a little over a day to read. I felt several of the characters were fleshed out well. The character Kirby was nicely done. I felt I had him pegged pretty quickly and my opinion didn’t change much. Hope was the typical preacher’s daughter in the sense she was kind, naive and loved children. Luke seemed to have swaying emotions and also seemed pretty realistic. I’ll address him below.  I enjoyed reading about life on a rail car and life during prohibition. I also quite enjoyed reading about the inner conflict Luke had regarding his thoughts and anger toward the mining company and Kirby. These feelings are ones many Christians deal with daily and I like when authors address them in their writing. Finally, I really love the history the author adds into her books. In this case the chapel car, mining history, and prohibition.

Downfalls to the book, the first is a bit into the characters. I feel like it would’ve been nice to learn more about the preacher. He played a pivotal role in the story, yet there was little fleshing out of his character. Luke’s sister plays a relatively large role in the frustrating ending, but very little fleshing out occurred with her as well. I think adding just a bit to those characters could’ve really added to the story. This, however, didn’t ruin the story for me. Its just worth noting there more depth could’ve been added to the story.

A second down fall is the ending. I was a bit frustrated with the ending. The conflict was picking-up nicely and I was envisioning a BIG ending. And then, it was wrapped up nicely with a little bow and then the ending romance drug out for another couple of chapters. It wasn’t bad, but such a big change in where the story was going and how the characters were acting. It was a bit of a distraction and I would’ve appreciated a more direct route to happily ever after.

Over all, this was a good read! It was quick and enjoyable. It had Christian components in the story with the Christian premise. Very little scripture was quoted through out the story, but it had very obvious Christian themes.

I would recommend this story to any adult or young adult who enjoys historical novels, Christian reading, or just looking for a quick and light read.

I would give this book a 4 out of 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Soul Thief by Majanka Verstraete

The Soul Thief tells the story of Riley, a teenage girl, who by witnessing horrible car accident finds out she is half Angel of Death and half human. She begins training with her mentor and finds herself stuck between her old, safe life of highschooler and superhuman Angel of Death. On top of the balancing act, she discovers a mystery involving the death of three teenage girls. On the mission to solve the mystery, her new powers are put to the test.

Majanka Verstraete does a wonderful job telling this story. Riley is easy to connect with. I believe teenage girls will find a lot of themselves in her. Verstraete did a great job bringing in the supernatural beings without a lot of dark themes or things that would be inappropriate for a younger crowd. She does introduce Vampires into the story but kept it age appropriate. I was pleased the romance was “safe” for an older teenager.

The book does address death and Riley’s role as the Angel of Death. The act of removing the soul and easing it on to the after life was beautifully written. Her description of the events creates a sense of peace. This book does seem to subscribe to no specific religion, rather a more popular idea of whatever works for you. In this book, those who go to Heaven see whatever Heaven they believe in. This is only briefly mentioned and I personally feel it won’t sway anyone from their current beliefs. I do think it helps make the book more connectable to readers from multiple backgrounds.

I truly have only one critique of the book. And, to be quite honest, it probably shows my age more than anything. There are several instances Riley and her group of friends go out to a bar. They’re not drinking alcohol, in fact they are grabbing sodas/ice teas. It just seemed odd that teenagers would go to a bar.

Overall I found this book to be refreshing and fun read. The book successfully takes a potentially dark topic such as death and lightens it up to a fun-filled novel. I’m looking forward to other books in the series. I recommend this book to older teenagers or young adults, or an adult who wants to escape in a book for a while!

On a scale of 1-5, I give this book 5 bookends.

I want to thank Booktroope for providing me with a copy to read for an honest review.