Thursday, December 10, 2009

If You Give A Mom A Book: Cottonwood Whispers

I'm not going to follow directions. Can you believe it? But it is my meme . . .

If You Give A Mom A Book

If You Give a Mom a Book is all about sharing a book that you read with your chid(ren). Well, I am going to share about a book I read all by myself in 3 days nights.

If you give a mom a book she will stay up very late and enjoy the luxury of a quiet home with a nose that collects late-night dust.

Typically, I shy away from Christian historical romance novels. But Tyndale House Publishers offered to send me a free copy of Jennifer Erin Valent's new book, Cottonwood Whispers, to read and review.

And it was an ARC--so I was curious. I have always wondered what an ARC was. Well, it stands for Advance Reader Copy. They are copies of a book that still has some finishing touches that need to be added to it before it is ready to hit Amazon or Borders, etc. The deal with these books is that you can't re-sell them. In fact, I can't even put it up on

In this sequel to Jennifer’s award-winning debut novel Fireflies in December, Jessilyn Lassiter and her best friend Gemma Teague have survived prejudice and heartache in their lifelong friendship, but the summer of 1936 threatens to tear them apart yet again. Gemma’s job with the wealthy Hadley family leads to a crush on their youngest son. But Jessilyn’s insistence that he’s no good and that no rich white man would ever truly fall for a poor black girl like Gemma puts them at odds. Tragedy strikes when Jessilyn’s cherished neighbor girl is hit by a car and killed. Things get worse when an elderly friend is falsely accused of the crime, and the only way to clear his name is to put her family’s livelihood in jeopardy. For Jessilyn, this is a choice too hard to bear and she wonders where to turn for answers, especially when an angry mob threatens vigilante justice. Jennifer’s third book, Catching Moondrops, releases in Fall 2010.
Like I said, I don't make it a habit to read Christian romance novels. For starters, I become obsessed with reading them. I stay up way too late on the long train ride of "everything turns out alright" fiction. Christian romances don't challenge my brain. Many of them seem to be a regurgitated story line. Additionally, though I have a romantic husband, Christian romances set up unrealistic and false expectation. I also find myself annoyed by shallow characters who are highly emotional and childlike.

Truth be told, many historical romances do involve child characters due to the fact that people got married younger way back when.

Now, Cottonwood Whispers has many of the weak elements that I listed above except the ending has a slight unexpected twist which leaves room for Valent to make this series a trilogy. (Catching Moondrops is to be release in the Fall of 2010).

Valent deals with some very real issues that humans grapple with . . . why do good people die? Why must we suffer? Is God really there? How do we hear God? Where do we look for answers to our eternal questions? And rather than create a fairy tale, Valent doesn't shy away from these challenging topics. She doesn't sugar coat the ending. These types of questions take time to figure out. And she resists our human desire to tidy all of the lose ends up and end the novel happily ever after.

Don't get me wrong. The ending isn't entirely sad . . . like I said, it leaves room for another book.

I will be looking for Catching Moondrops after its release. I hope to get an ARC copy of it. Would I buy it . . . no. Due to the fanciful nature of this book and not necessarily falling into my idea of a sustainable book, I will most likely check it out from our church library or borrow it from a friend. I do want to find out if Jessilyn and Luke get married, if the family farm is saved, and if Jessilyn comes to believe the Jesus died on the cross for her sins.

But for such a time as this . . . this book created a diversion for me from my melancholy thoughts, I could relate to a lesser character, Mae, who loses her child. I appreciated the budding romance between Luke and Jessie. I admired Valent's successful attempt at winding eternity into this fictional work.

As I presently sit and watch Sleeping Beauty with my boys, I surmise that Christian historical romances are a woman's version of a visit to a Christian Disney World.

What did you read this week?

If you don't know what a Sustaining Book is check out my first blog post on this topic, If You Give a Mom a Book.

Some things that you could discuss in your blog post would be:

  • What is one book that stood out to you this week?
  • What was the title of the book, and who were the author(s) and illustrator(s)?
  • What conversations did it spark between you and your child?
  • Did the book come up randomly in conversation at some point causing your child to create an application on their own?
  • Set the scene—where did you sit?
  • Did you have anything yummy to eat or drink while reading?
  • Was music playing?
  • How did reading together help your day?
  • What was the story about?
  • Did you like the illustrations?
  • What was your favorite part about snuggling?
  • Why was your book a Sustaining Book?
  • Link up 1x a week. My goal is to post every Friday.
  • Pick one book—your favorite book from that week.
  • Use any one of the suggestions I listed above to include in your post.
  • Grab my button on the sidebar to compliment your blog post.
  • Enter the exact blog post address in Mr. MckLinky!
  • Leave me a comment that you linked up!

I can’t wait to read about your Sustaining Book!

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melanie said...

ditto on your thoughts on reading romance novels

they are sort of like brain-candy -- or even emotion-candy =)

Anonymous said...

I am the publicist who sent you the ARC for this title. Yes, you are correct that you cannot resell this book. That is unethical and also unfair to the reading public, as ARCs are unedited. Whether an ARC or a finished copy, review copies are supplied to bloggers for review purposes only, not for resale.

Thank you for posting your review of Cottonwood Whispers. It is a title we are very proud of publishing.

Maggie Rowe
Tyndale House