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Saturday, December 21, 2013

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

One Breath AwayOne Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: One Breath Away
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Published: June 26, 2013
Genres: Fiction; Suspense Fiction

Visit my review/blog HERE!

My Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores the unspoken events that shape a community, the ties between parents and their children and how the fragile normalcy of our everyday life is so easily shattered.

In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town's children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

My Review:
After reading These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf, I had very high expectations for One Breath Away and I must admit that she certainly didn't disappoint yet again with One Breath Away. Gudenkauf has managed to write a perfectly concise and organized fast-paced novel. I thoroughly enjoy Gudenkauf's writing style in that she tends to write from several different POV's throughout the book, but not only do we get a good picture about what's going on in the present, she also provide plenty of glimpses of what has happened in the past to get the characters to where they are today.

There's nothing better when you're reading a book and you just can't put it down because you are dying to know what the outcome of the story is, and One Breath Away is one of those books. It is one of those prop you eyelids open way into the early hours of the morning, even though you know you have to get up in a matter of hours kind of book! It doesn't get much better than that!

I thought that the characters were so rich and deep that I couldn't help but fall into their story and get lost in their lives. All of the characters in this book were all so different from each other, that even though there were quite a few characters, there was never any confusion as to which character you were reading about.

This story is dramatic, agonizing, heartfelt, traumatic, and the list of adjectives could go on forever, but the best way to describe it is as it's simply amazing. I thought I had figured out the outcome on so many different occasions, that I lost count, but in the end, sat, shell-shocked, because the outcome was not one that I could have EVER predicted.

Overall, I must say that there isn't one thing I can say badly or that I didn't like about One Breath Away. It's books like this that keep my excitement boiling for each new adventure that I come across in every book that I pick up (or listen to)! It is authors and writing like this that keeps my desire for reading so alive and passionate. After These Things Hidden and One Breath Away, I definitely won't hesitate to consider Heather Gudenkauf one of my top go-to author's, as she has an impeccable writing abilities!

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Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kinsbury {Audio}

Fifteen Minutes: A NovelFifteen Minutes: A Novel by Karen Kingsbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Fifteen Minutes: A Novel
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Narrator: Kirby Heybourne
Length: Unabridged; 12 hours 1 minute
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published: October 29, 2013
Genres: Fiction; Christian Fiction

Visit my review/blog HERE!

My Rating: ✮✮✮✮

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a dramatic story about fame, true love, and the cost of having it all.

Zack Dylan made a promise to God and his college sweetheart as he left his family’s horse farm in Kentucky to compete on the popular reality television show Fifteen Minutes: If he makes it, the fame won’t change him.

Overnight, Zack is the nation’s most popular contestant, a country singer with the looks and voice of a young Elvis. As his star rises, Zack is asked to compromise and quiet his beliefs, and also some­thing more. Something Zack could never have imagined. Just as America is falling in love with Zack, just as he’s on the verge of winning it all, his choices lead him to the brink of personal disaster.

At the same time, Reese Weatherly, a thera­peutic horse instructor, is no longer sure about her relationship with Zack, or the wedding they had dreamed about. While Zack advances from one round of the competition to the next, an offer comes to Reese—one that will take her to a home halfway around the world.

Then Chandra Olson—reigning diva pop star and one of the Fifteen Minutes judges—intervenes. Chandra has suffered so much public pain and pri­vate agony since her days as a Fifteen Minutes contestant. Now she wants just one thing: meaning.

Can Chandra’s private losses help Zack find his way, or will his fifteen minutes of fame cause him to lose the life he once loved? Fifteen Minutes is a story of character, compromise, and the cost of having it all. A story that raises the question: Who are the real winners?

My Review:
I must say that I don't really read much Christian Fiction, but was happy with the content of Fifteen Minutes. It wasn't overly Godly or religious, but was enough to know that Karen Kingsbury is comfortable writing about her faith and beliefs, which I really respect. I found the Fifteen Minutes really grasped me and I had to know what happened to Zack on the show and where that left him and Reese. I also found the sub stories of Kelly and Chandra very interesting and liked how they were woven in with the stories of Zack, Zoe and Reese.

The narrator, Kirby Heybourne did a wonderful job reading the book. The only quirk that I had was not with the narrator in particular, but the fact that when it came to a song in the book, the song or lyrics were just read. I think that it would have made this book over the top, and possibly that 5th star read for me if the songs would have actually been sung. It didn't even have to have music to accompany it, aA' Capella would have been just fine, at least for me! I was able to easily following Kirby's reading and kept in tune with the story just fine. He did a great job of distinguishing between characters and made the listening of Fifteen Minutes an enjoyable experience.

I thought that the characters were well thought-out and thorough. I felt like they came from a different breed than the characters I usually read about in mystery and suspense books, however, that different breed was quite refreshing! I thought that there was a great amount of diversity between the characters and they mixed well together to create a great novel. However, I was quite irked by the Zoe kink in the story and every part of that annoyed me, from the beginning and her introduction, to the end result. I felt like she instigated it all from the very beginning to the end, and was disappointed that Zack just let it go when he was confronted with information that she was behind it! That's about the only thing that really got to me, other than the songs not being sung!

The story was a great, lesson-learning story, that I am thrilled to have been able to read. I didn't necessarily care for the ending too much, because I felt like it left too much open, left too much for me to guess what happened. I would have liked a more defined ending as to this is exactly what happened. I could easily see the theme of the book and the point that Kindbury was trying to convey to her readers that even people with the strongest faith, can be changed in a matter of seconds, without even realizing it, that it is harder to be true to yourself and your faith than you may think that it is.

Overall, I really enjoyed listening to Fifteen minutes while driving, and found myself just wanted to drive more or wait in the car just a little bit longer just so that I could listen to a little bit more. This was my first read/listen by Karen Kingbury, as well as my first real Christian Fiction book, but I can assure you that it won't be my last from either! I really did enjoy this book!

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the Publisher, Simon & Schuster Audio via Audiobook Jukebox in return for an honest, unbiased review.

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All blogs and reviews posted here are the sole property of the blogger and represent my very own opinions. In some cases, books reviewed are supplied to me in exchange for an honest review. Such cases will be noted on the blog post.

All other books reviewed have been purchased or borrowed through the normal channels.

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2015 Reading Challenge
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