mary's book basket ~ "the gifted" by ann h. gabhart

I have received several emails in the last few weeks from you lovely readers asking me why I am so "nice" when I review a book. Do I really enjoy every book I read?

Hmmm...I had to take a moment and compile my thoughts on this whole "book review" thing and why I review the way I do. Let me explain my process.

Having been in the writing world for the last six years, attending conferences, taking classes and surrounding myself with other writers, I understand how difficult it is to actually write a book. I understand intimately the hours and toil and struggle that go into a project. I myself have several unfinished "works-in-progress" at the moment and am trying to "push through" to complete my memoir, the first draft was published here on this blog.

That being said, I am not going to trash a book for the sake of making a headline. If it's a difficult read, I usually find something redeemable about the book and concentrate on that. Do I enjoy every book I read? Well, I would say I learn something from every book I read, wether non-fiction or fiction.

Why am I so nice? Because I know how flippin' hard this process is. I know that when you have bled unto that page your heart and soul and then someone comes along and slams your work for one reason or another, it's devastating and I am not in the business of devastating anyone.

The one exception to this rule is if I read something that I find to be morally offensive or preaches against my faith for the sole reason of creating scandal. Then I will offer a fair and blistering review as to why no one should read the book. Being that I don't read books like that very often, you won't see those kinds of reviews here on my page very often.

So what I thought I would do from here on out to give you a better idea of how much I liked or disliked a book was to devise a rating system that conveys my feeling for the book I am reviewing.

What better way for me than to use cupcakes...that's of the most splendiferously wonderful creations on this planet...cupcakes.

So from now on when I review a book, I will finish by applying the new cupcake scale:

1 cupcake  - I read it and wish to drown my sorrows in a cupcake
2 cupcakes - I got through it and now need another cupcake
3 cupcakes - I enjoyed the book and may have learned something from it and you might like it too.
4 cupcakes - It was delightfully delish and I would highly recommend it to others.
5 cupcakes - I feel like celebrating for the joyously awesome fabulously wonderful read and it will remain on my keeper shelf

Now that we have that established...let's get down to business...

Author Ann H. Gabhart has delved once more into the alternate world of the Shaker Community in her newest inspirational romance novel "The Gifted".

From the Back Cover:

Jessamine Brady has been in the Shaker Village for half her young life, but in spite of how she loves her sisters there, she struggles to conform to the strict rules. Instead she entertains dreams of the world outside. When Tristan Cooper seems to step out of those dreams to entice her into the forbidden realm beyond the Shaker Village, her life turns upside down. 

Will Jessamine be able to survive the storms of the world? Or will she retreat back to the peace of Harmony Hill?

Here is what I love about Ann's work. She is painstakingly precise about the historical detail in her novels. What I mean is when I read a Gabhart novel I know that I will be drawn into the time and setting of the novel to the point of feeling, tasting, seeing what the characters are experiencing  and even hearing the dialect in my head as well.

Yes, she is that good.

Now here is where I stumbled a bit in this book. Because the detail is so clear, I must admit that I think the Shaker's are shall I say...looney. I do understand that they truly believed the way to sanctification was embracing such a unique and different lifestyle but boy howdy was it odd and at times made me very uncomfortable reading about some of their rituals. That being said, you know the author got it right when the reader is uncomfortable about something. She got a reaction from me.

My other stumbling block with this story was that it took too long to get to the conflict. I was almost a third of the way through the book before the storyline finally drew me in. It felt like it took too long to get there and once we did, it was a mad dash to the finish line. So much happened in the last third of the book that it was hard to keep the details straight as to who was doing what and why.

I did enjoy the romance though between Jessamine and Tristan. There was sexual tension between them and I enjoyed their dialogue and interactions. It was an enjoyable read and I learned a thing or two.

So I give this book:
3 cupcakes - I enjoyed the book and learned something and you might like it too!

"The Gifted" is available July 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.