Saturday, July 23, 2016

Book Review: A Refuge at Highland Hall

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

From the back cover:

The Great War shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, taking her from London to her family's magnificent country estate, and sending him into the war-torn skies over France.

Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War I, she travels to London to help her sister Kate with the eight orphan children she and her husband, Jon, have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny's dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of chasing Zeppelins in France, he feels it's unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can't help admiring the pretty, warm-hearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.

As Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships of war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout from those experiences pushes Alex beyond Penny's reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war?

I hate to too harshly critique a piece of literature, because it is a dear thing to me, nor is this a direct jab to the book or its author, but I found this book to be far too slow-paced for my liking. While the story had its strong points, and it was not in the least the worst book I've read, it was certainly not the best. It's more a matter of my own, personal prefernces rather than to how good the book was. In order for me to become enamored by a story, it must be moving forward constantly and speedily, a new scenario popping up in every chapter. The characters must be strong individuals with realistic personalities, fears, and flaws. This book, in terms of that criteria, was mediocre. I found myself becoming bored more than once, and I actually had to force myself to read it because I knew I needed to finish it in order to write this review. I did find parts of the story likeable, especially the side romance that took place between two of the minor characters, and the writing wasn't all bad. There were, however, several typos throughout the book, and I'm fairly certain this was not an advanced reading copy as it did not say so on the cover as they usually do. Also, there were two very similar scenes in the book which I found silly! In both scenes, there was a mail call, and the man whose perspective it is in is hoping he has a letter, but then becomes dissappointed when the stack of mail is depleted and his name wasn't called. But wait! The man announcing who the mail is for reaches again into his bag and pulls out a package, which is in fact for the man in whose perspective it is! This happened twice, to two different characters! Maybe I'm being ridiculous, but I just found it to be redundant. Also, the end of the book felt rather rushed, with poorly worded sentences thrown in. I can often sense a change in an author's writing when a book is nearing its end, like she was coming too close to her deadline and had to hurry to finish it up.
In conclusion, it was not a terrible story, it had its ups and downs, but overall it was just too slow and boring for my taste, though I am sure (and know) that there are others who would enjoy it, as I noticed it has several 5 star reviews on goodreads. Mostly, my opinion is just a personal prefernece.
Because it did have some interesting twists and a few likeable characters, and was clean and Godly, I give it a rating of 3 out of 5.

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Press in exchange for my honest review.

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