Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Review of Valley of Dreams (CFBA Tour)

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Valley of Dreams
Bethany House (November 1, 2011)
by
Lauraine Snelling

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has up to sixty books published.

Shown in her contemporary romances and women’s fiction, a hallmark of Lauraine’s style is writing about real issues of forgiveness, loss, domestic violence, and cancer within a compelling story. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German, and she has won the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

As a most sought after speaker, Lauraine encourages others to find their gifts and live their lives with humor and joy. Her readers clamor for more books more often, and Lauraine would like to comply ... if only her paintbrushes and easel didn’t call quite so loudly.

Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Winston. They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Addy Lockwood's mother died when she was little, so Addy traveled with her father's Wild West Show and became an amazingly skillful trick rider, likened by some to the famous Annie Oakley. When her father died, she continued to work with the show, having nowhere else to go.

Now Addy has discovered that "Uncle" Jason, the show's manager, has driven the show into debt, and he's absconded with what little money was left. Devastated, Addy decides to try to find the hidden valley where here father had dreamed of putting down roots. She has only one clue. She needs to find three huge stones that look like fingers raised in a giant hand. With Chief, a Sioux Indian who's been with the show for twenty years, and Micah, the head wrangler, she leaves both the show and a bundle of heartache behind and begins a wild and daring adventure.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Valley of Dreams, go HERE.

My Rating: Fall

My Review:

Valley of Dreams has a very interesting premise, and the uniqueness of the setting and characters is commendable. Fans of all things American West should find this to be an enjoyable excursion.

Since this is the first book in a series, it's nice to have this introduction and insight into Cassie's story, as well as the Engstroms' lives. However, Valley of Dreams seems almost like a very long prologue rather than a story of its own. Cassie's character does grow a little bit, but overall the book feels like it's providing back story rather than the actual meat of the plot. The way the book ends (with some mystery and a bit of suspense) suggests that the second book, Whispers in the Wind (scheduled to release August 2012), will probably be where the more in-depth action and drama really starts, although this is not guaranteed.

The entirety of the book is mostly "rising action" or "building tension," as the reader is introduced to two groups, Cassie's troupe and the Engstrom family, waiting for their lives to finally cross. Some of the secondary characters, like Chief and Micah, have real potential, but come across a little flat - although there's a hint at the end that there's more to the ever-quiet and to-the-point Chief than meets the eye. The various reverends and their wives are all very similar with little to distinguish one from the other, and even the apparent hero and heroine didn't completely charm me. The "pets" are a nice addition, though - adding some sweetness with their intriguing names and their gentle presence.

This story includes quite a few details about daily life in the Dakotas at the turn of the century, which is nice but doesn't always move the plot forward. The ending does ultimately stir up the reader's curiosity, and if one is willing to invest a little time in this first book, it seems like this will be a sweet and clever series overall.

*With thanks to Bethany House through CFBA for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

2 comments:

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

I read this last week and I felt pretty much the same way. I haven't read a book by this author in a while but I recall her other books as being a bit better than this one. This series has a ton of potential so hopefully the next two are better! Great review girl!

XOXO~ Renee

Amber S. said...

Renee,

Thank you! I definitely agree about the potential - it's there, and it would be great to see it come to life in the second book. :) To be honest, I'm not sure if I'll read it if it's offered for review or not... I guess we'll see!

And your review is wonderful, too! Great minds think alike, right? ;)

~Amber