1. Ascension of Larks
    Ascension of Larks
    Rachel Linden
    Thomas Nelson / 2017 / Trade Paperback
    $8.79 Retail: $15.99 Save 45% ($7.20)
    3.5 Stars Out Of 5 19 Reviews
3.7 Stars Out Of 5
3.7 out of 5
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Quality:
3 out Of 5
(3 out of 5)
Value:
2.7 out Of 5
(2.7 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
2.5 out Of 5
(2.5 out of 5)
74%
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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Heartwarming and Heartbreaking debut
    September 25, 2017
    Yvette K.
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Every so often I come across a work of contemporary fiction that breaks my heart in the best way.

    With prose that ranges from beautiful to mundane, this is an outstanding debut. Set primary on Washington State's San Juan Island, the brief descriptions were so evocative that I felt instantly transported, though I haven't been to the island in years.

    Through backstory we learn of Maggie's unrequited love for her college friend Marco and the need to distance herself from the marriage between him and her college roommate, Lena, that led her to a globe-spanning photography career.

    Though called by her mentor for a once in a lifetime opportunity, Maggie is drawn back earlier than her usual annual trip to their island home by the death of Marco, and the needs of Lena and her two children conspire to keep her there.

    While ostensibly about the loss and grief experienced by those who loved Marco, the children remained peripheral and though we see Lena's grief and the effects of her decisions, this remains very much Maggie's story.

    Not since Michele Phoenix's Of Stillness and Storm has a novel affected me this deeply, with prose that flirts with the label "literary." Highly recommended, whether or not you are a fan of Christian fiction. I am anxiously waiting to get my hands on this author's next book.

    I voluntarily received a finished copy of this book for review through Book Look Bloggers. An additional copy was received through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan's Fiction Guild. All opinions expressed are my own.
  2. Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    A Story of Loss & Hope
    September 7, 2017
    Semmie
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    ** "Faith is an open door for everyone. It's not closed to you just because of how you were born. ... I imagine God standing at the door, inviting us to come back. And the door is wide open for us if we want to come in. It's as simple as that." **

    In her debut novel, "Ascension of Larks," Rachel Linden offers a story that defines home and deals with loss and hope.

    Maggie Henry, a documentary photographer, is on scene in Nicaragua when she receives devastating news -- the husband of her dearest college friends, Marco and Lena Firelli, died in a tragic drowning accident. She quickly rushes to their home on San Juan Island, off the shore of Washington, to care for Lena and her three children in the aftermath of Marco's death.

    But when the family learns of financial difficulties Marco left them in, and another accident rocks the family, Maggie must decide between her burgeoning career and her love for her "family." She must figure out how to protect the family she has grown to deeply love.

    "Ascension of Larks" is a lovely story of facing loss -- lost loves, lost relationships and lost clarity -- and how one deals with these losses. Does one turn to despair or hope? The book does offer a vague concept of hope and the idea that everything will turn out OK in the end, especially for those who have faith.

    It has a slight -- albeit very slight -- religious undertone, with discussions on faith and how God invites all to him. It also includes some "mystical" aspects, with quotes from some well-known mystics and a "beckoning" ceremony -- one that helps lost loved ones find their way back home -- performed by Maggie and the children.

    Linden's novel also touches on the topics of devotion and sacrifice, choosing to do the right thing in all circumstances, acting out of goodness versus ulterior motives, and where and in whom home can be found. Through these lessons, she allows her characters to grow, learning new things about themselves and those around them.

    "Ascension of Larks," although at times a dark, depressing read, is also filled with many moments of levity and tenderness. Linden also fills her novel with beautiful imagery -- including the image of the skylark.

    Four stars out of five.

    Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
  3. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    Beautiful yet haunting
    August 25, 2017
    Just Commonly
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    ". . . a skylark. Their call was a song for travelers and weary pilgrims, for those who had lost their way or were longing for a place to rest."

    "Wherever you go in life. . . remember I loved you enough to let you go. "

    Complex and engaging, Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden is a promising debut novel. There's an element of imagery that is somewhat poetic as it was wistfully haunting. A story that dives into the psyche of our characters that readers can't help but be drawn to. Be careful though, you might not like what you read about the characters, but you can be sure it evokes some type of reaction.

    "He kept his vigil through the darkness until he heard the first trill of a lark from the meadow nearby, signaling the dawn. Only then did he rise. . . his job for the day was done."

    Vivid in its language, I was drawn into Maggie's thoughts, and finding along with her what it is that she wants. Ascension of Larks is very much about loss, as it is about finding the answers for hope. It's about ascending beyond that grief to see clearly what there is. I wouldn't call this a Christian fiction, as many areas border on the mystical aspect that many might find uncomfortable. Despite that, I was enthralled with the story early on. Though I did find the end a tad bit rushed to tie up loose ends, I still felt it closed as it should.

    "We can't always live behind a camera, my dear. Life has to be touched and tasted and smelled in all its bloody, messy glory. Remember that. You have to live in the world, not just observe it."

    ". . . a skylark. Their call was a song for travelers and weary pilgrims, for those who had lost their way or were longing for a place to rest."" . . . he gave his life to save yours. That's the biggest gift anyone can give another person. So don't treat it lightly, don't throw it away. If you do, you'll waste the life he gave for you."

    In all, I enjoyed Ascension of Larks for the complexity of its characters, as well as the message of loss, grief and hope.

    Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

    Please note, all quotes are taken from ARC (essentially an uncorrected proof). Please do not share quote or if do, please make note that it is taken from an ARC.
  4. 3 Stars Out Of 5
    Did this story pan out?
    August 23, 2017
    Jamie
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    What to say about this book? All in all it wasnt a bad read, but I didnt connect with it. I would put it down, come back to it, then put it down again. I know part of the reason is Im not a fan of best friends being in love with their best friends husbands and normally I wouldnt pick it up, but since he died in a tragic accident, I was intrigued.

    Outside of not connecting with the characters, there were some things that were introduced a bit too late in the story. If brought about earlier, they could have helped with story connection, character development and arc. I did appreciate learning about the island, the unique lives of the characters, and the children, I just wish I became invested more.

    I do love this cover though and Im also interested to see whats next from Linden.

    While this question has nothing to do with the book, how have yall been? How was your summer?

    (Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)
  5. Gastonia, North Carolina
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    A Soulful Melody of Life and Death!
    August 22, 2017
    Rebecca Maney
    Gastonia, North Carolina
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    " . . . .remember I loved you enough to let you go."

    How fitting, and yet how prophetic, because in the end it is Magdalena who learns the value of letting go.

    Flying home from Managua, Nicaragua in response to the trembling voice of her best friend, internationally recognized photographer Maggie Henry cannot fully understand what life will be like for either of them without Marco Firelli. Maggie, Marco and Lena had been inseparable during college, but the unremitting connection between Marco and Maggie was severed the day that he married her best friend.

    Having drowned while trying to rescue a man from a kayaking accident, Marco left his affairs in less than ideal order; internal conflict and financial burdens lurking below the surface, driving his overwhelmed widow into despair. Giving up a golden opportunity to enter a prestigious photography contest, Maggie grapples with the overwhelming need for a miracle, while sacrificing her own aspirations to make sure Marco's family is well tended. How unlikely, that another broken soul with an uncanny knowledge of the tragedy, should turn the tide for Magdalena.

    "Ascension of Larks" plays a soulful melody, dark at times and pleasantly optimistic at others. Beautifully written, the story bleeds for eternal hope, but falls a bit short in the source, for there is only One who promises to be the "resurrection and the life".

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated are entirely my own.
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