Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blogging for Books: Northern Lights Trilogy

As a part of the Blogging For Books program, I received a complementary Kindle version of the trilogy in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  There are affiliate links in this post.

The Northern Lights Trilogy by Lisa T Bergren

(beware this is a long synopsis)
Set in the late 1800's, this set of 3 Christian historical romance novels follow the lives of Norwegian immigrants as they live and learn in the land of opportunity.

The Captain's Bride - Newlyweds Elsa and Peder Ramstad set out from their small town in Norway to lead a group of fellow immigrants to new lives in Maine.  As a ship captain, Peder has plans to start his own shipyard in America along with his best friend and business partner, Karl.  However, Karl is secretly struggling with a love for his best friend's wife.  Along with them are Elsa's dear friend, Kaatje Jansen, her husband, Soren, who can't seem to keep his eyes or his affections on his own wife, and Elsa's sister Tora, a sneaky, conniving young women who manipulates people to get what she wants.

In an epic story that spans the length of the US and the depth of an ocean, Elsa and Peder learn what true fidelity and faith mean as they learn to live life together as a captain and a captain's wife.

Deep Harbor - Tora Anders is determined to get ahead in life, no matter how much she has to lie, cheat and steal to get there.  Armed with only her good looks and her charm, Tora seeks a job with entreprenuer, Trent Storm as a server in one of his restaurants.  Rising quickly in the ranks while falling in deep for her employer, Tora decides to take measures into her own hands, possibly sacrificing her career and her chance at love.

Elsa Ramstad has everything she has ever wanted - a loving husband, a beautiful family and a fulfilling life at sea.  Then tragedy strikes and she wonders if she will have the strength to go on.

Abandoned by her husband, Kaatje struggles to keep her farm afloat while trying to raise her two young daughters.  Kaatje must choose whether to accept the help of those around her or to try to do it all on her own.

The Norwegian immigrants journey farther west, to the rugged lands of the Montana and Washington Territories.  New heartaches and new help arrive as they each struggle to make their way.

Midnight Sun - Soren has been gone for 7 years and Kaatje is desperate to know if he is still alive.  Following his trail and led by guide, James Walker, Kaatje makes her way into the Interior of the wild lands of Alaska.  But will what she finds there ease her mind or leave her more confused?

Elsa has learned to live and to laugh again, but when on old friendship sparks into something more, will she have the strength to embrace it?

Tora has turned her heart over to God and has found the love of her life.  But before they can start their new life, she must finally find relief from the demons that have chased her.

In the conclusion of the Northern Light Trilogy, can Kaatje, Elsa and Tora finally find the peace and happiness that they have been searching for?

My Thoughts:

Whew!  I'm tired after writing about the plots above.  I know you must be worn out reading them.  Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed these books.  Overall they were wonderful stories.  The settings were creative and unique and the reader gets to follow the characters all over the globe.  The books flowed well together.  In fact, I had to go back and review where one book left off and another started because the three books read more like one big story.

The characters are multi-faceted.  They face real-life situations, like adultery, rape and babies born out of wedlock.  They deal with grief and homelessness.  They must make real-life choices on ethics in the workplace and whether or not to be a working parent.  I thought the author did a great job of not placating the reader and not coming up with a pat story that we had all read before.

(I feel that it's my job as a book reviewer to give you both the good and the bad in a story.  Just because I critique the book, doesn't mean that's it's not worth reading.  I am more interested in you, my reader, knowing everything there is to know about a book so you can make an informed decision on whether to read it or not.)

So, the downside to this book...it's a total soap opera.  Honestly, as I was reading it, I could see this as a show with episodes.  I could see where one episode would end with a cliffhanger and the viewer would think they knew what was going to happen.  But as soon as the show came back again, you find that the writers have taken it a different way.  It's frustrating at times to read because characters that you think will stay and become an important part of the story seem to just disappear (i.e. get written off the show).  And new characters are introduced all the time, some that play an important role and some that don't.

Probably because of that, I felt like these were very long books.  I read the Kindle version, so I didn't have page numbers, but it took me all month to read this trilogy.  I am a pretty fast reader and I felt like these were never-ending books.  (I looked it up on Amazon and the trilogy is 991 pages.)  You get to a point where you pretty much know how it's going to end.  It just takes a long while to get there.

Overall, I really liked these books.  They were entertaining and never dull.  The characters were well-rounded and develop as the story goes on, both in their personal lives and in their spiritual lives.  The story ends well, even if I was somewhat frustrated at times in getting to the ending.  If you enjoy historical fiction with a lot of romance, then these will be great reads for you.

I give these books 5 out of 5 stars.

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