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Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Castles on the Sand Review

Let me first say that I love E.M. Tippetts' work, as well as Emily Mah's. I love her voice and the way she gets down to the nitty gritty without dragging one through a field full of cow pies first. Castles on the Sand delivers without the meadow muffins. I am avidly awaiting the second book in this series.

I loved that Madison comes from a deeply flawed home life, but she seems like a rubber ducky kind of person--always floating to the surface with a smile on her beak. Her travails are believable and heartbreaking, but she's a survivor. I really identified with her feelings of inadequacy, having always been the more ungainly of my friends (despite being on toe in ballet and an avid ballroom and folk dancer). She never knows how stunning she really is--just like most young girls.

I liked that Madison had a range of guys to choose from, all with their own flaws and shortcomings. I never pictured Barbie's Ken in any of them, which is often something which dogs me when I read romances. I despise a plastic male lead. It's as if those writers are saying, "Sorry, mortal. You'll have to settle for the scratched up version." Tippetts offers us the battered guy and says, "Check him out. He may look like a garage sale reject, but there's pure gold under that scuffed up veneer."

All of us have those friends who are so confused and unprepared, that life seems to keep kicking them in the face. I enjoyed the fact that Madison stood up for her friend without being a door mat. At no point did I want to smack her and tell her to ditch her friend, because I knew Madison was really the one doing the rescuing, not the other way around.

I didn't understand, though, why our heroine's school would allow someone to batter her nearly insensate in school, without suspending the creep. That administration was very lucky Madison's mom didn't care enough to sue.

This book deals with some weighty problems without slamming us in the neck meat with them. I was overjoyed to see how strong Madison was (as well as her male lead), though under-confident at first. Her rocky journey to self-discovery was a joy to share.

Madison found the guts to take her destiny in her own hands. I wept for the love she didn't get from her parents. I died a little every time she surrendered to her mother's indifference. I cheered when her brother rode in on his white horse to be the brother she needed. I hoped Madison would find the strength to rise above her upbringing (or lack thereof) to be a competent adult who could sustain long-range loving relationships.

I can't wait to read the next book! I'd put Castles on the Sand on the same shelf as On Little Wings by Regina Sirois. Hurry up, Em! I want to see where Madison goes.


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