Monday, May 24, 2010

Parting River Jordan

ML Barnes

Deanna "Dee" Ramsey is NOT nosy; she's just concerned.  And the happenings at church are giving her lots of reason to keep her eyes open.  Then the retirement of Rev. Amanda Alden, founder of River Jordan Full Gospel Church, initiates a power struggle between the smooth-talking Rev. Albert Beem and the formidable Mother Marva Jessup, a long-time president of the Mothers Board.  Things go from bad to worse when the feuding factions separate into TWO churches and try to share the building they've literally split down the middle.

After the separation, the Mothers Board quickly hires a handsome young single minister for their church.  Pastor Darnell Davis's energy and attitude bring out the worst in Rev. Beem.  Despite his best intentions, Pastor Darnell finds that Rev. Beem has the same effect on him.  While the two ministers battle for the hearts and minds of the members, Pastor Darnell finds himself doing Romeo and Juliet with Rev. Beem's only daughter.

After an electrical fire disrupts the "Stupid Bowl Service", Deanna overhears part of a conversation and learns that the fire was no accident  Someone is plotting to destroy River Jordan.  Can Dee uncover the plan and save the church or will Parting River Jordan be the end of everything?

My Take:
Parting River Jordan was a very cute, enjoyable little distraction to life's hustle and bustle.  I love the quirky characters that filled this book.  Everyone had something that made them relatable; you have the nosy/concerned old ladies, the good-hearted pastor that gives in to just a speck of vanity, the Reverend's daughter with a slight rebellious streak, and of course, the feisty old lady with a solid cane carried around for the sole purpose of keeping the "youngins" in line!  As I read the book, I found myself loving the characters so much, that I wish there had been a little less action, and a little more about the characters.  While the story line was fun, I could have done with it being simpler and the characters explored further and made all the more rich.  The book came to a sweet conclusion, one that felt satisfying-for the most part.  I wasn't 100% sure of exactly who was in on what by the end.  This was due to the fact that there were several parties guilty to varying degrees, but as they all got their just desserts, it was a satisfying end.  Parting River Jordan did have a few teensy grammatical errors, which drives me up the wall, but the writing itself was solid.  There were a lot of families that weren't biological, more like people who came together throughout the years to take care of each other, and the author did a very good job of making the  relationships clear.  The pacing was well done, and the book was definitely a page turner.  Though I didn't really find it to be the 1930s screwball comedy it was heralded as, I really enjoyed it.  I think the key component of screwballs was quick, witty dialogue.  The dialogue in Parting River Jordan was great, and fit the book just fine, I just don't think that a 1930s screwball comedy is what it should be described as.  I rate Parting River Jordan a 3, Buy at a Used Bookstore.  It is a very fun and satisfying read, but not necessarily one you must add to your permanent library.

Do you agree with my review?  Do you think I'm totally off base?  Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!

If this book were a movie, it would likely be rated (a very very mild) PG-13 for sexual references throughout and brief encounters with drugs.

A few words with the author of Parting River Jordan, ML Barnes:

The Book Buff: Do you have a muse?

ML Barnes: My muse is water. I don’t think I can ever have a dishwasher because I get some of my best ideas while washing dishes.

TBB: It seems like an author’s writing style is very much akin to a finger print, everyone is so unique.  How would you describe your writing style?

MLB: I’m still experimenting, but there has to be humor. I have a fine-tuned absurdity meter.

TBB: How much of the book is realistic?

MLB: There’s the killer question! Certain events are “based on” actual events. It’s how writers work—We have some kind of mutant gene that makes us ask “what if?”. We take some simple thing, like a woman walking into a room, and we shake it around. Then we have an extraterrestrial entering a train station filled with flying ninja monkeys!

TBB: Is there a message in Parting River Jordan that you want readers to grasp?

MLB: I don’t think of myself as a “messenger”; I have to leave that to people with more wisdom than I have. I only want to tell a good story and make readers smile.

TBB: Do you have something you are working on at the moment that you’d like to share with The Book Buff readers?
MLB: I’m working on the second River Jordan book. I can’t give you a title because it’s subject to change by the time I’m done. That book’s ARCs should be ready in September. 

TBB: Do you have a favorite interview question, what is the answer?

MLB: At heart, I’m just another reader, so my favorite question is “what are you reading now?”

If you are interested in learning more about ML Barnes and her upcoming work, please visit

**FTC Disclosure: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an impartial review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own**

If you are interested in purchasing Parting River Jordan, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing from the following Amazon link, thanks!


Booklover said...

I know what you mean when you said the book is enjoyable because you can relate to the characters in some way. Thats not very common in most books :)
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Jenn said...

Thanks for the review. While I don't know that this book is my cup of tea, I never would have considered giving it a look-see until I read your review. While the content may not be the most riviting to me, I am DYING to read a book with good, solid, colorful characters. Is it just me, or do people seem to put the idea of developing a three dimensional character to the way-side these days? I just may have to give this one a gander, and thought the interview too, was muy bueno. :) Thanks for the the review, can't wait to see what you've got up your sleeve next.

India On Wheels said...

Yeah! I am very much agree with Booklover what he said. In fact, the wavelength of reader and characters imposed should match while reading it out. And it happened.

JP - The Mistress of Corgi Manor said...

sometimes I like a playful little read in between the heavier stuff.

Jennifer Perry


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