I have spent my summer doing a lot of reading. The house has been empty except for me most days due to everyone else having obligations. So, in the quiet solitude, I have read. It has been wonderful!
The Thief of Corinth was an unexpected joy for me to read in one sense. I usually do not like biblical fiction. I feel we should just let the Bible speak for itself and not try to add to it. This book, however, was not trying to add to a Biblical account despite the fact that the back cover mentions Paul. The author does use Corinth as its main setting and Paul does show up in the book. However, the storyline is purely fictional. The part of the story where Paul interacts is written in a way that seems very possible for Paul to have actually lived, but does not try to take a Biblical account and add fictional ideas to it.
I will say that I was beginning to wonder how the author was going to solve the final dilemma while keeping Christian morals. I am still contemplating the "justification" as I can definitely see what the author was aiming for, but I struggle a little with the process. I know we see all kinds of shady things taking place in the Bible where GOD's people act in situations in what appears to be ungodly ways to reach an end goal. (For example, Tamar. I mean really. How much more shady can you get?) This is just such a fine line. The following is an excerpt from the book during this dilemma. Don't worry. I left out anything that might make it a spoiler.
"What if God has heard the cries of the many who are being pressed and trampled under...and is
using our predicament as a means of releasing them?"
Yes, I believe the LORD uses our situations for His good. But what must occur for the "release" to come in this situation is questionable.
I'm just still wrestling with it. Because of this issue, I would only recommend this book to a strong Believer. Our society uses the "ends to justify the means" so, so much. I realize that most believe that "all is fair in love and war" and the conflict the author undertook in the final part of her book could be looked at as war..
I find it difficult to swallow that the LORD would ask someone to do something wrong in order to make a right possible.
Other than this issue, I really enjoyed the book. It is well written and I enjoyed the dialogue and writing style very much. The characters were likable, even despite their flaws (which every good character has some). I am anxious to read what must be coming next as the author hinted in her final notes that one of the main characters would not be left here. But, I will do so with caution.
I really was not expecting a lot from this book. In fact I didn't even know this was the author's first finished manuscript (which probably explains one of my criticisms.) But as I read the book I found my most favorite female character EVER for this genre...Em. Just Em. Plain Em.
Caleb wasn't bad either, but he didn't top my favorite male character, Drew, from A Bride Most Begrudging. A few months ago Susan (this blog's real author) and I had a discussion about our favorite male characters from this genre. (Hers is Artham from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson, but in this genre it is Gideon from Head in the Clouds by Karen Witmeyer.) At the time I couldn't pin down my favorite male. I hold a soft spot in my heart for The Messenger by Siri Mitchell so Jeremiah is a favorite, but he is a little too "wounded soul" to be my absolute favorite character. Then a few weeks after our discussion I picked up Bride to reread for like the third time. Afterwards I handed it to Susan and said, "You may like Gideon, but read Drew. THIS is my favorite."
But, on to THIS book's review.
My main criticism for The Hope of Azure Springs is the dialogue. It just doesn't always flow really well. It sometimes feels choppy and short. Rushed almost. When I finished the book and discovered this was her first finished manuscript, it made more sense. I am not a writer but I have often heard from my son who would love to be one someday that dialogue is a hard thing to get a good grip on. So, maybe as we see Rachel Fordham publishing more books, we will see a more flowly dialogue emerge.
But even this small flaw could not keep me from loving The Hope of Azure Springs.
This book made me cry, ya'll.
Two or Three Times.
Something about the storyline and Em just resonated with me where I am right now.
On the more formal review side, this book is very clean. The romance factor is the way I prefer...kissing saved to the end and the author conveys that they care for each other without telling us all about their tingling feelings. I just can't suggest books like that to unmarried girls, especially. And although the storyline was somewhat predictable, it wasn't entirely. So, I didn't feel like I was rereading all the other books but with a new cover.
Speaking of the cover, I think this book is beautiful. It may not look like anything special on the computer screen, but there is something about the cover that when I received it in the mail, I thought it was amazing. I don't know if it is the colors (yellow and green together are my favorite color combo) or her dress/shawl combo or what. But, I do love the look of the cover.
And I love this book. I so hope Mrs. Fordham continues to perfect her craft and is able to finish another manuscript because I, for one, am looking forward to her next publication.
Minding the Light is the second in Fisher's Nantucket Series. I have not read the first book, however, I do not think that mattered at all. I never felt lost or unsure of characters or events. I believe this book could well be a stand alone. Although, I do plan to read book one and any remaining books in this series as they are published. I believe this is my first time to read Fisher's work and I truly enjoyed it. Although this is a Historical Christian Romance, the romance was not "heavy." I would have no problem suggesting it to a young girl just beginning her journey into adult fiction. Many books in this genre, even though they are Christian, I believe make the romance too much. Yes, I enjoy reading the romantic parts, but let's face it: Our real life husbands don't need us comparing them to fictional characters all the time. Real Men have real world situations that don't always work out beautifully in the end. If I am comparing my husband to a great fictional hero then Hubby will probably fall short every time. That is why I appreciated this book so much. I felt I could enjoy the book without getting so caught up in the romance that I lost my way in the real world. Plus, as a mother of an unmarried young adult woman, I love to find books I can pass on to my daughter without putting undue pressure on her and her desires to find a mate.
Overall, I really enjoyed the storytelling and written art of Minding the Light. It was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more of Suzanne Woods Fisher's work.
This is my first review for Revell books. I received this free copy for the blogger review program but am in no way required to give a positive review.
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I selected this book because of the subtitle: A Natchez Trace Novel. I use to travel the Natchez Trace as a child. I thought it would be fun and exciting to read a book that took place on the Natchez Trace.
Well, it was fun but not exciting. I LOVE to read but get bored sometimes with the same ole, same ole storyline. This book wasn't as boring and predictable as some Historical Christian Romance that I have read lately, but it wasn't anything revolutionary either. Magnolia Glen also is the second in a series of which I had not read the first book. I think that hurt my ability to care about a couple of the characters. The main characters in the first series were pretty prominent in this book and since their character development occurred in the first book, I just never really bonded with them. The author did do a really good job of "retelling" the important parts of the first book so I did not feel lost or anything.
Another minor issue I have with Magnolia Glen is the kissing. It was not excessive but I feel that kissing should be saved for marriage at best, but at least it should be saved for after some sort of commitment is made. And, I have read other Historical Christian Romances that have not had the kissing issue and the story still worked well so I don't think it has to be done early on in a storyline. That is just a personnel preference. Magnolia Glen wasn't overly gushy, but I did want to mention it.
Overall, this was an ok book. I wouldn't call it great, but it was pretty good.
New York, 1776
New York, 2016
Two women. One intertwined story.
Have the tissues ready.
That's really all I want to give you.
I have to admit this book took me by surprise. I had really no idea what it was about going into it. It had been several weeks since I had requested the novel for the review program so I could not even remember what it was about. It would not have mattered. The back description gives you really no idea what you are in for. I read the first two lines of the Acknowledgements page and decided not to continue but to move on to the novel itself.
I am glad I did.
There were small spoilers on those pages.
My review will not contain any spoilers. I simply want to encourage you to read the novel.
It is well-written.
It is a tear-jerker.
It is scary at times...the struggle of the two women and how they mirror my own fears.
It is quietly encouraging.
It is not a feel-good read.
It is not an easy read.
It is not a bubbly romance.
But, it is good. Very good.
I first read This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti as a young pastor's wife and mother. In fact, we were serving in our first pastorate and I was still nursing my first child, the actual owner of this blog! The things my eyes were opened to at that church were...many to say the least. I made a wonderful older lady friend while living in that small town and it was she that introduced me to Peretti's Darkness books. Although I think that Peretti did a wonderful job of writing his books in a timeless fashion, The Delusion feels like a fresh, new, young, and more hip version of those books. I can see a whole new generation being open and aware of the spiritual realm through this series.
I really don't want to give anything away, so I am going to keep this review simple.
The main character, Owen, through an odd encounter, has his eyes open to the spiritual world around him. Owen, in his naivety, uses names such as Creeper and Watchmen to describe some of what he sees. Though not a Christian himself, he is befriended by one named Ray Anne. Ray Anne tries to support and help Owen as he navigates the craziness he is witnessing and in the end takes everyone by surprise.
Although I may not agree with everything this author wrote, I did overall. The were several aspects of the spiritual world that I really enjoyed how they were handled. I enjoyed the book very much and highly recommend it especially to the young adult group. It is an easy read (word wise) but a difficult read for content. Proceed with caution.
The Delusion is the first in a series by author Laura Gallier. This book was provided free of charge as part of the blogger program.
"Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged,
hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings,
and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life."
Let me start out by saying that I am really struggling with this review. It is not so much that I didn't like the content of the book, because I whole-heartedly agree with it. It is not the writing style of the author, because she is very descriptive with her words and does a wonderful job of painting a picture in your mind. As I was discussing this review with my hubby and daughter (the actual blog's author) I finally came up with a summary of my problem with the book:
It is too upper middle class.
I think our society, at least the part that is portrayed in most media outlets, is too upper middle class.
Of course, I probably think this because I am NOT upper middle-class. Hubby and I have made some choices in our life (leaving his "steady income" job due to theological principles, me staying home to homeschool our children, having a large family as opposed to a smaller one, etc...) that have designated us as much more "lower" income than even the average "middle-class."
Most days I am ok with this. But not always.
When I watch an episode of some home improvement/design show and my house does not even begin to look like that...
Not a good day for acceptance of the place where I am at.
When I see my children, three of the four grown to adulthood, still enjoying to come home and be with hubby and I and each other...
That's a good day for acceptance of the place where I am at.
I really think the author of The Life-Giving Table has a heart for families and wanted to challenge others to invest time together...intentional time together around the table, feasting on food and each other and especially the LORD. However, I just couldn't get past the "upper middle classness" (sorry, I just can't find a better word to describe it) in order to actually enjoy the book.
And I hated that because I was looking forward to reading it.
I DO support the topic completely. But to be honest, I got bored with the book in places simply because it wasn't anything "new" for me since Hubby and I have tried to incorporate these ideas for many, many years now. But it was more than that.
I just kept imagining myself at a younger age, when my kiddos were small and we were self-supporting missionaries. If I had been reading this book as a newbie to the idea at that stage of my life, I would have cried.
Cried that I couldn't fulfill the topic the way her word pictures were drawing it in my mind.
Lack of money. Plain and simple.
As I read the book, the feeling that things had to be so "upper middle classish" just kept coming through.
I am sure the author did not mean this. In fact, there were moments she tried to stress the fact that it did not have to be a certain way. However, it just didn't feel that way as a reader.
Sorry, but that is just how I felt.
So, although I really like the topic, and the author was very sincere in her portrayal, I just can't give it above 3 stars.
Can I ask you a question?
"Is God all He says He is?"
If you're anything like me, a home-grown church kid, that question is pretty easy. "Yeah of course, He's GOD!". That's what we're suppose to say right?
Ok, so can I ask you another question then?
"Do you believe you are the amazing person you say you are?"
(Think about that real hard before you answer)
What if I told you that the answer you gave for the first question affects the way you answer the second? You're probably confused so let me explain myself.
Lots of times the way we view GOD can affect the way we view ourselves. If we believe GOD is an awesome being Who created all things and called them good (Genesis 1:31), then we'll believe that we are HIS good creations because HE made all things "good". But if we don't believe that GOD makes things "good" then we'll view ourselves as a mistake.
About a year ago, GOD started bringing to my attention a lie I had believed about myself my whole life. It's the one statement that almost all my insecurities hang on. The lie was:
"I am GOD's one exception"
I knew GOD was an amazing God who created all things good and that HE loved us beyond measure. But for some reason I believed that HE made an exception when it came to me.
GOD loves everyone unconditionally but me
GOD forgives everyone but me
GOD has a purpose for everyone but me
Do you see a pattern here? And the sad thing was, I lived it out! I would tell people all the time that GOD loves them and has a purpose for their life, all the while silently adding to myself "everyone but me that is".
One day, I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I remember GOD spoke to me and said:
"Susan, if you believe that you are MY one exception in life, then you believe I have contradicted MY Word."
In The Bible in the book of John, Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 emphasis added are mine). Jesus said GOD loved the whole world. Not just parts of it, not just a certain select few, the WHOLE WORLD. He also goes on to say that "The one who believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not put his trust in the name of the one and only Ben-Elohim [Hebrew for Son of God]." (vs 18 brackets are mine)
GOD revealed to me that when I believed that I was HIS one exception, in reality I was believing that GOD repudiated what HE said in the Bible. If I was going to preach to others that GOD loved them and that GOD had a plan for their life, I had to believe the same thing in regards to myself and stop condemning myself when HE already loves and forgave me.
I'm telling you this because ever since that moment I have discovered that all my insecurities are secret lies about GOD that the Devil has told me. When I stopped trying to fix myself with all the "self-help" rules I had learned, I began to see that all this was truly about GOD and HIS image, not mine.
Think about it, Who is the Devil's enemy?
Who is GOD's beloved?
If you had an enemy and you wanted to destroy them, you could do it one of two ways:
Attack them directly,
attack the things/people they love.
The devil can not directly attack GOD. HE is The Almighty and has already beat the devil in the ultimate battle against death (John 12:31-33) . So instead he'll attack those GOD loves because by causing us pain, he causes GOD's heart to break (Isaiah 63:9). He does this in many ways but one way is by telling us lies about ourselves which cause us to unconsciously doubt aspects about GOD, in turn, causing us to not believe HIM and ultimately turn away from HIM. Think about some of the lies we believe about ourselves and how they affect our thinking of Who GOD is:
I am not loved. GOD doesn't love.
I am useless. GOD makes useless things.
I am ugly. If we are made in HIS image, then GOD must be ugly.
Now, I am not saying that you are irrelevant and that your insecurities have nothing to do with you. Your fears and insecurities are very real and important to you and how you walk through life. I'm just suggesting that we're looking at this all wrong. Instead of focusing on how we feel, we should be asking ourselves "what is the ultimate battle here?"
So here's what I propose: pray that GOD would reveal to you one of the insecurities you have and ask HIM to reveal to you what that lie says about HIMSELF. Even if you feel like you don't have any insecurities, you still may be believing a lie about GOD that you don't realize you believe. It will be scary, asking GOD to reveal the truth about HIMSELF, maybe a truth you don't even realize. Believe me I know! But at the same time, when GOD reveals Who HE really and truly is, lives are changed and the devil flees (James 4:1-10)! Try it, and see what happens. Here are some suggestions on ways you can do that:
Spend time listening
Pray and ask GOD to reveal HIMSELF to you and then spend some time just listening. The Bible says that those who wait on The LORD will not be ashamed (Psalms 25). It will be a challenge, quieting your mind, but it will be rewarding.
Be alert and patient
GOD will answer you in HIS timing. It may not be immediate but it may be. GOD is not a god to be controlled or swayed. He will answer you in the way and time HE wants to answer you in. This may mean waiting a little bit so you can get to a point where you are truly listening, or so HE can answer you in a way that you'll know it was HIM speaking to you. Just be alert and patient. HE will answer if you're truly seeking (Deuteronomy 4:29). Which brings me to my next suggestion:
Don't expect a certain answer to be delivered a certain way
GOD does not always answer us in a booming voice from the heavens. Sometimes HE allows other things or people to speak for HIM. I remember one time GOD revealed a lie I had been believing by letting me literally speak it out loud! I was talking with a friend (and by talking, I mean I was talking she was simply listening not saying a word) and before I even knew what I was saying I heard myself say the lie I had believed and why I had even believed it! So don't expect an answer in a specific way. GOD sometimes likes to surprise HIS children!
Have some accountability
You can do this by asking someone, or a group of people, to pray for you and keep up with you during your time of searching. I would like to encourage you to leave a comment in this post so that I and others reading this can pray for you. You don't have to say anything specific, just that you've accepted the challenge. Also I encourage you to comment on other people's posts encouraging and praying for them! Please remember though that there are real people behind those comments and treat them with the kindness, love, and respect that Jesus offers to us all.
Are you ready? Nervous? Excited? Feeling a little bit of a lot of different emotions? Me too. I know the lie I'll be working on this week is "GOD can't fulfill me in my everyday longings and desires". Doesn't that sound selfish? So be praying that GOD will reveal to me how HE is the only Messiah and I am not. I'll be praying for you all too!
Blessings on your epic quest!
In this gripping conclusion to The Alliance, nearly six months have passed since Leora Ebersole’s Old Order Mennonite community
fled to the mountains for refuge after an attack destroyed the power grid and altered life as they knew it. Since then,
Leora has watched and waited for news of Moses Hughes, the young Englischer pilot who held off invading looters
long enough for everyone to escape. Unsure Moses even survived, Leora has begun to warm to the affections of Jabil Snyder,
who has courted her patiently. But she struggles to see herself as the bishop’s wife, especially when she learns that Moses is alive
and has now joined a local militia. When long-held beliefs are once again put to the test, Leora wrestles with the divide
between having faith and taking action. Just how much will her shifting landscape change her?
***WARNING! THIS ENTIRE REVIEW IS A SPOILER ALERT!***
If you have not read The Alliance, please do so before reading my review.
I completely enjoyed The Alliance and recommend it highly.
When I first found this book as a choice to review for the month of May, I had never heard of the author or the first book in this duo. So, after requesting the book for review, I purchased a used copy of The Alliance to read while waiting for The Divide to arrive. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the first book
and eagerly awaited the conclusion.
I was slightly disappointed.
Not in the book as a whole, but in the ending.
Upon finishing The Alliance I really was ok with the main character, Leora, ending up with either of the love interests, Jabil or Moses.
Cause, honestly, it's a Christian romance. You know she's gonna end up with one of them
by the end of the book.
And she did.
It just wasn't the one I was rooting for.
***STRONG SPOILER ALERT***
Let's get something straight. I use to love the old movie An Affair To Remember starring
Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.
Ah, Cary Grant. I love him. Funny. Handsome. Romantic. Funny. Romantic. Funny.
BUT....However....I met my hubby and watched the movie with him.
He RUINED it for me.
Hubby could not get over how Kerr ended up with Grant. He kept talking about how Richard Denning's character should have gotten the girl. Denning stood by Kerr through everything even knowing how she felt about Grant. He never left her.
And yes, Grant didn't know Kerr was hurt so technically he didn't leave or abandon her.
But, Denning chose to love Kerr despite the fact that he might never be loved in return.
RUINED. THE. MOVIE. FOR. ME. FOREVER.
That is how I now look at movies and books. That "Young And In Love" girl of 20-something has matured
into a 45 year old woman. And I see my hubby's point.
Thus, I was not necessarily pleased with the ending to this book.
I liked Jabil.
He loved Leora despite not being loved in return.
Much like our Messiah does with us.
***END OF SPOILER ALERTS***
Overall, I really enjoyed The Alliance and The Divide. It was a refreshing change of topic to mix
the Amish craze with the "End of the World as We Know It" craze in today's literature.
The book bounces back and forth between the character's point of view
and if I was really getting into a chapter,
I got a little confused because I didn't read the heading for who was talking.
Not the author's fault.
Just my "got to read this now" mentality.
The book was very clean. No sexual problems for younger readers in my opinion.
However, there are some deaths and violence so beware of that part. Not gruesome, but sad.
I highly recommend the series for a pleasant change of pace to the norm.
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