Tag Archives: book review

July 2017 Book Review

1 Aug

Hello hello! I read quite a bit this month – which always makes me happy. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book is there?

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – While set in a sleepy town in Virginia, the events that take place in Scout Finch’s childhood, rock the residents of the town.

– I hadn’t read this book since high school and since I seem to be on a classic kick this year, I pulled it off the shelf! I feel like opinions on this novel are very divided – either it’s loved or hated. Well. I’m on the loved it side – I do not know why it took over 10 years for me to read it again! I enjoyed  Lee’s descriptions – the sleepy street, the moonlight on the trees, the rabid dog making its way down the street – they were so vivid I could see them. I think everyone should read this book at least once.  (Now I want to read Go Set a Watchman)

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson – A full review of this great trilogy will be coming next month! (I promise. the wait will be worth it.)

Seasons of the Heart series by Janette Oke – Watch for a full review of this in the next few weeks!

When God Doesn’t Fix it by Laura Story

Currently Reading:

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Anathema by Colleen Coble

On my To-Read List:

One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – I finally picked up my own copy of this book. I’m excited to read it (I’ve been doing an audio version) and finally finish it!

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

 

Book Review – When God Doesn’t Fix it

27 Jul

Hello friends! I have been wanting to write this review for a few weeks now – maybe longer? –  it is such a great book and I highly recommend it! (there you go, now you know, you don’t even have to read the rest of this post, haha!)

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But seriously, When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story is one of those rare books that doesn’t focus on ‘if only your faith were stronger’ or ‘God is distant and doesn’t care for our day to day’ books (yes, I’ve read both of those type of ‘help’ books and I’m sure you have too!) Instead, she shares her trials and what she’s learned along the way – that despite our flaws and hard stories, God can still use us in extraordinary ways. If we remain faithful and willing.

Here are a few sections that stood out to me :

in reference to John 9, “Neither the man’s nor his parent’s sin caused the blindness. . . Imagine the deep sense of relief the blind man must have had to hear that… Jesus wanted the disciples, the blind man and the religious leaders listening to know that it wasn’t one person’s specific sin that caused this man’s hopeless situation… Jesus was clear that neither this man’s nor his parent’s sin caused his blindness. But neither did God cause it.” (page 138/139) 

This section right here made me sigh in such relief. FINALLY. Finally someone who doesn’t teach that physical sickness is because your relationship with God isn’t right. I can’t believe how many times over the years I’ve been told that. I will avoid getting on my ‘soap box’ about it but let’s just say that it’s not Biblically accurate and leave it there. (although, I encourage you to study more about this topic.) Really, she sold me completely when I read this section. I’d been holding my breath just waiting for this topic to come up.

The Bible is a book of broken stories and of sinful behaviors that cry out for redemption. That’s why the entire story of the Bible points to a Redeemer. And that Redeemer isn’t Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul or even Mary. The entire Bible points to Jesus as the Redeemer – our Redeemer.”  (page 186)

I really liked this chapter. We all know the heroes of the Bible aren’t perfect but how she explains why God uses their stories to teach us is so wonderful.

What if David hadn’t been willing to write his story? Consider how different our faith would look if David’s story, both the highlights and the lowlights, had never appeared in the Bible. Think of how often we turn to the Psalms for comfort. What if David’s psalms were missing?”  (page 193)

She’s talking about being willing to share our story -even when we haven’t reached the happily-ever-after yet. When we are still in the ‘lowlights’ as she calls them. This point of David never sharing his story hit home for me. I have Psalms highlighted in my Bible from high school ( I no longer write in my Bible, but I did back then!) and have taken so much comfort from them – what if they weren’t there?!

I hope this quick review encourages you to go out and snag a copy of this book for yourself! And then, go ahead and share it with someone you think might gain from it. That’s how I got to read it, my sister in law let me borrow it (thanks sis!).

~Laura

Series Review – Timber Ridge Reflections

22 Jun

Hello friends! I have a quick series review for you today. You simply must check this series out. You Must!

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From a Distance – Eastern photographer Elizabeth Westbrook hopes that Colorado will prove to be a place where she can not only further her career, but also be cured of the illness that’s threatening her life. Loner Daniel Radcliffe only wants to protect his land but when he’s called on to repay a debt, his carefully guarded secret is threatened.

 

Beyond This Moment – The small Colorado town of Timber Ridge represents a chance for Dr. Molly Whitcomb to start over. But being a Professor in Romance Languages doesn’t prepare her for the new life she’s forced to invent. Sheriff James McPherson has always been able to read people – and he knows that Molly has a secret. But when he learns what it is, it threatens his position in the town and what he’s always known about himself.

 

Within My Heart – Rachel Boyd and her two sons struggle with running their ranch without their late husband and father. When her only recourse is to trust Dr. Rand Brookston, she balks at it. He is a doctor, just like her father was. Dr Brookston came to the Colorado Territory with a dream of opening a proper clinic but trust, and money, are both hard to come by.

 

While at the library one day, I stumbled upon this series and am so glad I did! It is now on my ‘favorite series’ and ‘favorite author’ lists. I adore historical fiction novels and Alexander does a fabulous job of describing the times just enough so that you’re engrossed in it but doesn’t overdo it to where you’re bogged down with descriptions. The plots of these three books were enjoyable and there was at least one point in each that I teared up. She throws surprises in that I did not see coming – which makes them even more fun! They are set in the late 1800’s, which is one of my favorite time periods.  The descriptions of the dresses made me long to actually see them. (And wear them!) 

I also liked that Elizabeth was working in a field that was still largely a male career ; that Molly’s story highlighted how different the expectations/ repercussions were for men and women; how Rachel fought to keep her ranch afloat despite the physical labor and frustrations. You continue to see/get to know the characters from the previous book and I love when authors do that. 

I highly recommend this series to anyone wanting a great series that has a message in each book! I can’t wait to read more by Tamera Alexander! 

~Laura

Have you read any books by Alexander? Who’s your favorite historical fiction author?

Book Review- Messianic Jewish Manifesto

13 Jun

It took such a long time for me to finish this book – two months I think? – but I am glad I did. It is a well-written book on the Messianic Jewish movement originally published in 1988. Clearly its contents are a bit dated but the majority of it is still viable. David H. Stern covers theology, ideology and program for Messianic Judaism.

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Messianic Jewish Manifesto

He shares a call to action for Messianic Jews and information for those who are against, for or unsure about where they stand.

He encourages us to push away the ‘either-or’ mentality and embrace being 100% both Jewish and Messianic.

He challenges those involved in this movement to fully catch its vision – to heal the breach between the church and the Jewish people.

I marked a few areas that really stood out to me :

“…Israel is called God’s son as far back as Exodus 4:22. The Messiah is presented as God’s son a few verses earlier in Mattiyahu 1:18-25, reflecting Tanakh passages such as Isaiah 9: 6-7, Psalm 2:7 and Proverbs 30:4. Thus the Son equals the son; the Messiah is equated with the nation of Israel. This is what Mattiyahu is hinting at by calling Yeshua’s flight to Egypt a “fulfillment” of Hosea 11:1.” page 107

 

“Unless we have the mind of God, our own dreamings and willings are mere strivings after wind.” page 190

 

“Holiness means doing everything in life in the fear of God and in obedience to his commands.” page 190

 

If you are wanting to learn more about the Messianic Jewish movement, I encourage you to read this book.

~Laura 

Book Review – Lorna Doone

16 May

Have you ever fallen in love with a name simply because you saw a movie once?

Lorna Doone is one of those for me.

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I watched the movie years ago and enjoyed it (although I’ve only got vague recollections about it now) so that when I saw a copy of it at Powell’s bookstore the other month, I knew I had to get it.

It took me a while to get through it – it’s written in a harder-to understand style so that I often grabbed another novel for something fluffier and easier to follow. But I enjoyed it SO much. I figure I’ll enjoy it more the second time reading it, being more familiar with the story and shouldn’t get bogged down with trying to picture things – and having to look up words. (like culvern.)

Synopsis:  The Doones are a hated family that terrorize the country. Their violent, plundering ways often end in murder. After losing his father to the Doones’ love of violence, John Ridd knows there isn’t any good in the lot of them. But then, he meets Lorna. The girl that is at odds with her evil family, due to a gentle heart and giving nature. He determines to rescue her but never imagines all he’ll have to go through in order to do just that.

The way Blackmore threads together so many characters over a long period of time is amazing. As I neared the end I just got more impressed – and more intrigued by how he was going to finish it. I’ll even admit to setting it down because I was so upset by what just happened that I couldn’t take it. Of course, that only lasted maybe a minute before I picked it up again! The side characters he created are fantastic  – Gwenny with her heartbreaking tale and stoic nature, Tom Faggus the ‘heroic’ outlaw, Uncle Ben with his many secrets, Annie who is the only one who knows of John Ridd’s true feelings (aside from, of course, Lorna) and the list goes on! I do wish I’d been able to read it quicker as then I wouldn’t have forgotten who some of the characters were.

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anyone else have a love for puffin classic editions?

 

 

Now I want to watch the movie again. Preferably this one from 2001.

I can recommend this book – although probably not for younger readers as its plot can get very hard to follow and while the violence isn’t gory, it might be too much for someone younger. All in all, a wonderful classic that I’m so glad I finally read.

Have you read Lorna Doone? What’s your favorite classic novel?

~Laura

 

Book Review – The Scarlet Pimpernel

18 Apr

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is a story of adventure, romance and political intrigue during the French Revolution. I’ve only seen THIS version of it, and loved it so much that I finally found a dvd copy to buy. Then, one day at Powell’s, in the Childrens Classic section (also known as my favorite section), I found a copy of the book! It only took me a week to read it- I had a hard time putting it down! What’s fun is that the movie that I love was actually taken from this book as well as El Dorado,  so now I’m even more excited to read the continuations of the adventures of The Scarlet Pimpernel! I didn’t even know there were more books. EEK!

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-Set in the tumultuous times of the French Revolution, one Englishman and his loyal followers dare to brave La Guilloutine and rescue a number of aristocrats – men, women and children. These cunning escapes ignite a hatred in one man especially, Chauvelin, a ruthless French agent, who has sworn to find the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel and capture him. It will take all the bravery and wits that the clever Englishman has to elude his clutches, as well as still keep his promises.

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~side note, I was just reading through the comments here, and apparently S.P. isn’t even the first one! now to find the others!~

I will state that even  though the book was quite different from the movie, I loved them both. There are different aspects of the book that would have been nice to see carried over to the movie, but perhaps they were in other versions.

This is written in an easy-to-understand way, not like so many other classics that you’ve got to have a dictionary handy just to understand it! I highly recommend this story – for young and old. A guaranteed new favorite!

~another side note, just found the entire movie made in 1934 on youtube. Now I’m gonna have to give it a shot! 

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~a very young Ian Mckellen is in the 1982 version! Enough said right there.

Have you read The Scarlet Pimpernel? What’d you think? 

~Laura

~ While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers. ~

 

 

Book Review: Created to Live

6 Apr

I have been intending to write this book review for a few months now and it’s always fallen by the wayside. Such sadness! I’m happy to finally get this out to you guys – so, without further ado, the book review for Cathy Harris’ Created to Live.

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Synopsis: Did you know that in America, an abortion is performed every 26 seconds? Since the ruling in 1973, a staggering 58 million abortions have devastated individuals and families. You’ll find resources, the hard truths behind what we’re told about abortions and encouragement to fight the battle against abortion. Told in an honest, loving way, Harris shares her story and invites you to make a choice for unborn babies.

I’ve never read a book with this as the topic so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect but I found myself quickly interested and read it every day til I reached the end. Harris’ style of writing is easy to read and I found myself impressed on how she presented different aspects of her story – and the history of abortion – throughout the book.  My heart was torn as I read the stories of other women, I even shed some tears at some of them.

But don’t think this is a read that will get you down and disheartened! Harris gives practical steps on how to join the fight against abortion. I liked how she advised starting in your home with conversations and working out from there. We must get comfortable talking about it before we can really go out and fight this battle.

Here are a  few quotes that stood out to me:

“Offering to hold someone’s hand is sometimes all it takes to save their life.” – page 43

 

“The abortion industry was soaked in lies from its beginning. The abortion decision begins with the lie that a baby is not a person, but is instead merely a ‘personal choice’. Those lies have been compounded and have deceived millions of people. Due to the power of entrenched demonic perception over this issue, defeating the enemy’s lies is one of the toughest battles women and men face after going through an abortion.” page 84

 

” In His tenderness, He sits on the throne. In His nearness, He holds the government on His shoulders. In His kindness, He brings forth judgments and extends His hands of mercy.” – page 114

 

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I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Created to Live!

I received Created to live for my honest review. It was published by Ambassador Int.

Book Review – A Victorian Christmas Cottage

14 Dec

I decided, since it’s Christmas season, why not review a few season-appropriate books?! I got this book from my mom’s bookshelf because, let’s face it, christmas books are appealing. And so, I bring you this collection of novellas, all set in Victorian times.

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A Victorian Christmas Cottage by Catherine Palmer, Debra White Smith, Jeri Odell and Peggy Stoks.

Now, you probably all know by now how I feel about short stories (never long enough, want more character development, etc) but each one of these stories was so good that I thoroughly enjoyed them! Plus, this happens to be one of my favorite time periods.

These novellas take you from England where a young widow finds strength in God and protection in an unexpected place, to San Francisco where a society beauty learns what is really important. Then on to a plantation in Georgia where coming home means learning forgiveness and healing. Last, we go to Minnesota where a wounded young woman is pursued by a very determined young man.

If I could give you full descriptions of each of these stories, I would. But that would give too much away! The way that faith was weaved into each one of these was masterful and has given me much to ponder about my own life. And that, as I was telling a friend of mine recently, is why I enjoying Christian romance. You get the sweet, romancy stuff as well as sound faith and living advice. I like that I get to come away with some morsels to chew on, long after the book is done.

So, SGL friends, for a fun, quick read I recommend you get a copy of these novellas.

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas,

Laura

Book Review – Sept 2o16

30 Sep

I’m pretty sure the end of September means it’s officially fall, doesn’t it? I obviously have no idea when it actually starts but it sure feels like it here! I’m loving being able to keep the back door open for some fresh, cool air. Abby is liking it too – being able to come in and out whenever she wants is right up her alley. It also means I can sit here at my desk and write while she plays in the sprinkler (she won’t play in it without being watched, oy). She’s mostly okay with this version of me being out there with her and I’m able to actually get some editing and blogging done. Thank goodness. Poor thing is going to be heartbroken when it’s too cold for the sprinkler though. Anyway, that’s enough about the puppy – on to books! bkrvwsept2016

 

A Call to Honor  ( The Price of Liberty #1) by Gilbert Morris – When Ben Logan is given the choice to join the Navy or go to jail, he quickly signs up for the Navy. He leaves behind his mother and a girl named Rachel and decides to live life to the fullest. But while serving in Hawaii, he changes his mind about God. His new faith is tested to the limits when bombs start falling on Pearl Harbor.

– this is the first in a long (7 books) series and once I’m through them all I’ll do a series review but since it’ll take me quite a while, I’ll review them separately now. Hopefully you don’t mind!  I haven’t read this series in several years now so I don’t remember very much about them. It is refreshing to read a book from a male point of view and the emotions just transferred themselves from Ben, to me… that does sound strange but I was talking to him as I was reading ‘don’t do it!’ ‘serves you right!’ etc…

City of Tranquil Light – When Will Kiehn feels God call him to go to China as a missionary, he leaves his family’s farm in the Midwest and goes. He falls in love with a fellow missionary, Katherine, and  after they wed, they move to Kuang P’ing Ch’eng – City of Tranquil Light – and settle in to offer medical and spiritual help to the people there. As the years go by, they endure much hardship – war, famine, floods, bandits – will their faith be enough to help them?

I reviewed this about a week ago, check it out!

Evidence Not Seen : A Woman’s Miraculous faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose –  This is the true story of a young woman, newly married, surviving the jungles of New Guinea and four years in a Japanese prison camp. Her triumphs and strengthening of faith despite everything.

– I’m a quarter in to this book and while I am enjoying it, it’s not a light/breezy/readrightthrough type of story. I just have a feeling it’s probably going to make me cry. I also find myself comparing it to ‘city of tranquil light’ since I just read that one. This one, equally well-written, starts off emotions galore, there’s no easing into it like in city of tranquil light, so perhaps that’s part of the difference. But it is very well-written and I think it will be worth the read. It just might take me a while to get through it. ( side note, the synopsis I wrote is SHORT because the one I read on Goodreads tells a lot of the story, some I wish I didn’t know because now I’m pretty positive this is going to be super emotional to read through…. )

Vegan Slow-Cooking for Two or Just for You by Kathy Hester – This isn’t your ordinary cookbook – these recipes are quick to prepare in your 1.5 or 2 qt slow cooker. Ranging from coffee creamers to side dishes to dessert, you can make anything vegan that you long for!

– I have only made a few recipes from this so far (as I keep forgetting some key ingredients on my shopping trips, oy) but we’ve enjoyed them and I was surprised at how filling they were. That might sound silly but I have a hard time with staying full. And not eating meat tends to make that worse, but with these meals, I didn’t get hungry for about 3 hrs (which is good!). Once I get to the produce stand again I plan on making some more meals from this book =) 

Golden Retriever by Dog Fancy Magazine – Covering everything the owner of this friendly breed needs to know to be a well-informed caregiver, this book is easy to read with beautiful pictures of adorable puppies to adult Goldens to compliment the information.

– This book covers SO much. It was an impulsive grab at the library but I’m hoping to learn a few things, what with having a senior and a puppy. 

On my To-Read List:

The Color of the Star book 2 of The Price of Liberty by Gilbert Morris

Love’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

What’s on your to-read list?

~Laura

 

City of Tranquil Light Book Review

20 Sep

Friends, this book sat on my shelf for YEARS without me ever reading it. Not even a ‘read a few pages and put it down’ read. Never. Do you know what made me finally pull it out and give it a try? Running across an old email from my sister in law, recommending a few books (thanks Michaela!) , and this was on it.

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This story pulled me in right from the start and I quickly fell in love with Will, Katherine, Chung Hao and the descriptions of China. When Will Kiehn feels God call him to go to China as a missionary, he leaves his family’s farm in the Midwest and goes. He falls in love with a fellow missionary, Katherine, and  after they wed, they move to Kuang P’ing Ch’eng – City of Tranquil Light – and settle in to offer medical and spiritual help to the people there. As the years go by, they endure much hardship – war, famine, floods, bandits – will their faith be enough to help them?

Caldwell writes in an enchanting memoirlike way – alternating between Will and Katherine’s perspectives, each come alive in a remarkable way. And as these characters reminded me strongly of a former pastor and his wife, it added another depth of emotion to it , as I could so easily see these people doing what Will and Katherine did – living a hard life in response to their God’s call.

I highly recommend this book, although perhaps not for younger teens as some of the violence is described. I am planning on getting Caldwell’s first novel, The Distant Land of my Father, next time I get to the library!

~Laura

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