Tag Archives: book review

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

Book Review – August 2016

2 Sep

Hello again friends! I didn’t feel like I’d done a lot of reading this month and then I started writing this post! Ha! This month feels like it’s been going on a lot longer than 31 days, does anyone else feel that way? It definitely had its good times though – getting to be in Bend and celebrate my brother in law’s and a nephew and a niece’s birthdays; having a good friend stay over so we could binge-watch Star Wars and play with the puppies and getting oh-so-close to the end of the novel I’m writing. I am glad to see it go for the hard side of it too – severe pain; moodiness because of the pain; for the first time not being able to recall words to songs i’ve known for years and puppies having bad reactions to fleas. But! That’s not why you’re here! Books! Books! That’s why you’re here.

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I want to remind you of two things real quick.  One, 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.  Two, I have an ever-updated Book List of all the books I’ve reviewed, check it out!

December Caravan by Rebecca Vandemark – Just when her life seemed as perfect as it could get, Rebecca’s world turned upside down. A few month before their wedding, her fiance left her. As the months and years passed, her body seemed determined to fail, no matter what she did. After getting diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease and cancer (among other things), her plans and goals for the future drastically change. But what remained constant was her love of the Lord and seeking His heart no matter the circumstances.

~I received this book free for an honest review. I enjoyed this look into Vandemark’s story so much as she constantly reminded me to keep my focus and hope on the Lord.  Her trials are beyond imagining, and yet here she is, years later – encouraging those around her to run to the heart of God. I highly recommend this book and if you want to know more about her, here’s her blog

Why Can’t I get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease by Richard I Horowitz – Lyme disease is known as the great imitator. And Horowitz has been studying it for years. In this book he shares the method that he uses for diagnosing Lyme, and other chronic pain as well as thoroughly covering Lyme’s leading symptoms.

~ This book is nothing if not thorough. To be honest, I only made it a quarter of the way through. The information was interesting and I picked up a few tidbits that were extremely helpful to know. The reason I wasn’t able to finish it was that it read like it was also written for doctors – with a lot of information that only those with medical background would find helpful. It was interesting reading how he started his practice and how it evolved into what it is today – with surprising advancements in Lyme research and ‘curing’ if you will. I’d love to read it if they cut it down to maybe half it’s size and written especially for non-medical readers. 

Tucker Mills Trilogy by Lori Wick – Tucker Mills, Massachusets in the mid 1800’s. Jace has fallen for Maddie but will his sister allow him to follow his heart? Reese is finally a free woman, but her heart is still in a cage of fear, will she let Conner in? Dannan’s world has drastically changed, but the one thing he longs for most can never happen, can it?

~Let’s move to Tucker Mills, shall we? In case you missed it, I reviewed it earlier this week! 

These Three Remain A novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman #3  by Pamela Aidan – After being rejected by Elizabeth, a humbled Darcy returns to Town and tries to become the kind of man he’s always wanted to be, the kind of man Elizabeth could love. When a chance meeting brings Elizabeth back into his life, Darcy sets out to show her he still loves her. But when Wickham creates havoc again, will Darcy’s newly-found strength withstand the test?

~I adore these books. I mean, Darcy and Elizabeth all over again? Yes please and thank you! Come back for a review of the whole trilogy!! 

On my To-Read list:

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

 

I hope you found something to read! Happy last-day of August to you all!

 

~Laura

 

Series Review – Tucker Mills Trilogy

30 Aug

You Guys. Seriously. I can’t tell you just how much I LOVED this trilogy. Yes I’ve read it before. Yes I read them all in about a week. Yes, it’s by Lori Wick. What can I say? She’s a favorite of mine.

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Moonlight on the Millpond – As a newcomer to Tucker Mills, Massachusetts, Jace Randall learns the workings of his uncle’s farm and mill. When Maddie Shephard comes back to town, Jace is instantly smitten and decides that not even his sister, Eden, could find fault with her. What he didn’t count on was Eden’s need to control his life – or the lengths she’d go to to maintain it. Will Maddie and Jace be able to forgive her, and each other, after the betrayal and lies?

~First off, I love the name Maddie. Second, Jace just happens to be one of my favorite guy’s names. Third, this book sucks you in on the first page and you quickly fall in love with, well, pretty much everyone. Except Eden. (coughcough)

Just above a Whisper – Indentured servant, Reese Thackery’s life gets another hit when the owner of her contract dies and the bank becomes the holder of her fate. The bank owner’s son, Connor Kingsley, comes to investigate and soon releases her from service. He then hires her to keep house for him, but Reese can’t decide how she feels about him. Can both put aside the hurt of the past and learn to trust again?

~Honestly, I think these two characters are some of my favorites of Wick’s. Reese’s attitude throughout her trials is how I would sincerely like to be! And Conner’s patience…sigh.

 

Leave a Candle Burning – Dannan Mckay has taken over his uncle’s practice in Tucker Mills. While everyone loved Doc Mckay, Dannan has settled in and feels welcomed by the townspeople. When he has an unexpected meeting with a woman in the general store, he starts to dream of something more – a wife and family. But then he learns something that stops his dreams of love in an instant, and he focuses all his attention on his patients. Life once again gets turned upside down when he ends up taking guardianship of a young cousin. The new role of father makes Dannan think of how the young one needs a mother – but the one he loves is out of reach.

~I remembered very little of this one – happy sigh. A unique storyline, wonderful romance. 

If I could move to the small town of Tucker Mills, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I’m not kidding. I would. BUT, we’ll get back to reality now… I enjoy how Wick weaves faith into all of her books, I’m always left contemplating the focus in each novel (i.e. each of her novels tend to have one main point in faith that the main character is dealing with) and that normally inspires conversations with my OH.

As with most (if not all ) of Wick’s books, any age could read these – I probably started reading them when I was 13/14. You might have noticed I had to get the 1st and 3rd from the library! Such a tragedy I know, but so far I haven’t found them in used bookstores. One day though, One day.

I also love that since I’ve been reading them for…well, over a decade, I am picking up on different things. Now that I’m married, I pick up on the hurt or joy when it’s a marriage moment… did that even make sense? Maybe I’ll close now and say : This trilogy is delightful. READ IT.

~Laura

Do you have a series you’ve been reading since you were a teen and still enjoy today?

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