Tag Archives: book reviews

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 – April 2017

25 Apr

This month has been full of reading, folks! I’ve made a conscious effort to pick up a book instead of turn on the tv, and this month’s list is the result.

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When Bad Things Happen to Good People  by Harold S. Kuchner  – Striving to answer the age-old question ‘why, God?’, Kuchner shares the doubts and fears that often come with the question. He shares his wisdom as a rabbi, reader and parent in the hopes to bring comfort to the reader.

~This was recommended to me – that’s the only reason I finished it. I’m not a fan of this book. There were very few points that were made that I either didn’t already know or agreed with. That probably sounds arrogant but I don’t mean it to be. He has different beliefs than I do, and his including those (evolution for one), I felt to be unnecessary and distracted from the point of the entire book. If I rated these, this would be half a star.

The Shepherd’s Voice by Robin Lee Hatcher – Finally free from prison, Gabe has a hard time finding work during the Great Depression. He heads home, hoping his father will take him in. Instead he finds compassion and faith when Akira offers him a job and a home.

~This is a favorite that I read once a year. I love the journey that Gabe and Akira go through. As well as the faith and life lessons peppered throughout. Plus it’s set in the 1940’s (?) in Idaho. Fantastic setting.

Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott – As a sequel to Eight Cousins,  we revisit Rose after she’s traveled the world for two years. She’s decided that before she marries, she wants to show that she’s an independent young woman. But the world is at odds with her decision, making her wonder just who her true friends are.

~Another delightful story from Alcott. The twists were unexpected and surprising – I had a hard time putting it down! In fact, i read it in just a few days. Highly recommend this, young or old.

Captain’s Courageous by Rudyard Kipling – When young millionaire, Harvey, is swept overboard and rescued by a fishing boat, his life is forever changed. The crew teaches him how to fish, and how to be a man.

~This was a birthday present and came with a recommendation from one of my nephews. I enjoyed this book so much, although I will admit to still not knowing what a ‘foc’sle’ is. Kipling wrote a classic boy’s adventure with this one. Highly recommend, for young or old readers!

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – Click through for my full review! For now, I’ll say that I enjoyed this novel immensely.

Created to Live by Cathy Harris – Click through for my full review! Well worth the read on a heartbreaking and controversial topic.

Currently Reading:

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss ~I am listening to this as an audio book via Librivox. If I had a copy in hand, I would have read it within a week, most likely. As it is though, I listen to it on the nights when I’m in too much pain to sleep. Very entertaining and not sure how I haven’t read it already!

Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David H. Stern ~ Pulled this from my OH’s library. I’m moving through it really slowly but it’s a good read so far. I am able to understand it without feeling overwhelmed. 

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson ~ A favorite that I read probably twice a year. Here’s a review from a few years ago if you want to check it out.

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell ~I picked this up at the library and am eager to get any helps on editing my first novel!

Once again, I’m joining the Reading Roundup linkup. Click the picture and find some more great reads!

Reading Roundup

What are you currently reading?

~Laura

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.

Most Popular Posts of 2016

20 Jan

 

I had quite the time deciding which posts to share with you – how do I limit which ones to share? What about the ones that I loved but that didn’t get much love themselves? So. This took quite a while the other evening, paring it down to this – which is still too long, probably but I just couldn’t cut anymore. From doing this though, I see that my health posts are overall the most popular. I will try and write more with this focus for you guys but no promises. I’m over here making it a day at a time, wondering if the new ache I have is because of my Lyme or just an ache that everyone has from time to time. Fun stuff, that.

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Anyway! I’ll get off the rabbit trail and back to the topic! These first few posts are random/fun ones and the rest are organized for easy access. Enjoy, share the ones you love!

Currently – aka why SGL has been so silently lately

Our Weekend in Bend

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HEALTH:

The Big Health Update

Health Update – 8/23/16

Fighting Lyme and Chronic Migraines

Symptoms of my Lyme Disease

Unexpected Side Effects of Chronic Pain

The Tears of My Heart

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leaving the dog park

 

BOOKS REVIEWS:

My Top-15 Favorite books 2016

Book Review – May 2016

Book Review – August 2016

Book Review – The Little Prince

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WRITING:

Writing Shorts

Work in Progress – Amelia’s first caller

Sharing a bit of my Novel

Writing Short -Green Moment

Short Story Sharing – The Feud Changes

Short Story Sharing – The Book

Fun Times on Vacation back Home

 

See you next week,

Laura

 

 

Book Review – The Unfolding Heart

10 Jan

Happy Tuesday!

Now, I have read and loved this book many times since I first was introduced to it (I  believe it was my great-aunt’s) as a teen. The characters are believable and sweet- I always want to live around these folks and be a part of their lives! I like that Grote brings up the laws that were in place about marriage – a woman could own land but once she got married, it transferred to the husband (who has better business sense). Coughcough. So glad that laws like that were changed.

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Anyway, like I said, I appreciate it when an author brings up a different part of Victorian life. And using this one as a reason that Millicent isn’t looking to get married, I like it. I simply like it. Anyway, before I go on, here’s the synopsis:

The Unfolding Heart by Joann A. Grote,

As a headstrong, independent woman, Millicent Strong is certain she doesn’t need either a man, or God in her life. She’s sure of her path and convictions until she goes to her brother’s wedding in the West and meets the kind-hearted minister, Adam Conrad. Their mutual interest is strong but her lack of faith – and unwillingness to leave the comforts of civilization for the West,  threaten their love. (Love Song, 1997)

Faith. Love. Hospitality. Forgiveness. Trusting God.  That’s what this book is about, in a sweet love story. I highly recommend this, for young teens up.

Have you ever read this book? What’s your favorite sweet romance story?

~Laura 

 

Book Review – Twas the Night Before

20 Dec

I told you guys I had holiday-themed books to review! It’s just so fun reading books that fit in whatever season you’re in. I will admit to you that Wildwood Dancing has been calling me as it starts in winter. Sigh. I’ve been holding off starting it as that’s all I want to do once I open its cover -READ! Perhaps that’ll be my reward for getting my manuscript off to a few beta readers come the beginning of the new year.

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Anyway, this book I have to review for you is a favorite. My dad got it for my mom and I several years ago.  And while the only other books I’ve read by Jerry B. Jenkins is the Left Behind series (years and years ago), I like his different style of writing. I found myself pausing quite often as I thought how I would have worded something versus what he did, and realizing how much I have to learn! (yipes!) But. It’s a delightful tale and let’s get on to it.

Twas the Night Before by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Noella and Tom are as opposite as they can be- but they are completely in love and plan to marry. As a cynical news reporter, Tom doesn’t care much about Christmas. So when Noella reveals what she really believes about Santa, it throws Tom for a loop. Certain it won’t work, the wedding is called off. But when Tom travels to Germany to research more about Father Christmas, his whole life is changed.

I just can’t gush enough about how much I enjoy this story. The characters are well rounded and the way that Jenkins tells their story is genius. The cynical news reporter and cheery teacher reminded me of a classic movie I watched a while back, Teacher’s Pet.

All in all, this is a great book to read every year as it leaves you smiling and is a read-in-one-afternoon type of book.

What’s your favorite Christmas read?

Thanks for coming by and don’t forget to come back later in the week for our monthly Book Review!

~Laura

Book Review – Nov 2016

29 Nov

Hello readers! I hope you’ve had a wonderful month! It has flown by and now it’s time again for a review of what I’ve read this month!

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Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson – After being kidnapped by a cunning pirate, David Balfour must travel through the harsh and dangerous Scottish Highlands to get back home and reclaim his inheritance.

~I am really enjoying this book so far! I just had no idea what to expect but the way Stevenson describes the different adventures poor David goes through draws you in completely.

All the Shining Young Men book 3 of The Price of Liberty by Gilbert Morris -Chase Rinehart and Jesse Boone join up when World War II starts and hard-nosed reporter, Maria Vitrano  follows them. Each has different reasons for joining in the fight, but will that matter in the end?

~Somehow this has fallen by the wayside while I’ve been writing like crazy, and reading Kidnapped, of course! But I’ve really liked the main characters – Chase, Jesse and Maria -are all very different  and what with Maria being a reporter, and my main character (in the novel i’m writing) wanting to be one as well, it’s been fun to be able to take notes on how that world is portrayed.

 

Inside the Victorian Home: A portrait of Domestic life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders – From room to room, this book follows the daily life of a middle-class home. Flanders pulls from diaries and other sources to describe a time so very different from our own.

~I think this just might be worth adding to my collection! I’ve got several chapters marked for easy access and have loved the pictures they have throughout. The details are coming in handy for making a rough diagram of a house, and where they’d entertain and a bunch of other things that I need to know!

Blink : The power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell – This is a book about how we can know something without knowing how we know, in the blink of an eye

~ You can read my full review here! Suffice it to say, it was an interesting book that was well worth the read.

On my to-read list are:

Liberty’s Dawn: A People’s history of the Industrial Revolution by Emma Griffin

Lyme Disease:Why it’s spreading, how it makes you sick and what to do about it by Alan G. Barbour, M.D.

 

I know these are seriously short synopsis’ and I apologize! Bear with me and I’ll try and give you better descriptions next month. Don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Book List that grows every month!

~Laura

Book Review – Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

18 Nov

I hope you’ll forgive me for reviewing this separately when I had it in October’s book review but I’ve finished it and just HAD to share more in-depth why I liked this book so much! 

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This is a book about how we can know something without knowing how we know, in the blink of an eye. It shows that those who are good at ‘thin-slicing’ – filtering a few facts from an overwhelming amount of variables-  can often be better decision makers than those that spend a lot of time gathering information and deliberating.

Here are a few snippets that i felt really summed up the point of the book, “This practice of inferring the motivations and intentions of others is classic thin-slicing. It is picking up on subtle, fleeting cues in order to read someone’s mind – and there is almost no other impulse so basic and so automatic and at which, most of the time, we so effortlessly excel.” page 195

When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come  from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.” page 269

We all make snap judgments without realizing it –  but I had no idea how much they can affect our lives. Writing that, I guess it sounds silly. But it’s just like with our formed opinions that we know about, only these happen so fast and without our being aware.  Our snap judgments can be good, and they can be bad- so pay attention to them.

I am glad I was able to read this – it has made me pause and think about how I respond to things.  My OH is reading this for his marketing class this term (finally, a college book that i was excited about!) and he said the author’s got some TED talks! Once I’ve listened to them, I’ll link them up here.

All in all, I recommend this book as it’s one that makes you think (no pun intended there) about what you, well….think.

(I can tell I’m getting tired. I’m thinking in very uninspired language. Naptime perhaps?)

I want to read his first book, The Tipping Point, next!

~Laura

 

 

 

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