Tag Archives: books to read

Book Reviews – Dec 2018

5 Jan

So as I sat down to start this post, I always list all the books I read (thanks Goodreads, for making this easier than pounding my head on the desk trying to remember) and then go back and write the synopsis and my review of them. But as I started listing one after another, I couldn’t believe how much I’d read! So many books. I love it.

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Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Only the River Runs Free book 1 of Galway Chronicles by Bodie Thoene – set in Ireland in the 1830’s, the feelings were bitter between the English landlords and the Irish tenants. Laws intended to distance the Irish from their heritage tore at the already struggling people. Hope was a distant thing for many – except for one woman, called Mad Molly Fahey. She promises that a miracle is on it’s way to their small village.

~I have read this one since I was a teenager and still enjoy it. The story tugs at your heart and you end up wanting poor Molly to be understood, for Kate to release her anger and Joseph to find his redemption. I have one confession to make, I’ve only read the second book – no more of the series. I’m not sure why, but there it is. This book has a satisfying enough ending that while you do of course, want to know what else happens to the characters, it’s well done in that you can close the cover content. I do need to read the rest of the series one of these days though! 

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – As the seventh child, and only daughter, of a disinterested father, Sorcha is protected and loved by her older brothers. But when their father remarries and is bewitched by his new wife, Sorcha’s life is plunged into uncertainty. The evil enchantress puts a spell on all of Sorcha’s brothers – one that only she can break. By keeping silent. To speak is to lose her brothers. But her task is made more difficult when she is kidnapped by the enemies of her father and taken overseas. When a tender love surprises her, she is torn between saving her brothers and grabbing hold of it.

~I love Marillier’s books. So, grabbing this one from the book store a few months ago was a no-brainer for me. I quickly dived into it and loved it. All the way til…. about halfway through. Now, I understand why this particular event was in the story. It created obstacles, fears, etc for Sorcha and others to deal with. It moved the plot forward. I suppose it was more in the way that it was handled  – described – that bothered me. Descriptive and blunt. Too blunt for my taste. I put the book down for days before I decided to finish reading it. (which I normally don’t do.) And aside from the mentions/memories of that event, and a few…. overtures that she was forced to deal with, the book was great. It could easily have been a new favorite. But. That portion of the story was just too blunt and awful for my taste. Sadly, I won’t be reading it again.

Sisters of Bethlehem Springs Series by Robin Lee Hatcher separate post coming this month!

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen – I reviewed it here  a few years ago. Go check it out – it is a very good read! I grabbed it at a used book store recently and loved it just as much this time!

Mara : Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – In order to gain freedom, the beautiful slave Mara, juggles the dangerous role of double spy to two arch enemies. Each are vying for contenders for the throne, intent on destroying the other. As she finds herself falling for one master, the charming and sly Lord Sheftu, she starts to want his plan of placing Thutmose III on the throne, to succeed. But her duplicity is revealed before she can bear her soul to Sheftu and soon, it’s not only Egypt’s fate that hangs in the balance, it is Mara’s very life.

~Mara’s daring and confidence are fun to watch as she navigates the different situations that her …position brings about. Reading a story set in ancient Egypt of political upheaval is unique and Sheftu is a delightful character. I probably read this one a few time a year (which makes me wonder how I haven’t reviewed it here on SGL before?!) Read it, I know you’ll love it. 

The Power of the Light: Eight Stories for Hanukkah by Isaac Bashevis Singer – The author shares a story for each night of Hanukkah – sweet stories of love triumphing, faith prevailing and miracles occurring.

~I immensely enjoyed these short stories. The pictures that went with each were charming as well.

The Art of Hanukkah by Nancy Berman -“A rich celebration of Hanukkah, featuring centuries of extraordinary art and artifacts… Menorahs, paintings, dreidels—all the wonderful elements of the celebration of Hanukkah from around the world and throughout the centuries have been brought together in this one marvelous book. Clear, insightful, and thought-provoking commentaries make this book a perfect complement to the holiday.” – from Goodreads

~Forgive my sharing what Goodreads had to say about it  but I just couldn’t figure out how to word this synopsis! This book is a treasure trove and I intend on buying it one day. The art and history was very interesting. 

Sophie’s Heart by Lori Wick – When Sophie arrives to keep house for Alec Riley and his kids, she isn’t all that sure what she’s getting into. Having come from Czechoslovakia as a language translator, she wonders if she’ll be content being a housekeeper. But the broken hearts of Alec and his children prove a worthy mission field.

~Ah, Lori Wick. A sweet story that I’ve read since I was a young teen, this book still encourages me to live out a day by day faith and trust in God. I enjoy the growth that you see in each of the Riley family, and in Sophie herself.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – If Ebenezer Scrooge could have cancelled Christmas, he would have. But on one cold Christmas Eve, he is visited by his late business partner, who warns him to change his ways before he too has the same fate. Scrooge is visited by three Spirits who show him what has been, what is, and what will be.

~ It has been years since I read this short book by Dickens. It is definitely going to have to be a yearly Christmas-time read for me.

 

Currently Reading:

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney by Dawn Raffey

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope

The Dragon Reborn -Wheel of Time series book #3 by Robert Jordan

Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll

Dear Theo by Irving Stone

(finishing these last two are high on my priority list!)

Go check out My 2018 Year in Books  on Goodreads and add some great reads to your To-Read list!

To Read: 

Blood Moon Redemption by Judy DuCharme

Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann

Goodbye, Lover by Rachel Britz

 

Books I’ve been thinking about:

Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Eve Blackwell series by Dee Henderson

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

 

I have a Favorite Reads of 2018 planned for the next few weeks! Really, it was supposed to be up already (as was this one) but life (like nuclear migraines) happens and you’ve got to rearrange things.

~Laura

~What are you reading lately?~

July 2018 Book Reviews

10 Aug

It’s finally time for some book reviews! I have decided that I’m just going to share a few of the books I’ve read in the past three odd months (my last review post was April’s) If you want to see everything I’ve read since then, go check out my Goodreads page!

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Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson – Ann Silver, cop, passes off a case to Luke Falcon, FBI. She’s relieved to have it off her desk, as she’s also the Midwest Homicide Investigator. He’s just been handed vital information that ties to a case he’s been working for years. But soon their lives will collide, getting far more personal than either had anticipated.

~ Whooeeee. I’d read this book years before but didn’t remember much of it. I appreciated how different of a lead female character Anne was – her end goal wasn’t marriage and kids and the white picket fence. This book has so many layers to it that I was sucked in very quickly and stayed that way. It is an intense story, as you follow along on a John Doe case. Perhaps a bit too quick of a wrap-up at the end for me, but thankfully, it didn’t ruin the whole thing. (you know what I’m talking about). 

 

Taken by Dee Henderson – Shannon’s escape was planned to the last detail, as is her plan to capture the ones who kidnapped her -the Jacoby family. Her choosing Matthew Dane, private investigator, as the one who helps her gain her freedom, wasn’t an accident. But the task of finding all the evidence, and what happened to the ransom that was paid all those years ago, is going to be harder than she thought.

~you might be noticing a theme here…. I was really on a Henderson kick! I do recommend that you read Full Disclosure before Taken though. You don’t have to, but you get background on several of the supporting characters in Taken that is helpful. I started Taken, but kept wondering why I felt like I should already know some of the characters..so I got Full Disclosure from the library! That aside, I did enjoy this book. It is intense and a bit slow moving but it’s theme was different than I’d read before – taking place AFTER the kidnapping. I liked the faith of Shannon and her coming to terms with the events of her life. The romance was a little odd but it grew on me. 

 

How To Be a Friend To a Friend Who’s Sick by Letty Cottin Pogrebin – Everybody knows someone who is suffering. But how to act is often so confusing and stressful. Pogrebin shares, partly from her own experiences, what to do, what not to do and that sometimes, just being present is all that is needed.

~THANK YOU Letty, for writing such a great book on this subject. I admit that while I was excited to read this, I was a bit nervous as to what her take would be on this. But I learned so much from it, as someone who’s Sick and just as a friend of someone who’s Sick. I recommend this for sure, although, if my memory serves (I read it back in May), there were a few sections in her personal story that were a little off-color to me. (? I’m not sure how to word that properly…)

 

California Passage Series by Elaine Schulte – Follow the adventures of the Talbot family in the 1800’s as they travel to California via the different routes – covered wagon, around the Horn, through Panama.

~I have grown up reading this series of four books. I believe they were my great-aunt’s at one time. The journeys they go through are interesting to read about, especially in this modern age of convenient travel. This is definitely a christian romance series – faith is a strong theme throughout each of them. A fun historical romance read.

 

Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles #1) by Colin Meloy  – When twelve- year old Prue’s baby brother is kidnapped by crows, she’ll stop at nothing to rescue him. Even entering the Impassable Wilderness.

~I picked this up at a used bookstore because one of my friends’ loves it – but I was still hesitant about whether I would like it. It took me a few months to finally pick it up but I’m glad I did! Her statement of “It’s weird, but I love it” is a perfect review for it. It is a middle-grade fantasy series

 

Uncommon Heroes Series by Dee Henderson – you can find my review here and here. I probably hadn’t read them since 2014, so it was fun to fall in love with this series again. Highly recommend.

 

The Finding of Jasper Holt by Grace Livingston Hill – Jean Grayson and Jasper Holt’s lives were intertwined the night of the train crash. She knows that her heart will never belong to anyone else. He knows that her family will forbid them to be together, so he makes her a promise that he will prove his virtue to all who keep them apart.

~I received this book from my aunt (along with a few other Hill books) and absolutely loved it. I read it in two days- and that’s because I made myself put it down and accomplish life things. Like eating. And sleeping. It was a sweet, heartfelt western romance with great imagery and life lessons. Does that sound cheesy? It wasn’t.  I never was sure what year it was set in but I quickly decided to quit trying to figure it out and just enjoy it. Lovely book. Highly recommend.

 

Currently Reading:

Dear Theo by Vincent Van Gogh

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Gifts of the Spirit by Fruits of the Zion

 

To Read:

Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (new author for me!)

The Shadowfell Trilogy by Juliet Marrillier

 

~Laura

Series Review – Mistborn part 2

22 Dec

So, Brandon Sanderson has a spin-off series from the Mistborn series! I had no idea! I requested these three from the library as soon as I found out. I believe that this is the end of the series though although I feel like I read that he’s currently working on another one. (insert happy dance).

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* I will point out that on Goodreads, it says Mistborn – Alloy Era #1 – as well as #4 for the Mistborn series…. * 

These three books – Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self and The Bands of Mourning – take place centuries after the Mistborn trilogy.

Alloy of Law – Feruchemist and Allomancer, Waxillium Ladrian, doesn’t fit in out in the Roughs but neither does he fit in the middle of a ballroom. Returning to the city, Elendel wasn’t his choice. Now that he’s back though, he sees corruption everywhere. His plan of defending the city becomes more complicated as his friend Wayne arrives with bad news and a young woman with grand dreams insists on helping as well.

Shadows of Self – As terrorists stir up workers anger and religious conflict, Wax, Wayne and Marasi must figure out who is behind the conspiracy to stop the country’s progress. But when technology and magic mix, there’s no telling just what is really going on – or just who you can trust.

Bands of Mourning – When rumors that the location of the bands of mourning have been found, Wax is recruited to investigate. He’s not sure if they are even real – they have been a mythical story for so long, how can they be real? They are said to be the Lord Ruler’s own metalminds and that whoever wears them will have the same power. As he travels, he finds clues to what the shady organization known as The Set, is up to.

 

I really enjoyed this series : the mix of technology – a society that’s still trying to find its feet – and magic. Waxilliam was a great character, a bit of detective, a bit of wild west, a bit of rogue. I enjoyed the development of the characters, not just Wax, but the side characters as well. I loved the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) references to some of the people we met in the first Mistborn series.

There was more….disturbing content in these. I’m really not sure if disturbing is the right word, honestly. Let’s see if I can say it another way. There were some things in these three books – mainly dealing with the kandra, I believe, that if these were my first sci-fi fantasy books, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get past them. Squeamish much? Yes. Yes, I am. But remember, I am still pretty new to this genre – but I can also say that it’s also mild because Sanderson could have made it more graphic. Shudder to even think about that. I don’t say this to turn you from them, because these books are so enjoyable and he does state things as … nicely as possible.

 

 

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.

~Laura

Have you any sci-fi fantasy books that you love? Or what’s a new genre you’ve tried recently?

Book Review – Stepping Heavenward

19 Oct

Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. E. Prentiss is, I feel, a book that every woman should read – no matter their age or where they are in life. It was given to me by some dear friends when I graduated from culinary school and I thoroughly enjoyed  it, and learned from it then. But this time reading it as a wife and sufferer of chronic illness, I feel like I gained so much more from it.

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(side note: I’m currently trying to learn a new image editor… bear with me as I figure it out) 

We watch as Katherine grows from a sixteen year old girl, in the year of 1831, to a woman of God with a husband and children. The trials of life beat against her as she seeks to live her life honoring God.

I marked a few sections that I wanted to share in this review:

“I see now that my first desire has not been to please God but to please myself, for I am restless under His restraining hand and find my prison a very narrow one. I would be willing to bear any other trial if I could only have health and strength for my beloved ones. I pray for patience with bitter tears.”

“The scenes of sorrow through which we have been passing have brought (husband) nearer to me than ever… Besides we have modified each other. (He) is more demonstrative, more attentive to those little things that make the happiness of married life; and I am less childish, less vehement- I wish I could say less selfish, but here I seem to have come to a standstill.”

Trying not to give anything away by taking out the name of her husband!

“Bishop Wilson charges us to bear all things ‘as unto God’ and “with the greatest privacy’. How seldom I have met them save as lions in my way that I would avoid if I could, and how I have tormented my friends by tedious complaints about them! Yet when compared with the great tragedies of suffering I have both witnessed and suffered, how petty they seem!”

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I identified so often with Katherine in the struggles of life and seeking to do the right thing, that I ended the book encouraged in the path. It reminded me that we all grow and change, even if we don’t see that growth. That we are not meant to suffer through life but to thrive and to make our will aligned with His. As I said before, I recommend this book to anyone. Yes it’s written in an older style, as you can see in the sections I shared but how deep and rich a meaning of daily faith is weaved throughout this book.

Also – Elizabeth Elliot even recommended it to “men, who need to better understand the wives they live with, and to any woman who wants to walk with God.” 

~Laura

Have you read this book? what did you think of it? Have you read a book like this, that inspired you? 

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: 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.

Last Minute Gift Ideas – Books

21 Dec

I don’t know about you but I’ve got almost all of my Christmas shopping done! There are a few stragglers but I’m feeling rather proud of myself for having started planning so early and getting things done!  

I thought it would be kind of fun to throw together a list of some of my favorite books in case you are needing some help in ideas (because what better gift can one get/give than BOOKS?)

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Novels for preteens/teens:

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Beauty by Robyn Mckinley

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Anne of Green Gables (and series) by L.M. Montgomery

The Inheritance by Lousia May Alcott

Mara: Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

 

Novels for an older readership:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson

Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers

 

Other:

God-Fearers by Toby Janicki

Torah Rediscovered by Ariel Berkowitz

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals by Ednah Cheeney

For Women Only and For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

Heal Your Headache by David Buccholz

 

 

~While I separated the novels into two groups, the ones in the teen area can certainly be enjoyed by adults! ~

Merry Christmas friends! Come back for a review of a GREAT series!

~Laura

Reading Lists

4 Jan

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I am super excited about what i have found! I stumbled across a fabulous new blog –  Beyond the Covers – and  i love it already! You MUST go check it out, it is all about books! And book lists! and reviews! plus, she has free downloadable pages to keep track of what you read each month. They are super cute pages – and I’ve already started mine! I look forward, at the end of this year, of having a list of all I’ve read!

I have a mental lists of some of the books that i want to read this year – some for the first time and other for the 1o0th! But this will be a fun way to keep track of what i actually do read. I am thinking of writing out my hope-to’s on the back of the have-reads. So if i ever get stumped on what to read (yeah right!), i can skim the list and be off. 

Here is a short list for you of my hope-to-reads this year:

~Finish reading the Narnia series (i know, i know, i somehow got sidetracked!) by C.S. Lewis

~Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

~Turgenev by Rudin

~City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

~Lights of the Veil by Patty Metzer (one of my favorite stories!)

~The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

I am reading two books right now  “The Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books” by James Cross Giblin and “An Assembly Such as This”  by Pamela Aiden . The writing guide is very good so far, i am making sure to take notes so it doesn’t all go in through the eyes and straight back out through the… well, you know what i’m trying to say! In reference of the ‘in through one ear and out through the other’ but when you’re reading it where does it go??????

ahem. Anyway, I am devouring the advice that it has! The Aiden book is one of my favorite series. It is the story of Pride and Prejudice but through Darcy’s side. Very well written and she kept true to Austen’s characters.

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Do share what books you have calling your name this year! I am always eager to hear of more fabulous reads! 

Sidenote: I am going to be trying to figure out how to get the button for Beyond the Covers….this is all new to me so we shall see how i do with it!

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