Tag Archives: christian books reviews

Jan and Feb 2021 Book Reviews

25 Mar

Well, it’s been a minute since I last posted, hasn’t it? As you can tell by the title, I’ve decided to lump the book reviews in two months today. Hopefully I can then get caught up and do March’s book reviews in the next week or so. Let’s begin, shall we?

Photo by Mahendra Kumar on Unsplash

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – English orphan, Maia is sent to live with her distant relatives who own a rubber plantation on the Amazon. Excited to explore the new world of sunshine, bright flowers and butterflies, she is surprised to encounter her cousins who douse the house with bug killer and won’t let her leave their compound. But Maia can’t be cooped up forever and she becomes involved in a mystery about an inheritance, a reluctant actor and a giant sloth

~ This is a children’s story so well written that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I fell in love with Maia and her governess, Miss Minton. I highly recommend it to pass on to young readers as well! It was such fun and getting to read about the Amazon just added to the delight.

A Year of No Sugar: A Memoir by Eve Schaub – when Eve’s eyes were opened to how sugar is hidden in just about everything (bacon, dressings, baby food, etc), she challenged her husband and two daughters to going a whole year without sugar. As they traversed the rocky road through holidays, birthdays and vacations, she learned what the real cost of such sugar consumption is- obesity, diabetes and increased risk of heart disease among other issues. Eve talks about what it’s like for an average American family to kick the sugar habit.

~ Every now and then I love to read food memoirs and this was a good one. I appreciated Schaub’s easy to understand explanations about sugar byproducts, and her honesty about the challenges of cutting sugar out of their diets. As someone who has had to cut out all processed sugars out of my own diet, I identified with a lot of what she talks about. It also motivated me to keep looking at the ingredient lists of anything I buy – which can get wearying after a few years but it’s Worth it. Highly recommend, whether you’re wanting a good kick in the pants to minimize your sugar intake or just a good memoir to laugh and groan along with.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin – We all know that habits are the key to change but Rubin wondered – how do we change our habits? She gives practical advice and theories – that she tested on herself and those around her- mixed with humor and research, on how to improve our lives by intentionally creating habits that help us lead the life we want.

~ This book was so inspirational. I’m tempted to buy it (I got it from the library to read) and actually give some of her ideas a try. This book was such an easy read and kept me turning the pages. (I even stopped reading the novel I was in at the time, it’s that good). I highly recommend!

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes – Raised on stories of the magic of the past and high seas adventures, Lucy Clairmont grew up to be a marine archaeologist. She’s not seen her childhood friend, Dashel, for years. But when tragedy strikes, it’s his knowledge as a forensic astronomer that will help her unravel the mystery that she finds in her childhood home. Somehow, it’s linked with a story two hundred years old- of childhood love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption. And so, Lucy and Dashel journey to an estate on the East Sussex coast, where they find a community of gentle souls and long-lost secrets where they both just might find healing.

~ Deep breath, you guys. This novel was Incredible. It immediately went onto my Favorites of 2021 list. I adore when an author can carry two different timelines through the story and weave them so seamlessly together. This was my first novel of Dykes by the way, and I was thoroughly enchanted with her writing style. I wanted to shake Lucy a few times as she let fear or assumptions dictate her actions- but don’t we all do that at times? And really, if you can write marine archaeology into a book, I am probably going to be a fan. If you’re wanting a novel that you just can’t put down, give this one a try! I already can’t wait to read it again.

My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck, Long Island, New York, 1941 by Mary Pope Osborne – This diary follows the adventures and trials of young Madeline. Her and her mother live in a boardinghouse on Long Island while her father serves on an aircraft carrier on the Pacific Coast. When her and her friend find a German U-boat on the coast, they form “Kids Fight for Freedom” to do their own part in the home front war effort.

~ This is a part of the ‘Dear America’ series. I have read a few, mostly when I was a young teen, and enjoyed them. This was no exception, even if it was written a little simply and I would have loved more details on certain things. But, this is written as a diary, not a novel, so it makes complete sense as to its level. I appreciated the growth of Madeline throughout the story as she goes through good and bad times during the war. Also, it’s a little known fact that a German U-boat was found on the coast in New York. I definitely recommend this for younger (and older) readers.

Books coming up in the next review:

Redwall by Brian Jacques

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

and more!

What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear!

May 2019 Book Review

4 Jun

Now, if you’re wondering by my picture — if I really only read three books in May, no, I read more than that. Double that – plus a few I’m still reading – actually. But, some are part of a series, and one you have to wait a little longer for! You’ll be able to tell that I started and am actually still in, a genre read. It’s been fun pairing light, historical fiction novels with the meatier, slower read of Robert Jordan.

~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.~

Let’s get to it, shall we?

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The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander – Accepting her cousin’s invitation to join them in Colorado was an easy decision, but McKenna Ashford’s real reason lay in the haughty attitude of her younger brother. She is determined to get them a fresh start and hopefully, tame his ever growing wild streak. But life in Copper Creek isn’t what she thought it would be. The responsibilities of an unexpected inheritance threaten her resolve to be independent while offering an second chance, if only she can keep it.  U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon never expected to be drawn into such a heartbreaking situation – but something about McKenna pulls him back to Copper Creeek and makes him think of leaving behind his years of living on the trail. Can they both trust again though?

~I don’t know why it took me so long to pull this off of my TBR shelf but it quickly shot up to my historical-fiction-favorites list. It is no secret I enjoy this genre, especially when it’s western-based. But Alexander delivered such a refreshing story – filled with obstacles, tender moments, sweet friendships all with a realism that I appreciated. The morals/life lessons within add depth to the story, helping lend weight to the full plot and well-rounded characters. There really can’t be enough good said about this book! I’m already ready to read it again, honestly. (I can’t though, I’ve far too large of a TBR pile) I highly recommend this heart-wrenching-and-warming novel. 

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters – When Sonja Parker receives an inheritance from her grandmother, she buys a popular coffee shop in a small town in Wisconsin’s Door County. She eagerly leaves behind her disappointing city life and settles into the new one of business owner and coffee maker. But she quickly learns that there’s more to owning a business than serving up a good cup of coffee – repairs must be made to the building, and to her heart.  Can she make a go of this new business? And can she find her way back to the God that she’s left behind?

~I received this free in exchange for my honest review and I have to tell you, right now, it’s not a great review. I didn’t connect with Libby at all (her actions/thoughts felt more in line with someone much younger). I made it halfway through the book before giving up on it. And that took at least two weeks to get that far on it. BUT! I’m passing it on to my mom to read and then I intend on giving it another shot. 

Letter Perfect  (California Historical #1) by Cathy Marie Hake – Ruth Caldwell has tried hard to live up to the expectations of her mother. But no matter how hard she tries, she always ends up doing or saying just what she shouldn’t. And she unknowingly steps into another scrape when she travels out to the Broken P Ranch. Josh McCain is stunned to learn that Ruth has a legitimate claim to the ranch, the one he was all set to inherit. His future at the ranch suddenly precarious and as ‘accidents’ around this green-eyed beauty turn sinister, Josh has to decide just who he trusts- and loves.

~Hake is now officially one of my favorite authors in her genre. Of course, I’ve read books by her before but this (and the Gooding series below) have cemented her place in the Favorites category. This is a great first book in the series, although it’s a great stand alone novel. I liked Ruth’s inclination to pitch in and help (even if things don’t necessarily go as planned) and how she gets creative to meet her goals. Even though she doesn’t fit in the mold that society has cast her in, she still is herself. The twists this story took were so unexpected that I kept gasping in surprise and shock! I enjoyed getting to know Gavin O’Sullivan and his family as well (he’s a main character in the second book -review next month!). You definitely should read this one if you are in the mood for a make you laugh and cry faith based novel. 

Serendipity (Only in Gooding #5) and That Certain Spark (#4) by Cathy Marie Hake – Apparently I’m reading this series back to front. But I’m okay with that as I’ve read all of them before. You’ll get a series review when I’m done with them. Trust me though, This series is just as much fun as you hope for.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier – click here for a full review of one of my favorite series! I have to add that I showed considerable restraint by only grabbing the first book from the library but when I went back with the intent to get the second one, it wasn’t there! It was probably for the best though, as I am still making my way through Lord of Chaos…

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells- Click here for a separate review!

 

Currently Reading:

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

The Binnies and the Dogs and Cats from Everywhere by Jo Ann Stover

 

To Read:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

and 3 Cathy Marie Hake books I just got from the library =)

As you can see, this has definitely been a month of reading for me! What have you been reading lately?

~Laura

Book Review – Sept 2015

2 Oct

Happy October, Readers! The month for pumpkins, pipes and puppies. (read: pumpkin patch, firepit evenings and a new puppy in two weeks!) I started this book review the beginning of this week but kept realizing I had forgotten another book I had read. Whew! I will, in order to relieve your mind, tell you that some of these I started the end of August. I did not read a dozen odd books in four weeks. Because that is kind of insane. More like six weeks. Somehow that’s better…??

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The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – An Inventor travels first thousands of years, and the millions, into the future and comes back with a fantastic story of his travels.

– short synopsis for you but this is a very enjoyable read. The tale he tells is engrossing. All a little fantastic, but it’s time travel, it’s supposed to be.

Quilter’s Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter Daughters of Lancaster County book 2 – When Abby Miller comes to Lancaster County to help her pregnant mother, she leaves behind a full life – a quilt shop and loving fiance. But when tragedy strikes, her faith is shaken and she seeks answers to her questions. But where will she find them – in her love of quilting? her past? the heart of an overlooked Amish man?

– Ahh, I enjoyed this book. I like reading these types of novels when life is hectic, for the pace of the Amish is slower than ours, and for those moments I’m in their world, riding in a buggy to town, baking bread or knitting by the fire. They are busy but not at the mad-dash-pace of our world. I always feel slightly lazy though…

The Bishop’s Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter Daughters of Lancaster County book 3 – After her father, Bishop Weaver, has an accident, Leona finds her faith shaken. While teaching at the one-room schoolhouse, an Englisher in search of his family, Jimmy Scott, is hired to paint it. They are drawn to each other, even knowing the obstacles in the way. Will Leona find the answers she needs, will Jimmy find his real family? Will their love survive?

– This book was a great end to the trilogy. Seeing the characters develop and grow from the first and second books was enjoyable. I also like how Brunstetter brings faith into her novels – it’s not in-your-face but still a central theme. I feel like her books would be a great option for girls just starting to read more ‘adult’ books, a good transition point.

Francesca’s Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli – Francesca Campanile loves to cook for her family. But with her children grown, she feels useless. When she finds an ad for a part-time nanny, she is sure she’s found the answer to her problems. Loretta Simmons is a single mother of two, struggling to make ends meet. She’s not sure what to make of her new nanny, but both women are surprised to learn how much they needed the other.

– I fall in love with Francesca every time I read this book. I also wish she was my grandma. A perfectly normal reaction, trust me. Her memories of raising her kids are spattered throughout as she tries to connect with the new generation focused on video games and junk food. My mouth waters as time and again, she cooks these wonderful dishes – full of cheese (i’m dairy free so bear with me with that remark…) that just makes me want to hop in the kitchen as well. The only negatives I can really say about this book is one insinuation that I really just want to block out  because it adds absolutely nothing to the story line. And Loretta does go on a date with a slime ball who tries something but it’s very minor and not graphic. Francesca is Catholic so that is brought into the book but it’s not a major theme or preachy. Mostly she mentions a few saints, goes to confession a few times and tries to do what she feels God is calling her to do. Overall, I am glad I ran across this book years ago! A good read.

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells – A young scientist becomes obsessed with finding a way to make things invisible. When he does create the serum, he tries it out on himself. Beforehand, he could only see the benefits of such an existance – freedom! – but reality sets in and with it, a descent into madness.

– I finished this just the other night and AH!! I enjoyed this immensely, even more than the Time Machine. I scored this book at Barnes and Noble on the sale on a sale on a sale rack – being a 2 books in 1 situation, I couldn’t pass it up. I’d never read Wells before but at least these two will be ones I come back to. I didn’t anticipate the ending at all.  And that makes me happy. I enjoyed the different ways the characters were brought into the story, and the adventures of the invisible man. I found on youtube that they made a movie in 1933 that I have simply got to own now.

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis  -Man has been plagued by one question for years – ‘if God is good, why does he allow pain?” Lewis, who is known as the ‘greatest Christian thinker of our time’, answers this complicated question and seeks to heal a hurting world

-Lewis writes very differently than I am used to, so I am frequently re-reading sections in order to better grasp his point.  I am in the last few chapters now, it has moved from my bedside to the table so I read it while eating breakfast most mornings. I intend on putting it on the ‘read yearly’ list. There are many ‘ah-ha’ moments in it. Well worth the read.

HTML and CSS : Design and Build Websites – My OH got this for me and I intend on devoting a whole post to it once I’m through it. For now, let’s say that they have done a fantastic job on making it a book that while it teaches you how, it doesn’t intimidate the socks off of you at first glance. A huge bonus for me. I intend to work through it as it teaches, being more of a hands-on learner. Don’t hold your breath for the full review though – I have no idea when it’ll be.

The Count of Monte Cristo  by Alexandre Dumas – On the brink of the happiest day of his life, Edward Dantes is thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Years later, he learns of a treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo. He then focuses on escaping the grim fortress and, after finding the treasure- exacting revenge on the three men who ruined him.

– Since I was reading this on my phone last month, I have somehow stopped reading it. Guess I called it when I said I need to get an actual copy in order to finish it.  But don’t take my not finishing it as a sign that it isn’t a good read for it is! The development of the characters and the descriptions of what is going on are great.

And there you have it for September’s book review! Are any of these your favorites?

~Laura

*I’d like to note that any books I read are free of foul language or any immoral …stuff. If there is a hint of it, I will tell you but that is the most that I will read, and by default, will share with you. Not everything I read is faith-based though, so keep that in mind if that is your priority. *

*If you click any link here and buy from amazon, I will get a percentage from the sale. Just a way I’m trying to make a little money from this hobby of mine*

Little Blossoms for Jesus

• Enjoying the old-fashioned & beautiful • • Thankful for grace • Growing in faith • • Learning life • Loving people •

Elaine Howlin

lost in the pages of books

See Jayne Run

Navigating with Chronic Illness in a Self Absorbed World