Tag Archives: christian novels

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?~

March Book Review – 2018

1 May

I know, you’re probably thinking, “Laura, you mean April’s book reviews, don’t you?”

No. No, I don’t. I read so many good books the past two months, I decided not to smoosh them into one long post. So later this week, a post will be up of what I read in April! With these two posts, I am hoping to jump back into blogging – at least once a week – regularly again. I have missed it and really want to keep up with it. Sometimes, these breaks are necessary, even if they are unplanned!

Also, remember, 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 the books!

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

The BFG by Roald Dahl – When Sophie is carried off by a giant in the middle of the night, she isn’t sure what will become of her. She’s pretty sure she’ll be eaten by morning. And she would have been, if any of the other giants had snatched her – ones like The Bonecruncher or The Fleshlumpeater. But The BFG is not like them, he is kind and jumbly. So when she finds out what the other giants are doing, she comes up with a plan to stop them.

~ After thoroughly enjoying the movie, I knew I had to read this. I hadn’t read any of Roald Dahl before and had no clue how closely the movie had followed the book. When I found a copy at a second-hand bookstore, I snatched it up and read it right away. What a delight! It, of course, was different than the movie, but I simply loved it. The BFG himself is simply delightful and snozzcumbers are just as disgusting. I highly recommend this book!

 

Rose Daughter by Robin Mckinley- When Beauty joins the Beast in the castle, he tells her that the heart of the place is dying. And it’s true. So Beauty sets out to heal it, sure that that is the only reason that she’s there. Because growing roses is the only thing she’s good at. And the glasshouse is full of dying bushes – all prickly stems and brown leaves.

~I decided to pick this up again as I haven’t read it in years. Yes, Mckinley wrote two versions of Beauty and the Beast. The other one is Beauty , this one is a bit more…. fantasty (? I think that would be the word for it). It is still very enjoyable and fun to see how she takes a different route with the story. I enjoy how she has the animals come back to the castle lands – and the background story of the Beast! If you enjoy re-tellings of Beauty and the Beast, you must read this one.

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas – A twenty-year battle to abolish slavery was the focus of Wilberforce’s life. But he did much more besides that, to better the lives of his fellow men. He is one of the few men of which it can truly be said ‘ he changed the world’. Victory came for him in 1833, just days before his death.

~I really intended to review this separately because it was just THAT GOOD. If you don’t know who Wilberforce is, or just want to know more about him, read this! I enjoyed it so much and was constantly telling my OH and mom (and basically anyone else who would listen) tidbits from the book. The history of how he and his friends fought slavery for so long is interesting and motivating and heartbreaking all at the same time. 

Vigilante’s Bride by Yvonne Harris – Finally on his way home again, Luke Sullivan doesn’t expect to rob a stagecoach. Much less kidnap a woman passenger. But he’s really rescuing her from having to marry his enemy. Emily McCarthy doesn’t see it as a rescue, though, as she is tossed over a stranger’s shoulder in the dead of night.

~This story had fun, unexpected twists throughout it, keeping me turning pages! I always enjoy a good western novel, but I was pleased with how Harris kept you guessing. My only disappointment was that the ending felt rushed and was slightly less satisfying because of that. I still recommend it though, it didn’t ruin the story at all for me.

Finished the O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson

Finished the Shadowfell Series by Juliet Marillier – upcoming separate review!

 

Have you read any of these? What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear from you! 

 

 

Series Review – Annie’s People by Beverly Lewis

14 Oct

I have just finished a series by Beverly Lewis. A trilogy, if you want to be persnickety about it. It is Annie’s People, a three book series that delves into an Amish community in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Despite the town name being about the best you could hope for, there are plenty of problems brewing in this community.

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A Preacher’s Daughter, book 1 – Annie Zook harbors a serious secret, one that has already cost her her beloved. Painting is like breathing for Annie, unfortunately, it is forbidden. She will have to choose between the pull of her People and the pull of her passion – but her heart longs for both.

Louisa Stratford is Annie’s long-time pen pal in the fancy world. Feeling betrayed by her parents and fiance, she decides to get away from the chaos of her world and visit Annie. But in trying out the simple life, will she nudge Annie back toward the Plain life, or furthur away from it?

The Englisher, book 2 Trying to respect the promise she made to her father, Annie  struggles to stay away from her art and follow the rules of the People.  But in the midst of this struggle, another one appears. Ben Martin is an Englisher who is falling fast for Annie, for her though, he is just as off limits as her art.

Louisa can’t seem to bring herself to leave the Plain community, but will a visit from a friend pull her home?

The Brethren, book 3 –   Living with her shunned friend, Annie Zook is caught between two worlds. Which will she choose – the People or the Outside? And will she be able to be with Ben Martin?

Her choice made, Louisa struggles with her decision. Her head and heart are one place, while her body is another. Will she adjust?

My Review:

I didn’t share as much as even the backs of the books have on them to not give anything away. I read these one right after the other, completely sucked into their world! These books touched on different aspects of the Amish world (and just regular old life problems) that I have never seen before. I appreciated it, it brought a bit of the nitty gritty into the story. Obviously one of the main themes is Annie seeking if she belongs with the People or not. Some of the others discussed are : marital longings/needs, abortion, materialistic vs. faith/family focused (outside vs. People) , following the Ordnung vs. faith in Christ, miscarriage, etc.  I greatly appreciated how she handled the faith portion. Also, the marital needs was handled very well, nothing skanky in how it was presented but it was consistent throughout the books.

Because of that, I would not recommend them for younger teen girls – I won’t put an age on that because, not having kids of my own, I couldn’t properly judge that. BUT, I will suggest someone reading them first before giving them to a younger teen.

I greatly enjoyed these books – as I said, I read one right after the other! The ending was a bit of a twist than what I had decided it would be earlier on in the series. Because we all do that right? Decide how the book will end three chapters in?

Right?

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