Tag Archives: janette oke

Book Reviews -April 2019

15 May

I can’t believe I’m finally getting this review up. There were just too many good books to share with you from last month to forgo doing this monthly review. I’ve been making it a point – once again – to read more instead of scrolling on my phone or watching Netflix. These 7 books are the result!

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(I know, I know, there are only 5 pictured here, but my dad is borrowing Sons and Soldiers and Fires of Heaven had to go back to the library… what’s a girl to do?)

The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley- When Harry Crewe struggles to settle into the sedate world of the Homelanders, she has no idea that a chance meeting with Corlath, the king of the Hillfolk, will change her life forever.  Check out my full review here 

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke- Ariana’s life is turned upside down when two rough-looking men take her hostage from the one-room schoolhouse she teaches at. With no explanation, they bundle her through the snowy mountain passes to their hideout. Her fear increases when the boss’s son is set to guard her. Will she ever see her adopted parents again? Will she have the chance to wear her mother’s wedding dress?

~I’m sure I squealed in delight when I found this recently at a used bookstore. I’m not sure what happened to my original copy, so I snatched this up quick. I am a big Oke fan and this is one of my favorites of hers. She didn’t write many westerns (in fact, this might be her only one). I enjoyed the twists and turns in this story, some that even though I’ve read it many times over the years (it’s been several years since I’ve read it last though), I was still surprised by them. Ariana’s faith is well-written through her captivity, which is so important to me. I highly recommend this novel for younger readers on up.

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A Falcon For a Queen by Catherine Gaskin – Suddenly an orphan, Kirsty Howard leaves her home in China and travels to Scotland to visit her grandfather. His home of Cluian is a strange one, utterly different from what she’s used to. Secrets abound in the old house, kept in place by the arrogance of the lonely old man and the two women who run his house. But being the site of one of the world’s finest whiskey distilleries, gives Kirsty an opportunity to carve her own place in the Highlands.

~I was given this book (published 1972) last year and finally decided I just had to read it. I’d never read anything by Gaskin before but now I intend to read a few more. It was intriguing, unexpected and enjoyable. Yes, there was far too much information about distilling whiskey. But in the context of their livelihood, it made sense, you know? It was a rather dry topic though, one that I tended to skip through, to get to the actual story. The STORY though. Sigh of happiness. I had the ending figured all wrong, but readily admit that it was far better, and more satisfying than I had come up with. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers as it is a darker, aka ‘gothic’ novel. There are only innuendos of a scandalous nature, but Gaskin kept it clean even in that. I fully intend to read it again. If you want a book that will surprise you (and you’re willing to sift through the whiskey aspect), find a copy of this book.

Heart of Wilderness by Janette Oke –  After days of anguished travel, George McMannus arrives to decide what to do with his only grandchild who is suddenly an orphan. He’s not sure just what to do with three year old Kendra Marty, after all, the life of a trapper up in the wilderness isn’t the best place to raise a child. But their hearts connect quickly and George knows that he has to try. He and his granddaughter belong together.

~I hadn’t read this book in years but I fondly remembered it. The fun thing about coming back to books you read as a young teen – early twenties is the different perspective you now have when you read them. Reading of the tragedy that brought young Kendra and ‘Papa Mac’ (as she calls him) together, and better realizing the struggle that he had in caring for her, etc etc through the years. As usual, the faith aspect was well done and both their development was good. I love Oke’s work as it’s a light read but still pulls you into the world and shares nuggets of truth. Highly recommend for teen readers on up.

Sons and Soldiers : The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson – This is the story of the German Jews who escaped Germany in the 1930s, grew up in the U.S., joined the Army and became an elite group called the Ritchie Boys.  They were specially trained in interrogation techniques and used their boyhood knowledge of Germany’s language and customs. In small groups, the Ritchie Boys were sent with each major combat unit in Europe, gathering crucial intelligence and interrogating prisoners.

~I couldn’t get a book more different than the previous ones, could I? This one took me a while to get through, but it was written in a way that you wanted and needed to know how the boys made it through the war – and if they connected with their families again. Because of the content, I’d only recommend this for older readers.

At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald, Retold by Dan Larsen – It’s a dreary life in Victorian England but young Diamond is a ray of sunshine for those around him. When he meets the North Wind one night, he goes on an incredible adventure. She takes him over oceans, soaring over cities and even above the clouds. But his life is changed forever when she takes him to the back of the North Wind.

~This was a childhood read that I pulled out of storage after thinking about it for a few months. It was just about as delightful as I remembered, honestly. I enjoyed the lessons that young Diamond learned and the twist at the end! Sigh. I had completely forgotten about it. This is a great book for young readers, actually my edition is from the “Young Readers Christian Library”. 

The Fires of Heaven (book 5 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan – With the seals holding the Great Lord of the Dark in his prison weakening, Rand al’Thor knows he needs to strike a heavy blow at the enemy. But his plans are weakened when his allies are divided and fighting each other. Even the Aes Sedai are caught in a civil war. How can he defeat the Enemy while dealing with all of this, and struggling to maintain his sanity, his identity against the madness that’s coming?

Once again, I got completely sucked into Jordan’s elaborate world. 900 pages starts to go fast when you just can’t put it down. Watching Rand battle for his own sanity while still trying to strategize and scheme with the best of them; seeing Mat fight the pull of ta’averen, and accidentally display his own struggles to not get pulled into the past; all of the girls’ individual struggles to attain their goals —- ahhhhh. The level of plotting that just one of these novels takes has got to be unbelievable. There was a little more… sensual …context in this book that I could have done without. As usual, this is me we’re talking about. 

 

Currently Reading:

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier (yes, I’m reading it again!)

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

 

To Read: 

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

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

 

~Laura

Love Comes Softly Series Review

9 May

This is one of those series that is very dear to my heart. I grew up reading this set of books and am currently trying to find/buy the last two books in the matching 2-in-1. Wish me luck. I’ve tried once and they sent me just a copy of book 7… Eesh. Anyway, that’s not why you’re here!

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If you’ve been around SGL for a while, you know that I enjoy Janette Oke’s books for their themes of faith, realistic trials and warm fuzzies that you end up with. I’ll share those posts with you at the end of this review.

I’ll also state very quickly that, 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. Thankfully, as these are Oke novels, there isn’t anything to be worried about in that instance. I started reading this series when I was, oh, about 12? Is that about right, Mom? =)

The series starts out with Marty losing her husband in a terrible accident and having to make the tough decision to marry widower Clark Davis so she has a way to survive the winter. The deal he offered her was, if she’d be a mama to his young daughter, he’d pay her passage back east come spring. But, wonderfully, these two hurting people fall in love and the series follows their growing family and the celebrations and trials they go through. Times weren’t easy for these pioneers, stuck out in the middle of the prairie, far from civilization. Their sincere faith finds them with a secure foundation through all they go through – and trust me, there’s many trials that hit me in the gut as I read them!

You might recognize this from the tv series of the same name (I especially love the first one. I think they portrayed Clark perfectly.), but as with most shows, they changed the story quite a bit! So if that’s put you off of reading them, don’t worry – you don’t truly know the whole series.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I highly recommend this series for younger reader on up. It’s a touching read that will stay with you.

Other books by Janette Oke:

Seasons of the Heart

Roses for Mama

~I have to admit that I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed more of her books! I have such a stack of them that… well, this will just have to be remedied!

If you like Oke’s books, you’ll love:

Series Review – Tucker Mills Trilogy

California Pioneer Series by Elaine Schulte

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The Collection

Do you enjoy novels of the pioneers? I’m thinking more and more that I’d like to write at least one, myself. There’s something about novels set in that time, isn’t there? If you like Janette Oke, be on the lookout for more of her books being reviewed here! Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen on my stories that I’m currently reading two novels that will be reviewed as soon as I finish them! I think you’ll like them, I’m enjoying them so far.

~Laura

~As a side note, I just took back book 8 to the library yesterday. YESTERDAY. I’ve had it for two weeks and never thought to take a series shot until the book was gone. Sigh.~

Series Review: Seasons of the Heart

8 Aug

I’m sure you know by now that I enjoy Janette Oke’s novels – Roses for Mama   being one of my favorites. Recently I was wanting a light read (I believe it was while I was in the midst of Hero of Ages – yes, that review is coming next week!) and pulled the first of this series off the shelf. I don’t remember the last time I read this series although I’m guessing it’s been more than five years.

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Janette Oke changed up her normal style with this series. It’s written in first person – and the main character is a young boy. Joshua Jones has been raised by his Aunt Lou, Grandpa and Uncle Charlie. The series follows his growing up – in faith, age and love – as times change and they live through the Great Depression. Each book is absolutely delightful. The situations make you alternately laugh out loud, sniff a little and sigh happily.

By the end of the series, I want to stay up late with Grandpa and Uncle Charlie while they drink coffee, go fishing with Gramps, go on a sleigh ride and sit and sip tea with Aunt Lou.

 

Check out the books on Goodreads

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My collection of Oke’s books

I believe I first read this series as a young teen – possibly even a pre-teen – so can definitely recommend them for younger readers as well! Oke fills her books with good theology and I am always convicted about how I am living out my own faith, when I read her stories. This series is a must read!

~Tip : If you like Lori Wick or Beverly Lewis, you’ll like Janette Oke!

~I was searching through past book reviews in the midst of writing this one (score one for me for getting distracted!) when I skimmed through this review and knew I had to share it again! I have actually been wanting to read several of these books again too. 

~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.

Happy Reading, Laura

July 2017 Book Review

1 Aug

Hello hello! I read quite a bit this month – which always makes me happy. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book is there?

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – While set in a sleepy town in Virginia, the events that take place in Scout Finch’s childhood, rock the residents of the town.

– I hadn’t read this book since high school and since I seem to be on a classic kick this year, I pulled it off the shelf! I feel like opinions on this novel are very divided – either it’s loved or hated. Well. I’m on the loved it side – I do not know why it took over 10 years for me to read it again! I enjoyed  Lee’s descriptions – the sleepy street, the moonlight on the trees, the rabid dog making its way down the street – they were so vivid I could see them. I think everyone should read this book at least once.  (Now I want to read Go Set a Watchman)

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson – A full review of this great trilogy will be coming next month! (I promise. the wait will be worth it.)

Seasons of the Heart series by Janette Oke – Watch for a full review of this in the next few weeks!

When God Doesn’t Fix it by Laura Story

Currently Reading:

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Anathema by Colleen Coble

On my To-Read List:

One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – I finally picked up my own copy of this book. I’m excited to read it (I’ve been doing an audio version) and finally finish it!

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

 

Book Review – October 2016

28 Oct

 

Hello readers! Thank you for coming by SGL! It means a lot that you’re here! Due to feeling pretty awful for most of this month, I haven’t read too much. I expect I won’t read much next month either as I’m planning on doing Nanowrimo – read ‘i’m planning on writing/editing my novel until I can’t stare at the computer screen anymore without burning my eyes out’ , that’s basically what it means, it’s going to be crazy but I’m hoping on getting a LOT of editing done!

 

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Evidence Not Seen 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 not sure how to start my review of this book, the words keep swirling in my brain. It was a well-written book that I would recommend for sure. The nature of it keeps it from being a light read, instead it is one that will tear your heart out. At the same time it made me appreciate some of the things that we take for granted – showers for instance. It took me a month to read (thank goodness for being able to renew from the library!) 

The Color of the Star book 2 of The Price of Liberty by Gilbert Morris – Jordan Simms was raised by her rather eccentric aunt on the wrong side of town in Liberty, Georgia. No matter how sweet she is, that fact alone is enough to make her unsuitable for Billy Christmas, according to Billy’s parents. They have someone else in mind, a girl from a prominent, wealthy family. But Billy doesn’t want the life his parents have planned, so he joins the Marines and fights on the bloody battlefields of Guadalcanal. Halfway across the world, Jordan and Billy meet again, changing both their lives forever.

~I enjoyed Jordan’s story more than I did Billy’s, although I can’t quite say why that is. I liked how we stepped back in time, in Liberty , and ran across Ben from the first book, as a youngster, and met many other characters from the first book – getting to know them better. I’m hoping each book in the series does this!

Maire by Linda Windsor –  In Ireland in the fifth century the light of Christ was spreading – thanks in huge part to the druids who started seeking truth. During this time of change, two warriors stand against evil. Rowan of Emrys, a leader of his tribe and repentant warrior and Maire, warrior queen of Gleannmara. As these two leaders form an unlikely and unplanned bond, they face the evil druid, Morlach  who is determined to have Maire and Gleannmara and Rowan’s older brother who sold him into slavery as a boy.

~I thought I hadn’t read this book in such a long time and just found evidence that I read it in January of this year…so much for my memory. Ahem. Anyway, this is one of my FAVORITES. I love Rowan’s testimony in his daily actions; Maire’s struggle to understand her new husband and his faith; and the way Windsor weaves an engrossing story of light vs. dark. 

Currently Reading:

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. 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.

~I was so excited when my OH bought this for a class of his, I’d been wanting to read it! I’m about halfway through it and the information is intriguing. I’m enjoying it!  

Roses for Mama by Janette Oke – After both their parents die, Angela and Thomas are left in charge of their younger siblings. Angela struggles as the responsibility gets harder, on how to raise them the way their mother would have wanted.

~I have grown up reading this book and I love it as much now as I did the first time I read it. Oke creates characters that become so real, and worlds that I always want to visit. I wanted a light story that I could focus on with a severe migraine and this fit the bill! 

 

What are you reading lately? 

~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.

Series Review – Rocky Mtn. Memories

13 May

Hello readers!

It’s been fun going through my shelves and deciding what series to read next to share with you guys! Trust me, I’ve got several series just begging to be shared here!

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As with most Lori Wick books, I grew up reading this series and will admit that the first one is still my favorite. It just might be my favorite of all her books, honestly. I also had a few ‘writer aha’s ‘ while reading this series this time around – you don’t have to write a complex story ( i’m looking at you Tolkien) and move your story along with the dialogue. These are pretty basic writing things here of course but I tend to get so focused on the one conversation that I don’t look ahead and tie in what I want to happen, in the conversation. And, when reading Tolkien, it’s been easy to compare the complexities of Middle Earth with my little universe, but it’s ok! Wick is a hugely popular author who’s been getting published since 1989 (!! for more info on her, check it out!). Just imagine that. 27 years! I’m in awe now that I looked it up.

Ahem.

Anyway, let’s get to it, shall we?

Where The Wild Rose Blooms – book 1 – Clayton Taggart loves his home in the high mountains of Colorado where he mines with his father.  But he dreams of one day becoming a teacher and getting out of the dark, dangerous mines. When he meets Jackie Fontaine, a beautiful, strong-willed beauty from the east, he only wants to tease her. But as time passes, they fall for each other.  Then an accident happens and Jackie keeps it a secret from Clay – will she be able to move past her fear and let Clay back in?

 

~ Sigh. This is a tender romance full of faith in love and Christ. I have loved the name Clayton ever since I first read this book and am in the sloooow process of convincing my OH that we should name our (very) future son that. =) 

 

Whispers of Moonlight- book 2 – Rebecca runs away after rumors reach her ears that her husband only married her for her father’s ranch. She’s confused and hurt but can’t believe Travis could love her. She starts a new life for herself but struggles through each tiring day.   Travis can’t believe Rebecca would leave him, hadn’t they had a good marriage, short though it was? His anger carries him for years but then his whole outlook changes and he starts praying for his wife. When she contacts him, he sets off to find her and bring her home.      Rebecca finds herself back at the ranch with Travis but he’s changed since she left and she struggles to make sense of everything that happened. Can she really let go of her fear and pride and let him love her?

~Ah! This book. This. Book. 

To Know Her by Name – book 3 – Mckay Harrington isn’t sure what to make of the woman taking care of him up in the Colorado hills. He’d tracked and killed an outlaw, but in the process he’d gotten shot as well. Now he was laid up with only this mysterious woman. When he’s finally healed enough to get back to work, he’s sure he’ll never see her again. But an unexpected encounter leads to intrigue, faith and love.

~I love reading about women who push the boundaries of what is expected/allowed, mainly in western days! 

I enjoy how each one of these books focus on  different aspects of faith – forgiveness, letting go of pride and fear and relying on Him. It even prompted a good conversation with my OH. And if a christian romance novel sparks theological discussion, it’s a keeper in my book.

These can be read separately but  you do get to see the previous characters in the next books, which is always fun. I highly recommend this series, it is delightful and honestly, I got through each book in two or three days probably, I just couldn’t put them down!

*there was no slight meant on Tolkien, I am amazed at his writing skill. I mean, it’s hard to put down The Two Towers! My revelation is that I DON’T have to write like that, which is good, because if I did, I’d give up now. *

*you might notice that I had to get book number 2 from the library! I couldn’t believe it when I realized I only had 1 and 3!!*

*UPDATE: This series has 4 books! I can’t believe I forgot that! From what I remember when I read it years ago it is just as enjoyable as the other 3! It’s called Promise me Tomorrow. 

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