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Book Review – Dec 2015

4 Jan

So I admit that I completely forgot about doing this post last month! Oy vay. And then I realized that I also have forgotten to do the Heart of India series review. Oy Vay times two.

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But! I completed my reading challenge on Goodreads! And just in the last few days of December too – click here if you want to see all that I read (and subsequently, all I reviewed here on SGL)

~I have added links to each book to amazon if you want to get one of these books for your very own! Thanks for supporting my blog. ~

God-Fearers – Gentiles and the God of Israel -by Toby Janicki – How do non-Jews participate in the modern revival of the Messianic Jewish? This book  brings together what is known on late Second-Temple Era Judaism and early Christianity to answer this question, and to introduce  those first non-Jewish believers, called God-Fearers.

I reviewed this last month, and my opinion stands now that I’ve finished it!

Chateau of Echoes by Siri L. Mitchell – Frederique Farmer owns her own castle that she’s turned into a bed and breakfast. She doesn’t know that the diaries of a fifteenth-century girl are about to upset her entire life.  Soon she hires a college student and agrees to an American writer being a long-term guest.What happens is more intrigue and possibilities than she ever imagined.

I’m not sure if there is Mitchell novel that I love more than this one. Seriously. I mean, put together reading, writing, cooking, mystery and medieval times? YES. There is some talk of intimacy throughout – it is very delicately put (i mean, come on, I’M reading it) but I do like to tell when it’s present. 

Beauty by Robin Mckinley – Beauty had never had the grace and beauty of her sisters but she tried to make up for it in other ways. Her father was a gentle soul and never noticed the differences between them. But when he came home one day with a story of an enchanted castle and its terrible owner, along with the promise he had had to make, Beauty knows that she is the only one who can go and fulfill the promise. She alone must go to the castle, and to the Beast.

I feel like I’ve been talking about this book for ages without actually having reviewed it here on SGL. I adore this book. Mckinley’s worlds are fantastic – when Beauty is with her family, and then in the castle with the Beast. I never get tired of it. In fact, I still demand quiet in certain parts of the book, savoring them as if it was the first time I’d read it. She wrote another version of this fairy tale and I like it as well but not near as much as this one.

To be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin – This has been acknowledged as the classic guide – full of information and daily inspiration – to Jewish attitudes, law and philosophy. From Shabbat to Succot, dietary laws to family life, birth to death and mourning, this book shines the light on how to live a devout life.

I will admit that I’m struggling getting through this one. Nothing against the book itself, though. While it is ‘meatier’ than God-Fearers was, it is still very well written. I think it intimidates me a little bit, (yes, books can intimidate!!!) and that alone makes it hard to pick up. I do look forward to working my way through it though.

Under Eastern Stars  and Kingscote (Heart of India series books 2 and 3) by Linda Chaikin — I am going to review these as a whole series.  You do not want to miss it, I enjoy this series so so much.

I can’t believe that I read 5 (and started another) books during the crazy month of December! We made another trip to Powell’s bookstore (miles and miles and stories and stories of any type of book you could want!) so I have added these three books to my to-read list for January:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Dragonhaven by Robin Mckinley (I just cannot get enough of her books!)

It’s always fun to have something new to read, and I now have a little pile growing.

Did you get any books for Christmas or Hanukkah? 

~Laura

 

Book Review – Nov. 2015

1 Dec

Hello friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that the transition back to work hasn’t been too painful. That was always sooo hard for me, going back to work the Monday after a holiday (working in a daycare/preschool, we always had weekends off). I always made sure to wear cute but comfy clothes, have a hot drink in my hand and had a lazy day planned – dance parties or play doh were hits. There are certainly days where I miss working with kids but not today! I got to walk my two dogs, worked in the backyard and watched some Christmas cartoons. All that with the thought that I really needed to finish this post, ha!

Thank goodness I was on top of it last week, while on vacation ironically, and wrote the reviews already! So here you go, fellow book-addicts, some great reads for you!

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Highland Crossing – Pamela Griffin – Join four women as they cross from Scotland to North Carolina, where a brooch unites them in their search for love and a new life.

  • Seona hides on board the ship bound for N.C. with one goal – to stay away from the cargo master. To get caught by him will mean getting sent back to Scotland – which will lead to her death. The brooch is a family heirloom, will she be able to find the one it’s meant for?
  • Fiona travels to retrieve the brooch, but ends up on the whipping block. Can she trust the man who rescues her?
  • Seren sells the brooch in order to achieve her dream – to open a confectionery. But will it be worth it? Or will she have sold the heirloom for nothing?
  • Brynna finally has the brooch in her possession, but then it’s stolen. Will she be able to reclaim it, or will she lose something far more valuable?

-These were short, fun reads that, as with most short stories, I would have loved if they were longer! I enjoyed the fact that it was one family through the generations – with the brooch often being the item that changed their goals/focus/whatever you want to call it.

Spindle’s End – Robin Mckinley – On her name-day, Princess Briar-Rose is cursed by Pernicia to one day prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a never-ending sleep. But Katriona, a young fairy, kidnaps her in order to save her from her fate. She takes the princess to her small village and there, her aunt and her raise Briar-Rose where no one knows her true identity. But Pernicia won’t easily give up the chance to exact revenge for a defeat over four hundred years old.

-Mckinley once again delivers an enchanting re-telling of a fairy-tale. I picked this up at Powell’s Bookstore when my OH and I went last month and the risk paid off! I have heard that some of her re-tellings aren’t as good as Beauty (if you haven’t read that one, you simply must.) but I enjoyed this one! What I didn’t like about it was the loong detailed intro about the world they live in – and how the magic affects it and how they deal with it. It was a bit too much for me, I had to keep myself from skimming to get to the actual story. But once that was done, I loved every bit of it.

Hidden Places – Lynn Austin – Eliza has wanted a home all her life. After 10 years of having one, she isn’t about to let it go now. Wyatt Orchards is hers and her kids’. But keeping it up is more than she can handle. Help comes in the unexpected form of a hobo, who shares similarities to her late husbands’ lost brother. The pain and heartbreak in the farmhouse is overflowing, will it take a hold of Eliza as well?

– This is a novel that pulls at your heartstrings! I did a partial review last month but by the time I finished it I decided it’ll for sure be on the re-read list! Austin takes you through several of the characters backstories in detail which were like short stories all on their own! I loved that. The way she tied them all together was fantastic. Be prepared to not want to do anything but READ this book!

God-Fearers – Gentiles and the God of Israel – Toby Janicki – How do non-Jews participate in the modern revival of the Messianic Jewish? This book  brings together what is known on late Second-Temple Era Judaism and early Christianity to answer this question, and to introduce  those first non-Jewish believers, called God-Fearers.

-I set a goal of reading five Jewish focused- books this year. Sadly this is only my second! But, it is really good so far and written so that I can understand it! I don’t know about you, but I’ve found a lot of theology books to be hard to understand/follow. I highly recommend this for anyone wanting an intro of how Messianic Judaism and non-Jews can blend and worship together.

Silk –  Heart of India series #1 – Linda Chaikin – In the late 1700’s in India, Coral Kendall is heiress to Kingscote Silk Plantation. Breaking all caste rules, she adopts an orphaned Indian boy. Their love becomes that of mother and son but when he is abducted and then a body is found in the river, Coral’s heart is broken.

But could there be a reason to believe that the boy’s identity was not what she believed? Could he still be alive?  In order to find out the truth, Coral will have to trust one man – a man with more mysteries in his past than she can imagine.

-ACK! (that was an exclamation of excitement just so you know.) I have read these since I was a teenager and love them every. single. time. As I’ve grown I’ve picked up different aspects of the story. This is a trilogy, so don’t expect it to conclude quickly. I actually can’t remember where this novel ends!

(I will be doing a series review once I’ve read all of them but I wanted to share this one now)!

Happy December and Happy Reading!

~Laura

~If you purchase a book from Amazon by following a link here on SGL, I will get a percentage of the sale =) ~

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