Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: Oceans Apart

Oceans Apart Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads

A riveting story of secret sin and the healing power of forgiveness. Airline pilot Connor Evans and his wife, Michele, seem to be the perfect couple living what looks like a perfect life. Then a plane goes down in the Pacific Ocean. One of the casualties is Kiahna Siefert, a flight attendant Connor knew well. Too well. Kiahna’s will is very clear: before her seven-year-old son, Max, can be turned over to the state, he must spend the summer with the father he’s never met, the father who doesn’t know he exists: Connor Evans. Now will the presence of one lonely child and the truth he represents destroy Connor’s family ? Or is it possible that healing and hope might come in the shape of a seven-year-old boy?

My Review

Karen Kingsbury always has a way of taking relevant issues and building stories that make you think. This book, Oceans Apart was no exception. From the moment I opened this book, I knew it was going to be a special story. I was right! To take such an issue as infidelity and it's consequences, and weave a story of redemption and grace, just wow!!!

The main character's Connor and Max, had no idea of the existence of each other. Connor's marriage was the picture of perfection, until tragic circumstances caused his world to collide with Max's. The heartbreak of infidelity combined with the very visible consequences in the form of a child, brought Connor to his knees. Not only that, his wife had to examine herself and make some difficult choices regarding the future. In the end, God's grace and mercy allowed the entire family to work through the difficulty and come out on the other side whole and restored.

From a Christian Perspective

There's not much more that I can say other than what the author portrays in the book. We will face many difficult situations in life. We have a choice to face them with God's grace or try to solve them through our own understanding. A verse that is repeated throughout the book is Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD." This pretty much sums it up. Either we are going to trust His ways or we are going to fail using our ways.

Love and Blessings!

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: Once Upon a Summer

Once Upon a Summer Once Upon a Summer by Janette Oke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Summary from Amazon

Josh Jones realizes his family isn't typical, but it's the only life he's ever known. Aunt Lou, Gramps, Uncle Charlie, Grandpa--they all have shaped the young man he has become. But as he grows into manhood, Josh begins to face important questions about life, love, and faith.

My Review

I enjoyed this historical fiction book. The story is told from the point of view of Josh, who is a young man that lives on a farm. Josh was a very likable boy and I fell in love with him and his spirit. Being a young man, Josh faced a lot of uncertainties and was a little bit loss. Thankfully Aunt Lou, Grandpa, Uncle Charlie and later Gramps were there to help him grow and shape him as a young man. I really enjoyed how this story was just about family and how in times of trial, they work together and become stronger. Throughout the book, I could tell how important each member of this family was to the other. I loved that even the men showed emotion and love in tangible ways. Definitely a nice, sweet read and I look forward to reading more in the series.

From a Christian Perspective

This book falls under the Christian fiction genre. Throughout the book, Josh is fighting with God, seeing Him as an enemy rather than an ally. He has that selfish outlook that many of us have when we forget about grace and look at God as only a giver. As I read the book, I recognized some of Josh's struggles as my own. In the end, Preacher Nat helps Josh to find his way to Christ and freedom from all of the anger and hurt. As Josh wept and confessed, he released those burdens that were weighing him down. He finally experienced the rest Jesus told us about in Matthew 11:28: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

This was a book in my personal collection. I was not compensated to provide a positive review.

Love and Blessings!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review: Song Yet Sung

Song Yet Sung Song Yet Sung by James McBride
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Song Yet Sung

Book Summary:

In the days before the Civil War, a runaway slave named Liz Spocott breaks free from her captors and escapes into the labyrinthine swamps of Maryland’s eastern shore, setting loose a drama of violence and hope among slave catchers, plantation owners, watermen, runaway slaves, and free blacks. Liz is near death, wracked by disturbing visions of the future, and armed with “the Code,” a fiercely guarded cryptic means of communication for slaves on the run. Liz’s flight and her dreams of tomorrow will thrust all those near her toward a mysterious, redemptive fate.

My Review

I had a little difficulty with this book due to the writing style and commentary. I'm used to light flowing writing and this was more poetic and a little heavy. Reading about slavery and the evil associated with it is always difficult for me. With that said, I did end up finishing the book and I liked it.

The character of Liz was very interesting, she was called the Dreamer because of her strange dreams. Her dreams told of an indescribable future, one where young black men are loud and angry. Others where young black men helped others to look towards hope and promise. I thought it was brilliant to tie the past and the present together in this way. It was apparent that those who heard the dream didn't always understand what she was seeing but they knew she was seeing something. For me, the dreams were a sign of hope for the future.

I also found the concept of the code intriguing. When under pressure, people become resourceful or they die. It's long been said that slaves could communicate and send messages faster than the white man could move from plantation to plantation. I love how that was woven into this story. True or not it was a very creative element.

Overall the book struck a chord in me. A desire to know more about the times that are so painful in my history. There is a need to know where we came from in order to teach our children, to guide them, to keep them from falling in to an entirely different form of slavery.

From a Christian Perspective>

There was one passage that really jumped out at me:

"It's God's world. He washes you clean. He makes you whole. He puts rain in your garden and sunshine in your heart. Just pray when you get free, child. Pray for what you done, and what you gonna do." Song Yet Sung, James McBride

That passage really says so much in so few words. We have been washed in the blood, cleansed from our sins, our hearts filled with joy. Prayer is what keeps up connected to Him. We need Him for guidance! We can't move forward without him!

Love & Blessings,

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Review: Summer of Secrets

Summer of Secrets Summer of Secrets by Charlotte Hubbard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Summary>
Summer of Secrets

Welcome to Willow Ridge, Missouri! In this cozy Amish town along the banks of the river, the Old Ways are celebrated at the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café, and love is a gift God gives with grace. . .

Summer Of Secrets

Summer has come to Willow Ridge, but Rachel Lantz is looking forward to a whole new season in her life--marriage to strapping carpenter Micah Brenneman, her childhood sweetheart. When a strange Englischer arrives in the café claiming to be the long-lost sister of Rachel and her twin Rhoda, Rachel feels the sturdy foundation of her future crumbling--including Micah's steadfast love. As the days heat up and tempers flare, Rachel and Micah will learn that even when God's plan isn't clear, it will always lead them back to each other. . .

My Review

It's no secret that I love Amish stories but they can seem to be the same ole same ole. This was not the case with this book. I thought the author did a great job with building the story from start to finish. I was really caught up in the story of Tiffany but the supporting stories were just as good. The author did a great job of bringing the English and Amish together and weaving the stories around the two cultures. The stories were well developed and the characters were believeable. When Miriam and the Bishop had their disagreement, I was really rooting for Miriam. And I had to smile at Rachel's overreactions when it came to Micah. The details were great and really helped me to imagine the scenes. I look forward to reading more books in this series.

From a Christian Perspective
I thought this book was a good example of Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

There were so many ways that Miriam could have gone when challenged by the Bishop but she chose to obey God. Also, Micah felt the Lord was calling him to reach out to Tiffany, and he listened to the Lord even knowing it could draw the Bishop's anger. I think they both exemplified what it means to lay down our life and receive the Lord's will. I thought there were many other examples in the book but these stood out for me.

Love and Blessings

View all my reviews

Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: Ties that Bind

Ties that Bind Ties that Bind by Cindy Woodsmall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ties that Bind

Book Summary

Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.
Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

Ties That Bind is the first novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series

I received an ARC of this book which in no way influenced my opinion or review.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. This book was all about family, the love of Christ and doing what is right even when it hurts. The lead up to the stories of Ariana and Skylar was excellent. They were well developed character and the author did a great job of building the connection between the two young women. The supporting characters provided great body to the story and allowed me to really immerse myself into the story. What was also interesting was the element of intrigue surrounding Quill and Ariana's family. I thought that played so well into the outcome of the story. Ariana's decision as she was in a difficult situation brought joy to my heart.

From a Christian Perspective

In this book I met one family who lived to glorify Christ by their actions and beliefs. On the other side was a splintered family with no spiritual direction. How the author brought this together was amazing. She really allowed the love of Christ and of others to shine through in this story. Ariana's parents faith was so strong and showed how you need to believe and trust that God's Will is right and true all the time. Even though we don't always understand it, it is still true. Ariana's story reminds me of Joseph who was also torn away from his family (Gen 37). Even in challenging circumstances, Joseph was able to rise above by trusting in and relying on God.

Overall, I would recommend this book to lovers of Christian Fiction as well as those who love a great story.

Love and Blessings!

View all my reviews

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Defy

Defy Defy by Sara B. Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Book Summary

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. It was fast moving, had a nice plot and lots of energy. From the beginning I was drawn to Alexa. Although the introduction to her character was brief, it was enough to get you interested in what was going to happen. Throughout the story and as the author introduced more characters, I was completely captivated. The scene with the prince after the first fight gave me a hint that something was going to happen between them! The description of the countries and the journeys through them were so descriptive, I think the author did a great job building suspense. It wasn't until the end that I finally put everything together. While the story's ending was not what I would have wished, it was expertly presented. I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

From a Christian Perspective

In Galations 5:19-21 Paul advises us that sorcery is among sinful practices. Being aware of this, I was very conscious about how sorcery was used in this book. This book denounced "black" sorcerer's as evil. I believe based on what we know about the origins of the word and the practices that were common in Paul's time that the black sorcerers were accurately portrayed. But we need to be wary of so called "good" sorcerers as well. Sorcery means the person has the power to determine good or bad and we as Christian knows that the power reside in the Spirit of Christ which resides in us. With those warnings in mind, I didn't find much else to keep me from recommending this book.

This is a book that I received from NetGalley for the purpose of review. I was not compensated or instructed to provide a positive review.

Love and Blessings!

View all my reviews

Friday, October 2, 2015

Would you Stand?

I often ask myself... Would You Stand?

Peter 3:3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

 He walked into a room,with a gun. Consumed by evil, looking to extinguish good.
Matthew 10:22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
He asked them a question, are you a Christian?

Ephesians 6:14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 

They stood firm and they said YES, I am a Christian.  And he shot them. 

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Would you stand?  Would you boldly profess Christ as your Savior?  Would you face the evil in this world, standing firm?  Even when faced with death?

2Timothy 2:12 if we endure,
    we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
    he will also disown us;

My desire is to reign with Christ.  When I accepted his Spirit into me, I died to myself and I began to live for Him.  If I live for Him, I die for Him, to live with Him for all eternity!

I pray for those of us who must face the evil of this world daily.   I pray that we are able to stand firm so that in the day of Christ we may rise and reign with our King.  I pray for the families of those who stood for Christ, that they understand by choosing to die, they chose to live.  Yes the gunman was right, they would see God this day!  And for those who are in Christ it's a joyous occasion, not a death sentence.  He didn't realize that by singling out Christians, he himself was glorifying the One, the Alpha, The Omega, The Risen Savior. 

Zephaniah 1:14a Near is the great day of the Lord,
Near and coming very quickly;
Listen, the day of the Lord!

Love & Blessings!