Rick Denton had spent his life angry and bitter at his stepfather, Art, for some perceived transgressions Art committed against Rick, namely marryingRick Denton had spent his life angry and bitter at his stepfather, Art, for some perceived transgressions Art committed against Rick, namely marrying his mom, Leeann. When Art suffers a medical crisis and Rick is called home to care for Art and Leeanne's Christian bookstore, many old feelings surface. Rick is forced to confront his emotional baggage and face past hurts that are holding him in bondage from living a full life. Ultimately, REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS Is a story of redemption, faith, and hope. 4 stars....more
Lexie is a Christian wife and mother who is trying to live her life for the glory of God. But she is facing the biggest challenge of her life. Her marLexie is a Christian wife and mother who is trying to live her life for the glory of God. But she is facing the biggest challenge of her life. Her marriage is in trouble. Her husband is an atheist who does not understand Lexie’s beliefs. This difference in beliefs makes for high tension in their marriage. Compounding the stress is Hugh’s job. He is working longer hours in hopes of receiving a coveted promotion.
What neither of them realize is that something more sinister is working against them. Something dark. Something evil that wants to tear apart their marriage. Something that will stop at nothing to ensure that Hugh never comes to believe in God.
I truly enjoyed this book. The author created this amazing character with a in-depth and detailed back story and she is only briefly mentFrom my blog.
I truly enjoyed this book. The author created this amazing character with a in-depth and detailed back story and she is only briefly mentioned in the Bible! I have a few little quibbles about some things, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but overall this is a richly drawn story and one I would definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys historical/biblical fiction.
In the beginning we meet Kiya, a young girl whose village is overrun by rebels and her parents are killed. When she and her fellow villagers are later freed by Egyptian soldiers and taken to the city of Heliopolis to live, Kiya cannot believe her luck. She continues to miss her village, but over time she comes to accept where she is and actually likes it.
Soon, Kiya is adopted as a priestess-in-training and given the name Lady Asenath. She has many encounters with Joseph throughout her young life and is immediately drawn to his strength and to his God. I found these parts of the novel very sweet. To think that they were smitten with each other years before they actually got married and were star-crossed lovers, so to speak, was an interesting way to approach the character of Asenath.
I think the author took a bit of liberty with the story of Joseph and Potiphar. The Bible tells us that Potiphar “burned with anger” (Genesis 39:19, NIV) after hearing about Joseph supposedly taking advantage of his wife (even though she advanced on him and he ran from her), so he threw him in prison. In the fictional account of Asenath, Potiphar has a soft heart for Joseph and does what he can to help Asenath see Joseph in prison and to help Joseph however he can. I do not see his fondness for Joseph backed up by scripture, so I had a hard time believing it. Now, I do understand that this is fiction, but I think the main themes of the Bible should remain intact. If Potiphar “burned with anger”, I cannot see him softening toward Joseph and helping him while he was in prison. On the other hand, since we know literally nothing about Asenath, I had no problem with the back story that the author created. The Joseph/Potiphar relationship was my only quibble with the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It is easy to read and I found myself anxious to get back into the story each night. It is a rather quick read, too, at less than 200 pages. I would definitely recommend it....more
The synopsis above doesn't tell me much, so I had no idea what to expect from this memoir when I started reading it. I know it's about a marriage on tThe synopsis above doesn't tell me much, so I had no idea what to expect from this memoir when I started reading it. I know it's about a marriage on the rocks. Apparently her husband left, but now wants her back, so Jamie lets him back in despite misgivings from her family. With that intriguing premise, I began Lost Edens.
This memoir is about co-dependency and emotional abuse. It's about a man who manipulates his wife into thinking everything is her fault. It's about a woman who is so enraptured by the idea of a perfect marriage and family that she will do anything to please her husband, including giving up her own sense of self-worth. I was appalled by the actions of Jamie's husband, Ben. I was flabbergasted by Jamie's reactions to Ben's obvious manipulations. I'm sure it is easy for myself, as the reader, to look into this situation and see how obvious the emotional abuse is. But, when you are in it, it is not so black and white. When you are in it, you just want to please your husband. You assume that what he says must be true, so you try to constantly be better, do better, revolve your life around him so maybe he will love you and want to stay with you. Unfortunately, I can easily see how a woman could get caught up in this type of relationship. It's sad yet frightening.
I had some issues with the author's writing. At times, it wasn't clear. For example, I had to read this passage multiple times and I still didn't understand it until a bit later in the chapter:
"I'm anxious to get moving, and I don't really want my brother to know where I'll be living. Either Ben can know where I live and no one else, or my family can know and Ben can't. I am choosing Ben. I am choosing my husband."
When I first read this, I thought Ben was her brother. From the end of the first sentence, "I don't really want my brother to know where I'll be living" and the beginning of the second sentence, "Either Ben can know...", I assumed Ben is her brother's name. And I was very confused - is her brother her husband? Shortly after, it became more clear that Ben is not her brother, but the wording of some passages like this gave me moments of confusion and interrupted the flow of the story. Other times, there would be a flashback in the middle of a scene and I wasn't sure if I was reading something that was happening now or something that happened in the past. The transitions were unclear to me.
This is a fast-moving story that will make you shake your head in disbelief. You will be angry and saddened all at the same time. But I have no doubt that relationships like this are very common. It's only through books like this that attention can be brought to the issue and people can begin to recognize the signs of an emotionally abusive situation. I commend the author for her bravery in telling her story.
Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publicist for review purposes....more
“Whatever has happened in your life up until now, whatever you have believed in, hoped for, or dreamed of, is in the past. A new meaningful life awaits you. You have the opportunity to clearly see it. I have written this book as if the two of us are about to walk through a gate into a deeper experience of life’s meaning. All you have to do is open the gate.” – pgs. 15-16
In her book Where Am I Going? Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer, Michelle Cromer provides a roadmap of her own individual spiritual journey and what she has learned while passing through seven distinct stages of inner transformation:
The Wake-Up Call Denial and Fear The Search for Deeper Spiritual Meaning The Dark Night of the Soul Spiritual Surrender The Clarity Moment Where Am I Going?
Although Cromer admits in the book that she was raised a Christian and there are moments throughout the book where this comes out, this book does not strongly follow any one religious faction. There is mention of God many times; but there is also reference to the “Higher Power” as well. Cromer’s book isn’t about what you call this supreme being; rather it focuses on an individual’s journey to understanding their own spirituality and how one can find this sense in oneself. Personally, there are some things in this book that sounded a bit New Age-y to me (mysticism for one) and some things that seemed a bit contradictory, but there were a lot more things that made a lot of sense (prayer, meditation) and made me stop to ponder my own spiritual transformation.
There was one thing that the author revealed at the end of the book that perplexed me and is probably due to our differing theology. I am a Christian. I believe that there is one path to God and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Based on what the author wrote through the course of her book, I was led to believe that the author is also a Christian (pg. 130, specifically — “I am a woman, I am a mother, and I am a Christian.”).
Yet, at the very end of the book, she writes: ”I understand now that there are many paths to God and enlightenment.” (pg. 156, emphasis mine). Perhaps on her spiritual quest, she came to a new understanding of her Christianity. If that’s the case, I would have liked to have seen that development through through the book. Instead, I am left wondering.
For those who do not identify with any known religion, this is a fantastic book to help you get started with your spiritual journey (or at least getting you started thinking about it!). For many people, just thinking about it raises the stress level. But, Cromer has written a book that will appeal to everyone. For those who shy away from texts that are specific to one denomination or another, this one is universal. It is not specific to Christians or Buddhists or Hindus or anyone else (although all are mentioned in some fashion or another). It can be of help to those who do identify with a “religion” and those who don’t. For me, I would have liked something geared more toward the Christian perspective, but I still got some great things from this book. There is a lot here that will make you stop and think. It is definitely a book that can and should be read more than once.
Check out some of my favorite quotes from the book below.
Quotes from the Book:
“I will never forget waking up in Kathmandu and not having any idea who I was. None. Zero. Zip. I don’t mean like Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity or one of those soap opera stars who gets bumped on the head and can’t figure out who she is. No, I’m talking about something far worse; waking up to the horrible reality that I had no idea who I was or what my life meant. I was stuck in the middle of a meaningless existence. And I wanted out.” – pgs. 8-9
“… Shouldn’t life be about more than just working, trying to make money, buying stuff, and traveling? What if there’s more to life than what we experience with our five senses?” – pg. 9
“…because once you begin to ask deep questions of yourself, you activate and open a dormant part of your brain, and like Pandora’s box, it is a part that may never be closed again.” – pgs. 14-15
“I discovered I was entering a period in my life that I call the Age of Meaning…it is the time in your life when you finally “wake up” and ask questions that propel you to discover who you were born to be, leading you to an understanding of your life’s deeper purpose.” – pg. 15
“You don’t have to be a person of a particular faith to know that there is more going on in the world than just the activities we can experience with the five senses.” – pgs. 25-26
“If we could order up a life like we do food in a diner, I am sure most of us would request, ‘One good life, please, and hold the pain.’” – pg. 41
“Trusting your feelings is the first step to processing them. Your feelings are trying to communicate with you, trying to tell you something. Accept them, own them, and try not to judge them. Feelings may simply be our soul’s way of getting our attention.” –pg. 48
“When I pray, I don’t ask of plead for things, I surrender the need to control the outcome of events.” – pg. 51
“Praying gives me a chance to talk to God, and meditating gives God the chance to talk to me.” – pg. 51
“We search everywhere except for the one place we need to go, deeper into ourselves. Perhaps because deep down we are afraid of who we really are.” – pg. 55
“I think most people try to worship a God that they can define so that God then behaves in a way they can expect, but God is a complete mystery.” – pg. 147
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”...more
It’s like a train wreck that you can’t tear your eyes away from. There were MANY, MANY moments throughout this book thaOriginally reviewed on my blog:
It’s like a train wreck that you can’t tear your eyes away from. There were MANY, MANY moments throughout this book that I said to myself, “I cannot read one more word of this.” It sickened and disgusted me. It’s creepy, disturbing, chilling, and just downright gross. This book will make your skin crawl. I’m not sure how I feel about myself as a person considering I actually read the entire thing. With that said, I’ll get into the rest of the review. . .
Judy McFarland is a kindergarten teacher at the Waldorf School. I knew absolutely nothing about Waldorf Schools before reading this book, so I found this educational philosophy fascinating. According to the author, Waldorf is an anti-consumerist, whole family educational system. The Waldorf model encompasses the entire family unit and does not focus solely on the individual child. When a parent brings their child into Waldorf, the whole family becomes integrated into the system. Families rebuke traditional American culture to the benefit (or detriment?) of their children.
In her 40s, Judy is feeling abandoned by her husband, Russ. He is pursuing is Doctorate and has zero time for the marriage or their children. The author portrays Russ as an insensitive egomaniac, who also happens to have a drug problem. Her daughter, Maggie, is away at college, and rebelling against the Waldorf principles instilled in her since she was a child. Her son, Scott, is a senior in high school and is spending most of his time with his girlfriend, Tally. Desperate for affection and attention, Judy begins an illicit affair with Scott’s sixteen year old friend, Zach.
Yep, you read that right. Because that’s the most logical and reasonable course of action for a 40+ year old woman to take (note my sarcasm!).
Interspersed throughout the book are glimpses of Judy’s past as a ten year old child growing up in West Germany in 1965. These scenes were interesting for me as they made me feel sorry for Judy as the child. I didn’t want to feel sorry for Judy at all. But the things she went through as a child – what she witnessed, what she felt, and what she did – are heartbreaking. You feel for the child who lost her own innocence way too young. Does all of this contribute to her taking up with a 16 year old? I don’t know enough about the psychology of child molestation to know where it stems from and why people do it. I’m not sure if the author was trying to show us why Judy did what she did. I just had a really hard time with feeling sorry for her at all. To me, there’s no excuse at all for a 40 year old woman to have sex with a 16 year old boy. None at all. Nothing in my mind can justify it. Not a horrible childhood. Not a crumbling marriage. Not anything. And if the author was trying to justify it, then that just makes me sick.
Knowing that student-teacher relationships actually occur in real life actually made this book all the more horrifying to me. How innocence can be lost. How intelligent women can turn into child molesters. It makes me sick to my stomach. Having read the book, I still cannot wrap my head around Judy’s actions. Sure her husband is a jerk. I’m sure she’s not the only one who has had an idiot husband. But to turn to a 16 year old boy for affection? I can’t wrap my brain around that decision, even knowing Judy’s history.
Coleman is a masterful writer, that I can say without a doubt. The fact that this book has brought out such strong feelings in me is a testament to her ability to bring out such strong, defined, flawed characters. I can’t say I liked this book, just based on the subject matter, but it’s a book that will provoke strong reactions in you and make you think for days after....more
Josh has lived a difficult life. He and his two older brothers are ripped from the only home they have known when their neglectful parents die in a drJosh has lived a difficult life. He and his two older brothers are ripped from the only home they have known when their neglectful parents die in a drunk driving accident. It may have not been the best home, but it was their home. Trying to keep the boys together proves to be an exercise in futility as they are sent off to different foster homes, only getting to see each other off an on. Then a miracle. A family takes in all of them and they are happy for the first time in their young lives. They make friends. Their foster family truly seems to care for them. Everything is just perfect.
Until a horrible tragedy separates them forever.
Despondent and distrustful of most everyone, Josh ends up living out his teenage years in a home for boys. When he ages out at 18, he begins to try and make a life for himself. Sleeping in homeless shelters or on streets, eating beef jerky for dinner, he works up to three jobs a day in hopes of getting an apartment, a place to call his own.
Trying to get into a more lucrative construction job, Josh heads to a new town. There he meets his supervisor, Mike, who offers him a room to rent in his mom’s house. That decision would change Josh’s life forever. Josh begins to truly live and feel like part of a family; something he feels like he doesn’t deserve.
My heart ached for Josh throughout his story. For any of you contemplating foster care or adoption, I encourage you to read this short book. It gives such an honest and thoughtful portrayal, from a child’s perspective, of what it’s like to live without a family growing up and the destruction it can weave into the soul of a youngster.
Even though this book is classified as Christian Fiction, there is not too much discussion of God in this book, so if you are hesitant to read this book because of the description, I would urge you to give it a chance. There is some talk of going to church and such, but there isn’t a lot of deep spiritual growth in the characters, which is something I was looking for in this type of novel. With that said, I really loved this book and I read it fairly quickly. There is a lot of emotion packed into the ~170 pages, with some surprising twists and turns that were unexpected. Josh’s story is haunting, but so true-to-life for many children. His story is one that will profoundly impact you and stick with you for quite some time.
"As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me. . ." Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.
And so begins Before I Go To Sleep, the debut novel of the oh-so-talented S.J. Watson. Our protagonist is Christine Lucas, a 47 year old woman who suffered a terrible accident twenty years ago that caused an anomaly with her memory - every morning she wakes up not knowing who she is. Some days she wakes thinking she is a little girl; other days she believes she is back in college, before her accident. She never remembers that the man laying beside her in bed is her husband, Ben. Each morning he must remind her who she is, where she is, how old she is, and what happened to her. Post-it notes and pictures cover her bathroom mirror as a reminder of her life.
As the novel opens, Christine receives a phone call from someone named Dr. Nash who tells her that they have been secretly meeting him for quite some time in order to try and regain her memory. She agrees to meet with him. During the course of their meeting, Dr. Nash returns a journal to her, explaining that she has been recording her daily activities and that she may be able to find some of the answers she is looking for in the pages of her writings.
Intrigued, Christine rushes home and begins reading. This is what comprises most of the story - Christine reading back through her life over the past weeks. Some haunting and startling realizations begin to make their way to the surface. Christine is being lied to. Someone she trusts is not telling her the full story. But how will she ever find out the answers when each day begins like the previous one never happened? And who can she trust?
This book is riveting and taut with such undercurrents of psychological tension that you will not be able to put it down until all of the answers are revealed in the shocking conclusion. I absolutely loved this book and it is my favorite of 2011 so far. In the words of Tess Gerritsen, this is “Quite simply the best debut novel I have ever read.” Truly. I couldn't say it any better. Just read the book and see for yourself.
Love on Assignment tells us the early 1900s love story between Charlotte Hale, a woman with a dream of becoming a journalist in a man's world, and DanLove on Assignment tells us the early 1900s love story between Charlotte Hale, a woman with a dream of becoming a journalist in a man's world, and Daniel Wilmont, a Bible professor and religious columnist for the Newport Gazette. Daniel's social reform columns have invoked fury among industrialists.
Charlotte is employed by the Rhode Island Reporter (the direct competitor to the Newport Gazette) as a secretary with dreams of becoming a reporter. When her boss comes to her with a choice assignment - to investigate Professor Wilmont - Charlotte feels that this is her big break. With mounting bills to pay due to her being the prime caretaker of her aging aunt and wheelchair-bound sister, she agrees to the clandestine mission, although niggling doubts creep into the edges of her mind. She goes undercover as the governess for Daniel's two children, Tim and Ruthie.
Daniel is immediately taken by his new governess. With his own secrets, years in the past, but not forgotten, Daniel is finally trying to put the past behind him and move forward with his life.
Charlotte secretly investigates Daniel and uncovers some information about him that makes her rethink everything. In the process she comes to understand the role that God plays in her life.
As these two unlikely characters forge a fragile relationship, built on lies, what will happen when everything comes crashing down around them?
This is a very nice, sweet story. I enjoyed the characters and the tension surrounding the plot kept me turning the pages, anxious to see what would happen next. However, the middle of the book just dragged on and on. Truly, at least 50 pages of it could have been cut out. There was scene after scene of Charlotte saying "I must tell you what I've been hiding!" and Daniel saying "Eh, don't worry about it. It's all good." Okay, so I used my own language there, but you get my drift. It drove me nuts after a while. I just wanted them to get it over with already! Then, the ending wrapped up way too quickly! I wished it was drawn out a bit more. I don't read a lot of romance, but when I do the money scenes are when the hero and heroine finally figure it all out and come together in the end. I just felt like all of the preceeding 300+ page build-up was a bit of a let-down.
What I loved about this book is Charlotte discovering her faith in God. I thought some of the scenes where she was reading the Bible and praying were very sweet. She seemed a bit hesitant, not sure what she should be doing, but hoping it would all work out. Isn't that how we all kind of feel at first? It was inspiring and these scenes were some of my favorites in the novel.
To sum up, this is a nice, tender Christian historical romance that I had a few issues with, but would recommend.
**spoiler alert** When I turned the last page of Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James, I was a bit sad. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel and**spoiler alert** When I turned the last page of Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James, I was a bit sad. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel and I wanted their stories to continue! Lilly Westbrook is a girl after my own heart. God has called her to be a writer. She has penned many dime novels under the pseudonym Fannie Cole as to not draw attention to herself. See, these novels are considered scandalous (even though the people who are claiming they are trashy have not read them – times have not changed much, have they?!). But, anyway… In order to protect her identity and her family’s good name, Lilly hides her writing from everyone close to her.
First and foremost, this is a sweet romance. So, of course, the relationship between Lilly and her beau, Jackson Grail, is what drives the story. The novel opens years in the past with Jackson and Lilly excited to announce their engagement to Lilly’s parents. Jackson, being the insecure boy that he is, overhears a conversation between Lilly’s parents as he is about to walk into the room to ask for their permission to marry their daughter. Of course, this completely changes his mind about the whole thing. So, does he confront them? Well, there wouldn’t really be a story if he did that! Nope, he cuts and runs. Jerk. Maybe I’m too hard on Jackson. He comes from meager stock and feels that he could never provide Lilly with what she deserves. I get it. But, come on! Man up! Lilly is, of course, crushed. But, she picks up and pieces and moves on.
The story picks up years later and we learn that a man of her same social stature, Harlan Santerre, has begun to court her and there is talk of an imminent marriage proposal. It becomes very obvious, very quickly, that these two aren’t a good match. Of course, things get a bit complicated when Jackson returns to the picture, having made his fortune. Things also get a bit hairy when he decides to purchase a publishing company called Jones & Jarman. Do you see where this is going? If you haven’t guessed already, this is Fannie Cole’s publishing company! How will Lilly be able to keep her secret writing life when Jackson is her new boss?
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I did have a couple of small quibbles with it. One is Jackson’s character. I wish he could not have made his fortune and then come back for Lilly. It really made it seem like money was driving his love for Lilly instead of his heart. I was hoping he would have failed and then come crawling back to her, begging for her forgiveness. His character did grow throughout the story and I did end up understanding him in the end, but the whole money thing just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe that is just how things were back in the late 1800s, but why couldn’t he have trusted in Lilly’s love? Why did he have to run away? It just really frustrated me!
Another small issue I had is that the story was wrapped up very oddly, in my opinion. It just didn’t quite connect with how the rest of the story was laid out. Lilly was consumed throughout the entire novel with revealing herself as Fannie Cole. Then, suddenly, her brother makes a stand in his life and she makes a seemingly quick decision that she is okay with outing herself as the infamous authoress? Sorry, that doesn’t jibe with me. There seemed to be no thought that went into the decision other than, “My brother made this huge decision, so I can, too!” Lilly presented herself as this strong, independent woman throughout the entire novel, so this snap decision just didn’t connect with me.
This is a very nice, sweet Christian historical romance that I really enjoyed overall. Other than a few minor annoyances, I would recommend this novel....more
As the novel opens, 21-year-old Allison Glenn is being released from prison and into a halfway house in her hometown of LinMy Thoughts (from my blog):
As the novel opens, 21-year-old Allison Glenn is being released from prison and into a halfway house in her hometown of Linden Falls, Iowa. Having served five years for a heinous crime, she is ready to start her life over again. But, secrets from the past have a way of hanging on...and never letting go.
Brynn Glenn is Allison's 20-year-old sister; a young woman tormented by the secrets of the night of Allison's crime. She tried to start over by moving in with her grandmother in another town and going to college, but she is consumed by what happened that horrible night five years earlier...
Charm Tullia is a 20-year-old nursing student who is taking care of her ailing stepfather and dealing with her aloof mother, who only seems to care about herself and what she can get from Charm.
Claire Kelby is a wife, mother, and the owner of Bookends, a local bookstore in Linden Falls. She has struggled with infertility, but her and her husband are finally settled into life with their new family.
Allison. Brynn. Charm. Claire. Four women with one thing in common - a five year old boy named Joshua.
The book is told from the perspective of each of these women. The beginning of each chapter indicates who is narrating that particular section. I was a bit concerned that I would get confused by four different characters telling the story, but that wasn't the case at all. Each character is so unique and well-developed, with their own storylines expertly weaved throughout the story, that it was very easy to distinguish between them. The author is able to make each character come alive on the page, which is not easy to do, especially with four narrators!
At first it seems that it is just a novel about Allison and Brynn coming to terms with Allison's crime five years prior, but it is so much more than that. It is confusing at first, trying to figure out how Charm and Claire fit into the story, but as the book moves along, and more information is revealed, the reader begins to see how each of these women fits into the larger picture. All four women play an integral role in the plot, which is centered around a little five year old boy named Joshua. So, what links an ex-con, her sister, a nursing student, and a bookstore owner to this innocent child? Sorry, I can't tell you! :D You will have to read it and find out for yourself!
The plot of the book is utterly mesmerizing. I couldn't put it down. The author has a way of revealing just enough information at the right times to keep the reader entranced in the story, wondering what will happen next. As the pieces started to fall into place, I found myself gasping out loud, shocked at each morsel that the author revealed.
This novel is stunningly executed and masterfully told - it should definitely go on your "must-read" list for 2011! It gets a well-deserved CRAZY AMAZING rating from this crazy reviewer!...more