Even though I mostly read historical fiction, I was intrigued when I read the summary for this contemporary novel. I'm glad I picked it up, though, beEven though I mostly read historical fiction, I was intrigued when I read the summary for this contemporary novel. I'm glad I picked it up, though, because it ended up being a really good book.
What I was most impressed with was how the sensitive subject of teen pregnancy was handled. Everyone involved in the lives of these teens were understandably hurt, confused, and rattled, but it was beautiful that the two families were brought together and were able to find forgiveness and hope. What a great reminder of how even though we have trusted Jesus, we still need His forgiveness daily.
I also liked how it was obvious that God was working in the hearts and lives of all of the characters. At times I wish the text was more to the point about the gospel, but for the most part, it was handed well.
The romance between Gin and Dan was a nice storyline, as was the love that blossomed between the two teens who were facing such a life-altering situation. I liked having the perspective told from Gin, Dan, and Raine, and the flashbacks were also an interesting way to get the story across. And the title (and the story behind it) was just so sweet.
The setting of this story was nice, too. Since I grew up in a small town, I understood what Gin and Raine went through being "outsiders." It was a good reminder to not be judgmental but to shower people with grace, especially when they are new to your area.
Though contemporary romance novels are not usually my thing, I really enjoyed this one and how it told that God can redeem any situation.
Right off the bat Mr. J.A. Medders and I got off to a good start in his book Gospel Formed. In the introduction he states, "You don't need new tricksRight off the bat Mr. J.A. Medders and I got off to a good start in his book Gospel Formed. In the introduction he states, "You don't need new tricks and tactics but the truth of Jesus, his person, and his work -- the gospel."
What follows is a small put powerful book with an entire focus on just that -- the gospel. With 27 short chapters plus a lengthier introduction and short conclusion, you could read a few pages or one chapter a day to give you a reminder every single day to keep the gospel at the forefront of everything that you do.
Here are some interesting thoughts I took away from this book: •The gospel is for everyone, both old and new Christians. It is at one time both advanced and elementary - how amazing! •Our view of Jesus needs to be big and awe-inspiring but also deeply personal. •True, heart-felt worship can defeat the powers of evil. •We can all be a "gospeler" -- "a person who zealously teaches or professes faith in the gospel."
Gospel Formed is so easy to read. It flows well and is a great way to start or end each day. The style of writing is very relatable even if some of the humor might have been a tad much.But any book that mentions Tolkien's elves or cranking something up to eleven gets a thumbs up in my book!
What I like most about this simple book is that it is packed with truth. My five-year-old daughter really liked it, and I think it would be good evenWhat I like most about this simple book is that it is packed with truth. My five-year-old daughter really liked it, and I think it would be good even for toddlers. The writing is straightforward and engaging, and the pictures really make the story come alive.
I absolutely love the Bible passage references at the back of this book. So often children's books about the Bible don't even reference the Bible! I think it is great to have story books about the Bible for children, but if we never direct our children to read from the ultimate source of truth - the Bible, God's Word - then I feel we are doing them a disservice.
The only thing slightly negative that I have to say about this book is that some of the print was a bit hard to read since it was black ink on a dark background. Overall, though, The Christmas Promise is an excellent addition to our library of children's books.
I’m not normally one who likes to read the sappy Christmas novel that reminds you more of a Hallmark movie than a book. But I really liked one of Ms.I’m not normally one who likes to read the sappy Christmas novel that reminds you more of a Hallmark movie than a book. But I really liked one of Ms. Carlson’s previous Christmas novellas – The Christmas Pony – so I decided to give this one a try.
Overall this was a nice, sweet story, but it also had some interesting aspects to it as well. There were a couple of times when I laughed out loud over something a character said or did. That always makes for a great story in my book. I thought it was funny that Garrison’s grandmother was so particular about what should happen with her cats, but it was sweet as well.
Having the story be told from Garrison’s perspective was an interesting aspect and one that really fit with the overall tone of the book. Stories of this type are not usually told from the point of view of just the main male character, and it was a nice change of pace.
Since this is a novella, there wasn’t a lot of time to develop the main characters, but I actually felt as if I got to know Garrison very well. I thought his relationships developed a bit quickly and that the ending felt very rushed, but that is to be expected in this short of a story.
One thing that I thought was odd in this novella was that it was a bit unrealistic for Garrison’s allergies to seemingly disappear once he got “used” to the cats. It was almost as if his allergies ended up being all in his head, and that is just not the case with true allergic reactions.
While The Christmas Cat would definitely make a good Hallmark movie, it was still an interesting story and a nice tale for the holiday season. ...more
My Kindle has a "voice-to-text" feature, and I absolutely love to use it when I am at the gym or doing housework. The robot-sounding voice is not extrMy Kindle has a "voice-to-text" feature, and I absolutely love to use it when I am at the gym or doing housework. The robot-sounding voice is not extremely engaging, but for non-fiction books it does quite well and is a great way for me to fit in some extra Bible study time. I have "read" many non-fiction Christian books this way, and I they have always kept my interest, even with Mr. Robot reading it to me.
I found this was the case for the most part with the book A Vine-Ripened Life. It uses many Scripture references to explain how the various fruits of the Spirit are to be manifested in the life of a Christian through The Vine - Jesus Christ. Each "fruit" is given its own chapter as well as there are chapters dedicated to humility and grace.
While I was mostly attentive to this book, there were times I did find my mind drifting while I was listening to it. (Maybe I need to re-read the chapter on self-control?!) While some of the stories and metaphors were engaging, some of them seemed to be a bit of a stretch. I think I would have gotten much more out of this book if I had done it as a group study rather than just reading it straight through, especially with the great study questions at the end of the chapters.
Overall, I really loved how everything in this book always pointed back to Christ and the gospel. This book abounded in Scripture references, and it reminded me a little bit of books by Jerry Bridges - especially how it repeatedly made the point the apart from Christ, we can do nothing.
Since becoming a Christian at the age of eight, I have experienced doubt about my salvation at different points in my life. I always try to read any bSince becoming a Christian at the age of eight, I have experienced doubt about my salvation at different points in my life. I always try to read any book about doubting your salvation that I can get my hands on since I can easily fall back into this wrong pattern of thinking.
This short but truth-packed book really hit home for me with some of the doubts I have had in the past. There were so many sentences and passages that I highlighted -- it is an immensely quotable little book!
Overall, this little book feels kind of more like an essay or a pamphlet rather than an in-depth book, but, as I said earlier, it is packed with truth. I would have liked a few more Bible verses and passages to go into more depth about doubt and faith. Even so, this book is a great place to get started when wrestling with your own doubt about God and salvation or if you are working with someone else who is having a difficult time with these issues.
When I found out that two of my favorite authors were teaming up with a new-to-me author to write a book of three historical romance novellas taking pWhen I found out that two of my favorite authors were teaming up with a new-to-me author to write a book of three historical romance novellas taking place at Christmastime, I was so excited. Add that to the fact that the stories were to take place in my hometown, and I was literally jumping up and down!
Sarah Sundin has quickly become one of my favorite historical fiction authors over the last few years that I have been doing book reviews. Her attention to the historical details is the best, and she always writes a story in which the characters experience a tremendous amount of growth. I also enjoy reading books by Tricia Goyer, and her “Big Sky” series is one of the best I have ever read. Cara Putman is an author who is new to me, but I was excited to find out that she lives in Lafayette, Indiana! (OK – so I am technically from West Lafayette, but it’s just right over the river!!! Ms. Putman – my book club is reading this book next year in November. Would you consider coming to our meeting when we discuss it?)
I think one of the best things about this book was how each story fit together with the others. You could tell that each was written by a different author, but the book as a whole was seamless. It is just amazing to me that three authors with varying styles could come together and create three stories that fit together so nicely.
I really don’t think I could say which of the three novellas was my favorite. I liked the detailed setting of Lafayette in Cara Putman’s White Christmas, I appreciated the growth of the characters in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and I adored the right-in-the-thick-of-things storytelling in Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
On the whole, this book was really good, and it was perfect for Christmastime. I will admit that I am a bit biased towards it since I live in West Lafayette. I know that fact affects my review and rating at least a little bit. These stories are very much on the romantic side and could even be considered hokey by some. While there are some realistic components to the stories, they are definitely fiction, and everything is wrapped up nicely with a big Christmas bow at the end.
Where Treetops Glisten has all of the things that I love about Christmas stories – a great setting, interesting characters, and the warmth and general sappiness that I can tolerate only at Christmastime!
After learning quite a bit about Jessica Atherton in the second book in this series, I was intrigued to find out she would be the main character in thAfter learning quite a bit about Jessica Atherton in the second book in this series, I was intrigued to find out she would be the main character in this one. I was a bit taken aback at first, since I was not very fond of her character previously, and it is often very difficult to enjoy a novel when you really dislike the main character.
But I found that I actually connected with Jessica fairly quickly, and it was her tremendous growth over the course of the novel that in fact made the book so much more enjoyable. I, too, have struggled with feeling as if the people around you want to keep you from changing and not let you become who you desire/need to be. In Jessica’s case, her parents seemed to be the ones doing this at times. In my case, it wasn’t so much my parents but other people with whom I grew up. In both cases, we had to come to the conclusion that only with God can our hearts be changed, and when that happens, no one can stand in our way.
Even with the amount of spiritual growth that Jessica experiences, she is not the only one to change in this novel. Austin also has much to deal with in his past. (And when I say “much” I mean a lot. So much that it seemed as if it was even a bit too much). While Austin at times comes across as the perfect hero, he still has his demons, and his growth is also significant.
This novel as presented in the summary seems as if it will be a battle between two men for the heart of Jessica Atherton. This is true in a sense, but it is so much more. The storylines that were not completely resolved in the previous novels all converge and come to an ultimate, satisfying conclusion.
Because of this, I think it would be easier to follow what was happening if you had read the previous books in the series. It is definitely not a standalone novel. I have read the previous books, and I still had a tough time here and there remembering exactly what had happened and figuring out what was going on. The dialogue was sometimes a bit simplistic and not detailed enough, too.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, it had an interesting romance, and it had enough suspense to keep it moving. There were a few times when the romantic plot fell back onto some predictable and overused points to give it a hiccup, but for the most part, the relationships among Jessica, Austin, and Harrison were done well. I also thought there were a couple of spiritual things thrown in that really didn’t seem to fit with the overall spiritual tone of the story. But since faith in Christ as the way to a right relationship with God was emphasized so clearly, I am willing to overlook those things that seemed to be on the outskirts.
For a small change of pace, I decided to put a post-Civil War-era book into my repertoire. I tend to shy away from Civil War-era books for some reasonFor a small change of pace, I decided to put a post-Civil War-era book into my repertoire. I tend to shy away from Civil War-era books for some reason, but this one caught my eye.
Usually I am very interested in discovering different eras in history and the processes and things that go along with them, especially things that I don’t know much about. I definitely know nothing about brickmaking, but I was less than thrilled with the descriptions of making bricks in this book. It was sometimes tedious and didn’t always flow well with the rest of the story. The tension over the bad deal that Ewan’s uncle made kept the plot going, but it sometimes seemed as if it was just all too much. I just kept wanting poor Ewan to catch a break.
The romance between Laura and Ewan was sweet, but the main characters themselves seemed to lack a depth that would have made them more endearing to the reader. I just didn’t feel connected to Laura or Ewan, and most of the minor characters were over-the-top and annoying. I was at least satisfied with the end of the book and how Laura and Ewan’s story was wrapped up.
Even though I didn’t feel as if Laura and Ewan grew too much in this novel, there were still some important spiritual themes that were explored. Some of these were leaning on God during difficult times, not compromising your integrity (especially in business), and knowing that no one is too far gone to be redeemed. Although I felt as if these themes sometimes didn’t go quite deep enough and sometimes left Christ out of the picture, they still redeemed the book a bit for me.
Overall, The Brickmaker’s Bride seemed to have two different personalities. It wanted to be a sweet romantic story, but too many historical details and annoying minor characters got in the way. On the other hand, it wanted to be a fiction novel pertaining to the business of brickmaking in the second half of the 1800s, but the romance seemed to be just tacked on for good measure. Maybe it was just me, but for some reason, the two didn’t seem to click together very well.
I was really excited to pick up this book and read it since I have enjoyed several of Anne Mateer’s novels in the past. One of my favorite things abouI was really excited to pick up this book and read it since I have enjoyed several of Anne Mateer’s novels in the past. One of my favorite things about the book was how well I got to know the characters of Lula and Chet. The novel alternates between the viewpoints of the two, and each is written in first person. At first I thought this might be a bit awkward, but it actually wasn’t, and it helped me to really identify with the main characters well. I guess I identified with Lula the most since she had a passion for music – piano specifically – as well as an interest in academics. Her struggle to achieve what the world sees as success (college, math) rather than allowing her identity to be rooted in Christ was something that hit close to home for me. Lula and Chet were both intelligent characters that were strong without being overbearing.
I also thought the secondary characters were fleshed out very well in this novel. The boys and girls on the basketball teams were so fun, and the characters of Lula’s sister and Chet’s mother were so real. The other characters in the book really gave it a balance that was appropriate and refreshing.
While the plot was interesting – mostly because of the secondary characters and the basketball angle – there were things about the romantic plotline that were somewhat disappointing. There were some external factors and situations that kept Lula and Chet from discovering/declaring their interest in each other too early in the book, but most of what kept them apart was the much-used transgression of just not sitting down and talking to each other like adults. Their conversations were sometimes stilted and just downright frustrating.
Even though the romantic angle wasn’t quite to my liking, the rest of the book was. The message of faith was not extremely deep, but it was clear and woven throughout the novel and into the hearts and lives of the people in this small Oklahoma town.
In this installment, I was once again drawn to the characters and to the legacy of the Ballantyne family rather than the actual events that were takinIn this installment, I was once again drawn to the characters and to the legacy of the Ballantyne family rather than the actual events that were taking place in their lives.
However, the characters that drew me in were not necessarily the ones to whom I was supposed to be drawn - at least I don't think that was to be the case.
The main characters – James and Wren – were not my favorites. They were often contradictory, and they did not always come across in the way in which they were portrayed. The reader is told and shown in some ways that James is strong and capable and able to stand up to anything. But he is unwilling to tell the woman he loves how he truly feels. The reader is told that Wren is independent and unwilling to bend to the pressures of society – that her heart is pure and that her love is true. But she constantly goes against who she is in order to please society and some of the members of her family, and she lets her assumptions take the place of reality. It was very wearying after a while to read about a character being described one way yet acting another.
The interesting thing is that even though the two main characters in this novel – and some of the other Ballantyne characters from the past novels – were not terribly engaging in this book, some of the more minor characters were. I absolutely fell in love with Izannah and Mim and even Malachi Cameron. I almost think this book would have been better if it had focused more on Izannah and Malachi, since they were interesting characters that pretty much stole the show, in my opinion.
While the overall story in this novel was decent and some of the minor characters were good, the book itself was once again just too long. There were some bright spots in the story here and there – the visits to the orphanage, the descriptions of Pittsburg and the steamboats, the continuing abolitionist plotline, the violins – but most of the book seemed to be high-society filler. I appreciate that the author was probably trying to make the reader feel as if she had been thrown into Pittsburg high society right along with Wren, but it was just too much.
I really like it when books really grab me from the start, and With Every Breath definitely did that. I absolutely loved how this novel began with theI really like it when books really grab me from the start, and With Every Breath definitely did that. I absolutely loved how this novel began with the scholarship competition between Kate and Trevor. It was unique and was a great jumping off point for the eventual relationship between the two main characters.
I also really enjoyed the beginning of Kate and Trevor’s relationship – both their friendship and their romance. Their witty banter was fantastic, and I absolutely adored how Trevor was attracted to Kate as more than just a pretty face. He was attracted to her attitude and her intelligence as well.
As their relationship developed, however, I kind of got bored with that part of the story, and it’s hard to explain why. I was glad that the reasons that kept them apart were valid and that those reasons didn’t feel contrived, but I guess I just felt as if there was too much back-and-forth – will they get together or won’t they? – and it became tiring.
While the romance might not have been as interesting as I had hoped, the historical and medical aspects of this novel were fascinating. The author pays such attention to detail when it comes to the setting and to the feeling of being right there with the characters. I have read other historical novels where a character has tuberculosis, but I had never understood what a toll it takes and the medical history behind it. The medical aspects were a bit grisly at times, so if you are at all squeamish, be forewarned.
Although this book had a great story and an interesting historical setting, the Christian aspect of this book just didn’t go far enough for me. Kate did experience some spiritual growth in the fact that she ultimately had to come to terms with her fears and to trust God. But apart from that, it felt as if the book came from the vantage point that everyone who dies will go to heaven. Jesus coming to die for our sins, our admission of that sin, and our acceptance of His righteousness as our own did not come into play whatsoever. Since the main focus of the book was tuberculosis, death was a major theme, but what happens after death was not. It just seemed very vague to me, and since death was at the forefront of the subject of this novel, I expected more.
While there were some aspects that kept me from liking it fully, it was still an enjoyable novel overall.