I've heard of extraordinary circumstances bringing two people together, but Willow has come with a truly different idea for makingA collision of lives
I've heard of extraordinary circumstances bringing two people together, but Willow has come with a truly different idea for making that happen. I liked how she handled even some things I thought were oversights -- the question of legal status, for example -- by making them true to life, where things could get lost in the shuffle and legalities slip through the cracks. And true to life, annoying and ridiculous behavior (really? Showing up THAT early?) makes you wonder about some people. Trusting in God and realizing that only He can transform the extraordinary into the miraculous is the theme that pulls it all together. Good read....more
This is a painfully realistic story of what true love can cost. "Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it." how does the urge to prThis is a painfully realistic story of what true love can cost. "Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it." how does the urge to protect the one you love factor into a vow to minister the Gospel in North Korea? What does it mean to succeed? Betrayal, failure, separation, and even success just don't have the same meanings in that world of barbed wire, starvation, suspicion, and life and death decisions. In the spirit of George Orwell's 1984, it's not enough to be an informer or to renounce faith Hope must be destroyed. Love must be crushed. If it's possible for that to happen....more
Kudos to Cole for tackling what most Christians would never even say out loud, much less write about. She opens her heart to us and teaches us that maKudos to Cole for tackling what most Christians would never even say out loud, much less write about. She opens her heart to us and teaches us that marriage is not warm fuzzy bliss. We cringe at Leah and Jacob's struggles. We sympathize with their anger, their hurt, their confusion, and most of all their frustrations and feelings of helplessness. If we say that their conflicts aren't real and their decisions aren't profoundly human and make us squirm and ache, we aren't human. Like life, there are blissfully sweet spots, but the struggle goes on. The hills and valleys get higher and deeper. Cole also contrasts how people view life's "mistakes" and how they deal with them. I don't want to spoil the warmest, brightest, sweetest times of all, but they do occur this side of heaven, and they are just as much a possibility and a reality as the heartache and misery. The package is complete. It's Cole's gift to us. Don't be afraid to open it and savor possibilities as delectable as any of Leah's wonderful meals....more
Book 3 This final story in the trilogy is about what people do and don't wish for. You might get your wish, but it might not be what you want or need.Book 3 This final story in the trilogy is about what people do and don't wish for. You might get your wish, but it might not be what you want or need. Lamek is not the only one who learns that lesson in the climax of the Karini and Lamek Chronicles. Lessons in love, war, and character abound. Natas has no desire to re-unite with someone he thought abandoned him long ago. Parallel characters play off the different ways to look at responsibility, ambition, and true friendship. Sometimes the cost can be very high, before you learn the truth about yourself and how to do the right thing. A little magic doesn't hurt, either....more
Cole has given this story so many splendid layers, like the costumes her main character wears. Celeste is a seamstress and designer and I found myselfCole has given this story so many splendid layers, like the costumes her main character wears. Celeste is a seamstress and designer and I found myself wanting to look up the period paintings that inspired her, but I couldn't stop reading to do that. Just how the characters deal with emotions is a whole story by itself. But there's so much more. Layers of spirituality. Layers of self-protection. Layers of anger for so many different reasons. Family love, friendship, and that most mysterious kind of love -- the one that Solomon thinks doesn't exist and that Celeste believes God has denied her.
When Solomon reveals the secret of the Blueberry Woman, a whole new set of layers opens up. Cole has crafted a complex story that takes time to understand. Don't expect a fluffy romance. Don't expect preachy Christianity. Expect that you will be taken by surprise over and over again, and that if you stop, like Celeste tried to do, before you unwrap all the layers, you will lose out on truths hard and sweet for body and spirit.
This book is a gift. Like many gifts, it's not perfect in shape, presentation, or message, but it is given, as all gifts should be, as an example of what love should be....more
if you like romances where opposites attract this is the book for you. What a tapestry of conflict and connection this book is. The ways in which Ston if you like romances where opposites attract this is the book for you. What a tapestry of conflict and connection this book is. The ways in which Stone and Abigail turn out to be connected are stunning. It's like that bedraggled bush in her father's greenhouse. Layer by layer, as these two people intertwine on the outside, their pasts and inner lives open up like that mysterious plant. Don't skip over the bush or the chats or the other clues that this book is deep and rich with threads of wonderful, surprising detail. sniff the air and find something extraordinary. This is a sweet incense offering to God.
The book also has sage and sweet and tough advice on how to deal with abuse and all kinds of relationships. It's a strong metaphor of how in all walks of life humans need to listen to counsel and rely on others. in ourselves we make wrong decisions. When we get isolated we lose hope or lash out. God is there, however, waiting for us to realize we can't do any of this alone. Those who want to isolate themselves or control others have to step toward the light or they will never leave the darkness behind....more
Sometimes I write a book review because I promised I would. Sometimes I need to because I want to tell the world about a great story. Sometimes I justSometimes I write a book review because I promised I would. Sometimes I need to because I want to tell the world about a great story. Sometimes I just have to write a review, even though I feel like I am spiritually and mentally under attack every step of the way. That probably sounds arrogant and judgmental, since I am nobody, have no influence, and over five hundred voices already disagree with me about the book. I also don't think I've ever published a two-star review. This book gets two stars from me because it's not trash in terms of writing. There are few errors and some mildly interesting elements. It also doesn't contain objectionable elements such as lurid violence, explicit sex, gratutious language, or excessive commendation of bad actions. But I will say, more about that last point later, because it's not free of that extremely objectionable element, by any means. The rest of my review contains spoilers. I only warn the reader to be polite, because for crying out loud, could they make things any more obvious? There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING surprising in this book. NOTHING. The main mystery comes down to determining the next king of a decaying land. I can't even tell you how obvious it is that the next king is going to be somebody unexpected. Oh, wait. If you didn't fall asleep amid the jackhammer foreshadowing, maybe it isn't all that unexpected. Why doesn't the author sneer at boring "mister perfect" some more? Why doesn't he make the priest a little more stereotyped; messy, self-indulgent, tolerant, stumbling. Check check check. The guy whose behavior is secretive, reprehensible, downright anti-honorable, is actually a real good guy, mentor, and true believer! Didn't see that coming! Normally an author wants his readers to like his main character. Or at least show some strong feeling for him, besides the "aw" of pity or the "ew" of disgust. But that's all you get with Errol for maybe a third of the book. The unlikely hero is so overdone. The orphan hero whose past is mysterious is absurdly overdone. Yep. Here it is again, only without any real nobility or admirability at all. I might have admired him for his ability to suvive being chased and shot at on the perilous journey to the inaccessible location. But wait! The chaser later admits he didn't want to hurt him, just do one essental thing that he completely failed to do. Eventually Errol gets up to speed, cares about improving himself, and work hard to become good at something. That comes after ... wait for it ... a near-death experience and providentially being cared for by a reclusive former legendary warrior! Only outcasts, people in seclusion, and people who are ponderously ethnically diverse, crazy, "Have a past", or use incomprehensible powers that require exhaustive training (except for the hero because he is "gifted") are worthy of inclusion in this story. Or worthy of trust. Or worthy to be listened to. But they better have lied, abandoned previous responsibility, or just plain done something non-virtuous, non-daily-life-boring somewhere along the way, or they are not going to make the cut in this story. Did I mention a legendary indomitable warrior who screws up repeatedly? Did I mention there are THREE legendary warriors, all reclusive, all waiting for the right moment to be there for our hero? And you can become a legendary warrior too. Just practice a lot with your stick that several people say is too lightweight. Don't ever carve a better stick, even when that's what you asked for tools and wood to do. You will still beat the tar out of anybody, any weapon, any number of opponents, tirelessly, with your STICK, because it is such an unexpected weapon! Oh, please, mighty stickmaster, train our battle-seasoned veterans of the sword, lance, and crossbow how to fight with a stick! Naturally the now hardworking (but still pretty much virtue-neutral) hero arrives at the capital city. Naturally he will confront his destiny and show up all the wise and experienced people who have just been waiting for him to discover secret knowledge and do amazing things they trained all their lives to be prepared to do but can't, because he has to show them up. He has to borrow somebody else's stick when uncontrollable monsters arrive and start eating people, but he smacks these formerly unbeatable hordes of monsters into submission with his borrowed stick, and later his own stick. Everybody emerges victorious, even smarmy mister perfect, but Errol gets the greatest accolades because he used to be a drunk! And, yes, there the story, first of a trilogy, ends, resolving ... well ... nothing. Well, not quite. There is this little teaser thingy that is supposed to shock the socks off of you. In case you don't know what the "Cast of Stones" title is all about, the way they determine matters of importance such as what direction to take their quest in, or who the next king will be, they make a bunch of perfectly round balls, ideally of hand-carved stone, and toss them. Only a person gifted and/or trained in the art can read the message in the stones, blah blah and so on. This to me sounded like a cross between the dice you roll in Dungeons and Dragons and, sorry, a lottery drawing. It is nothing like the lots in the Scriptures. Nothing like it at all. In fact, This so-called Christian book kind of flies in the face of every Biblical principle. PHilippians 4:8 is probably another thing people consider to be overused, but you can't get much clearer about what we are supposed to fill our head with. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Finally, no doubt long after everyone has quit reading, I will say that I really don't understand the portrayal of belief in this book. It seems to be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the Scriptures, and it seems the religion has got hopelessly corrupt. But it also seems that some person besides the Christ the author pretty clearly presents is the one who died to bring peace. What in the world does that mean? ...more
Review of Karis by R.M. Strong I give it three stars We all need heroes, and some of us even need to be heroes. The vigilante seeking justice is certaiReview of Karis by R.M. Strong I give it three stars We all need heroes, and some of us even need to be heroes. The vigilante seeking justice is certainly not a new or original idea, but R.M. Strong has put, for me, a highly desirable twist on it with the story teenaged Tamara Weatherby. I'll talk about the twist shortly. Tamara's family and scores of others fall victim to a deranged bad-guy, Nothos, who uses gasses to force his victims to fear him but normally does not kill. He takes hostages, makes demands, and releases them. This time, however, when costumed crimefighters Krino and Krisis do not make an appearance (the police commissioner forbids them), Nothos uncharacteristically shoots everyone in the art museum. Tamara ends up being the only survivor. I have to state that I believe this story is handled clumsily and the whys and wherefores of the plot elements are sometimes not explained at all. Sometimes the explanations just don't satisfy. The book includes a lot of social commentary, about the rich and how people treat (but should not treat) them, but it doesn't give the right answers for change. It also gives its heroine too much power and "attitude" for my taste. Several times the point is made that Tamara should have a "female figure" in her life but it's made weakly and shouted down. It shouldn't have been. Questions about her new living arrangements and threats against her purity are dealt with too lightly for my taste. I wish the character Kuria had been developed more and put into that "female figure" role. I think that would have been a great help. Even her "disability" would have been an intriguing plot element. The book ends at an odd place, even understanding that it begins a series. There was a potentially great climax point and though it wasn't handled as well as it could have, it would have made a better ending. The twist Strong puts on this is to add Christianity into the mix. Karis, the title character, goes through the same struggles all budding crimefighters do: the sense of loss, the realization that her ordinary friends can't offer her the sympathy and understanding she wants, the rage and thirst for revenge. But over and over she is forced to examine her feelings, her actions, her decisions, and those of others, in the light of God's Word and her upbringing in a Christian home with active church involvement. Christian readers need to know that there is some profanity, but a pleasing evangelistic and Christian growth emphasis balanced that out for me. There are also two pretty strong instances of attempted rape, clearly presented as evil and wrong. R.M. Strong as an author and Karis as a character don't always make the right decisions in this book. We all fail, and can learn from our failures to turn them into opportunities for growth. I am certainly not saying this book is a complete failure. It is an opportunity for growth, and a hopeful sign in a world, and a writing genre, where Christianity is so marginalized. The author seems to have promise of growth as a writer, and here's hoping Karis will grow along with her. ...more