Room For Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer: A Book Review

9780307731371In a desperate time, can Neva find forgiveness for a grievous wrong—and make room for hope?

Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.
 
When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”
 
Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?

My Review: When I first read what this book was about, I was instantly intrigued. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a situation such as Neva’s. The sense of betrayal she must  have felt, knowing the person she shared her life with, shared another life with another family.

I think the author did an excellent job weaving together this story. The characters are very relatable and I think their emotions and reactions were approached very realistically. My heart broke for Neva and the circumstances her husband left her in. She was such an inspiring character. A true example of grace and strength. I also felt her son’s pain as he struggled with his father’s death and the sudden appearance of unknown siblings.

This book is a wonderful picture of what God can do in a situation. So often, we are faced with circumstances that are painful, unexpected and just plain hard. This book is a great reminder of what God can do in our lives when we are open to him. He redeems and restores situations, he brings beauty out of the ashes and he grows us in wisdom and strength when we allow him to move in our lives and our hearts.

I don’t know if this book is the start of a series, but I hope that it is. I would love to explore more of the characters and their journeys.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

 

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the highly acclaimed, best-selling author of gentle stories of hope such as When Love Returns and Room for Hope. With more than one million books in print, Kim has garnered numerous awards including the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. She lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband Don. She enjoys travel, quilting, and spending time with her daughters and their families.

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips: A Book Review

9780764217487The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch’s heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David’s calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island’s land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control.

While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate’s assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island–and its traditional way of life–hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips’ dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.

My Review: This is the first book I’ve read by Michael Phillips. I loved the setting for this book and I think the story-line is very interesting, but I felt like the book was a bit too long and for me, it dragged a little. It took me quite a while to become invested in the story and when I did, it was more enjoyable reading, but it was still just a bit lackluster for me.

I really liked the characters of Loni and David and I’m curious to see where the story is going to go as the series unfolds, but I’m not sure if I’m curious enough to continue reading the series. I feel like there are so many books to read, and so little time and I’m just not sure if I’m feeling drawn into this story enough to take the time to invest in it further.

It’s clear that the author is a good writer, and I’m sure this book would be compelling for some, but for me, it was just okay.

*I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:

Michael Phillips is a bestselling author who has penned more than seventy books, both fiction and nonfiction. In addition, he has served as editor/redactor of nearly thirty more books. Over the past thirty years, his persistent efforts have helped reawaken interest in the writings of nineteenth century Scotsman George MacDonald. Michael and his wife, Judy, spend time each year in Scotland, but make their home near Sacramento, California.

March Reading Round-Up!

Where did March go? I have no idea!! I’ve spent much of my reading time this month on review books. I enjoy reviewing books, but I need to make sure that I don’t become so overloaded with review books, that I neglect my ever-growing TBR pile! This month, I read a total of 5 books and they are:

Four out of five of these were for review purposes. The only one that was not was The Kitchen House. That book fulfilled my March Reading Challenge (Read a book from the bottom of your TBR pile) and was easily the best book I read this month. I greatly enjoyed it and I’m super excited to see that she just released a sequel. Of the four review books, all were fiction with the exception of This is Awkward. My favorite of the four review books was Dressed for Death. (This is a series that I’ve kept up with and have enjoyed thoroughly ) My least favorite was Shylock is My Name. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading it at all, and I hate saying that about any book.

Since I’m a little late in posting this, I’ve already finished my first book in April and I’m looking forward to a successful and productive month of reading! My total read for the year thus far is 17, which is apparently one behind schedule. I guess I need to step it up a notch!

That’s Not Hay in My Hair by Juliette Turner: A Book Review

_233_380_Book.1859.coverNew York City life had crammed sidewalks, gasoline-filled puddles, and angry taxi drivers, but Juliette enjoyed the towering sky-scrapers, the half-block walk to school, and the restaurant smells wafting into her bedroom. She had never cared for a horse, let alone a long-horn, when her mother announced their imminent move to a 300 acre ranch in Texas, where they would be caring for three horses, five dogs, twenty-five longhorns, and a cat … all by themselves.

Juliette couldn’t help feeling excited, even though she’d have to climb a hill to get a bar of cell-phone service. Soon she was running from bats and snakes, rescuing a calf from a twenty-foot ditch, medicating ponies, and having adventures so crazy it’s hard to believe they’re for real—but it all happened exactly how it’s written.

Get ready for side-splitting laughs, heart-wrenching tears, and surprising life lessons learned down on the farm and shared by fourteen-year-old Juliette Turner.

My Review: As an adult, I still enjoy a good bit of YA and Juvenile Fiction, so I was looking forward to reading this book. I loved the storyline for this book. A young girl moves with her mom from big city New York life, to a ranch in Texas. I thought this could be a really interesting story, but I feel like it fell quite short.

There really was no plot to this book. It seemed like every chapter was just full of varying scenarios in which the animals escaped, ran off, got sick or fell into a precarious situation. The characters, while likable, were not developed and I would have loved to get to know them better. The story was sweet and simple, but even for juvenile fiction, I feel it could have held much more content and character development.

I am impressed overall, as this novel is written by a seventeen year old girl. It’s not easy to write a book, and it takes talent. This story lacks in a lot of ways, but it has heart and that in itself is a wonderful thing.

* I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson: A Book Review

9780804141321 ABOUT SHYLOCK IS MY NAME

Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson brings his singular brilliance to this modern re-imagining of one of Shakespeare’s most unforgettable characters: Shylock

Winter, a cemetery, Shylock. In this provocative and profound interpretation of “The Merchant of Venice,” Shylock is juxtaposed against his present-day counterpart in the character of art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch. With characteristic irony, Jacobson presents Shylock as a man of incisive wit and passion, concerned still with questions of identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism and revenge. While Strulovich struggles to reconcile himself to his daughter Beatrice’s “betrayal” of her family and heritage – as she is carried away by the excitement of Manchester high society, and into the arms of a footballer notorious for giving a Nazi salute on the field – Shylock alternates grief for his beloved wife with rage against his own daughter’s rejection of her Jewish upbringing. Culminating in a shocking twist on Shylock’s demand for the infamous pound of flesh, Jacobson’s insightful retelling examines contemporary, acutely relevant questions of Jewish identity while maintaining a poignant sympathy for its characters and a genuine spiritual kinship with its antecedent—a drama which Jacobson himself considers to be “the most troubling of Shakespeare’s plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.”

My Review: I had recently read Vinegar Girl, another in the Hogarth Shakespeare series and I had really enjoyed that one, and so I was eager to read another modern day retelling of a classic Shakespeare work.

Sadly, my feelings toward this retelling are far different than my previous read. I had not been familiar at all with The Merchant of Venice, and I don’t know if it would have helped if I was. I just found this book so boring and honestly had to force myself to finish it. The story-line went nowhere.  I did not find any redeeming qualities in any of the characters and I don’t know what the original Shakespeare is about, but this one was full of obsession over being Jewish, circumcision, bad jokes and painting Christianity in a negative light.

I don’t doubt that Jacobson is a good writer, and I’m sure this book may appeal to some, but I found it utterly horrid. Easily one of the worst books I’ve ever endured.

* I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books free of charge, in exchange for my honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Howard Jacobson is the author of four works of nonfiction and several novels, including The Finkler Question, which won the Man Booker Prize;The Mighty Walzer, which won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award for comic writing; and Who’s Sorry Now?which was long-listed for the Booker Prize. He has a weekly column for The Independent and regularly reviews and writes for The Guardian, The Times, and The Evening Standard. Jacobson has also done several specials for British television. He lives in London.

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering: A Book Review

9780764214110A Regency-Era Costume Party Should Have Been an Amusing Diversion, but it Seems Wherever Drew Farthering Goes, Mystery–and Murder–Are on the Guest List

Drew and Madeline Farthering arrive at a Regency-era house party at Winteroak House, excited to be reunited with old friends, including Drew’s former Oxford classmate Talbot Cummins. Tal is there with his fiancée, Alice Henley, and though many present seem worried about the couple, nobody is prepared when Alice dies from an apparent overdose. Tal refuses to believe she’d taken the drugs intentionally, and a dark question arises of whether the death is an accident or murder.

The police have their own information though, and Drew is shocked when they arrest someone he’s trusted and admired since his childhood–someone who’s been smuggling drugs into the country for years. Stunned by what has happened, Tal begs Drew to get to the bottom of everything, but Drew has never felt more unsettled. Questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, Drew doesn’t know whom to trust, and he’s not ready for the secrets he’s about to uncover–or the danger he’ll bring down on everyone he holds dear.

My Review: This is the 4th installment in the Drew Farthering Mystery series, and it does not disappoint. Drew finds himself again playing the amateur sleuth, along with his new bride and friends. As usual, the mystery is intriguing and keeps you guessing.

This series is so much fun to read. It’s light-hearted, yet full of everything a cozy mystery should include. The characters are all so endearing.  Set in 1930’s England, this series captures the time and place quite well, and makes you feel at once like you are there.

One thing I really appreciate about this series is how the author interweaves profound and insightful biblical truth into the story, but does it in such a way that it feels natural and fits well with the characters and the story. This is a rare find amongst Christian fiction and I love that. Often times, the Christian themes of a book feel forced or overdone to me. Not so with this series.

Highly recommended to fans of a good quality cozy mystery series. I look forward to the next installment!

*I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

 

Julianna Deering

Julianna Deering has always loved British history and literature and is particularly a fan of the classic mysteries written by Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas and now works for an attorney specializing in wills and estate planning. She lives outside Dallas, Texas, where she loves to quilt, cross-stitch, and watch hockey. Learn more at www.juliannadeering.com.

 

This is Awkward by Sammy Rhodes: A Book Review

Book Description

_140_245_Book.1833.coverA supremely funny pastor to Millennials, with a massive social media following, tackles the thorniest of subjects—depression, sexuality, divorce, life online, and more—with a rare combination of uproarious, self-deprecating humor and profound, biblical truth.

My Review: I was not familiar with Sammy Rhodes prior to this book, and I was very much intrigued by a book about awkwardness. I myself am an introvert, and I’m all too familiar with awkward encounters!

My feelings on this book are kind of mixed. It’s a book about awkwardness, so I feel odd saying this, but at times the book felt awkward to me. The first half of it dealt with subjects that I can’t relate too, such as divorce and pornography. I did manage to take away a few bits from these chapters, but they felt a bit awkwardly written and at times, I felt like a little too much information was revealed?

The second half of the book really turned around. I felt like he became more comfortable in his writing and I found the subjects very relatable. I absolutely loved the chapters on friendship, introverts and social media. There were a few things he said that I thought were really profound, and made the book worth reading to me.

As for humor, there are moments when he is truly funny, but there are also times when I think he is just trying too hard. But, if you think about the point of the book, it’s to embrace your awkward. We all try too hard at times. We all want to be accepted. We all long for approval.

I think this is an honest book, with a measure of insecurity. I think the author is on a journey, just like the rest of us, to find a place where he can truly be himself. I applaud him for publicly including us on his journey.

  • I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers  in exchange for my honest review.