Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dried Out Bones

          The song Dry Bones by Gungor can't help but play on repeat while finishing this latest masterpiece by Katie Ganshert.  The Art of Losing Yourself is a novel that is both painful and enriching. I am not normally a person to read books that will bring me to tears.  I don't need catharsis as so many people claim to need.  When I read, I read for enjoyment and to escape from the world of reality and into something lighter, better, uplifting, and exciting.   Ganshert took me through raw emotions and situations like I never wanted to feel and like I have always feared feeling.  The very interesting thing that she did was that each chapter, and sometimes within chapters, she gave a heading of one of the two sisters' names and told the story from their POV.  This helps readers to become greater connected with the characters and their emotions.  From a young girl who has never had hope or care to a woman who can no longer feel hope or care, this tale travels loss and a just plain sad reality (or several of them) that so many people are forced to walk.  What is truly amazing about Ganshert is that, as in other novels, The Art of Losing Yourself is not a novel where she skirts the dark parts of life and shows characters following God; no, she shows these darkest moments in characters' lives and allows readers to see (even if it takes looking backward on it) God walking through those times with them.   I was able to read this book thanks to receiving a reviewers' copy from WaterBrook and Monmouth Press.
It is impossible to recommend this book enough: it has slow moments, and moments you have to struggle to get through because of the nature of those moments--you will cry but in the end it will leave you thinking, searching, praying, and waiting, not because you are expecting a sequel but because you see God beginning to work in the characters' lives, beginning to pull them out, and it makes you wonder, just maybe if He is beginning to work in yours too and you have yet to notice it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Season to Close the Seasons

          "Through the years, love and faith would do far more than just see them through the good times and bad.  It would rise to meet every challenge with joy and hope" these words echo a lesson that permeates the entire series of Cindy Woodsmall's Amish Vines and Orchards series.  Though the series went through twists and turns that were sometimes well done and sometimes felt entirely too author imposed, it ended well.  It still ended in a way other than hoped for and I, for one, wish I had stopped at book one.  The first book was amazing; however, after reading book two and just getting through book three, book four--Seasons of Tomorrow-- was very well crafted.  Having similar points of view shifts to Breaking Dawn, this books changed who was seeing the story unfold in a masterful way so as to take the reader along the trials, the joys, and the questions with the characters in a wonderful manner.  Jacob returned to more of the character denied to him in book two and completely taken from him in book three, and was a very enjoyable part of this book.  Woodsmall took the reader through some horribly dark times in such a way as to let the reader morn with the characters for their lives, but also for their own personal life, and then brought them into the joy in such a way as to give the reader hope that even in their own dark hours God does have a greater joy in store for them.  Steady on.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

More than the Fallen are Rising

     The second in Chuck Black's War of the Realms trilogy, Rise of the Fallen, was nothing short of page turning, encompassing, and amazing.  Book one, Cloak of Light, set the stage and was good in its own way, but where it left questions and sadness (plot wise) Rise of the Fallen brought fulfillment and excitement.  Black painted beautiful scenes of Heaven pre-Earth creation and the lives of angels, thrilling images and emotional pictures of how it might have been to have lived in Heaven during the fall.  And the feelings that Black built into the angels at the betrayal of one of their own joining the Fallen was palpable.  This spiritual world is built on scripture and a lot of supposition but Black was able to bring to is  a feeling of realness and vividness that made it come to live.  After receiving a free reviewer's copy of this from Monmouth publishing, there are two things that must be said: this is a book for all ages and is the best yet of the War of the Realms series. Go ahead, pick it up and become engrossed in the two realms.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Table with a View

A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge is a book that was supplied for review by Monmouth Publishing.    Lodge has a wonderful way of melding together the plot and old family recipes with the welding bead of strong characters.  Using two different, strong cultures that are known for their food and hospitality, Lodge created a main character (with a parent from each culture) and wove the reader beautifully into the history of a family, the restaurant business, siblings, and most importantly the main character.  On top of all of this, the main entree of this story is online dating and the way that God can use overlooked mistakes, such as a power outage, to bring two people together who need to be together.  Like a good recipe brings good ingredients together Lodge brought all of her plot lines, characters, and settings together to create a compelling story that left the reader waiting for a second book.  The first book did end a little too openly, surprising the reader, but--upon reflection--it was also a good ending place.  And the icing on the cake to this was the included recipes; that was a particular favorite.  Well done Hillary Manton Lodge.  Hopefully the sequel comes out soon!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Little White Horse rides away with my heart

After watching the movie, The Secret of Moonacre Valley, it seemed like the next logical choice to read the book that it was loosely based upon.  The Little White Horse was at first a shock in the sheer difference from story line and characters; however, the characters were deep and well thought out, the plot intricate and attention catching.  Robin was perhaps my favorite character and in particular there was some great scenes with him and Maria.  There were messages that were taught gently throughout and it seems like it would be a good read for either children, young adults, or adults looking to be entertained.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cloak of the Light reveals a brilliant story

     After reading a reviewers copy of Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black, given for free by Multnomah publishers, it is easy to see that Black has an amazing talent at creating both a story and characters that are so real as to fully draw the reader into their world.  The world and the hidden dimensional world especially is so compelling that it is sometimes hard to pull out of the story and return to normal reality.  It is easy to expect to see beings from this other dimension around every corner.  That being said, the book is painful to get into because the main character, Drew Carter, goes through so much loss in his young life before the reader gets to the meat of the story.  All of the loss comes together to help make Drew who he is but that doesn't make it any easier to see Drew experience it.  The side characters are created in such an absolutely brilliant way that they strengthen both Drew and the plot, ever adding more and ever taking the story deeper.  Everyone seems to be organic to the plot and nothing seemed to be author imposed.  This was indeed a wonderful read.  If the rest of the series is as good as this first book it is sure to become a new favorite, which is saying a lot as that would put it on a level with Wheel of Time and League of Jewelled Men--two other favorite stories.  The emotional ride this book provides and the powerful feelings it causes to well up in the reader are on par most award winning books out there.  Well done Chuck Black.  Looking forward to the rest of the series!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Dawn of a Returned love for this author

          In Cindy Woodsmall's The Dawn of Christmas, she returned to her brilliance from the first book in her Vines and Vineyard series.  This was yet another book of Woodsmall's that couldn't be put down.  Her turn of phrase and beautiful creation of characters aside, Woodsmall writes dialog with such skill that it feels as though the characters are actually speaking instead of their lines being read.  Cindy Woodsmall has such a way with creating believable characters that have been damaged in life and are scarred in varied ways that it truly is a joy to read.  Also, she is quite skilled at letting God's light shine through both the plot and her characters in such a way that it is realistic.  In The Dawn of Christmas,Woodsmall takes a woman, Sadie, who has been betrayed and broken, and brings her together with a man, Levi, who has lost all trust in women and uses them to help each other heal.  Their romance is a lovely surprise to them and in no small means a miracle for those who love them.  Levi feels like a man everyone should be so lucky to know; he has his faults but he's such a good, loving man that he's amazing.  And Sadie, is a perplex woman full of so much love to share but afraid to do so and chance being broken again.  Woodsmall's writing takes readers who were not previously Amish fiction fans and creates fans.  Thanks, to the opportunity to read the eidtion for free from Waterbrook Press, The Dawn of Christmas has rekindled this reader's love for Cindy Woodsmall's writing and hope in love.  It is a real gem and a worthy read.  Buy it.  Enjoy it. Cheers!