Review: Reinventing Rachel by Alison Strobel

Synopsis:

God let Rachel Westing down. For twenty-six years she’s done everything by the book; she figures He should have her back. But then she learns her fiancé is cheating on her. Her parents are getting a divorce. And her Christian mentor has a pill addiction. Where is God in all this? Nowhere, as far as Rachel can see. Wounded, bitter, and with a shattered faith, she quits her job and moves across the country to live with Daphne—her childhood best friend whose soul Rachel once thought she was meant to save.

Confident, successful, fun-loving Daphne sets about helping Rachel reinvent herself, and for a while it’s exciting. But when another tragedy shakes Rachel to the core, what little bit of self-possession she has left begins to unravel. A true-to-life story that will draw you in and keep you biting your nails until the end.

My Review:

This is a Christian fiction book, definitely geared towards a YA audience.  However, as someone a smidge beyond young adult, I also enjoyed the storyline.  There are quite a few issues Rachel faces and it’s through her eyes, we read her struggles and her anger towards God.  I thought this book could definitely help those facing similar issues and how inspite of ourselves, God does not abandon us.  While I would have liked a little more storyline after Daphne’s hospitalization and aftermath, the author did a nice wrap up and bring closure to issues Rachel was still faced with.  I highly recommend this book to those who love a great Christian fiction read with some real life issues many people face today.

ARC Review & Giveaway: The Bridesmaid (Home to Hickory Hollow Series) by Beverly Lewis

Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764209787
  • Genre: Christian Fiction

Synopsis:

The Latest in Chart-Topping Amish Fiction from Beverly Lewis.  Twenty-seven-year-old Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The single young Amish woman is a closet writer with a longing to be published something practically unheard of in her Lancaster County community. Yet Joanna’s stories aren’t her only secret. She also has a beau who is courting her from afar, unbeknownst even to her sister, Cora, who, though younger, seems to have suitors to spare. Eben Troyer is a responsible young Amish man who hopes to make Joanna Kurtz his bride–if he can ever leave his parents’ farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet with his only brother off in the English world, intent on a military career, Eben’s hopes for building a life with his dear Joanna are dimming, and patience is wearing thin. Will Joanna ever be more than a bridesmaid?

My Review:

While I love to read Christian fiction, I must admit, I have never read a book from Beverly Lewis. I’ve never really enjoyed Amish stories and I thought that the audience Beverly Lewis typically wrote for were older adults.  And…I still see myself rather young ;)

I received this book through an ARC giveaway on LibraryThing and was actually intrigued that the release date was on 9/11.  While there is no reference to 9/11, that date has always been very sensitive to me for personal reasons (aside from the horrific tragedies).

Reading this book, I quickly became immersed in the daily living of the Amish community in Hickory Hollow.  I loved the way Beverly was able to describe each character with detail and how well the personalities of two sisters could easily be detailed in her book.  While this is a short read for (a little over 200 pages), Beverly filled it with quite a lot of rich traditions, family alliances, upholding their faith, and finding love.  I fell in love with the characters of Joanna and Eben. I also loved the friendship that develops between Joanna and Jake, and the way young couples court one another.  With church lines, dedications to their respective churches and families, Joanna and Eben must find a way to follow their heart or else be separated forever.

I loved the simplicity of the story, the character developments, and how Beverly Lewis is able to seamlessly tie in their faith in a modern world.  The only “critique” I have, is wishing Beverly would have made the story longer and perhaps given us a little more of history behind Auntie Joanna and the Wise Woman.  Otherwise, it was a great book and I will certainly read this series!

*This book was provided by LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

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Mini Review: The Oak Leaves by Maureen Lang

Book Details

    • Author:  Maureen Lange
    • Genre:      Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
    • Print Length:  352 pages
    • ISBN:  1414313454
    • Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers (May 1, 2007)
    • Author’s WebsiteMaureen Lang

A Quick Reference:

  • Target Audience:  Adults (of all ages)
  • Pace of Book:  Steady pace throughout
  • Writing:  Easy to read
  • Profanity:  None
  • Sexual Content:  none, just hugging and kissing
  • Violence:  None
  • Christian Element:  yes
  • My Rating:  An excellent cupcake with sprinkles AND a cherry on top, 5/5
  • Thoughts on plot:  I loved how the present story was interwoven with the past story of Talie’s family.  The Regency period is one of my favorites, so I really enjoyed the historical component to the book and felt that it was rather relevant to Talie’s own journey with her son and his developmental delays.  The storyline was very emotional and heartfelt, especially learning that the present story was loosely based on the author’s own personal journey with Fragile X Syndrome.  The relationship between Talie and her husband and the way God uses her past to help her cope with her future was captivating. I highly recommend this book!
  • The Characters:  Talie was a woman I could certainly understand and resonate with.  Even though there were signs that her son may have some developmental delays, she was not ready to address those issues until she had allowed herself the proper time to question, grieve, and and accept it.  While it was not a way I would have handled it, I know there are those who need to work through it privately before allowing others in on such a personal part of her thought and emotional process.  I also loved how Luke was so supportive and of her and regardless of what happened, he was not going to turn his back on his wife and son.  He was the most level-headed and provided Talia with the strength and support she needed.
  • The Diary:  I loved this part of the story so much!  I wanted to learn more about Esther and Peter.  It seemed that through this diary, Esther was giving guidance and strength to Talie.  It also seemed so pivotal to Esther finally accepting and coming to terms with the diagnosis given to her son, Ben.
  • Spiritual Component:  While Talie is a Christian, she certainly isn’t perfect. It was wonderful to see how God uses anything and anyone to help restore faith and strength.  I loved how Maureen shares such a wonderful story with Christian themes, without making it too preachy or too sugar coated.  It was an honest look at what happens to two people with a son who has a diagnosis that will certainly change their world.
  • Read an Excerpt!
  • Discussion Guide

Review: Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • ISBN:  1414333064
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (publication date: September 2011)
  • Genre:  Christian Fiction

Synopsis:

Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart.
When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.

Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.

My Review:

Dry as Rain is Gina Holmes second book, following the success of Crossing Oceans.  It was interesting to read a book by a female author told through a male perspective.  I thought it added an interesting twist to many of the books I read.  When Kyra’s accident causes her to have amnesia and lose her memory of the past 5 years, Eric (her husband) has to decide what the “right thing is”.  Is it right to tell his wife that they are separated?  Is it right to lead her to believe that they are happily married?  What would anyone in Eric’s position do?

I have to admit, I tended to over analyze this storyline.  Over time, I found myself asking these questions:  Why is it that Kyra remembers everything else within those 5 years, except her marriage?  Is Kyra pretending to have amnesia to perhaps give Eric an opportunity to redeem himself?  How is it that everyone in Kyra’s life is also going along with this fantasty that the marriage is great and not on the rocks?

However, once I quit over thinking Kyra’s amnesia and why her loved ones would not step forward and disclose the truth, the book was quite enjoyable.  Of course, they were also just following doctor’s orders, too.

Dry as Rain does raise moral and ethical questions for me.  However, it was also very interesting to read what one man does to win his wife back and how he uses every opportunity to express his love and be the husband he wants to be.  Towards the end of the book, I felt the book came together rather nicely and was realistic to what Kyra chooses to do in regards to her marriage.

If you like Christian fiction, then you will enjoy this book.  If you like books that deal with relationships, you will also like this book.  If you don’t over analyze, this book is rather quite good!

  *A complimentary copy of this book was provided through NetGalley by Tyndale House Publishers, for an honest review.


My Very First Blog Award!!

Yesterday, I received an email from Samantha Leighanne from Leighanne’s Lit.  She gave me, along with some other bloggers, the Liebster Blog Award.  Any award makes my day…especially since I am a new blogger and love to know that there are readers out there who enjoy reading my posts.  However, being the researcher that I am, I decided to find out who created this award and what is it exactly for.

This is the information I found:

1.  Rumor has it that someone in Germany, possibly someone named Liebster, created an award for new bloggers to show appreciation and thanks for their blog.

3.  Liebster means “beloved” in German and Spanish.

2.  You can only receive the award from another blogger, who has also received the award. 

3.  Awards are to be passed forward to other bloggers, 3-5 blog sites, with followers of 300 or less.

4.  Once you give the award to a fellow blogger, you are to contact the blogger and let them know.

5.  Copy and paste the award on your blog.

So, I’d like to thank Leighanne for this wonderful honor!

In no specific order, I am awarding the Liebster Blog Award to the following bloggers:

1.  Julie at Booking Mama:  Julie introduced me to one of my all time favorite books: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  Julie is a busy momma, like me, and has the same love of books I do in the same genre!  So, I truly enjoy reading her book reviews.  AND…while I have not won a book yet from her blog, she gives some great book giveaways, too!

2.  Michelle at Life in Review: I enjoy reading Michelle’s blog posts.  While I am Christian, I have to admit that before last summer, I just didn’t read Christian fiction.  I would go to bookstores and scan them, deciding to buy a Bible or study book instead.  However, there have been some great break-authors and their writing has been incredible!  To my amazement and delight, Christian fiction covers topics that are real life situations, aren’t drowned with “you will burn in hell” statements, and are not cheesy whatsoever!  It has been nice to read a fellow blogger’s reviews on Christian fiction books :)

P.S.  Thanks, Francine Rivers for “redeeming” the Christian fiction industry and introducing me to a genre that I quite actually enjoy!!

3.  Laurel Rain-Snow at Accidental Moments:  I first started reading Laurel’s blog when I joined The Sunday Salon.  While I have never met her, she just has this laid-back personality on her blog.  When I read her posts, I feel that it is she and I sipping coffee as she tells me about her day. She also has the same taste in books that I do!

4.  Debbie Ashley Nance at Readerbuzz:  I have had the pleasure of meeting Debbie at one of my book club meets.  She is as friendly and charming in person as she is on her blog.  I love that she is a librarian and blogs about all kinds of books.  She also weaves into her blog personal life tidbits, which is always great to read!

5.  Karen’s Sister at Coming East:  I just recently started following this blog and enjoy reading these posts!  She is witty, has some hilarious post titles, and writes about the mundane in a funny and interesting way.

Please take some time to read their blogs, too! I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.