Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review: All She Left Behind

All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick

Back Cover Blurb:
Already well-versed in the natural healing properties of herbs and oils, Jennie Pickett longs to become a doctor. But the Oregon frontier of the 1870s doesn't approve of such innovations as women attending medical school. To leave grief and guilt behind, as well as support herself and her challenging young son, Jennie cares for an elderly woman using skills she's developed on her own. When her patient dies, Jennie discovers that her heart has become entangled with the woman's widowed husband, a man many years her senior. Their unlikely romance may lead her to her ultimate goal--but the road will be winding and the way forward will not always be clear. Will Jennie find shelter in life's storms? Will she discover where healing truly lives? 

I thought it was a well-told but sad story, even the good things that happened slugged along. The main character had a hard life. And there isn't a happy ending to this story. I read for pleasure so I prefer happy endings especially since life is so full of its own sad endings. This book was based on a true story but was a fairly dark underlying current which made it difficult to really enjoy and sail through like other light-hearted reads or mysteries. I don't regret reading this book, but wouldn't likely read it again.

Reviewer details: 75+ yr old Christian reader

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Publishing Group as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book Review: An Inconvenient Beauty

I've been waiting for this one to come out ever since I read the first one. In fact, I tweeted Ms. Hunter and asked if Griffith's story would be included in the series since he was such a fun character. At last he has arrived!

An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter is the final Hawthorn House book. We get to see Griffith and Isabella wading through sticky family situations and the all-too-familiar exploitation of female beauty to gain public/political favor.


In this 18th century English story, Kristi Ann has rich characterization. She delves into the psyche of the near-royals and shows the frailty they too often experience, as well as the fact they are sometimes driven by the pressures of their position. She also gets in a dig at politicians who will sacrifice family or friends to get their votes.

Marrying for love instead of following through on the arranged marriages was bucking the system of the day. It's a more modern thought to "follow your heart" even though threads of it have been seen throughout history, so I always find it interesting how often modern romances apply today's societal beliefs into a different time period. 

I appreciated the historical detail and loved the colors of the cover. It was great to follow along with this family and see their journeys into love throughout the series. Real life doesn't offer everyone a happily ever after, but maybe that's why we love fiction where it does. Enough of our life is set backs and heartbreaks, so having a solid success story to hang our hat on when we're reading for fun is just what we need. A cool drink of water in a desert of brokenness.

Thanks for a great series, Kristi Ann! Looking forward to what comes next for you!

Reviewer age: 75+

Would recommend.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Publishing Group as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Review: Fault Lines

Fault Lines, by Thomas Locke,  although difficult to follow, does in the end provide the justice one seeks against the villains. The book was difficult to read because of the amount of "supposed facts" which made no sense and left me disoriented  for the most of book one. It felt choppy in style, and the characters were not easy to relate to at all. The story itself was basically not believable (unbelievable indicates to me something in a positive manner) whereas this story for the most part just doesn't strike a chord with reality. Possibly the author intended for the book to be beyond reality, but it did not appeal to me. If I had not been wanting to write a review on the book, I would not have finished it. In the end I found book two to be more interesting. I have yet to figure out the need for two book sections. There was only one small reference to fault lines in the book which was not enough for the reader to understand the meaning of the title of the book. This book would not be on my list of recommended reading.


Review age: 75+ -- couldn't finish it
2nd reviewer: 55+--forced herself to finish it
Conclusion: wrong demographic to read this book



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Publishing Group as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review: The Darkest Lie

The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn is a contemporary YA (not Christian fiction). A friend let me borrow this book from her library because I liked the cover. Yes, I'm petty enough to choose what I read by the cover design. I'm not afraid to admit that. (Authors, be smart about your covers!)




Back copy blurb:
Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.

As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death resurface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…

Disclosures: There is language, sexual references, and mentioned sexual abuse in this book. Not sex, just references to sexual acts within the context of abuse and crude humor because it is (unfortunately) the world that teens live in these days. The crude humor, sexual references, and abuse are very clearly not approved of by the author, but they are present to represent a realistic world. I'm a firm believer in reading with discernment. You can disagree with me and we can still be friends.

With that out of the way, I have to say I enjoyed this book. It is face-paced and right at the teen level in how they talk, think, and act. Pintip Dunn keeps you guessing until the end. It is heart-breaking and insightful into the lives and thoughts of those who are being abused.

The hero is not a typical jock heartthrob. He's a "nerd" type who has his own family troubles. The family units in the book all have their own particular brand of issues, covering a spectrum that most people can relate with or understand on a certain level.

I thought the heroine's journey was well done. I appreciated her relationship with her parents. There is a depth of relationship encouraged between teen and the parent which is something that culture doesn't often put in a positive light.

The story moved at a good pace and I was excited to get back to the characters when I had to take a break. I recommend the parent read this before the teen reads it as it has mature content in it. This would give you a discussion point with your teen about how to handle abuse whether it is to recognize it in friends or family or potentially spotting and avoiding someone who wants to exploit you under the guise of "love."

The encouragement to pursue the truth and not believe everything you're told is a good moral to this story.

The reviewer's age: 18-30 years old

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: The Captain's Daughter

I was delighted to read the new release of Jennifer Delamere, The Captain's Daughter which is the first book in her London Beginnings series. The cover "sets the stage" (pardon the pun) for our entrance into London and the title is reminiscent of Alexander Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter.

This delightful book is set in London in the late 19th century. (Read: historical romance) It takes place in the theatre of the day. Historical elements touch on Gilbert and Sullivan who took the theatre world by storm at that time and George Muller's orphanages. Everyone loves a good story that includes emotional elements. And who doesn't love love? So in addition for feeling for the characters, the reader also gets to learn about history. The time was well-researched and the setting authentic. The story's most encouraging part is that though bad things happen to people, they are not defeated. And sometimes we find that the places we long to escape the most will actually bring the most healing. 

I really enjoyed Nate and Rosalyn's relationship. I look forward to following books in that "London Beginnings" series. And I will be recommending it to my other Christian historical romance loving friends.

Reviewer's age: 75+ years old



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Adding Book Reviews

As a delightful and fun new aspect to this blog, I've decided to add book reviews. You guys know how much I love reading. So I've joined a couple of Christian fiction publishing blog tour groups to get started. Hope you get a few good recommendations out it!

Note I don't make any money from doing this. It's just from the goodness of my heart and my joy of reading. Publishers/authors have given me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Other of my family members will also be joining me on this journey so their review comments will also be posted and noted as such.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lessons Learned from Pregnancy

You can never really know what to expect from pregnancy no matter how many books you have read or how many stories you have heard from friends. Every pregnancy is different for every person. So what is true for me in these months might not hold true in future pregnancies. I did want so badly to be the person who absolutely loved pregnancy, mainly because I heard so many negative things about it (and parenting) before we started our own journey. And it is a gift that not everyone is able to see happen in their life.

However, while I can't say I've loved it, there are things I have enjoyed and have learned a lot already. Here are some of the lessons which also may ring true for those with a long-term illness. (At the risk of being cliche, I thought I'd document my own experience for those who can relate.)

Getting up slowly

I heard a story about a great Chicago football player (Walter Peyton) who spoke once about always getting up slowly after a tackle. That way, your opponents won't know if you're actually hurt and come after you. Show no weakness! Inspirational, right?

This is not that.

Whether it's standing up slowly from a chair so that you have your balance, sitting up slowly in bed so that you won't get nauseous, or just moving slower to prevent pulling those very loose joints and muscles, I have learned that getting up slowly is my best friend. Sometimes it seems like you are belaboring the point, but when you get up and feel good when you're up, it's a victory in itself.

Enjoying food 

This is never to be taken for granted ever again. The media is quick to splash a picture of a woman buried in a sea of food bags as a sign that she is pregnant. Similarly, people ask about cravings. Even marching into my third trimester, I've learned that enjoying food is a gift--not an expectation. It hasn't been "cravings" for me. It has been "tolerances." I open the pantry. I'm very hungry, because hunger strikes hard and fast these days, and I can't find a thing to eat because nothing sounds or looks good.

After my first trimester was over, I was SO thrilled to eat anything with flavor. I'd had my fill of crackers and Gatorade. But the same has held true over the span of these past 7 months and I've found myself eating bland foods to ward off any triggers that render me horizontal for the rest of the day in attempt to avoid nausea... or worse.

So when I can once again eat whatever I want without consequence, I will not take these things for granted. Also, I will need to be counting calories and working out so that I don't gain more weight post-baby. Moderation-- always moderation.

Inevitability

On the morning you wake up feeling pretty darn good, you will drop everything you put in your hands requiring you to bend down to pick it up and thus trigger the nausea. When you finally think you've gotten enough rest to get you through the day without a nap, you can trust that you will be on your side in a few hours praying your heart rate slows down and your lungs get a full breath. The day you finally have plans will be the day that you don't feel like seeing a single soul. Or the day you don't have plans and can stay home all day, you will have to run to the grocery store for a necessity. And the moment you convince yourself that you will indeed survive this very strange journey of body occupation and total takeover, some awkward person feels at liberty to share a horror story which would have been better left unsaid in the universe in general.

I think this is God's way of helping me learn to adjust my expectations each day. It's not always negative or waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it's learning to roll with the punches and not set anything in stone. Health is a fragile thing and you cannot push yourself past your limits with hopes of conquering the world as you did before. You must listen to your body and understand that this season of fragility won't last forever.

It is a wild ride of adjusting your life to sustain another life. It is a gift to feel a kick and see your abdomen moving on its own, because there are so many who can't have that. It is a weakness of your body that will result in your body being the strongest its ever been. It is a light at the end of a tunnel which seems so far off and yet way too close for comfort at times. It is beautiful and messy and discouraging and hopeful all at the same time.


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