Abiding to Grow

How Staying Doesn’t Mean Stuck

Abiding to Grow

Maya Angelou once said something to the effect of:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

I think of this concept of always learning when I think of abiding. At Do Not Depart this month, we’re focusing on why we should abide in God’s Word. Abiding means remaining. Staying.

Just because you stay doesn’t mean you are stuck.

While we remain in His Word, we can grow.

Join me at Do Not Depart today to look at several verses that support how abiding (staying) in His Word helps our faith grow (and then what happens because of that!). I‘d love to hear some of your stories over there.

Where Trust Lies

Book Review – Where Trust Lies by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

In Where Trust Lies by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan (Bethany House, 2015), Beth Thatcher just spent a year teaching in the Canadian West and turns to the east to her wealthy family. Soon after she arrives, her mother announces the family will be taking a cruise along the eastern coast and down into the United States. Beth struggles with adjusting to this luxurious lifestyle back with her family when she has experienced a totally different way of life in the west.

When the family experiences troubles during the cruise, Beth and her family have to decide whom to trust and Beth wavers between her family and dreams teaching back west.

Where Trust Lies

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, so I loved the tidbits about Canadian history and life in this era. I also appreciated how this story didn’t focus on the romantic plot, but looked at relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters, and navigating new friendships.

However, I struggled to attach to the characters in this book, particularly the lead character. Much of my opinions are mainly personal preference, but I felt nearly all the characters to be too “prim and proper” to agree with. While part of this is societally and historically based, I found it challenging to be in support of character’s decisions. I also kept expecting for the book to delve into a more layered, deeper story, and found it perhaps only began to do so in the last few chapters. I may have been more invested in the characters if I had read the all of the preceding books in the series. There were also several instances where the characters just “told” what was happening or what the reader should be thinking, rather than show those through events, reactions, etc.

That said, the plot in the last third of the book does ramp up with more action (and an important event) and provides new information about characters, and includes themes of trust and learning to understand one another’s stories. I also found Margret and Monsieur Laurent to be interesting and enjoyable characters.

The book is described is “gentle fiction” in some places, and I do agree; it’s very gentle and not taxing to the reader, so if that’s your preference, you may enjoy reading this book.

What era is your favorite to read within historical fiction?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Feeding the Soul {Book Review – Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay}

I shared on Instagram yesterday what I’ve found I often do right after a finish an amazing book.

I did this exact thing with the book I just finished, Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014).

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Elizabeth Hughes is a top-notch chef with her own restaurant in New York City. However, she’s now experiencing lack of luster and numerous mistakes in her previously inspired cooking. When her boss gives her the chance to rest and recover, Elizabeth flies to her former home in Seattle for the first time in 15 years to visit her sister, Jane, who is battling the same cancer their mother had. Jane and Elizabeth have never gotten along and tensions are tight. Elizabeth works to find out how to reinvigorate her cooking and restore broken relationships and find a sense of herself.

For more about the book, read here.

This book is pretty spectacular. Told in first person (past tense) from Elizabeth’s perspective, we see and hear what other characters are wrestling with as well as Elizabeth’s own internal dialogue.

Cooking remains a physical reality as well as a symbol throughout the whole book, and the cooking analogies are fantastic, like this one on page 13:

“He had an easy way about him that brought him into the group seamlessly, like egg whites whipped to perfection, just shy of that single beat that hardened them. I felt a twinge of jealous—I was that single beat. I didn’t blend into the life of my own kitchen.”

Katherine Reay sets up multiple conflicts immediately in the first chapter between Elizabeth’s perception of herself, the kitchen environment, conflicts with her boss and reviewers, and more. In fact, the book remains very serious and conflict-filled (and emotional) for the first several chapters. All in good ways, but tough, too. I started physically smiling in reaction to events more about Chapter 10. At first, I wondered if that made the beginning too tough, but upon finishing the book, I know it needed to be that way. That’s how Elizabeth felt and had lived for so long. We needed to feel that too to get a better sense of her and her change.

I wrote down several quotes I don’t think I’ll be forgetting the feeling of for quite some time. This book definitely qualifies as one of those books that make you think and feel, which are my favorite in novels. With themes covering imperfect faith, grace, broken families, cancer and its effects, good out of pain, purpose and worth in life, marriage, sibling relationships, and more, it reaches deep.

“Perspective can change everything.”

And, of course, there are the numerous (appropriate and entertaining) Austen references that Katherine Reay is often known for. I particularly love how she weaved the importance and impact of literature into this book.

There is a romantic thread through this book, but the book remains focused more on sibling relationships, real love (not just romantic love), and finding out what to rely on. I highly recommend giving this one a read.

What book have you read recently that made you pause and think and feel?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2015)

Brokenness Turned into Trust {Book Review – The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert}

I’ve talked on this blog about every single Katie Ganshert book currently published. And I’m going to keep talking.

Tomorrow (on April 21st!), Katie’s fourth novel releases into this world, The Art of Losing Yourself (Waterbrook, 2015).

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2015)

This contemporary fiction novel introduces us to Carmen Hart, her husband Ben, and her troubled half-sister, Gracie Fisher. Carmen seems to have perfect life as a well-respected local TV meteorologist, but, as most of us know, nobody really has a conflict-less life. The novel deals with Carmen’s struggle over losing her family’s old inn, watching her admired Aunt Ingrid’s mind slip, working for the close bond she and her husband once had, and figuring out how to help her sister.

In the midst of Carmen’s perspective, we also get to read chapters from Gracie’s perspective. As a teenager who has dealt with more than she should’ve with an alcoholic mother, Gracie has issues of her own. But her inner dialogue helps all of us see that what one shows on the exterior doesn’t always reflect all of the inner turmoil occurring.

The first two pages drew me in with such emotion and powerful writing about miscarriages. We are thrust right into Carmen’s conflicts. Then, over the next several chapters, we learn more about Carmen, Ben, Gracie, Elias, Ingrid, and more. Gracie’s story kept me whispering to myself “one more chapter” often in the first half of the book. Then, as Carmen and Gracie’s stories intertwined more and more, I was so involved in the world that I was thinking about it even when the book wasn’t in my hands.

Katie weaves intriguing analogies throughout her story, including Gracie’s love for random facts and knowledge of the common emotional associations of different colors. Carmen often thinks on Mary Poppins references, which Katie writes so realistically that it just makes sense to include as we learn about Carmen’s character.

I love when books ask real questions about faith, as this book does often, including on page 151:

“…how do you know it’s God talking and not just your conscience?” (Gracie)

“Who’s to say our conscience isn’t one of the ways He talks to us?” (Elias)

How many of us have thought this same question? Multiple Bible studies exist focusing on this topic, so it’s obviously one of need.

This book considers trust, love (between sisters, friends, and more), the work a relationship requires, entropy, dementia, miscarriages, school culture, teenage growth, navigating friendships, relying on others, filling our holes with Truth, and more. While that seems like a lot for one book, this is one of the things Katie does so well: she writes about real life in a real way. (Bonus: the book doesn’t wrap every single conflict up in a perfect conclusion…because whose life does?)

quote from The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

I read The Art of Losing Yourself in less than 48 hours, but I’ll be thinking about it much, much longer than that. I also highly recommend mothers (or older sisters) and teenage daughters reading this together because of the two distinct perspectives represented here.

Check out The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert at your local bookstore, favorite online retailer, or library. Also stop by Katie’s website for behind-the-scenes information on the book and characters and more. (I love how Katie compiles these fun facts for all her books!)

For more about Katie and her books:

  • Read my review of Katie’s first novel, Wildflowers from Winter, here.
  • Read my review of Katie’s second novel, Wishing on Willows, here.
  • Read my review of Katie’s third novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful, here.
  • Read a fun interview I did with Katie two years ago here.
  • Visit Katie’s website.

Which of the themes in this novel do you think you would relate to the most?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House, 2015)

Different Kinds of Dreamers {Book Review – Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden}

In Elizabeth Camden’s newest novel, Beyond All Dreams (Bethany House, 2015), Anna O’Brien works one of only eight women librarians in the Library of Congress in 1897. She prefers to keep to the predictable environment of her map room, but, as a stickler for correct details, happens upon a 15-year-old navy report that seems filled with errors. As she looks into the details, she continues to be blocked from action by naval officials. Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House, 2015)

At the same time, she is assigned as a research librarian to the charming, but seemingly over-privileged congressman, Luke Callahan. As the two work together, they help each other more and more, and find out their opposing personalities mesh well in unexpected ways. They find out they even among their obvious differences, they (and most others around them) are still dreamers.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and this novel is filled with intriguing details about the late 19th century, libraries, cultural aspects for single men and women, working life for young women, politics, and more. These characters are (thankfully) realistic. They all have endearing attributes, but also have faults and must overcome broken pasts. The side characters and subplots of this book add wonderful depth and interest, including discussions about art, literature, marriage, special needs (and learning who a person really is), and breaking societal/economic stereotypes. All of the plot lines were captivating and unique in some way.

The main characters talk about faith at times throughout their conversations in a plot-appropriate and non-preachy way. The main faith themes covered include trust, forgiveness, breaking beyond broken pasts, and seeing beauty among the brokenness.

Some of the components of the ending seemed to tie up a little too nicely or completely, but the ending is mostly realistic and quite satisfying. The developed characters, historical elements, and compelling plots kept me turning pages and reasoning to read “just one more chapter” multiple times over.

I hadn’t read anything that actually made me interested in politics. What is a book you’ve read that interested you into a new time period or component of history/culture?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.