Tag Archives: Christian fiction

True to You by Becky Wade (Bethany House, 2017)

Book Review – True to You by Becky Wade

True to You by Becky Wade (Bethany House, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

True to You by Becky Wade (Bethany House, 2017)

It’s the exciting start of a brand-new series by a contemporary romance fan favorite!

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

My thoughts:

This book is basically a “chick flick” in novel form, which is fun if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s full of back and forth banter, flirting, questions, and growth.

The author incorporates several funny, more unique analogies (one great example: “Britt’s frequent romances always took off like rockets propelled by promise and power and star-crossed destiny” – p. 16). A couple of twists were surprising and added fuel to the story. The conflicts stayed elevated throughout. Both of the main characters held more unique jobs, which were intriguing to read about and imagine.

A few obstacles I encountered while reading: I found many of the side characters to be flat and stereotypical. (A positive within this: Nora and John and both of Nora’s sisters were more complex, which helped relating to them as well as increase interest. This also increases intrigue in the sequels likely starring Nora’s sisters.) I’m concerned about the effects of the “content in singleness” conversations/debates Nora has with herself (especially in Chapter 7) and whether or not those perspectives will repel single readers from enjoying and being encouraged by this book. I also am wary of restrictive comments like “girly little villages weren’t his thing” (p. 27) or “the most man man she’d ever met” (p. 50). Sometimes those comments can be genuine coming from a certain character, but most often they immediately place limitations on what’s “right” for a character and can make some readers feel “less than” and not accepted (for example, a female reader who doesn’t like fancy dresses, or a male reader who enjoys historical villages).

That said, this novel was a quick, entertaining read that touched on truth, healing from broken pasts, and forgiveness.

If you love this book, look out for two more planned in the series in the years to come.

Visit the Litfuse page for more information about this book, the author, and more reader reviews.

Litfuse is also hosting a big $100 plus prize pack giveaway, including a copy of this book! Click on the image below (or click here) to learn more and enter. The giveaway is open through May 30th.

True to You Becky Wade
 

What are some of your favorite “chick flick” books?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group as a part of their blogger program. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is my honest review.

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.

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

Why or Who {Book Review – Life After by Katie Ganshert}

We have a few authors in our family who become “immediate must-reads” when they have new books. In the kidlit world, these include (but are not limited to) anything from: Natalie Lloyd, Jason Reynolds, Kadir Nelson, Kristy Dempsey, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Caroline Starr Rose, Patricia MacLachlan, Jacqueline Woodson, Stacy McAnulty, Bryan Collier, and many more.

In the adult fiction world, one of my personal “must-reads” is Katie Ganshert.

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

On the day of a late spring storm, in Chicago, Autumn Manning boarded an “L” train. A bomb explodes, killing everyone in the train car except for Autumn—the sole survivor. A year has passed and Autumn suffocates under a blanket of what ifs and the pressing desire to bring the victims back to life, every day, if only for her. She doesn’t want their stories to be forgotten. She wants to undo what cannot be undone. An unexpected ally joins her efforts, also seeking answers and trying to find a way to stumble ahead.

But one victim’s husband, Paul Elliott, prays to let the dead—and their secrets—rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to hurt his loved ones.

Caught between loss and hope, these restless souls must release the past to embrace a sovereign God.

My Thoughts:

In Life After, Katie Ganshert surpassed my expectations. Really.

Katie dives into deeper, more tumultuous topics with empathy and skill. Life After alternates in third person between Autumn Manning’s point-of-view and Paul Elliott’s perspective. Each character is broken. Each character has secrets. Each character is on a course of internal and external discovery. But, also each character reacts differently to tribulations, and yet, the reader can empathize and understand both.

The main and side characters are all realistic, interesting, and varied. We want to watch Autumn’s story unfold. We want to see Paul heal. We want to learn more about Reese. We want to hear Ina May keep talking.

The Chicago setting roars with life and yet charms with quirk. The setting ties in aptly with character recall and emotions. We feel Autumn’s tension near public transportation. We feel Paul’s ache as he searches for his daughter.

And then there’s the faith journey. Life After asks tough questions. But they are questions (at least some, if not all) many of us have wondered. Questions many of us have discussed and read to learn more about. And questions that have no answers except in God’s knowledge. Part of this book is about just that. The trust the comes with faith and realizing that we cannot–and perhaps should not–always know all the answers. And about light in the chaos.

I highly recommend reading Life After. And then pass a copy into someone else’s hands to read, too.

Who is one of your “must-read” authors?

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

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.

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon, 2017)

Hope Growing {Book Review – A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti}

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon, 2017)

Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.

Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

My thoughts:

Cynthia Ruchti knows how to pack in the conflict. In A Fragile Hope, readers find conflict after conflict in both Josiah’s external circumstances as well as his internal world. As a marriage counselor, one might think Josiah would be attentive to his own wife’s needs, but the reader meets and reads about a selfish man for much of the book, even down to his internal dialogue. This helps set Josiah up for positive change and growth, but I also found it hard to root for Josiah until the ending chapters. His dangerous habit of assumption also added to his inner turmoil (and added to me questioning him as if I could talk to him throughout the book).

The author obviously did vast amounts of research into brain trauma, hospitals, and ICUs. (I say this as a mother with a touch of experience having been in the ICU with her child more than once.) I loved the nurses’s and doctors’s differences and ways in which they cared for their patients. The author brings readers in with setting details and added to the tension since a majority of the book takes place within a hospital.

I read (and reviewed) another one of Cynthia Ruchti’s books, As Waters Gone By, a couple of years ago. Like in that novel, I found a few of Josiah’s internal dialogue and analogies a bit jumpy, which disconnected the flow of reading a few times. But, also like in that novel, the realistically portrayed side characters in A Fragile Hope became my favorite characters of the novel. From Nancy to Stan to both Catherines, I felt for those side characters, loved when they showed up, cheered for them, and felt thankful they were in Josiah’s life.

This novel offers a tension-filled narrative into truly being present and attentive for your spouse, as well as finding hope in the darkest, most implausible places.

Visit the Litfuse page for more information about this book, the author, and more reader reviews.

Litfuse is also hosting a lovely giveaway where you can win one copy of A Fragile Hope and a metal Scripture decoration. Click on the banner below (or here) to enter. The giveaway is open through May 3rd!

A Fragile Hope Cynthia Ruchti
 

What Scripture do you turn to when you need to see hope growing?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group as a part of their blogger program. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is my honest review.

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 Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

Another Look at History {Book Review – The Dog Who Was There}

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah.

He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

My Thoughts:

When I first heard about this adult novel, I loved the unique premise that the story would be told through the perspective of a dog wandering about first century Judea.

The first several chapters move very slowly with quite a few flashbacks, dreams, and “had been” moments rather than immediately drawing the reader in to current action. Much of the writing could be tightened and more active phrasing employed. (Perhaps this was a voice choice, though.) I also noticed several inconsistencies within the first half of the book (ie: a character calling the time “first century AD” when I’m not sure someone living during the time of Christ would have called it that). Also, at times Barley is portrayed as only understanding certain words, yet at other times, he is shown as understanding full conversations. The book also is a bit of an Americanized version. For example: one of the characters in the first chapter has the more culturally appropriate name of “Duv,” but his wife says it rhymes with “love,” which is an English word, of course, and wouldn’t have been used in ancient Judea. Though the book is pitched as told in Barley the dog’s point of view, readers are tossed between Barley’s perspective and several other characters’ perspectives throughout the book, which breaks the flow of reading.

Barley himself is a wonderful character. The author does a lovely job of showing the dog’s instincts and natural desire to be in a ‘family’ group and love and protect. Those traits are (in my animal-adoring experience) God-given, which plays well into the themes and plot of this novel. The last third of this book picks up in action, making it a quicker read. Many of the violence scenes are graphic, just as a note to readers who prefer not to read such. Barley (and the readers) only see Jesus in his last few days as he reaches Jerusalem, so you can imagine the intensity of those chapters. The ending, though, is satisfying and offers redemption to the many, many trials Barley endures throughout the book. It winds together Barley’s experiences in a way that offers an example of how God works in our lives.

Read more about the book and the author at the Litfuse page.

What biblical or historical event would you find interesting as ‘viewed’ from the perspective of an animal?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book via Litfuse. This is an honest review, and 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.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

Book Review – The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

About this book (from the publisher):

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.

My thoughts:

I enjoy magical realism and love that this author incorporates pieces of magical realism into several of his novels. This novel also deals with deep themes of healing, trust, perseverance, and choosing the truth even if it’s different from what we want.

The main character endures relatable struggles with universal themes of never feeling like he’s enough and trying to fix things rather than lean into God for healing (such a good theme to include!). But I did find myself detached from almost all of the characters throughout most of the book. Most of the side characters seemed a bit too banter-y, though I did like small glimpses of Andrew and Susie and Ari. While I wanted healing for Jake, I never felt truly attached to him as a character. I also felt the motivational speaker scenes didn’t feel as realistic as the scenes in the corridor or even with Leonard. We learn a lot of deeper issues and situations about many characters late in the book; perhaps more glimpses of these characteristics earlier in the book would’ve increased my attachment.

A totally subjective issue: I find that I’m a bit thrown off when an author writes in incomplete sentences often throughout a book. Once in a while or with good reason makes sense. But when a sentence can easily be started with “He” instead of “Was,” I find that it makes me pause my reading. I understand that it can be a voice choice, but my brain wants to read a complete sentence, so when a novel uses incomplete sentences too frequently (particularly the kind that just drops off the subject word), I find myself pulled out of the story.

Some readers will love this style of narrative as well as the lake setting, and the themes are worth reflection.

I also read and reviewed James L. Rubart’s book The Five Times I Met Myself last year. Read that review here.

What are your favorite books with journeys of healing?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program 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.