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Book Review: A Place Called Blessing by John Trent

Place Called Blessing, john trent, the blessing, book review, annette smith

This book was written as an example of how “The Blessing,” John Trent’s non-fiction book, could play out in someone’s life. It showed how a person can come to believe that they are worthless and evil and don’t deserve to be loved, and it also demonstrated how those thoughts and feelings can be reversed by someone’s positive influence in their life. I have experienced that kind of positive influence in my own life, so I can appreciate the book for giving inspiration to readers to be this kind of influence for another person.

Judging it as a work of fiction though, I felt it was lacking in a few areas. Firstly, the narrative voice – it was written in first-person, from the point of view of the main character, but it sounded as if a twelve-year-old boy were telling the story with short, choppy, poorly worded sentences. This kind of voice gets tiring to read. It almost makes the reader feel less intelligent with this kind of voice in their head throughout a whole book. I think the author used this voice to demonstrate some of the qualities of the main character, but even that doesn’t make sense. The main character got excellent grades in school and ended up going to college, so the unintelligent voice really isn’t needed. I would have much preferred to read the story through intelligent, good storytelling. It would have been more enjoyable to read.

Secondly, the story and the characters were so simple. The whole thing lacked the complicated details of real life and the conflicting thought patterns and relationships that a professional novelist can weave seamlessly into a book. But that is the danger that lies in a non-fiction writer moving into the fiction realm. They just can’t give a novel the depth that a studied, experienced novelist can.

Thirdly, it lacked the undertone that a Christian novel needs – the Holy Spirit. There was no demonstration of how the Holy Spirit prompted anything in the book or anything that the characters did. What are we but vessels of Christ’s love? I would have loved to experience the underlying promptings behind the character’s actions and the feel of God pulling the main character to Himself.

Overall, the book is worth reading if only for the inspiration it gives to seek out ways to be a blessing to others. It serves a purpose in that, but I believe a good novel should both serve a purpose and be written beautifully with excellence.

Thank you Thomas Nelson for providing this book for my review.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Fiction Reviews

 

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Book Review: The Inheritance of Beauty by Nicole Seitz

Inheritance of Beauty, Nicole Seitz, North Carolina, Levy, Joe Stackhouse, book review, Christian book reviews, christian fiction, christian novel

Loved it! I was really caught up in the story of this book. The first chapter is a little hard to follow, but once you get into the book, it starts to get really good.

The story follows elderly people in a nursing home in the present day and also goes back to 1929 and what happened with them in their hometown as kids. The book is written in present tense. This is the first present tense book that I’ve read. I always thought reading the present tense would really bug me, but it didn’t in this book. In fact, I hardly noticed it.

Nicole Seitz did an amazing job with the story and characters of this book. This must have been a complicated book to write. I don’t think I could have done it. There are characters of every age, and she really nailed each one. She even gets you into the minds of elderly people with dementia.

I very much enjoyed reading this book. At the end, I found myself going back to the first chapter to reread it. It all made sense now that I knew who it was and what had happened.

The best thing about this book is that you start to think of yourself and your life. I would not want to have the regrets that some of them had toward the end of their lives. It certainly helps you put things into perspective. The only thing I wish it had more of was Christian content. There wasn’t much shown of the characters’ spiritual lives (except for one of the secondary characters).

Thank you Thomas Nelson for providing a copy of this book for my review.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2011 in Fiction Reviews

 

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Book Review: Diving Appointments by Charlene Ann Baumbich

Divine Appointments, Charlene Ann Baumbich, Dearest Dorothy, Snowglobe Connections, Novel based in chicago, chicago fiction, fiction based in chicago, book based in chicago, chicago, christian novel, inspirational novel, christian fiction, inspirational fiction, divine appointments review, book review

This is quality fiction from a quality writer. You can really sense the author’s story-telling expertise as you view life through each character in the book. The characters are deep and amusing, the writing is incredible, and the story is not the pat romance story that has been beaten to death.

I really appreciated all of the real-life problems that the characters faced. One was bitter from her divorce. One was raised to be non-feeling and is almost robotic in her work life. And one is a widow who was forced to go back to work after her husband’s death.

What I really loved was that every character in the book handled their problems differently. And in the end they learned from each other’s better qualities and created change in their lives.

Ms. Baumbich tells this story in a pleasant, refreshing way. There is an aspect of the story that requires a stretching of the imagination, but it’s done in such a way that it adds very nicely to the story. I loved the book. Each page was a pleasure to read.

Thank you to the publisher for giving me this copy to review.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2011 in Fiction Reviews

 

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Book Review: A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini

This book was  a nice break from my snowy winter. It was great reading about the sand, the ocean, and warmth.

I enjoyed the main characters in this book and how they came together. From the first time they met, they were on different sides of a major issue, so they considered each other the enemy. But, every time they ran into each other, there was an undeniable attraction. It’s so much better than the average romance heroine telling herself that she will NEVER fall in love ever again. Who thinks like that? I get so tired of that scenario. I’ve stopped reading certain books because of that lame kind of thought pattern in a character.

Also, the book encouraged me spiritually. You’ve got to love a fiction book that helps you in your walk with God. There were certain scripture passages that helped the characters see things differently. It also helped me in the same way.

The ending was tied up a little too neatly. I prefer an ending that is a little closer to reality, but overall, the book was a great read!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2011 in Fiction Reviews

 

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Book Review: The Gathering Storm by Bodie and Brock Thoene

The Gathering Storm by Bodie and Brock Thoene, thoene, gathering storm, bodie thoene, christian fiction, world war ii fiction, world war 2 fiction, inspirational fiction, world war II novel, inspirational novel, zion diaries

This is the first book in the Thoene’s new series, Zion Diaries. I was pretty happy to see that she had a new series out from the WWII era, so I jumped on this first book.

The story is very intriguing. It kept me rolling from chapter to chapter pretty quickly. It was one of those books that kept me up way too late at night, but I didn’t mind at all! I very much enjoyed all of the characters and learning about some little known things and people from the second world war. The tin nose shop men were really interesting to read about.

There is one aspect of the book that requires you to suspend disbelief quite a bit. If you can do that, you will love this book and all of the questions that it brings up about what happened in Jerusalem the day Christ died on the cross. It sure has me thinking. Way to go, Thoenes!

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2011 in Fiction Reviews

 

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Book Review: Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Okay, I’m not normally one to pick up a romance, but it’s Christmassy and  based in England. Right now, I’m really into fiction that takes place in other countries. So this appealed to me. This was the first book I’ve ever read by Robin Jones Gunn, and I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the characters for a romance.

What I didn’t realize was that this is the second book in this series. The first one is Finding Father Christmas, but I was able to read this one and understand everything that was going on without reading the first book. I would suggest reading the other one first though.

In all, this was a nice read at Christmas. It really puts you in the Christmas spirit and transports you to a small English village. It was fun to read.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Fiction Reviews

 

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Book Review: Unlocked

Unlocked, Karen Kingsbury, Kingsbury, autism, autistic, Holden, Ella, Christian fiction, inspirational fictin, christian novel, christian novels, inspiration novel, inspirational novels, book review unlocked, book review, review

This book was incredibly exciting to read. I found myself cheering on Ella, who stood up to school bullies and attached herself to an autistic student in her high school. She was ridiculed for it, but she never budged on her commitment to her new friend, Holden. As she saw him start to engage and come out of his autistic shell, she became even more determined to stick with him, trying to draw him out more.

The story is amazing. I was awed to not only see through Holden’s friend’s and family’s point of view in this book, but from his point of view as well. To be able to get into the mind of an autistic soul was a pretty astonishing thing. All of the outward idiosyncrasies began to make sense as his thought process was revealed.

Half-way through the story, it was so incredible, it was starting to sound too good to be true. So, I flipped to the back of the book to read the note from the author and hopefully see how Karen Kingsbury went about researching for the book. I wanted to see if there was any truth in what I was reading.

What I discovered was that she had witnessed this very story in real life. You’ll have to read it for yourself to see what I’m talking about, but it made this novel even more incredible. After Karen came across this real life story, she sat on an airplane and outlined the whole book, filling up 20 pages in her notebook. She poured her heart out, even crying for the characters in the story as she scribbled out the storyline and title. It was the first time she’d ever done anything like that, and she felt that God had met with her on that plane and gave her “Unlocked” as a special gift from him.

I’ve got to say, I agree with her. The book feels like it is a special gift from God to show people that he loves everyone. The way he creates people is not by accident. And the story of this miraculous journey puts this on display beautifully. I can’t say enough. This book has got to be read!

Thank you, Zondervan, for sending this book to me in exchange for my review.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2010 in Fiction Reviews

 

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Book Review: Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Crazy Love by Francin Chan, Crazy Love, Francis Chan, Crazy love book review, crazy love review, crazy love by chan, crazy love by francis chan book review, chan, christian book review, christian book reviews

Uh-mazing!

This book spoke to my heart in amazing ways. It just oozes truth and the way that God wants us to live.

In the preface, Chris Tomlin says that this may be the most challenging book (besides the Bible) that you’ll read this year – or the even the next few years. I agree. I really feel that the Holy Spirit has a good grip on Francis Chan. He makes it clear that this book is not about him. It is about coming to love God more and giving God more. I am encouraged and challenged to do both.

This book is an important one – one that every American Christian should read. It will challenge you to really look at Jesus’ words and instructions and live them out. It will make you think about what you can do to make a difference. And not only think about it, but to do it.

Read this book – even if it is the only book you read this year! The truths and ideas in this book (because they are straight from Jesus) have the ability to change a person, a whole church, a community, or more!

 

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Book review: Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson

Bringing Up Girls, Bringing up girls book review, bringing up girls review, james dobson, dr. dobson, dr dobson, dr. james dobson, dr james dobson, raising girls, parent resources, parent resource, parenting, help for parents, vanessa carrollWhen I first saw that Bringing Up Girls was finally out, I was very excited! I had heard of the book Bringing Up Boys by Dobson and always wondered when he was going to write this one. He researched for three years before he published the book. He didn’t jump into it lightly, and I’m glad. You can really feel the care and love he took in writing this book. I hope it will profoundly impact how girls are raised.

When I brought the book home, my  first thought was that it was going to be hard to read and I would have to force myself to keep reading it. Happily, that was not the case at all. In fact, I had to keep forcing myself to put the book down. The book is truly fascinating.

In the book, Dobson clearly shows where American pop culture and values are today and how it got there. He puts forth the evidence of how it is impacting girls today, and it is not pretty. We can all see this evidence clearly. What is shown on TV today, as opposed to just five years ago, is repulsive, and it will continue in a downward trend. Of that, we can be sure. What kids watch, the peers they hang around with, and their home environment has a huge impact on them and will most likely steer their whole lives.

Not only does Dobson show how the culture is affecting girls, he delves into how God created girls differently than boys. This is what I found especially fascinating. I had no idea that baby and toddler girls are affected by hormones until the age of three. And I had no idea that healthy affection from parents can actually stave of early puberty. That was just a couple examples of the amazing things that can be learned from Bringing Up Girls. I found the whole book to be really incredible.

There are so many issues that girls face now that we didn’t have to deal with. One of the kids interviewed in this book stated that parents can help kids through these difficult times, but they have to stay tuned in to their kid’s world. One way to do that is to read this book. It takes you from the womb, through early childhood, and into the teen years. It shows the issues girls deal with and gives great advice, wisdom, and actual actions to take to prevent girls from going down the wrong road – or to get them out of it if they already are in a bad situation.

I wish every parent, teacher, youth worker, aunt, uncle, grandparent, and anyone else who influences children would read this book. It is that good! I have benefitted greatly from reading Dobson’s booksThe New Strong-Willed Child and The New Dare to Discipline. Dobson’s insights in these books formed the loving discipline that my husband and I use with our daughter. And similarly, after reading Bringing Up Girls, I feel much more prepared to teach my daughter how to become a girl who loves God and wants to make the right choices as she grows older. I feel I now have more knowledge that will help us give our daughter a strong foundation to stand on the rest of life.

Here’s the description of the book:

Bringing Up Boys by parenting expert and best-selling author Dr. James Dobson was, and continues to be, a runaway hit, selling more than 2 million copies to date. Now, Dr. Dobson presents his highly anticipated companion book: Bringing Up Girls. Based on extensive research, and handled with Dr. Dobson’s trademark down-to-earth approach, Bringing Up Girls will equip parents like you to face the challenges of raising your daughters to become healthy, happy, and successful women who overcome challenges specific to girls and women today and who ultimately excel in life.

 

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Book Review: Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner

Sometimes a Light Surprises, Jamie Langston Turner, Christian fiction, inspiration fiction, Christian novel, inspirational novel, Christian novels, inspirational novels, Christian book, Christian books

I haven’t read a book like this in a long time. It is written in third person, omniscient. The point of view jumps from character to character, so you really get a feel for what several people are thinking. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to follow along as you roam through several people’s minds through the course of the book.

I really enjoyed the characters of this book. They are real, flawed people. It is definitely a character-driven book, as opposed to a plot-driven book. So, anyone who enjoys delving into the imaginations and thoughts of characters will enjoy this book. It is very slow, allowing the reader to savor the words on the page. If you are one who likes action to drive a plot forward, you probably should skip this book. But if you are one who enjoys good writing about good characters, you’ll like this book. Personally, I like both of those styles.

I thought the subject matter was very appropriate for today’s world. The main character is a man who has grown away from his children, and they have become distant and bitter toward him – until one of his daughters takes the initiative to get them all back together again for a week-long vacation. The author does an amazing job of showing the eventual change of heart over several months in all of the characters involved in the story, using humor along the way.

It’s written in a slightly old-fashioned way (which I enjoyed, by the way). Even though the writing style was a little old-fashioned, the author made sure to make the young characters modern in their clothing choices as well as pop culture. So, it’s kind of an old-fashioned contemporary book.

One other thing in the book that I was surprised about was that one of the characters was interested in adopting from China. What was surprising was that all of the statements made about children adopted from China and the adoption process were wrong. My husband and I have adopted from China, and for the last five years, I’ve studied the subject in some way just about every day. I have never heard any of the statements that she has made in the book; they are really out there. But I don’t hold this against her. I really enjoyed the book, so I can overlook these off-base statements. It does make me wonder where she got her info on the subject though.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Sometimes a Light Surprises. I liked all of the characters and felt it was true to life and real. The subject of Christianity was subtle, but made its way into characters hearts. The book was very well written and pleasant and amusing to read.

Book description:

Though it was years ago, Ben Buckley has never gotten over the loss of his wife. But even more than the mystery surrounding her death is the radical change that occurred in her life shortly beforehand. Their marriage was unusually happy–until she met a woman who “turned her on to religion.” Baffled, angry, and still feeling guilty for the way he treated Chloe those final weeks, Ben now lives behind the protective walls of severed relationships and a rigid work routine. When two unlikely people enter his narrow world, Ben’s view of his life begins to change, and gradually the barriers he’s erected around himself come tumbling down. For readers who enjoy character-driven, thought-provoking stories that stay with them long after the last page is turned.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Fiction Reviews

 

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