Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Arms of Love by Kelly Long

I recently had the opportunity to review Kelly Long's Amish Beginnings novel, Arms of Love.  As I think I've recently mentioned, I have really enjoyed the Amish genre lately, and Ms. Long's book is no exception!  This was a really great story, and I found myself completely wrapped up in the plot, and feeling like I was a part of the characters' lives.  

Without any spoilers, I'll give a brief summary:  the book begins with main character Adam Wyse making a promise to his neighbor, who is great with child and feels that God has told her that she will not survive the birth of her fourth child.  This neighbor is also the mother of the young woman, Lena Yoder, who Adam loves dearly.  The promise he makes will break his heart as he faces tough decisions regarding his faith and the civil war.  Adam is a good man with a sincere heart who is often overlooked because of his intellectual brother, whose greatest desire is to become a bishop.  Revelations from not only Adam's past, but that of his father, will shape the eventual outcome of this story.

I was unfamiliar with Kelly Long before reading this book, but I'm so glad that I made the choice to read and review!  She's an excellent writer, and I am already looking at reading some of her other novels.  A great feature at the end of the story is a Reading Group Guide... whether or not I have the opportunity to read this with a group, I do plan on spending some time reviewing and answering the questions on my own.

Five star read- highly unpredictable, and highly recommended!  Thanks to the publisher for providing the book in exchange for my honest review!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Faith and Other Flat Tires - Andrea Palpant Dilley - A Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review Andrea Palpant Dilley's Faith and Other Flat Tires. The title causes the mind to wander a bit, and I suppose a prospective reader would assume the book was: 
 a- an atheistic view of why Christianity doesn't work 
b- the usual, expected, "I followed Jesus, this horrible event happened, I was mad at God, but now this good event has happened or this person has come into my life and therefore, I've come full circle and love Him more than ever."

Neither option sounds especially appealing to me. The first, because I do follow Jesus, and it does work. The second, because I know that not every follower's story wraps up so neatly with a bow on top. Life is messy and hard and doesn't always resolve in less than 400 pages. 

 I was pleasantly surprised to read this coming-of-age story that did not come full-circle. The author is by no means old, but has written this memoir of her life thus far. Her parents spent time as missionaries in Kenya, and the horrific experiences they witnessed are not lost on Andrea, even as a child. She lives her life, feeling like she does not fit in anywhere... that when she is in Kenya, she doesn't "belong", but when she returns to the States, she doesn't really feel that she belongs, because she has spent so much of her life out of the country. We travel with her from the point of childhood blind faith, through her teenage years and removing the "Jesus fish" from the back of her car, into adulthood, where she realizes that life is not like a Hallmark Channel movie. To expect things to be neat and orderly and sensible removes the humanity from life. Andrea deals with serious doubt, and at the end of the book, she still lacks answers. 

 I enjoyed reading this book, and {like most of her readers, I would imagine} found myself in the pages of the story. I caught glimpses of my life, and related to Andrea on many levels. I am typically not a memoir-reading kind of gal, but truly enjoyed the stories she included. I recommend this book for those seeking and doubting and lacking answers. Will it solve anything for you? Probably not. But, it will remind you that you are not alone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: Faithful to Laura by Kathleen Fuller

I recently finished reading "Faithful to Laura" by Kathleen Fuller. I enjoy the Christian Amish/Mennonite genre, and so when I had the opportunity to read and review "Faithful to Laura", I willingly jumped at the chance! Fuller does not disappoint in this novel. To my knowledge, I've never read any of her writings previously, but I will keep my eye out for her books from now on. She has this great way of describing the characters, and you actually feel like you know them by the time you get halfway through the book. I adored the story of Sawyer and Laura, and how they find common ground to connect and form a relationship. Both come from outside the community, and struggle with fitting in for different reasons. They have lots of baggage, but once each can convince the other to trust, Sawyer and Laura find that they're not so different. One thing I appreciated about this novel was how respectful the author was of the characters' relationships with God. The Amish tend to have a quiet faith, from my understanding, and while Fuller certainly included plenty of tidbits and anecdotes about the character's spiritual lives, she didn't go overboard or attempt to proselytize in this story. {And, so that you understand my perspective, I am a follower of Jesus... I just get frustrated sometimes when authors make faith seem so simple and easy and concrete. It's not.} I am grateful for the opportunity to read and review this book, which was provided to me by the publisher. Any opinions expressed are my own, and I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Choice - Robert Whitlow - A Review

Three or so years ago, when I first got an iPhone, I downloaded the Kindle app and set out to find free books that were actually GOOD. A challenge, for sure. After a good bit of searching, I found a free legal thriller {Christian genre} by Robert Whitlow. I read it in a day or two, and immediately set out to purchase the other two books in the series. It was SO good! Since that time, I peruse the free Christian fiction offerings to see if Whitlow has any new freebies, but have yet to find any others. Fast-forward to a few days ago- I was given the opportunity to read and review Whitlow's book, The Choice. Super psyched! It was a digital version, so I had immediate access to it, and managed to read it in three days. I adore Whitlow's writings, because it's deep, personal, and full of action. I always find a personal connection with the characters, and Sandy {the main character in The Choice} proved to be no exception. Whitlow is obviously no stranger to the legal world, as he is a practicing attorney in North Carolina. He infuses just the right amount of accurate information without overloading the reader with confusing legal jargon. I recommend The Choice without reservation. The only negative criticism I might offer is that the plot's a tad predictable... or perhaps I'm just intuitive? Either way, you'll find yourself hooked into the plot from the beginning, cheering for and crying with the characters, and before you know it, you'll be like me- on the search for another great read from Robert Whitlow. {This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a review. Any opinions expressed are original and my own.}