Feb 5, 2016

Book Review: A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts



Great quote:  "How to recount the strange events that led to my present life is something of a quandary. My orderly father would have advised me to start at the beginning - but as much as I loved and respected him, starting in the middle is the only way to make sense of it all." (opening sentence)

Book summary:  "In the spring of 1817, Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long presumed dead; but instead of enjoying a loving reunion, they are plunged into treachery and deceit.  Nothing is as they expected and little is what it seems. Even the man who helps her escape is not the reliable suitor he appears." (Back Cover) 

My thoughts:  A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts is a wonderfully unique novel of historical fiction. First, it focuses on time in American history that is often overlooked, specifically the early 1800s. Secondly, A River Too Deep is a work of Christian fiction with plenty of Bible verse references, however it is set within the world of the Native-Americans.

The main character is Alcy (aka - Eyes-Like-Water). When she is kidnapped, she is taken from her wealthy world of privilege. Living among the Native-Americans, she learns of a new world, with day-to-day tasks that she never dreamed she would have to do. While learning the tasks, she also begins to mature spiritually, relying on her Christian faith. As she walks in a completely new culture, she learns more about herself and the world she was forced to leave behind. 

This book was awarded "USA Best Book Awards Finalist" in the religion category by USABookNews.com in 2013. It is well written and is filled with many suspenseful scenes. Personally, I'm not much of a romance book fan, but I found that the historical adventure and culture carried the book enough for me to ignore a bit of the "hearts aflutter" scenes. One unique aspect of this book was that each chapter ends with a Bible verse. The verses help to illuminate the struggles of the characters and how God is present in all situations. 


Rating: 5 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   265
  • Year originally published:    2013
  • Book Tour:  My review is part of a larger collection of reviews. For more information, please visit CelebrateLit
Purchase on Amazon:  A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts  





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FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Feb 4, 2016

Book Review: Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart




Great quote:  "Brock felt sleep finally reaching out for him. As it did, he promised himself he would dream and find his younger self. When he succumbed to the subconscious world, his hope rose, because he had the distinct feeling it was a promise he'd be able to keep." (Page 177) 

Book summary:  "What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?" (cover)

My thoughts:  Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart centers on those age old questions of "what if?" and "What would I do differently in my life?". 

This work of fiction centers around a character named Brock Matthews who finds himself in quite a unique position. After reading a book on lucid dreaming, he begins to visit himself decades before. During his time-traveling dreams, he advises and warns his earlier self to make different choices, each resulting in different outcomes when Brock awakes in the present time as his 50-something year old self.

The plot is a bit like the movie Groundhog Day, where the main guy keeps going around in life until he learns enough lessons and gets everything right. And that's precisely what I hated about this book! Between the "wheel of karma" vibe and the emphasis on lucid dreaming (a.k.a. one is in charge of their own thoughts and outcomes including dreams), this book is the most un-christian book published by a christian publishing house that I have read in quite a while. Sure, the characters occasionally "pray for each other" but the whole God-thing in this book is really just a footnote. For example, if it was truly a Christian-based novel, why didn't the two Brocks pray together or seek God's guidance together? No, instead it was page after page of main character Brock working really hard to figure out how his life should end and learning how he could make the world into his own image. This book could have even been much better without a God element, rather than the watered-down after-thought variation of Christianity portrayed in this book.

On the other hand, putting the Christian label and the Christian publishing house aside, this is a thought-provoking premise for a novel. It begs the reader to ask the hard questions. What if I had taken that job in a different field? What if I had married a different person? What if I had a chance to speak to a deceased loved one again before it was too late? This novel had me thinking about a few of these questions until late in the night.

Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart is one of those rare books that I liked and hated at the same time. It scores a solid 3 of 5 stars in my mind because of the book's good and bad qualities. Overall, I guess I liked it because the book gave me a lot to think about regarding choices I have made in my life. In my opinion, however, the premise could have been tightened and the author's point could have been infinitely more clear.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:  391
  • Year originally published:   2015
  • Author:   James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling novel Rooms as well asBook of Days, The Chair, Soul's Gate, Memory's Door, and Spirit Bridge. He lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest. 
  • Website: www.jameslrubart.com 
  • Twitter: @jameslrubart 
  • Facebook: JamesLRubart
Purchase on Amazon:  Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart




 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Review: Dangerous Love by Ray Norman

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0718027086/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0718027086&linkCode=as2&tag=mustard0d-20&linkId=O6W7BLB4ZTU6U2VQ

Great quote:  "We had come to Mauritania knowing that God had given us a commandment to love, and we had come wanting to be vessels of that love in both word and deed." (Page 201)

Book summary:  "A true story of tragedy, faith and forgiveness." (cover)

Where is Mauritania?
Pic Credit: World Atlas
My thoughts:  Dangerous Love is the testimony of Ray Norman, a former World Vision missionary director in the African country of Mauritania. While on assignment to this Muslim country on the edge of the Saharan Desert, Norman and his daughter were shot at point-blank range as they drove to an afternoon outing at the beach. The shooting took place just a few short weeks after the 9/11 tragedy. The book is a retelling of their medical adventures after the shooting, but more importantly the story reveals the healing of their hearts after the traumatic events.

Author Ray Norman is a talented writer who has penned an exciting memoir. As a reader and a human, I found myself wanting to reach into the book to change the decisions the Normans were making. How on earth could they return to that dangerous location, especially with their daughter? Norman's testimony and explanation is heart-felt, compassionate and articulate. Slowly, I began to understand what Ray Norman and his family were trying to achieve by relying on God for forgiveness and guidance. I'm still not certain I would have made the same decisions as the Normans, but my understanding is now richer regarding Mauritania and the Muslim way of life.

Dangerous Love by Ray Norman is one of those books that forces you to ask yourself, "What would I do?" in that situation. Would I return to Mauritania? Would my family ever feel safe again? How would I find a way to forgive? The answers are truly not easy, however the way Ray Norman and his family handle the situation is quite inspiring. Dangerous Love is a wonderful lesson in forgiving a gigantic unknown and trusting God in a very dark place.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:  236
  • Year originally published:  2015
  • Author: "Ray Norman is the WASH Director of Faith Leadership at World Vision and former national director for World Vision’s program in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Previously academic dean at Messiah College in Grantham, PA, he is now scholar-in-residence. He and his wife live in Grantham, PA, and Bonningues-les-Ardres, in northern France."

Purchase on Amazon:  Dangerous Love by Ray Norman




 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Feb 2, 2016

Book Spotlight: Grace's Forgiveness by Molly Jebber


Grace’s Forgiveness by Molly Jebber is a 320 page novel in the Christian Amish genre.  It  is published by Kensington Publishing Corp and was released on Jan 26, 2016. 


About the Book

A handsome newcomer with secrets shows a yearning Amish woman a chance at happiness—but their love will need all their courage to keep . . .




Grace Blauch is skilled at midwifery—and crafting quilts that help others pass on messages of enduring family love. But a disfiguring birthmark keeps the young Amish woman from a husband and home of her own—until Mark King arrives from another community. His helpfulness and independent nature earn Grace’s respect. And he finds her outspoken ways and determination to do right irresistibly appealing. Soon Grace is planning a wedding quilt of her very own . . . until her father discovers that Mark’s shunned brother is hiding somewhere in town . . .

 Grace can well understand why Mark took such a risk once she hears his wrenching reasons. But she fears even prayer will not convince her father to restore his blessing on their union. She wills herself to face the end of her dreams, but sudden danger and an impossible act of generosity will show her that abiding hope can inspire the most precious of miracles  . . .

About the Author

Molly Jebber is an educational, motivational, and Women’s Christian Connection speaker. She was raised in a small town in the Midwest, and insists if you had blinked twice, you would’ve missed it. She loves God, her family and friends, sunshine, swimming and traveling to the Amish communities.  Creating historical Amish characters and throwing them into difficult situations and joyous times has been challenging and fun for her. The greatest reward she’s experienced in becoming an author is meeting wonderful people from all over the world who’ve been encouraging and supportive.

Purchase on Amazon:




CelebrateLit.com Giveaway:






FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf did not receive this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale. Kindle giveaway is sponsored by CelebrateLit.com and not LavishBookshelf.com.

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