Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

For many years, intentional living has been our goal as a family. I read a variety of blogs and other resources that support this type of thoughtful living and decision making. I am not a big reader of nonfiction books, but when Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller showed up in my inbox, it sounded like something I'd like to try reading. I discovered several years ago that I am what is known as a "highly sensitive person" and my daughter is highly sensitive as well. Having opportunities to rest and recharge as well as good overall routines in place is important to both of us. During the first half of this school year (when I started this book), we were in a place of just being too busy and I was feeling the strain of that.

Enter Rhythms of Rest. The focus of the book is delving into what the Sabbath is and how we can make it a reality in our daily lives. In addition, the book discusses the benefits of Sabbath keeping and what a gift from God the concept and practice of Sabbath is. As a result of reading this book, we have made some adjustments to our Sunday routines. As church musicians, my husband and I work on Sundays, so we needed some practical steps to find rest on Sundays after our responsibilities were complete. This book is full of stories and ideas that will help anyone to find opportunities for Sabbath rest whenever they can find it. It's not just limited to Sundays. I'm looking forward to receiving the weekly "Sabbath Society" emails to keep our forward progress going in this area.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green is a Christian historical fiction novel like none I've ever read before. I finished the book a few weeks ago and it has continued to leave an impression on me. Julianne Chevalier is a midwife who was imprisoned after a women giving birth in her care died. She is branded a criminal whose only hope is exile to the French colony of Louisiana. This exit comes with a price - marriage to another prisoner. From the difficult passage to Louisiana to the untamed and unlawful lands and people Julianne finds there, her strength and faith is constantly tested. Full of mystery, sadness, suspense, danger, and intrigue, this novel is an intense journey. Julianne finds she cannot escape the mark that brands her a criminal, at least not in the eyes of people, but she can be made new through God's grace and mercy.

This book was incredibly fascinating because of its unique time period and location. I've never read a book set in the French colony of Louisiana as it was being established. The book was very thoroughly researched and readers are transported into Julianne's world. That being said, this book is gripping in its emotional intensity. As part of this realistic portrayal, the author doesn't overly sanitize the content of this book. Julianne and those traveling to Louisiana were criminals and were treated as such. The expectation for the newly married convict couples was to populate Louisiana with French colonists and guards made sure the couples did what was necessary for this to happen. The land was savage and untamed so the book included violent punishments and deaths. Julianne was a midwife, so there were descriptions of her tasks in this job as well. I don't tell readers this to discourage them from reading the book, but to make everyone aware that this book is an extremely well-written, realistic, historical fiction novel. It is one that won't be forgotten soon.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Book Review: Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin is a Christian historical fiction book set in two different time periods in the mid to late 1800’s. Anna Nicholson is the daughter of a prominent Chicago family, seeking answers to deep questions about her life and faith after breaking off her engagement. As she thinks about her life and what she really wants, she goes to Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan to regroup. There she meets Derk Vander Veen, a young worker at the hotel that is planning to go into ministry. At the same time, Geese de Jonge, Derk’s “adoptive” grandmother, is writing her story of emigrating to America from the Netherlands 50 years ago. Though painful at times, Geese understands that telling her story is important. She is shocked to realize that she and Anna may be connected and some of the most painful parts of her story may yield a sweet joy that she never anticipated.

The book Waves of Mercy is told is alternating points of view as Anna shares her thoughts and revelations and Geese writes about her story 50 years earlier. The reader anticipates the ending, which is unlikely but still joyful. Anna questions the expectations of faith and marriage for a woman in the upper class, but her questions are still relevant today. Similarly, Geese’s story is full of deep lows, but the hand of God is still evident through her journey. I think readers of Christian historical fiction will enjoy the characters in this story as they struggle to find peace and grow in their understanding of God. I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Book Review: A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White is the third book in the Ladies of the Manor series. This Christian historical fiction book continues the saga of the coveted Fire Eyes diamonds that was started in the first two books in the series. The book series is set in the early 1900's and the story is told by interweaving the perspectives of those in the upper class as well as those in service. This title features Lord James Cayton and Lady Ella Myerston and their relationship that develops despite the peril they face in protecting the diamonds.

First of all, the cover of this book is gorgeous! Easily one of my favorites that I've read this year. Many of the reviews state that fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy this book and I definitely agree. There's a richness to the writing that really captures the characters and time period well. The book is full of intrigue, romance, and suspense plus characters that develop and change. Lord Cayton is actively trying to make himself a better person by studying the Bible and he also is a hands-on, doting father, something that would have been very rare for that time period. I think the book would be difficult to read and fully understand without reading the first two books. In addition, it is sometimes hard to keep characters and their relationships straight even after reading the first two books.

I received the book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Book Review: A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears is a Christian historical fiction novel with a very timely and relevant message for all of us to hear. Lydia King is a member of the Teaville Moral Society and she truly has a heart for the poor. She's engaged to the son of the moral society's president, despite the fact that she doesn't love him. Lydia is hiding a secret about her own poverty and how close she is to being a part of those that Teaville needs to help. Lydia has been asked to get a donation for the moral society from Nicholas Lowe, the richest man in town, but he repeatedly denies her requests, regardless of how many times she asks. Lydia and Nicholas strike a bargain that shows her more about the character and heart of Nicholas than she could have possibly imagined.

This book was well written and interesting. I enjoyed the two main characters and was intrigued by the societal expectations of women of that time period. Lydia finds herself drawn into a world she couldn't have imagined, moved by the plight of women whom she's never socialized with before. Without giving too much away, I think this book has an important message for us about the hurting and marginalized people in our world. The time period changes, but the needs of people don't change.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

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