Monday, June 5, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter
(Thomas Nelson 2017)

This book struck a balance between the pros and cons. In my opinion, although the writing was solid, there were instances where delivery of the art was lacking.

Denise Hunter, in the vein of Song of Solomon, portrayed the sensuality and physical attraction between a married couple. Although these two were in the process of finalizing the divorce, the attraction was still there. The author toed the line (according to Christian fiction standards), never quite stepping over it, when it came to describe the lust, love, and attraction between the characters. There might have been one instance where a reader would say that God's name was taken in vain, but it depends on how the sentence is read.

The faith wasn't as strong in Sweetbriar Cottage as it were in her earlier books. Gladly, there were no more usage of mildly crude language that had appeared in some previous works.

Denise Hunter handled a very sensitive topic well, although I had wished for a little more depth to the subject. To me, a reader needed to know that Josephine's past attack was what spurred her behavior all those years prior to her relationship with Noah. We see a little bit of it in the masterfully way the author handled the flashbacks; but, I felt as though the reader needed to see more of her brokenness in order to understand her doubts and fears.

The one pet peeve that I had with the book was the use of "much obliged". I have never known a late 20s to mid 30s (not even a 40s) Southern man or woman use the term "much obliged". Even though it's Southern, that phrase has fallen out of favor and usage. Thankfully, it stopped before the halfway point.

I will say this about Sweetbriar Cottage: I liked the way the book was written. The story, although predictable, was a great way to show that faith in following God and exercising forgiveness. Not all stories are what they seem. There's always more to it, and this book is no exception. The style was more reminiscent of the older way of writing books, and that sometimes took the emotional impact away.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. The sensuality is nothing to be ashamed of in this book. It showed the beauty of a married couple who still loved each other. I wouldn't recommend it to a younger teenager, though.

For a while I stopped reading Denise Hunter's books, but this one may have opened the gate to reading a few more. 

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***I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange of an honest review*** 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Divide by Jolina Petersheim

The Divide (The Alliance #2)
Jolina Petersheim 
(Tyndale 2017)

This is one of those rare times where I really enjoyed the book and where the pros barely overrode the cons.

I'll start with the cons in this second installment of The Alliance story. The insertion of Sal's POV seemed more of a storyline crutch than any added value. Sure it helped knowing the "other side" of what was happening, but it could have been approached differently in my opinion. The four/five times that the POV was used compared to the alternating POVs of Moses and Lenora was jarring and inconsistent.

The first two thirds of the books seemed draggy, and took a while for things to happen. It did become a chore to read at first. And the last negative point about this book would be the abrupt transition from one scene to another. The first book handled it smoothly, but in The Divide, no matter whose POV, the scene breaks jarred me a little out of the story until I could visualize what was happening to be able to immerse myself into the book again.

As for the positive elements, there are many. The faith element, while strong, was never overpowering. It developed naturally. The doubts, fears, hope, and triumphs gave an eerily authentic feel to the story. Each chapter led me down a path of the story that was captivating and I hungered for the next chapter to see what happened. The last third of the book the pace really picked up. There was one instance where it seemed convenient, but as I looked back, the clues were there, hidden in the dialogue exchange between Moses and Josh.

The story isn't about the EMP, or what happens to society afterwards. It is an intimate look at two lives, from two separate lifestyles, but with the same faith. What do they decided to do? What stand do they make?

This is a solid and satisfying ending to the story of Moses and Lenora. There were no sudden happily ever afters for everyone. There were no convenient endings or solutions. What this book offered was a realistic, enjoyable, and thought provoking story that can be read again and again. And each time, I am sure there will be something new to take away from the reading.  

***I was provided a copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange of an honest review***
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Monday, May 29, 2017

God's Lineup by Kevin and Elizabeth Morrisey

Kevin and Elizabeth Morrisey
(Ambassador International 2012)  

Any major league sport will have a devoted fan base and even the players themselves will view their chosen sport as the most important thing in life.

In God's Lineup, we are exposed to the raw faith of 26 Christian players who are either retired or actively playing.

As in many areas of life, Christians can be ridiculed and baseball is no exception; although MLB does have what is called Baseball Chapel. We are shown through a few testimonies how this ministry became a pivotal point in many players' lives.

The testimonies contained in this book doesn't lessen the masculinity of the men, but instead it fortifies the uniqueness of each and how they yearn to spread the Gospel.

Like the Topps, Fleer, and Upper Deck baseball cards, each chapter has a take on the player highlights, but geared toward their faith: born, favorite verses, saved, positions, team, school, drafted, debut, seasons, teams, etc. At the bottom is the baseball stats. This added dimension gives the book a stronger authenticity to baseball.

I feel as though readers will find this book as an uplifting alternative to a biography or devotional. For baseball fanatics, it would be a much recommended gift.

Successful career or unsuccessful career, retired or active, this book shows, as Stephen Drew said: "We're here for a reason, and that's to glorify His name."

Ben Zobrist sums it completely: "I owe everything in my life to Christ because I would have nothing without Him."

This uplifting book is one that is hard to put down and one to keep always--a great book of testimonies. 

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Scientists Discover God by William Davis

William Dallas
(Ambassador International/Ambassador Books and Media 2012)

This book from across "the pond" is one that melds Christian faith and science. Written in layman terms, William Dallas takes sciences such as quantum physics, quantum theory, natural selection, geography, etc. to show that many discoveries (past and present) and theories prove the existence of God.

For one example: The Big Bang Theory states that nothing existed beforehand and yet science proves that nothing can be created from nothing.

The first third of the book cites many sources, secular and faith, to set up his argument. The second third explains the Christian faith. The last portion concluded with a merge of the two.

Being a nerd in all things dealing with the universe, quantum theory and physics, etc., I found this book ideal for an introduction into the deep topic, and a controversial one. It was thought provoking and informative, a highly recommended read for the curious. 

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