Saturday, September 29, 2012

Walk with Me



Title:  Walk with Me:  A Pilgrims Progress for Married Couples
Author:  Annie Wald                                                                                                                        
Pages:  288
Year:  2012
Publisher:  River North
      Walk with Me, an allegory, is a truly refreshing novel that is appropriate for those preparing for marriage and those married.  It is also beneficial if both husband and wife read it to see what speaks to them.  As a wife of 24 years and counting, this allegory at times reminded me of some of the seasons we have gone through as a couple.  It would be good for pre-marital counseling for couples so they can in story form catch a glimpse of different marital seasons.  Plus the couple can reread it through their years of marriage and be reminded as well as counseled in story form.  Also, it would be good for a couples study group so couples can share their experiences.  It would serve as a way to access their hearts, maybe helping them to share their joys and sorrows.
     The allegory follows one couple from before they meet, then as they travel the various routes in their journey to the King’s City.  The couple meets their families on different parts of their journey and shows how they are influencing the couples’ choices or decisions.  During their travels, Peter and Celeste must face their own strengths, weaknesses, and choices.  Throughout the story, Scripture is shared in a variety of forms that captures the traveler’s attention and touches the heart.  While traveling, they meet different characters that give both helpful and harmful instruction.  The choice though as to whether to follow the instruction is always with Peter and Celeste.
      Beginning the journey is shown by how one comes from Slouching City, the other Upright Village.  Throughout their marriage, as is real today, their views and choices are usually based on their upbringing, showing both the similarities that may exist and the differences.  The marital journey they take has many scenes with many different characters.  The other part of this allegorical story is how one partner affects the other partner by the choices they make, remarks made, behavior shown, and more.  How realistic this is from my point of view as I read this.  What made it realistic for me were the memories it stirred.  Another way was the points in the story where I felt convicted, prayed to change, and where seeing an experience through Peter’s perspective helped me to understand how we don’t all see with the same eyes or viewpoint.  One way the allegory touched me was to know the areas where I could put into words what my heart felt, and the allegory expressed it so well.
      I cannot encourage you enough to grab a copy or copies to read, keep in your personal library or to give away.  Maybe you might be able to touch the hearts of those around you by giving them a copy of this as a present?  Of course, no allegory or story can cover any one couples’ lifetime of experiences, heart, thoughts or lessons learned, but this was close.
     My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Walk with Me
River North; New Edition edition (September 1, 2012)
by
Annie Wald


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Along with being the author of Walk With Me (forthcoming September 2012, River North/Moody), my fiction has been published in numerous journals including Image, The Southern Review and The North American Review and included in the anthology series, Not Safe But Good, edited by Bret Lott and published by Thomas Nelson. I’m also the author of a young adult novel, The Counterfeit Collection (Tyndale) and I’ve written feature articles for many publications such as Guideposts, Leadership, and Partnership.
Before writing full-time, I worked in book publishing as an acquisitions editor and then as Editor-in-Chief at Princeton University Press. Since 2000, I’ve lived in Morocco where my husband is the pastor of Rabat International Church. We have two married daughters and four delightful grandchildren.

A Word from Annie:

If you still want to know more about me, you may be interested to learn:
On the Myers-Briggs scale, I’m not an I for introvert. I’m an H for hermit.
But I’ve been known to say, “We’re having a small gathering; only 10 people.”
I love Easter sunrise services in cemeteries.
I live on the west coast — of Africa.
My favorite Moroccan meal: Zahara’s beef couscous with raisin sauce, and tchouchouka.
J’adore le francais.
I once told God I’d marry anyone except the man who became my husband.
I prefer to make things up rather than do research, although I have been described as an ‘infomaniac’.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Peter and Celeste choose to travel as one on the lifelong journey to the King's City
. They are blissfully in love and bound to each other by the Cords of Commitment.
Shortly after visiting the Moon of Honey they discover that the journey proves
much more difficult than they expected. When they find themselves laboring
through the Swamp of Selfishness, crossing the dismal Plains of Distance, and
nearly becoming separated by the River of Unfaithfulness, their love for each
other and for the King is challenged. They must choose whether to continue on
together, not knowing if they can be warmed again by the Kindling of Affection,
or visit the Valley of Cut Cords to journey alone once more.

If you'd like to read a chapter excerpt of Walk with Me, go HERE.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reunion by Laura Snelling

Title:  Reunion
Author:  Lauraine Snelling
Pages:  315
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Faith Words

                Reunion is the story of the Sorenson family celebrating their family ties and their trials in life this side of heaven.  There are several storylines running throughout the book that come together nicely at the end.  The author has used some events from her own life as the source for portions of this book.
                Bjorn and Keira are in their 50s with their own insurance agency.  Their children are grown and leading their own lives.  One son is married, but his wife has suffered a miscarriage and soon learns she will not be able to have any children due to her health.  Keira is busy planning the annual Sorenson family reunion that takes place at her mother’s house.  This will be the first reunion without her mother present as she has died in the year since the last reunion.  This is a big reunion with family coming from all over the country.  Her husband decides to surprise Keira with a cruise to Norway, the family birthplace.  Keira must find her birth certificate in order to get a passport.  She goes to her mother’s house to search for it.  What does she discover when she finally locates it?  Bjorn and Keira are both Christians and usually the first to volunteer to serve.  Why is Keira so reluctant to do so when disaster strikes a town in Kansas?
                Marcus and Leah have two sons who are in college.  Their last child, Kirsten, is a senior in high school and due to graduate in a few weeks.  Marcus is Keira’s brother.  Leah is Keira’s best friend.  Marcus is a pastor at a local church and Leah is a nurse who works part-time at a nursing home.  Marcus loves his daughter and calls her his “princess”.  Kirsten is a fanatic about her grades and performance.  She is the salutatorian of her senior class while her boyfriend, Jose, is the valedictorian.  They both plan to attend Northwestern University in the fall and both plan to major in medicine.  Jose is offered a full scholarship.  They both are strong Christians with the intent of marrying after they graduate from college.  What happens between the two that will allow only one of them to go to college?  Can the families of Jose and Kirsten recover from this stunning event?
                Throughout the story, the reader sees the interactions between family members and their strong commitment to Christ and to each other.  We also see their human failings, and how easy sin can sway decisions.  The family dynamic is going to change.  How will they deal with this?  Their reactions are so easy to identify with, which makes the story more real.  Will they be able to overcome these trials?  No, they can’t on their own.  They must learn to depend on the Lord, and that with Him, “all will be well”.
My rating is 3 stars.


Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Her Good Name



Title:  Her Good Name
Author:  Ruth Axtell
Pages:  345
Year:  2012
Publisher:  River North, a division of Moody Publishers
                Her Good Name had me hooked from the beginning.  The author has a way with storytelling that just draws you in from the beginning.  Her characters are very likeable, and you can identify with their emotions easily.  The setting is in a small town in Maine called Holliston in 1892.
                Warren Brentwood III has returned from two years of traveling the continent after graduating from college.  He is being groomed by his father to take over the family lumber business.  His father has named him as manager, but really the job is in title only.  His father still makes all the decisions.  His parents want him to marry a childhood friend from a “good” family.  Warren has no romantic feelings for this girl and isn’t ready to marry.  He is asked by his pastor to lead a new young people’s group composed of some of his friends as well as those from “the wrong side of the tracks”.  The purpose is to reach those other young people who don’t feel welcome in church.  During these meetings, he is drawn to Esperanza Estrada, but knows they can never have a future together as she is poor and not of his social class.  Espy is a Christian like Warren.  Can he overcome his parents’ objections and indeed have a relationship with Espy?  What has she gotten herself into this time that the whole town is talking?  Warren is also faced with a challenge from his pastor as to his future.  What does God want him to do?
                Esperanza Estrada, or Espy, is a young woman who is spirited, gets along well with all different kinds of people, and genuinely cares for the less fortunate.  She has secretly been in love with Warren for a very long time.  She lives in a very poor area.  Her father comes and goes in her life.  He is an alcoholic and only returns home when he runs out of money.  She has 10 brothers and sisters who she takes care of.  She works at a cannery, canning fish.  She loves to read and learn about new things, but had to leave school before starting high school to go to work to help support her family.  She joins the church group and works with Warren.  She hears about an opportunity to leave the cannery and clean house for a local teacher.  He offers to lend her books from his personal library, and then offers to tutor her.  He makes inappropriate advances toward Espy and is caught by his wife.  He tells Espy he’ll explain everything and she has nothing to worry about.  The next thing she knows the whole town is condemning her as a hussy!  Where is God in all this?  Will anyone believe her side of the story?
                This is just a sweet story that will keep you turning the pages until the end.  I have added this author to my “keeper” shelf.  This is a wonderful story of faith and seeing God at work in the lives of his followers as they study his word and grow closer to him.
My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two Destinies



Title:  Two Destinies
Author:  Elizabeth Musser                                                                                                             
Pages:  464
Year:  2012
Publisher:  David C. Cook                                                                            
                The novel is the third in a series of historical stories set in France at the time of the Algerian Civil War.  According to the author, many thousands of lives were lost.  Recently, the Algerian government passed a law that all Christian groups are to declare themselves.  The spread of Islam into Algeria didn’t stop at the borders, and had direct impact on other bordering nations as well as beyond.  With the law in place, there are Christians who knowingly meet in house churches, fervently following the Lord.  Such is the backdrop in this story, which also includes in France the growing number of citizens that are homeless, jobless, and more.
                Ceb is at one time known as a cardiovascular surgeon.  He is living life with determination and never at a slow pace.  One night he has an accident that radically alters his body, lifestyle, and spiritual life.  It takes many different paths, trials, and friendships to show Ceb that God is with him through all he has suffered.  God is drawing Ceb back to the fold.  Will he return?
                Ophelie loves the Lord, and learning to follow Him without ever compromising her walk with Him is beginning to cost more.  Ophelie is a playwright, teacher, and Sunday school teacher as well.  Her love of literature and classical music always gives her a purpose in teaching others.  Her hope is that her students will never end up on the streets, but have an excellent education.  Afraid to love again and unsure of what the future holds, she becomes a volunteer at the Red Cross.  What happens there changes more than just Ophelie’s life.  Who else?
                Ophelie’s brother, Eric, is in love with an Arab girl.  Both are Christians, but the girl’s family is steadfast followers of Allah.  Eric is only 19 with more university years ahead of him, but his life’s crossroads are staring him right in the face when his girlfriend is held in Algeria and being forced to wed another man.  What actions will Eric take to save her?
                Rislene loves Eric.  She loves her family too, but the difference in faiths is about to blow up in her life.  Her father takes her with the rest of the family under false pretenses to Algeria.  After 10 days she awakes to find herself captive.  Rislene is about to learn the reality of lessons learned while attending her study group.  Will the Lord be enough for her?  Can she believe that He has her in the palm of His hand and will see her through dangers both known and unknown?
                There is much more to the novel than I put here in the review.  I wanted to give enough of the backdrop and storyline to entice you to read an excellent work of fiction.  While reading this novel, my heart was more exposed to the reality of the underground church, the possible dangers, lives, and the faith they live daily.  I was engrossed in the action and all but tugged at the heart to live more aware of the underground servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How blessed I am!  What is more important is making sure I am available to be used as a blessing to others.  While you read this book, be aware of His touch on you.  You will be more than glad you did!
My rating 5 stars!
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457