Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley








Title:  Dear Mr. Knightley
Author:  Katherine Reay
Pages:  327
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Samantha Moore is a 23-year-old failure in her own mind.  She was brought up in an abusive household and eventually placed in a foster home, Grace House.  After several failed trials at living with different foster families, Sam winds up at Grace House for good.  She is encouraged by the home’s administrator, Father John, to pursue a scholarship offered by a foundation to attend a prestigious journalism school.  Sam has always found solace and safety in her books.  These are her refuge when she is stressed.  These are where she runs when she is running away from life, or she literally runs as in marathons.  She hides behind the characters and uses their words to express herself sometimes because she doesn’t know how to express herself in her own words.  By doing so, as she grows up, she shuts out a lot of the world.
Sam accepts the scholarship and eventually begins her graduate degree.  She learns far more than journalism as she leaves Grace House for the final time.  She begins to learn about friendship and the responsibilities that entails.  She has her first boyfriend and the decisions that kind of relationship requires.  She has strong parental figures introduced in her life for the first time.  They encourage her to pray even if she doesn’t believe in the hopes that by praying belief will follow.  She also faces betrayal, heartache and anxiety.  In short, she begins to live life in the real world.
This book has more than one them running throughout, but one I took away from my reading was that to find joy, risk to oneself is necessary, giving trust without knowing if the trust will be cherished or not.  For ill or good, one must make oneself vulnerable and transparent and not hide behind one’s defenses that all people have for self-preservation.  I don’t believe in the “finding yourself” theme that was also promoted in the story, which is why I gave a lower rating.  I also found the quotes from the various British writers of classic stories obscure for many of today’s readers.  While many people may have read some of these books, most have not read them enough to be able to quote from them or recognize when someone else is quoting from them; thus, readers miss out or don’t get the significance of the references.  It was a good love story and there were some humorous lines that got me to laugh.
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

Friday, November 29, 2013

One Chance








Title:  One Chance (A Penelope Chance Mystery)
Author:  Daniel Patterson
Pages:  223
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Daniel Patterson
Set in Franklin, Florida, One Chance is the first Penelope Chance mystery.  She is a detective on the small Franklin police force and has recently become engaged to a local doctor.  Her parents were killed in a house fire when she was a young girl and she was taken in by Doug’s family.  Doug is her best friend, like the brother she never had.  She has become a detective, but she still lives with the guilt of surviving the fire when her parents did not.
In a quiet town, Penelope wishes for something that would come across her desk that would have her use her brain, something out of the routine.  Then, the weekend arrives and everything happens at once.  Doug is accused of trying to kill the other town drunk one Friday night.  Doug insists he is innocent; however, the victim identifies Doug’s truck and everyone knows Doug doesn’t let anyone else drive it.  Then, Doug’s ex-wife shows up after two years to drop off their 5-year-old son and then can’t be reached to see when she is returning.  Other strange events occur all over this same time period to make Penelope wonder what is going on in her little town. 
This is a fair mystery.  It isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either.  The characters seemed somewhat stilted to me.  I liked Penelope’s reliance on God in all things and her living her faith without fear of what other people think.  I didn’t think it was necessary that her fiancĂ© spend the weekend at her house when someone breaks into his home.  He could have stayed at a hotel or with some other friends.  I did like how Penelope stuck up for her best friend when everyone just looked at him as the town drunk and figured him as guilty.  However, I just didn’t feel the tension or suspense as I have in other mysteries.  I am interested in reading the next book in the series to give this author another chance in the mystery genre.  The second book in the series is due in the fall 2013 according to the back of book number one.
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, November 28, 2013

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front



Title:  Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front
Author:  Karen Whiting & Jocelyn Green
Pages:  626
Year:  2012
Publisher:  God & Country Press
Before you consider dismissing this nonfictional book due to the length, let me assure you this is one not to dismiss or miss!  Both authors are prolific writers in many genres, and when I asked Karen Whiting about the book, even what she shared with me didn’t prepare me for the inspiration in these pages!  Let me share some of the chat with you before I tell you more about the book:
Lisa:  Is this about American war?
Karen:  Yes, but not the battles as much as what women and children did at home (different when wars took place on our soil and women had to fight off soldiers who invaded).
Karen:  The focus of the Home Front book was to show the faith and courage of women, children, and families, plus volunteers a t home--those who support the troops behind the scenes, and also to show the struggles of military families through their true stories
Believe me when I tell you there is more to the story behind this book than what I shared.  I encourage you to connect with Karen Whiting (http://www.karenwhiting.com/) to see what a testimony she has to share with readers.  She wrote this with Jocelyn Green in nine months during which time Karen’s husband was battling cancer.  Her husband went home to be with the Lord before this project, which he had a heart for, was completed.
One aspect of the book is that it is broken down into a yearly devotional, which includes real stories, pictures, a short prayer for the troops and families, and concludes with Scripture.  A second aspect is that Karen is not just sharing about others, but also her own family experience that is so humbling when we tend to complain about being unconvinced by minor circumstances.  The third aspect is that readers learn about the many concrete and tangible ways we can support those who serve and their loved ones who wait for them to come home.  Finally, what a Bibliography!  As I read through it, I was glad to recognize some of the books I have read as well as learning about others I didn’t even know existed.
While I can say that as I have grown older I have become more patriotic and more involved, these people share their testimony with their heart.  As I read them, I kept hearing a verse from Scripture ruminating within my mind, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12: 1-3 NIV)
The context of this conclusion is due to the writer pointing out others who had lived out their faith and some not living to see the fulfillment of their promises.  However, the stories here are also of a cloud of witnesses that remind us to run our race, and more so I was astounded by the prayers prayed by the loved ones for their soldier.  That person was more than a soldier to them, so very much more that words cannot express the deepest parts of our hearts.
I ask that readers will consider purchasing a copy for yourself and others who will be touched in ways that cannot be imagined.  Make the next year or years a time to pray for the nation, government and the servicemen and women along with those who are at home waiting anxiously for their return.  May God not only Bless America, but the authors for sharing the hearts and lives of so many, including their stories plus the troops and families!
My rating is 5+ stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas at Harmony Hill









Title:  Christmas at Harmony Hill (A Shaker Story)
Author:  Ann H. Gabhart
Pages:  208
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Revell
Ann H. Gabhart is an established as well as prolific writer whose stories cross a wide field of venues.  I enjoy the tales written for audiences to read and enjoy every time the opportunity presents itself.  Here is another short, but poignant, writing set near the end of the Civil War.  Woven into the story is a Shaker community.
I am not well versed on the beliefs of the Shaker community.  My first introduction was my husband’s aunt who lived across from a Shaker Museum in Kentucky many years ago.  What I can say is that some of what I know about their lives in that setting is presented with the love of Christ from the heart of the author. 
It is about being courageous enough to ask questions, or extend forgiveness to an offender whether sought by the offender or not.  A young woman named Heather works as a washer woman following her husband’s company from one camp to another until her husband begs her to go home until he joins her there.  The dangers of the battle aren’t what compels Gabriel to ask his wife Heather to go home, but the drawing near of their child’s birth.
When Heather eventually reaches home, it is to a totally different reality than her dreams.  From that moment on, readers will want to know what happens to Gabriel, how the Shaker community comes into the story and more.  As I sat and read this wonderful tale, I didn’t even notice the time passing.  All I wanted to know was what was coming next as I turned each page.
In the novel is a story of love, believing, hoping, expecting and moving forward as God leads the characters from one season in their lives to the next.  I absolutely loved the book!  Thanks Ann, this was a wonderful tale!
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Christmas Quilt





Title:  The Christmas Quilt
Author:  Vannetta Chapman
Pages:  256
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Abingdon
Quilts that are crafted by hand usually have some meaning behind the pattern presented.  One story I read about a quilt was that it was map of the underground railroad though not easily understand by those unfamiliar with the pattern.  Another novel I read told of the meaning behind the particular flower type square sewn so beautifully on top of an off white background.
Though not gifted to sew anything, through my Nana’s intricate cross-stitch and these tales created around a pattern quilt, I appreciate the beauty of such artisans.  In these pages, audiences will appreciate the various ways God speaks to us and causes us to grow in Christ likeness.  Here is a young couple expecting their first child when they learn they are having twins.  As the babies grow, it seems the further apart the parents are one from the other.  Through an experience that gives them pause to self-examination, the lessons they learn are for more than just this young married couple.
I wish to share so much more of the story with you, but it might affect what God may have for you to enjoy and glean from the pages.  While it is true that here is a work of fiction, it is also equally true it is centered on our individual walks with God and how it ripples beyond the boundaries of one or two people.   I can share that it was for me a moment to remember what God taught me at the birth of each of my sons, and what a treasured gift they are beyond just our immediate family.
One last thought about the tale was also being glad that I had the season of babies and now enjoy the season of them as grown men.  Each moment we have with each other and interactions outside the nuclear family we need to remember God is revealing Himself to us in some way.  Maybe God is speaking to us, teaching us, encouraging us and even exhorting us to mature.
The author tells a wonderful story of the special love God has for each of us, and the gift He has given to those who are married.  He also has a special gift for those who are single as well; all of us just need to lean upon the breast of the Savior and hear His heartbeat.  In those quiet moments of prayer or reading the Bible, we will come to understand who He created us to be and to do while we are here on earth. 
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 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