Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gentle Frontier Read

An advertisement mentioned Janette Oke fans would enjoy this book. Since Janette Oke was the first Christian author I read and I devoured all of her books, I knew I had to see if Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof would live up to this claim.

At the beginning of the story which was originally published as Cry of My Heart, still is not an adjective that describes anything about the characters. Instead,both characters have a horrible home life. Unfortunately, a mostly innocent walk home and a kiss results in a shot gun marriage which neither Gideon or Lonnie desired. This rocky start becomes even rockier as the young couple heads out on their own.

Heading out Gideon and Lonnie experience more than their share of downs as they getto know each other and begin a journey to where they can hopefully find jobs. Completely down on their luck, they are taken in by an elderly couple who love and mentor them particularly when they find Lonnie is expecting. Love grows gradually between the couple as they realize they are the only family they have. The example of a godly marriage is critical in forming a new Christ-honoring family. Heart break is necessary before a strong marital bond can be formed.

The Janette Oke comparison is apt as "love comes softly" between the two young people and they are mentored in marriage by an older couple. Be Still My Soul is a good heart warming story for a chilly fall afternoon or a cold winter's night. The story was enjoyable but not a gripping tale that you can't put down. However, the story was engaging enough that I will watch for the sequel Though My Heart Is Torn slated to published in April, 2013.

As usual, a free copy of this book was provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Girl in the Glass

I recently read Susan Meissner's newest novel The Girl in the Glass. I was previously unfamiliar with Meissner as an author, although I plan to become further acquainted with her work. The initial description of The Girl in the Glass caught my attention due to the juxtaposition of art history and a travel story. Although I haven't traveled much yet, I yearn to do so and thought this story looked interesting. However, as I began to read The Girl in the Glass, the story was not simply interesting, but held me completely captivated unlike many other books I have read recently.

Meissner combines several great stories into one mesmerizing tale. The larger story focuses on Meg, an editor whose lifelong dream is to visit Florence, Italy where her grandmother lived as a child. As part of Meg's story, we become introduced to Sofia whose story ends up holding multiple twists and turns with a very suprising ending. Throughout the story, in between each chapter and through the story of Sofia, we are also introduced to Nora who lived in renaissance Florence. Many other characters appear and help to tie these various stories together in a most surprising way.

Part of what makes The Girl in the Glass so captivating is the mixture of various genres of writing. The Girl in the Glass definitely contains some mysterious qualities although it is not strictly speaking a mystery. There is a definite romantic overtone although it is definitely not a stereotypical romance. It is also part travelogue and part memoir as well, with just enough history thrown in so that the reader understands the Medici family and renaissance Florence.

The Girl in the Glass is published by Waterbrook Press which is a Christian publishing house. As such, I initially read the book expecting church or Christianity references and as is typical in much Christian fiction, a clear presentation of the Gospel. However, all of those elements were missing. One of the characters mentions attending church and there were a few passing references to prayer. Otherwise, I had no idea I was reading a "Christan" novel. Not having read any of Meissner's other works, I am not able to indicate if this is typical of her books or not. The only thing that kept me from thinking this was any other contemporary novel was the absence of foul language and sexual encounters, although there were several lingering kisses to give the story some sexual tension.

All in all, I give Susan Meissner's novel The Girl in the Glass an enthusiastic recommendation for anyone who is looking for something new to read. It is a great novel for a relaxing afternoon. Some reviewers indicated the story was a bit far-fetched. I did find that to be true but instead found Meissner to be an imaginative author. I look forward to locating and reading some of her previous works.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Girl's Still Got It

Anyone who's grown up in church or been a believer for any length of time probably feels they understand the book of Ruth. It's only four chapters and a quick story. However, Liz Curtis Higgs' newest Bible study The Girl's Still Got It shows that there is much more to the book of Ruth than meets the eye.

Being familiar with the fiction books by Liz Curtis HIggs, I jumped at the opportunity to read one of her Bible studies and I am so glad I did. Her study on Ruth is enjoyable and easy to read. Higgs has a very engaging writing style using the first person voice which makes the study very accessible. You feel like you are sitting down around a table with a good friend. However, the engaging writing does not mean the study is weak on content. In fact, just the opposite is true as Higgs has included a plethora of footnotes and a bibliography of resources. The footnotes do not get in the way of reading but are there in abundance.

The Girl's Still Got It digs into the details of Ruth and Naomi's story. The details about how Naomi ended up in Moab, Ruth's heritage as a Moabite woman, and both being widows are uncovered. Later we learn details concerning why Ruth would need to glean in the fields of Boaz and stay with his servant women. And if you have wondered why Ruth needed to lay at Boaz's feet, that's all here too but I don't want to give away the details. As you read along, Higgs shows how God was there at every instance and was guiding Naomi and Ruth. She also shows what we as 21st century women can learn from this book of the Bible.

The Girl's Still Got It includes discussion questions for book clubs who wish to discuss the entire book at one time. There are also a study guide for groups who wish to engage in a slower chapter by chapter study. If your Bible study is looking for a new resource or wants to explore an Old Testament book, you won't be disappointed by choosing The Girl's Still Got It.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”