Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

First let me say that Julie Cantrell is a master storyteller. Her novels "Into the Free", and "When Mountains Move", are still at the top of my favorite list. These two novels are the reason I love to read. Writers like Julie have a gift to capture the heart and move the soul. 

I was excited when I first seen Perennials was up for review. I knew I had to read these penned words that stir up a story. 

When I first in the beginning chapter going back to the summer of 1979 in Oxford, Mississippi I set my heart in motion for a fantastic read. 

I love the fact that there are two sisters and their relationship is at center of this story. It is because of their relationship, their rivalry, that these two characters are who they are today. Once so close, feet muddy in the dirty fun of Mississippi, the day arrives when everything changes. One choice, one action, one lie. From there their rivalry grows in this adult creature that divides them. 

Mom and dad are still living in Mississippi. Our main character, Eva, known as Lovey, moves as far away as possible. She makes a new life in Arizona. She leaves behind everything she once was so long ago. Funny how even just a little time of insecurity and sadness can seem like a lifetime. 

Eva is now working in advertising. The lie of so long ago that tore up her life and changed everything is now a natural part of her everyday life at the job. Lying to people to sell. I do love how Cantrell ties in lying. We lie for many reasons and in this novel we see why the heart of these characters lie. Sometimes it is to protect. Sometimes it is to defend. 

The sister of this rivalry, Bitsy, still lives close to mom and dad. She has made a life of perfection for herself. That's the perception she wants to give. It seems these sisters have much between them, but if they could get past the ugly and come together, they could see that their lives are not so different. Reality doesn't always look pretty, but when we have encouragement and support, it makes all the difference. By the end of this story they kind of come to see this.

So, mom and dad are soon to have their fiftieth  wedding anniversary. They are encouraging Eva to return home and help bring this celebration to life. Family first or job first? Family first for Bitsy, but for Eva, she puts herself first. I can understand why she would come to feel this way. She tries everything, but nothing quite ever makes her feel a part of the family. She was always blamed for an accident where all these years the truth has remained hidden. She has spoken the truth, but no one pays attention to her. More infuriating angst against her sister. It breaks my heart that her parents never seen past the lies. They always wanted to bring the family together, but it seemed they wanted to do so without fixing what has been broken for so many years. 

Okay, so Eva goes home and the story continues with this family. So much happens between them. So much goes unspoken. This family is about to face circumstances we never prepare for but always experience. But this family does come to feel a peace that has been missing for so long. 

This is a full circle of a young girl leaving home, setting out on her own, finding herself and living her dream, but always missing a piece of herself. She was homesick and didn't even realize that is what has been missing. But home, once left for so long is never quiet the same when you return. 

Now, if I stopped here I could give this story a five star review. There's so much I loved about this story, but so much that I didn't. First of all, I see this more and more with Thomas Nelson. When I choose a Christian novel I expect, with their tradition and character, to have a faith-based novel. This again is not the case. There is much spirituality, but that is based in Buddhism, and the Buddhist prayer wheel, and her spiritual guide who leads her down these paths to bring life full circle. During one of her walks she even visualizes someone. Mary? This is New Age stuff. I can understand the writer bringing in this to show just how far she has come from the girl she was in Mississippi, but there isn't a faith that she returns to. That's huge for me. 

Her mother loves gardens so they create for her a Mary garden. Even at the end of the novel, where she has returned home and coming back to herself, she is still traveling this Buddhist spiritual walk. Since this isn't mainstream publication and is from Thomas Nelson I expected more. To bring in faith, to share Christ, to return to a faith left would have totally changed this novel for me. 

Again, there is so much to love. I greatly admire Julie Cantrell as a writer. But if you are totally Christian fiction keep in mind this isn't the faith read one expects from Thomas Nelson. It is unlike any other novel this author has penned. Even though I didn't connect to this one I will still wait in anticipation for her next work. And remember, this is only my opinion. You may pick up this novel and love it from front to back. It is my hope that you do!! 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the 2013 Christy Award-winning Book of the Year and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association's Fiction Award. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her second novel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction and, like her debut, was selected for several Top Reads lists. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, was named Best Read by Library Journal and is currently a finalist for multiple awards, including Southern Book Prize.

Across the Blue by Carrie Turanksky

Let me begin with the cover. Genius! Just a gorgeous cover and very telling of the story. We have the main character, the flying machine, and the backdrop the cliff that brings this story together. 

We travel back to the year of 1909. The Edwardian Era. That alone catches my attention for a great read. The Grayson family moves to a new estate. It is here on this estate where Isabella Grayson meets James Drake. Both of these characters are so well depicted. Even in the conversation the reader is allowed to see the heart of the character. 

Bella's parents are wanting her to focus on marriage and accepting a suitor sooner than later. Their focus is all about appearance and the social calendar. We see a time where a woman doesn't have the rights we so often take for granted today. Women are expected to be in their place, but Bella has dreams that she isn't giving up on and that is so wonderful to see in a character. She respects her parents. She knows where she has come from and the heritage that gives her a name. She feels confident within herself. She is entering a whole new world that gives way for other women. She's a trailblazer that doesn't allow her fears to hold her back. 

Now we James Drake. He too has dreams and isn't giving up on those. I absolutely love his character. He doesn't know much about his past. He was raised by his mentor that gave him a wonderful life,  but one much different from Bella. Where she finds herself to be comfortable anywhere, James doesn't have such confidence. He is surrounded by wealthy people. People where your name means everything. He isn't sure of his last name. I find him to be content, but also he has that heart like us all that just wants to be accepted for who he is. 

We see these characters come together and grow in mighty ways. As their dreams are taking flight we too not only get to see how these dreams soar,  but also we find answers to a hidden past. A name may give status, but in Christ Jesus we are all valuable. I love how faith is gently weaved throughout this story. So many years separate then and now, but there are many things that are still prevalent to us today. To find ourselves in a world that is all about status brings us to see what's really important in life.  

I really enjoyed this novel. Beauty from first to last page. Exceptional writing within these pages. Turansky has the gift to bring a story to life. Such descriptive writing that gives the reader just enough to keep them captivated and enough room to allow their imagine to soar. The writing easily flows. The characters are so captivating I was easily drawn to them. All of this makes for an amazing story.

Happy reading!💚

This novel was a gift from WaterbrookMultnomah for sharing my review. 

Carrie Turansky is an award-winning author of nearly twenty novels and novellas. She has been the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. A prolific writer of contemporary and historical romance, women's fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals. Carrie lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott. They have five adult children and several grandchildren. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Is This The End? (Signs of God's Providence in a Disturbing New World) by Dr. David Jeremiah

Spectacular!!! My husband was first to read this book. He came to me and shared that he thought it was quite amazing. For him to enjoy a book its gotta be beyond superb. 

So, I picked it up and literally didn't want to put it down until I was finished. That usually doesn't happen with non-fiction. Now with a great fiction read I can read for hours at a time, so for this to hold my attention and be so intriguing with truths and Biblical wisdom, I can share with you without a doubt that this is one book every Christian needs to read. One book we need to pass on to all our friends, believer in Christ or yet to know Him. 

Powerful and poignant. Dr. Jeremiah is very straight forward. There is no being afraid to offend. He speaks Biblical truth without hesitation. 

We can watch mainstream media and think all is fine. Mercy, let us look outside mainstream media for the truths of today's reality and let us look to God for tomorrrow's.

This book is splint into two parts. The first Dr. Jeremiah speaks about the end of America, with chapters such as; The Age of Anything Goes, The Bleeding of Our Borders, The Increase of Intolerance, The Apathy of America, and The Remedy of Revival. The second portion of this book is focused on the world with chapters such as; The Isolation of Israel, The Insurgency of ISIS, The Resurrection of Russia, The Rapture of the Redeemed, and Translated Before the Tribulation. Do any of those topics hit home? They all do, right? This is a book that doesn't just touch on those subjects, but Jeremiah spends a lot of time going deep and bringing to light what is going on in our American and our world. One can see that he did an abundant amount of research. 

Here are a few of Dr. Jeremiah's words: 

"To most of us, it is clear that things cannot go on as they are, and we wonder, is everything we have known coming to an end? Is it too late to save our nation? Our world? Where can we go to find a realistic reason for hope? These are questions I will address in this book. But to avoid the possible accusation that I am promising more than I can deliver, let me be quick to say that some of the answers we seek are hidden in the mind of God. Only He knows whether the flickering ember of America's flame can be fanned back to life. And only He knows the timetable for Christ's return."

"We do not know whether American will soon fall. We do not know when the Lord will return. But we do know that whatever our circumstances, God's desire for us is to live without anxiety and with hope. He offers you "thoughts of peace and not of evil", and He wants "to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11)."

"In this book I will show you how to find that hope. It is a hope that is not dependent on whether America falls or recovers or whether world order stabilizes or disintegrates. It is a hope that rises above trouble and chaos, enabling you to keep your focus on your future reward and endure whatever comes, whether good or evil, with grace and equanimity." 

This is one of those books that will not only leave you pondering, but praying, seeking God in all this mess we live in today. Most of all, I find myself digging deeper within within the Word. That is what I love about Dr. Jeremiah. These are not just his thoughts. They are Biblical and he brings everything to the the Word of God. 

In our day when everyone wants to be politically correct it is refreshing to find such a trustworthy teacher, a man of God, who wants nothing more than to lead us to Christ, giving us the wisdom and tools to help us along this unknown journey. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Dr. David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than fifty books, including Captured by Grace, Angels: Who They Are and How They Help, What in the World Is Going On?, and Agents of the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Life Beyond Amazing (9 Decisions That Will Transform Your Life Today) by Dr. David Jeremiah

I have been blessed by David Jeremiah. His books and his preaching. I have been tuning in to watch him preach on this book. Seems so simple to use the word amazing, but that is exactly what it is. 

Those nine decisions that will transform our lives are from Galatians 5:22-23. "Our world needs solid-to-the-core people with unimpaired grit and unimpeded godliness. The church needs a rekindling of the nine traits that go to the core of character and are called the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-23."

"This book is about character. It's about how we develop the character that Christ wants for us, that God makes us capable of achieving, and that the Holy Spirit is always, always ready to guide us to. I want to help you develop character qualities beyond the norm. I want to show you how to build a life beyond amazing, and, in so doing, make an impact beyond imagination." 

"The qualities of a life beyond amazing are produced within us by the Holy Spirit. It is His love, joy, peace, endurance, compassion, generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline you seek. These qualities represent the essence of the personality of Jesus Himself. When the Spirit of Christ comes to live within us, He reproduces Himself, putting these traits at our core so we can achieve godly character."

"None of what I share with you is beyond your reach...unless you try it alone, without the spiritual support Jesus makes available to us. That spiritual support will sustain you when what I'm asking you to do feels like more than you can handle, much less achieve."

Okay, I have shared just a little from the introduction alone. That's good stuff, right? There are nine chapters, each one jam-packed with extraordinary goodness for the soul. Food we all need for the endurance of this journey we are on today and preparation for the tomorrow in our journey. Each chapter goes through the nine characteristics of love, joy, peace, endurance, compassion, generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline. I wish I could share my notes for each chapter, but there just isn't enough room. 

Dr. Jeremiah uses the Word of God and he never strays from the truth of the Word. He shares personal stories, stories from others that will bring your heart to ponder, wisdom from other sojourners, those from the Bible and those who walk today with us. What I love is his transparency. He has a great love and passion to share Jesus. That makes him a great teacher. 

I appreciate his teaching. This book in particular really reaches into the heart. Does our speech and walk line up together? Am I living what I say I believe? I have found that I cannot just live one of these characteristics, it's kind of all or none. We may have to work harder at some as others come easy to us, but they all work together. If we love, Jesus love, these characteristics will flow from us. 

That's what we find here within these pages. He guides us to understanding how to live out this amazing life that Jesus has called us to. He brings scripture to the forefront of each chapter and uses reality, real life experiences, that lets us know we are not alone in this journey. 

"With the Holy Spirit at home in your heart, the nine virtues will begin to grow. As you nourish them with God's Word and repair them with repentance, they will mature you into a person ready to face each day with confidence and joy. And along the way there will be blessings. You will feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. You will enjoy a closeness in your walk with God that you never imagined." 

If you're new to David Jeremiah this is a wonderful place to begin. If you're a longtime reader of his books and study then this is an awesome place to continue. There too is a study guide that goes along with this book. I use my David Jeremiah Study Bible for my studies and it may too be something you will enjoy as you journey forward in this incredible walk with Him.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than fifty books, including Is This the End?, The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, David Jeremiah Morning and Evening Devotions, Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible, and The Jeremiah Study Bible. Dr. Jeremiah Serves as the senior pastor of shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, where he resides with his wife, Donna. They have four grown children and twelve grandchildren. 


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