Thursday, October 3, 2019

Fiction Review: Christmas in Winter Hill

"Christmas in Winter Hill" has to be one of the best Melody Carlson books I've read. While Carlson's holiday books have become a yearly tradition for me, I haven't always felt satisfied with the conclusion, as story and character development are limited by the short length of these books. However, "Christmas in Winter Hill" felt perfectly paced and developed. There was romance, but it wasn't rushed and its conclusion was believable. The short novel follows a single mother who lands a job that is all about Christmas. She, however, has unpleasant memories of that time of year and must learn to welcome the holiday and its true meaning as she finds her place in a new community. "Christmas in Winter Hill" is everything you want in a quick read. Cuddle up by the fire and warm your heart with this lovely story.

*Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Nonfiction Review: Faith is for Weak People

I subscribe to Ray Comfort on YouTube. The street evangelist tends to follow a similar pattern of leading people through the 10 Commandments in an attempt to convey the seriousness of sin. I have nothing against this and am a fan of his videos. Although, personally, I like to read books and listen to debates that get more into detail. Therefore, a book by Comfort addressing more specific questions certainly intrigued me.

Reading "Faith is for Weak People," I wondered if Comfort's usual rhetoric would come into play, and it did, but I was surprised at how well it fit into each chapter in a way that felt different from the author's videos.

This is definitely a book written for the believer interested in learning how to evangelize. Comfort never really answers a question directly. This isn't really a book for someone looking for answers that can be used in a debate. If anything, Comfort seems to be coaching the reader to get at the question behind the question and tie it back to the gospel message. For this reason, I wish he had included questions to as the questioner instead of concluding each chapter with study questions that ask the reader to repeat what she's just read.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Nonfiction Review: It's Okay Not To Be Okay by Sheila Walsh

I'm familiar with Sheila Walsh's story. I've read a few of her books, and they do seem to follow the same line. But every so often, scattered throughout each of her books, she writes something incredibly profound. So, while "It's Okay Not To Be Okay" doesn't really make me feel all that much better about failing at work (the book deals more with spiritual failure and struggles with sin), I highly recommend it.

Consider these gems:

"I believed I had surrendered everything to Christ when I still felt so entitled to the life I wanted."

"We're invited to come back to Christ over and over again to be renewed."

Sheila writes that we should place more value on who we are in Christ than in what we do as God redeems our suffering.

If you haven't read anything by Sheila Walsh before, or if you're unfamiliar with her story, you are sure to appreciate Sheila's vulnerability and honest in her writing.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Nonfiction Review: Assured by Greg Gilbert

Greg Gilbert's "Assured" gives a clear, concise interpretation of what the Bible says about a Christian's assurance of salvation... all without complicating things with the debate over determinism and free will. According to Gilbert, there are three main sources of assurance... driving fountainheads (the blood of Jesus), confirming sources (good works) and supernatural sources (the Holy Spirit). Ultimately, we cannot rely on self-assurance, but rather must put our faith in on Christ-confidence. Gilbert writes that the gospel destroys self-confidence.

I wish I had been able to read this book years ago. It's a thought-provoking look at what it means to follow Christ in obedience, fighting sin, yet rely completely on Christ's righteousness for our salvation. This isn't a self-help book. It won't cure your problems. But it may just be a great stepping stone in your spiritual journey.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fiction Review: A Secret to Die For

After reading all of the Nikki Boyd books, I was excited to have the opportunity to read another Lisa Harris novel, and I have to say, as much as I loved the Nikki Boyd books, "A Secret to Die For" beat every one of them. Here, Lisa truly balances edge-of-your-seat suspense with poignant, dramatic moments. Although spiritual topics don't really enter the picture until the end of the book, there's plenty to relate to, from the affects of divorce to the trauma of loss. Harris also steered away from the stereotypical romance setup, giving her two leads time to get reacquainted without any of that love (or hate) at first sight stuff. I had a hard time putting this book down and read it in just three days (it would have been less if I hadn't had to work!).

*Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: A Christmas By The Sea

Despite my reservations about the author's writing style, Melody Carlson has become a holiday tradition for me. It's pleasant to sit and read a quick Christmas-themed book right around the time fall rolls around. And A Christmas By The Sea is definitely one of the better Melody Carlson books I've read. The ending is abrupt and I'd enjoy more in-depth conversations between the leads, but the pacing of the story is well planned (until the end), and I felt I had a solid understanding of the characters. This is truly light fare. There is very little spiritual content outside of a few mentions of church and trusting God. But again, it's just a very simple story to pass the time.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: The Edge of Over There

Shawn Smucker still hops around a lot in point of view and tense, but the author's creativity and overall writing style have improved vastly since the first book in this series. One thing is for sure... I'm hooked. Although I would recommend readers get the first book in order to fully understand the events of "The Edge of Over There." There are a few surprises straight out of Genesis in this young adult Christian novel that sets up a world between earth and heaven. Young Abra finds herself with the responsibility of keeping each Tree of Life from growing and reach the hands of mankind. The mythology of this series doesn't necessarily fit neatly in with what the Bible tells us about the afterlife, but the story and characters are very intriguing. I couldn't put the book down and can't wait to see where the characters go next!

*Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review.