Book Review: Carol and the Belles by Chautona Havig

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Contemporary

Themes include: Giving Abroad, Christian Dating, Orphanages, Family, Christian Friendships

I am delighted to review Chautona Havig’s most recent edition to her collection of wonderful holiday books“Carol and the Belles.” As usual Chautona’s natural “tell it like it is” style flows through each page, and while this book does deal with some serious issues, I didn’t find it to be too serious or heavy. If you add this to your stack of easy and enjoyable winter reading, you won’t be sorry. The story almost reminded me of Jane Austen’s “Emma” meets “The Shop Around The Corner.” I don’t want to give too much away, because that would just be a shame. It will no doubt be a Christmas favorite for years to come.

Are you curious? Good. Here is a brief synopsis that Chautona wrote that won’t give anything away.

Their childhood letters formed the friendship of a lifetime.

As part of an international school pen pal program, Carol and Michal began writing monthly letters twenty-five ago.  So, when Carol’s artisan guild decides to send an emissary to the United States to investigate a new gift store and potentially negotiate contracts for importing Romanian handcrafts to several major American cities, Carol applies.  Finally, the chance to meet Michal after all these years!

But Carol’s arrival in Rockland is fraught with surprises, misunderstandings, and a string of both awkward and delightful dates.  Michal and the “belles” do everything possible to make the visit memorable and special, but when Carol decides to apply for a work visa, things get really interesting.

As a self-professed “world’s most non-spontaneous person,” Michal discovers that following your heart and the Lord’s leading just might also lead you into unexpected places and spontaneous decisions.

Since I met my husband through the fine art of letter writing, aka Facebook messaging, this book holds a special place in my heart.

Book Review: Space Drifters – The Emerald Enigma

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

 

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Science Fiction

Space Drifters: The Emerald Enigma

Paul Regnier is a native Southern Californian like me, and his appreciation and enthusiasm for Science Fiction was not lost on me. There are several obvious references to Star Wars, and I found the crew to closely resemble the mishmash of the crew from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. I loved the characters. They will win you over right away. Even though Captain Starcrost (the protagonist) wears the same pants as Hans Solo, he most reminds me of Malcom Reynolds from the Firefly franchise. His tough exterior seems a bit irritating at first, but once he meets Jasette, the bounty hunter with an unexpected past, we finally get a glimpse of his softer side.

If you are a true sci-fi fan, you will appreciate the detail that Regnier put into “The Emerald Enigma.” There were scenes that reminded me of ‘Lost in Space,’ but there were also plenty of new and unexplored ideas, one being a ship computer that has an actual personality. It was basically like reading a mashup of all my favorite kinds of sci-fi. Well done, Reignier. There wasn’t anything inappropriate in this book, in case you are wondering. And for me, the most refreshing thing about the entire book was Blix, whose voice automatically sounded like Abe Sapien in my head from the first moment I read his dialogue.

As far as spiritual content, it is very subtle. One of the main characters is a Christian and has a Bible. He shares his faith with the other characters. There are a few mentions of prayer.

The only disappointing aspect was that this book doesn’t have a concrete ending, since it is the first in a series. It definitely leaves you wanting more.

Book Review: The Peaceful Wife by April Cassidy

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

 

I give this book 5/5 stars.

 

Category: Non-fiction :: Target Audience: Christian Wives

The Peaceful Wife by April Cassidy is a treasure and a wonderful resource for any woman of God.

“Control and aggression kill romance for both men and women. Passivity also kills romance on either side of marriage.”

If this is true, what solution is there for having a happy, balanced marriage? This book sets out to answer that question using the Bible and practical, real-life examples.

This book is much more than a collection of blog entries from April Cassidy’s popular blog, peacefulwife.com. Instead it is a well thought out book that is extremely balanced and biblical in its approach to a God centered marriage. She does some very difficult things in this book effortlessly. April explains submission in a way that will help every wife to understand the beauty of what submission actually means, and also shares what things are inappropriate within a marriage for men and women. Although this book is written primarily to wives, I feel like there is definitely helpful information in this book for both men and women. The author of this book has taken all of her personal research and experience regarding learning how to be a godly wife, and lovingly compiled it into one book. Have you ever wondered why your husband shuts down in a seemingly random way? This book is for you.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this book is that it also warns women in dangerous situations to seek help, and never once equates submission with abuse, but distinguishes the two very carefully. This will be my go to book for future counseling sessions with wives. I wish I would have had a book like this when I first got married. Thank you, April. It is clear that you poured your heart and soul out in this book for our benefit.

Book Review: Jack by Chautona Havig

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

 

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Western

Jack (Ballads from the Hearth Book 1)

Chautona Havig always brings a fresh perspective to whatever genre she tackles, and this western set on the prairie is no different.

“Jack,” which is based on a song that the author’s father used to sing during her childhood about life on the prairie, is a wonderful book with themes of romance, pursuing your dreams (while respectfully rejecting the expectations of others), and overcoming bitterness. The author also included inspiration from Much Ado About Nothing, which will be extremely obvious if you have ever read the Shakespearean piece of literature. I loved the character development along with the authenticity of a story set in this time and place. You will have a hard time putting this one down. It is an easy and enjoyable read which is appropriate for any age.

Here is the book description as provided by the author:

A lot of hullabaloo on the prairie. 

Jack Clausen has led a hard, lonely life, but he’s content with a good job as a cowboy, a faithful horse, and the Lord. But when a near tragedy flings him into the path of a lovely young lady, Jack’s resolve to stay single and alone wavers. 

Hazel Meissner has everything a young man could hope for–kindness, gentleness, and just enough playfulness to keep things interesting, but when accusations tear at their relationship, Hazel’s true strength emerges. 

Without forgiveness, many lives will be irrevocably changed. 

Jack is the first book in the Ballads from the Hearth series. This book was inspired by the old ballad, “Cowboy Jack” and Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing.

I hope you enjoy this fun, but pensive read, as much as I did.

Book Review: The Fragrance of Surrender by April Geremia

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Women’s/Contemporary

The Fragrance of Surrender by April Geremia

This book by April Geremia is full of unexpected twists and turns, triumph and heartbreak. It is an emotional roller coaster that the reader will experience as the scent of oranges through the grove become almost real. When I began to read this book, I didn’t think I would like it. To be honest, I found the writing to be overly complex. I prefer simple writing. But the more I read, the more I had to know what happened. The characters won me over, especially Gabriella’s son, Sammy. This book definitely presents the gospel message, which is what Gabriella needs to overcome her intense despair. The only theological problem I had is that when she mentions heaven, the time seems to coincide with time on Earth, and we know that God lives apart from time. Besides that, though, the theology was spot on.

This book is very interesting and contains elements of suspense and romance (through two married characters, and even the younger characters have what seems to be an innocent love interest). I would recommend it to other readers who are looking for a more serious read.

Book Review: Philippians – Pursuing Spiritual Maturity by Gregory Brown

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Nonfiction :: Target Audience: Christians

In, “Philippians: Pursuing Spiritual Maturity,” Gregory Brown has done an excellent job explaining the book of Philippians. Brown’s systematic style which he uses in his “The Bible Teacher’s Guide” series is shown in this book. It is perfect as a resource for anyone who wants to run a small group, or just better understand the book of Philippians.

I don’t know how Brown does it, but he always stays neutral in areas where other authors cannot. In this book that is important because one of the main themes in Philippians is unity, and the author spends a large chunk of this book describing the importance of unity as well. Whatever end of the theological scale you are on, I guarantee you will find this book helpful, and respectful of your denominational beliefs.

The main theme of this book is pursing spiritual maturity. Brown answers important questions. “What is the right attitude we must have in order to pursue maturity?” “Why is it important to have the right attitude — a holy discontent — in order to pursue spiritual maturity?” “In what ways is God challenging you to be more disciplined in your spiritual life?” “How do we keep the right focus?” But he goes through the important foundation for our spiritual maturity in the first half of the book by establishing our need for Jesus Christ, sanctification, unity, and living a life worthy of the gospel.

This book is another great addition to “The Bible Teacher’s Guide” series, and I look forward to reading many more.

Book Review: Granddad’s Story by Roger Deloach

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Target Audience: Christians / Middle Grade

Granddad’s Story by Roger Deloach is a sweet tale. It is exciting to hear the story from the grandfather’s perspective as he tells his grandchildren. And what a story it is! I do have two small criticisms of this book. The first is that the grandfather telling the story is Jess, which was not obvious. I had to go back and reread that several times to make sure. That is not a spoiler, but is an important part of the story. The second is that sometimes the characters sound like adults instead of 11-year-olds. I found this to be especially true with Chuck’s dialogue. There were some things that I thought were too coincidental, but in the end they made sense. This is a fun book that I would gladly let my 9-year-old read. I’m sure she will love it! Thank you Roger Deloach for such a heart warming tale.

This book is totally clean. I didn’t anything even remotely bordering on edgy or inappropriate.

Book Review: Spring Thaw by Tammy Fish

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Historical Fiction Target Audience:: Christians

Imagine you have been through unbearable grief, and have to start your life over again from nothing. That is the position that Selena, the protagonist from Spring Thaw, finds herself in. This is the sweet story of forgiveness and restoration amongst the scars that bitterness and anger have a tendency to penetrate into our hearts. Follow Dirk, Selena, and Dirk’s young son Wade, as they try to figure out who Jesus is, what His forgiveness means for their lives personally, and how God can use even the most difficult times in our lives to prepare us to serve Him in the future. I loved this book so much. It was well written, and there were times when I felt so strongly for each of the different characters. This book will make you laugh and cry. Thank you Tammy Fish, for all your diligence in writing this story. It is a wonderful novel that will encourage many.

Book Review: Sweet On You (Meddlin’ Madeline) by Chautona Havig

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction (Historical Mystery)

Madeline is one of those characters that you route for from the beginning. “Sweet On You,” by Chautona Havig is an introduction to a new sleuthing series about a young girl who has just started to realize that she wants more from life. Being the mayor’s daughter definitely isn’t dull, but Madeline wonders what her life would be like if she didn’t have to constantly struggle against the idea that young ladies are only good at raising children and overseeing the servants. At the same time she doesn’t understand the suffrage movement, and fails to understand why women want to vote. As the mayor’s daughter, she has had enough politics in her life. Her natural ability to notice details that most miss, gives her purpose but also gets her into a few tricky situations.

I am so excited about this series. I feel like we get to watch Madeline grow up, and this book was a great beginning. This book is everything you would expect from a mystery set in America’s past. I loved the style and rich vocabulary. The characters are so endearing. This will be a fun read that stretches your thinking muscles.

Book Review: The Union of the North and the South

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Historical Fiction :: Target Audience: Christians

The Union of the North and the South,” by Ann Mock is an extremely well written tale of Lauren, a woman who has lost everything, well almost everything, when several unfortunate events take place in her life after the Civil War. Things in the South have gotten downright depressing after war. With confederate money being worth nothing, many prominent families are forced to leave their plantation homes and make another way in the world. Though Laura’s family has survived the economic devastation of the war, that doesn’t mean they are free from trouble.

This book was a delight to read. I couldn’t put it down. But at some points I felt very sad for Laura. Is God’s plan for her good? It seems like one tragedy follows another, and then there is the matter of the man that keeps trying to kill or injure her. She isn’t sure which is his goal. If you like historical fiction, you will love this book. The details were definitely well researched. There wasn’t one inappropriate moment in it, either.