Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Review: "All Things New" by Lynn Austin

"All Things New" by Lynn Austin is set in post-Civil War-era Virginia and focuses on the months immediately following the end of the war. The Confederacy has just lost the war, the citizens are facing poverty and attempting to pick up the pieces of shattered lives, and deep prejudices continue to come to light.

Josephine Weatherly lost her father and one older brother in the war. Her family may lose their plantation as well with limited resources and no real ability to bring in a cotton crop. Josephine begins to see that life needs to revolve around basic survival, not trying to keep up a facade of life as it was before the war. Her mother, Eugenia, is appalled at the idea of her daughter expressing interesting in tending a garden, sewing, and learning to cook, and she tries to forbid Josephine from having anything to do with "manual labor".

Lizzie is a freed slave who continues to live at White Oak plantation with her family after the war, primarily due to the promise of her children receiving an education thanks to the newly established Freedman's Bureau, run by a former Yankee soldier named Alexander Chandler. Lizzie and her family embrace their newfound freedom, but begin to experience a taste of the extreme difficulties that the freed slaves will face in this new phase of life.

This was a wonderful book that takes a look at different aspects of life during Reconstruction from three different perspectives. I loved how Austin showed the effects of war, bitterness, and hatred, and how the remedy is found in God's healing love and forgiveness. The characters were well-developed and there was just enough suspense to keep the reader engaged to the end. Overall, a good fictional read that focuses on an important and challenging part of American history.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Review: "Heaven Changes Everything" by Todd and Sonja Burpo

"Heaven Changes Everything:  Living Every Day with Eternity in Mind" by Todd and Sonja Burpo is a devotional based on their best-selling book, "Heaven is For Real". This book features 42 entries, beginning with an excerpt from "Heaven is For Real", followed by a brief devotional thought written by one or both of the Burpos, and concludes with a reflective question and Scripture verse. Each reading is designed to help the reader turn their thoughts toward heaven. Some of the topics covered include miscarriage, children's ministry, and forgiveness.

Overall, this is a nice companion book. I appreciated the format of the book, as well as reading reflections from both authors. I never gave much more than a passing thought to heaven until my own miscarriage. Their original book brought so much comfort to us in a great time of need and helped turn our thoughts toward heaven. In a world that tends to be pretty self-absorbed (even in Christian circles!), a book that encourages the reader to begin to turn our thoughts toward eternity is a great tool.

This book works well as a devotional and is perfect for someone looking for an easy daily read. Because it draws heavily on the first book, you don't have to have read the first book to enjoy and appreciate this one. It's such a great reminder to not forget that this world isn't all there is and that, as believers, we have far greater things to look forward to. As C.S. Lewis wrote:  "there are far, far greater things ahead than any we leave behind."

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Review: "Taming the Wind" by Tracie Peterson

"Taming the Wind" by Tracie Peterson in the concluding book in the "Land of the Lone Star" trilogy. This book follows the story of Carissa Lowe, a young widow with a small daughter named Gloria. After her terrible, abusive first marriage, she is afraid to trust her heart with anyone. Relying heavily on her sister, Carissa seeks to be as independent as possible. Tyler Atherton was the man who saved Carissa's life when her husband attempted to end her life. A former Confederate soldier, he's lost his family's ranch due to his loyalties in the war. He attempts to get back his ranch with the help of his friend, Will Barnett.

The story was captivating and the characters were well developed. I loved how this story drew in characters from the other two books in the trilogy and neatly wrapped up the series. There was a bit of predictability in the story, but there was enough action to help offset that aspect.

Overall, the story was well done and I felt it was a great conclusion to this series. As a long-time fan of Peterson's work, I felt that a couple of her most recent series weren't quite up to par, but I really enjoyed this series and felt it was a bit more up to her usual standard.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

A Review: "The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson

"The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson completes the "Lifegiving" trilogy that also includes "The Lifeg...