Monday, December 29, 2014

A Review: "The Secret of Pembrooke Park" by Julie Klassen

The Secret of Pembrooke Park"The Secret of Pembrooke Park" is the most recent Regency novel from Julie Klassen. Abigail Foster's family faces financial ruin due to a bad investment by her father. After being forced to sell their family home and find more reasonable accommodations, the Fosters are surprised to learn that a distant relation is allowing them to lease Pembrooke Park, a home that has been left vacant for nearly twenty years. Abigail oversees the work at Pembrooke and discovers that there is more to the manor, and family history, than meets the eye. Rumors of treasures abound and secrecy shrouds Pembrooke Park. Abigail finds herself in the center of the mystery, made even more intriguing when letters and old journal pages begin to appear in her mail.

This story drew me in completely with the mystery and intrigue. The romance is well-done and not overly sappy. The overall plot keeps the reader engaged from the beginning. The characters were well-developed and likeable. Having been a fan of Klassen's since the beginning, I found this book to be among her best works and definitely a significant improvement over her most previous work, "The Dancing Master". A charming book that I will definitely read again!

(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.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Review: "Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

"Same Kind of Different As Me" is a collaboration, the tale of how two very different lives intersect. Told in the first person, authors Ron Hall and Denver Moore take the reader on a journey of their lives, both individual and corporate. Both were raised in the South, but with one being white and the other black, their experiences were vastly different. Moore grew up a sharecropper. It was all he knew until one day he hopped a train, did some traveling, and eventually settled in Fort Worth, Texas. Homeless and angry, he finds his way to the Union Gospel Mission. Hall grew up lower-middle class, but worked his way up in life to become an art dealer. His wife, Deborah, began to feel a call on her life to serve the homeless at the Union Gospel Mission. Hall went along half-heartedly, but eventually felt his heart begin to change the more they served. It was through their volunteer work at the mission that Hall and Moore met. Despite the major outward differences, they strike a friendship--one that has endured through the years.

This book presents so many issues for the reader to wrestle with. Poverty, homelessness (and the response to it), sickness and death. I found Moore's portion of the book fascinating to read because of his life experience. Not being able to relate, I found it extremely helpful to see things from a different perspective. Hall was a little more difficult to read through. Before he met Moore, he came across as a bit self-absorbed and materialistic. That changed, however, once he became serious about his faith and befriended Moore.

This is a wonderful book to help tear down stereotypes. So many themes of this book remain so relevant and are worthy of further discussion. There is a discussion section at the back of the book, which makes it perfect for individual reflections or for a small group discussion. This is an important book that would be a great starting point for thinking critically about issues like poverty, homelessness, and a proper response to both.

(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.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Review: "Unplanned" by Abby Johnson

21556369"Unplanned" by Abby Johnson is an incredibly important book in the pro-life discussion. Abby Johnson was involved with Planned Parenthood for eight years, initially being recruited as a volunteer while as a college student. She worked her way through the ranks, eventually becoming the director of the Bryan, Texas, clinic.

Despite growing up in a pro-life family, Johnson never really thought critically about her position on the matter. She was captivated by the lofty ideals of Planned Parenthood:  reducing the number of abortions by increasing access to birth control. Drawn in by this proposition and by the chance to help women in crisis, Johnson started her career path at Planned Parenthood. During her time there, she came into frequent contact with volunteers from the Coalition for Life who gathered outside the fence surrounding the clinic to pray for an end to abortion. Through compassion and gentle discussions, Johnson began to see that maybe the people on "the other side" weren't as bad as they were portrayed by Planned Parenthood.

Then came the day she was requested to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. As she watched what happened to the unborn baby, she was horrified. It was that particular instance that caused a crisis of belief for her. She began to question everything she had ever done at Planned Parenthood. Her first stop was the nearby Coalition for Life who had won her over by their genuine care and concern for her, as well as their daily prayers for her.

"Unplanned" is a riveting book and an incredible look at the issue of unborn life from both perspectives. Because of Johnson's role with the organization, she offers a unique look at Planned Parenthood from the inside, revealing things that they would probably prefer to remain hidden (for instance, that they need to increase revenue by increasing abortions, something that goes completely contrary to their main talking point).

It is fascinating to read the thought process and beliefs behind why she wanted to work for Planned Parenthood. Her transformation from believing the pro-choice rhetoric and semantics to a Bible-believing pro-life Christian is amazing.

This book was initially published in 2010. It was recently re-released with an additional chapter containing follow-up information that has occurred since the book was previously published. Johnson and her husband launched a non-profit ministry called And Then There Were None, with the goal of assisting abortion clinic workers who wish to leave their work. So far, they have helped over 100 workers who chose to leave the abortion industry. Throughout the book, Johnson helps the reader to see that it's not just women seeking abortions who need help, care, and prayer; abortion workers are in just as much need.

"Unplanned" is an important book in the conversation of unborn life. Johnson is able to offer a unique look from both sides of the discussion. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand the "other side", no matter which side you may be on.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers 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...