Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reflections on "Uninvited" by Lysa TerKeurst

Brief summary (Amazon)...The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than.
In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences of rejection--from the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over to the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father. She leans in to honestly examine the roots of rejection, as well as rejection's ability to poison relationships from the inside out, including our relationship with God.

My thoughts...Let me be honest...I really don't read a lot of Christian non-fiction books. When I have spare time to read, I want to escape my own reality. I love getting lost in new places, time periods, the drama of a story line. So I tend to be very selective when it comes to reading books about growing spiritually. I also know that I have struggled in the past with making people and their thoughts on God, the Bible, and spirituality the authority in my life instead of God Himself. The Bible itself. I am now very mindful to keep that in check.

With that said, when I read the summary of Lysa TerKeurst's newest book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, it was like God was sending up all the flags...good flags...that said, "READ THIS." I'm generally an outgoing person that loves to socialize, pour out my heart with my trusted girlfriends, and find a way to be a part of social gatherings. But like many others, I have felt the sting of rejection. I try to keep my protective shell up so I won't have to experience it, but it happens. And I get devastated. Why do I take rejection so hard? This book was not about going back and analyzing past hurts, blaming people for things they had said or done, but instead it was about believing truth and walking forward with God as I did some self-evaluation....some soul evaluation.

I practically underlined the whole book, but here are a few lines that really stood out:
"Pain is the invitation for God to move in and replace our faltering strength with His."
"Because instead of Him being our hope, we misplace our hope in people who can't wholly love a desperately broken version of us. Only God can do that."
"Wisdom seeks to see someone else's vantage point even if I don't agree with that person's perspective."

This book is one that I will revisit...I've just skimmed the surface. So many humbling truths here that speak straight to my heart. If you struggle with loneliness, rejection, or feeling less than....pick up this book. You will be blessed!

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in order to give and honest review, which I did.*

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reviewer's bookshelf: "The Mark of the King" by Jocelyn Green

Book Summary: After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

My thoughts...I have read some of Jocelyn Green's previous novels in her Heroines Behind the Line series (Civil War). Her attention to detail in that series carried over to this novel. One has a sense of stepping right into a place and time in history. I personally didn't know much about the settling of Louisiana, so that was a definite point of interest for me as I read the novel. I appreciated that although the characters were fictional, Green based her story on true events. 

This novel was action-packed. From Julianne's experience that branded her a murderer to the events surrounding her marriage to a convict, there is constant transition from one event in Julianne's life to another. Life in Louisiana was nothing like she thought it would be; it was much more difficult and filled with the constant fight for survival. Many did not make it through the hardships. Julianne's strength and will to survive helped her to persevere through severe emotional and physical traumas. 

My impression from the book summary was there would be a romantic element, and there was. The romantic tension in the novel did build at times, but then fell a little flat for me. Especially her marriage to the convict. I couldn't quite grasp how she truly felt about this man. There was a moment in their first meeting that was very high tension, and emotionally traumatic for the characters, but I was left hanging....wondering how Julianne or her husband felt about that initial encounter. That aspect, as well as future moments of romantic tension, seemed to build and then come to a stop. I wanted to get into the characters' heads a little more.

Overall, this what I would call a historical Christian fiction novel with elements of romantic tension. There is never a dull moment as there were many twists and turns in the story. If you are a fan of this genre, Jocelyn Green is definitely an author to take notice of.

*I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give an honest review, which I did.*

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "A Moonbow Night" by Laura Frantz

Book Summary (Goodreads): After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It's a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke--men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew looking for an experienced guide. When his guide appears, Sion balks. He certainly didn't expect a woman. But it is not long before he must admit that Tempe's skill in the wilderness rivals his own. Still, the tenuous tie they are forming is put to the test as they encounter danger after danger and must rely on each other. 

My thoughts.... As I read A Moonbow Night, it was as if I was transported to another time and place in history. Laura Frantz has created a delight to the senses. I honestly don't know how she does it. Rarely do I read a book that can capture the sights, sounds, and smells of eighteenth century life so vividly. Even nature is given a life of its own throughout the story, and is almost a character in itself.
       My senses were not the only thing stirred in this story. This was a tale of love, deep loss, grief, and courage to open oneself up to experiencing peace and joy through God and one another. I thought Tempe's fearlessness as a result of her grief was an interesting part of her character. She did not fear death, which actually gave her the ability to experience life, particularly life in a dangerous time and location. 
      Typically, I'm drawn to the romantic tension in a story. I'll admit...I love action, adventure and a good plot line...but I'm a hopeless romantic at heart. This story did have a building of romantic tension, although not quite as intense as some of Frantz' previous novels. From the beginning, this tale was different...and not in a bad way. I was so lost in the intensity of the setting and the action that was building in the story, an overdose of romantic moments would've seemed forced, in my opinion. The way they were written fit right in with what was happening in the moment, and it created a nice balance.
        I would definitely recommend this book, as well as Laura Frantz' other novels. I actually took time to reread two of her books this year and can't say enough about how wonderful they are. I always wait in eager anticipation when I see that she has a new one coming out. You can connect with Laura on Facebook and Instagram.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, to give an honest review, which I did.*