Veteran’s Day Book Review: War Torn Heart by Allison Wells

flag.jpg

Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy.

It’s a classic story, but Allison Wells sets this story in America just before war breaks out. Her new novel is titled War-Torn Heart.

war

War-Torn Heart highlights the angst of those suffering on the home front: those waiting at home to be reunited with their loves, and those wondering whether their family members will return. There are lots of moments that give this story a coming-of-age feel, as the young female narrator comes to terms with what it means to be a woman. Moving from being a girl to a woman, she faces her sensuality and her sexuality, as she progresses through friendship to romance with a young man. She is forced to reconcile how that relates to living out her faith in this relationship. War-Torn Heart remains a family-friendly read, but it shows how the protagonist faces her urges and is honest with herself about these natural longings. It doesn’t lack moments of cheesiness or sappiness, and these moments could have been cut. What the story does offer young female readers is the insight that they’re not alone in the universal, inner female longing to love and be loved by a man.

Just like Little Women, where the ladies band together to get through, this book focuses on the female perspective. In War-Torn Heart, the men have their own ideas and beliefs about war, while the women face their own challenges. Everyone’s attitude is focused on “bringing the boys home”, yet the women face things through their own eyes. In War-Torn Heart, there is undeveloped potential throughout the story that could have been better shaped. Particularly, in the last chapter, one of the characters faces a significant challenge that almost seemed added on, as if it was an afterthought. However, for young women (particularly teenagers) who enjoy historical fiction or romance stories, War-Torn Heart could be a rewarding read.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from this publisher, Ambassador International, in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no compensation for this review.

abeab9753bf3e4764c90edfc9c57eac577269c3d

Troubled youth meets mentor

gl-new-cover.jpg

What happens when a young girl with a difficult past meets a retired woman ready to take on a challenge? That’s the plot of Grace & Lavender, by Heather Norman Smith. Readers will meet Grace, a youth with a good heart, who keeps getting in trouble at the group home where she lives. Colleen, who has retired from working in healthcare, has a strong propensity to help others and a desire to expand her own horizons. Colleen enjoys improving herself, setting goals, and taking on new projects. Colleen has a strong faith and good relationships with others. Colleen’s husband, Harvey, and daughter, Melody, also play their roles, as does an elderly American veteran.

If you’re looking for action or suspense, this is not the book for you. Readers should know that a lot of what takes place in this book could be described as snippets from ordinary life. Nothing would take your breath away or shock you in a dramatic fashion. However, this type of story does appeal to a lot of people, because it’s very realistic.

Grace & Lavender is published by Ambassador International, a company with a very strong faith-based mission. Norman Smith places footnotes of Scripture in her writing, and blocks of the Word within the story. If you don’t enjoy fiction that is written in this way, you may want to pass on this book.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, Ambassador International!

abeab9753bf3e4764c90edfc9c57eac577269c3d

Book Review – The Louder Song by Aubrey Sampson

978-1-63146-902-2.jpg

Have you ever been at a point in your life when you asked God “Why is this happening?”

If you’ve been filled with grief over a tragic event and you can’t understand why God would allow such disappointment, Aubrey Sampson understands. Such a point in life she refers to as lament. Lament can happen over a job loss, diagnosis of an illness, death, or a difficulty in a marital relationship. In her new book The Louder Song, she talks about her own journey of lament and weaves it with the lament stories that you might have heard in the Bible (or may not have, given that Christians are so often told to put on a happy face).

Aubrey Sampson is honest in telling her story. She knows that on the journey of grief, you can’t just get a how-to-do-grief book, and go on your merry way. You can’t just fix it neatly for yourself or someone else. You have to go through it. You have to feel the hurt and pass through it. There are no shortcuts for grief. She affirms every Christian who has asked the tough questions – why did this happen? How could God do this to me? Why don’t I have answers? She affirms that you are not a weak Christian for asking the questions and not having answers. Faith and questioning can and should co-exist in times of trials.

If you want a book that’s honest about grief, I highly recommend this book. Sampson is honest with her raw emotions and about her questions of God; I really liked her vulnerability.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

BLOG-NETWORK-BADGE

Book Review: Kingdom Single

kingdom

 

Depending upon the denominational circles in which she finds herself, a Christian woman might be the exception if she isn’t married by 25, making it difficult to find peers who can relate to her life as a Christian single in a world where sex before marriage and cohabitation are the norm.

There are plenty of books that tell Christian singles what not to do (don’t fornicate, wait on the Lord for a Godly spouse) and lots of books tell Christian teens how to Biblically date or court. But many of these books are geared toward the younger crowd who aren’t yet in the “career” age yet.

It was with this reality that I was really excited about Tony Evans’ new book Kingdom Single.  One of the bullet points on the back cover says that God has a mission for you to join now, as a single. You don’t have to wait until you’re married to have a rewarding life. Even if you never get married, you can still live fulfilled and satisfied as a whole person, with a happy life. This is a very different approach from any other Christian book on singleness that I’ve read, so I was really excited about it.

But it wasn’t long into Kingdom Single that the book fell flat. While it has some positive ideas, the way they’re explained falls short. One in the beginning is that you shouldn’t just wait idly in your life wondering where your mate is, but you should be busy with your mission in life. This is a powerful idea that I agree with, but the example used to illustrate it is so bizarre that it wasn’t of much help. Tony uses the Biblical example of Adam and Eve’s creation in Genesis 2. We see very clearly that God looked at Adam and said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and from that, God decided to make a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18). This is also why Eve was created – because of Adam’s lack of a suitable helper. Tony says that Adam wasn’t looking around wondering where his woman was, and that when Eve was created, she wasn’t looking for her man. And that’s correct- but Adam was only on Earth for seven days (literal or metaphorical, we could debate), and Eve was created for the sole purpose of being a helper to her husband, before sin and corruption entered the world, so she didn’t have to endure a long process of having to wonder where her husband was, if he existed, how to find him, and so on. For the single Christians wondering where their suitable partners are, this example is not the best one to look at and say that Christian singles should just be busy about their business not wondering where their suitable partners are. If anything, Genesis 2 validates a Christian single’s desire to feel loved and supported by a marriage partner. Better examples for both sexes on how to live out a calling and what to search for in a partner could be found in Proverbs 31; this passage has incredible mileage for both sexes as it gives women something to aspire to and men something to pursue. (And a Proverbs 31 woman can make some assumptions that for the virtues she’s pursuing, her man can meet her standards of Godliness as well.)

Another part of Kingdom Single that made this such a difficult book to read – and why I didn’t finish it – was the lack of practical suggestions or examples from people living today. The examples were all from the Bible, and while I appreciate Biblical examples, living examples are good too. While the premise of Kingdom Single was promising, it didn’t read as a book written for single people on how to live out their singleness in a Godly way. It just seemed to be a book on how to life a Godly life with the word “single” or “kingdom single” slapped on in various places. The content didn’t match well to what the book was supposed to be about.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Kingdom Single from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

BLOG-NETWORK-BADGE

 

 

Book Review: 100 Bible Stories for Children

978-1-4964-3160-8

What’s your favorite Bible story? Do you remember the first time you heard it or what you thought about it?

If you grew up in church your answer might be very different from someone who came to faith as an adult.

If you come back (or do a first read of) some classic stories in the Bible – stories that most people know about, like Noah building the Ark or Adam and Eve in Creation or Jesus’ birth in a manger – reading these stories as an adult can be like seeing them all over if you read a version written for a child’s eyes. This was my impression when I reviewed 100 Bible Stories for Children, published by Tyndale Kids. I loved how this collection kept the integrity of the Bible by keeping the stories in the order that they appear to us today, in a “grown-up” Bible. I also liked how they also included stories that I hadn’t heard in a long time, like Elisha replacing Elijah, Jacob stealing a blessing, and the story of angry King Saul. And I loved how it took pieces out of stories that could raise an adult’s eyebrows – like how Esther becomes Queen because her future husband gets furious at his wife for humiliating him in public after a week-long drunken feast – and it takes these same stories and doesn’t omit the truth, but explains things in a kid-friendly way. (King X got tired of his wife. Really sounds simple, doesn’t it?)

I highly recommend this book for any parent, Sunday School teacher, or anyone who wants to teach young kids about the Bible. I can easily see young kids being fascinated by these stories and the pictures that go along with them. And I can see a book like this becoming part of a parent-child storytime routine… where Mom or Dad gets to tell a story again or even learn it for the first time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.

BLOG-NETWORK-BADGE