Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I'm Reading

Welcome to my weekly review of what I'm reading! 

I want to start out this week with my non-fiction choices for the week!

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  This is a book that I picked up quite a while ago as part of an on-line book club that I joined.  I kinda messed up in the book club because I missed a post that changed the club from one chapter a week to a Sunday/Wednesday Chapter (2 a week) so I ended up weeks behind and gave up!  I finally picked it pack up a few weeks ago!

Snynopsis: Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. 'How,' Ann wondered, 'do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long--and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?' In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted...a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved--by God. Let Ann's beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!

My Opinion: Well, I have to be 100% honest.  I heard huge hype about this book and how it will change your life.  I was so gung ho on this concept of focusing on the everyday blessings - even taking time to come up with one thousand differant little blessings.  I saw a surge on facebook of people listing items in their status' followed by a number (2) or (121).  So, honestly, I gave up on this book :-(  It isn't often that I don't finish a book; I usually push my way to the end but this one was boring me senseless.  The idea is fabulous, don't get me wrong, but for me it was the opposite effect due to the writing.  I found it almost depressing as I read what the author wrote; she is very melenconly in her writing (at least that is how I found it to be).  I did not care for her style of writing either - I found it difficult to follow her line of thinking.  I feel bad about this opinion review because I know that some people will LOVE this book but I just did not.

My Rating: *  :-(  Sorry.  That is how I feel.  I will be listing this book up on  I'm sure it will sell quickly because it is so loved by so many people (except me!)

I don't have a review for this book yet - I just got it in the mail the other day and am excited to start reading.  (This is also a book on my reading goal list!)

So now, my Fiction reads of the week!

One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling.  This is a re-read for me but it was a great book:-)

Synopsis: Two mothers. Two children. One tragedy. One miracle. Snelling, whose novels have sold more than two million copies, is sure to grab readers from the start of this holiday melodrama. Nora Peterson wants to create the perfect Christmas for what may be the last year her twins are home before leaving for college. Her husband's long business trip threatens her plans, but her world is about to turn upside down from far worse. As she faces tragedy, emergency room nurse Jenna Montgomery faces a miracle: her dying daughter, Heather, is getting a new heart. Snelling moves from one mother's viewpoint to the other's with ease, keeping readers riveted to Nora's emotional and spiritual healing and Jenna's understanding of her daughter's new life, as well as her own. Subplots—Nora's relationship with her daughter, Christi, and Jenna's surprise romance—add layers to this spiritually challenging and emotionally taut story. Fans of Christian women's fiction will enjoy this winning novel

My Opinion: This is a great book to read.  It will pull at your heart strings and have you cheering for the familes to overcome all that is handed to them. 

My Rating: * * * * Yep, it really is worth 4 stars!

The Brushstroke Legacy  by Lauraine Snelling is a great book of family healing and soul searching resolutions. 

Synopsis: Snelling (Saturday Morning; The Healing Quilt), known for her inspirational romance novels, sets this story largely in North Dakota. Ragni, a single woman who is struggling with her job and her father's Alzheimer's disease, agrees against her will to fix up her great-grandmother's cabin. She's accompanied by her teenage niece, Erika, who has taken to wearing all black and rarely talks to Ragni anymore. Snelling takes this opportunity to weave together Ragni's story with the story of Nilda, her great-grandmother, who traveled out by train in the early 1900s to be a frontier housekeeper. Both women encounter hardships—like the plague of grasshoppers that strips the crops in Nilda's time or Ragni's more humorous attempts to get Erika to adjust to life without modern conveniences. Both of them paint; when Ragni and Erika discover some of Nilda's paintings, they begin to feel close to her and are inspired to continue their own artistic pursuits. And both Ragni and Nilda enjoy romance with interesting men. The story has its sweet moments, but is largely tedious: the dialogue plods, the characters have little emotional depth, the historical details are sparse and the conclusions are not believable. And while the main character is a modern-day 30-something, the book is written in a style that will appeal most to older readers.

My Opinion: This book was hard to put down.  It is really that good.  There are two stories going on at once- one telling the back story and one taking place current day.  As you read you will see how the lives connect and how history changes the viewpoints of those living today.  It is a feel good story to the end but it not unrealistic in what happens.  I would really recommend this book if you haven't read it yet!

My Rating: * * * * . .wait for it . .. * yes ma'am . . .five stars!!!  It was that good.

Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a book I picked up on sale table a few years ago.  Not my normal style of book but for $2.00 it was something new to try!

Synopsis: Positioned as a gentle historical romance for lovers of Amish and Mennonite stories, this tale by inspirational Christian novelist Vogel Sawyer (My Heart Remembers) fits this description in too tidy a fashion. Set in 1872, married couple Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to leave their Mennonite village of Gnadenfeld, Russia, for America rather than see their eldest son, Henrik, drafted into the military. The Vogts begin their ocean voyage along with their three sons and Reinhardt's foster brother Eli Bornholdt when the unthinkable occurs. Faced with sudden tragedy and a future in Kansas now made even more uncertain, Lillian must act quickly and decisively, and does so, but not without drawing the ire of her oldest son. With little to go on but grit, faith and loyalty to each other, these immigrants forge a new life despite obstacles both internal and external. Fans of this type of formulaic fiction won't be put off by its conclusion or its lightweight treatment of true loss and the grief that follows. Others who prefer more realism in their reads won't be as easily satisfied

My Opinion:  I think the last few sentances of the synopsis says a lot - it is not a light hearted book but rather deals with some pretty tough grief issues yet, life moves on and joy comes anew.  This was not an easy book to read because of the writing style, the foreign language words thrown in to make the story more "real" and just the topic itself.  It is a re-read and, amazingly, I actually remember the entire story so I almost didn't re- read it so if that says anything, it says that it was written well enough that I remembered it!

My Rating: * * *  Three Stars.  I'm torn on this one.  It is a good book - if you love to read historical books, you would probably enjoy this one.  If you are not a fan of reading . . well, this probably is not the book for you.  I think I'm going to actually sell this book as I don't think I would read it a third time. 

A Place Called Morning by Ann Tatlock is the book I'm reading right now so look for the review next week!