Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spring for Susannah - Catherine Richmond


Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond is a thoroughly enjoyable read.  Being the first time I have read this particular author, I wasn't sure what to expect from the characters/storyline, and I was pleasantly surprised.  The author writes her characters with great detail and emotional depth.  I found myself truly looking forward to how the relationships of the characters unfolded, almost wishing that the story could continue when I reached the end.

The novel begins with Susannah Underhill, a mail order bride, preparing to meet the man she is to marry.  She has traveled from Michigan to the great Dakota territory, trying to flee the nightmares of her past (a loveless childhood and a physical attack from a stranger).  She enters the marriage with fear, reservations and the inability to speak for herself- characteristics that her new husband Jesse finds bewildering.  As they begin to earn each others' trust, their marriage is tested by a series of trials characteristic of living out on the great frontier.  When Jesse has to leave his wife and homestead to find work, Susannah discovers the strength and purpose God has for her life.

The Spiritual message rings through loud and clear- we get samples of scripture, hymns and prayers all throughout the narrative.  I also appreciated how this book touches on the intimacy of marriage without shame.  Of course there is nothing graphic, but the loving relationship between a husband and wife is explored in a refreshing and lovely way- especially for Christian fiction.

I truly did enjoy this story and look forward to more by Catherine Richmond.  I did find that the story at times drug on, especially during the period when Susannah and Jesse are apart.  I found myself skimming a few pages to see what was going to happen- the interlude between their reunion did not keep my interest.  However, that section of the book is well compensated for by the beginning and end of the story.  I very much enjoyed the glimpse into prairie life during that time period and the vivid portrayal of the Dakota landscape.

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher via Book Sneeze. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Promise of an Angel- Ruth Reid


I have read many Amish Christian fiction novels, but never one quite like this.  In fact, I have to admit that it was refreshing to find that The Promise of an Angel by Ruth Reid did not rely on the same tried and true formula that other authors of Amish fiction have made famous.  I felt that this novel was contemporary and realistic in the way it treated the Amish culture and the emotions and experience of the characters within the story.

Judith Fischer lives in an Amish community in Michigan, where she is happy to tell stories to children, cook, and ready herself to be married to Levi Plank- the man she has been waiting 2 year to court.  However, after a tragic accident paralyzes her younger brother, strains her relationship with her family and exposes new truths about the man she has been waiting to marry, Judith begins to realize that God ordains the steps of her life. 

I truly enjoyed the spiritual aspect of this book as it touches on a topic that is rarely discussed.  Judith's visits from an angel and the faith she places in the things that are revealed to her leave her at odds with her community.  Her willingness to risk everything she has to stand up for God's promises truly inspired me.  I finished this book with a better understanding of biblical truths and a reminder that God still uses miracles to speak to us today.

Overall, I look forward to reading more books by Ruth Reid and exploring her Heaven on Earth series.  The Promise of an Angel (Book 1 in the series) is a lovely book with refreshing new insight into the Amish faith.  I couldn't put it down and highly recommend it.

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher via Book Sneeze. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Radical - David Platt


Wow.  This book has changed my life.

When I first set out to read Radical by David Platt, I didn't really know what to expect.  I had heard things.  I had witnessed some changes in friends who had decided to dig into the book.  I knew what the word radical meant. But I really had no idea what a little orange book could say that I hadn't already heard throughout my life from pastors and mentors and various religious books.

After the first chapter I decided that this wasn't just any old book.  Halfway through the book I was crying (I do not cry).  By the end of the book I had changed in ways that I didn't even think I was ready for.  God knew better than I did about what kind of change I needed!

Radical is a book by mega church pastor David Platt.  In a sense, its purpose is to get us to discover the radical nature of Jesus Christ.  Platt argues that our culture has so watered down the message of the gospel that we have created our own ideas of who Jesus is and what He would ask of us.  Instead, he encourages us to go straight to the source- scripture.  Through various passages, parables, and personal experiences, Platt lays out a radically simple but honest truth: Jesus wants our all.  He wants all of our love, time, money, hope, worry, future.  He wants our life.

The book also opened my eyes to the idea of global ministry.  It is so easy to get consumed with our daily lives that we forget the community and world that God has put us here to minister to.  Platt makes a case for taking not just the gospel, but ourselves to the nations...it isn't even an option but our call according to Christ.

I won't go into the steps that Platt recommends to begin living this "radical life".  I do appreciate that he gives the reader small steps to take on a path to complete surrender to Jesus.  But to be honest, after reading this book I was ready to sell the house, pack the bags, and start sharing Jesus with Africa!  Of course, I quickly realized that would be crazy, right?  Jesus doesn't want us to be that radical does He?

Platt would argue that he does.  And I have to say, after reading this book, I agree.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Judgement - Beverly Lewis


The Judgment is the second novel in the Rose Trilogy from popular Amish fiction author Beverly Lewis.  I have a soft spot for Amish fiction and have enjoyed many novels by Beverly Lewis, including the first in this series (The Thorn).  However, as many 2nd novels of a trilogy tend to do, this one fell a little bit short for me.  I found myself want more answers, more plot development and caught myself skimming pages, which is something I rarely do!

In this second installment, Rose Ann must come face to face with the truth that her betrothed has feelings for a girl from his past.  All the while, Rose Ann is dealing with her own yearnings for Nick, the foster son of their bishop who has run off to the "English" world.  Meanwhile, Rose Ann's sister, Hen, is struggling with an impending divorce from her worldly husband, and the tension threatens to tear apart her family and marriage.

There are not many plot twists and turns in this book, only a straightforward and somewhat predictable path leading to the final novel, in which I believe the story lines will all come together nicely.  The Mercy (#3) is due in stores September, 2011, and I look forward to reading it!

Overall, The Judgment is a solid read and offers all the charm, spiritual heart and honest characters that I have come to expect from a Beverly Lewis novel.  I would recommend this book, if only as a bridge between the first novel (The Thorn) and book number three (The Grace).