Tag Archives: book reports

My top 10 favorite books of all time!

….Disclaimer: this list is subject to change at any given time without notice depending on my mood & not-yet-read books… 😀

So this marks my first blog post that is being done entirely on my smartphone. I’ve always seen the WordPress blog icon on my home screen, but have yet to try it. Weather outside is reminiscent of the Great Flood, so seemed like an appropriate time to try it out. Considering my blogs are usually novel length I figure typing it up on my smartphone might shorten this one up. But since I’m talking about books I have big doubts!

My friend Stephanie recently posed this question to me asking me to name my top 10 favorite books of all time. Even though she told me not to put much thought into it & just spout them off, that wasn’t likely to happen since I over-think most everything especially when having to choose “favorites” #lifedecisions 😉

After much editing I feel pretty (fairly) confident in my chosen top 10. Honorable mentions go out to: The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson & The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (wow! That’s a lot of Nicholas’ in one category). They were all so close to making the list, but sadly ended up second strings. Maybe next year boys!

In no particular order:

1) The Bible, by some dude I can’t remember his name 😉– within these pages I have found comfort, answers, tears, questions, confusion, anger, sadness, forgiveness, love, joy, peace & many other emotions. All spoken to me by God himself. The living Word that I turn to almost daily.

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2) The Loop by Nicholas Evans–my all-time favorite author. This is the story of a wolf biologist who is observing & monitoring a pack of wolves in the mountains of Montana & her fight against a town that wants to extinguish this pack out.

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3) The Cross Gardener by Jason F. Wright. About a guy who loses his wife & unborn child in a fatal car accident. One day he takes a cross to the accident site where his wife died & meets The Cross Gardener, a guy who travels roadways caring for crosses & memorials that people have placed at loved ones accident sites.

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4) The Tale of Three Trees by a Folklore– Kids book about 3 trees that each have dreams they want to grow into. Their dreams don’t turn out how they planned, but God uses them in mighty ways for His greater purpose.

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5) The Pillars of the Earth & World Without End by Ken Follett–these are two seperate books about the village of Kingsbridge, England during the 1100’s-1300’s. Pillars is about the building of the Kingsbridge Cathedral & World is about the village. Be prepared to devote some time to these novels, each is about 2000 pages long!

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6) Steve & Me by Terri Irwin–Terri Irwin’s autobiography chronicling her life with late husband, the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. I was such a big fan of Steve & Terri even before I read this novel, but after reading it I gained even more respect. Such an adventurous life & I laughed, bawled & was humbled by this couple.

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7) Black Beauty by Anna Sewell–I have read this novel so many times that I can quote lines from it. First read as a kid & broke my heart so much that it stirred in me a deep passion for animal rescue. The whole novel is told through the eyes of Beauty & you go from loved beginnings to a life of abuse & neglect. Classic that everyone should read at least once!

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8) In the Presence of My Enemies by Graicia Burnham– true story of missionaries in the Philippians who are kidnapped & held hostage for several years. The grace, humility, & forgiveness that got them through their ordeal is such a testament to faith in God. After reading this novel it made me appreciate missionaries more & opened my eyes to how desperately I want to be a part of that front line of ministry.

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9) Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo– true story of Todd’s 3year old son Colton & his trip to heaven & back after he died for several minutes during a surgery. Only book I’ve ever read that I actually called in “sick” to work because I couldn’t put it down & wanted to finish (shhhh…don’t tell!). Changed & in some ways answered questions I had about what heaven’s really like. Heard Hollywood is converting this movie to the big screen, anxious to see how it transpires.

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10) Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls– another book I first read as a kid & have read countless times. Story of a boy who lives in the Ozarks during Depression-era. He saves his money to buy 2 Redbone Coonhounds & hand-trains them to be hunting dogs. Have the Kleenex in hand!

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There ya go fellow book-nerds, my top 10 (as of today any ways!). I’m always on the prowl for good books so pass your suggestions my way!

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Book Report: Radical by David Platt

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“Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses”

This was the first line that I had underlined in the book, “Radical” by David Platt. A book that I was roped into reading by deciding to join the 2013/14 MTI (ministry training institute) program at my local church.

This line rubbed me the wrong way & thus started a love/hate relationship with the novel.

While the author, David Platt, had a lot…A LOT of ideas & key points that I agreed with, he equally had a lot that I didn’t. For me, the over-riding tone of the novel was how arrogant the author came across to me. I wouldn’t say that I’m a defensive person; I’ve accepted my strengths & weaknesses and when they’re pointed out to me, it’s often a trait that I’ve already realized I have. But I’ve never had somebody, especially an author that I haven’t met, so “in my face” & “you’re doing Christianity wrong”. In other words, he’s telling me that I’m loving Jesus & representing him wrong.

Not a fan of that!

I will admit, I am FAR from the model Christian. And I don’t strive to be. What I do strive to be is somebody that God can be proud of & that I represent Him well. Imperfections and all. This novel made me feel that unless I’m selling all my stuff & living a nomad lifestyle, floating between society to society spreading the gospel that God will look at me one day & say, “you’ve failed me”.
And I don’t believe that to be true.

While I do agree in living with LESS & giving MORE, I don’t think that God wants us to struggle in order to help others. If we did that, then we (in turn) would be the ones struggling & would need the help. And I also agree, big time, that God does want us to travel; to get out of our comfort zone and spread the gospel, however, I don’t necessarily think we have to go to foreign countries to do that. And somebody shouldn’t feel bad about not having a calling to go on an extended Missions trip. Personally, I would LOVE to go on an international Missions trip & I know that I will one day. But I also know that plenty of people are hurting in your own country, town…family. Sometimes things don’t have to be big & extreme, sometimes you can start small with the people closest to you.

David Platt, oftentimes, came off pompous to me. And that’s exactly what he’s trying to tell us NOT to be like, his whole novel was about humbling oneself & being a servant. And I agree with that, completely. But throughout the whole novel he told us what his church was doing; how his followers were making a difference, the letters he was receiving from those that have heard him speak…his, his, his. Yeah, we get it. You’re trying to be “Radical” & it’s working in your awesome Mega-church. But how about you leave your mega-church, donate all the proceeds from your book sales & live on the $10,000 that you’re preaching most of the world lives on (which I believe to be wholeheartedly true), uproot your family & lead them into dangerous & uncharted territories. My guess is he wouldn’t do that, and who can blame him? God hasn’t called him to do that. And he shouldn’t be faulted for living a “comfortable” lifestyle & not living a life that would make people question if he was homeless. However, my impression is that he wants his church-goers & readers to do that because that’s the only way you can be a true disciple of Jesus.

And maybe he’s right. I’m very limited on my understanding of God, Jesus & the Bible. God does want us to trust Him, have faith in Him beyond measure. And I know that I, personally, struggle in that area BIG TIME. However, I don’t think I’m less of a Christian or God is disappointed in me & thinks I’m a bad disciple because I take a step back & question things. If God chooses to bless me financially where I don’t have to struggle to pay bills, then I know he’ll bless me with knowledge on how/where He wants me to spend it. But until that time comes & I don’t have to pray ferociously that my income will cover basic needs I refuse to feel guilty that I don’t give enough. The season of my life that I’m currently in, is one where I’m learning to give up control & walk in faith. This is the season that God has decided I need to be in at the moment, I don’t like it. But I accept it.

The “Radical” challenge presented I like. And I’ve been giving it a lot of thought & praying very hard over it. I have not signed it yet because I’m not sure if I can give up a year to that dedication. Again, reading the Word, praying…no issue with that at all. But the giving up money for a specific purpose/going on a “missions” trip. I just don’t know if financially I can afford to do that. And I also feel there’s things that God is still weeding out in my own life & this might not be the right time to focus on a “Radical” challenge. If he calls me to do it, then I will. If I make a commitment to accept the challenge, then I know I’ll give 100% & I have no doubts that I will see dramatic changes, however, I’m just not sure if this is the right time.

In conclusion, this book gave me tons to mull over & think about. Which is, I imagine, the author’s main point. To get us “thinking”, which he has succeeded in. Tough book to get through and even though I never threw it across the room in frustration, I did roll my eyes at some statements. At a different point in my life, this novel could really spark a positive change in me, but at this point it only sparked me feeling defensive & closed minded.

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When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey

I started the novel with huge expectations. I didn’t know anything about it, but found it on Book Sneeze & thought I’d give it a try. The description sounded awesome; spiritual but with a supernatural twist. I even found a YouTube video promoting the novel & it really peaked my interest.
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At first I couldn’t put the novel down! Loved it! It’s not a long read (about 330pages). The chapters are fairly short & divided up by “days” leading up to a town carnival. The main character is a child named Leah; an only child, introvert, with a stutter. The novel centers around her & her relationship with an imaginary character she’s named, “The Rainbow Man”. Through her The Rainbow Man tells her things & gets her to do things that are a little off-the-wall; she paints a picture with hidden numbers that cause a town member to win the lottery, she approaches an abusive husband at the mall & tells him things that nobody else could possibly know, etc. Every main-character in this novel is pained in some way; her father is a psychiatrist who escapes into his work, therefore, neglecting his wife & child causing problems at home, her good friend & elder, Barney is struggling to take care of his wife’s failing health, the town minister is lacking in his faith & finding it impossible that God would speak his Word through a un-“religious” child with no formal Biblical training & her best friend Allie wants to believe her friend, but when it gets personal for her, she fights with unbelief. Not to mention the town, Mattingly, is full of supporting characters each with their own demons & secrets.

After the initial excitement & allure of the first few chapters wore off, I found this novel…well, kind of boring. I hate to admit that “hearing” Leah’s stutter was a total put-off for me. She has quite a bit of dialogue in the novel (obviously) & I found it annoying the way the author wrote her lines (“It’s nuh-no-ttt-not a h-h-h-ho-hole Mr. Bu-Buh-Barney”) I know that it was used for descriptive purposes because Leah has a stutter, but it added quite a bit of un-necessary paragraphs. Seemed to take a long time for the novel to actually take off. I also didn’t like the introduction of so many sub-characters, too many to keep track off! And I got so confused when the author started talking about a town called Away, had nothing to do with the actual storyline. “The Rainbow Man” character was never really settled for me; was it God, was it an Angel, perhaps even the Devil??? I’m sure that was the author’s point, that we draw our own conclusion, but I’ve got this “thing” about wanting a novel to be “closed & finished” when I’m done reading it. I really didn’t get the whole “Rainbow Man” concept. Reverend Grogginess was an interesting character. While I did agree with some of his ideals & beliefs, he was a little to Bible-Thumping for me. If the author’s point was that through Reverend Groggins’ character people would be introduced to God I think he turned people off more than he led. Barney’s character I did really like. Every small town has that one old guy who is just a good man. Little rough around the edges, but loves the Lord & lives his life very simply. Things are black & white for Barney & I love that! The chapters that tugged at my heartstring most were the ones where he took care of his ailing & disabled wife, Mabel. During her passing, I wished the author would’ve focused more on The Rainbow Man being present at that time. He did focus on it somewhat, but it seemed a little under-developed to me (and forgetful). Leah’s dad, Tom, the town psychiatrist was an interesting guy. It’s not that I disliked his character, but I didn’t necessarily like it either. I never really understood what his deal was. For being such a main character, he seemed a little confused to me. Like the author didn’t really know what to do with him. He left me feeling a little…blah. Leah’s best friend, Allie, was cute as a button. She was the typical bubbly, funny little kid that you can’t help but fall in love with. Again, her character seemed a little undone & I wasn’t sure what the author’s intent was with her.

The storyline was weak. The big event that the whole novel alluded to (as the chapters were all labeled: Chapter 6, 4 days before the Carnival….Chapter 9, one hour before the Carnival…etc.) that I was expecting something huge to happen. It was a tornado. True, a tornado that ripped the town apart but I was left feeling a little disappointed. To be honest, the whole novel & storyline reminded me of a movie I saw a few years ago (that scared the beejeebees out of me) called the Mothman Prophesies. I just didn’t get it….

I wouldn’t recommend this book to a friend. It’s a fast read, even though it took me 7months to get through it. But mostly because it bored the snot out of me. “When Mockingbirds Sing” turned out to be a big disappointment.

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Book Report: The Secret Life of Bees…

Since I’m currently computer-less at home my posts make lack the usual “flair” they usually do. My computer went to the big computer heaven in the sky several weeks ago & I’ve disconnected my internet at home, trying to reduce my dependency on social networking (at least for the summer months). After a bought of not even having a cell phone for a few days (when my cell-phone decided to follow my computer into another dimension, needless to say that was quickly remedied) I’m finding out this may be a looooong summer on the homestead!

The Secret Life of Bees

By Sue Monk Kidd

Overall I enjoyed this novel, but it teeters on the line between 3 & 4 stars for me.

I saw the movie based on the novel several years ago & while I really enjoyed the movie I had heard so many positive reviews about the novel & several friends recommended this book to me that naturally I put off reading it as long as possible. You see, I’m kind of an book snob when it comes to popular mainstream novels ( with the exception of The Hunger Games trilogy) most leave me with a big disappointment & feels of, “really???” when those big expectations are not met. It’s the overly critical & judgmental part of my personality shining through. I found, “The Secret Life of Bees” at a thrift store for less than $1 & figured it was time to check it off my Goodreads reading list.

Set in segregated & racist South Carolina during the early 1960’s, it’s the story of teenage Lily Owens, who grew up motherless with an abusive father. After her “stand-in-mother” Rosaleen; an African-American female winds up in jail for spitting on the shoes of the town racist, Lily decides to break Rosaleen out of jail & together they run away. Following the label of an old honey-jar that belonged to her deceased mother, they end up in Tiburon, SC on the doorstep of the 3 Boatwright sisters, who make their living as beekeepers selling Black Madonna Honey. Lily & Rosaleen in grain themselves into the lives of these sisters, their friends, & neighbors. Its set against the tone of beekeeping as a profession with each chapter offering a real-life fact on bees & their social colonies (which I adored, favorite parts of the novel).

“The whole fabric of honey bee society depends on communication;  an innate ability to send and receive messages, to encode and decode information.”

-The Honey Bee-

The whole novel surrounds Lily Owens & her quest to discover who her mother was & to relinquish her own guilt (or to find out if she did, in fact) accidentally kill her mother when she was a small child. We later learn that her mother had spent time in Tiburon & the reasons she had visited, left, & her relationships with the Boatwright sisters.

Since I’m a nature-buff & I’ve looked into keeping my own beehives, the parts of the novel I loved the most were the parts about beekeeping. I fell in love with the character of August Boatwright, the eldest of the sisters, & if the whole novel was just about her wisdom of beekeeping I probably would’ve LOVED this novel. She was about the only character in the novel that I really liked (which I’m sure is the author’s main intention anyways). I enjoyed her life-stories & how she related them to beekeeping. May, I thought, was annoying with her constant tantrums & the way she was babied by everyone else (I know she was mentally handicapped & had been through her own emotional trials, but it was still annoying). Lily was…well…a typical teenage girl, high-drama & all (but I did think the love interest with Zach was uber-adorable). June & Rosaleen were interesting as secondary characters, even though I think Rosaleen’s character should’ve been more developed since she had a pretty major role throughout the novel.

I would definitely recommend this book for a quick summer read. I loved the little life-tidbits that were stuck in the most obscure of spots:

“J-Jesus, O-Others, Y-Yourself. This is the correct order for life and if you follow it, you will have JOY.”

“After you get stung, you can’t get unstung no matter how much you whine about it.”

And many more little gems like that!

Like I said earlier, overall I really enjoyed it, however, it wouldn’t be one that I’d ever pick up to read again. My problem is that I need to just stay away from really popular books, they always seem to fall flat in my expectations. It’s a read that’s worth it if you even have a tiny interest in beekeeping as a hobby because its chock-full of tips & factual info on keeping hives, otherwise, I’d say skip the novel & Netflix the movie; it contained more of the “storyline” & less of the information on beekeeping.

 

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Book Report: Heaven Changes Everything by Todd & Sonja Burpo

*Living Every Day with Eternity in Mind*

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It’s hard to review a devotional objectively. It’s something very personal & what speaks to you is going to be different than what speaks to another reader. But here goes Smile

I had read, “Heaven is for Real” a few years ago. I remember the exact moment I found it at the store. I had never heard of the book & was actually shopping for a Joyce Meyer book that was on my reading list. I picked up Heaven is for Real, read the description on the back; thought it sounded interesting & then shelved it. Throughout the rest of my shopping trip my mind kept going back to that book that eventually (mainly to silence the nags) I put it in my shopping cart & cashed out. I started it almost immediately & it was instrumental in changing  (and confirming) my view on heaven. At the time I read it, my Grandma was battling stage-4 cancer & upon her death the chapters & words in that book were such a comfort to me. She was a strong woman of faith & I know the riches of heaven fell upon her & that we will be reunited again and that fills me with healing. I’ve since passed the book on to others & have recommended it to countless people.

It took me awhile to get through Heaven Changes Everything (over 6months) not because it was bad, but because of LIFE. I had read other devotionals in between, read other novels, but every time I picked up this specific book the messages were very tailored to what I was currently going through; questions on my mind, troubles that were heavy on my shoulders. So I feel like God was telling me to take this devotional very, very, slowly to let it sink in (on average, I’m a speedy reader). Usually I’d find myself crying over the words I was reading & sighing over how “spot on” it felt to read what I was feeling. And I’ll be honest, it led to some frustration because I didn’t want to change my thinking or behavior about some subjects the author suggested needed changed (hey, God made me stubborn so “technically” its His fault, right? Haha!)

Heaven Changes Everything is obviously set up a little differently since it is a devotional & not a narrative. For starters, its written by Todd & Sonja Burpo (Colton’s parents) who alternate chapters (which I liked) each giving their own viewpoint & spin on the subject of the chapter. You definitely would be able to use this book for a Bible Study since it does pose group discussion questions & has countless passages of scripture to study, memorize & discuss. Like I do with all devotionals, I went after it with a “college” mentality. You wouldn’t want to borrow my copy because its highlighted, underlined in pen, things are starred & my personal thoughts are wrote in the margins. You’d finish my copy more confused than when you started! Flipping through the book even now, there’s so many good chapters that I don’t even know where to start! Todd & Sonja (obviously) center the book around their take on Colton’s (their middle-son) near-death experience; visit to heaven & then return to earth. They give their viewpoints on what happened “behind the scenes” & how their lives have changed post-publishing of his novel, “Heaven is for Real”. What I also like was they touched on a little bit of everything; their marriage, their struggles, parenting, balancing careers & of course, their personal views on God & faith.

Since I can’t go chapter by chapter (its not a big book, but it would take awhile & the weather’s to nice to be indoors all day typing on the computer *wink wink*) I’ve picked a couple chapters that really spoke to me:

Chapter 9: “A Mixture of Faith & Doubt” told from the viewpoint of Todd. It’s about how you can be a person of Faith & still Doubt. I know I can relate to that. I don’t know how many countless times I’ve prayed for something & then took matters into my own hands because God was moving to slow (you’d think by now I would have learned my lesson & realize I do more damage than good!). Todd writes, “So you’re struggling. God understands. He knows you can’t see what’s waiting for you around the corner-not to mention next week or next year. But God is good at working with strugglers. Pray, “help me believe”. Even though he’s a Pastor; a man people look up to for spiritual guidance, he still struggled with doubt when doctor’s reported his son would not survive.

Chapter 23: “Imagine Being Held by Jesus”. This chapter really got to be. In this chapter, Todd remembers the moment when he was in the hospital chapel; alone, spewing forth hateful & angry words to God, so fearful that he may lose his son-didn’t understand why & God seemed to be silent. Upon Colton’s “return to earth” he tells Todd that he saw him in the chapel, crying & angry. “yeah, Jesus was there too.”…..”well, where was Jesus?”….Colton looked me right in the eye. ‘I was sitting in Jesus’ lap.’”….I was hiding out in the empty hospital room, raging at God for bringing my son so close to death-furious at the very One who at that moment, unknown to me, was holding my son in his arms. Quite the contrast, isn’t it?”. For me personally, I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten angry at God for his silence (what I view as silence) when he’s got something so much bigger intended for me. “But at the same time I try to remember that God has a plan for my life-a plan that ends in heaven-and whatever is happening to me right now is part of that plan.”

Countless other thoughts jump out at me throughout this devotional, “There are things God allows to happen because he knows the outcome is going to be greater than anything we could ever do on our own.”,”Children’s simple prayers fall as sweetly on God’s ears as they do on ours.”, “there is blessedness in brokenness. God uses broken people.” & “stand without wavering. Stand without apology. Stand confidently & say, ‘I know who Jesus is, and this is what he has done for me.’”

This is not a hard devotional at all & I recommend it for any beginner who is new in their walk with the Lord. It’ll get your feet wet as far as getting in the Word & reading the Bible, its full of personal opinion & testimonials rather than a lot of Bible-scripture-reading. However, even if you’re dedicated & like those in-depth devotionals this works as well, you can back up the author’s points & key-notes with Bible scriptures that reference it. Any way you look at it, the fact is; it’s just a good clean read & I highly recommend adding it to any reading list.

The closing paragraph of the book just warms me: “I love thinking about being so glad, and so grateful, to see Jesus that I spontaneously fall down on my knees before him. And I know he’ll be glad to see me. In fact, he’s been praying that I would join him there. He’s praying you’ll join him there too. Please don’t disappoint him. He’s waiting for you in heaven. And that changes everything.” What a great feeling to think that the Lord is praying to spend time with you! That’s something to hold onto when you’re feeling challenged, stressed, & overwhelmed. The Lord is praying that you’ll talk to him & spend time with him.

How fantastic of a thought is that???

How will you react????

 

 

 

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Book Report: "Thurston House" by Danielle Steel

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This is my um-teenth D.S. novel I’ve read to date, some I’ve liked…some I’ve hated. This one I liked. Really liked. This may be a front-runner for one of my favorites of her novels.

Thurston House is the story of Jeremiah Thurston & the legacy that he built. It’s divided into 3 different “books”. I’m a sucker for a good, epic, Historical-fiction novel & this one fit the bill. At over 500pages, it’ll take you awhile to get through, but it will hold your interest.

Book 1 introduces you to Jeremiah Thurston; Napa Valley, CA, 1860. She opens the novel with laying down the foundation that the rest of the epic is built upon. Thurston is a small-time owner of a quicksilver mine beginning his life with his young bride. A lost-battle with influenza takes the life of his bride & he spends the next several decades in bachelor-dom, building up his mining empire. Alone with his housekeeper (Hannah), she becomes the mother-figure he never had & she, in turn, becomes a pivotal character in the novel. On a cross-country train ride to Atlanta, middle-aged Thurston meets Amelia & falls immediately in-love, however, its not reciprocated & a strong friendship is built that, also, transpires throughout the rest of the novel. Once in Atlanta, he meets the (very) young , 17year old Camilia Beauchamp & she quickly becomes his wife.

Now I LOVE a good villain in a novel…love them! I have a weakness for nastiness, debauchery, bitchiness, arrogance, vile, great villain characters (no surprise my favorite movie characters are; Wicked Witch of the West, the Evil Queen in Snow White, Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmatians. They just make things “interesting” *insert maniacal “wa-ha-ha” laugh*). Camille definitely falls under the category of “villain”. Evil! Right from the beginning she weaseled her way into Jeremiah’s heart (as only a young girl can do to a middle-aged man), he’s beyond loaded with money & she is the quintessential “gold-digger”. He even had clues prior to the wedding that she had ulterior motives, but chose to ignore them. Being so young, he knew she’d never be happy living in the very desolate country-lifestyle that was Napa Valley at the turn of the century, so he built her a grand house, “Thurston House” in San Francisco; at the time it was marveled as being the grandest house in the country, comparable to the Castles of Europe. After the wedding, she made his life miserable, as well as, the life of his staff & friends. Even though Danielle Steele emphasizes what a “victim” Thurston is to Camille, my sympathies were limited towards him. There was moments of abuse, he raped her (which resulted in her pregnancy, something she was adamantly against. But he thought she’d grow out of that mindset), eventually she cheated & left him to move to Paris. He never divorced her (so you knew she was going to show up later in the novel with more malicious intent) & raised his daughter, Sabrina, to believe she had died when Sabrina was a baby.

Books 2 &3 are about Sabrina’s early & later years. I really, really liked what Danielle Steel did with this character. Talk about a ball-buster! Thurston mines are beyond booming & grape vineyards are added into the mix. Biggest mining-industry in the country, rivaled only to that by their arch-rival the Harte mines. The first few chapters are about Sabrina coming-of-age as a late teenager & when her father unexpectedly passes away, Sabrina takes on the challenge of managing the mines & vineyards. This is pre-WW1 era, she’s a female & is 18 to boot. Needless to say, she had to grow a huge pair! I loved the chapters how she toughened up & had to fight her way to keep her father’s business afloat. It was no surprise that, eventually, she fell in love with the owner of her arch-rival, John Harte, married & settled into a more relaxed life with her running the vineyards (her real passion) & him running the mines. They have a child together, Jonathan, but she once again finds herself alone when John dies tragically in a train accident.

She raises John, as I imagine any child in that situation would be raised, as spoiled ROTTEN. He’s showing the same character traits of  Camille & Steel brilliantly brought her character back to life through Jonathon (although, spoiling him obsessively to make up for Sabrina’s lack of being involved in his life probably didn’t help!), eventually through a series of events Jonathon (as an adult) is introduced to Camille, realizes it is his Grandma & connivingly brings her back into Thurston House to take over Sabrina’s life & money (because he’s mad his mom didn’t buy him a new car). I wish that part of the story would’ve drug out longer because I really enjoyed it, but it only lasted a few chapters.

During Book 3, Sabrina loses the mines, is forced to sell most of her belongings & is only able to hold onto the vineyards, which she only manages to stay afloat when she’s introduced to Andre & Antoine; father & son wine-makers from France who help build up her wine-empire. Eventually, she marries Andre & they have a daughter together, Dominique.

Plenty of secondary-characters are throughout this novel: Mary Ellen, Spring Moon, Dan Richfield, Hannah, Amelia, & Arden whom are all instrumental in the shaping of events. Typical Danielle Steel style, she uses the backdrop of history to give a personal feel to the story; WW1 & 2, the Great Depression, the California Gold-Rush & hot debatable topics; domestic abuse, rape, women’s rights, abortion, even religion & divorce. When you mix that with late 19th/early 20th century ideals it can create an interesting story!

I definitely recommend this novel, even if you’re not a Danielle Steel fan (it does have some romance) it’s a heavy book & not necessarily a light read. Its full of lots of history & hot debatable topics. It’ll piss you off, it’ll make you smile, & some parts will make you laugh at the absurdity of that time-period’s thinking. It’s one of her early ones (circa 1985), but still a good find for me (.99 at a used-bookstore…score!).

 

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A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place by Beth Moore…

Wow, its been awhile since I’ve done a book review! I wish I could say that I’ve been reading, but I haven’t even done much of that! When my Goodreads Book Update came via email (with the big headline: You’ve completed 0 books of your 25 book goal for 2013) I felt book readers everywhere mentally stone me for my laziness. Fortunately its summertime which just feels like book-reading season (you would think wintertime would be, but I’m using summertime as my excuse to make it look better, is it working?)

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For the past 3mos. my Women’s Bible Study group at my church has been studying Beth Moore’s, “A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place”. It’s super-hard to do an actual “book report” over this because it’s a study-guide (like a text-book) & very personal, full of devotion’s & questions for you to answer about your own life & where you are on your walk with Christ. I wasn’t sure how to review this study, but in the end the only way I know how to review it is by (trying) to put into words how this study has changed my own personal view on specific things.

Beth Moore opens the study by letting you know that she prayed for you! Y.O.U. (and me) she prays that God pours His Spirit onto those going through this study & that He meets us where we need him too. I’ve done devotionals before, but this is the first time I’ve ever read that the author PRAYED for its readers, right away I knew this was going to be a rough study to get through. It consists of 10 sessions with 5 Days in each session; every night you’re supposed to read a “day” & answer the accompanying questions. Then at the end of the sessions, there is an hour long video viewer guide where Beth Moore wraps up all 5 sessions into a lecture (sermon-style). Its certainly a lot of work! Upon completion I felt the same accomplished feeling I got when I finished an intense semester of college!

She takes you through the story of Moses (post-freeing the Israelites) into the building of God’s Tabernacle & why that is the foundation of God dwelling inside all of us. Based in the study of Bible Scripture (mostly in the chapters of Exodus) she guides you step-by-step through the idea (the Garden of Eden), Moses’ building the Tabernacle, the hierarchy of leaders appointed, the fallout, the birth of Jesus-his life & death, the tabernacle in present times & ends the study by how the book of Revelation views the future of the Tabernacle. In case you’re unfamiliar with what the “Tabernacle” is, in a nutshell: its’ God’s Dwelling Place! His “home” on Earth.

Heavy stuff!

Like I said earlier, I can’t break the study down because its very individualized. What stood out to me is going to be different than what stood out to another person doing the study. What was apparent throughout this study, however, was that God met us where we needed to be met.

For me, there was two very big chapters that stood out to me. The first one was Session 6, The Heart of a IMAG2149Servant; the outside structure of the Tabernacle had been built & now the decorating of the inside has begun (of course a chapter on “decorating” would naturally be one of my favorites! Smile). The Altar of Incense is introduced in this session. I’m going to try to explain this in the easiest way that I’ve come to know what it means: the altar of incense signifies intercession. It signifies Christ (who hasn’t been born yet) interceding our prayers to God on our behalf! It’s about offering up prayers, fragrant worship, unto God. It’s about getting past “issues” & asking for help. It’s about knowing & fully believing that God hears our prayers, that’s what the Altar of Incense is, it symbolizes prayer. One of the biggest lessons I learned in the viewer’s guide session was when Beth Moore said, “Don’t think your prayers are unanswered, they are never unanswered. Your prayer is answered the second you pray for it, but the time for the answer to be revealed to you will be in God’s timing when you’re ready to see it.” It hit me hard because the night before I watched this session I had wrote down in my journal that I was “giving up”on a prayer that had been on my heart for awhile. And just that morning the word, “Obedience” kept ringing through my head when I was dragging ass about going to Bible Study because I felt so defeated & was racking my brain to come up with an excuse why I couldn’t make it to class. That message was for me that day, that message was what God wanted me to hear to let me know my answer will be revealed (probably when I quit whining about it!).

The second session that really hit me hard was (coincidentally) the following week (I guess God was really telling me to pay attention those weeks!). It was IMAG2150Session 7: A Heart that Intercedes.This chapter was about the leaders, the priesthood, that God appointed for His Tabernacle & how Jesus Christ is the ultimate intercessor, the ultimate great-high priest. I had never thought about Jesus as an “intercessor” on my behalf before, how he actually talks to his father (God) about me! How awesome is that!  To think that my silly little prayers are being discussed about & a plan is being shaped to answer prayers that I’ve prayed. I can just picture me in my bedroom praying for something that’s weighing on my heart, Jesus is hanging out at the sports bar with God, drinking some Guinness (because you know they’re dark-beer drinkers) watching some Ohio State football & says, “Dad, Carey’s bugging me about this…again! How do you want handle it? Seriously, she’s getting on my nerves. Let’s make this happen…soon!” I just love that! LOVE THAT! To think that God puts thought into EVERYTHING concerning my life & nothing is made in haste, no decision, is ever made in haste when it comes to the fulfillment of God’s plan for my life. That even the times I’ve screwed up, that I expressed free-will on my own life, God still allowed that mistake to happen if it fit into his greater plan for my life. I don’t know about you, but that makes me look at some of my past mistakes & think, “yeah, that sucked. It was painful, it was a tough lesson, but it really will get me to a greater destiny.”

So there ya go! That’s my review on Beth Moore: A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place. It was a little jumbled, a little all over the place, at times painful to get through…but so worth it. I learned a lot through this Bible Study on God’s relationship with those he holds in high esteem & to think that I’m one of them, that’s kind of a cool thought. It would be a tough Bible Study to get through if you wanted to do it on your own because so much is geared towards discussion points & getting insight from others, but you could do it. I definitely recommend getting this Bible Study going in your own home church (or even if you want to start a Bible Study with friends…try this one out!). It’s so worth it!

 

 

 

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