Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Club Review -- "The Forgotten Garden"

My book club’s novel for the month of March was “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton. I had heard some things about this book and about her previous work, “The House at Riverton,” so I was excited to read this one.
The book starts on a heart-wrenching note as we discover that a 4-year-old little girl has been abandoned on a boat going from England to Australia in 1913. She is found by the dockmaster with only a small suitcase containing a few things, including a beautiful volume of fairy tales. The dockmaster and his wife raise the girl, Nell, as their own, but on her 21st birthday, they tell her the truth. This knowledge leads Nell, and eventually Nell’s own granddaughter, Cassandra, on a journey through the past (and back to England) that will change both of their paths forever.
This brief synopsis doesn’t even begin to describe the depth and span of this novel. The complete story plays out over a period of more than a hundred years and delves into the lives of so many different people who have a part to play in Nell’s history. While a few ladies in my book club didn’t get drawn into the story immediately, I have to say that I was hooked from page one. I just had to know what happened to that little girl! There is no way I would have been able to stop reading this book, for that reason alone! It only took me about 3 days (actually evenings…after the little one was in bed!) to read this 545-page book. I’m sure there are many people out there (as I have seen from reviews on Amazon.com) who thought this book was boring, but I was mesmerized by the story the whole time. Even though I figured out most of the secrets and mysteries, it was still an engrossing tale.
My main critique of this novel is that each chapter flips back and forth among 3-4 main time periods. The story is very well developed through these changes (I liked how the historical story was revealed to the reader at the same time that Nell and Cassandra were finding out that particular bit of history), but it would take a few paragraphs for me to wrap by brain around who was ‘talking’ in that section and what was taking place. Someone in my book club said that she made a family tree to keep everyone straight. I wish I had done that! I think I would have needed a ‘family’ tree and a ‘time & place’ tree! Another critique I must point out is one that I won’t talk about much for fear of giving too much away. I will only say that I thought the love interest towards the end was a little far-fetched and seemed to be just ‘thrown in for good measure to make it more of a love story.’
Overall, I thought this novel was well written and fascinating. This would be a good one to explore the many themes that were so well-placed throughout the book, especially how they related to the book of fairy tales that came with Nell from England to Australia. And how everything related to the garden. One thing that I took away from it was how so many of the characters never knew what it was like to truly be loved, especially by their parents. This hole had such an irreversible impact on how their lives turned out. And then Nell, who was truly loved by her adoptive parents, felt betrayed and abandoned upon learning the truth. So much so that she spent her entire life trying to put the pieces of her past back together.
“The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton was a great book, and I will give it… 4 ½ BookWorms!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Francine Rivers Contest

"Leota's Garden" by Francine Rivers is currently available as an e-book for free! I downloaded mine from Amazon.com. (I don't know when I will have time to read it, though, since I have so many reviews to do!)

You can also enter to win a complete Francine Rivers library! Check it out here:  http://ow.ly/4jJ95

Good Luck!


-- Shoopette

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Lady in Waiting" Review

“Lady in Waiting” by Susan Meissner was sent to me by WaterBrook Press through their “Blogging for Books” program.
This book is ‘two-stories-in-one’ and is told from the perspective of two main characters, one living in modern day and one living in the 16th century. 
The modern-day character, Jane Lindsay, is an antique dealer who has just had her world rocked by her husband of over 20 years saying that he needs a break. While reeling from this news, she discovers a very old ring in a box of antiques from England. She is drawn to the ring because the inscription on it contains the name “Jane.”
In 16th Century England, Lucy Day tells of her experiences as a seamstress to young Lady Jane Gray. Lady Jane is in the line of succession to the throne, and is also waiting to see who her parents will decide she should wed. She has given her heart to one young man, and he in turn gave her a ring with a Latin inscription and her name, “Jane.”
Thus the two stories are connected by the ring. Throughout the book, you find other ways that these two “Janes” are connected, particularly in regard to choices they have made or that have seemingly been made for them.
While the story of the ring and the modern-day Jane is fictional, the story of Lady Jane Gray is based on actual events in history. This alone made the book an interesting read for me. I was glad to have the “English order of characters” given in the front of this book, which made it easier for me to keep all of the royalty straight! The book was slow at parts, but, on the other hand, I would have liked to continue the story of modern-day Jane a little more to find out what happened with her.
Overall, this book was a nice read. Not enthralling, but still interesting.
I will give “Lady in Waiting”….   3 ½ BookWorms.






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the WaterBrook Press “Blogging for Books” program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

"The Discipline of Grace" Review

“The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges was sent to me by NavPress through their Blogger Review Program.

Before I read this book, I had heard of several other books by Jerry Bridges, but I had never read one. It is a little bit difficult for me to give a straight review of this book, since it is so deep theologically, so I will just give a basic overview.

The message that I took away from this book was the idea that Christians should continue to “preach the gospel” to themselves every day. I thought this was a great thought and something that I need to work on in my life. We should never forget the sacrifice of Christ that gives us salvation and eternal life with Him. Our relationship with God isn’t based on whether we are having a good day or a bad day or how we feel – it is based on what Christ did for us through His grace.This book builds on the author’s earlier work, “The Pursuit of Holiness” by pointing out the role of God’s grace in the pursuit of the holiness of the believer. The main message of the first few chapters is how we need to realize that God’s grace doesn’t just save us through faith in Christ, but that it continues to work in our lives after salvation. The last few chapters go more into how this is lived out in our daily lives.

That was what I took away most from this book, and that was really just in the first few chapters! I have to say that after that, I got a little bogged down in the rest of the book. I think this book would be a great study to do with a group. Since I read it by myself, it was hard to grasp all of the points that were made. I think I would have to go back and study it again to really get more out of it. I also was not crazy about the fact that in the last part of the book, the author quoted (a LOT) from Puritan theologians rather than just quoting Scripture. I am sure the Puritans have a lot of knowledge to give, but I prefer to back those ideas up with Scripture as well.


Overall, I will give “The Discipline of Grace”….. 3 ½ BookWorms
 





Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, March 7, 2011

"My Foolish Heart" Review

“My Foolish Heart” by Susan May Warren was sent to me as an Advance Reader Copy by LitFuse Publicity. It is published by Tyndale House Publishers.
I was excited to get this book, since it was my first Advance Reader Copy! This means that the book is not yet published but is sent to reviewers and others in order to get the word out before the actual publication date. So, here I am…getting the word out about Susan May Warren’s latest novel about the people of Deep Haven, Minnesota.
In “My Foolish Heart” we meet Isadora Presley (“Issy”), a 20-something girl who grew up in the small lakeside town of Deep Haven in northern Minnesota. Issy has been through a lot in the past two years, and along with battling those demons, she also hosts an online/radio show where she is known as Miss Foolish Heart. Through this program, she gives advice on love and dating….even though she has never really had a date!
Enter Caleb Knight, a newcomer to Deep Haven who is up for the position of the new high school football coach. Caleb has his own troubles to face, ranging from the physical to just the fact that he is an outsider in this close-knit town.
For someone who usually reads historical fiction, I was a little bit leery about this book. I don’t usually go for the typical one-plot-line, boring-character, sappy love story that sometimes takes place in contemporary romance novels, even Christian ones. Let me tell you…I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed this book! There were several other stories going on that kept the main plot going, and the characters had more depth than what is true of your typical romance. Christian values were also shown in the lives of the characters in what I felt was a good way. Plus, this book had football in it! From the description on the back cover, I had no idea that football would be a theme, but it was! (And anyone who knows me at all knows that adding football to a romance novel definitely scores one in the win column for me!!!)
While this novel did occasionally slip back into the “eye-rolling” category for me (you know, the main character noticing how ‘his broad shoulders filled out his shirt’), I still enjoyed it. The book, while addressing serious themes, was refreshing rather than depressing.
I may not give every contemporary Christian romance a try, but I would enjoy reading more from Susan May Warren.
I will give “My Foolish Heart”…  4 BookWorms!






*Note from Shoopette:
This book is not scheduled to be released until May, 2011. (Click here for more information). While “My Foolish Heart” can be read as a stand-alone novel, the author has three previous books in the Deep Haven series that take place in Deep Haven, Minnesota. Information about these books can be found here. I have not read these previous novels, so if you have or if you do, leave a comment and let me know what you think!





Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale through Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

"Life Ready Woman" Contest Winner!

The winner of the free copy of "The Life Ready Woman" by Shaunti Feldhahn & Robert Lewis is....

Angela Mellema!

Congrats, Angela! Send your mailing address to me at shoopettesbookreviews@gmail.com, and I will get the book in the mail to you soon. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. I hope to have more contests for free books in the future!


--Shoopette

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Club Review -- "Daisy Fay & the Miracle Man"

My book club’s choice for February was “Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man” by Fannie Flagg. This author is the same one who penned “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©,” which was made into the well-received movie of the same (shortened) name several years ago. (Actually, it has been 20 years since the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” came out. Wow! Didn’t realize it had been that long…'20 years ago' is a little longer than ‘several’ years ago, but I digress…)

“Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man” is told from the perspective of the protagonist, Daisy Fay Harper, age 11, during the 1950’s. The narrative unfolds through the writings of Daisy Fay’s diary entries about her life growing up in a beach-side tourist town in southern Mississippi.

While I can’t say that this book had much of a plot (since it was basically the ‘private’ thoughts of a young girl), I will say that the naivetĂ© of Daisy Fay combined with the crazy mix of characters and their antics made for an easier type of read that at times just made me laugh out loud.

There were SO MANY characters in this book, though, that periodically I had to go back to where that character was introduced in the book and remind myself who they were! I also got a bit bogged down in my reading when I was a little over halfway through this book. It picked back up towards the end, though.

While this novel is not necessarily lighthearted in all of its subject matter, the overall feel of the book is. When I was planning to write this review, I kept asking myself why I kept thinking this was a lighter read when it obviously deals with serious issues in the life of this girl and her friends and family. I came to the conclusion that I think it is Daisy Fay’s outlook on life. She is so feisty and just takes life as it comes, even though she faces adversity.

And I REALLY liked the ending! :)
 

I will give “Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man” by Fannie Flagg….. 3 ½ BookWorms!








For more information about this book, please click here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Life Ready Woman" Contest!

Please enter my contest to win a copy of "The Life Ready Woman" by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis!

The contest runs through March 6th, and I will announce the winner on Monday, March 7th! That's really soon!

Here is the info:

The Giveaway
The publisher of this book gave an extra copy to me to give away on my blog! Woo-hoo!

So, if you would like to have this book, please leave a comment on any of my posts between now and March 6th or become a follower of my blog, Facebook page, or Twitter. I will announce the winner on Monday, March 7th. (As usual, if you are already a follower through any of those ways, you will get an automatic entry). Please leave comments so that I will have a huge list of entries to choose from!!!

So, please tell your friends, family, neighbors, Facebook friends....anyone! I really need some more comments on my blog so that I will have lots of entries!

Thanks!
--Shoopette

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Paws & Tales" DVD Winner!

For the "Paws & Tales" DVD blog tour, Tyndale Publishers was gracious enough to give to me a certificate for a free copy of the DVD to give away on my blog. All followers and fans received an entry, as well as those who commented on my blog during the past week.

The winner of the free DVD is...   Mary Smitley!

Mary, I will get the certificate to you sometime this week or next!

I have another contest going on right now, too. Click here for information on how to win a copy of the book "Life Ready Woman!"


Please leave lots of comments so that you have more chances to win! Tell your friends about my blog, too! I want to have lots of entries to choose from!!!

--Shoopette