Nineteen Books

Time for a little New Year's blog house-keeping! It is no longer 2010, so I need to close down the 2010 Book Reviews page (possibly to make room for a 2011 Book Reviews page).

But I don't want to just lose all that work, so I'm posting it here. These are all the books I read in 2010, and my opinions on them.

Stranded in Paradise by Lori Copeland

A cute Christian romance novel. Just a light read, with humorous catastrophes and a little romance thrown in. My only problem with this book was that it was slightly fluffy. The main character became a Christian by the end, but the conversion wasn't very strongly explained, and that bothered me a little bit.

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd

Didn't really like it too much. The story would have been really cute, but the main character, who was a Christian, was a little hostile toward church at the beginning, had various crushes on guys and didn't bother to determine if they were Christians, and decided one of the guys was a Christian just because he knew about a Bible story and went to church.

Any spirituality was mainly referred to in the vague terms of "being a Christian" and "God", and Bible verses were mentioned, but it didn't really talk about Jesus at all, which kind of bugged me. Much too fluffy. It's too bad, because if Christianity was explained, and the change of attitude was stronger, the book would have been a fun read.

On top of the the end was quite disappointing - I wouldn't recommend it.

The Redemption of Sarah Cain by Beverly Lewis

I liked this book. Beverly Lewis is known for her fiction books about the Amish, and this one involved the story of a woman named Sarah Cain who is named the legal guardian of her five Amish nieces and nephews after her sister's death. Sarah Cain is a very modern woman and she is abruptly thrust into the world of the Amish. A really good story about her decision on what to do with the children - I don't want to give anything away!

It's a rather laid-back book, but the story wraps up very nicely, and the salvation message is shared effectively, which I always appreciate with Christian fiction.

Bittersweet by Cathy Marie Hake

This book had so many twists and turns - it definitely kept making me pick it up to read more.

One thing that I liked about the book is that Cathy Marie Hake took every opportunity to incorporate good, biblical principles and the salvation message throughout the book, but it was done in a very natural, friendly way.

It's basically a Christian romance story set in California in the 1800s, but the whole thing unfolds in a very unusual way. About halfway through the book I was even wondering if it was going to turn out alright or if this was going to be one of those books that just ends in disaster. I won't say anything more; I will say it was an easy read and definitely kept you guessing until the very end but I didn't really like it overall.

I don't think I would let any younger girls read this (at least until you've screened it first) - some of the subject matter is a little disturbing and more suited for adults. It wasn't explicit, but the situation one of the characters finds herself in toward the end of the book is disturbing. I think it should be evaluated for appropriateness for younger girls on an individual basis. The situation that occurred near the end kind of ruined it for me. Overall, I would have liked it better if it didn't deal with such a heavy subject, and I wouldn't really recommend it.

Over The Misty Mountains by Gilbert Morris and Aaron McCarver

This was a historical fiction book regarding the French and Indian War and the very beginnings of the American expansion Westward. The book started out a little slow, but then it got rather interesting and it ended quite well.

The story follows a "long hunter" (which is like one of the first mountain men), Hawk, through a tragedy and subsequent turning away from the Lord. Then he meets the McNeal family while leading a wagon train west. The wagon train is attacked by indians, and the way the McNeals handle their own personal tragedy makes Hawk question his own decision to turn away from the Lord so many years ago. Interesting, strong message, a little romance thrown in there. It was quite a good book, and I enjoyed it.

Disclaimer - The story includes the journey of a saloon girl out west. The book isn't explicit at all, but you should be aware of that before letting any young girls read it.

Soon; Silenced; and Shadowed (a three-book series) by Jerry Jenkins

The premise of this series is that in the future all religion is outlawed. It follows the story of a man named Paul, who works to capture people who violate the no-religion law. In the process he starts to witness miraculous happenings, and eventually becomes a Christian himself, working on both sides. The whole thing takes place before the Rapture, in case you were wondering how it was supposed to fit in with biblical prophesy.

It was a very interesting series. The premise was interesting, and it kept my attention. It also included the salvation message nicely, which I like.

I would screen this series before letting younger kids read it, just because of some of the disturbing violence against the persecuted Christians, and references to infidelity before Paul becomes a Christian.

Take Two by Karen Kingsbury

I wouldn't recommend it, because I felt some of the situations described in the book were inappropriate. Though this book did open my eyes to how I need to be more careful of my reading material. Please see my post "Watch That Reading Material" for more information.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer

This is one of those "Christian classics". It definitely encouraged my in my walk with the Lord and made me think harder on spiritual things. There are a few things that I wasn't quite sure I agreed with, or I didn't like the way they were stated - I ended up writing notes on many of the pages in these books describing my thoughts on a specific subject. Many of the pages of this book have sentences or paragraphs highlighted, and I gained alot of insight into God's character and my own walk with Christ. I think this is a great "spiritual growth" book, and I'd recommend it for any Christian to read.

Start Your Family: Inspiration For Having Babies by Steve and Candace Watters

This book addressed the way our culture tends to have a negative outlook on the child-raising years, and gives some compelling reasons why starting your family now is an option worth considering. Determining when to have children is a big decision, but so often couples delay that decision because they are afraid. This book tells the other side of the story and helps bring a more balanced view to the decision of when to start your family. I'd highly recommend this book - in fact, I think every newly-married couple should read it.

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris

I read this book at a point when I felt like I was just floating along in life, with no real purpose to drive me to try harder. If you've ever found yourself in a similar situation, then you would definitely benefit from this book - in fact, even if you can't relate to that feeling, you can benefit from this book. It is more geared toward teenagers, but the points brought up are applicable to people in any stage of life. The premise of the book is a challenge to stop just "floating along" and to start doing "hard things" that push you outside your comfort zone, because when we are looking to do hard things for the Lord, whatever those things may be for us individually, that's when the Lord can really use us for great things. It is challenging and thought-provoking, and by the time you're done reading it you'll be ready to get out there and start doing hard things for the glory of God. I'd highly recommend this book.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

This book was fascinating, but I must say that alot of it went over my head. The book is about what may take place were unsaved individuals allowed to have a glimpse of Heaven - though they never encounter the Lord face-to-face, saints are sent from Heaven to a sort of "meeting place" to try to convince these people of their need for the Lord. It's highly speculative, and as I said, alot of it went over my head, but I was able to draw some insight from some of the conversations that take place between these unsaved individuals and the saints who have already gone on to Heaven. I think this may be one of those books you'd have to read several times to really understand it, and I'm not entirely I agree with every aspect of Lewis's speculation, but it was a good read nonetheless. It made me think more about Heaven and spiritual things, which is always a good thing in my mind.

The Postcard by Beverly Lewis

I really enjoyed this book! The first several chapters are very tragic, so be prepared to cry during the beginning. After that the book takes a mystery-type turn, which made this book stand apart to me from Beverly Lewis's other books. The story takes place in Amish country, and involves a reporter named Philip Bradley who discovers an old postcard while staying at an Amish-run Bed and Breakfast. He starts to investigate the story behind the postcard, and his investigation leads him across the path of Rachel Yoder, a young, blind, Amish widow. The story was excellent, and the ending made me want to run out and buy the next book called The Crossroads. I still haven't bought it yet, but it's on my list, and I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

Ulterior Motives by Terri Blackstock

This book is a mystery/suspense novel, and I enjoyed it. The story involves a divorcee named Sharon Robinson whose ex-husband is accused of murder. She believes him to be innocent and does what she can to prove it for the sake of her children, even though it leads to her ex and his new wife staying at her house through the story. I do have one grievance against it though that I've noticed in alot of Blackstock's books. The Christian characters in her books are often willing to go on dates or get involved with unbelievers, even though they go into it knowing that they don't believe the same way. The Bible speaks clearly against being "unequally yoked" and I feel like her books don't address the seriousness of that, even though the person usually becomes a believer before they end up falling in love. If you go into it with a critical eye on that aspect, her books really are hard to put down. It was a good mystery, and I wouldn't have a problem recommending it.

Presumption of Guilt by Terri Blackstock

Another mystery/suspense novel. This book had the same problem that I mentioned in the Ulterior Motives review, with the Christian characters getting too romantically involved with unbelievers, before the unbelieving characters come to believe in Christ further along in the book. The mystery side of it was very intriguing though, and made the book hard to put down. This book involves the efforts of a reporter to expose how the director of a local Children's home is using the children in a crime ring. It's kind of sad to read about these poor kids being controlled and coerced into becoming burglars, but the end of the book was very good. And just to put your mind at ease, the director of the children's home mainly uses manipulation techniques and threats to get the kids to perform these crimes. There is some physical abuse to the kids, which is deplorable; but that's the worst of it. And the story comes together in the end quite nicely. I'm all for happy endings! Overall, I wouldn't have a problem recommending it.

This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti

This book is a thriller-type novel about a New-Age conspiracy to take over a small town called Ashton. It follows a young pastor and a newspaperman as they struggle to uncover the conspiracy. What makes it unique is that it also includes the spiritual battle that is going on behind the scenes, and the power that the prayers of Christians can have in the spiritual realm. This book will make you look at the world in a different way, and it's a great motivator to me to improve my prayer life! I think every Christian should read this book - the story is not only gripping, but it's convicting, and it can open your eyes to the spiritual dimension of things we may encounter on any given day. I'd highly recommend it!

I would screen it before letting younger people read it, because it could be disturbing for younger audiences.

Radical by David Platt

Please see my post "Book Review: Radical By David Platt" to read my opinion on the book.

Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti

Another thriller novel regarding a sinister plot to set a court precedent in the United States that would limit teaching kids certain religious beliefs to "protect them". The Christian characters in the story are working against said plot, and (spoiler) eventually the plan crumbles. Once again, this book was very interesting because it was written in the same style as This Present Darkness in that Peretti also wrote about the spiritual warfare aspect of the battle - a great sequel to This Present Darkness, and just as gripping. I'd highly recommend it, but with both This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, I'd say to screen it before you let your kids read it - it could be too frightening or disturbing for younger kids.

Yes, I only read 19 books in 2010. Definitely a slow book year for me. I just had a hard time getting into my books this year, maybe because I've had alot of baby preparations taking up my thoughts and time. Who knows.

And yes, I didn't even read all of the books on my 2010 reading list that I posted last January. Fail, fail, fail. This is why I usually don't make New Year's resolutions.

Though I may make it a goal to at least finish the aforementioned list this year. . . but I'm not committing to anything. . .

You may also like:
Kelly said...

Thanks for all the book reviews. I didn't really like Let Them Eat Cake either. I will have to check out some of Beverly Lewis's books. I saw Saving Sarah Cain on Lifetime and it was a very good movie.

Anna said...

I like how honest you are about "fluffy" Christian fiction, especially in regards to how they gloss over Christ and Scripture.

I do like Beverly Lewis's fiction in that she usually shares the gospel clearly.

I am looking forward to reading Knowing God this year. Growing up, my pastor quoted from it almost every week - it was his favorite book.

You never know, you might actually be able to get a lot of reading done this year. I got so much reading done when Christian was a newborn, either while he was nursing or sleeping. :)

Brittney Galloway said...

I totally agree with you about Terri Blackstock's characters. In the series I just finished there was that same problem, along with the female character always being the damsel in distress (in 4/5 books!) making the plots predictable and a little redundant.

Missy Schranz said...

Hi! I found your lovely blog from "Rachel & John's" blog and I love it! I am your new follower. Please pop over to my blog when you get a chance. Thanks!


Jenene said...

You're funny. You read ONLY 19 books this year. How is 19 books not a lot of books? The last time I did that I wasn't even married yet.

This year? I read four books. And I don't even know if those technically count, because they're all about pregnancy/parenting. I can't remember the last time I read a novel.

Speaking of books, the doula book that I'm reading is called The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. My midwife recommended it, and I can see why! I didn't know someone could write that much about just labor and delivery!

cait said...

Can't wait to look into the book about starting a family...I have been looking for a Christian book for this stage of our lives. Perfect! Thanks for sharing!

Jessica said...

I read "This Present Darkness" this year too, and really enjoyed it! I like Frank Peretti a lot, because his books are so interesting. I am planning on hopefully reading "Piercing the Darkness" this year too.

Holly said...

That's an impressive list of books! Much more interesting than what I read, which was a ginormous pile of education related stuff for TColl! :(

© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.