July 15, 2014

Heart of the Country

Heart of the Country

If this book (and it's movie counterpart) don't make you tear up at least a little bit then I'll be surprised. I watched the movie before I read the book because I didn't realize there was a book at first and I was in the mood to watch a chick flick but I still got the book to read too!

Usually I prefer to read the book first but this time it was kind of neat to have seen the movie and to have a background for the book. there are many parts that were different but not so different that the movie ruined the book.

This is a great story of forgiveness. So many people had to forgive each other in this book I don't even know if I could accurately list all of the broken relationships that were mended throughout this book. The main ones though were father/daughter, sisters, and husband and wife.

When Faith has no where else to turn she returns to her childhood home and her father lovingly takes her in. He could have locked her out and told her to stay away but just like the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible he practically threw her a party when she came home. Thankfully in the end many differences amongst the characters that seemed irreconcilable in the beginning are resolved and the book has a very loving ending even if it isn't 100 percent happy.

I highly recommend this book but I also very highly recommend the movie too. I especially think you'd like the movie if you like country music as Jana Kramer is the star of the movie :)

July 12, 2014

The Midwife

The Midwife
by Jolina Petersheim

Normally if I look at the cover of a novel and there are Amish or Mennonite head coverings or dresses on the cover I don't even bother reading the back cover let alone the book. You see for three and a half years I lived about 15 minutes north of a large area of Mennonite and Amish in OH, my husband grew up Mennonite and my in-laws both grew up Amish. So I didn't really have any interest in reading novelizations of their lives since from first hand experience I wasn't overly impressed.

But this book was absolutely riveting. I couldn't put it down! The story was so well told and didn't focus so much on Amish or Mennonite as much as it did on childbirth, surrogacy, and unwed mothers. I really appreciated the story covering the topic of surrogate mothers and the turmoil they go through since I've never read a book with that focus.

My heart broke for Beth when she found out the child she was carrying for Meredith and Thom might have "defects" and even though I would normally not ever condone a surrogate mom not wanting to do whatever the parents wanted I was glad that Beth was more interested in the welfare of the child she was carrying than what the mother thought.

Equally my heart broke for the young women in the home for unwed mothers that had been taken advantage of and ended up pregnant with no where to go. I was glad the Mennonite community had a home that was taking these girls in and helping them through such a difficult time in their lives.

I loved how Petersheim took all the different story lines throughout the book and weaved them together in a way that I least expected. Her characters, especially Beth, were delightful. And her attention to detail was impeccable.

As I mentioned before my husband grew up in a Mennonite Church. His wasn't as strict as the one in this book but he did grow up speaking Pennsylvania Dutch and I saw a lot of words that I recognized from his family in the book. Since I studied Spanish Linguistics in grad school I enjoyed the Pennsylvania Dutch thrown in throughout this book. It really added a level of authenticity to the novel.

If you love the Amish / Mennonite fiction books that are ever so popular right now you'll really like this book.

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All for a Sister

All for a Sister
by Allison Pittman

I've read all three books in this series (see review of book one here) and only enjoyed the second one. This book was written in such a choppy manner that I had trouble even finishing it. I don't care for books that are written from too many different perspectives and especially when the style changes so much from the different points of view.

I like to read Christian fiction that is uplifting and meaningful and I felt like this series really lacked in that department.

I really had trouble connecting with the characters and following the story line. I think if it had only had two different timelines I might have been more interested but it was just too much to keep track of.

I did enjoy the setting of the Roaring Twenties but overall I was disappointed with this book. If you are really into acting this might appeal to you though.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Tyndale House, in exchange for my honest review.

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July 6, 2014

The Auschwitz Escape

  The Auschwitz Escape

by Joel Rosenberg 

Of all genre's of books the WWII era literature is probably my most widely read. I've read countless books set during this time. Some have been non-fiction, some biographies, and many like this book are complete fiction with historical scenes and information thrown in.

The conviction that Rosenberg wrote this book with is enough to keep you reading from page to page. You can tell that the story line and thought behind it were quite important to him.

It only took me two days to finish this book because it was so good I just couldn't put it down. I lost sleep reading it and then I lost sleep thinking about the horrors from this time period. That any group of people could be so strongly persecuted is so disheartening. I would say that if you have a weak stomach you probably shouldn't read this book but if you are at all interested in historical fiction set during the Holocaust then I can pretty much guarantee this book is for you.

There were so many wonderful characters in this book. From the protestant pastor helping Jews, to the Resistance men trying to help their fellow Jews, to the young men in the camps plotting to escape.

Jacob is clearly the main character. As a young man his Uncle recruits him to help with the resistance and he ends up trapped in a train car when he attempts to help Jews escape. Thus he ends up in Auschwitz. That should be the end for him, after all not many survived but if you read the story you'll find out how the book got the title and you'll meet the amazing people in his life.

Rosenberg is such a great author. I really appreciated the detail he wrote with but also how he was able to weave so many characters into one story without making it hard to follow. I appreciated the human element he included as he told the horrors of the Nazi reign.

The Sentinels of Andersonville

The Sentinels of Andersonville

by Tracy Groot

I'm actually embarrassed to admit that I knew next to nothing about Andersonville prison before reading this book. I'd read tons of books from the WWII era but not much from the Civil War. I cannot say I enjoyed reading this book as it was actually quite horrific to learn about the awful conditions at this prison but I did find the book to be quite the page turner and look forward to reading more by Tracy Groot.

I really enjoy historical fiction when it is both educational and also recreational. I had no idea that around 13,000 men died while in Andersonville in just one year! I also had no idea that the South was keeping Union soldiers in a prison with no barracks, latrines, or clean water. The nearby town in this book took it upon themselves to try to help these Union soldiers when they learned of the harsh conditions but I have no idea if anyone did anything like that in read life. But it did make for a very good story line in the book.

I especially like how part of the story involved a friendship evolving between a Union soldier and the Confederate soldier that captured him. This very friendship was so sacrificing that later the Confederate soldier could have been killed for how he helped the Union soldier but you'll have to read the book to find out what he did.

Of course there was also an element of romance too which made for a breath of fresh air among all the sadness in the book.

There was also a point in the book when the Confederate soldiers that were trying to help better the prison conditions did something quite drastic to show a local pastor how bad the prison was and that was actually a little humorous.

If you like historical fiction I think you'll really love this book. It isn't an easy read since it is actually quite sad but it is well worth your time.

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