Books I’m Looking Forward To: The Ballantyne Legacy Series

As you may or may not remember, I reviewed Laura Frantz’s Love’s Reckoning a few months ago.  This is the first book in The Ballantyne Legacy series.  Today I am sharing the next book in this series that I am getting super excited about.

Book two is Love’s Awakening.  Look at the beautiful cover:

This book will feature Ellie Ballantyne, Silas and Eden’s youngest child.  This is the story of her and Jack Turlock.  According to the Baker Publishing website, this book is going to be released later this year in September 2013.  To read more about this book, click on the book cover above.

Farewell, School! Hello, World!

I have been reflecting on my time in school for the past few weeks.  As I approach graduation (next month!), I feel like my life is about to change.

School has been my life.  It is something I have always enjoyed.  School is where I fit.  It was my niche.  It was where I excelled.  Even when I said I hated school (countless times), let’s be honest, I didn’t.  The feeling of satisfaction I felt when I got an A on that test I studied so hard for, or the triumphant joy I felt for getting an A on that paper I poured my heart into- I loved it.   It has been difficult and there have been a lot of breakdowns and roadblocks.  But, I can’t believe it is coming to an end. Forever. (I mean, unless I decide to pursue my Masters, but that’s another topic…).

And now, I am graduating from college.  Next month, I will wear that cap and gown and proudly walk across the stage to receive my diploma.  My diploma is not just a piece of paper.  It is the representation of the last four years.  Of every difficult moment in my education.  Of every paper I somehow found a way to finish and every test I managed to pass.  Of every difficult thing I have been through.  This piece of paper is not to be taken lightly.  It is my ticket for the future.  It represents opportunity.  It represents hope for the future.

Where will I go next?  Only time will tell.  I know where I want to be, but I am relying on God to reveal to me where he wants me to be.  It is both an exciting time and also a scary one.  I am entering the unknown.  No more will there be textbooks and research papers.  Welcome to the world.

Education: completed.

cap and gown

Happy Birthday, Kevin!

I can hardly believe it, but today is my brother’s birthday!  He is 25 today and that just blows my mind.

He’s in the Air Force and he’s living in another country right now, so I don’t see him all that often.  But, I just wanted to say happy birthday, big brother! I love you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Review: Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Multnomah Books, 2007

Summary:
Angel was sold into prostitution at a young age and has been surrounded by darkness ever since.  Michael Hosea is a man of God.  When Michael and Angel cross paths one day, he hears the Lord call him to marry her.  After Michael obeys God and marries Angel, they start a life together.  But, with a man who seeks to glorify God in all he does and a woman who is bitter and defiant towards men, will their marriage make it through thick and thin?

My Thoughts:
I have heard great things about this book for years, but I haven’t had the chance to read it until now.  And it has been in my thoughts since I finished it.  I wouldn’t say it is my favorite book or the best book I’ve ever read, but it is definitely a more thought-provoking book than most.

This is by no means a lighthearted book.  It deals with hard, heavy issues.  The book is very honest, in that it explores reality and the ugliness in the world.

Angel has had a hard life.  At three years old, she hears her father say he wishes she didn’t exist.  At eight, she is sold into a brothel where she is raped as a child and forced into prostitution.  As a result of being forced into living a life where she has been exposed to so much ugliness and darkness, Angel is a sad character to behold.  On the surface, she is angry, bitter, and hard-hearted.  But deeper down, buried beneath the surface, she is hurt, lonely, and lost.

As Michael tries to reach out to Angel and break down her walls, she resists him.  Her resistance of Michael and his desire to show her what real love looks like is heartbreaking to watch.

It is hard to watch as Angel not only resists Michael, but also struggles to come to terms with the life she has had.  Now married to Michael, she makes bad decisions, and her actions make you wonder why she refuses to accept Michael’s love.  With a past like hers, though, she never learned how to respond to love and kindness.  After being abused and mistreated her entire life, how can she?

She runs away from Michael countless times, and each time, it rips your heart out a little bit more.  It is so difficult to wrap your mind around it.  Why does she leave the only man who has ever loved her and not hurt her?

Michael Hosea is a man who seeks to honor God, and thus marries Angel in response to God’s calling.  He is always gentle and caring.  He loves her completely and wholeheartedly.  Nothing Angel does or tells him turns him away from her.  Through everything, Michael continues to accept Angel completely for who she is and loves her.  His loving her is by no means easy for him.  Many times he is distraught and trying to make sense of the turmoil in his life. One scene that tore me apart was when Michael brought Angel home the first time after she ran away.  After a while, Angel went out looking for him when he didn’t come into the house, and she found him weeping in the barn.  Loving her was not always easy.

Throughout the novel, Angel slowly changes.  Very slowly.  She learns new things, but gets scared and runs away.  But, there are happy scenes, too.  My favorite scene was when Michael was chasing Angel in the rows of corn on their farm.  It was such a cute moment full of fun, carelessness, and levity.  In a book that deals with such heavy topics, it was nice to see a moment of joy in the midst of it all.

Rating: 4 stars

This book is a retelling of the book of Hosea in the Bible.  With that in mind, this book and it’s story takes on a new meaning. A deeper meaning.

Many times I found myself frustrated with Angel for doing something completely ridiculous- resisting Michael’s love, running away from him.  At the same time, I was overwhelmed to see Michael love her unconditionally.   How much greater, then, are these things when we realize that this is a story of God’s love for us?  God loves us unconditionally.  His love has no bounds.  No matter how many times we run away from God, he always takes us back.  In a sense, we are all Angel- running away from God’s love, not always accepting the love he holds out to us.  It is humbling.  And the thing is- God loves us much more that Michael loved Angel.

Have any of you read this book?  How has it impacted your life?

Review: Courting Morrow Little

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz
Revell, 2010

Summary:
After having her family ripped away from her by Shawnee Indians, Morrow Little has never been the same.  Now, as a young lady, Morrow has caught the attention of every bachelor in town.  As men vie for her attention, Morrow must decide who she wants to marry.  As her father grows ill and the danger around them becomes more threatening,  will Morrow choose to marry for duty or for love?

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed reading this book.  It started out slow, but it ended up being the perfect pace for the book.  Looking back now, the plot was always moving forward and something was happening- so, I don’t know why it felt slow at the time. There was so much I loved about this book, but I don’t want to give too much away!

At only five years old, Morrow’s mother and sister were killed and her brother was taken away from her and her father.  Throughout the book, it is obvious that this event has had a heavy impact on her life.  She holds the memory of her loved ones close to her heart, and it is so sad to see how this traumatic experience has caused her so much pain and hurt.

Because her brother, Jess, was taken from her, Morrow is always wondering about him.  Is he alive?  Will she ever see him again?  Does he even remember her after all these years?  The pain of not knowing if he is alive or where he is, is a constant reminder of what the Shawnee Indians did to her family.

Morrow struggles with several things, many of them related to that fateful day when she was five.  When her father befriends Shawnee Indians, Red Shirt and his father, Morrow has a difficult time understanding how her father can so easily forgive the people who hurt them so deeply.  Morrow has much turmoil over how her father can accept the people who took away their happiness.  This is a big struggle that Morrow has to come to terms with through the course of the novel.

Red Shirt and Morrow first come face to face in the barn.  In this first interaction, Morrow is frightened because she did not know that Red Shirt was in the barn with her.  Before she runs out, he says to her, “I’m not going to hurt you” (53).  In that moment, with those words, I thought “I hope she falls for him!”  I just knew that I already liked Red Shirt.

Because of what the Shawnee Indians did to her family, she has grown angry and fearful of them.  Her heart has grown hard towards the Shawnee and she is unable to forgive what they have done. However, Morrow slowly warms up to Red Shirt, but she is always cautious of him.  I think she fears him, but is also equally intrigued by him.  He always seems to show up around Morrow’s house when she is outside, so I began to anticipate his visits.  Every time Morrow went out to do something, I wanted him to appear.

Their relationship develops at a steady pace, and Red Shirt is patient with Morrow as she learns to see him for who he is rather than who she thinks he is.  Morrow must learn forgiveness, and her friendship with Red Shirt helps her open her heart and release it from the anger and hurt she has held on to.  But, did her friendship with Red Shirt open her heart to something more?

Another theme the novel explores is love.  This excerpt from the book puts it best:

“‘Then you know love bears all things,’ he said.
The fragment of Scripture, so unexpected, so simply stated, gave her pause. Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. The simple utterance seemed to cast down all her disappointments and failures, her unmet expectations and fears, and turn them to ashes. How was it, she wondered, that he always managed to condense a matter in so few words and restore reason?” (252-253)

This quote shows how an enduring love perseveres through everything.  Both in the good times and the bad times, Morrow and her husband would be able to get through it all, together.  Their love for one another was strong and they would go to great lengths for one another.

I thought it was beautiful that Ms. Frantz incorporated  1 Corinthians 13:7 in her novel.  It truly describes the love that the main characters in this book had for one another.  In the NIV, this verse is, “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”.

Morrow has a difficult choice to make.  But, with so many suitors, which path in life will she choose?  Will she marry a man she does not have feelings for? Or will she follow her heart and marry the man she loves?

Don’t miss out on this book.  The characters are wonderful and they stick with you long after you’ve finished the book (I know they stuck with me!).  These characters, coupled with themes of forgiveness and an enduring love, make this novel one that can’t be missed.

Rating: 5 stars

My Ideal Bookshelf: Part 1- Review

My Ideal Bookshelf
Art by Jane Mount
Edited by Thessaly la Force
Little, Brown and Company, 2012

The Book:
My Ideal Bookshelf is a book about books; truly something for the book lover.  This book is comprised of several peoples’ (obviously) ideal bookshelves.  These books shaped their lives, impacted their worldviews, and made them who they are.  I enjoyed looking through this book because every shelf was a glimpse into a different person’s life.  What books are important to them? What insights might that give us on who they are?

The idea of putting together a shelf of books that is a picture of who I am is intriguing.  Your ideal bookshelf has the ability to show other people a glimpse of your personality, how you’ve grown as a person, or what changed you.  Books have the power to touch our lives and leave a lasting impression on us.  These books are a part of us.  Reading through My Ideal Bookshelf was a pleasant experience for me.  I could relate to a lot of things that different people said about how the books on their shelf affected them.

“If you knew me, you’d know that each of these books is a part of who I am.” -Mark Bittman (25)

“I was completely smitten by that book.  I longed to read everything I possibly could, and the things I read in turn produced new yearnings.” -Patti Smith (169)

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about what other people have read.  It is a great coffee table book.  You can flip to any page and explore the bookshelf that you stumble upon.

My Thoughts:
More than anything, this book got me thinking about what books would be on my ideal bookshelf.  It’s a hard question, really.  There are so many good books out there, how do you choose only 7 or 10 books that are the dearest to you or have made the biggest impact on your life?

Look for my upcoming post about the books I would choose for my ideal bookshelf.  As soon as I decide what would be on my shelf, I will write about it!

Rating: 4 stars

To see Jane Mount’s bookshelf art, click here.  Did you know you can buy your own ideal bookshelf?!  (I’m going to get one someday!)

Your Turn:
What books would you put on your ideal bookshelf?  Is your bookshelf made up of popular, contemporary books, the classics, or books that aren’t that well known?  Let me know in the comments!