Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review of Like a River from Its Course

One of my favorite genres of literature is historical fiction, and Kelli Stuart's Like a River From Its Course did not disappoint. The historical facts upon which the storylines are based are accurate, the lives of the characters are described with such detail it creates deep empathy within the reader, and the vivid imagery brings the entire book to life. Because each element is handled so well by Stuart, this book will haunt you--and because of that, I could not turn away. We need to remember the pain, oppression, separation, fear, destruction & devastation that occurred during WWII...all of which are captured beautifully within the pages of Like a River from Its Course.

I believe this book would be a great one for high school English teachers to add to their students' reading list. The format is unique and worthy of literary acknowledgement all on its own; the chapters 'rotate' through separate characters living life in Ukraine (and each storyline is rich enough to have been its own book). The discussions that could take place within the classroom as the students discuss the perspective of a father, his beloved daughter, a Nazi soldier, and a young lady hold hours of potential, as does the opportunity to write papers that could deal with the overall themes that come from within the book, to very specific topics of racism, rape, genocide, oppression, poverty, and many others.

This book is a heavy yet excellent read, and one I highly recommend.

*I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review*

Like a River from Its Course (Kregel, June 2016)
Like a River from Its CourseAn epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope
The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler’s blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little—known history of Ukraine’s tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.
Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.
Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the “killing ditch.” He survives, but not without devastating consequences.
Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.
Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer’s plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.
Kelli StuartKelli Stuart is the coauthor of Dare 2B Wise and has written for several brands including Disney, American Girl, and Short Fiction Break. She has served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. In addition to her writing, Kelli has spent twenty years studying Ukranian culture. Kelli lives in Florida.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Buy Two Copies & Go Through with Your Spouse {Excellent Resource for Your Marriage}

I was drawn to get this book because my husband & I are in ministry and often find ourselves building friendships and mentoring younger couples (we have been married 19 years and are in our 40's). Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight is truly, truly a must read for couples who have difficulty navigating marriage or find they just don't connect in the way they hoped or desired. And, while I got this book as a resource, it is certainly a book which provided me with some great ideas and reminders within my own marriage!

Here are the best suggestions I can possibly give for getting the most out of Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight:
1. Buy two copies.
2. Buy two notebooks or journals (with each spouse getting one that works best for them).
3. Read through the book a chapter at a time, with the plan to work through the questions at the end of each chapter as a couple, after you have each read the chapter and have answered the questions that our found at the end of each chapter.
4. Create a time to get together as a couple and work through the steps listed in #3 together. Repeat process for each chapter.

This book is meant to be a resource for couples--so, two active participants. It may lead to the couple reaching out for Biblical counseling within their church, or finding a mentor couple who can help them work through any areas of hurt or conflict they can't quite navigate on their own. I do believe that if only one spouse is willing to read this book it can still be a good resource--but please remember to take away what YOU need to do to improve your relationship, and not look for areas that just point our your spouse's flaws (I guess that's also important if you both read it, but especially necessary in the situation of one person reading it). I have already encouraged some friends of ours to purchase and two copies and walk through the book together, and I do consider it a tremendous resource.

*I received a complimentary copy per my honest review.*

Don’t Go to Bed AngryDon’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight (Abingdon Press, June 2016)
A practical handbook on how to fight better—together—for your marriage.
In every marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you work together to find peace?
In Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Deb and Ron DeArmond give you permission to fight. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with the conflict. Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can safeguard—and even strengthen—your relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets and discussion questions make this a definitive go-to resource to help you start fighting—together—for your marriage.

Deb DeArmondDeb DeArmond is an author, speaker, and coach with a focus on communication, relationships, and conflict resolution. Her writing explores marriage, parenting, in-law and extended family relationships. She is the author of "Related By Chance, Family By Choice" and "I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last." Deb is the founder of Living-Write, where she coaches aspiring authors. She's monthly columnist and feature writer for Lifeway's "Mature Living" Magazine, and has published more than 120 articles online and in print publications. ||**|| Ron DeArmond has a hungry heart for the Word, and has studied the Bible for 45+ years. Ron's call to serve men is evident in his previous ministry positions with Christian Men's Network under Dr. Edwin Lewis Cole and Faithful Men Ministry. Ron is currently the Associate Pastor of men's ministry at Catch the Fire/ DFW and has ministered around the world. The DeArmonds live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Review of Jilted {Great Fiction Novel}

'Jilted' is the first book by Varna Denman I have read, but it certainly won't be my last. Although this is book 3 of her Mended Heart series, Denman has provided enough description, care, and intrigue regarding the characters that I was able to follow along quite well. I do, however, have books 1 & 2 and they are next on my reading list because I want "the full picture" of the other lives that Denman puts her focus on within Trapp, Texas. I know the outcomes of those two women because their stories are continuing on within Jilted, but I know it will be totally worth it to go back and read their stories, too.

My favorite genre within  Christian fiction is mystery novels, and I'll read Christian romance on occasion. What I love about Jilted is that romance and mystery flow hand in hand throughout the entire novel. So if you enjoy romance it's for you, and if you like to sit down with a great "who done it", this is the book for you as well. Throw in the authenticity that Denman brings to the main character, Lynda, who battles pretty severe depression and seeks to just maintain a normalcy to her everyday, and Jilted now becomes an amazing read.

When the same people have lived in the same town their entire lives, it means their lives are continually an intertwining mix of the past and the present. Lynda sits center stage of this mix within Jilted, as she still awaits a husband who left and never returned, an ex-boyfreind from her teen years who still affects her life, and a potential 'new love' who used to be a very close friend. These relationships have ripple affects that bring more characters into the picture, from Lynda's daughter Ruthie, to Ruthie's friend Fawn & her husband and son, and even to the sheriff who Lynda has known since kindergarten. Above all the fantastic weavings of present & past within the characters, Denman takes a great look at: depression, first love, love later in life, losing people you love, and how God has a love for all of us that He longs for us to accept. This is a fantastic novel, and I highly recommend it.

*I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review*

Jilted (David C. Cook, June 2016)
Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.
Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.
Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must—once and for all—leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.
About the Author:
Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly grown children