Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man *****
by H. G. Wells
Overview: A scientist discovers a way to become invisible. What he thinks will give him an amazing advantage turns out to be a great curse. Madness follows in his desperation.

Postitive elements: short, well-written classic with some great action

Negative elements: a few people are murdered but nothing grisly

Conclusion: I enjoyed the creativity of this book and the overall story, but it was a bit dark. I love the classics because even if the story isn't your favorite, you can enjoy reading the book just because of its craftsmanship. I'm going to read H.G.Wells' War of the Worlds next. 

Under a Cloudless Sky

Under a Cloudless Sky *****
by Chris Fabry

Overview: Two girls from opposite sides of the tracks become fast friends in a coal mining town in West Virginia during 1933. Seventy years later, one of these girls returns to that coal mining town and a secret she's kept all these years is exposed.
The chapters switch off between the events of 1933, and the current day events of 2004.

Positive elements: Well-written story of friendship, family, and the power of the truth. A clean story that speaks of God's working in our lives without being preachy.

Negative elements: There is mention of women who were forced into prostitution to feed their families. There is a shooting where men and a girl die. There is a woman murdered. An alcoholic father mistreats his family. None of these negative elements are described in any graphic detail.

Conclusion: I think every Chris Fabry book I read gets better. I haven't read them all, but I have read the last half-dozen. I appreciated that I didn't know what was going to happen until the very end. The story seemed very geniune and not forced. I liked the characters, and I cared about them. The story is a bit bittersweet, but I was glad that the end was happy. I would highly recommend this book.  

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel *****
by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Overview: During the Reign of Terror in France, a brave and mysterious Englishman smuggles French aristocrats out of France and saves their lives. No one knows who he is and no French spies can find him...he has everyone fooled, even his wife.

Positive elements: A well-written, enjoyable story. I loved the suspense of the story and how I had no idea how it would end.

Negative elements: A few swear words

Conclusion: I loved the pace of this great, old classic. So often the classics are monstrous books that take a while to get to the action. This book is much shorter and full of suspense. It has a wonderful ending, and the love story woven through the book is between a husband and wife falling in love for a second time.

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery *****
by Eric Metaxas

Overview: William Wilberforce began his life as a rich, fun-loving, witty English aristocrat. Life was about having fun and enjoying all that money could buy. However, as a young man Wilberforce is confronted with the gospel and realizes that God has a plan for his life beyond just enjoying himself. At this point, he is already a talented speaker and politician. So, as a very young man in Parliament, he begins speaking out for the end of the slave trade and for the reform of many other cruel social practices.

It takes forty years before the slave trade is ended in England. And this is the amazing story of that journey.

Positive elements: Eric Metaxes is a genius in crafting stories. The book has just the right amount of details without being boring. The book also did a great job of showing what was happening in the world at the time and how God prepared Wilberforce as just the right man for the job.

Negative elements: There was one brief description of the treatment of some slaves aboard a ship that was pretty graphic. I didn't finish that one paragraph but skipped over it.

Conclusion: Wilberforces' story reminded me of a few good lessons. One, just because you are doing what is right, doesn't mean it will be an easy road. Wilberforce fought for the end of slavery and for social reforms for his whole life. It was a long, hard battle, but the result was truly the changing of a nation. And two, God can bring just the right people together for his purposes. Wilberforce had the greatest friends. Without all the different people who were a part of his life encouraging him, he couldn't have done what he did.

I would recommend this book to anyone as a great, enjoyable, encouraging, and inspiring read.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

30 Day to Joy

30 Days to Joy *****
by WaterBrook Press

This creative journal sounded like so much fun to me, but I was really disappointed when I opened it up. The small, hard-covered book has one writing prompt per day such as Day 1: "How is joy different from happiness?" There are mostly blank pages and then pages with quotes about joy from various people and from the Bible. I wish the book had more substance to it. The questions for each day were not very inspiring and the one color throughout the book wasn't very inviting.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional *****
by Asheritah Ciuciu

This beautiful, small, hard-covered devotional leads us through the season of advent with devotionals centering around the names of Jesus. Each new week of advent, there is scripture to read together as a family, discussion questions, and a Christmas carol to sing. Then each day of the week has a different name of Jesus to meditate on, along with a devotional, a challenge, a prayer, and further verses for study. Each week ends with a list of activities for your family such as service projects.

Why should you celebrate advent? I love what Asheritah says in her introduction of the book: "We all suffer from soul amnesia, forgetting who God is and what He has done for us from one day to the next. Like you, I too must remind myself each year who Jesus is and why His birth is so miraculous--not because my mind doesn't know but because my heart ceases to be amazed."

So, I'm excited to go through this book with my kids and be reminded of the true Wonder of the season.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Color Index XL

Color Index XL *****
by Jim Krause

I had never looked at a color index before. I was excited to glance through this book because my husband and I have started oil painting. It's always a challenge figuring out what colors go well together. This book is designed to help with that. 

Color Index XL is a thick book...almost an inch thick. The author gives a helpful introduction for people like me who haven't used a colored index before. And then the rest of the pages are full of different color schemes in different shades. 

I'm looking forward to using this in quilting also to determine how different colors look together.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.