Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ransomed Dreams by Sally John

From the back cover:

With the flash of a bullet, Sheridan Montgomery's world ceased to exist.

Her husband, Eliot -the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela - may have physically survived the assassination attempt, but he would never be the same again. And Sheridan had accepted neither would their marriage.

But when a man that Sheridan had hoped to never see again brings new information about her past, it spins her life down a side road - a path that makes her question everything she thought knew about herself, her husband, and their life together.

Does a promise last forever when everything has changed? With honesty and grace, best-selling author Sally John tells a moving story about the unexpected detours our lives can take and the hope it's never too late to find our way back.

My thoughts:

I kept thinking of Don Henley's song "The End of the Innocence," while reading Ransomed Dreams. If I were to sum up the first part of the book in one thought it would be; "When happily ever after fails." Sheridan and Elliot's lives shattered in an instant on a Caracas street. Sheridan even goes as far to refer to things as "B.C.E." (Before the Caracas Event) and "A.C.E" (After the Caracas Event). They've built a new life for themselves in a sleepy Mexican village, but that peace is shattered when they are visited by Luke Traynor, who had been with the ambassador's entourage in Caracas. Luke's visit sends Sheridan on a journey with exposes both the past of her family and the past of her husband.

I liked the quiet introspection of Ransomed Dreams. It was not a flashy novel, but I found it to be very thought provoking, and for that reason I could not put it down. I liked the voices of the secondary characters and the voices of Sheridan and Elliot. I loved the little glimpses into the diplomatic world, and the interludes that showed Sheridan and Elliot prior to his injuries. They truly seemed to be a power couple. I also loved how the prologue and epilogue were bookends.

I checked Ransomed Dreams out from my local library. I almost never purchase a book that I borrow from the library. However, I am seriously considering purchasing Ransomed Dreams as it is a book I believe I would love to read again.

Organizational Thoughts

Lately, I have been thinking about how I want to organize this blog. I have decided it would be best to stick to a schedule, or at least try to stick to one. Without further ado, there is what I am thinking:

Sunday Worship: On Sundays, I'm going to post a video. It will either be a worship song, hymn, or a Christian song. I will also write a little bit about what draws me to the particular song.

Musical Monday: A review of a CD. It will be mostly Christian music, since I mostly listen to Christian music. I'll also post a youtube link to one of the songs from the CD.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays will likely be devoted to book reviews. I will likely only review books which I can give a positive review. I don't write critical reviews well at all.

Figure Skating Friday: I also describe myself as an obsessed figure skating fan. Really what else do you call someone who has more VCR tapes than she cares to count, and most are filled with 6-8 hours of commercial free figure skating? Right now, I plan to post a skating video, and a little about the skater and/or program. In October, when the skating season starts, I'll post about the Grand Prix events, etc.

Saturdays will likely be a hodgepodge of movies, television, and documentaries. In case you've not noticed I am a little bit of a nerd. ;) Oh, and I might review non-fiction books I've read too. I mostly read history and political science books.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hillsong Live

I have always loved music. In the last few years, I have come to truly love modern worship music. Needless to say I was thrilled when I found out Hillsong would be coming to Lexington. To make this even better, the event was at my church!

I'm not even certain I have the words to describe the last few hours. It was nothing short of amazing. It was a truly wonderful night of worship. Then again, aren't all nights of worship wonderful?

I haven't exactly figured out how to post a link to a video yet. So I'm going to leave the lyrics of one of my favorite songs from tonight. It's called "You," and the lyrics are speaking so much to me right now.

Verse 1:
Invading all my weakness
You wrapped me up in grace
The worst of me succeeded by the best of You

Verse 2
My heart is overtaken
My soul is overwhelmed
The worst of me succeeded by the best of You

Verse 3
My dreams have found their purpose
My future in Your hands
This life would have no meaning if it weren't for You

So I lay me down
For Kingdom come
Steal all that is within me
Cause all I want in this world is more of You

And the less of me it is You
Increasing as I fade away
Your life for all the world to see
God It is You who breaks the chains
It is You who lights the way
And everything I am cries out for You

Verse 4
Lord make me more transparent
Your life in mine displayed
And let every earthly glory
Go back to You

So I lay me down
For Kingdom come
Steal all that is within me
Cause all I want in this world Is more of You

And the less of me it is You
Increasing as I fade away
Your life for all the world to see
God It is You who breaks the chains
It is You who lights the way
And everything I am cries out for You

Right now, I'm especially liking the part about laying me down.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

From the back cover:

After a tour of duty in a war-torn country, embattled former Navy SEAL Max Jacobs finds himself discarded and alienated from those he loves as he struggles with war-related PTSD. His wife, Sydney, files a restraining order against him and a petition for divorce. Max is devastated.

Then a mysterious man appears. He says he's organizing a group that recycles veterans like Max. It's a black-ops group know as Nightshade. With the chance to find purpose in his life once again, Max is unable to resist the call of duty and signs on.

The team handles everything with precision and lethal skill-until they're called upon to rescue a missionary family from a rebel-infested jungle and avoid a reporter hunting their identities.

Will Max yield his anger and pride to a force greater than him-love?

My review:

Dee Henderson was one of the first Christian fiction authors I read when I started reading contemporaries 10 years ago. I loved her series dealing with the military, especially the first book in the series, True Devotion. Therefore, I was thrilled to learn of Ronie Kendig's Nightshade.

This is a book which does not disappoint. I found Nightshade to be a grittier look at the lives of those who defend our country. As a reader, you feel for every single character in this book. You deeply feel the pain of both Max and Sydney as you are reading. You cannot help but root for all to be made right in the end.

On a personal note, I could not help but think of the veterans in my own family as I was reading Nightshade. Both of my grandfathers were World War II veterans, and neither spoke much about the war. Nightshade is a book which honors the service of those who have defended our country.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

From the back cover:

Caught between the wilderness and civilization, Morrow Little must find her way to true love

Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?

This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop you as it takes you from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness of the West.

My review:

Where do I even begin with this one? First of all, let me say, I don't believe there are enough superlatives in the English language for me to adequately express how much I love Laura Frantz's work. When I was reading Courting Morrow Little, I was swept away two hundred years or so into my state's early history. This is a sweeping tale of love and forgiveness which is just breathtaking.

Heroines are so important, and Morrow is a lovely heroine. However, heroes are just as important, and Laura Frantz has crafted a truly memorable hero in Red Shirt. Morrow and Red Shirt's story is one which will stay with the reader long after finishing the last page.

Courting Morrow Little has a permanent place on my keeper shelf, and I know it is a book I will read multiple times.

The Gathering Storm by Bodie and Brock Thoene

Description from Goodreads:

As Nazi forces tighten the noose, Loralei must flee
her beloved Germany. But is anywhere safe from Adolf
Hitler's evil grasp?

When her father, a German opposition leader, is
imprisoned by the Nazis, Loralei is forced into hiding and
then on a harrowing flight that will eventually lead her to
London. In the midst of grief and deep losses of her own,
Loralei finds meaning in helping the overwhelming flood
of refugees, including thousands of children, who escaped
Hitler's reach and made their way to freedom, yet sacrificed
everything in exchange for their lives.
While in London, Loralei meets a friend of her father's
from her pre-war life in Germany. . .and falls deeply,
passionately in love. Yet he's a man she can never marry - a mysterious figure who closely guards an age-old secret.

As air-raid sirens now wail over blacked-out London and
Luftwaffe fighters fill the British skies, Loralei looks for a
new reason to live in hope, even amidst the debris of so
much brokenness

My review:

I am a long time fan of Brock and Bodie Thoene's WWII fiction. I first read the Zion Covenant series and Zion Chronicles series over 15 years ago. I must admit I almost screamed with joy when I found there was to be a series bridging the two earlier series. I also screamed (on the inside) when I found The Gathering Storm at Barnes and Noble on Friday.

In true Thoene fashion, The Gathering Storm begins with a modern day prologue. However, unlike the earlier books, this one is written in first person from the point of view of the heroine, Loralei Bittick. She is the daughter of an Austrian pastor and his Texas born wife. The story begins in Brussels just as the phony war is ending with the Nazi invasion of the neutral countries. The story follows Loralei's escape from the continent to London. In London, Loralei runs into Eben Golah, who she knew in pre-war Europe. Eben is quite a fascinating character. If I say more, I feel I might be in danger of spoiling the book.

At the end of The Gathering Storm, readers will find short descriptions of upcoming books in the Zion Diaries series. These two books will reintroduce characters from the Zion Covenant and Zion Chronicles. I look forward to reading these new books as well.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Dacus

From the back cover:

In order to get to her secret fiance in Jamaica, Charlotte Ransome must disguise herself as Charles Lott, a midshipman who joins the crew of one of the ships in a convoy led by her brother---Commodore William Ransome. Unknown to her, First Lieutenant Ned Cochrane, also in Ransome's convoy, has set his heard on Charlotte after meeting her briefly in Portsmouth. But because he is about to leave for a year of duty in Caribbean, he despairs of finding her unmarried when he returns home.

During the transatlantic journey, an attack on the convoy throws Ned and "Midshipman Lott" together. Though unsure as to whether he should let Charlotte know he sees through her ruse, Ned decides to keep her secret...and hopes to eventually win her love. Charlotte soon discovers that losing her heard to the handsome lieutenant is not the only danger she faces on this Atlantic crossing.

Courage, faith, hope, and love shine in this exciting romantic sea adventure from the Regency era.

My thoughts:

Kaye Dacus is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Ransome's Crossing is the second book in the Ransome Trilogy, and I recommend reading the first book, Ransome's Honor. Ransome's Crossing also continues the story of William and Julia, who were first introduced in Ransome's Honor. In this volume, they are beginning married life as they travel to her plantation in Jamaica. The focus is equally on Ned and Charlotte, who have been fascinating since their first meeting in Ransome's Honor. I found Ransome's Crossing to be a very satisfying read, and I know it is a book I will read time and time again.

The ending will make you wait patiently (or not so patiently) for the third book in the series, Ransome's Quest.

**A copy of this book was graciously provided by the author, Kaye Dacus and her publisher, for review purposes.**

Sunday, July 4, 2010

While surfing around on the net today, I stumbled across this . A four month reading challenge sounds very interesting to me. Here's the list:

5 Point Challenges

Read a chick lit book

Read a name with a proper name in the title

Read a historical fiction book

Read a book with a one word title

Read a book made into a movie

10 Point Challenges

Read a book with a Civil War theme (any country)

Read a Biblical fiction book

Read a hardcover book

Read a book about a king or queen

Read a book set in France

15 Point Challenges

Read a book by an author you’ve never read before

Read a biography or autobiography

Read a book with a number in the title

Read any book and then post a review

Read any book but read it outside

20 Point Challenges

Read a book in a series AND the one after it

Read a book that was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Read a book considered Christian fiction

Read a book from The Modern Library Top 100

Read a book by an author born in July, August, September or October

I do believe I could do quite well with this! I'm going to give it a try!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hello again!

Trying to start bloogging a few days after my grandmother's death, was perhaps not the smartest decision I've made. However, I am back, and I do plan to blog with much more frequency now. Happy 4th of July!