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Saturday, June 29, 2013

When Mockingbirds Sing review

When Mockingbirds Sing Description:
written by:  Billy Coffey

What marks the boundary between a miracle from God and the imagination of a child?

Leah is a child from Away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.

Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.

Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter . . . or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion that a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does.

While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:

Will they cling to what they know . . . or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen?

My Review:
Throughout this story I found myself bouncing back and forth as to who the Rainbow Man really was.  To be honest, by the end I still couldn't say with total conviction.  Was he born in the imagination of a child who wanted her daddy to be more involved and to notice her?  Was he the spirit of God, using her as a messenger?  Was he something darker sent to confuse her and the town she lived in?  Or was he the embodiment of southern magic and mysticism?  I couldn't tell you.

What I can tell you is that this book was well written, with characters that mostly come to life.  Leah draws you to her, with her stutter and her isolation and her desire to be loved.  You feel her confusion, her hurt, her aloneness.  We are reminded of the small towns that still have the "us" and "them" or "away" mentality.  Towns in which once the important people have made up their mind about you, nothing more can be done.

I didn't like that everything was referred to as "magic".  To be a Christian genre book the connection between what we are led to believe are acts of God and magic is one that I have issue with.  In the context though it is easy to see how many in this world might chalk up such things and being magic.  I just with the author had made it more clear as to who the Rainbow Man was.

 I also wish some of the loose ends had been tied up.

 **Spoiler Alert**

We never find out what happened with the sheriff and the hole outside of town, a bit of magic mystery that made some of the townsfolk more willing to accept Leah's Rainbow Man.  We also never find out what happened with Mr. Andy Sommerville.  Perhaps their stories will be in later books.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World

Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World
Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I began reading this book in preparation for a Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study with Melissa Taylor. The publisher was kind enough send me a copy of the book for review purposes.

To be honest, I did not really feel that my life was all that stressed or chaotic before reading this. I am blessed to be a stay at home mom and although finances are tight we still manage to live within our means. There really isn't a lot of chaos in my world. Then I began reading and learning of the ways that stress can become a part of our normal.

First you have to get through the first chapter or two. This is the only reason I didn't rate the book higher. They are long, and Tracie Miles writing in these chapters kind of makes you feel like an outsider looking. She gives very brief and abstract descriptions of the circumstances in her life and as I reader I never really connected with her because of that. However, don't let that keep you from continuing through the book. There is a lot of great information here.

Tracie guides us from realizing that our stress is a result of our choices, to the physical and emotional effects of stress (many of which I never knew) to how to start giving it to God and embracing the peace He promises us. Each chapter includes reflection questions to help you evaluate your own life in relation to the chapter and begin to apply the teachings. Also includes are "Stress busting Scriptures", reminders of God's promises and tools to add to your stress busting arsenal.

By the end of the book I recognized some hidden stresses in my life like trying to be the wife and mother I read about online. And I learned how to let those hidden stressors go and allow God to lead me to be the wife and mother He has uniquely called me to be. Thanks Tracie!

Review: The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from my local library after seeing many quotes attributed to her posted on Facebook, and then my pastor used a quote in one of his sermons. I became intrigued and sought to read her work. I was pleasantly pleased to discover that her's is a story of surviving the Holocaust.

Her story of faith in horrible circumstances is amazing. A woman who simply did what she thought was right despite the risks to her own life. A woman who ended up in a concentration camp with her sister as a result of her efforts. This was a woman who is honest in her story, and who gives credit to the One who saved her.

I love that she is honest with her feeling throughout the book. She doesn't feign Christian love towards her captors. Instead she admits that while her sister managed to find ways to pray for them, she was often more concerned for her fellow prisoners. (Not that this made her any less a good follower of Christ than her sister. I firmly believe we are all called to care for, pray for and minister to different people.) Corrie ten Boom's story is both sad and inspiring. I can't even begin to imagine the horrors that she and so many others went through and yet they never lost sight of the truth that they were not alone and that God was with them even in such horrific circumstances.

If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, you should give it a read. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: Anomaly

Anomaly by Krista McGee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"In a post-nuclear war world, Thalli was born with an anomaly - she has the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. It's this same anomaly that makes her question everything she has been taught to be true. It's this same anomaly that could also cost her her life."

Thalli was born into a world in which citizens have a singular purpose, no emotions, and have never walked the surface of the planet. Citizens are created rather than born and the only "old" people are the scientists who are in charge. Thalli was an anomaly in that she was curious, she had questions, and she felt things. She shared her secret with a boy who was destined to become a scientist himself...

The twists and turns in this book keep you guessing. You read it recognizing the possibility of such a world. A world in which God has been removed. One in which pure science reigns. And yet, you can't really remove God, can you?

A great summer read! I look forward to more from this author.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Review: Storm

Storm by Evan Angler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third installment of the Swipe series. You can read my reviews of Swipe and Sneak by clicking here.

In this edition we pick up after Logan and the Dust have broken into Acheron, discovered the ImPS army, and not only failed to rescue Logan's sister but were betrayed by her causing their friend Eddie to be captured. Erin has discovered the governments plan to unleash a biological weapon against those who have not accepted the Mark, only it has backfired and those with the mark are becoming sick, including Erin. They are on the run and that is where this story picks up.

Like previous installments, this book has a few twists. Is Logan's sister attempting to help the Markless (including Logan) or is she sabotaging them? Is Logan ever going to declare his feelings for Erin? Is Erin going to survive? What happened to Eddie? There is enough to keep the reader wondering, but I don't know that it is enough to keep us interested in the continuing story line. This installment kind of fell flat for me.

We don't really see a conclusion. To be honest I thought this was going to be the last installment of the series when I agreed to review it, but with the cliffhanger ending I am sure another book is in the making. Don't get me wrong, I want to know how it all ends, but I just don't think this added much to the plot.

Project Trumpet isn't the big deal, or so we are told, that we had been made to believe it was in the previous book. We do meet the big bad guys in this one (Cylis and Lamson) but it's brief and not really enough for us to form conclusions about them. And one of them doesn't even make it out of this book alive!

What started as a pretty neat series is starting to feel like the author doesn't know where the end is, which is disappointing. But I am not giving up. The Dust still need to make their stand and the big bad guys still need to fall. We see a few Marked starting to wake up and realize it isn't all it was cracked up to be and start switching sides. And the final chapter with Logan opens a LOT of doors and leaves a lot of questions. I will definitely be reading the next book and hoping that we start to see some storylines coming together towards a conclusion.

Review: Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah

Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah
Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah by Ginger Garrett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story of Samson and Delilah from the view of the women in his life intrigued me. So I picked this up from Amazon and started reading.

The author paints Samson as a slobbish, self-centered man who sees wants he wants and takes, often pouting or throwing an adult hissy fit if he doesn't get his way. The story is peppered with lines like: "Samson sweats like a beast all the time," and "I did not even want to think what his beard would smell like tonight when he tried to kiss me".

Some parts of the book were confusing, and didn't quite follow the story of Samson as written in Judges. For instance, his first wife was given to one of Samson's companions in Judges after she betrayed him by telling her people the answer to his riddle. In this book she is given to an elderly man who appears to also be a Philistine. Given that there isn't much detail of his life given in the Bible, I expected this book to stick to what we know a little more than it did.

I also wasn't fond of the end, in which the author takes the liberty of having Delilah and Samson's family witness what appears to be Jesus welcoming Samson after his death and saying "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Delilah "opens her arms to him (Jesus)" as if accepting him as her God now. While the author doesn't go as far as to say that Samson's mother recognized Delilah for who she was, I find it implausible that they would have connected after such a horrible event just in time to witness something taking place on a spiritual plane. It felt to forced.

This gets three stars because it is well written and the characters definitely have some dimension to them. However the portrayal of Samson and the drifting from accuracy prevent me from rating it higher.