Review: Once Upon A Summer by Janet Oke

“…God loves you … He plans for your good, not your hurt. It’s true that things happen in life that seem wrong and are painful, but it isn’t because God likes to see us suffer. He wants to see us grow. He wants us to love Him, to trust Him.” – the preacher

Once upon a Summer (Seasons of the Heart, #1)Once upon a Summer by Janette Oke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Josh’s parents died when he was a small child. Ever since then, his Auntie Lou, who was only five years older than he was, took over the role of his mother in the best way she knew how. They lived with Grandpa (Lou’s dad) and Uncle Charlie. And then when Grandpa and Uncle Charlie started talking about marrying Auntie Lou off, Josh wondered what he’d do without her. And then he decided, maybe he won’t have to find out…

“Holes in socks are sorta like sin, Josh. If you don’t tend to them right away when they’re small and controllable, they grow with amazing speed.” – the preacher

(I had to stop reading the book when I came to that quote and ponder it. Just… wow.)

As if that wasn’t bad enough, his great grandma died, leaving his great grandpa a widower. Grandpa and Uncle Charlie invited him to live with them. Josh wasn’t sure what to think about this, but he felt like it would disrupt everything.

Between Grandpa and Uncle Charlie trying to marry off Auntie Lou and a great-grandpa that he had never met coming to stay with them, Josh had a lot on his mind. The big question was, what would he do about it?

“Whenever something comes into our life that hurts us, we do the decidin’—do I let this work for my good, as God intended, or do I let bitterness grow like a bothersome canker sore in my soul?” – Auntie Lou

This story is told from 12-year-old Josh’s point of view. The writing style is so different, which I enjoyed, though it took me a chapter or two to get into the rhythm of it.

Josh’s character was well developed. Without revealing any spoilers, it was a joy to follow his story from start to where he is at the end of the book. He grows a lot. And the ending almost brought tears to my eyes. It was great.

There were too many amazing quotes in this book to list them all, but I think this one was my favorite:

“He could let us go through all of our life, bundlin’ us and shelterin’ us from anything and everything that would hurt us. I could do that with my petunias, Josh. I could build a box around them and keep them from the wind and the rain, the crawlers and the bees. What would happen iffen I did that, Josh?”

I jest shrugged. The answer was too obvious.

“They’d never bear flowers,” said Auntie Lou.

Aaaand the fun doesn’t stop here, because Janet Oke wrote four books in this series – which I have and look forward to reading soon. 🙂 However, I think this book could be read as a stand-alone. Until recently, I didn’t know that this book was even part of a series. If I had, I would have gotten my hands on the other books long ago!

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Review: Black (The Circle #1) by Ted Dekker

Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle, #1)Black: The Birth of Evil by Ted Dekker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is a dream? What is the reality? Reality is a waking dream… or is it? For Thomas Hunter, distinguishing the two is difficult. In one, he is in Denver and has a sister, and there is a deadly virus that could wipe out the whole Earth’s population. In the other, there is a beautiful girl, a colored forest, and the presence of Elyon – and a sinister entity named Telah…

But which is real? Or could both be real? Could it be two worlds? And could they be connected somehow?

The plot thickens when in one he finds out that all he holds dear in both worlds is in jeopardy. However, he thinks he may be able to change events in one from things he finds out in the other. Will he be successful? Or will one or both come to an abrupt end?

This is the first book in The Circle series. A friend gave it to me two years ago for my birthday and I enjoyed it so much! (Obviously, I am behind in writing reviews; though technically, I wrote the review last year and forgot to post it… oops. 😅) The writing style was great. Thomas is very entertaining. And the dream // world switching was done nearly flawlessly. I really felt the urgency that the character had, and I appreciated the detail that Dekker gave to the Colored Forest and the Black Forest. I also saw a bit of symbolism in the Colored Forest from the Garden Of Eden, which made me enjoy it all the more!

I loved this book so much that when my parents asked me to pick out a book for Christmas, I asked for the next in this series, Red! It’s been sitting on my to-read shelf for the past six months, and I’m looking forward to reading it. My friends keep saying that it was better than Black. 🙂

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Review: The Agony And Glory Of The Cross

The Agony and Glory of the Cross by Charles B. Hodge Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” Luke 9:23-25

I started reading it last year, but I took it slow so that I wouldn’t miss much, and it was worth it. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from it:

“Jesus was not on the cross six hours, but thirty-three years. He lived the life before He died the death. Salvation is free, but it costs us everything – our lives!”

“The way up is down; we empty ourselves to be full. We confess being wrong to be made right. The strongest are the weakest; the poorest, the richest. We die to live and give to get.”

“Jesus was both totally humbled and totally exalted. His exaltation did not destroy His humanity; rather, it glorified His humanity. ”

“Our salvation is not for a moment but for a crucified lifetime.”

“The U.S. has the Declaration of Independence; Christians have the Declaration of Dependence.”

The author includes a special section especially for meditating on before each chapter. Very thought provoking stuff! (Though it looks like one of the later printings took out the meditations, which is a shame – so if you look into getting this book, try to make sure it’s the older printing with the “More Confusing Than Amusing” meditations before each chapter – it’s the one without the “Give The Gift of God’s Love” on the cover.) I enjoyed this book so much. This is the perfect book to read during this Holy week; or anytime before or after! 🙂

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Review: When Dreams Come True

When Dreams Come TrueWhen Dreams Come True by Eric Ludy and Leslie Ludy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I’ve had this book for a while, but was saving it until close to Valentines’s Day. It didn’t disappoint! It was hard to put down. I loved their writing styles.

“And amazingly, through it all, there was a God watching me fall, watching me break His heart, and loving me still…” – Leslie

“The next hour passed like a hiccup attack in the middle of a wedding ceremony.” – Eric

(Those two sentences are from different parts of the book, by the way.) It pulled me right in.  I didn’t expect the book to have much conviction in it since it was a love story, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here are just a few:

“Eric, God doesn’t care about you accomplishing things, He cares about you obeying. When you obey, it’s truly amazing what you can accomplish!” – Eric’s mom

“I was in pre-med, and doing what I had always dreamed of,” he shared animately, “but I realized that, even though I’d been a Christian since I was five, I had never asked God what He wanted to do with my life.” – Eric

And there are also plenty of gems for the single Christian (like me):

“And as I had slowly learned to trust Him completely as the Lord of every area of my life, I had felt His gentle challenge to my heart, I have someone special for you, My precious child. Wait patiently for that man, set yourself aside for him in complete purity and faithfulness. I will bring him into your life in a way more beautiful than anything you can imagine. But wait for My perfect timing. Use this time of your life to focus on Me instead of chasing after foolish, short-term pleasure.” – Leslie

This book was such an enjoyable read, and I loved how Eric and Leslie respected their future spouses without even knowing them yet. It was beautiful.  It truly is a love story that only God could write. ❤

* Also, if you read the book, it advertises their music in the back. Leslie Ludy allows you to listen and download a few tracks for free on her website, Set Apart Girl, which are AMAZING.

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Review: Evidence Not Seen

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War IIEvidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1.)

Darlene Deibler and her husband went to New Guinea as missionaries, and at first, all was well. But then World War Two came along and she found herself separated from her husband and a prisoner of war. This book is about how Jesus sustained her during those hard times. Even after all she went through in the course of the book, she never lost her faith. She was quite an amazing women of God!

“Lord, I believe all that the Bible says. I do walk by faith and not by sight. I do not need to feel You near, because Your Word says You will never leave me or forsake me. Lord, I confirm my faith; I believe.” – Darlene

A friend gave this book to me Christmas 2016, and I’ve been slowly reading it since the beginning of 2017.  Even though it took me a while to finish, it wasn’t because of the lack of interest. I didn’t want to rush through the book too fast and miss something because there were many times I needed to stop and mull over the points she made or how God was working in her life and the lives of others. (Though I ended up reading much faster at the end of December when I first started to get sick; it was such an encouragement during that time, though I almost regret reading the end so fast because now it’s a giant blur. 😆)

This book was incredible and I highly recommend it. 🙂

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Review: Hinds’ Feet on High Places

Hinds' Feet On High PlacesHinds’ Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Much-Afraid, who lived in the village of Much-Trembling, desired to serve the Chief Shepherd with her whole heart, but she feared that she fell short of ever pleasing Him. Her feet were deformed which made walking difficult, and her face was disfigured, and more than anything she wanted to be free from things that she felt were holding her back.

But those are not the only things holding her back. Her relatives, the Family of Fearings, were always lurking in the Valley…

Mrs. Dismal Forebodings, her aunt, raised her along with her two cousins Gloomy and Spiteful and their brother Craven Fear, of who mistreated her horribly on a regular basis.

When Craven Fear and his family try to force her to marry him, she flees to the pool where the Chief Shepherd is waiting, and she explains all to Him. He tells her that she can come to the Kingdom of Love if she allows Him to make her feet into hinds’ feet – and He would have to change her name because a Much-Afraid cannot enter the Kingdom. And in addition to that, she would have to allow Him to plant the seed of Love into her heart…

He chose two guides to help her on her journey: Sorrow and Suffering, and she is as scared as her name suggests. Will she allow Him to work in her life so she can enter the Kingdom of Love, or will Old Lord Fearing have his way?


This story was so gripping. A friend gave this to me in August 2016, and it sure didn’t disappoint!

Hannah Hurnard’s writing style pulled me right in. The names of everyone and everything was so cute. (In addition to the ones I mentioned above, there was Pride, Bitterness, Self-Pity, and a little flower named Acceptance-with-Joy.) The symbolism and allegories were fantastic. Also, this book managed to expand my vocabulary with words such as estuary and hoary; I always appreciate when a book makes me use my dictionary.

The poems make me so happy and are based on Scripture. Here is one of my favorite ones from the book:

“I am the Rose of Sharon, a wild anemone.
As lily ‘mong the thorn trees, so is my love to me.

An apple tree ‘mong wild trees, my Love is in my sight,
I sit down in his shadow, his fruit is my delight.

He brought me to his palace, and to the banquet hall,
To share with me his greatness, I, who am least of all.

Oh, give me help and comfort, for I am sick with shame,
Unfit, to be his consort, unfit to bear his Name.

I charge you, o ye daughters, ye roses among the trees,
Stir not my sleeping loved one, to love me e’er he please.”

I believe this is based on Song of Solomon, chapter two.


I did find one error: “You will give me a new name when I get to the top?” quavered Much-Afraid, who all of a sudden seemed to have become deaf to the music who all of a sudden seemed deaf to the music around her and to be full of fears and forebodings again.

I reread that sentence so many times. But in hind-sight (oh, bad pun!), it wasn’t that big of a deal.


Spoiler-y stuff (in white text – highlight to read):

I loved how when Much-Afraid reached a milestone, she took a literal stone as a reminder – this reminded me of the rocks in Joshua 4 where the Lord ordered 12 large stones be taken out of the Jordan in remembrance of what the Lord had done for them, so that their children would see and ask about them and they could be told the stories of how God parted the river for them. Anyway. At the end of this book, the rocks Much-Afraid picked up were turned to jewels!

And her new name. LOVE.

And when she reflects upon her journey, it was so touching.

The end of Act One left me almost speechless. So emotional. So wonderful. And heart-wrenching.

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Book Review: First Love – Renewing Your Passion For God by Bill Bright

First Love: Renewing Your Passion for GodFirst Love: Renewing Your Passion for God by Bill Bright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you started off the new year with a resolution for getting closer to God or restoring your love for God, then you’ll like this book.  I’ve certainly enjoyed it immensely, and it was a great way to start off the new year.

I finished this book in less than two weeks (would have finished it sooner had I not gotten sick in the middle of it 😆) and it was really good. It’s less than 100 pages, so it’s a quick read. He makes so many great points that caused me to stop and ponder before continuing reading. It was a joy to read, and I breezed through the last 50 pages in one day.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“He submitted Himself to the most painful and degrading execution men could possibly inflict, just so He could offer His rescue from the kingdom of darkness to the very agents of His suffering. Even today, I feel deep emotion when I consider all that His death on the cross means to me. It might have been me at the foot of that cross, pounding iron nails into His wrists. Even so, He would offer me no less love, no less forgiveness.”

What a loving God. ❤

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