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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Review: The Lost Art of True Beauty by Leslie Ludy

Hello all! 🙂 I just finished reading this book and WOW. 😍 This is a review that I wrote for Goodreads (trying out a new format for reviewing 😅):

The Lost Art of True Beauty: The Set-Apart Girl's Guide to Feminine GraceThe Lost Art of True Beauty: The Set-Apart Girl’s Guide to Feminine Grace by Leslie Ludy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend of mine gave this book to me for my birthday, and I enjoyed it so much! I think that this is a book that every woman, young or old, should read. It was very informative, telling how to exude a Christ-like femininity, not the femininity of the world. I wish I could give it more than five stars.

Leslie covers issues that many girls and women can relate to, such as peer pressure, fashion, eating disorders, body image, forgiveness, and even creating a Christ-like atmosphere in your home, room, or wherever you live. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Along with the quotes on the quote page, these quotes had an impact on me:

“The temptations of the world must not be looked at, listened to, or entertained even for the slightest moment.”

“She feels emotion at greater levels, but she is not a slave to her feelings.”

“If we live in a sloppy, disorganized environment with clothes strewn all over the floor and dishes piled in the sink, we are likely to feel chaotic, scattered, and sloppy as we go about our daily tasks.”

“The more you mull over it [an offense], and go over the scene in your mind, the more it has an opportunity to take root within your soul and plant deep seeds of bitterness.”

“However, though we are not to accept harassment from the enemy, we can still thank God for the opportunity to learn how to fight, pray, and be strengthened in our faith – just as it says in James 1.”

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Book Review: Christmas After All

People are losing jobs. Businesses are closing down. Willie Fae, a cousin from Texas, lost both of her parents and had to move to Indianapolis to live with Minnie’s family. (Minnie likes having a girl her own age around, though.) Her family is having to eat au gratin (which is French for “with cheese” and basically meant that they added potatoes and cheese to everything to make the food stretch farther) for dinner most nights. According to Minnie and Ozzie’s (Minnie’s brother) “vomitometric scale,” or “vomitron” for short, most au gratin dinners rate high, such as the cauliflower au gratin, which rated a solid 8 of 10 on the vomitous scale.

Times are hard. She knows, she has been to the shantytown (which they named Curtisville after the vice president of the time) before and seen people living in little shacks built out of old tires and scraps, burning whatever they can find in large tin barrels to keep warm. She knows that Christmas this year will be different, but she doesn’t know how different. Will they even be able to have a Christmas?

★★★★

(Now that I am on Goodreads, I will be sharing the number of stars that I give each book – soon I will try to connect my Goodreads account to my WordPress account and you’ll be able to see what I’m reading! 😉 In the meantime, if you want to see what I’m reading, here is a link to my Goodreads account: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/74692007-penelope-payne)

Without revealing too many spoilers, and keeping in mind that this is a children’s book: I was a bit surprised that the topic of suicide came up. Perhaps I haven’t read enough children’s books written in the 2000’s, but I’m not sure how I felt about this; I guess I expect a G rating in a children’s book. However, the reaction that Minnie had to it was believable, it was portrayed in the right light, and it was realistic to how it really was back then.

Speaking of how it was back then… I so enjoyed how there was a section at the end of the book that told about the things mentioned in the book, such as the radio programs, movie stars of the era, recipes for foods that they ate in the book (that were not on the vomitron scale!), and photos from back then. It added depth to the story, and I love it when books are educational. It was a really great read for Christmas. 🙂

This was my third Dear America book. The other two were So Far From Home (The Diary of an Irish Mill Girl) and Voyage On The Great Titanic. I plan to get a review up for So Far From Home after I reread it because it has been years since I read it. But I remember enjoying it.)

Titanic Talk + A Review of SOS Titanic by Eve Bunting

The R. M. S. Titanic sank 105 years ago today, and I think a lot can be learned from this tragedy. Here is a quote from my post a year ago:

I realize not everyone shares my interest in this historic disaster, but there is one aspect of it I’d like to touch upon. I saw a church sign years ago: “Men built the Titanic. God built the ark. Which one sank?” God had Noah build the ark, and did it sink? No. It stayed afloat for 40 days and 40 nights (and many months after the rains stopped). Noah had faith in God, not in himself.

In the back of Voyage on the Great Titanic, it has a timeline of events, and it amazes me how many things could have been prevented. People thought that the Titanic was unsinkable – they had such faith in their own works and were quite boastful and overconfident in themselves and the ship’s abilities – that they ignored the many warnings that could have possibly saved the great ship. (The book also says that the overworked telegraph operator even responded to one of the ships sending ice warnings, telling them to “shut up”.) In addition, they were so confident that the ship would not sink, that they didn’t install nearly enough lifeboats to even attempt to save all of the passengers who were on board. Proverbs 13:10: “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” The story of the R. M. S. Titanic is so sad. If only the people had not been so arrogant, maybe the Titanic could have been saved. But I guess we will never know.


SOS Titanic by Eve Bunting

When Barry is sent aboard the Titanic to go be with his parents in New York, it looks like it will be just a lonely journey across the Atlantic. His archenemies, the Flynn brothers, are in steerage while he is in first class, so he hoped that this would keep them at bay. Just when he begins to feel safe, he hears rumors of icebergs…

In a terrified rush of imagination, Barry saw the way the stars would see it. The way God would see it. Lying there big and black and helpless. A great sea creature, bellowing its death cries.

S.O.S. Titanic by Eve Bunting

My second post ever on this blog was about the Titanic. I included two book reviews for children’s books that took place on the ship. This year, I chose another children’s book, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was mostly clean. Not much filthy language (one word was used a couple of times at the end, which I could have done without, but it didn’t bother me enough to stop reading), no adult topics – it was a fun read. 🙂

Review: The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

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The Evanses, along with their four year old daughter Jenna, are much too cramped in their tiny apartment. When an opportunity arises for them to be hired to help out an elderly lady in her large house, the family of three checks it out. They move into the East Wing within two weeks.

It’s not long until Mary becomes like a grandmother figure, and is well loved by all.

And then tragedy strikes…

I loved how from Mary, The Evanses learn the true meaning of Christmas. I usually don’t get emotional when reading a book, but this one made me tear up at the end. It was phenomenal. It was so short that I read the whole thing in one day; it was only 90 pages. It’s a good thing he wrote two more books and made this a series! (However, this book reads like a stand alone, so if you want to read this one, you won’t get a cliffhanger at the end. But if you are like me, you’ll like it so much that you’ll want to get your hands on the next two anyway!)

This story promises to be a Christmas Classic. 🙂

Christmas Short Story Review: The Gift of the Magi

“One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies.” Thus begins one of my favorite classic Christmas stories from my childhood.

Della doesn’t have much money to buy her husband a gift, so on Christmas Eve, she makes a drastic decision to come up with the money in time for Christmas. I love how the ending is so unexpected!

I read it every December and I enjoy it every time. O. Henry’s writing style pulls me right in.

If you’d like to read it, it is public domain. It looks like the ones that come up first in the search engine are the edited versions, such as this one; the original text was so colorful and vibrant, I highly recommend it. Back then, I didn’t fully grasp a few of the words or phrases O. Henry used, such as “imputation of parsimony”, but it delighted me because it gave me new words and phrases I had to use dictionary to understand. And as an adult, I still enjoy this story immensely today. Here is a link I found that has the original text: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry It is very short; only six pages long, but it is worth the read, and puts me in the Christmas Spirit. 🙂

Reviews: Big Sky Dreams Series #1 & #2

Big Sky Dreams #1: Cassidy

written by Lori Wick

Cassidy Norton is a skilled seamstress who owns Token Creek Apparel in Token Creek. Here, she has everything she has dreamed of – friends, a church family, and a successful business.

Cassidy’s best friend Meg is married to Brad Holden, and is also pregnant. Cassidy goes over to the Holden ranch at least once per week to help her sew clothes for the baby. Trace Holden, Brad’s brother, always makes sure she gets back to her place safe. Cassidy is also good friends with the local banker. Jeanette Fulbright helps Cassidy out with her business at times. The people of Token Creek have a very caring pastor, Rylan Jarvik, and Cassidy finds it easy to talk about the Bible with him. Cassidy is certainly not in want of friends in this book. But what no one in the town knows is that there is a secret from her past that if revealed, could change the way everyone sees her and treats her…

I knew that she would have a love interest; and unfortunately, I read #2 in this series first (because Goodwill only had Sabrina XD) so when it comes to who she ends up with // if she ends up with someone, I already knew what would happen. X) However, since I read the other first, this felt like I was getting her backstory, and it was fantastic.

I did find one typo on page 40: “You’re brother is still upstairs.” Yup. The classic “Your” (meaning that you own something) versus ‘You’re” (contraction for “you are”) error. X)

Big Sky Dreams #2: Sabrina

written by Lori Wick

Danny and his wife, Callie, takes Sabrina in off the street to give her a chance to change and introduce her to Christ. They have a secret that was unexpected, but fit in perfectly with the story.

Sabrina soon moves from Denver to Token Creek in Montana Territory to escape her past, which keeps haunting her. I really like Sabrina. She’s slightly naïve. There are times when she makes me laugh. “Do you ever think about the person who owns the legs that might wear these pants?” XD She has quite an imagination.

Once Sabrina makes the move, Jeanette Fulbright, the owner of a tailor shop, gives Sabrina a job. She also allows Sabrina to stay with her for a while. Jessie Wheeler, the owner of Wheeler’s Mercantile (a general store), also gives Sabrina a part time job when Sabrina asks for one. Jessie has two daughters, Hannah and Clancy who appear in the story from time to time. (Clancy is sooooooo cute. XD) Rylan, who is the same pastor from Cassidy, also works at the livery stable. Sabrina spends so much time thinking about this that she misses the first sermon of his that she was present for. X) She also meets Meg, Brad, Trace and Cassidy from the first book in this series. Sabrina finds many friends in Token Creek. But will they see her the same way if they know about her past?

In chapter two, there are a couple of time jumps that I almost missed at first and had to reread to catch. The novel starts in November, then jumps to December, and then jumps all the way to May. I realize this is because not a lot was happening during that time in between her believing and her leaving for Montana Territory. This didn’t bother me a great deal though; I really liked the first couple of chapters, and from there, the book settles into a nice pace. Sabrina is the main character of course, but the author still tells us what is happening with the other characters as well, especially when it relates to Sabrina. (But you also get some scenes with Cassidy and Meg, from the first book, which was nice.)

There are three characters with names that start with “J”. I get confused sometimes when a novel has two names that start with the same letter, unless the names are super different, so having a Jeanette, a Jeb and a Jessie was slightly confusing at first. XD In addition, there is Sabrina (the main character) and Savannah (Meg’s baby) and I got them confused at times, which was a hilarious mix-up on my part. XD

Overall:

I usually read mysteries and young adult novels, so reading these Christian romance historical fiction novels were a pleasant change. 🙂 I look forward to reading more like these, and perhaps someday Jessie, the third in the series.

The characters, especially the main characters of both novels, undergo extensive character development, and that was really great. There are a lot of characters though. It took a while for me to really catch on to who was who. XD But it was great.

When the characters pray, they are so sincere. I really appreciated that.

There are many deep thoughts about the Bible and Jesus throughout both novels. Many made me stop and ponder them for a while. One inspired my first blog post! (Haha, yes, I wrote the first draft of the book reviews out that far in advance. XD) I love it. So much. These have to be the best books I’ve read in a long time.

You can read Sabrina before Cassidy, as I did; however, as I stated, it will ruin Cassidy’s story in terms of plot // love interest, so I don’t recommend doing that.