Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review: Love on the Line

I'm a big fan of Deanne Gist's Christian historical fiction, and I jumped at the opportunity to review her latest book, Love on the Line. I definitely enjoyed this book as much as her previous books.

Love on the Line tells the story of a switchboard operator named Gail who's proud of her independent ways. She's a strong woman with her own ideas of how the world runs, and she doesn't need men in her life. Unfortunately, a secret agent named Luke has been assigned to be her supervisor, and he simply will not go away. As the two battle for territory, curious subplots arise. What if Gail would benefit from a counterpart? Is Luke running from his own past? And is it possible that they both may be bearing burdens that are not their own?

Between the two characters, the plot moves the book along. But the reader is forced to consider the true meaning of friendship and the extent to which one can bear responsibility for the past. For me, it was a moving way to consider how much, in attempting to be independent, we can assume that our actions determine the course of events, forgetting that there are other people and that there is a God who is in control of everything. In fact, we really aren't as big as we think we are.

Note: I received a review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: House of Secrets

I'm a bit behind in my book reviews, so this blog may be inundated with a bunch of reviews in the next few days.... (Just a warning.)

House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson is quite an intense book. Tracie follows a family torn apart by the death of the mother so many years before. Each family member has a different interpretation of the past. When the father demands that his three daughters meet him at their old summer cottage (the last place they saw their mother), the girls don't know what to expect. What good can come out of returning to this place they've all worked so hard to forget??

I would say that this is a extremely intense book, dealing with serious mental health issues, suicide, murder, atheism, courtship, and conversion all at the same time. The circumstances are so extreme and the conclusions so bland that I was initially tempted to write this book off as a superficial Christian novel that was far too scary to read before bed.

However, the more I consider it, I think this book does raise questions about family relationships and how family members can care for each other even in hard, confusing, or even wrong circumstances. The father is counseled not to tell his daughters anything; it will be better for them, they say. He takes that word too far though and refuses to have a relationship with them, leaving them alone often & only providing for them with material goods but neglecting to realize that they also may be grieving the loss of their mother as well & need him as emotional support.

For me, this book caused me to stop and think about how families can walk through difficult circumstances. The striking thing in all the characters is that they're doing what's best for the others; yet, in so doing, they neither address their own needs nor truly meet the needs of those they mean to help. Because of the lack of conversation and the fear of discussing the real issue at hand, everyone works hard and blindly to help. In this sense, Traci Peterson has captured the moment and the feeling of Christian families trying to cope with tragedy or difficult situations, particularly situations that "don't happen to real Christians." I would highly recommend this book to readers who want to go beyond simple Christian faith and consider the place of faith and family in trying circumstances. (Just, maybe, don't read it before bed!)

Note: I received a review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting close to finals!!!!

Life has been fairly crazy here & finals week is now looming on the horizon. As much stress as finals week is as a student, imagine being a student AND a teacher. So at the same time, I'm frantically trying to pull everything together for papers, students are knocking on my door complaining about their grades and asking me to explain to them the importance of some court case because it might be on the exam!!!!!!

You may not see me for the next two weeks, but then, I'm hoping to post more about my quilt and other miscellaneous adventures. If I get enough courage to bring a hymnal to class, I'll share that as well!!!