book review, christian, communication, entertainment, reading, theater

The Reading Life

I have successfully completed another month of reading one book a week. I’m pretty proud of this month because I did it even while I was studying my lines every day for the play that closed this month. Maybe….maybe I have successfully regained the love I used to have for this and found time for my new habit.

So, here is what I read this month.

Book #1 The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

This is book number two in a series called Sunrise of Normandy. I reviewed book One a few months ago. You can read that review here: https://fromthewings.org/2020/08/05/from-my-bookshelf/

It is possible to read this book without reading Book One first, but I’d recommend reading, The Sea Before Us first.

The series tells the story of three brothers who are estranged by an event. Each book highlights the story of a different brother. Reading book one will give you a better understanding of the pain of these brothers.

Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary like her great aunt, but for now she is in the American Red Cross Aeroclub in England. She wrestles with her inner demons because she believes God wants her to be working with children but that is only a small part of her job. She is recovering from a broken engagement and the men around her are crude and immoral. Except for the kindly Lt. Adler Paxton, whom she met on the boat ride over.

When Adler meets Violet, he is attracted to her but determines to avoid her. A tragic decision during a family outing led to the death of his fiancée, and in the hours immediately following that calamity Adler made some decisions that hurt a lot of people he loved. He refuses to believe that he is worth having any joy in his life as a result of his bad decisions.

We all know that God is bigger than all of our inner doubts and this is a sweet love story as God reaches out to both of them.

I enjoyed this book even more than I did the first one.

Sundin has a campy, quirky style of writing that is easy to read. I love the way she combines the plot points- such as the dangers the men faced on their missions, and the vital work of the Red Cross – by keeping the focus on how these things affect the characters. In this tale, there is also a mystery that is perfect for the storyline and is ideally utilized to show growth by Violet.

If you like Christian Historical Fiction then you will love this book! The plot tackles some big issues as the main character needs to learn how to forgive himself and others. Humility is one of those sins people don’t talk about very often and I love that this character has to deal with that as well.

Warning: There is a big plot reveal that deals with some sexual decisions in Adler’s past. When I first read the book I was able to dismiss the behaviors as plot developments. Now, thinking back, I’m a little disturbed that it was wrapped up in too nice of a package. It was confusing how violently Violet reacts to Adler’s past. I loved how she came to terms with his behavior, but I did it make sense for her to be so unforgiving at all? I think reacting in disappointment might have made more sense.

In spite of that, I really did enjoy the book. In fact, I liked it even more than I did the first one. The characters were fantastic and I loved that there were things about them that made them extraordinary. There are things to relate to in Violet if you grew up thinking that you needed to be a good “church” kid. There comes a time when you obey because God lives in your heart not just because you are doing as you are told. I love Violet’s journey to discovering for herself what God wants her to do.

I have all ready ordered the third book in the series! I can’t wait to read it!

As usual Sundin writes detailed historical descriptions.

Who should read this? Lovers of history, World War II, and love!

Favorite Quotes:

“Wars weren’t won with caution, and aces weren’t made in straight and level flight.”

Once again, God was winning the wrestling match, and Adler silently thanked him. For most of his life, he thought he’d deserved all of it. God had waited to give it to him until Adler knew he deserved none of it.”

Rating 4/5

Book #2 What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

From the back cover:


In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted with her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?”

I am a big fan of things that involve time travel. Amy’s dialogue and description pulled me in from the first paragraph. Although I didn’t know where the story was going I felt Annie’s love for her grandfather and Ireland from the start. I didn’t want to put the book down–almost feeling that if I did the magic would come to an end.

I, too, had a grandfather that I loved deeply so as we learn the details about Eoin’s (Anne’s grandfather) past and he begins to share stories with her I just wanted more. I LOVED their relationship. What a brilliantly written connection between them.

I learned so much about Ireland’s history. I was intrigued by how Anne was able to remember stories from history that her grandfather had taught her and it reminds me to listen to older people. They can give you the world in their words. I must admit, the historical detail was a tad too much for me and I had to really concentrate to get it to play out in my mind. But I enjoyed it immensely! I especially liked the details as Anne had to adjust to her life without the modern day clothes and ….other items.

And the love story? I didn’t want it to end. I was so afraid that it wasn’t possible for it to continue, but I desperately wanted it to. One word. EPIC.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes. Honestly, I could have pages of them. I love the way Amy writes. There is a certain romance in the way she uses words.

“We turn memories into stories, and if we don’t, we lose them. If the stories are gone, then the people are gone too.” 

“Time was the one thing I wanted and the one thing no one could give me.” 

“I’d heard once that our view of God has everything to do with those who taught us about Him. Our image of Him often reflected our image of them. Eoin taught me about God, and because I loved and cherished Eoin, I loved and cherished God.”

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep,” he repeated over the chuckling, “and nodding by the fire, take down this book, and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; how many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true, but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face.”

“I’d been wrong about one thing. These were not average men and women. Time had not given them a gloss they had not earned. Even those I wanted to loathe, based on my own research and conclusions, conducted themselves with fervor and honest conviction. These weren’t posing politicians. They were patriots whose blood and sacrifice deserved history’s pardon and Ireland’s compassion.”

“Don’t write a book about Ireland’s history, Annie. There are plenty of those. Write a love story.’
‘I still have to have context, Eoin,’ I argued, smiling.
‘Yes. You do. But don’t let the history detract you from the people who lived it.”

Poetic, lyrical, charming, heart-warming. Who is this book for? Lovers of historical fiction. Historical romance. Science fiction (time travel)

Warnings:

I was deep into this book before the first mention of sexual activities. There are several.

Rating 4.5/5


Book #3 All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr https://www.amazon.com/All-That-You-Leave-Behind/dp/0399179712

Do you remember the first time someone really close to you died? My dad’s mother died when I was in third grade, but we were in Germany so I wasn’t around to experience it. My Mom’s dad died when I was in Jr High and I remember it vividly. Why is it that when we first think about someone dying, all we think about are the good memories? There is the old saying, “Never speak ill of the dead.”

Isn’t it okay to still learn the good and the bad after someone is gone?

In her memoir, All That You Leave Behind, Erin Lee Carr graces us with all the wisdom imparted to her by her late father, renowned New York Times’ columnist David Carr. Told through a series of emails, Carr’s debut novel documents each dad-to-daughter pep talk that shaped her life and career.

When I started reading this book I believed it was going to be filled with these priceless letters of whit and wisdom. I was reminded that I as a human need to put my words in writing and write the people who mean something to me. That’s about as far as my love for this book goes.

Carr inherits more than career wisdom from her father. She also inherits his love for excessive drinking. Her memoir tells us the lessons that she learned from her father–both good and bad. Erin is indeed a disaster. Every time she gets a break she ruins it with her black-outs or being too drunk to behave respectfully. I respect her ability to look at herself in light of her father’s eyes. It’s a hard look because it is very ugly.

What I found more disappointing is that what could have been a touching reminder of a father’s love became an annoying perspective that became frightening. As a father do you have to do hard things sometimes? Absolutely. Do you have to deliver them with hate and coldness? No. If this book was supposed to make me like and respect David Carr it failed miserably. After reading this I think of him as a talented journalist who failed with his communications within his family.

On the cover it states: “This book shows that love does not end after death, nor should it.” That is the whole reason I read this book. Did it show me that? Hmmm. maybe. Blind love? The love that only a daughter can have for her father. Defanately.

This book was not at all what I expected. I wanted a book about a father’s love and relationship as he mentors his daughter and watches her grow. I got a book about Erin’s failures.

Things I liked:

That it was raw and honest. It didn’t hold back from really delivering punches.

I loved the list of things she learned from David that are in the back of the book.

I also loved her list of what she read while she was writing this.

Favorite quotes:

“Storytelling still attains…and that means characters and import, but also editing and writing.”

“I started to understand the spasm of grief. Once someone close to you dies, you feel loss more plainly, as it is a part of your everyday experience. It feels crushing as the wave hits you, but then you can see the tide begin to drift in and out again after the storm.

“Whenever I would send him a flare email, his response was always relentlessly positive and made me feel like I was part of a tribe, a team. That someone was taking care of me. I knew, then and now, that this was a rare relationship for a child to have with a parent.”

Warning! Language. Lots. Difficult subject matter included abuse of …well, almost everything.

Rating 2/5

Book #4 The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Synopsis:

Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear.

Claire Cook’s husband is ambitious, admired, and from a powerful and influential family with deep pockets. Behind closed doors, he has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career.

Claire is making plans to disappear.

But then she meets Eva James and her future is changed once again, but what has she gotten herself into now?

Julie Clark describes The Last Flight as a story about two women, both of whom have been victimized by men under different circumstances and in different settings. Now they both are seeking to run away. She knew her main character had to be a woman with “an inner strength, even if her current situation didn’t allow her to use it.”

I don’t think I have enjoyed any of my books as much as I did this one. I LOVED the characters. I rooted for both of them. Feared for both of them. Hated the circumstances and people who forced them to have to choose these paths.

If you had to make a hard decision like this, could you? Both of these women are strong and determined and afraid. As a reader, I was caught up with both of the stories and couldn’t wait to finish one chapter and start the next so that I could see what would unravel to reveal itself next.

To say I was captivated would be an understatement. I love books with an unusual plot that I don’t figure out and this one had me all the way.

It is interesting to note that Clark uses alternating narratives. Claire’s story is told in first person. Eva’s is told in third person. I loved that. For me, it added to the mystery.

The book is full of new plot developments and shocks. It will leave you with plenty of room for discussion!

Very easy to say! I LOVED IT! You will be thinking about this one long after you put it down.

Favorite Quotes:

“Eva could walk away with no regrets, knowing for certain the past held nothing of value for her. That sometimes, the death of a dream can finally set you free.”

“It’s a system that tells women we are unreliable, and then expendable. That our truths don’t matter when set side by side with a man’s.

“Are we who we say we are, or do we become the person others see?” 

“Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

“If we don’t tell our own stories, we’ll never take control of the narrative.”

“If you pay attention, solutions always appear. But you have to be brave enough to see them.”

Rating: 5/5

What are you reading? Did you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you think!

Until next time this is just me talking to you, From the wings!

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