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Jane Eyre–a classic
by Charlotte Brontë
with a Guide to Reading and Reflecting
by Karen Swallow Prior
Occasionally I will read a sentence plugging a newly released book that describes it as a “classic.” For me, a book has to not only be of high quality or a good example of a type of literature, but most importantly has to have stood the test of time to be considered a classic. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is one of these books. Karen Swallow Prior, a professor of English literature, is editing a series of classical books and has chosen Jane Eyre as one of her subjects. In her introduction, she discusses the author and provides background of the work and its publication. She also addresses the themes found in the book and how to read Jane Eyre through a current Christian perspective. Prior includes footnotes on archaic or unfamiliar terms and references to other works both secular and religious at the bottom of the pages where they occur. The novel is divided into three volumes; each is followed by insightful discussion questions. Also there are questions for reflection at the end which are appropriate for addressing overarching themes and issues.
Jane Eyre is a long and complex book; straight summarizing would not do it justice and would certainly contain spoilers. The volumes progress chronologically through Jane’s life, and she is the narrator. She includes the struggles she as endured that have formed her into an intellectual woman of strong moral character. She frequently quotes people as referring to her as “plain” in her physical attributes.
The novel includes social themes regarding the treatment of the poor and of women. Neither of these groups had great expectations of rising above their current status. At its heart, Jane Eyre is a romance, but it has aspects of mystery, adventure, and theology. Brontë’s treatment and development of the various characters are excellent, and there is liberal use of foreshadowing and symbolism. This is truly a classic that can be read for pure enjoyment or studied as a work of art.
Category: Fiction, Christian, Classic, Romance
Notes: Manuscript used by editor was published in 1848
Publication: 2021—B & H Publishing
I regained my couch, but never thought of sleep. Till morning dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea, where billows of trouble rolled under surges of joy. I thought sometimes I saw beyond its wild waters a shore, sweet as the hills of Beulah; and now and then a freshening gale, wakened by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne: but I could not reach it, even in fancy—a counteracting breeze blew off land, and continually drove me back. Sense would resist delirium; judgment would warn passion. Too feverish to rest, I rose as soon as day dawned.
This was very pleasant; there is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.
Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?
A Bookshop Christmas–recovering from grief
A Bookshop Christmas
by Rachel Burton
Although Christmas is an important part of the setting for A Bookshop Christmas, the story focuses on Megan, a young widow. When she loses her husband Joe to cancer, she retreats back to the bookshop where she grew up. She’s been hanging on emotionally for over three years with support from her mom and two friends, but the bookshop is floundering and her heart is just not in it. Is it time to reenter the world of publishing, to leave behind the security of York and her bookshop?
Xander, a swoon-worthy author, as emotionally damaged as Megan, is scheduled to introduce his newest book at her bookshop. He is rude and arrogant, but maybe those characteristics are just a coverup for his pain and shyness.
One of my favorite characters is Philomena Bloom, Xander’s agent. She is bigger than life and seems to have connections with everyone in the publishing world. My other favorite character is Gus, a dachshund, whose sweetness is woven all through the book.
Megan and Xander have deep, painful secrets that make it difficult for them to open up to others. All is not sweetness and light in this romance. Although you will want a happily ever after for these two, the road is rocky and there is sadness and misunderstanding as they struggle to get over the past and find a hopeful future.
I enjoyed A Bookshop Christmas for the way the characters support each other. They make mistakes but learn to recognize and admit their mistakes and apologize for them. There is humor sprinkled in the book that helps lighten the tough times Megan and Xander go through. It is a thought provoking book and I recommend it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Category: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Publication: September 2, 2021—Aria
“Reading is completely subjective and most readers read all kinds of different books. Being a snob about genre is like pretending that reading on e-readers or listening to audiobooks is somehow not proper reading. It’s ridiculous.”
Philomena Bloom burst into the bookshop at exactly three o’clock the next afternoon, leaving a wave of expensive perfume in her wake. The handful of customers browsing the shelves all looked up at the same time like meerkats.
The five stages of grief aren’t linear either—they all seem to exist together in one fiery hell ball of emotion that feels as though it will last forever. People will tell you that time heals but, in my experience, time just takes away the intensity.
This Time Around–second chance romances
This Time Around
by Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson, and Kathleen Fuller
This Time Around is a collation of three second chance romances by three popular romance authors. I am posting my notes on each one. If you are interested in novella length romances to mix up your reading from some other genre, this would be the perfect book for you.
Denise Hunter has written a sweet second chance romance entitled A Summer Detour. Allie is free spirited and in her late twenties. She is painfully aware that her parents view her as irresponsible. Sadly, her boyfriend Luke ditched her right before the senior prom in her high school days, and the two have not connected since. When Allie makes a commitment to drive her grandparents’ 50th anniversary gift, a refurbished classic car to their party, she encounters a major hurdle and doesn’t know anyone to call on except Luke. It looks like a reconciliation could be in their future when a totally unpredicted hurdle throws everything off course. This is a short, enjoyable read with all the loose ends tied up nicely.
Told in the third person, Pining for You by Melissa Ferguson varies its focus from chapter to chapter between the two main characters, childhood friends Theo and Skye. When Theo went off to college, it was hard to maintain their blossoming romance. Fourteen years and a few misunderstandings later, can the successful financial advisor and established artist find their way back to each other?
In Kathleen Fuller’s He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not, Sophie Morgan at age 35 finally has her floral business well established and is ready to start dating. There are only two bachelors in Maple Falls. What are the chances they would both show up on her doorstep on the same afternoon inviting her on a date? Landon is a good looking lawyer, but seems a little slick. She has known Joe since Kindergarten, but has never really noticed those football coach biceps. Is it too late for Sophie to find love?
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Notes: Includes discussion questions
Publication: July 13, 2021—Thomas Nelson
Who would choose to cocoon themselves into sleeping bags like saucy enchiladas for every Lyme-disease bearing tick, leg-amputating brown recluse, rattlesnake, mountain lion, bear, or serial killing maniac to discover? Someone needed to write that condition in the book of psychological disorders.
“I once left you unattended in Dad’s toolshed and came back to find you’d reorganized the whole thing alphabetically.” “So? I like organization. Everybody like organization.” “Yeah, well, we were six,” Skye replied.
The man deathly afraid of snakes had stepped into striking distance to save her. Was willing to put himself in front of his greatest fear in order to help her escape. It was touching. Absolutely crazy and ridiculous and paranoid, but also…touching.
Mission Possible–living a life that counts
by Tim Tebow
with A. J. Gregory
Have you ever thought about the purpose of your life? Tim Tebow, athlete, speaker, and TV sports analyst, shares his ideas on the subject in his latest book Mission Possible. He says that our “big-picture purpose is to bring glory to God wherever you are” and that “Living a mission-possible life means executing the good works that God has already prepared for you to do.”
Tebow lays out in plain language and through Scriptures and anecdotes how each one of us can live out a mission possible life, a life of significance. As head of the Tim Tebow Foundation, Tebow tries to transparently live out his beliefs as he spearheads projects to honor the disabled where they are each crowned king or queen of the prom at Night to Shine events all over the world. He does this to show them how much God loves them and how special they are in God’s eyes. His foundation is also involved in orphanages and health care clinics as well as fighting sexual trafficking. While we can’t all do the things he does or have the influence he has, Tebow says that we can all live out our purpose and make a difference in the lives of others.
In this powerful and inspirational book, Tebow addresses some of the hard problems we face as we try to discover our purpose and make our lives count. Sometimes we encounter obstacles that could keep us from completing our mission, but God can do the impossible if we are willing to be used by Him. God can use us wherever we are, even if we think what we are doing is insignificant. As Tebow notes about Jesus: “He lived fully with purpose in every moment.” That is hard to do but Jesus is the ultimate example for living a life full of purpose.
Our mission possible life will aim for excellence with integrity and gratitude. Tebow also encourages you to pursue your mission with passion. He shares how to find your edge and use it well. He gives guidance for dealing with uncertainties, imperfections, and even failure. He encourages you to take that first step, however small it may be: you don’t have to map out the whole journey before you begin in faith.
There is so much Godly, practical wisdom in Mission Possible. The style is easy to read and well organized, the content is important, and the message is clear. The book concludes with a prayer for those who don’t yet have a personal relationship with Jesus and want to pray to accept Him into their lives. There is another prayer for those ready to make their lives count. This book will make an impact on your life. Read it. Share it. Act on it. You will be glad you did.
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to WaterBrook for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Christian, Nonfiction
Notes: Tebow has created 3 companion products that support this book as well as a children’s picture book on the same topic.
Publication: March 8, 2022—WaterBrook
See, my mission was never to put on Night to Shine. Now, I love it and it’s absolutely my favorite night of the year, but my mission was, and continues to be, loving and celebrating and caring for those whom God loves and celebrates and cares for.
God has given us His best, His Son, and has proved that He can be trusted. I may not understand why certain roads have started or ended but I can count on His faithfulness.
We may not be blessed with Tom Cruise’s stunt skills. I can’t sing, and maybe you can’t play football. But there’s one thing we can all do: because of the work Jesus did for us on the cross and through the Resurrection, we can each make our lives count.
Remembrance Day #LestWeForget
This also reminds us of the sacrifices of the parents who lost their children. Thanks for sharing it. I’m reblogging it as a reminder to all. This is not just another day off from work. It is a day to honor those who fought for country and freedom.
Today is the day. In Canada we call it Remembrance Day, Veterans Day in the US and some countries call it Armistice Day, but regardless of the name, it is the day we remember those who paid the price for our freedom. Whether they returned home or not, they were forever scarred. Thank you to all the Veterans, we will Remember You.
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Two Weeks–abort, adopt, or keep?
by Karen Kingsbury
Elise is a budding artist, and Cole has a promising future as a doctor when they meet and their lives become intertwined during their last semester of high school. In Karen Kingsbury’s Two Weeks, these young people have to deal with their own pasts with single moms, their love for each other, and their relationship with God. An unplanned pregnancy, the loss of a child, and trust in God take center stage as Elise and Cole wrestle with major decisions that have wide ranging consequences.
Two Weeks is a romance but it also deals with the emotional and personal impacts of abortion outside of any political concerns. It also addresses the agony of miscarriages and infertility while holding up adoption as a difficult and complicated but positive possibility. This work of Christian fiction shines a light on a subject that is painful for many. It also examines parenthood from several viewpoints. Both topics may be sensitive for some readers, but I do recommend this work written by a prolific Christian author whose books have been made into movies.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Howard Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Romance, Christian
Notes: 1. This book is the latest in an extensive series of books about the Baxter family. I read it as a standalone and had no problem following the plot.
2. There is a discussion guide at the end.
Publication: April 2, 2019—Howard Books
Ashley would do the most powerful thing she could. The best gift a mother could give her child. Grown or not. Now and forevermore like her life depended on it. She would pray.
Their lives were a trail of broken moments and closed doors when it came to having a baby.
“I never think of them as dead.” Her eyes grew softer. “They’re alive. They just have a new address in heaven.”
My Real Name is Hanna–extremes of human behavior
My Real Name is Hanna
by Tara Lynn Masih
My Real Name is Hanna is the story of a Jewish girl and her family who live under horrible circumstances in Ukraine to escape death at the hand of the Nazis and others. This book by Tara Lynn Masih has much potential. Many parts of the survival tale are drawn from the story of a real family that had to live underground. The first part of the book bounces around a little and then settles down into a sequential tale. Although it is a sad story, I didn’t really find myself emotionally involved with any of the characters. Parts of the narrative got my attention, such as when family members were in danger. I wanted to see them survive, but mainly I wanted the book to be over.
The author uses words from other languages freely. I like the authenticity of that but I would have appreciated a glossary, and I think young people would find that helpful as well. The area the family lives in has been occupied by many countries so there are competing cultures and languages—Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and German.
I actually found the “Historical Notes” at the end of the book more interesting than the book itself. Unfortunately, the author includes her own political stance on current events in these historical notes. If she wants to put forth these ideas in her book, I would suggest she do it in an editorial type section separate from a discussion of the historical basis of the book. Like the author, I hope the day will come when we don’t need reminders of the Holocaust as cautionary tales against cruelty. I don’t think, however, that it is appropriate to use her historical notes as a platform for indoctrinating young people into her political views. The story should stand on its own merits, and young people are capable of reading the book and making their own moral conclusions.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Mandel Vilar Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Historical Fiction, Teens
Notes: Interest Level—Ages 12 and up
Grade Level 10-12
Publication: September 25, 2018—Mandel Vilar Press
I see in my mind again those posters in the window, the big red letters, the lice, the blaming of Jews for the war. Someday, someone will betray us. For money, for food, for their own lives spared.
I can now hear what sounds like heavy boots approaching the house from down the lane, grinding the dirt and gravel with their murderous purpose.
When you’re hidden away, with no freedom, you crave news of the outside world as much as you crave food.