Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Review: The Bridesmaid

Beverly Lewis and Amish Fiction are really synonymous with one another.  Time and time again Lewis captures imaginations and hearts through telling the tales of the Amish people- their pleasures, struggles, beliefs, and seemingly constant toil between who they are as Amish and who they are as God's child.

I had the opportunity to read her newest novel from the Hickory Hollow series entitled The Bridesmaid through Bethany House book reviewer program (in exchange for the book I am asked to give my unbiased review of the work).

I am usually a devout and loving fan of Lewis' work, but I was quite disappointed with this novel.  The main story line is that of Joanna and her dreams of being wed, despite her 'old' age and being 3 times a bridesmaid.  Reaching what seems to be the end of her courting years with now prospects in sights, a happen chance meeting on the shoreline with a boy from another state re energizes her desire for love, marriage, and an Amish family.  Eben and Joanna begin a long distance courtship through letters and weekly phone calls, but many bumps hinder their plans.  This is where I lost love with the novel.  There were too many subplot story lines that never seemed to 1) be explained as to why they were problems in the first place (like the troubled relationship between Joanna and her younger sister) or 2) that were brought up but never really dealt with again.  I felt like the entire book was a constant cycle of Joanna receiving a letter, fighting with her sister, lamenting to a wiser woman in her town, and then writing back to Eben.  Chapter after chapter never really seemed to go anywhere.  There were also many subplots that just hindered the telling of the story and detracted more than added value (The quilt storyline was neat and would have loved to hear more about it, but it ended up just being a distraction in my point of view).

The nature of the Hickory Hollow series is that they are supposed to be stand alone novels.  Therefore, many of the storylines I felt were not wrapped up well (like Joanna's love for writing and whether it became an issue).

Overall, I love Lewis as an author and is the go to source for great Amish fiction, but I would point those seeking that genre to another one of her great series.

Here is a link to the book's trailer.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Book Review: 12 Unlikely Heroes

I was really excited about the concept of John MacArthur's book Twelve Unlikely Heroes.  I have been on a journey of faith in recent months that has been exciting- and feel God is using me (despite feeling under-qualified and not the best choice for His task) do do something great.  I thought it would be a great read of encouragement to see how God uses the unlikely to do the unexpected.

While there were highlights of the book and I enjoyed getting to know some of the unknown faces of scripture a little better, I came away feeling underwhelmed and disappointed   In many ways I felt MacArthur took too many liberties with analyzing a person's personality profile.  One example was how MacArthur portrayed Gideon as a man completely void of confidence, a weak person who in today's terms I would say would be someone you could just 'walk all over'.  While I'm not saying I know better than this great scholar, I don't think that it was necessarily that Gideon was that weak, but more that he felt unworthy and and under prepared to do the task God had laid before him.  I see Gideon not as a man who was unwilling to step up, but more unsure that He could fulfill the greatness God had laid out.  I feel in this instance there was an overreach of assumptions in order to make a point.

I felt as though the writing was lacking luster and life.  It was a rather boring read and lacked the vigor and excitement that these stories I feel naturally bring to the table.

I enjoyed reading about James, Jesus' brother and the amount of historical information provided as insight into his story.

Overall, I felt the book had great potential, but lacks what I was hoping to get out of it.  It does show how God chooses to use anyone to fulfill his will here on earth and to never underestimate what God may have for you.

I received this book as a reviewer on in return for my honest point of of view.