If I Run

If I Run
By Terri Blackstock
Published: 2016, Zondervan
Genre: Christian Fiction, Mystery & Suspense

There’s blood on the bottom of my shoes. I rinse the soles, knowing the police will trace the impression of the rubber pattern and determine they’re Skechers. They’ll find the charge for the shoe store on my credit card, proving they’re mine.

It has been a while since I’ve read a good, clean mystery novel so I was excited when this was the book club pick for the month.

“Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talk to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested….or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.”

After her best friend is murdered, Casey makes a split decision to go on the run because she feels that it is her only option. Dylan Roberts, newly discharged veteran, is hired to find Casey and bring her back; and he seems to be the only one interested in finding out the truth about the Casey and the murder.

As we follow Casey on her journey eluding capture, we learn bits and pieces about why she chose to run and not stay; a story steeped in the past and wrapped up in Casey’s family.

I would not classify the writing within the book as literature, but it definitely was a well written mystery that kept me flipping the pages to find out what happens next.  And the book has an open ending and you will definitely want to read the next book in the series, If I’m Found, just as I did. Once you read the second book, you can pre-order the final one in the series, If I Live

I had hoped there would be a little more of a spiritual journey throughout the book then there was. There were bits and pieces of mention here and there, but I felt like it was just maybe barely enough to place it in the Christian category. Perhaps there will be a little more in the next book. (Which there was; there is definitely a spiritual journey developing throughout the series. I look forward to reading the final book once it is published to see how Casey’s walk finishes.)

Knowing that Jesus will not be disheartened or crushed, that he won’t feel the need to shout in the streets or rail against anything, that he will bring forth justice in the twinkle of an eye, encourages me. Things look grim, but God is still in control.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

The majority of the ladies in my book club enjoyed the book as well and a couple had even gone on to read the second book as well. There was also consensus that we had hoped for a little more of a spiritual aspect to the book, but that perhaps it is just the genre of the book or maybe it would develop as the series went on.

We all agreed that we may not be able to do some of the things that Casey did or to put ourselves in her place. Many of the things that she did throughout the book were quite courageous and knowledgeable.
There was also an interesting subplot within the book that some felt was added to just prolong the book and the series, while others felt that it helped to develop Casey’s character traits.

Overall, we agreed that it was a decently written book and we enjoyed reading something out of the “normal” Christian genre.

I recommend the book, as well as the series if you are looking for a good, clean murder mystery.

If I Run

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A.D. 30

A.D. 30: A Novel
By Ted Dekker
Published: 2015, Center Street
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Mystery & Suspense

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I had heard of kingdoms far beyond the oasis that give birth to life where none should be, kingdoms beyond the vast, barren sands of the Arabian deserts.
I had lived in one such kingdom beyond the great Red Sea, in a land called Egypt, where I was sold into slavery as a young child.

I really enjoyed this book. I know that some people do not like when the author puts words into Jesus’ mouth, but I like when they take creative license so that the reader can get a feel for what it was like in the days when God was in the flesh. It helps create imagery in my own mind about the personal experiences that the people had in those times.  I thought that it was done in a way just as any other historical fiction novel would be done and that is what I kept in mind as I read though the book.
I felt like Ted Dekker did a wonderful job of using the majority of scripture to keep true to history while adding just enough to help create the story line. Make sure to read through the beginning section “A Journey into A.D. 30” as well as the author’s note because it will help to explain some of the background of this novel and his thoughts on how he stayed true to scripture.

A.D. 30 takes us on a journey with Maviah, a woman who has been cast out, spent her life as a slave, and has felt abandoned, unwanted and unloved.; a woman who feels unworthy but now holds the fate of her city on her shoulders.
Along her journey, she meets Yeshua, a “mystic”, a teacher; a man whom she disbelieves in the beginning, but as she listens to his teachings and witnesses his miracles, he changes her life in ways she never thought possible.
Through Maviah, we see a wonderful story of ugliness become a beautiful journey of being saved in the love and freedom of Jesus.

The climax of the book is phenomenal. Make sure you have time to sit down and finish it once you get to the last 4 chapters of the book.

Faith. A child’s faith. When the storm came, to trust in Yeshua who was one with the Father, even as a young child might trust a perfectly loving father. This was what it meant to believe.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

There was agreement in the fact that we enjoyed the characters and the development of them. Some had the opinion that the romance within the novel was cheesy and others thought it was not too bad. Phasa was a fan favorite.
There was some discussion that the reader, as a woman, could certainly tell that the novel was written from a man’s perspective but trying to portray a woman’s perspective. Most of us agreed that it was still well written, but there were certain elements and events that we thought would not have been how it truly happened.

All of the ladies in the book club thoroughly enjoyed reading this and would recommend it as well. Many agreed that it was a well done work of historical fiction and that the author took great care in his writings of actions and conversations involving Jesus.

But I came to know him as my master, the one who saved me. Yeshua, who showed me the way into a far greater kingdom within and among and at hand, full of power and wonder.

I highly recommend this book. Ted Dekker is a fantastic author and this is a wonderful book on the historical aspects during Jesus’ time on Earth and the portrayal of what it means to become a follower of Christ.

A.D. 30: A Novel

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The Road to Paradise

The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel
By Karen Barnett
Published: 2017, WaterBrook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance

The Road to Paradise was the book that won the most votes for my monthly book club; and it did even come down to a tie breaker. It was not my vote and I was not very interested in reading it, but I am glad to be a part of a book club that helps introduce me to books I probably would have never read otherwise.

The promised view of the mountain peak waited, cloaked in mist like a tissue-wrapped gift not ready to be unveiled. Margie Lane drew a small, leather-bound journal from her pocket and braced it against her knee to jot down the words flooding her mind. The lush treetops to the valley below inspired her.

The Road to Paradise is not in a genre I usually particularly care for but it did have a lot of positive elements within its pages. It was a wonderful light book to read after some of the more deeper novels I have read lately.

The writing in the novel was beautiful. The descriptions the author created of the scenery and outdoor environments surrounding Mt. Rainier were breathtaking and gave you a feeling of being right there in the shadow of the mountain. Karen Barnett  weaves her obvious love of God’s nature throughout the story, giving a rich depth to her novel.

The romance aspects in the book were somewhat predictable and cheesy, as most romance novels are (which is why I don’t usually particularly chose this genre).
I did enjoy watching the unfolding of one of the main characters and their faith journey.

It was quite refreshing that the lead character, Margie, had such a deep love for God and that she was not willing to waver on that, even for the love of a man. I relished that the antagonist received consequences for his behaviors in the story rather than just having it brushed aside.

The ending was a wee bit foretold, however it was pleasant to see that the story turned out how it should have.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

Many of the ladies in my book club agreed that the book was beautifully written and that it was refreshing to read a book with a minimal story line. It delightful to read a book that had descriptions about places that the majority of us had visited at some point in our lives. Yes, some of the romance was cheesy and some of the story was a little bit predictable, but we enjoyed reading a book that wasn’t deep and did not require a whole lot of brain function. 🙂

The majority consensus was that the book was a decent read that most of us enjoyed.

The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel

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Child of the River

Child of the River
By Irma Joubert


Child of the River was the book club read chosen for this month. It is described as “A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.”

If, like me, you do not know what apartheid means, here is the definition for you.

apartheid
racial segregation; specifically :a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa

I have to admit, I had a hard time with this book. There is quite a bit of political pieces throughout the book that did not interest me. I usually enjoy historical fiction a great deal, but a lot of the political parts of the story line were difficult for me to follow; perhaps because it is of a time and culture that I do not know a lot about?
I am not sure if it was the language from the translation or if it was just not a topic that I found particularly interesting.

I enjoyed the story of Persomi and following her throughout her life. Child of the River is a story of how an individual can overcome the life they have been born into and choose to follow a different path in order to find something better for themselves. Persomi shows us that your path in life can be a choice you make rather then just letting life happen to you.

I did struggle with understanding how this book fit into the Christian fiction category. The author touched on tiny bits and pieces of the Word and God, but there was certainly not an overall Christian theme within the book.
I continually expected to read how God was going to work in Persomi’s life (a theme that is typically found within Christian Fiction) and unfortunately I felt that was never portrayed well within the story.

Overall, it was a good book, but it is not one that I would have chosen to read on my own.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

The discussion during book club was quite good. Many ladies brought up a lot of points that I had not thought about on my own. There were also quite a few questions that we had as a group for the author that seem to go unanswered that may have helped me connect to the story just a little bit more than I did. I wish I could share those thoughts and questions with you, but I feel it would take away from your own personal reading of the story.

After the discussion, I did like the book a little more and I think seeing it in a different perspective gave the book new merit for me. It is definitely a book worth reading.

Child of the River

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the strange and beautiful sorrows of ava lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
By Leslye Walton

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This book was so fantastic and so phenomenal that I had to read it twice.
Ava Lavender was the book club pick for this month. The first time I read it, I had it done in just 2 days.
I thought I should read it a second time before our monthly meeting to make sure I did not miss anything since I devoured it the first time. I took a little bit longer to read it the second round so I could grasp more of the details; 4 days.

To many, I was a myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth–deep down, I always did.
I was just a girl.

Myth incarnate……but just a girl.

The book follows 3 generations of women through life; we walk with each of them through their journey with love, loss, tragedy, understanding and redemption. It is unique, however, in the fact that the story is told from the narrative of Ava Lavender, the 3rd generation in this line of women.

I loved the background story the author gives us so we can understand what makes Ava who she is and how the women before her fit into her story. Emmilienne seeks to forgive, Viviane seeks love and Ava seeks normalcy and acceptance.

Lesyle Walton, in her debut novel, weaves just enough realism within the story that there are moments that you have to check in with your mind to remember that it is magical realism and pure fantasy. She makes it easy to get so wrapped up inside the pages and the characters that you tune out the world around you and forget that it is just the result of a brilliant imagination and extraordinary writing.

The writing, the words, the language, the flow of the story of Ava Lavender is quite captivating. It is poetic, it is whimsical and it is exceptionally enchanting to read.

Just a girl……normal…..accepted…….is that not what we all want, wings or not?

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There is some adult content. While it is a YA book, I recommend this for older teens and for you to pre-read it to gauge what fits into your family’s level of acceptable literature.

This next section is where I usually add to my review after my book club meets and include some thoughts and opinions of the other ladies, but I do not want to ruin the magic of this book for you by giving away spoilers. 

The majority of the ladies enjoyed the book, although magical realism is quite different from what we typically read.

I highly recommend this book and it is definitely one I could see myself reading multiple more times.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

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Thursday Thoughts

I am kind of at a stagnant standstill for reviews right now.

I recently read my book club in just 2 days, but I don’t like to post the review until after my book club meets and I might read it a second time.
Have you joined a book club? What are you reading this month?
14 Reasons Why Everyone Should Join a Book Club
I am working on the second book in a trilogy so I don’t want to post a review until I have read all three books.
I am reading a couple of personal development books, one of which is for a book I’m helping to launch. Those kinds of books tend to take a little longer to read than the average book since they are helping you work on you.
I am reading some books to help some of the health problems I’ve been having.
I just picked up a new book at the library to read through and hopefully do a review for you guys.
And of course, I am reading 3 different books with my 3 kids.

th

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You an always follow me on Facebook or Instagram; I post there a bit more in between book reviews.
You can also find me on Goodreads to see what books I am currently reading or how far I am in a particular book.

If you have been following me in any of those places, you know that I have been helping launch the book Not Quite SuperMoms of the Bible: 14 Reflections on Less-Than-Perfect Moms.

Guess what?!

The book is now available for purchase! I was given an advance sample copy and I cannot say enough good things about it. I have purchased it myself and will most likely do a review on the blog when I get a chance. If you cannot wait to see my thoughts, you can purchase it for yourself, check it out HERE.

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What books are you currently working on?

Rooms

 Rooms: A Novel
By James L. Rubart

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Rooms was the pick for my monthly book club. I will give my own review and then after my book club meets, I will expand on the discussion and others’ thoughts on this novel.

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It took a little while for me to be able to get into this one as it delves into the supernatural world in a way that has never been explored. As I continued to read through it, I began to realize how much meaning and depth was buried within its pages.

James Rubart does a fantastic job of creating a tangible, understandable way into how God and the Holy Spirit work within our hearts and lives. As we follow Micah through his journey to a closer relationship with God, it helps you to think about your own relationship with Him and to evaluate what you can do differently.

I have always thought of a life as a believer is similar to a choose your own adventure book. God has all of these different plans laid out for you, different paths but each is still His will for your life. God gives us as humans free will; He wants us to have the the ability to make our own choices because He did not intend for us to be mindless robots. He wants us to choose Him, not just be a blind follower.
Because of that free will and the freedom to make our own decisions, I think (just my own opinion here) that God has various paths laid out for us based upon which decisions and life path that we make. Just like the choose your own adventure books we read as children.

Rooms, Micah’s story, follows along with my theory, which you will see as you read through the book.

“Walk with God. Listen to the Holy Spirit. You know His voice. You’ll come to know it better as you practice listening. And listen to your heart. It knows the truth, for as you know, that is where the temple is and where the King dwells.”

Sometimes, when you have had your own dry season, it is refreshing to read about someone else’s journey and watch their path to God unfold. It changes your perspective in the desert when you watch another human just beginning their walk with God or finding their way back to Him. I loved reading Micah’s story and seeing how God worked in his life and his heart. It reminded me that the most important thing is my relationship with Him; not all of the other clutter that sometimes can get in the way.

Freedom, Micah, the Lord is always about freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. If what you do brings freedom and life, it is most likely Christianity. If it doesn’t, it is possibly religion, and there is already too much of that in the world.

Do not get stuck in the clutter and the “religion” but make sure you are finding your relationship and your freedom with the Lord.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

I think that this is one of the few books we have read in our 10 months of book club that everyone liked and had good things to say.
We all agreed that Rooms has a tremendous amount of depth and a lot to offer. Rubart was able to give us a concrete example of how we all wrestle with our subconscious and Satan and how we can rely on the Bible and our tribe to find and remind us where the truth really lies. Eventually, we all need to face our past and the people who have hurt us, so we can find healing and move forward with freedom in Christ.

The following is from the Author’s Note:

I long to step into the freedom that Micah discovers, to live more completely in the divine design and destiny God has created for me, to be victorious over the voices that hold me back from living the full life God intended me to live.
I loved writing Rooms because it’s my story. It’s your story. It’s the story of anyone who wants to step into greater freedom, step into the glory of how God uniquely mad him or her, step into the destiny planned for them from before time began.
He is the Great Healer of wounds. He is the Great Restorer of freedom.

Everyone needs to read this book. I highly recommend it.

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In fact, because I think everyone should read it, I am going to give away my copy to one of my lucky readers.

Click here to enter!

Follow the instructions at Rafflecopter to be entered into the giveaway. Giveaway ends 7/29/17 at 12:00AM. Winner will be announced on 7/30/17.
Good luck to everyone!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED! 
WINNER CHOSEN!

 Rooms: A Novel

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A Cup of Dust

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl
By Susie Finkbeiner

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I am part of a Christian Ladies book club. We get together once a month to discuss the book we had voted on at the previous meeting the month before. This month’s book selection was A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner.

The book takes place in the 1930’s, during the depression era in the state of Oklahoma. Before reading A Cup of Dust, I had no previous knowledge of The Dust Bowl. It is not something I recall ever reading about in my history books, which to me is sad because of the huge impact it had on the mid-western states in the 1930’s.

The Dust Bowl was the name given to the Great Plains region devastated by drought in 1930s depression-ridden America. The 150,000-square-mile area, encompassing the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and neighboring sections of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, has little rainfall, light soil, and high winds, a potentially destructive combination. When drought struck from 1934 to 1937, the soil lacked the stronger root system of grass as an anchor, so the winds easily picked up the loose topsoil and swirled it into dense dust clouds, called “black blizzards.” Recurrent dust storms wreaked havoc, choking cattle and pasture lands and driving 60 percent of the population from the region. Most of these “exodusters” went to agricultural areas first and then to cities, especially in the Far West.

*source here*

A Cup of Dust was able to shed light on a major historical event that does not get discussed a lot as being a part of The Great Depression era. Learning about The Dust Bowl and how it affected cities, homes, families and people was quite interesting, from a historical perspective.

Overall, I thought the book was average. Besides the history within the book, I felt like there was not a lot of other meat to the book that pulled me in.

I thought there was a lot of stretching within the book in order to have enough words included to constitute a novel. The plot took quite a long time to develop and once it did finally unravel, it was quite predictable.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for light historical fiction around The Great Depression Era.

“Last, and only on clear days, I could see straight out to the sharecroppers’ cabins. The folks that lived in those little shacks had to pay the rent with the crop they harvested. Seeing as nobody had a crop to speak of for years, most of them had been forced out by the banks.  A few had managed to hold on, though nobody could figure out how.”

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This section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

There were a couple of reader discussion questions we talked about that did give me an enlightening perspective on the book. We had some great dialogue about the racism towards African Americans and Native Americans. We had a great conversation about sin and how churches of the past used the sin of the community to explain away and condemn things like the Dust Bowl; about how the pastor of a community can set the tone for the church.

We also had some great conversation about what it means to love when you come from a family upbringing where that seems to be lacking; how do you overcome your own past?

Where you come from isn’t who you are.

Many of the ladies in my book club enjoyed this book and found it quite an emotional read. Another factor we discussed is that most of the other ladies read the book in 2-3 days while I read the book in 2-3 weeks in small chunks; perhaps I was not able to fully immerse myself into the emotional aspects of the book.
After discussion, I did see that there was some merit to this book and it is definitely worth giving it a chance. It is not a book that I would read again nor will I read the second book in the series, A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression, however it is a good read for anyone looking for a historical fiction book to read.

 

 A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl

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