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Sunday, January 14, 2018

My review of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

About the book:

Philippa Gregory presents the first of a new series set amid the deadly feuds of England known as the Wars of the Roses.

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author. 

My review:

This book was easy to read and held my interest. I had a lot of interruptions so it took longer than usual to finish, but that was by no means due to story. The characters were solid and believable. After watching The White Queen on Starz (three times) I decided to buckle down and read the book. I loved story as much, if not more than, the others (Red Queen, White Princess, etc. that I've read previously.)

Philippa has a way with words that brings scenes to life. She writes with a dignity that is refreshing because she doesn't need to infiltrate the stories she writes with sex in order to truly entertain. The book followed the made-for-TV series closely. The mini-series was based on her novels about the Tudors and Plantagenets. I've been fascinated by the Cousins' wars (War of the Roses) for years. The brutality of power and the fear that infiltrated their minds and hearts made it a tough time to live in. All stories set in Medieval England fascinate me. I would highly recommend this book to historical fiction lovers- especially those who find the 1400 -1550s intriguing.

The White Queen was published by Touchstone Books and released in August 2009. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

The Courage of a Samurai by Lori Tsugawa Whaley

About the book:

The Courage of a Samurai is a Japanese American's journey into bushido, the samurai's code of ethics. Each chapter features a timeless message about Japanese and Japanese Americans who applied the principles of courage, integrity, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, and loyalty to overcome life's challenges, and emerge stronger individuals. The Courage of a Samurai provides the reader a look 'inside' this ancient code through the lives of inspiring individuals.

Why did Chiune Sugihara, aka the Japanese Schindler, save the lives of Polish and Lithuanian Jews during World War II against the orders of the Japanese and Lithuanian governments? Understand the meaning of Honor in Saigo Takamori's, aka The Last Samurai, determination to preserve the samurai's way of life. Learn why "Go for Broke!" was the motto of the famous World War II all-Nisei 100th/442nd RCT, and discover why this simple motto reflects the essence of the way of the warrior.

The Code of Bushido can guide us through the challenges we all face, and inspire us to live a life of honor, courage, and integrity in today's fast-paced and changing world. Sharpen your sword, and let the journey begin!

My review:

I enjoyed this book. I don't typically read much non-fiction (though it seems like I have been reading more these past few years.) I decided to read this book because it featured Japanese culture and values and I wanted to learn about those things. Many of the examples used came from WWII heroes. That was a dark time in American history when we put people in internment camps simply because of their national origin. America put people in prison (even if they were born as American citizens) based on their racial background "just in case" they were Imperial Japan sympathizers. I enjoyed reading about those heroic events, then I set the book aside and forgot where I placed it so a few months went by... and recently I found it and finished it.

I do find WWII era stories interesting when they are based on real events and real people. I read a book in the series for children called "I am America" and they shared historical information that children need to know. Until I read that book for my son's library at his school I didn't know anything about the internment camps. Then I found out some were still around and can be seen today (though no longer used) like the one in Arizona near Gila River.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the examples the author used. In some ways the way the book was written was simplistic enough to understand, yet deep enough to be meaningful. The takeaway value in this books is self-sacrifice for honor is a beautiful thing. I hope to remember that the next time I want to put myself first and am feeling self-centered. We all have our days since we are human, but there is a part of me that wants to embody the traits of the Samurai that are outlined in the book. 

The Courage of a Samurai: Seven Sword-Sharp Principles for Success was published by and released in October 2016. You can buy a copy HERE

Saturday, November 04, 2017

My review of The Delusion by Laura Gallier

About the book:

By March of Owen Edmonds's senior year, eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and chaos, Owen tries to remain levelheaded--until he endures his own near-death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

The people around him suddenly appear to be shackled and enslaved.

Owen frantically seeks a cure for what he thinks are crazed hallucinations, but his delusions become even more sinister. An army of hideous, towering beings, unseen by anyone but Owen, are preying on his girlfriend and classmates, provoking them to self-destruction.

Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: he's not imagining the evil--everyone else is blind to its reality. He must warn and rescue those he loves . . . but this proves to be no simple mission. Will he be able to convince anyone to believe him before it's too late?

Owen's heart-pounding journey through truth and delusion will force him to reconsider everything he believes. He both longs for and fears the answers to questions that are quickly becoming too dangerous to ignore.

My review:

I haven't read many spiritual warfare/ fantasy novels so I can't say how this is similar or different to other authors who write in that genre. I did find the plot interesting and the premise held my attention I especially liked the subtitle "we all have our demons." This captured the heart of the story. I am more of a fan of historical fiction, but the hero in this book was likeable enough to make me want to see how he'd turn his life around. His sudden ability to see the spiritual realm kept the story moving along.

The novel had a YA feel to it and the author had an interesting way of storytelling. The high school had darkness surrounding it that dated back to the occult group that lived in the area over a hundred years prior. Spiritual strongholds were a big part of this story. The illustration of bondage and chains weighing people down made me think about the trappings in my life.  I liked how the author showed that even people in churches have bondage sometimes, and yes, even people who have the light are susceptible to the enemy's schemes. Prayer was the one thing that called the good guys to action. The author also showed that there is always a larger story or plan beyond what we can see. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to us how things turn out, but that doesn't mean God is not aware of the situation. Good message. Good book. If you like novels about spiritual warfare then this book is for you.

The Delusion; We All Have Our Demons was published by Tyndale and released in Nov. 2017 Movie production has already begun on this novel (based on the media alert included with the advance review copy of the book.) Than you, Tyndale, for the opportunity to read this book in advance of publication.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

My review of Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

About the book:

Germany, 1505
In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.

Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows--a choice more practical than pious--but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther's friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.

My review:

Allison Pittman's writing is always engaging. When Tyndale House offered me a free ARC to review, I accepted because I've never read a book by Pittman that I didn't enjoy. I love how the author puts you inside the head of a young girl who was sent to the convent because her family couldn't afford to keep her. I related well to the young Katharina von Bora. 

I love how the author made me care about Katie's first experience with what she thought was "love." Her sense of abandonment when her prospective husband didn't follow through after initiating a  tender romance and many kisses devastates her... at first. Katie is not one to give up, and on good days she's typically very polite and controlled.

The expectation of her generation (1500s) was for her (the weaker sex) to marry. That way she would be under a husband's protection, which weighed heavily on her heart. Finding the right husband was no simple matter. Luther trying to set her up with eligible men didn't help.

I felt spiritually liberated along with Katie when she started reading the scriptures provided by Luther. Because they were written in her native tongue they were easily understood.  Faith elements were seamlessly woven into the novel and felt natural to the time period. I  loved reading about her new experiences that generated from her liberated life and the fresh perspective she found outside the convent walls.  

This story had believable conflict sprinkled throughout. It held my attention and I enjoyed it enough to finish it. The best part was their mutual attraction and the fact that they both liked each other but neither considered the other as a potential candidate. At least, not at first. Anyway, great story.

Loving Luther was published by Tyndale House and released this month (Sept 2017.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My review of Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle

About the book:

Lights, camera, love!

After being plucked from obscurity, Hollywood’s newest starlet, Paige Townsen, has a hit film to her name and Rainer Devon on her arm. But being half of the world’s most famous couple comes with a price. No matter where Paige goes, someone is always watching. Soon she finds herself dodging photographers; hiding her feelings for her other costar, Jordan Wilder; and navigating tabloid scandals that threaten to tear her and Rainer apart—and end her career as quickly as it began.

As she navigates her new L.A. life in this sequel to Famous in Love, Paige finds that she doesn’t know who to trust: Old friends could be betraying her secrets, and new friends are keeping secrets of their own.

My review:

I ordered this book because after watching season 1, I wanted to see how everything ended. I really didn't know what was going to happen. The main character matured a lot in the second book, but Paige lost some of her innocence that made her so loveable in the first book.

I have seen this happen in real life where people hang on to relationships because they don't want to hurt the person they are with, but not because they really love them. You only live once so allow yourself to love the person that makes your heart throb, not the one that makes you feel more safe than loved. That's what I got our of the story, anyway.

The main theme of this book is to be true to yourself and not do what others expect or want. That's living a falsehood and hurts everyone involved. You can care for more than one person at a time and even love them both, but in the end what matters is that you do what is right for you.

I have seen this happen in real life where people hang on to relationships because they don't want to hurt the person they are with, but not because they really love them. You only live once so allow yourself to love the person that makes your heart throb, not the one that makes you feel more safe than loved. That's what I got our of the story, anyway.

Truly, Madly, Famously was published by Poppy books and released in October 2015.
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