There ain’t no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it.Gloria Dump, Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.
Last month I got the luxury of reading at least seven books. Two trilogies and a children’s book. They were all good, but I have to give the praise this month to my favorite book series of all time: The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.
A Voice in the Wind is the first novel. The story is set in the Roman empire about a generation after Jesus has died. Hadassah, one of the main characters, is the daughter of a man who was brought back to life by Jesus when he was a boy. Due to the violence in Jerusalem, Hadassah is the sole survivor of her family and is taken into captivity to be a slave. She eventually is sold to the Valerians, a wealthy family in Rome who know only that she is a Jew, not one of the despicable Christians who are persecuted in Rome.
Rivers wanted to write about a character who had to overcome fear, but I can’t fault the young girl who serves and loves her masters selflessly and really embodies her faith even when she doesn’t speak of it. I constantly admire Hadassah’s actions throughout the novels. Her faith is contrasted to the son and daughter of the family, both young adults looking to get everything they can out of life through success, food, drink, physical pleasures and, of course, the games. Marcus, the son, is beginning to learn that all of these things lose their charm, but Julia, the daughter, is coming of age and determined to experience everything life has to offer. A growing attraction between Marcus and Hadassah makes the plot even more intriguing.
The first installment in the trilogy switches back and forth between two story lines that eventually intercept. The second plot follows Atretes, the great Chatti warrior of Germania who was taken captive in battle and forced to become a gladiator. Atretes believes in the power of his tribe’s god, Tiwaz, and is fueled by his hatred of Rome to win his freedom and exact revenge on the evil empire. Atretes is indeed successful as a gladiator and becomes somewhat of an idol, himself, to the Roman mob.
My only criticism of this series is the interruptions when switching between story lines in this first book. They are both compelling, but it’s frustrating at times to be cut off at a climactic moment to be brought back to another character. It takes a few minutes to switch gears. But I suppose that’s one strategy to keep you reading on!
Book two, An Echo in the Darkness, follows the Valerians, and book three, As Sure As The Dawn, follows Atretes’ journey to return home. There is no doubt you will immediately pick up the second book immediately after you finish the final sentence of the first book. (So keep it close by when you’re getting to that point.) However, it would be easy to stop once you’ve finished the second book, content with the way those characters _____. But don’t forget about Atretes! The third book is just as good as the first two, even if Atretes’ story was slightly less compelling in the first book. Rizpah is introduced in As Sure As The Dawn, and while I admire Hadassah for her selfless servant’s heart, I relate to Rizpah’s short temper and runaway mouth. The interactions between her and Atretes are worth picking up that last volume.
This series has been my favorite for several years, and so far nothing has been able to knock it down, not Redeeming Love, not even the Harry Potter series. I love the time period and the way Rivers lets the characters develop and bloom over time. It’s definitely worth investing the time to read all three of these page-turning novels.
I believe Christianity is at its core a gospel of life. I believe great breakthrough and healing are available. I believe we can prevent the thief from ransacking our lives if we will do as our Shepherd says. And when we can’t seem to find the healing or the breakthrough, when the thief does manage to pillage, I believe ours is a gospel of resurrection. Whatever loss may come, that is not the end of the story. Jesus came that we might have life.John Eldredge, Walking with God
I know, I’m behind. But let’s not dwell on that.
Last month I finally read a book that I had almost read several times the past few years. Gayle Roper’s Fatal Deduction caught my eye on the bookstore shelf each time I visited with its title written out in crossword fashion. But I was never sure if I wanted to spend the money for it. Thanks to the local library book sale, however, I found it at a deal and finished reading it within a few days.
Two twin sisters must reunite under the same roof again in order to fulfill their aunt’s will and receive their inheritance. It quickly turns into a murder mystery when the do-good sister, Libby, stumbles upon a dead body on the front porch one morning. A note with her sister’s name written on it is in his hand; inside is a crossword puzzle.
(Side note: I love books that are unique in either content or style. This book fits the bill with actual crossword puzzles printed throughout the book, so you actually get to help find the clues, if you choose to fill in the blanks. The puzzles were probably my favorite part of this book when I could pull myself away from the story long enough to complete them.)
As Libby tries to figure out who is behind the crossword puzzle threats, readers are taken into the strained relationship between Libby and her sister, as well as a blossoming friendship between Libby, her daughter, and a father-daughter pair who is staying down the street. Several other neighbors turn out to be quite the characters themselves and enhance the story, making you want to read more.
Fatal Deduction keeps you guessing all the way up to the end and is definitely worth getting if you’re looking for a fast read.
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.Oscar Wilde
I realize February is long gone. But I stepped away from the blogging world for a month, so I’m playing a little catch-up.
Because of that, I don’t remember much of exactly what I read during February. But I do remember one book.
For my part I keep myself retired with Him in the depth of centre of my soul as much as I can; and while I am so with Him I fear nothing.The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
I’ve read several books already in 2013, some new, some old. Pretty much all my reading happened in January, so this is going to be my recommended book from January, even though it’s a week into February.
Undaunted by Christine Caine
This is a wonderful nonfiction book that will give you a kick in the butt. But the good kind. The kind that makes you live your life differently. Christine shares personal stories of her journey of faith so it’s not too boring or too preachy. It’s convicting, compelling and if you haven’t read it, you should!
And there’s my recommended read for the month. Let’s see if this will inspire me in the weeks to come when I need something to blog about :)
Few things are worse than having a bad ending to a book. Not the bad kind where something sad happens, I can deal with that. But the bad kind where your heart was set on these two characters finally making amends and getting together in those final few precious pages, and you realize 50 pages from the end of the third book that this, in fact, is not going to happen.
The nerve of some authors!
It’s just horrible. My heart had no time to get into this new romance. And I just knew it was a sure thing. The narrative switched often between this man and woman who I was cheering for. The new guy just seemed to be a minor side story and we didn’t read from his perspective until the end of the series once it suddenly dropped the main guy. …shaking head.
I’ve had some trouble with unexpected pairings before. Usually though it’s just because I’ve pictured the hero to be too old or too greasy to really be the one for the heroine. There’s a simple fix to that one — just read the book again with a better picture in your mind! The only fix I found for this was to watch several Kid President videos. That kid is FUNNY and will get your mind off of literary heartbreak in no time.
In case you’re wondering, the series I’m writing about is Home to Blessing. According to the Amazon reviews, most readers agree with me about the romance. Others who have read all the series about Blessing, North Dakota (a total of 12 books written previously) claim that the previous books are much better. So if you’re interested in prairie life in North Dakota in the latter part of the 19th century, check out the original series by Lauraine Snelling. You just might want to stop before this last one.