Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Reviews

Note: Recently us girls have been discussing how we feel it is important to review all kinds of books, and not only those that we find wholesome and those that we recommend so that girls can have a good understanding of a book before they read it. We have decided to now start to review all books-those that we would and also would not recommend in hopes that these reviews will serve you well in your reading experiences. If you have any question or if you have a title of a book you'd like to see reviewed then please contact us through our contact page. Thank you!
~Bethany Ann & Johanna Rose

The Silent GovernessThe Silent Governess
By Julie Klassen
{Review by Bethany Ann}

Description {From Christian Book Distributors}:

Believing herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems.

Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret, which, if exposed, will change his life forever. When he glimpses a figure on the grounds, he fears a spy or thief has overheard his devastating news. He is stunned to discover the intruder is a scrap of a woman with her throat badly injured. Fearing she will spread his secret, he gives the girl a post and confines her to his estate. As Olivia and Lord Bradley's secrets catch up with them, will their hidden pasts ruin their hope of finding love?

I had read Julie Klassen's works before and was interested in reading this one so I got it at the library. The story though good, had some things that I didn't really appreciate, most importantly violence, drinking/gambling scenes {when she is with her father at the bar} and one their was the language of "What the devil". After the 10th or so chapter I decided not to finish reading the book. I mainly choose this because of the things I just mentioned, and the fact that there were two scenes were a man who worked at the mansion with her was forcibly kissing her and putting her in difficult situations {He obviously liked her whereas she did not like him}. Thought the story was interesting it was a bit over what I thought appropriate. I did not get very far into the book, so I cannot say that I know much about how it turns out in the end. If you don't feel comfortable reading violence scenes {were she was running away and found a bunch of men in the woods who were ready to hurt her and also another scene were a man harms her so badly that she is unable to speak for a few days} then you would probably not want to read this book. I could give it 2 out of 5 stars {considering the portion of the book I read}. If you have any questions then please let me know!

The Preacher's Bride
The Preacher's Bride
By Jody Hedlun
{Review by Bethany Ann}

Description {From Christian Book Distributors} :

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.

Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.

I read this book a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it! It was very clean, although their was a bit on romance at the en of the book once she is married. It's a thicker book-a 300 page-er and I read it in only three days-it was that interesting! :D This was the first of Jody's books that I have read {I hope to read her newest book The Doctors Lady once it arrives at our local library! :D} and was very impressed. The only two "uncomfortable" scenes were one scene were a servant girl was beaten in public {Out of 5 starts I give it a 3 1/2 (5 being the worst)  for the violence and detail} and a few romance scenes once she is married {They were a bit more that I was used to so I give the romance part a 4 as far as intensity goes}. I was very pleasantly surprised at the end of the book to find that it was a slightly fictionalized story of the life of a famous person from our past and it surprised me to know that these things really did happen to this person. {If you do read this book then you must wait to find out the persons name or it'll ruin the surprise for you! :D}. I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it, though girls who have not read as much romance novels in the past might want to be careful, but overall I love it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Amish Midwife, Women of Lancaster County Series #1The Amish Midwife
By Mindy Starns Clark
& Leslie Gould
{Review by Bethany Ann}

Description {From Christian Book Distributors}:

A carved box with two locks of hair, the title to property in Switzerland, and a burning desire to learn about her biological family lead nurse midwife Lexie Jaeger from Oregon to Pennsylvania. There Lexie pledges to help her biological Aunt Melia, a lay midwife who has been charged with manslaughter after an Amish client and her baby die. Lexie always knew she was adopted, and when she finally meets her birth grandmother, she feels she has come home-until secrets begin to unravel.secrets that could tear her birth family apart.

Lexie learns the true meaning of the Pennsylvania Dutch word demut, which means "to let be" as she changes from a woman who wants to control everything to a woman who depends on God.

I had been interested in reading this book for a while since my  friend had told me she enjoyed it so I got it and read it very quickly! Although there are obviously a few birthing scenes, it's not as many as you would think as the main part of the story revolves around the midwife and her past. The few birthing scenes that were in the book were not at all too descriptive and very appropriate {I'd give those scenes 2 out of 5 stars as far as details and such}. Although there is a bit of romance at the ed, it is not much and I'd give the romance 3 out of 5 stars. I overall enjoyed it as it was Amish book were I learned lots of neat things about the Amish' way of life. Plus it was very interesting and suspenseful and so I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested a clean midwife/Amish read and for someone who enjoys interesting suspenseful stories. I give it 4 out of 5 stars!
God's HandmaidenGod's Handmaiden
By Gilbert Morriss
{Review by Bethany Ann}

Description {From Christian Book Distributors}:

In service to the noble Wingate family since her teens, Gervase Howard is now the assistant housekeeper---and smitten with the eldest son. But Davis Wingate loves another, and when he announces his engagement, Gervase accepts a position elsewhere with Florence Nightingale. Years later, an "accident" brings Gervase back to the injured Davis---and danger. 352 pages, softcover from Zondervan.

I really enjoyed this book as it had a nice Jane Eyer theme and was also involved with Florence Nightingale. The only cons I can remember reading was a bit of romance, but not a bunch, I'd give it a 2 or 3 out of 5. It was very suspenseful  and also had lots of historical things and was overall a neat story, one I enjoyed. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Note: All the above books that I have reviewed, I found through my local library. ~Bethany

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien 
{Review by Johanna Rose}

My Overview | I was captivated by Tolkien’s fascinating tale which entailed hobbits, wizards, dwarfs, elves, dragons and many more mystical creatures.

In the mystical land of The Shire, the story begins within a hole in the ground, where therein dwells a hobbit. Although this particular little hobbit has no wish for anything to change, and abhors the thought of any kind of an adventure, it would seem that fate, or perhaps a wizard, has plans for him. The tale takes off, as the hobbit is swept into a full-fledged adventure, along with a powerful wizard, and thirteen dwarfs. The plot revolves around this small party of travelers, and the many dangers and trials which they must face. But through it all they prevail, and finally reach their journeys end; the Misty Mountains. It is here, when the story reaches its climax as the party of travelers seeks to take that life of Smaug, a bad-hearted dragon, and regain the treasure which was stolen so many years ago.

Our hero is no monarch nor is he a powerful wizard; nor is he, yet, a person of great wealth, strength or wisdom. Rather, he is a small, ordinary hobbit. Bilbo Baggins lives in a hole in the hill – “Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.” {Taken from ‘The Hobbit’, chapter one} Hobbits love comfort above all things, and Mr. Baggins is no exception. In truth, when first embarking upon this magical tale, readers will find that Bilbo is just a commonplace hobbit. He is happy and contented with his pleasant hole in the ground, and abhors the thought of change above all things. However, as the pages begin to turn throughout ‘The Hobbit’, winds of change are to knock at his lovely green door, leaving the mark of adventure. And very soon, Bilbo finds that he has been chosen as the ‘Lucky-Number’, that is the fourteenth addition to a small party. And together, they set out on a tremendous adventure. When first embarking upon his journey, Bilbo has strong doubts about whether he is the right one for such a large task, or whether he will even make it back to his little hole in the ground alive. However, as the story draws on, Bilbo finds that he has more courage and skill then he has ever dreamed of, and discovers that even a little hobbit can make a difference in the world. As the plot draws on, readers will find that Bilbo is a wonderfully Round character, in that there is much more to discover about this little hobbit then what is observed upon first sight.

Pros | While the adventures portrayed in this story are surely mere fantasy, I could easily gather that there are undertone morals which Tolkien masterfully portrays, such as: conquering fear, working together, learning to trust, and overcoming greed. As the story draws to an end, I could deduce that Tolkien was also alluding to how in order to profess goodness within our lives, we must first destroy the evil which abides around and within us. It is an inspiring implication, which left me with a refreshed sense of goodness and victory against evil forces.

Cons | This is a tale that revolves around magical adventures. Thus, much magic is what the plot revolves arround. Yet, Tolkien abstains from the portrayal of dark magic. 

My Overall Thoughts | I absolutely loved it! Now one of my favorite books.

My Rating :: |five out of five stars|

by Jack Schaefer
{Review by Johanna Rose}

My Overview | "Call me Shane." Swiftly and silently a lone rider gallops along the horizon. Although the afternoon sun glimmers intensely, this anxious outsider brings a penetrating chill. A distinct sense of change lingers in the tranquil breeze, as this man advances toward the farm of the Starrett’s. Beneath his calm and pensive visage, the blue eyes pierced the air with a troubled gaze. Anxiously, they search the surrounding sights, while his slim figure stood erect, with an unmovable tension. He was, “Mysterious. But more than that. Dangerous."

In the year 1949, Jack Schaefer’s first novel, Shane, was published. Although Schaefer was a man who never traversed the West, Shane quickly became known as one of the best Western novels of all time, and one of the most popular books of the 20th century. The author masterfully employs suspense and mystery to generate apprehension in the minds of his readers by combining a mysterious character and a dangerous plot.

While Shane seems to be both gentle and honorable, beneath his gentleness lies a troubled conscience. His past is unknown: “He would never speak of it, not in any way at all. Even his name remained mysterious. Just Shane. Nothing Else.” As the story advances, the author expertly captures the curiosity of readers when he reveals that, “Shane carried no gun.” Later, however, Shane is provoked to pick up this dangerous tool, and displays astonishing gunman skill: “Belt and holster and gun… These were not things he was wearing or carrying. They were part of him, part of the man, of the full sum of the integrate force that was Shane” As the author continues to develop Shane’s character, readers feel increasingly anxious as Shane’s secretive past surfaces.

Moreover, the treacherous plot heightens suspense. Joe Starrett lives on a homestead farm with his wife and son. They have poured their entire life into their property, but now they face a bleak predicament. Mr. Fletcher, a greedy landowner, forcefully gives the ranchers an ultimatum: move out or else. Anxiety and suspense build as the reader realizes that this man cares not if his maneuvers cost others their livelihood, their home, or even their life.

Finally, Shane exposes his violent nature to defend his friends from certain death. And one evening, he decides to take matters into his own hands, “Father was looking fixedly at him, ‘No, Shane. It won’t do. Even your thinking of it is the finest thing any man ever did for me. But I won’t let you. It’s my stand. Fletcher’s making his play against me … It’s my business.’ ‘There is where you’re wrong, Joe,’ Shane said gently. ‘This is my business. My kind of business.’” The anticipation of the final duel brings readers to a height of apprehension and suspense, initiating thrilling sensations as to how the tale will end.

| note all excerpts taken from Shane by Jack Schaefer |

Pros | This is an amazing book which quickly captured my full attention. It is the story of Shane, a man who has a mysterious yet obviously horrible past -- he is a killer. Yet, I loved how his character was that of a man trying to change. Shane uses self control in choosing not to act hastily. That is, until he is forced too. He has a gentle, and quite nature. Yet there is more. Behind his gentleness lies a deadly nature. 

Cons | There is nothing absolutely negative in this book. However I will say that there are a few 'bar' scenes, one of which made me wince out loud because of the description given. It wasn't graphic, yet the way Schaefer describes the incident does make the scene ... shall we say ... come to life. 

My Overall Thoughts | Throughout this remarkable story, I was quickly captivated by the way Schaefer keeps Shane in a shadow of mystery. He creates intrigue by revealing small details about this secretive man, and by developing a thrilling plot. This is truly a story full of intensifying suspense, and elusive mystery, resulting in an astounding Western. I absolutely loved it.

My Rating :: |five out of five stars|

1 Words of Grace:

Anonymous said...

I love "The Hobbit"! I think Tolkien and C.S Lewis are two of the best writers. I will definetly look into some of the other books! I especially love books about the Amish.