Feb 9, 2015

We're Moving

Thank you so much for reading my Christian book reviews here. I appreciate you. To help simplify my blogging life, I'm posting future reviews at ChristinaBanks.com. I'd love for you to follow me over to the new site where I'll be talking about that wonderful place where Fiction touches Life.

Jan 30, 2015

Book Review: Emissary by Thomas Locke

Back Cover: With his twenty-first birthday, Hyam begins a journey that will lead him to his destiny--or his doom.

Hyam has always shown a remarkable ability to master languages, even those left unspoken for a thousand years. But now the shadow of suspicion that was cast upon him as a child prodigy at Long Hall is lengthening, and he must keep his identity hidden--or face annihilation.

As Hyam's mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall before he settles down to farm his land. This journey born from duty becomes an impassioned quest for the truth. War is coming swiftly, and Hyam must rely upon his newfound powers and the friends he meets along the way in order to unravel the puzzling past and ensure that he--and the realm--will have a future.

My Review: I don't read enough fantasy. It took me a while to understand what was happening in this novel but once I was immersed in the culture and world Locke created, I couldn't put the book down. Hyam is your typical fantasy hero. He's a farmer who discovers his parents aren't who he believed they were. He is force on a quest to right all wrongs and protect the good from the evil forces gathering in secret places. When I got to the end of this tale, I wanted to start right in on the next book in the series. Unfortunately, I have to wait a year before the next book comes out. Fans of The Lord of the Rings should really enjoy this novel. You can learn more about this novel and the series at Thomas Locke's site.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to Tolkien fans and readers of fantasy.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Jan 23, 2015

Book Review: Mothering from Scratch by Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo

Back Cover: Find Your Own Mothering Style

Trying to follow someone else's rules for mothering can take the joy out of being a parent. But Mothering From Scratch shows you how to develop your own style that helps you be the best mom for your kids.

Full of solid biblical truth, this book will help you
  • explore your personality and examine your strengths and weaknesses in order to find what works for you
  • tap into the resources surrounding you and get mentoring and support from other moms
  • push past the fear of change or doing it wrong and allow room for grace in your mothering

Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo provide a flexible, customizable approach to help you discover your optimal parenting style.

My Review: Being a mom is hard enough without trying to live up to everyone else's unspoken rules for parenting. When I got married, I wanted to be the ultimate homemaker but I soon discovered that I hate sewing and detest cooking. I had to find the style of homemaking that fit my strengths and my family. Almost seven years later, I'm still figuring out what that means. When I was first pregnant, I had images of how motherhood would work for me. I knew my strengths as a teacher and my love for toddler and older children. I was unprepared for the child God gave me. My son has the makings of a great leader. He is driven, stubborn, and almost too intelligent. He has stretched me in ways that I didn't know were possible. More often than not, I've wondered how I would ever survive this thing called motherhood without damaging the precious child I've been entrusted with.

Reading Mothering from Scratch gave me a glimpse into why I often feel over my head. When I try to run my home by following someone else's set of rules, I'm left completely defeated and all the joy gets sucked out of life. When I'm too busy, distracted, or overwhelemed to nourish my soul with the Word of God, I have nothing left to nourish the relationships my family. Mothering from Scratch isn't going to tell you how to raise your children or run your household, but it is going to show you how you can embrace your strengths and find the structure and "rules" that work for your family. Over and over I saw myself in the pages of this book. I've been through the struggles. I've felt the pressure to do more, preform better, and be what I perceive other mothers to be. The truth is, none of us are perfect. What we see on Facebook is often only the good times in other people's lives. Everyone struggles, but we don't have to be overcome with the struggles we are facing. There is hope that each one of us can be the best mom that we can be. But that will only happen when we stop trying to live our lives following another woman's blueprint. I'm learning to embrace my strengths and weaknesses. You can too.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to every Christian woman struggling silently with her role as a mother.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Jan 16, 2015

Book Review: Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

Back Cover: He Stole the Work She Loved.
Will She Let Him Steal Her Heart as Well?

It's all her uncle's fault. For years Charlotte Withersby has been free to pursue her love of plants and flowers by assisting her botanist father. But now that she's reached the old age of twenty-two, an intrusive uncle has convinced her father that Charlotte's future--the only proper future for a woman--is to be a wife and mother, not a scholar.

Her father is so dependent on her assistance that Charlotte believes he'll soon change his mind...and then Edward Trimble shows up. A long-time botany correspondent in the South Pacific, Trimble arrives ready to step in as assistant so that Charlotte can step out into proper society--a world that baffles her with its unwritten rules, inexplicable expectations, and confounding fashion.

Things aren't perfectly smooth between Trimble and her father, so Charlotte hatches a last gasp plan. She'll pretend such an interest in marriage that the thought of losing her will make her father welcome her back. Only things go quickly awry, and she realizes that the one man who recognizes her intelligence is also the person she's most angry with: Edward Trimble, her supposed rival. Suddenly juggling more suitors than she knows what to do with, Charlotte is caught in a trap of her own making. Will she have no choice but to leave her beloved flowers behind?

My Review: The voice of the main character comes out so clearly through this book. I love how Charlotte has no clue about social niceties and is blissfully unaware of her penchant for getting herself into awkward situations. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing 1850's English country society seen though her eyes. Filled with humor and social faux pas, this book also causes one to think about what a person should be willing to give up in order to live up to society's expectations. Charlotte loves her work with flowers. Botany is in her blood and she can't imagine a world without rambles, illustrations, and writing about plants. Unfortunately, in that day science was not considered a worthy pursuit for a woman. Mitchell did a fantastic job taking us on a journey with Charlotte as she discovers she is stronger than she knows and can bloom better when she embraces who she really is. Of course, it means she has to be frankly honest with everyone, including the man she's come to love.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to readers of historical romance and fans of Siri Mitchell.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.