Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review: "Luther and Katharina"

Jody Hedlund's newest novel is a slightly new development in her writing, yet she handled it beautifully. Though historical Christian fiction is her genre, I think this is the first time she's chosen characters who were really real. She chose to tell her readers the love story of Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, set right in the middle of the reformation in Germany.

Throughout the story, Luther is caught up in all things religion and politics, trying to bring about needed societal changes while discouraging hatred and violence. A symbol of reformation, his life isn't always his own, especially when it comes to making decisions regarding marriage and family.

Katharina von Bora is an escaped nun, seeking a new life according to Luther's teaching. She lives with tension and uncertainty, afraid she'll be captured and returned to the life she left, afraid she'll never find acceptance, family, or love.

Hedlund tells her readers that most of the events in this fictionalized account really happened, so I enjoyed learning more about the lives of these people and events of the time. I also found the story as Hedlund told it fascinating. Her Luther and Katharina reminded me a little of Shakespeare's main characters in The Taming of the Shrew. If they were really both that stubborn, their marriage was a miracle ordained by God.

I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I recommend it to anyone who loves reading historical fiction.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Book Review: "Vendetta"

Lisa Harris is a new author to me, but I loved this first book in her new Nikki Boyd Files series. Vendetta is a race to find a missing girl, a girl who may have been kidnapped by the same serial killer who took Nikki’s sister a decade ago. A member of the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force, Nikki is called to drop everything, including a family emergency and a memorial event, to find this girl before it’s too late.

I enjoyed getting to know this new set of characters (Nikki, her family, Tyler, Sam, Greta, and Jack) and will look forward to learning more about them in future books. I loved the settings, Nashville and the Great Smoky Mountains. Harris did an amazing job of showing readers the enormity of the outdoor areas of Tennessee. What I liked most, though, was the book’s complete unpredictability. Every time I started to anticipate what was coming next, the story went another way. That’s the most essential feature of a great mystery.

Fans of this genre will have fun with Vendetta. I thank Revell for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review: "Streams of Mercy"

Streams of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling is the third book in her Song of Blessing series, but the 19th book set in the Red River Valley in North Dakota and the 20th featuring Ingeborg Bjorklund. Snelling has taken her readers from Norway in 1878 to North Dakota in 1907 and has shown them how a community is born and can thrive. These books are among my favorites because I just love revisiting that community whenever Snelling writes a new book.

Streams of Mercy features a character from the past. Many books ago, Anji Baard was in love with Ingeborg’s eldest son, Thorliff. Things did not work out for the two of them; each found someone else to love. But now Anji is widowed and has returned to Blessing with her four children. She can’t imagine raising them anywhere else. Streams of Mercy reveals how this works out for her.

It also tells readers what’s new in the lives of all the other members of this growing, blessed community—births, deaths, celebrations, tragedies, lessons learned, people moving away and moving in. Clara is a new favorite character of mine; I’m especially looking forward to learning how her life develops in the next book.

Fans of historical Christian fiction will love this new addition to the Song of Blessing series. I thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: "The Girl from the Train"

The Girl from the Train is a slow but intriguing story that spans 15 years and two continents during tumultuous times. It begins near the end of World War II. Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt has been pushed off a train heading for Auschwitz just in the nick of time. Her father, whom she doesn’t remember, was a German soldier. But her mother, also dead, was a Jew.

Gretl finds herself in the care of Jakob Kowalski, a Polish factory worker and political dissident. But Jakob’s people have little patience for Germans or Jews. As communism begins to consume his country, plunging it into conflict and poverty, Jakob finds a way for Gretl to escape. Keeping her Jewish heritage and Catholic schooling in Poland a secret, he sends her with a group of German orphans to find a new home in South Africa.

Through Gretl’s eyes, readers gain a new understanding of political, religious, and racial issues of the decade and a half following World War II in Europe and South Africa. They also get to enjoy the story of a young girl discovering who she is in the midst of it all. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate this book.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.