Fireproof (aka The Love Dare)

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I usually only review books and this isn’t a review technically it is an opinion. I watched the movie Fireproof. If you haven’t seen it I recommend you do, married or not. The movie is based on the book The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick. A firefighter, Caleb tells his father John about his impending divorce, and John challenges Caleb to commit to a 40-day test called, “The Love Dare.” Caleb reluctantly agrees to do the test, but more for the sake of his respect for his father than his marriage. He wife initially sees through Caleb’s half-hearted attempts to win back her heart, which deepens Caleb’s frustration. But with his father’s encouragement, Caleb continues with The Love Dare, and eventually makes a life-changing commitment to God and his wife. As a result he saves his marriage.

The love dare is an interesting concept that challenges you to do things that in reality you should already be doing for and with your spouse or partner.  Some of the dares are a simple as speaking nice and the others are more challenging. The end result is a refocus of your heart and actions on the choice you made to love the other person.

The book and movie shows that the Biblical love and marriage is a choice. If you make the choice a priority your marriage will be a strong partnership. There are no fool proof ways to guarantee that the person you choose to love will love you in return. All you can do is stay true to your promise and love them.

God chose to love us. We chose to love him and each other. Love is never the wrong choice if done for unselfish reasons. The Love Dare is that choice in unselfish action.

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

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Spanning nearly a century this novel follows the lives of the Esposito family who live on Castellamare, an island off the coast of Italy. At the center of the island’s life is a bar covered with Bougainvillea flowers called the House at the Edge of Night.

This story takes you into the lives of an eccentric group of villagers that are in many ways isolated from the outside world yet still affected by what happens through wars, economic downfalls, threat of fascism  and illnesses. Not to mention the intertwined relationships if the residents that fuel the fires of love and hate across generations.

This story meanders like one would suspect life on Castellamare would do. Yet the slow pace keeps you engaged as the people of this island come alive in the twists and turns of the story. I loved everything about this book from the first to the last page. The story revolves around Amedeo, an orphan, a foundling. He comes to the island in 1914 when he is 40 years old to take the position of island Doctor. The plot pivots is Amedeo’s love of stories – stories of saints and miracles, of fantasy and curses and real stories of the past. Amadeo carries a journal where he records all the stories that he hears through his life. This collection becomes an heirloom for his grand children.

Catherine Banner has written an epic story that has the potential to be a classic.

 

 

 

I’m Thinking about Ending Things by Iain Ried

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There are three types of people in the world. Those who have read the book and love it, those who have read this book and hate it or those who have not yet read this book.

I loved it. When you read it you are certain that you have fallen in to an episode of the twilight zone. Nothing is as it appears. The story revolves around a girl on a day trip with her boyfriend to meet his parents. She is thinking about ending things. It is the things that you have no idea what she means. Is she breaking up with him? Is she considering suicide? It is a mystery. Even at the end of the book it may still be a mystery if you don’t pick up on all the subtle hints. I actually read this book through twice be fore I had the ah ha moment and figured out most of the plot. Though very intense, it is an easy read. I read it through the two times over one weekend.

A word of caution! Danger Will Robinson!

There are web sites that discuss the book and the theories around it. Please read the book first before you read any of the theories. It will be a better ride to just go in to the book blind. Please do not cheat yourself of the experience of this roller coaster adventure of this book. Reading fan sites before reading a book is right up there with my aversion of seeing a movie before reading the book.

DON’T DO IT!

I am afraid that if I keep talking I will spoil this for you so I will just leave you with this thought.  This book is deeply haunting and irresistibly unnerving. It will stay with you long after the last page is turned and you put the book down.

 

 

 

Indomitable (The Push Chronicles Book 1) By J B Garner

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“Reality is subjective if you only have enough belief to change it!”

~ Indomitable by J B Garner

 

The first book in a series, Indomitable introduces the reader to Irene Roman, an unlikely super hero. She was forced in to survival which in turn forced her to become a hero. This story reminds me of The Rook by Daniel O’Malley in that the female lead is an unlikely hero. She is intuitive, strong and brave. All the best qualities for a female hero.

What I liked about this book is Garner’s use of words in ways that force us to rethink language. For example, in the story the world is now inhabited by people with super powers. These people are called the Pushed. The concept was a little hard to grasp at first but they were pushed in to these powers by a force that caused this altered state. The reader is “pushed” to accept this new use of the term. This concept of manipulating words and their meanings to fit the story is a cleaver talent that Garner uses well.

One thing that was difficult for me was some of the passages that reflect Irene’s thought and some of the lines she speaks do not sound authentically female. I found myself thinking, no woman would say that. It is my biased female point of view. As a writer I get how difficult it is to write in a voice that is not your norm. It is not easy.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes sci-fi, fantasy and super hero genres. It is a climactic combination of all of those and more. Though it took me a bit to get my head around the concepts, it was well worth the time and energy it took to devour it. It caused me to consider that life is not always what you presume it to be.  I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Keep writing interesting thought-provoking books Mr. Garner.  I am a fan.

I admit it…

I do not like to admit I was wrong, but I was very wrong. I have a certain taste in books. I know I can hear some of you say with much skepticism, “Sure you do.” While it is true I read in and out of several genres, I do have a preference when it comes to story lines. You won’t see me read many westerns or astronomical sci-fi novels. I steer away from the Harlequin type romances and the super sweet chick lit. I also hate to admit that I do, sometimes, judge books by their covers, though I am getting better at not doing that. Call me a recovering cover snob, if you will.

I had to rethink my methodology for choosing books when I came across Debbie Macomber’s The Inn at Rose Harbor. I had totally not read anything by Macomber because of the sweet covers and descriptions. I thought that this sugar sweet fiction would be uninteresting to me and not be worth my time. I was under the misconception that all her novels should be in the chic lit category. I was emphatically wrong.
When I had finished reading the story of the young widow who left her home and made a new life for herself as proprietor of a bed and breakfast I was left with the need to read the entire series. I fell in love with the people of the scenic Pacific Northwest town called Cedar Cove. I had to find out what happened to Jo Marie. Did she ever get all the answers about her Army husband’s death? Did her guests find the healing that is offered at Rose Harbor?

Much to my astonishment Macomber’s books were nothing like what I had envisioned. They are riddled with full rich scenery, deeply profound situations and intricate characters. It is certainly not chick lit. Macomber weaves amazing stories with people you will not easily forget in this series. It makes me wonder if I was wrong about her books entirely. Just maybe I have been wrong about other authors too! Oh my! What a thought!
I will read more of her books and I will venture off in to other uncharted territory of reading. I will let you know if I continue to shock myself by enjoying books that I never before even considered. Maybe you should try it. Risk being wrong about what you like to read. Who knows, maybe you will surprise yourself too.

There are eight titles in the series, but three are what I call in-betweens that really don’t add much to the story. Here are the titles in the Rose Harbor series and my library has them all! I bet your library has them as well.

0.5. When First They Met (2012)
1. The Inn at Rose Harbor (2012)
2. Rose Harbor in Bloom (2013)
3. Love Letters (2014)
3.5. Falling for Her (2015)
4. Silver Linings (2015)
5. Sweet Tomorrows (2016)

 

 

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue is fascinating. Disturbing, but fascinating. It is about a college aged girl who was kidnapped and stowed away in a modified sound proof shed. While kept there for seven years she was subjected to rape by her captor and gets pregnant. The story is narrated by that child. Jack is five years old and the only world he knows is Room. Jack’s Ma has created a life for him. She realizes that she needs to do all she can to get them both out of Room and free. Through grit, resourcefulness, and an abundance motherly love, she figures out a way to escape with Jack’s bravery and help.

I cried throughout this book. Not little dainty sniffles and corner of my eye dabs but sobs and a water fall of tears pouring down my face as I read it. The entire story comes out of Jack’s mind and heart.  He learns that the planets on TV are real and that there is a whole other life in outer space.

As for Ma, she is still a gentle young girl whose tough determination crumbles once she is out of Room. While Jack is learning how to live and love in a new world, Ma is trying to emotionally and mentally escape it.

As if reading this heart wrenching book wasn’t enough torture, I then watched the movie. Though not as emotionally moving as reading the book it was still an amazing glimpse in to a mother and son’s survival.

Please read the book first. The movie leaves out so much of what makes Jack such a lovable character.

Be forewarned. Grab a box of tissues. Don’t read Room in public or you will risk embarrassing yourself.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

I adore this book. Sara, traveled all the way from Sweden to Broken Wheel Iowa just to meet her pen pal, Amy.Sara and Amy met when Amy sells Sara a book through a web site.  When Sara arrives to meet her long distance friend in person, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. The town’s people are happy to look after their tourist.  Sara decides to stay in Broken Wheel in Amy’s farmhouse. She opens a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory with her friend’s books. Sara also makes friends with the locals who all seem to accept her as one of their own. Sara wants is to share the books she loves and prove to her new friends that reading is one of the great joys of life. When Sara’s visa is about to expire the town’s residents all ask her to marry them and they concoct a scheme to keep Sara in Iowa.This is a warm cordial agreeable book. It is full of quirky people with good hearts. We get to meet the locals and get history of the town, Broken Wheel. It has a feel of classic small town America.  I fell in love with Broken Wheel and its inhabitants just the way Sara did. The only disappointment is when the story comes to a close. You will be reluctant to leave Sara and the  town of Broken Wheel as I was.