Literary Insights

Literary Insights: A Book Lovers Review

Monday, January 28, 2013

Unexpected Love: God's Heart Revealed in Jesus' Conversations with Women by Julie Zine Coleman

            Writer and teacher Julie Coleman, carefully walks readers through the gospel narratives, offering evidence of a perceptive Savior, deeply concerned about the women he met. Through vivid descriptions, thoughtful questions, and empowering applications, she brings a fresh perspective to these sometimes puzzling stories.

            Julie looks at nine women who had interactions with Jesus. They all needed Jesus. And Jesus was interested in them. In a culture that devalued women, Jesus showed intentional interest in them. He gave them significance. In a section entitled “For Today’s Woman,” Julie connects the Word to our world, gives some other questions, and prompts for the reader’s further reflection.

            Unexpected Love offers solutions gleaned from historical‚ cultural‚ and contextual sources‚ resulting in an interpretation that reveals a fresh perspective and surprising truth. It moves the reader past the usual shallow interpretations to find the heart of Christ

            I found this devotional an inspiration that reveals God’s heart for women through a captivating study of the gospels. I recommend this book for group study or personal study. Each chapter ends with questions and suggestions for journaling. These could be used for personal or group discussions. This book would make a fine study for a woman's Bible study group.

                    Free resources, including handouts and lesson plan suggestions, are available for groups using Unexpected Love at the associated website.

I received this eBook from Thomas Nelson in their Booksneeze blogger program for my review.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid

At the heart of A Christmas Home is a town struggling to survive. People and pets are losing their homes. With no other financial means, a lot of sweet dogs end up in the shelter run by Todd. The city is running out of money, which leads to a limited amount of funds for the shelter and an overwhelming amount of animals are being abandoned. Todd has multiple challenges ahead of him, especially if he loses his job.  Todd tries to overcome his own disabilities and maintain an independent life, which is threatened if the shelter is forced to close. There is a light romantic interest for this young man which also has to fit into this puzzle.

As in many small towns across America today, Greg Kincaid's characters show the will to overcome their limitations with rich courage and bravery. In doing so, they share with us a story of perseverance.  This is a story of unconditional love. It’s a story of a family with unconditional love and the love between a man and his faithful canine companion.

I highly recommend this book. A Christmas Home is a perfect book for animal lovers, like all Christmas novellas, it's still a perfect read for anytime of the year. You will want to keep it around and read again and children will love this story. It shows the deep connection and love between humans and animals, and how anyone, no matter their limitations, can find their passion.  The story sounds like it could have been based on a true story, overall, a sweet and sometimes funny Christmas story! The ending is emotional and unexpected, brought tears to my eyes, a perfect ending.

I received this book in a giveaway from Crown Publishing a division of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program for my review.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt.

Four fiction authors with four smitten romance novellas, share a setting, characters, and even overlapping plots with fun small town romance. The mystery of the dog tags that were found in Grandma Rose's attic continues throughout all the sections along with mini story lines of Tess, Clare, Zoe and Anna. We learn a lot about each woman's fears and dreams. Together they find the courage to face their fears and see their dream come true.
One storyline, with four sections, by four different authors. I enjoyed reading each authors take on the same story. Each section focused on a different character and her love life. Four different protagonists from a single household, "Secretly Smitten" read like a single novel.

LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES: Colleen Coble wins awards with murder mystery/romance. Not surprising this romance involves a dead man, but a twist of one potentially again alive. Love with suspense propensity. There's a secret in Grandma Rose's attic--a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

MAKE ME A MATCH: Kristin Billerbeck has Smitten's matchmaker Zoe begin her Cupid's shop in an old building and William, new city manager, must enforce rules and codes.

KNIT ONE, LOVE TWO: Diann Hunt places readers inside the Sit `n Knit shop owned by Anna (divorced mom of 3 single adult girls) where she turns a little unraveled when Michael enters for a shopping spree. A revealed secret causes tempers to fly.

LOVE BLOOMS: Denise Hunter writes of nursery manager Clare waving a rake as a weapon against a tool shed-hiding hunk of a man, Ethan.  All secrets, mystery, conflict, and Smitten romance is cozy-wrapped.

I was ready to read something fun and it’s true each novella begins with a conflicting relationship that is predictably to end in romance. After all, it is a novella with great storytelling. I recommend this book for who needs a fun romance to read. It's good Christian fiction, folks, so expect wholesome lust.

I received this eBook from Thomas Nelson in the BookSneeze blogger program for my review.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Les Misérables Victor Hugo first published in 1862, is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century.  Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters, focusing on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption. Examining the nature of law and grace, the story elaborates upon the history of France,  the architecture and urban design of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of  romantic and familial love. Les Misérables has been popularized through numerous stage adaptations, including a musical (1980-1985), and several films, including in 2012.

The major plot involves Jean Valjean who is released from prison, and through the kindness of Father Myriel, becomes a new man. He gets a new name via association with Myriel and his obvious kindness and generosity to others and gradually builds a successful and prosperous life for himself with a renovation of the jet-work industry in Montreuil-surmer. One of his employees is, although unknown to him, fired by the head mistress because of an illegitimate baby. Fantine goes from one occupation to another, finally becoming a prostitute.

The situation is complicated when Valjean takes upon himself the care of Cosette, as he feels responsible for the death of her mother.  The fateful decision changes their lives forever. With Cosette, Valjean learns to love and the bitterness of the years of injustice melt away. He thinks of himself as a convict and makes no excuses; his only reason for hiding and avoiding Javert is to protect Cosette and his fatherly relationship with her.

The story that has thrilled millions comes to life in a brand new way in Focus on the Family Radio Theatre's Les Miserables. This audio drama beautifully portrays the redeeming power of forgiveness through the story of Jean Valjean, an embittered convict whose life is changed by a single act of kindness. Recorded in London with some of England's finest actors, it will mesmerize adults and families alike.

The Dolby B Mastered sound is incredible. Every voice, every sound, from the rain, to the horses, to the sounds of the revolution, and the music will sweep you away to another time and place.  The story is as much history and commentary as it is fiction. In fact, so much of the history of France along with the thoughts and feelings of the people at that time dominates the book that the fictional elements almost seem accidental. The craft, however, comes through as the characters eventually interact in ways that would, in real life, be unlikely between individuals of such diverse socio-economic elements.

I recommend this timeless story, keep Kleenex handy, the story tells the importance of love and compassion; social injustice in nineteenth-century France; the long-term effects of the French Revolution on French society. Follow the long road to forgiveness with Jean Valjean in this beautiful radio production performance of Victor Hugo's timeless tale.

I received audio copy from Tyndale Blog Network for my review.