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‘Redemption’ by Karen Kingsbury

Redemption is the first book of “The Redemption Series” which later turned into twenty two related novels in what is referred to as “The Baxter Family Series” written by Karen Kingsbury. While this piece of Christian fiction was initially intended as a stand alone novel, the book’s popularity led to something far more exciting.

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Redemption is a story set in Bloomington, Indiana about Kari Baxter Jacobs, who is married to Professor Tim Jacobs. After a few years of marriage, Kari learns that her husband has become unfaithful to her and would like a divorce. Kari is devastated and leans hard on her parents, siblings, church family, and most of all, her faith to work through the turmoil that such a betrayal brings. It also tells the story of Kari’s relationship with Ryan Taylor, a local football star, who stole her heart in high school. When Ryan comes back into the picture after Kari and Tim’s separation, confusion runs rampant.

Transition to the other side of the story which discusses the other two characters in the novel. Dirk Bennett has loved Angela Manning for a long time and would like nothing more than for her to agree to be his wife. He asked her once and she turned him down and now, Angela has entered a relationship with a married man. Imagine the disgrace that the somewhat emotionally unstable, Dirk Bennett, feels when he learns that the love of his life is now living with her college professor, Tim Jacobs.

The drama unfolding between the covers of this book is extremely engaging and held my attention. The author’s transitions are very well done as she jumps back and forth to give the backstory of Kari’s past and then brings it to present day. Additionally, while this book deals with very touchy issues that unfortunately some real families may be facing today, it is accompanied by discussion questions in the back to help understand and initiate how one might feel is he or she is exposed to such a situation. This book was written with the help of Gary Smalley, who is a well known relationship specialist and the founder of the Smalley Relationship Center. With all of that said, I believe that the real treat with this book is that the story doesn’t end here.

You can continue reading about the Baxter family in the books that follow: Remember, Return, Rejoice, and Reunion.

Rating: 5/5

Genre: General Fiction & Christian ChickLit

This book is available on Amazon.

Review conducted by Guest Poster: Gabrielle Fisher

The Media Candidate by Paul Dueweke

7d4fe1874b9f0c3f9eb043d468dd6e9ebdc4d1cb-thumbThe premise of The Media Candidate is probably one of the most relevant I have ever reviewed, given we are so close to the U.S. Election. Anyone reading the book may be inclined to think it was written after Trump announced his campaign, but it wasn’t, in fact Dueweke reports that he had started writing this book in 2012. Before you vote: read it.

In 2048 elections are a popularity contest, filled with the most unintelligent people, celebrities who can buy their way in through money or good looks. Oh and by the way, computers are going to kill us- they develop a mind of their own, control elections and decide who to eliminate from elections… and from life. The problem was that all the technical jargon in between and long stretches of explanations about things that really didn’t add much to the story let it down, such as the two chapters describing Dr. Planck’s affinity for computers. I could sum it up in three sentences- he thinks of the computer as his child. It developed a mind of its own. It was now more advanced than its creator. But then this ramble is followed by a particularly good action scene, which was well written and engaging, so I still don’t know how I feel about the book overall. 

There is a saying by Mark Twain when it comes to writing “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do”. It’s the golden rule that every author should live by. Dueweke forgot this rule.

I had significant difficulty reading this book and it took me longer to read it as a result. It’s not that the premise of the book wasn’t good either, in fact I was really looking forward to it, but when I’m constantly researching what a word means, because the author has decided to use overly superfluous language it does take away from the story somewhat. I felt let down, despite wanting to enjoy it, I found because of this I couldn’t engage with the story as much as I wanted to.

What the media candidate does touch on, is how important it is to really think about who you are voting for now, and vote wisely. Don’t get caught up in the media buzz, because what we vote for today will affect the choices we will have in the future. Normally I like a book which makes a statement relevant to society, and I think this one is particularly relevant given the fiasco of the current US election. 

I did think it was a very relevant book and worth reading, it was difficult to read and took me a lot longer to actually start feeling engaged by the story than it normally would. But I did feel the ending was quite well explained and drove the point home nicely. 

I am curious to see Duewekes next work, as he does seem to have some very intelligent and worthwhile comments on society. 

Where to get a copy: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble or iBooks. It’s not on Amazon as far as I can tell.

Genre: Political Thriller

Rating: 3/5

(Bookworm conducting the review: Rachel)

Class of 59 by John A. Heldt

downloadClass of 59 starts off with a bang, and I’m instantly interested in where this is going. The first thing we learn is that Mary Beth’s fiance dies in tragic circumstances, leaving Mary Beth devastated. Then the main characters sisters Mary Beth and Piper (from 2017), and brothers Mark and Ben (who are from 1959) discover a secret passage in the house where they live/are staying on vacation which allows them to time travel between 1959 and 2017. A quick trip to Vegas and fueled by Piper’s desire to spend more time in 1959 and see what high school is like in the 1950s, so they stay. But Mary Beth makes a mistake on the trip to Las Vegas that could put them all in danger. 

I would like to have seen Mary Beth struggle more with her feelings for Mark, given the tragic circumstances around her fiance’s recent death, but she seems more concerned with the fact that the relationship is temporary. Instead it seems to be that the character of Mark struggles with their relationship the most, but even then, I found their interactions a bit stale and comfortable. This is most apparent in the line “Despite his obvious interest in the time traveler from Huntsville, Alabama, he was not yet comfortable demonstrating that interest in an affectionate way.”

However in saying that had the relationship between Mary Beth and Mark not been this way, I don’t think  Piper and Ben’s relationship would have worked as well. It’s realistic, tumultuous and at times quite humorous. Despite the fact that I was reading the book and knowing it had to end at some point I actually found myself hoping they would find a solution to their problem and could stay together. I like the relationship between Ben and Piper best.

I have to say the ending was not what I expected and although it made sense, I almost feel it was a little rushed, but it did tie the story together nicely. The story has a fantastic flow, and apart from the ending, was paced well with action in what I felt were exactly the right places.

Overall I found it to be a sentimental story which eloquently points out both the beauty and disadvantages of living in the 1950s, and does the same for present day. It’s a great comparison of then verses now and I feel that Heldt has put a lot of time and effort into researching the time period to make it feel quite authentic.  

Would I recommend reading it? Absolutely. 

Link to purchase: Class of ’59 by John A. Heldt.

Genre: Science Ficton/Romance

Rating 4/5

(BookWorm conducting the review: Rachel)

Wonderworld: The Musical, by Brett Schieber

How can a book be a musical?

12246837_773100882816038_6336808361946160021_nAsk Brett Schieber. He is an accomplished musician, who has managed to write a poetic children’s book, and the words have a musical ring to them when you read it aloud. He has also developed a YouTube movie which narrates the book to music performed by Schieber and his friend Tree, who are in a band called Arcanum together, and to be honest; its simply beautiful.

Yes – it’s a book for children, but I think we can all take something from this book. Too often adults get hung up on reality and forget to live in the moment. This is the message I got from Schieber’s book. This is especially evident early in the story where he writes “Punishment and priority brought confusion through and through, turning  fun into monsters and distorting his  worldview”. It is an emotional yet lovely story which I enjoyed reading. The story itself may be helpful to people trying to understand people with a distorted view of reality or suffering hallucinations. It is subtle enough that young children are likely to find the story a fun rhyme, but that adults are likely to understand the greater meaning behind it. In this way I believe Schieber has developed a very informative and socially important story. But it is also about making choices in life, and how these choices will affect the way we view the world.

A special mention for the illustrator Simona Poteska, as the illustrations are colourful and simplistic, yet still add to the story in an important way.

Given this is not my usual type of book to review, I’m going to refrain from assigning it a rating, other than to say that I did enjoy it and think it is a wonderful book that will appeal to both adults and children alike.

 

Genre: Picture Book/ Children

Check out the YouTube video here or buy the book on Amazon!