t. elizabeth renich

author of historical fiction

Read & Reviewed

Currently Reading: 

A Heart Most Worthy

by Siri Mitchell/Published by Bethany House Publishers

Mine Is the Night

by Liz Curtis Higgs/Published by Water Brook Press

Love Finds You In…Sisters, Oregon

by Melody Carlson/Published by Summerside Press

Love Finds You In…Hershey, Pennsylvania

by Cerella D. Sechrist/Published by Summerside Press

 

The Last Fall

by Jay Blevins/Published by OakTara Press

 

My dear friend and walking partner let me borrow a copy of a book that had been lent to her by another friend.  It is called “The Last Fall” by Jay Blevins, and it is a story about Eric Stafford, a man who receives a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer with an estimated short time left to live.  Eric re-evaluates his life – where he has been, where he currently is, and where he might end up if changes aren’t made.  He was not a nice guy, had made his share of mistakes and deliberate actions, and learned everything has consequences.  With the help of two friends, he makes a list and sets out to accomplish the goals he has established.  The book gives the account of the journey toward Eric’s final days paved with restitution and requests for forgiveness, as needed.  It is a story of twists and turns, of contrition and redemption.  I found it amazing to watch the change in Eric when he discovers God’s grace, because he was a different man on the last page of the book than he was on the first – and no one can make such drastic changes without God’s help.

The story is set in the DC-Virginia area, so not only did I identify with the places, I also found a couple of  names of people I know in the Acknowledgements (Pastor Gary Hamrick and author Trish Perry), which made it even more fun to dig into the story.

Being a cancer survivor, Beth was sensitive to how I might feel about reading this book, bless her heart.  It was a good read and I enjoyed it because it was thought-provoking, as it provided a good reminder that life holds few guarantees and that eternity awaits us all.  Life is short and it will not last forever – but it is our choice where we will spend eternity…  with God, or without Him.  I choose with Him – I hope you do, too!     — t.elizabeth (12-Mar-2011)

 

Love Finds You In…Maiden, North Carolina

by Tamela Hancock Murray/Published by Summerside Press

Two years ago, I got this book and began to read it, only to be sidetracked and I set it aside.  I came across it again, and given that I’ve been missing many of my friends down in North Carolina, I decided to give it another try.  (I’ve read three other books in the “Love Finds You In…” line, trying to get a feel for the “requirements” the publishers were looking for.)

This book is historical fiction, set in 1922, and I was glad to see that the story was preceded by a page telling a bit about the town Ms. Murray used as her setting.  I’m all into historical details and while I was a bit sad that there wasn’t more of the town itself woven into the story, she did incorporate details pertaining to fashion, hairstyles, and slang of that period to draw the reader into the Roaring 20’s era.

While I believe Hestia was intended to be the main character and her cousin a secondary character, at times it seemed that it was more of storyline for Selene than it was for Hestia.  Both young ladies had their unique problems to overcome, and both of them grow and change over the course of the story.  It was interesting to see the strong values of nearly a hundred years ago play out.  Unfortunately, many of the values are lost in today’s society.

As it turns out, Ms. Murray is scheduled to be the next guest speaker at the March 14th meeting of the Capital Christian Writers.  I’m going to bring my copy with me and hope to get a chance to speak with her after her presentation.  I’m certainly looking foward to meeting her and hearing her insights.   — t.elizabeth (5-Mar-2011)

Divine Appointments

by Charlene Ann Baumbich/Published by WaterBrook Press

I almost didn’t select this book off the list, because I didn’t much care for the crystal ball gracing the front cover.  There is a reason for the saying:  don’t judge a book by its cover.  So, instead of bypassing it altogether, I checked out the description of the book and learned that the object of prominence was a snow globe rather than a crystal ball.  I decided to give it a try.  Regardless of the artwork on the front cover, the true draw for me was a main character (Josie Brooks) who is older than I am, still single and never been married or had any children, and the setting being the city of Chicago, Illinois.  I had a chance to go to Chicago when my team played the Bears at Soldier Field last October (and won!).

I thoroughly enjoyed the mention of places I’d been and things I’d seen in Chicago:  Navy Pier, museums and libraries, the “L”, taxi rides, the lakeshore, bagel shops, and the tall buildings that comprise the recognizable downtown skyline.  I like it when authors can make you feel as if you are in that place they are telling you about.

I could also identify with the characters who had lost their jobs and the anxiety about what might happen next in life.  In that aspect, it’s a story far too many people might be able to identify with – and the way one character, Barb DeWitt, combats the fear with the creation of the “Encouragement Club” is, well, an encouragement.

I was under the impression that this was an inspirational work of fiction, and if so, then it came up empty for me.  The snow globe and its uncanny “rushing water” vaguely – I think, because it wasn’t clearly implied – could have been a want-to-be parallel with the Holy Spirit, peace that passes understanding, and Jesus Christ as the ultimate source of Living Water.  While it’s nice that her characters are basically “good people” and that some of them did “pray” – I was surprised that for as “stand your ground” as Josie Brooks came across, Ms. Baumbich didn’t take a stand by explaining (not necessarily “preaching”) the only thing that could wholly fill Josie’s emptiness and longings.  If I’d met any of her characters in real life, I’d think they were “nice” but I’d be wondering if any of them had a personal relationship with Jesus.  Not enough evidence to convict them.  There was much made of “coincidences” – but no clear introduction to the Divine behind the appointments.

There were a few places I laughed out loud, at a scenario similar to something in my own life or a clever turn of phrase (loved the RSVP to a wedding invitation), but unfortunately these weren’t enough to make me want to go back to read the first book in this series.

This review is submitted under the guidelines of WaterBrook Press’s “Blogging for Books” program.  I received my copy of “Divine Appointments” free of charge and the opinions in this review are my own.

— T. Elizabeth Renich, author of The Shadowcreek Chronicles (20-Feb-2011)

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