until Leaves fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin–Book Review

If you are looking for some light reading this historical romance may be just the thing. In 1940 Lucie Girard, an American living in Paris and performing in the Paris Opera Ballet, has a decision to make: should she flee to America, or remain in the city she has come to love? The decision is made easier when she learns that her Jewish friends, the Greenblatts, will have to abandon their bookstore to avoid Nazi persecution–that is if they can raise the money to start over. Lucie quits the ballet, buys the bookstore, and embarks on a new life journey with twists and turns she could never have imagined.

I’m usually not one for Christian fiction, but this novel is well written and had enough historical detail to maintain my interest. The romance is formulaic and predictable: the protagonists meet and encounter difficulties which could derail their relationship, but in the end, love triumphs and all is neatly wrapped up. The characters are Christian, and their faith if portrayed realistically, as simply part of their lives.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. Not amazing, but an acceptable, easy read.

For more Christian fiction see these posts:

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton–Book Review

The Purple Nightgown by A. D. Lawrence–Book Review

pearl in the sand by Tessa Afshar–Book Review

What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris–Book Review

Kenyatta (KB) is an eleven-year-old girl on the cusp of becoming a young adult. She loves to read, and she loves her family. When her drug-addicted father dies of an overdose, life begins to fall apart. The family home is lost, her mother is suffering from clinical depression, and KB and her sister are sent to live with her maternal grandfather, who has been estranged from their mother for years.

This is a story of learning to understand others, to forgive and to move forward when tragedies strike. From her grandfather, KB learns about another book she comes to love (the Bible) and how Bible study can help us to navigate difficult times. Her grandfather tells her:

“The Bible is filled with stories, just like them books you always reading. But the stories are bout God, and they teach us how we should live our lives.”

At the end of a difficult summer, KB’s small family comes back together with renewed hope and faith in their future together.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. Not deep, but an easy and inspiring read with excellent characterization. A good book to take on vacation with you this year!

For more book reviews see:

The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin–Book Review

The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan — Book Review

Deeper by Dane C. Orland — Book Review

Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

This book is the second in the Sensible Shoes (Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review ) by author Sharon Garlough Brown.  It continues the spiritual journeys of four friends who meet on a retreat — Hannah (single pastor on a long sabbatical), Charissa (perfectionist graduate student), Mara (mother of three boys in a difficult marriage) and Meg (widow and empty-nester).

As before, most people will find someone with a story that resonates with their own experiences.  These women fight common spiritual battles with anxiety, a desire to control, grief, difficulties in relationships, envy, and all the normal stresses and changes of daily life.

 

I had reserved this book from the local library, and it took quite a while for it to come in.  I told my reunion group sister that I was sure it would arrive at “the right time” and it did.  The plot takes place around the Christmas season and one of the themes is “making room for Jesus” in the mess and chaos of our lives.  Right before I read this book, I wrote a post on this very idea! ( see Make Room for Jesus).

If you’re in a book club or small group this would be a great read to study together.  There is a companion guide for prayer and conversation at the back.  It would be suitable to do either alone or with others.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  It was hard to put down!  However, I would recommend reading the books in order, so start with Sensible Shoes.  

For reviews of other works of Christian Fiction see:

Jack by Marilynne Robinson– Book Review

The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry — Book Review

white picket fences by Susan Meissner–Book Review

 

 

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

I’m not often a fan of Christian fiction, but this book was just delightful.  It’s an easy read, and you’ll soon be caught up in the story of four women:  Hannah, a pastor on sabbatical;  Meg, a widow and empty nester;  Mara, caught in an unhappy marriage, and Charissa, an ambitious and high-achieving graduate student.  They meet during a weekly spiritual retreat and find themselves becoming friends. You’ll probably see a bit of yourself and your own spiritual struggles in each one.

You’ll also learn something about spiritual disciplines, as the author discusses walking the labyrinth, the daily examen, lectio divina, reading the Scripture with imagination, having a rule of life and spiritual direction.  Since I’ve done most of these things in the past, it was a good refresher course.  It brought back many good memories from my own spiritual journey and encouraged me to think deeply about the disciplines I’m currently practicing and what changes I might make.

Each character develops and changes through their interaction with one another and with God.  You’ll find yourself drawn into their lives, and pondering the landmarks of your personal faith journey.  There are discussion questions at the end, making it a good pick for a book club.

VERDICT:  5 Stars.  I’ve already requested the second book in the series from the local library!

For more book reviews of Christian fiction see these posts:

The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry — Book Review

a long time comin’ by Robin W. Pearson — Book Review

white picket fences by Susan Meissner–Book Review

 

a long time comin’ by Robin W. Pearson — Book Review

I’m not a big fan of most Christian fiction.  It’s often sappy and not particularly well written (at least in my opinion). However, this novel is an exception.  The family of Beatrice Agnew is portrayed honestly with all their problems and foibles.  Bea has a different relationship with each of her children, and the exploration of these family dynamics is the engine that moves the plot along. I found myself caught up in her story and wanting to learn more about her life and her secrets. Told from the viewpoint of her granddaughter, Evelyn, “Granny B.” comes to life as a complicated and well developed character. She reminded me more than a bit of my own grandmother.

Author Robin Pearson leads the reader on a journey through pain and hardship, guilt,  forgiveness, healing and grief while exploring the family relationships between Beatrice and her children and grandchildren. God is a real presence in the life of the characters. The faith portrayed is authentic, but not sentimentalized.

There are discussion questions at the end, so this would make a good read for your book club.  According to the blub, this novel is the first in a series of three, so if you like it (as I did), you can look forward to more.

VERDICT:  4 STARS.  An easy and enjoyable read.