Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

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“Sometimes God has to destroy in order to save. He has to wound in order to heal.”

Bridge to Haven the first book I’ve read of Francine’s and is by far the most touching and heart-wrenching books I’ve ever read. This book was on my to-read list the moment I saw the cover, and I’m so glad I was able to get my hands on it. Following the story of the Prodigal Son from the book of Luke, we are taken on a journey with Abra, a broken young woman who is unable to grab onto her life.

I love that Francine doesn’t shy away from reality to get her point across, yet it’s done with a careful hand. She writes so beautifully and draws you in from the first word. You feel as though you’re there, living in the story, instead of just reading it.

Like Redeeming Love, this novel is full of some pretty heavy stuff. From the very beginning, we already experience illness and death, and then are brought along as Abra deals with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and forced abortion. Francine does an excellent job of painting Abra as a sympathetic character, but it may be a bit too much for some readers.

I’ve read a lot of reviews that suggest Abra is too unrealistic of a character, but sometimes one has to hit rock bottom to get back up on her feet. She deals with a lot of stuff, but I don’t believe it’s addressed in an unrealistic way. I think people believe that because what Abra deals with is usually a silent, private issue and that nobody talks about it. Then you read about her, even as a fictional character, trying to deal with all that she’s gone through and then you try to figure out how a person can go through all of that during only a couple of years.

Another thing I liked was that her struggle with God was consistent throughout the entire novel. One of my biggest pet peeves is having a character wrestle with their faith and then come back to Christ in almost the same breath. It was a lovely change from other books I’ve read though I didn’t expect anything less from Rivers.

There are a couple of things that didn’t bother me but did bother other readers that I wanted to share before I close this review. It involves minor spoilers, so if you want to be completely surprised just skip ahead to the next section. The first is the plot twist. I didn’t see it coming, but then I hardly ever see anything coming in mystery shows and what not so it did surprise me. But other readers thought it was silly and saw it from the moment the character stepped into the story. The other is Abra and Joshua’s relationship. Some people thought it was weird because, for the first five years of Abra’s life, they were siblings (adoptive) before she was given to another family but again, this didn’t bother me.

All in all, I adored this book and recommend it to anyone who thinks they’re too far gone to be saved.

So Fair a Lady by Amber Lynn Perry

51wtomqr4hl-_sx321_bo1204203200_“We must ever strive to be worthy of the blessings of God. We must ever be humble, teachable and courageous enough to accept the challenges and turmoil that awaits us. If we will stand but valiant, God will surely deliver us!”

Thanks to American Girl and their line of the Revolutionary War dolls Felicity and Elizabeth, I have always had a soft spot for anything set in the 18th century. But it’s so difficult to find good fiction set in this period of history that is not a TV show or movie. And so I was very excited when I found about Ms. Perry and her series of books set during the Revolutionary War (and short side note, how gorgeous is this cover!).

This book is different from anything I’ve read before, and not just the fact that it is set in a different time period than what I usually read. It’s quite suspenseful, and if you’ve watched the TV show TURN: Washington’s Spies it’s similar to that, but, of course, this story is fictional.

I like to say that a book or novel is about 50% character and 50% plot, and the characters lived up to my expectations for what I had hoped they would be. They were very well rounded and didn’t feel flat. Though the book is mostly from the point of view of Eliza, our female protagonist, I loved how you got to see from the point of view of the other characters. It gave a fresh perspective on what was happening to not just one character, which allowed to feel more invested in the story rather than just reading it. It’s somewhat of a coming-of-age story for Eliza, but all the characters experience growth in maturity as the story progresses.

And as for the plot, the description made me feel a bit hesitant about it at first, but by the end of the first chapter I was hooked. It was different then what I had expected, but I was truly pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The plot description made it seem as though Eliza was running away from a too-persistent suitor, but there are so many more layers that get peeled back as you dive deeper into the story, so it makes it a fast-paced page turner.

I enjoyed this book so much, and will be looking forward to the next books that Ms. Perry has planned for her readers.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

41gum-hafhl-_sx334_bo1204203200_“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

I was utterly captivated by this book. It took me a while to read, and I’m normally a pretty fast reader, but this book is not for those looking for a light, easy-to-read book. There’s some pretty heavy stuff in there so I had to read a bit slower than I usually would to make sure I was catching and absorbing everything so I wouldn’t miss something later on in the book.

I think everyone should read this book, especially those who are interested in the WWII era. I’ve read books from a soldier or a woman’s point of view (in America) but never one from a girl as young as Liesel. She was a very interesting character. Her story was so heartbreaking, and it’s sad knowing that while her story may have applied to a few children in the middle of WWII, many were not so lucky. It was interesting, going through things through her head. I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time and just could not seem to put it down.

However, as I mentioned above, the book contains some pretty heavy stuff. If you’re even the slightest bit familiar with WWII and the persecution in Germany, then what is mentioned in the book should not be a surprise to you. But even if it’s not a surprise to you, it’s not easy to read about such violence. The violence isn’t graphic, but it is still pretty hard to read so if you’re sensitive to such things I would steer clear or read with a wary eye.

A couple things I wanted to stick in here is that from like 100-150, the book dragged a bit, and I found that I skimmed more during this section of the book than I actually read. And while this part didn’t really bother me, there is a bit of touchy language so if a couple cuss words bother you, then it might hinder your enjoyment of the book.

I really enjoyed this book and will probably read it again, and hope that you all will read and enjoy the book as well.

*I also want to add this: I have also seen the movie and it is almost exactly like the book. Of course, some parts of the book were omitted from the movie, but overall the movie was spot on to the book.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

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“Love cleanses, beloved. It doesn’t beat you down. It doesn’t cast blame.”

This book is quite possibly one of my absolute favorite books. I had read Bridge to Haven, and as soon as I finished I wanted to read this book, mostly to see what all the fuss was about. It took me a while to finally get my hands on it, as every time I went to the Library someone always had the copies they had, but when I was finally able to get it and I’m so glad I did. It was such a great novelI finished it in just one day.

I always love a good romance, but this book definitely has more meat to it, not a fluffy lovey-dovey type of thing. So don’t come in expecting a sweet romance, because you’ll be disappointed. But regarding the book’s title, redeeming love is the definite theme here. Angel struggles with Michael quite a bit, and at some points, it’s a bit comedic at how frustrated she gets. Growing up in the situation she did, you can see how it would be difficult to accept pure love, without sexual relations. You have to put yourself in her shoes with this book. It’s an amazing read, but not the kind of light and fluffy Christian novel most are used to reading. It’s dark and heartbreaking because this was how many women lived and not many (if any), women got the chance of love that Angel got. So, of course, it’s frustrating how she just didn’t accept Michael’s love but if you think about her and her situation, it makes sense.

But luckily, because this is a romance book, we do get to see a little bit of romance between the two primary characters, which is very sweet but brief, taking place probably within the last 30% of the book if I remember correctly.

This book, as with Bridge to Haven, is not for the faint of heart. The book has scenes that are not explicit but elude to some sexual situations, inside and outside of marriage. Being a Christian book, I believe it is done tastefully and would recommend it for girls maybe 15+. The book is quite dark, to be honest. There’s no way to deal lightly with such complicated topics anyways (rape, abuse, prostitution) but from my little knowledge of such matters, they were handled with care and were explained very gracefully without diminishing the severity of the issues.

All in all, if you can handle dark and complicated subjects, then you will join me and the millions of others who have been greatly touched by this incredible book.