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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Stories of Summer (Part 1)

I have uncovered a rarely-known and wonderful secret. It is a trick that will revolutionize any book-lover's life. By it, I have been enabled to read a total of 16 books this summer. Are you ready? This is serious stuff. Read ONE book at a time, all the way through, before beginning another one.

. . . Wait. You mean most people do that already? How embarrassing ;)

For those interested, this post is to reveal the first 8 of the 16 books I completed this summer and to share a brief synopsis of each. Truly, I am the happier, the wiser, the better for having read these books. They are no mere stories: each is truly dynamic!

1. A Novel Idea: Best Advice on Writing Inspirational Fiction (includes authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Randy Alcorn, Terri Blackstock, Robin Jones Gunn, Angela Hunt, etc.)
A Novel Idea is a compilation of challenges, advice, and information for aspiring young writers from seasoned, experienced authors. Carefully highlighted sections litter almost every page in my copy. I plan to reread it multiple times and glean all the knowledge and wisdom I can on the planning, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing processes from these Christian-fiction authors.

2. Joni and Ken: An Untold Love Story (Ken and Joni Eareckson Tada)
Written by the widely-loved Joni and her husband Ken, this autobiographical book shares the love story of these dedicated Christians and many of the struggles experienced and lessons learned in their lives together, including Joni's paraplegia, her fight with breast cancer, Ken's exhaustion, and their seasons of spiritual discouragement. As is each of Joni's books, the story is an inspiring and powerful testament to God's grace.

3. Twelve Extraordinary Women (John MacArthur)
An insightful study in the lives of twelve women from the Bible, Twelve Extraordinary Women thoroughly explores the lives of Eve, Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Mary the mother of Christ, Anna, the Samaritan woman, Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Lydia. MacArthur explains the background and setting of each of the women's stories, teaching the reader far more than many women's devotional books cover.

4. Not My Will (Francena H. Arnold)
A heartrending tale, this novel relates the story of Eleanor Stewart, a headstrong young woman who encounters the saving power of Christ. Much grief follows, causing Eleanor to learn a powerful lesson about God and the Christian life. Francena Arnold's characters welcome the reader into their lives, stirring emotion and portraying the mighty sovereignty of God.

5. Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved (Doris Van Stone, Erwin W. Lutzer)
Dorie is the true story of Doris Van Stone, from her dark, cheerless childhood, to the rejection she faced in her adolescent years, to the loving man who married her, and the foreign mission field to which the couple journeyed. Every lady, young or old, would benefit from reading this autobiography.

6. The Last Valentine (James Michael Pratt)
This fictional novel takes place in 1944. World War II calls many a young man from his beloved sweetheart and tosses him into the heart of dangerous conflict. This is the story of one brave soldier, his young wife, and the very special last valentine. Michael Pratt plunges the reader into the war-torn world of the 1940s, giving the views of both the husband and wife as they pass through a frightening, sorrowful time and learn the power of true, committed love.

7. Freckles (Gene Stratton-Porter)
Pleasurable. That is the best word to describe my experience reading this 1904 novel by Gene Stratton-Porter. The Irish accent, boyish enthusiasm, and courage of Freckles, the young man of the Limberlost, captured my heart, and his handicap--having only one hand, did not keep him from carrying out his duties with courage and determination. Then, there is the beautiful "Swamp-angel" who wanders into his forest one day and changes his life . . .

8. A Severe Mercy (Sheldon Vanauken)
Along with A Man Called Peter, this true story is one of the two most life-altering books I've yet read (besides the Bible, of course). Sheldon Vanauken relates his story--he and his wife's journey to Christianity, their overpowering love for each other, the tragedy that befalls them, and the all-engulfing power, love, and grace of God. Vanauken became one of C. S. Lewis's closest friends, and correspondence from their friendship is included in A Severe Mercy. This book digs deeply, unflinchingly, into the fears, desires, and questions in the heart of every human being. It stirs the soul, spiritually and emotionally. If you read no other of the books reviewed here, read A Severe Mercy.

My next post on The Tansy Patch will provide a summary of the remaining eight books that comprised my beautiful, blessed summer. God bless you, and be sure to return for my follow-up post :)

~Miss Emily Elizabeth

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