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Category Archives: Forgiveness

Lizzy & Jane, by Katherine Reay

**If you’re a skimmer, please be sure to read to the end… this will probably be long. 

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay struck my heart very uniquely. This book is about two sisters who live on opposite sides of the country. Lizzy in New York, and Jane in Seattle. Lizzy living the epitome of city life, busy with her restaurant and panicking that she’s about to lose it because she’s lost the spark in her heart for it; Jane determined not to let chemo get the best of her, yet at a loss for how to keep it from derailing her family. Both sisters unwilling to admit how closed off they have become and how guilty they both feel for being absent when loved ones needed them.

These characters became friends of mine.. they had depth, quirks, and flaws. 

To be completely honest, I started out very angry with Lizzy. She was full of herself and thought she had the answers to everything. I didn’t like her, and I certainly didn’t appreciate her attitude. After being reluctant to even call Jane, Lizzy decides she’s going to go cook for Jane, as a way of getting inspired to go back to her restaurant… She assures Jane that she won’t be able to turn down her food, and when Jane can’t eat what she makes (or, more accurately, when she gets sick on it and can’t eat any more), Lizzy takes offense. Oh my goodness.. get over yourself, Lizzy, and think about someone other than yourself. 

Jane has adjustments to make too though. She’s shut out her husband and her kids as a way of dealing with her cancer. Their life has become routine and monotonous, and I think she thinks she doesn’t really deserve any different. She has lost her joy but would never tell you that. 

After much trial and error, Lizzy finally begins to realize that she needs to ask Jane about her life, her cancer, her treatments, what tastes good vs what doesn’t… and not only ask, but actually listen and get to know her sisterIf there’s one thing Jane needs as much as food she can eat, it’s a good listener. A true friend in her sister. Loving her where she is. It was a process, but I began to like the character I was seeing in Lizzy. I loved the morphing I saw in both of them. 

This was quite a difficult read for me. I don’t know if you picture what you’re reading or not, but I do. And I saw Jane’s Infusion Center as my own, the waiting area at her oncologist’s office as mine. The parking lot? Same. One of our chemo drugs was the same, and not just in my mind. Maybe one of the steroid & anti-sick drug combinations too… (I remember mine but not hers.) 

When I was partway through this book, I mentioned some initial thoughts on it to the friend who had asked if I’d read it. I told her that the writer of this book had either been there herself or had really done some thorough research and listened to people close to her who had been there. Because wow. She captured so much, so accurately. Three years ago the day before yesterday was my second chemo. I may forget many things now, but certain dates and experiences are forever etched into my memory. This book brought emotions and physical things to the forefront of my mind that felt like they were yesterday. 

A thread of romance runs through this beautiful story too. It just sort of happens. It’s sweet and doesn’t try to take the spotlight. 

Lizzy & Jane gripped my heart in a way that rarely happens. Most of the books on my all-time favorites list aren’t stories I’ve connected with like this one. That doesn’t mean I love this one more, but it means I love it unlike most others. I so needed this book. I’m not sure I knew I did for quite a while, but I did.  

This book is a hotdog for me, no question. While I’m generally not big on hotdogs and am very picky about them, they were one of the few foods that I could eat consistently throughout chemo. That being said, I’m glad I read it now rather than during chemo when I originally picked it up and discovered I couldn’t read a book. 

I’d never read anything by Katherine Reay prior to this, but I will be reading more. (For those wondering, yes, there are connections to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, but aside from the pride and preconceived notions involved in this story that I’ve already mentioned, I’m not going to expand on the connections.)

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Can’t Help Falling, by Kara Isaac

This book was truly a delight, and honestly, I dragged my feet at the end because I didn’t want the story to be over. 

Can’t Help Falling… what a perfectly chosen title for this darling story that opens with the heroine quite literally falling out of a wardrobe.. and into the arms of the hero. While I say this book is darling, I have to add a disclaimer… it *is* a very sweet story.. but there are some very difficult subjects that come up within these pages. It’s all about hope vs hopelessness, second chances, and forgiveness in every form. It’s about redemption. 

The difficulties encountered and fought through make this book that much sweeter. 

Why? Because it’s real. Not as in a true story, but real as in real life. We all make bad choices, and yet God cares about each of us so personally that He goes to great lengths to draw us to Himself… sometimes we just don’t want to see it. 

A quick synopsis.. Emelia and Peter could quote Narnia together for weeks on end. Neither has ever met anyone remotely like the other, and they are so drawn to each other. But each of them has guilt that they just cannot forgive themselves for, and neither do they really know how to let God forgive them either. They each blame themselves for someone’s too-soon death, and their regrets could very easily come between them when the whole truth comes out. 

Kara Isaac is an incredibly talented, creative writer, and her books are refreshing to me. 

I was thinking about likening this book to Turkish delight, since it is all about two people who might as well be Pevensies. But I’ve never actually had Turkish delight. So I am opting for chocolate. Chocolate with toffee bits in it, because it needs some crunch. 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2017 in Fiction, Forgiveness, Friendship, Kara Isaac, Romance

 

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High as the Heavens, by Kate Breslin 

The tension of living in war-torn Belgium and France is very well-captured in this book. A World War 1 story, it covers an era that I don’t know nearly as well as WW2.

High as the Heavens tells us of Eve, a young woman who finds herself in Brussels, caught up in more levels of intrigue and deceit than she even realizes. Due to guilt she carries around with her through each moment of her present life, Eve believes herself unlovable and unforgivable.

Eve unexpectedly recognizes a victim in a plane crash, and the resulting danger in which she finds herself carries Eve and those close to her into some very dark places. This book is a beautiful picture of the hope that can only be found in Jesus. I love how Eve’s heart battle for hope and faith is so very real on these pages. It’s something that’s been difficult for me to read over the course of this summer (resulting in this book taking me much longer to read than it normally would) but so so necessary because of the beautiful hope that is reinforced.

I honestly can’t speak highly enough of Kate Breslin’s work – she may only have three novels in print thus far, but each of these three books is truly a story that will draw you in and make you forget that you’re not right there, going about everyday life with these beloved characters.

I would classify this book as a spicy chai, because of the deeply rich layers of flavor. Please read this book.

I was honored to be on the launch team for this book and received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

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The Illusionist’s Apprentice, by Kristy Cambron

This Jazz Age story sparkling with enchanting descriptions and believable characters makes my heart smile. 

The Illusionist’s Apprentice has many dark places… but at each turn and shadow, there lives the promise of light and the reminder that darkness and evil cannot win. In spite of brushes with death and hatred, main characters Wren and Elliott are determined to keep a hold on hope.

Rooted in history, well-researched truth mingles with fiction. Though the majority of the book takes place in the late 1920s, there are flashbacks of sorts throughout, giving us as readers bits of backstory. I at first thought I wanted more of that background early on… but as I really delved into the heart of the story, I changed my mind. Each look back gives a very timely peek into Wren’s locked-tight past, each glimpsing a little deeper than we’d seen before — until we really understand this complex young woman who is as adept an illusionist off the stage as she is on it. 

Kristy Cambron did an excellent job with this latest release, and I very much recommend it. 

I want to compare this one to vanilla bean scones. There is much assuredness of hand-in-hand in this book, of “I’ll be right here no matter what”, and of hope anchored in the midst of life’s storms… and there is such comfort in that. Vanilla bean scones just seem to speak of that kind of familiarity and constantness to me that I found in these pages, so they seem to fit well. 

 

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The Golden Braid, by Melanie Dickerson 

Simply put, I loved this book. It made me smile, and it engaged both my imagination and my heart.

The Golden Braid, as one might guess, tells the story of Rapunzel. It’s a story for every girl (no matter her age) who has ever dreamt of being a princess… for each one who has ever pretended she lived in a castle and wore twirly dresses to the ball.

As a young woman, Rapunzel has grown up always being taught to be wary of anyone and everyone, particularly men. While her soft heart is lonely and discontent because deep inside she desperately wants more, she feels a fierce loyalty to her adoptive mother. One day Rapunzel discovers a way to feed her hunger for knowledge by fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams — learning to read. An unexpected series of events finds Rapunzel in situations she wouldn’t have ever imagined, and she begins to learn what it means to learn what it means to love like Jesus.

Melanie Dickerson enchanted me as a reader with this reimagining of Rapunzel’s story. I’m enchanted like I am by chocolate cake. Rich in texture and flavor, chocolate cake and The Golden Braid make me want to eat dessert first.. and to read before anything else.

*This is actually the sixth book in a series… which I realized about 2/3 of the way through it. If you, like me, accidentally read them out of order, it’s not the end of the world. If you want to get the most out of the story though, you should probably go in order. That being said, this story is complete and can stand alone, as can all the others.