Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Out on a westward journey, a wagon accident has forced Clare’s husband to go back for help, and pregnant Clare is left alone with her four-year-old son, Jacob. When her labor pains begin, Clare leaves the wagon during the night, only to return and find Jacob gone. A passing frontiersman, Jeremiah, offers to help Clare search for her son, but getting the boy back from the Shawnee people who took him will be no simple task in Many Sparrows, a novel by author Lori Benton.

I must say I was gripped early on in this novel. I hadn’t encountered a childbirth scene as harrowing as the one here since the last time I watched Michaela Quinn in labor in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t remain quite as gripped the further I got into the book, but I hadn’t expected to. Having previously read three other novels by this author, I expected to gradually wade through a dense story and look out for the striking, brilliant parts, especially like the memorable ones in The Pathfinders series.

While this novel isn’t without its own striking moments, I did find the pace too slow at times. I’m used to the “waiting” feeling I’ve also encountered in other stories by this author, and waiting is indeed a theme of this novel. But I got a little weary here and there, waiting for the plot to move forward. Also, though I understood Clare and her plight, I wish I could have liked her more, at least as much as I did Jeremiah.

Nevertheless, I think this novel will be right down the alley of other historical ChristFic fans. And like the author, I’d also recommend readers to check out The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn after reading this, if they haven’t already.

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Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Wow! Ramona Quimby isn’t far from turning “zeroteen” years old. She’s now in fourth grade, makes a new best friend, and gets to spend time being the big sister for a change, at home. (Well, “a” big sister, anyway.) But as always, her adventures this year will come with their share of challenges in Ramona’s World by author Beverly Cleary.

So, here we are. I’ve finally read the belated conclusion to the Ramona Quimby series, after first meeting Ramona back when I was six. I’ll admit this last book (which was published fifteen years after the original last book, Ramona Forever, and almost forty-five years after the first book, Beezus and Ramona) didn’t have quite the same “Ramona book” feel that I’m accustomed to.

Of course, I did read and reread the other books as a child first before revisiting them as a grownup, and of course x2, Ramona is growing up herself. Nothing against her friend Howie, but Ramona’s finding that she needs more girl time, now. Plus, she’s liked a boy or two, here and there, but when it comes to a certain boy in her fourth grade class, liking him is, well, a little different.

Anyway, I got a good helping of laughs out of this book’s humor, so that was much the same. And the girl I was, who’s yet in me, can still identify a lot with this young heroine: earning the calluses on her hands, holding an unfolded paper clip in front of her mouth, pondering how lame it is for her teacher to reward good spelling with Reward Words that are even harder to spell.

All in all, it was a delight to finish one of my all-time favorite series. Again. 🙂

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The first few times around, it was a delight to finish this series with Ramona Forever.

Blink by S.A. Jewell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Ambassador International provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Blink by S.A. Jewell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Jason is on top of his world with a family and a profitable career. Mona Foster has successfully climbed the political ladder all the way to the presidency of the United States. But when people all over the globe go missing one day, Jason, President Foster, and a host of others will see more than their personal worlds crumble in Blink, a novel by author S.A. Jewell.

Yes, I’m familiar with the Left Behind series of bestselling books and the four movies they inspired. And, no, I wasn’t looking for a repeat of what I previously read and saw, but I was curious to see how Blink would handle the biblical apocalypse theme.

This novel doesn’t waste time in getting right to its main material, which I can appreciate. The chapters alternate among a variety of characters in several places and separate but related situations, and on the whole, the story kept me interested.

The opening of the novel is fairly solid. However, the book’s overall style feels rather unnatural and melodramatic, both in the characters’ dialogue and the narration. The characters seem more like “character types” that are necessary for the book’s subject than actual people with depth and nuance. The floating point of view is a bit tricky to follow at times, and several of the story’s arguments and explanations are repetitive. Also, a number of scenes rush over or through important events, and more believable characters might have given those “unbelievable” events a more convincing feel.

Still, ChristFic readers interested in end-times stories may enjoy this novel.

An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Polly finds out she’s not quite like other girls when she goes to visit her cousins in the city. It may lead to some awkward situations, but perhaps Polly’s differentness will prove not to be such a bad thing in An Old-Fashioned Girl, a coming of age novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Okay, so I’ll confess right out the gate that Alcott’s admission at the beginning of the last chapter ruined the end of the book for me. But as I came to like the characters so much, I can forgive how their creator deals with them in the end.

I enjoyed much of this book’s wording. How the characters speak, and how the author speaks about them, is what most makes these folks a pleasure. On the whole, I like Polly and Tom the best as children. Their dance at the party in Chapter 7 is…well, it’s just flat out cute.

The music struck up, and away they went, Tom hopping one way and Polly the other, in a most ungraceful manner.

“Keep time to the music,” gasped Polly.

“Can’t. Never could,” returned Tom.

“Keep step with me, then, and don’t tread on my toes,” pleaded Polly.

“Never mind. Keep bobbing, and we’ll come right by and by,” muttered Tom, giving his unfortunate partner a sudden whisk, which nearly landed both on the floor.

But they did not “get right by and by”; for Tom, in his frantic efforts to do his duty, nearly annihilated poor Polly. He tramped, he bobbed, he skated, he twirled her to the right, dragged her to the left…

Too many perfectly worded parts and tidbits to name. There’s Polly’s evening of flirtation as a young woman at the opera, the “bitter smile” on her face at the end of it, Tom bending to ask her, “Are you tired, Polly?” to which she answers, “Yes, of being nobody.” There’s Fanny’s observation of Maud that she directs at Polly, saying, “Blessed innocence! Don’t you wish you were a child, and dared tell what you want?”

A rather delightful and old-fashioned read from the author of Little Women.