Non-Fiction Review: Rachel Anne Ridge’s “Flash”

Imagine, if you will, that feeling when someone asks you for a book recommendation. You pull one from the shelf, press it into their hand, and extol the virtues of the tale within, usually ending with the phrase “you have to read it!”.

Alas, I cannot place my e-book into your hands, but it is with the same fervor that I highly recommend this work!

I wasn’t expecting to be so impacted by this memoir. It sounded like a fun, interesting read, which it definitely is, but it also turned out to be exactly what I needed at the moment. A breath of fresh air, and new perspective on my day-to-day. Mrs. Ridge writes with a clarity of thought and voice that made this work an absolute treat to read.

While you can finish reading in one sitting, the Bible truths Mrs. Ridge brings out, illustrated with life stories, will take you a while to mull over. I wrote down many quotes and takeaways. For example, “what I do comes from who I am, not the other way around,” and “Character is really only as good as the relationships around you. Honesty, love, generosity, and truth must have an object, or they remain theories rather than becoming realities in our lives.”

Instead of just focusing on how to get out of the valley, back to the sunshine, Mrs. Ridge takes the time to look around at the valley, learning what it can teach her, and what she can take away for others. As she said, “God moved Saul from his own little world, by means of a frustrating mission, into a place of encounter.” If we only focus on getting out, getting over with, getting done in our lives, we may miss the bigger picture. I know I am fully guilty of focusing too much on what I do, and not who I am, and often, forgetting Whose I am. Stepping back and getting correct perspective has begun to change my day-to-day life for the better.

I admit, I wasn’t expecting that from a story about a stray donkey!

Flash is a character that will stick with you for a while! I appreciate Mrs. Ridge sharing him, her family, and part of their journey with us.

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley.

Fiction Review: Anne-Laure Thieblemont’s “The Collector”

A new Le French Book review!

If it’s not overtly clear by now, I have nothing but the highest respect for the publisher Le French Book, and the people who work there. The ability to translate not just words, but feeling, nuances and great story, opening up a new dimension of great authors and works to English-speaking audiences, is something I admire greatly.

“The Collector” has a very fast pace – a one-sitting read. Make sure to set aside a little time when you get this book, because it will be very hard to put down until the final page!

This is the start to a new series for this author, but it is not her first work. Ms. Thieblemont knows and owns her voice, starting out with strong confidence that carries through the whole book. This was refreshing to read, when there are so many other books that take a few chapters to really warm up. To be immersed in the story from page one, to feel the enthusiasm with which the tale is told from the start, made “The Collector” fun to read, even outside of the actual plot!

It was neat to see a new perspective on French life, through French eyes. I got a look at life in Paris, rather than the countryside focus of the Winemaker Detective. It was interesting to read the Parisian nuances, things I’ve not yet come across in character descriptions set in other places in France. It’s similar to the use of “pop” vs. “soda” here in the United States – little identifiers that round out a person’s background and personality. Once again, I’ve learned something new.

The book is set in the world of art, and Ms. Thieblemont’s descriptions make that world vivid and stunning. The colors, the textures, the contrasts, all were expertly created for the reader. I enjoyed lingering among the display, even as the story compelled me onward.

It will be interesting to see where Marion’s story goes from here! I look forward to finding out.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Non-Fiction Review: Leslie Ludy’s “The Set-Apart Woman”

I’ve been refreshed through works by Leslie Ludy in the past, and was eager to get a copy of this latest title. I like her writing style, a very raw and real tone that feels like you are sitting with her while she shares with you.

This book came at the perfect time, as I am entering a new life season, and needed a reminder of how to always make sure to put Christ first. Along with reminders of the importance of practical day-to-day prayers, quiet time, and service, Leslie focuses on reestablishing the motivations behind why we do what we do. As she says; “God has promised that when we build our lives around His priorities, He will multiply our time and effectiveness and make sure all our needs are taken care of.”

She goes in-depth into different areas of our lives where we might struggle to put Christ first, reminding readers to ask, “When people see this part of my life, are they drawn closer to Jesus, or are they merely impressed with me?”, because, “there should be no area of our life that is exclusively ours. Rather, every area of our lives should be exclusively God’s.”

I was strengthened, edified, and convicted while reading this book, writing notes over and over in my journal to continue ruminating on later. I like the fact the chapters are laid out for both group study and personal study – allowing readers the chance to go over what they are learning multiple times, from different perspectives.

One part I especially liked is when Leslie is talking about Jesus being our all, and lists out who He is to us by His different names, by verse. I plan to spend some extra study on just that portion of that chapter, as it really brought the larger picture of what she was saying down to a very personal level.

This is a work that will leave you thinking and mulling over new insights, but would be especially good for newer believers, as Leslie helps to lay a foundation of truth that would be very good to start with when a new believer is first studying who Jesus is and what He means to them.

The biggest take-away I received from this work came in these two quotes from Leslie:

 “Whether we are recognized and applauded or disregarded and overlooked, it should make no difference to us. A woman who has taken up her cross to follow Christ cares only about knowing Him and making Him known.”

“Imagine the freedom of being unconcerned whether people appreciated your unique talents, personality, or acts of service. Imagine if your only concern was making Jesus known, even if no one ever remembered your name.”

May it be so.

 I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Fiction Review: Mary Ellis’s “Midnight on the Mississippi”

A cute and interesting story. This is the first of a new series by Ms. Ellis, and it sets the books to come on a great foot.

I really like the character of Nicki, she is very real and believable. It draws the reader in to have her as our entrance to this world. I especially liked the great use of dialogue between the characters. That is something I have a hard time getting right, so to see it well done is always a treat.

The blurb on the book talks about the characters turning to God to help them with their problems, and other than a few statements of what they believed on a certain point, I didn’t really see that happen. It was still a well-grounded book, with characters who knew what they believed and stood firm within it, which I enjoyed.

The pacing and focus of the story seemed a little odd at some points, with the author lingering or hurrying through different scenes at times. While working to establish the characters for this new series, it sometimes felt as if the mystery plot was pushed to the background.

The extensive descriptions of the food the characters enjoy made me hungry! I’ve been to the area in which the book was set, and it pulled on those memories of smells and sights, making my stomach wish for more! I always like books that can give you the whole immersive experience with their descriptions.

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley.