Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review on Miss Brenda and the Loveladies

In the book, Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell you first meet Brenda in one of those life-altering moments.  For Brenda Spahn, her moment of truth came in the form of a possible jail sentence when things went very wrong with her business, Fortunately, things worked out and she did not serve any time in jail, but she did get a wake up call from God and in that moment came a new calling on her life- a call to help women who were serving time find a way to actually make it back to lives that were meaningful and whole. The more Brenda tried to help these women, which so easily could have been her, the more she realized that there was a big need for a “whole-way” house to help them to really heal and live well and with meaning and purpose. And this is how the Loveladies house was born-  a community of women fighting the odds for survival on the outside.

  This story is utterly compelling to see a woman who according to the world’s standards had it all -a successful business, vacations, clothes, etc,- but whose focus was mostly on making money. When her very world and living are rocked and she finds what she is really meant to do, she literally rocks the world with this new idea- to open the Lovelady house. In march some pretty tough ladies who each have heartbreaking stories and who Brenda describes as “never having a chance” with the environments that they came from. As was usual with ex-cons, leaving the penitentiary system, they were issued a pair of pants and a shirt, 10$ and a bus ticket back to where they came from, which almost always resulted in re-offenses and they went right back to prison. Brenda was frustrated with the system and just knew that she could do better and help these ladies find hope. And so she does, by offering love, faith in Jesus and a listening non-judgmental ear, as well as lots of practical life lessons and encouragement. 

  This story is told with humor, love, passion and some heartbreak. The descriptive phrase on the front of the book describes it perfectly- “A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God and Gumption.  I was very moved by this book- the courage and obedience of Brenda in some pretty discouraging circumstances, the stories of the Loveladies are truly heartbreaking at first and then stand up and cheer inspirational by the end. All I can say is I hope this story is being made into a movie because these Loveladies are an inspiration to us all. 

5 stars

I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review on Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

History meets the present in a most unique and creative way in Wildwood Creek, Lisa Wingate’s latest in her Moses Lake series. (This one can be read as a standalone.)  Allie Kirkland a young woman with a passion to continue on in her belated  father’s footsteps in the film industry and  lands a production’s assistant job for a docudrama which chronicles the life of a frontier settlement known as Wildwood.   The trouble is there were many mysterious disappearances among the settlers back in 1861 and  as history has a tendency of repeating itself, strange things start happening  in the present day “Wildwood” as well,  which makes things very interesting.  

  A wonderful and fascinating part of this book is the dual narrative where you follow a storyline of an Irish school teacher named Bonnie Rose trying to flee her very difficult past and raise her younger sister in this brand new settlement of Wildwood in 1861. At the same time we are also learning the story of Allie who is working on a film set where all of the actors are being asked to actually live as the settlers lived  back then with a functional setting, period clothing and of course no modern conveniences or communication to try and mimic what life was really like  and then to document their journey on film.

  When the past meets the present and the truth of the past comes out, it becomes a very poignantly told story where you are rooting for both women as they struggle to make their way in their own world’s.  This book feels like a mix of a lot of elements - a bit of history, a bit of drama and definitely suspense, mystery, and a touch of romance. The spiritual thread is not heavy handed but present in the aspect that no matter how bad things look, God is active and working in the lives of both women.  I still was left wanting to know a bit more of how Allie’s story played out, but I don’t consider that a negative thing- it just makes me wonder.  

  For those who love the blend of history with contemporary, and Lisa Wingate’s wonderful writing, I think you will enjoy this special book Wildwood Creek.

4 Stars

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.