Monday, March 31, 2014

Sing For Me by Karen Halvorsen Schreck

Genre: Fiction 

Pages: Soft Cover 

Publisher: Howard Books 

Jags: 7 

New York durning the Depression was anything but forgiving, especially for a young woman with a gift. Rose Sorensen knows the music coming out of her neighbor's windows and on the radio isn't what her Danish Baptist family would consider godly, except Rose has a secret. Not only does she know the lyrics to these songs, but she can sing them as beautifully as the performers. 

At first, Rose was content to hold this yearning deep down inside, until one random night, her cousin convinces her to sneak away and go to Calliopes, a jazz club in Bronzeville. What happens next is nothing short of miraculous. Rose enters a world where praising The Lord isn't just confined to hymns on Sunday, but also on stage performing in front of an audience. 

Sing For Me is a beautiful story exploring the bonds of family, societies norm, and the very notion of following your dreams. Karen Halvorsen Schreck has woven together memorable story that allows you to connect with the characters from the first page, right down to the last. 

The Jag Review has received a free copy of this book from Howad Books for our honest review. The opinions expressed are our own.

Fearless Hope by Serena B. Miller

Genre: Fiction/Amish & Mennonite 

Pages: Soft Cover

Publisher:  Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Reviewer:  Jean Eastwood

Jags: 8

This is a captivating and wonderfully-written fictional story about an “Amish” woman named Hope who lost her husband in a tragic farming accident and falls in love again. This book holds your interest and you can’t seem to put it down, wondering what will happen next. 

The story takes place in Holmes County, Iowa. Since her husband died, Hope needs and starts a part-time housekeeping job for Logan, a writer from New York who just bought one of the old “Amish” homes. He starts to have “déjà-vu” feelings about the town, the house next door and the community in general. 

Logan has a fiancé (Marla) back in New York but that relationship does not last very long once he realizes he has fallen in love with Hope and her two children. He goes back to New York to break off the relationship with Marla and catches her cheating on him. He evicts her and puts his New York apartment (worth millions of dollars) back on the market again.

The ending is quite surprising in that we find out the main character Logan was actually kidnapped when he was a small boy while on vacation with his family in Sarasota, Florida. His name was Joseph then. Logan’s mom makes the long trip back to Iowa with him to apologize to the family next door for kidnapping their son and after a very emotional conversation with the family she is forgiven.
Hope and Logan get married and have their own child. Logan tries to learn the “Amish” ways to go back to his “Amish” roots and fit in within this community.

The sporadic insertion of the “Amish” language throughout the book helps the reader visualize the “Amish” culture. Their beliefs are very strong and they rely on the opinion of their Bishop for the moral decisions they need to make in life. This was a great read! 

The Jag Review has received a free copy of this book from Howard Books for our honest review. The opinions expressed here are our own. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Growing Up Duggar by Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger Duggar

Genre: Family & Relationships

Pages: Hard Cover

Publisher:  Howard Books/Simon and Schuster

Reviewer:  Jean Eastwood

Jags: 8 

Growing up Duggar is about the Duggar family from Arkansas who are well known for the television show on TLC (the learning channel) called  “19 Kids and Counting”. Mrs. Duggar actually had a 20th child, a girl, but she was stillborn. All of the children have names that start with the letter “J”. There are 10 boys and 9 girls.

This book is written by several of the older girls whose names are mentioned above. They are very insightful for being so young. They all have discovered their “vocation” in life and are happily involved in serving others at such a young age. They are happy to share their Christian ways of thinking and living with anyone but especially find it rewarding to work with teenagers who need their guidance.

I think it is amazing that all of the 19 children play piano and violin and every one can play another instrument as well, like the cello, guitar, mandolin, or harp. All of the children are raised to be very well-mannered. The boys are taught to serve and protect the girls and learned this behavior from watching their dad. They even open the car doors for the girls which you really don’t see very often anymore. 

After reading this book on relationships, I think the Duggar children have a bright future ahead of them. They are obedient and mature for their age. I give credit to the parents for instilling the right behavior at a very early age and make it possible for the children to have emotional and financial support.

I enjoyed reading the book and it was a fun weekend read. Keep up the good work Duggars!

The Jag Review has received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for our honest review. The opinions expressed here are our own. 


Incognito by Andrea Raynor

Genre: Autobiogrphy

Pages: Soft cover 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 

Reviewer: Virginia Armstrong 

Jags: 5 

Incognito is the biography of Andrea Raynors personal journey during her days at Harvard Divinity School. Finding the campus to be more than what she expected, Andrea is thrust into a world of diversity in cultures and lifestyles. What she discovers is a world she could have never imagined, especially at such a reputable institution.

Andrea's first experiences range from openly gay students on campus, to Geishas and even preop transsexuals that unfolds into colorful moments in her life. She introduces you to the men that meant the most to her, and the ones she left behind. She also includes all the stories of the homeless she strives to help, champion individuals that would otherwise be swept under the rug. 

During this time, Andrea's convictions strengthen in God, believing she is on the the path that The Lord has chosen for her. She shares all the intimate moments when she felt closest to God, as well as the times she heard Him speak to her without words, reassuring and comforting her in her desicions. 

Incognito was a fast moving story, starting in Andrea's home state of Ohio, and ending in Cambridge. She details her life and relationships, but never really gets to meat of the story, which ultimately takes away from the personalities of the people she interacted with. Couldn't help but feel unfullfilled. 

The Jag Review has received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for our honest review. The opinions expressed here are our own.