Thursday, 7 September 2017

Book Review: When the Real Thing Comes Along by Faith Simone


It's been a long time since I've read a novel that kept me so engaged throughout its entirety. This is that one. I learned a lot about myself reading Jacelynn's struggles. One of which is how each of us reads with a bias, whether it's conscious or not. Even after seeing the cover and reading the descriptions of the characters, I still imagined them as white. I got over that very quickly. But it's amazing how you don't really realize that you're doing it. With that being said, I was so glad to be able to read a novel with a black heroine, and on top of that, it's a Christian novel.

That's where the challenge was for me. This is going to be a mix of personal tidbits and a review, because I want to share what this novel made me think and how it challenged my life. I've only recently started going back to church after almost a year. I felt so far away from God, but I knew I needed to change and work on my relationship with Him. So now, reading a novel where a character has such trust in God but still struggles when it comes to the daily things, it really spoke to me. I think it would speak to a lot of other readers, as well. Since my reading list was so long, it took me a few years to actually start this novel. But God's oh man did I need to read this novel when I did.

Jacelynn at the beginning of the novel feels secure in her relationship with Jason, a man of God. But when her ex comes back into her life, Jacelynn begins to questions everything, including her walk with God and God Himself. Why hasn't He been giving me guidance? Why is it that every time I feel as though I'm doing His Will things go horribly wrong? Christians have all been there. We all fall short, and we all make mistakes. Jacelynn doesn't always handle it with grace, but has His grace to push through. She's a good example of a real Christian, and I'm glad topics such as sex and pregnancy are brought up in this novel. In most Christian novels we read about these perfect people who never do anything wrong because they walk with the Lord. But that's not real. Jacelynn, and her struggles, that's real.

'When the Real Thing Comes Along' shows us that God is with us through it all. It's not easy, not ever, but He will never leave us. He is our example of love, and if we're patient and quiet enough, we can hear His voice. Simone has done an amazing job capturing and detailing God's character and the strength His gives. She's created characters so real I feel like I know them. This is an endearing novel Christians will love, and I feel non-believers will also enjoy if they're open to learning more about God.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Book Review: A Humble Heart (The Dark World #1) by Tim VanderMeulen


A Humble Heart tells the Tolkien-esque tale of an evil and dark race which threatens the existence of elves, dwarves, and humans. Clese and Henty are the last two surviving humans, from the Land of Gemdal, and bring news to the leader of the Elves. Thus begins their quest to the north to take back their land. 

I have to admit that this novel took me quite a while to get through. It read very similar to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it's clear VanderMeulen has created a deep and developed world with its own lore and history. Much of it seemed to drag on, and felt a bit cluttered. Some scenes didn't add anything to the plot itself, but were there more for story telling purposes, which is is appropriate for this style of writing. Not quite my taste, but still quite rich.

The ending left a little to be desired after such a grand scape of a novel, but when all finished the three volumes I can see coming together well. It was a bit "oh, really? It's finished? Hm."

For the most part, the characters are interesting and familiar in a fantasy novel. I enjoyed how everything already seemed to be built, rather than having it all build up in the narrative. The cultures were already there and we just happened to stumble in at a specific point in their history. I really appreciate that in books, making me feel like the characters and races are part of our own world and make me think "well, yeah, doesn't everyone know this about Elveran?" I would have loved to see a map of the world, but I know it's not always possible. With something on this scale, it's always nice to see exactly where the party is travelling and it helps give a sense of how long things will take.

Fans of Tolkien and epic fantasy will quickly fall in love with VanderMeulen's writing style, and most will find the concept familiar and relatable. Overall, the book was well done and is a wonderful start to the Dark World series.