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Happy Friday, friends!

I’m glad to have you here for First-Line Friday. A little background on the book I’m sharing today…
Over at my sister’s home, I picked up a book off her bookshelf and soon found myself entirely engaged in it: amused, edified, and moved with the real-life emotion on the pages. I mentioned the book to my mom, who said that she had read and loved it.
A couple of weeks later, when I was visiting my mom, she handed me a copy of that same book. It’s an older book – 1982 – but the words and wisdom and humor in its pages are evergreen. I know that I’ll be visiting it often in the years to come.

The Book:

It’s My Turn by Ruth Bell Graham

(One of the) First Lines:

The thirteen-year-old girl lay in the stifling heat of the old missionary home at Number Four Quinsan Gardens, in the port city of Shanghai China, praying earnestly that she would die before morning.

Dawn broke over the great, gray city, and obviously, God had not seen fit to answer my prayer.

*****

Mini-Review:

Composed of extremely short chapters of Ruth Bell Graham’s memories, this book provides a behind-the-scenes, very real look at the hows and whys and ways of this remarkable woman of God and wife of evangelist Billy Graham. I didn’t expect her to be so funny – much of it in a self-deprecating way – and yet every one of the memories has a little tidbit of spiritual and real-life wisdom that struck me as or after I read it and encouraged me to go further in my own walk with Jesus Christ. I highly recommend this to you, friends ~ After you read it, you very well find yourself buying extra copies to give as gifts to friends ~ It’s that good.
*****
Now it’s your turn, friends! Share the first line of a book you’re reading with us! 🙂

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Hello, fellow book-loving friends. 🙂

I love the fresh start that a new year appears to bring… and the reminder with it that, as when a new year dawns, even more so, *each day* God’s mercy is new and fresh for us {Lamentations 3:22-23}. It’s always a blessing for me to look back on the year past and see where God has led me, where I have obeyed and disobeyed, and determine to go further in obedience and reject disobedience in the new year. It’s also been helpful for me – as I know it is for many of you – to set goals for the new year. These are not “resolutions” – but prayed-over, thought-through goals by which I seek to guide my course over the next months – in submission to God and by His grace.

Since we all love books here :-), I’d like to share with you my Reading Goals for 2018…

First off, these goals are more based on the *kind* of book read, rather than the *number* of books read. This is purposeful. I know that I can read a lot of books in a year, as can anybody 🙂 , but I really want to focus on specific areas and make sure that I am balanced, book-wise.
Secondly, these goals don’t include the books that I read for historical/cultural research for my own writing. So, if you’re looking for a hint of where I’m writing next {after A Holy Passion, of course!}, you won’t find it here, probably. 🙂
Third, I hope that you’ll find some ideas here for books to read in this coming year. Of course, remember that, with only one or two exceptions, all of these books are new-to-me! 🙂 So, putting them on my list is not an endorsement/recommendation.

Enough of my chatter. 🙂 Here are my Reading Goals for 2018:

  • 20 Fiction Books – 5 classic literature, 5 historical fiction, 5 contemporary/partial contemporary, 5 of my choice
  • 20 Nonfiction Books – 5 on the writing craft, 5 biographies of great Christians, 5 general, 5 history or my choice

Some of the books on my fiction to-read list are:

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read)
  2. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper
  3. Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Gouge
  4. My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
  5. Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
  6. Sons of Encouragement by Francine Rivers
  7. Return to Me by Lynn Austin
  8. The Shepherd’s Voice by Robin Lee Hatcher
  9. The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green
  10. Two Mighty Rivers by Mari Hanes
  11. The Cottage by Michael Phillips
  12. The Legacy by Michael Phillips
  13. Not Abandoned by MacKenzie Morganthal
  14. The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright
  15. Close to You by Kara Isaac
  16. A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla
  17. Dahveed: Yahweh’s Chosen by Terri L. Fivash
Some of the ones on my non-fiction to-read list for this year include:
  1. 7 Men and the Secret to Their Greatness by Eric Metaxes
  2. Mrs. Oswald Chambers by Michelle Ule
  3. The Keswick Story by John Charles Pollock
  4. The Daniel Prayer by Anne Graham Lotz
  5. Of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford
  6. Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
  7. Church History by Eusebius
  8. The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Marta McDowell
  9. Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior

Now, what books are on your to-read list, friends?

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Happy First-Line Friday, friends! 

This week, I’m featuring a book that I received for Christmas ~ I love feeling packages and knowing – just *knowing* that there is a book inside of the wrapping paper, don’t you!? 🙂 I’m almost finished with reading this one and hope to give you a little review on it soon ~ not enough time to get to it today. 

 

The Book:

A Lineage of Grace: Five Stories of Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity

By Francine Rivers

First Line:

When Tamar saw Judah leading a donkey burdened with sacks and a fine rug, she took her hoe and ran to the farthest border of her father’s land.

Book-loving friends, it’s your turn. 🙂 What’s the first line of the book that you’re reading? Let us know in the comments below!
May your weekend be blessed with God’s presence in His Son Jesus Christ!

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Hello, friends, and Merry Christmas, in case we don’t get to chat again before then! What a special time of year this is… Before we leap into First-Line Friday, may I share with you a beautiful old poem I came across recently by one of my favorite authors, George MacDonald?

Babe Jesus lay in Mary’s lap;

The sun shone on His hair;

And this is how she saw, mayhap,

The crown already there.

For she sang, “Sleep on, my little King,

Bad Herod dares not come;

Before Thee, sleeping, holy thing,

The wild winds would be dumb.

I kiss Thy hands, I kiss Thy feet,

My Child, so long-desired;

Thy hands shall never be soiled, my sweet,

Thy feet shall never be tired.

For Thou art the King of men, my Son;

Thy crown I see it plain;

And men shall worship Thee, every one,

And cry, Glory! Amen.”

Babe Jesus opened His eyes so wide!

At Mary looked her Lord.

And Mary stinted her song and sighed.

Babe Jesus said never a word.

I love the poems of old, don’t you? George MacDonald can make the most kingly scene homey and real.


Now onto First-Line Friday, followed by a mini review of that book! 🙂
The Book:
Monster by Frank Peretti
First Line:
The Hunter, rifle in his hands, dug in a heel and came to a sudden halt on the game trail, motionless, nearly invisible in a thicket of serviceberry and crowded pines. He heard something.
Mini Review:

I’m not much of one for suspense and thriller-type books, but I make exceptions for Frank Peretti! He is, above all else, a fantastic storyteller, and this comes through so strongly in Monster! Peretti manages to weave a tale of a hunt for monsters with a well-formulated scientific argument against an evolutionary explanation for the existence of the world and everything in it. This book had me curled up tightly in my armchair, practically racing through to find out where the next believable-but-I-never-saw-it-coming twist was going. This is a wonderfully exciting, slightly horrific, and very sobering tale of a night of camping in the woods that went really, really wrong… or did it?

Highly recommended! Find it HERE.

Now it’s your turn ~ What’s the first line of a book you’re reading this week?

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Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

Back Cover:

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm. 

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

My Thoughts:

Where We Belong was my first Lynn Austin book… but I don’t think it will be my last, good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise. 🙂 This beautifully-told, often-funny story brings us back to Victorian-era Chicago, spanning nearly fifty years in the lives of the Hawes sisters, whose middle name appears to be “adventure.”

I loved many things about this stand-alone novel (which is deliciously long!), but one of the things that really stood out to me was the way that these sisters are not merely the same cliched “women ahead of their time” that I’ve found in many a novel. Rather, these women ultimately move forward in their specific calling as Christians, regardless of whether society approves or disapproves – because they are following the will of God for them, not because they are trying to be rebels. That was refreshing!

Another wonderful part of this novel regarded a strong emphasis on us as Christians showing the love of God through our actions. At one point, when Rebecca is contemplating adoption, she explains to her sister that the person she wishes to adopt has never experienced human love, so how can the person understand God’s love? Rebecca desires to adopt out of a passion for sharing the Gospel through it – knowing that actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. This attitude of following your words with actions permeates the book and really added a great deal of depth.

There is also a hilarious story thread involving an “amorous sheik” that runs throughout the book. I can’t say more for risk of spoiling the surprises and humor of the situations, but it definitely provided some genuinely funny, light-hearted moments in a more-serious novel. I loved it!

Austin’s manner of storytelling reminds me of one of my very favorite authors, Michael Phillips: slow but not dull, methodically peeling back and adding layers, bringing several different storylines together seamlessly to show one grand spiritual theme.  This was really well done, and as with Phillips’ novels, I was saddened to see the last page! 🙂

If you love fascinating historical fiction with only a smidgen of romance (another refreshing bit!), a strong but not forced Christian theme, and a well-told, well-woven story, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Where We Belong, available HERE.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Happy First-Line Friday, bookish friends! 🙂

I’m sharing a book that is in my to-read pile – one I ordered from CBD this year during a sale and that I’m greatly anticipating reading! Eric Metaxas is a brilliant man, well-read and equipped with eloquent wisdom.
The Book:

7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

First Line:

As most people would concur, the idea of manhood has fallen into some confusion in the last decades. This book hopes to help correct some of that by asking and answering two vitally important questions: First, what is a man? And second, what makes a man great?

{Find out more about this book HERE.}
What are you reading this week, friends? Feel free to share the first line with me in the comments below! 🙂
Grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ,
Alicia G. Ruggieri

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Happy Friday, friends!

What a delight and surprise it was to me to find this beautiful gem of a book in our church library recently! Though my family has benefited so strongly from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers’ sermons (more info on his ministry, Love Worth Finding, HERE), I never knew that his wife Joyce wrote. I gave this one to my mom to read first, and she flew through it, highly recommending it afterward.

The Book:

Lean Hard on Jesus: God’s Great Goodness in Your Darkest Night by Joyce Rogers

(One of the) First Lines (and a little more!):

You may be wondering a bit about the title of this book. You may be asking, When do we lean hard on Jesus?
In times of trouble, like when a spouse or child is gravely ill? Certainly then.
In times of national tragedy, like September 11? Yes, then we lean hard on Him.
In times of personal grief or pain? Most definitely we lean hard on Jesus then. Really hard.
But that is only part of the answer. For when we catch a glimpse of who we are in light of who He is, when we see rightly our utter dependence and need for Him, we will naturally lean hard on Jesus – in times when we see things working together for good and times when we don’t see anything but the darkest night.

 

I’m greatly looking forward to reading this one!
Now it’s your turn, friends ~ What are you reading this week, and what’s the first line?
Grace and peace in Jesus Christ,
Alicia Ruggieri
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Hello, reading friends!

Awhile ago now, I came across the announcement that several authors – some of whom I knew – were embarking on (what I think is) a really wonderfully fun project – taking Jane Austen’s classic novels and adapting the stories to fit into 1930s America. My sister Londie introduced me to Jane Austen’s work long ago, and, like many of you, no doubt, I’ve loved each one of Austen’s novels as I’ve read them, ever since.
Thus, when the opportunity came along to be a part of the blog tour celebrating this Vintage Jane Austen collection’s release… Of course, I wanted to join! 🙂 Below you’ll find out what I thought of Perception by Emily Ann Benedict, as well as a giveaway.

The Book: Perception by Emily Ann Benedict

An Adaptation / Retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen

Backcover:

Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late…

What I Thought:

This adaptation follows the beloved tale very closely. While I’ve not read Persuasion for a few years, it’s my favorite of Jane Austen’s classics, and so I appreciated that Ms. Benedict didn’t take too many liberties with an already-perfect 🙂 plot. Many of the characters translated beautifully into 1930s New England and retained the really humorous slant by which Austen portrayed them. Austen enthusiasts will recognize and relish (and want even more of!) Charlie and Miriam, as well as Holly and Lilly. Austen’s “Anne” becomes Benedict’s “Abbey”, and her character is highly recognizable as well. This very close following of the original may not be every reader’s cup-of-tea, but, as a reader, I delight more in the way a story is told than in the unexpected elements, so this was just fine for me! 🙂

The author highlights the personal growth of Anne/Abbey as well as Freddy/Captain Wentworth, something that sometimes is more difficult to understand in the original. This propelled the story beyond being “merely” a romance, and I appreciated the authenticity of its portrayal.

One of the only qualms I had with the novel was the way that Anne/Abbey rolled her eyes quite a lot in response to the (often-ridiculous) behavior of her family members. This was a little thing, but it seemed out-of-character for an otherwise-polite young woman, and it struck me as disrespectful toward those at whom she was rolling her eyes. Thankfully, this tapers off as the book continues, and there is enough good to strongly outweigh this. 🙂

As someone who lived in New England for much of my life and has visited some of the areas depicted in the novel, I really enjoyed the descriptions of the sea and of 1930s Boston. This is not a “heavy” historical novel, but it gives the place/time feeling of the 1930s in a light and entertaining way.

Some quotes that I relished and that reminded me of Austen’s original were:

Abbey nearly laughed. “Mr. Martin, do you know what’s even more attractive to a girl than ‘dash’? … Love. Real love that is honest and open and committed.”

~~~

“I would much rather walk slowly beside the man I love than dance with a man I care nothing for.”

~~~

“I fear for anyone unwilling to stand by his convictions, or even unable to stand up against the weight of another’s opinion. How can life be happy unless we know who we are, and stay true to ourselves?”

~~~

“A lifetime alone by her own choice was infinitely better than marrying for the sake of being married.”

In all, I really enjoyed reading Perception, and, if you’re a Jane Austen fan, I think you might, too! Overall, it was refreshing and entertaining. It would also be a good introduction to Austen for people for whom the originals might be too dense. It’s available HERE as an e-book and HERE as a softcover. {Personally, I may be getting it for Christmas for a Jane-Austen lover in my family! 🙂 }

To learn more about Emily Ann Benedict, the author of Perception, click on the graphic below:

And Now for a Giveaway! 🙂

As part of this blog event, the authors are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card ~ Please feel welcome to enter below! 🙂 And after that, come over to my house so that we can all watch a nice Jane Austen film together 🙂 ~ Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth, of course!), anyone? 😉

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author and was in no way required to post a positive review.

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Happy Friday, friends!
First off, the winner of last week’s giveaway of The Proving by Beverly Lewis is… Perianne Askew. 🙂
Now onto this week!
What a joy it was to receive this beautiful review book recently ~ Its blurb promises an even more beautiful story! I’m featuring it today in First-Line Friday.

 

The book:

Isaiah’s Daughter: A Novel of Prophets and Kings by Mesu Andrews

First line:

Songs are written of sons, but daughters are left to whispers.

Your turn, friends: Take a book near to you – or the one you’re currently reading! – and share the first line below! 🙂
Have a blessed weekend!
Grace and peace,
Alicia G. Ruggieri

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Hello, friends! 🙂

It’s not only First-Line Friday {which I haven’t had the chance to participate in for awhile, so it’s nice to be “back” 🙂 }, but I’m also reviewing and giving away the FLF novel featured below!

The Proving by Beverly Lewis

 

And the first line is:

“My first-ever night away from home, I struggled with sleeplessness, having abruptly left with two other Amish girls.”

The Back Cover:

Amanda Dienner hasn’t seen her Old Order family in five years when she receives word that her mother has passed away and left her Lancaster County’s most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. Now an Englisher, Mandy is shocked: Her twin sister should have been the obvious choice! What’s more, the inheritance comes with a catch: The farmhouse inn will only truly be hers if she is able to successfully run it for twelve consecutive months.
Mandy accepts the challenge even though it means returning to Gordonville and the painful memories she left behind at eighteen. Still, she’s determined to prove she is more than capable of running the bed-and-breakfast, no matter that its loyal clientele are expecting an Amish hostess!
The inn isn’t Mandy’s sole test, however. Rubbing shoulders with her married twin sister reopens wounds that Mandy isn’t ready to forgive. And an Englisher guest with a difficult past of her own just complicates matters.
Can Mandy fulfill the terms of her inheritance? Or will this year in Amish country prove a dreadful mistake?

What I Thought:

I can always count on Beverly Lewis books to provide a heartwarming story. Though I prefer Lewis’ series to her standalones, I’ve found that even her standalone novels – which can appear simple at times – even predictable – always give a carefuly-wrought message interwoven seamlessly into the storyline.
And her newest novel, the standalone The Proving was no different in this regard. Mandy’s mishaps as she tries to run a B & B singlehandedly at times – all in an effort to spite her sister and prove that she is capable of succeeding independently – were funny enough at times to make me chuckle and smile, and her justifiable hurt feelings over the wrong done to her was depicted so well that I as a reader could definitely sympathize with her anger and grudge.
What I really loved was the way that the author took a situation that was “unfixable” – literally, there was nothing, aside from the death of one of the parties that could undo the wrong that had been done – and showed that God can make something very good from great wrong – can redeem it, in fact, and shower it with His blessings – as long as we forgive.
While this wasn’t my favorite Beverly Lewis novel – her Abram’s Daughters series takes that prize 🙂 – The Proving is still well-worth reading for Amish fiction fans and for anyone who loves a well-told, heartwarming tale.

And Now for the Giveaway! 🙂

I’m giving away my copy {like-new} of The Proving! If you’d like to win it, enter by leaving a comment below. If you share this post in some way, let me know and you’ll get another entry. 🙂
Have a blessed weekend, friends!
Grace and peace,
Alicia G. Ruggieri

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Proving from the publisher and was not required to provide a positive review. All thoughts are, of course, my own! 🙂

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