Courting Mr. Emerson By Melody Carlson

I have said it before and I will say it again, Melody Carlson is one of my favorite authors! Any book I see with her name on it I HAVE to read! This book was a fun read and a bit different as the main characters are in their 50’s. George Emerson has reached his retirement after 30 years as a high school language arts teacher. He is stuck in an 80’s time warp, maybe even further than that! He has eschewed any type of technology despite his intelligence and education. This guy puts the “N” in nerd. Uncomfortable in his own skin, especially in social interactions, he is a loner and confirmed bachelor.
Willow West is the totally opposite end of the spectrum! She was raised in by hippies and her wild youth labeled her with name Wild West Willow. You get the idea! She is now a Christian and her youthful exuberance is now channeled as a buoyant, impromptu, woman who totally enjoys life!
These two oil and water no make that gas and fire personalities, meet when Willow asks Mr. Emerson for a referral letter for her grandson’s college application. They learn they both attended high school together. She finds herself interested in him but she is not sure exactly how. She describes him as “Mr. Bean”.
George is not sure how he will spend his new freedom retired. He envisions his rigid, OCD life continuing to be a cocoon of comfort. Willow on the other hand sees him needing to try new experiences and add excitement to his life. Though I do not think consciously, she makes it a project to help him do just that. This is where the rushing wind meets a brick wall. George sees her as fascinating. Because of the lack of the courage to say “no” he continually finds himself in circumstances and experiences he would have never chosen! After he has survived each one George finds he actually enjoyed himself but vows never to give in again!
Both grow more attracted to each other but their disparities usually end up in misunderstandings and hurt feelings, only to be followed by an apology. Ms. Carlson does a beautiful job of helping the reader clearly see the George and Willows extremely different viewpoints. The characters were fun, quirky and real! I thought it was beautiful that Willow’s interest in George was one of compassion and concern. As the story unfolds her concern is for his soul as he professes to be an atheist. He was a beautiful example not to give up on an unbeliever no matter how impossible salvation may seem.
You will find yourself laughing, crying and feeling joy as you read this book. Thank you Ms. Carlson for another amazing book! I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

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Almost Home By Valerie Fraser Luesse

I am classifying this as a cozy, warm fuzzy read! The people, the setting, the story filled me with nostalgia. I was transported back to a difficult but simpler time, before technology invaded life. Being a southern girl I totally related to the hospitality, kind spirits and sweetened ice tea!! Add to all this mystery and you have a 5 star read!
Dolly and Si live in Alabama in a 100 year old home out in the “boonies”. They have turned it into a boarding house to make ends meet. It is WW2 and people have been wounded by the war in many ways. Families who have lost loved ones, soldiers returning with emotional and physical wounds, those who have lost jobs, homes, and finances. Everyone is hurting in some way. Dolly’s home was the perfect place for the eclectic mix of wounded hearts. They became a family and Dolly and Si like loving parents.
Her big southern breakfasts and home cooked meals brought everyone together around the table to share burdens and encourage one another, like in times past. Basking in her love and kindness I was delighted to see each of the characters to heal in their own way and time. Their individual stories were so varied that I found myself immersed in each of their lives.
I loved Dolly’s and the elderly neighbor’s homespun wisdom! I have marked the pages and am going to write them down to remember! Dolly’s homey letters to her sister Violet were delightful. It made me feel a bit like I was reading someone else’s mail! (No I don’t do that but I did enjoy it!) One strong thread that ran throughout the book was faith in God and waiting upon Him. I was so sad to have this book end. It was as if my visit was over and I had to leave Dolly and her wonderful home. I cannot wait to read more of Ms. Luesse’s books!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Other Bodies By Joel Ohman

This is my first Dystopia genre read ever. I was curious about the book and had no idea what to expect. It was mind-boggling! Joel Ohman is a genius!!! This book is riveting and has many unexpected developments. Yes it is a controversial subject, and yes it may be disturbing to read, but he captures the raw truth about the abortion issue. Even as horrendous and disgusting the true procedure of abortion is, the author is tasteful and non-offensive in his writing. The book is fiction, and the story is well written and presented, but it is much more than just a novel.
Hattie is 16 year old girl on her own, with no family and no money. She was a caregiver to her beloved grandfather but he has died. She has landed a job at Managed Motherhood. The setting is far into the future; the exact date is not shown. Technology has jumped far ahead. Abortion is easier than ever. Robotics can do scans and abortions while the woman is distracted by her chosen virtual reality experience. She finds out she is pregnant during a demonstration with such a device. Guided by her abortion clinic colleagues she chooses to have an abortion. Her story does not end here. This reminds me of women today. They go to an abortion clinic to be educated about their CHOICE, but they not shown all the facts to make that decision, just influenced by pro-choice workers.
If all women contemplating abortion could see an ultrasound of their baby, hear its heartbeat, and be given all the factual information before making a decision, I feel the outcomes would be very different. The story shows that terminology serves to detach the mother emotionally from the precious child she is carrying. The baby becomes a “fetus” or a “pregnancy”. Whoever envisions cuddling one of those like they do an infant, toddler or child? The word “abortion” pricks at the conscience, but “terminating a pregnancy” dulls that conviction. I found it disheartening that due to the “Artificial Intelligence Discrimination in Employment Act”; the robots received more respect and care than the unborn children.
There is so much I want to share but am forced to limit it! While the future may have simplified this procedure the writer clearly shows the effects will ever be the same and just as intense. Those cannot be escaped. After over two decades as a minister’s wife, my husband and I spoke with many young women in Hattie’s situation. Mr. Ohman portrayed exactly the mental and emotional struggles we witnessed them facing. The conflict of justifying the choice or doing what they know is right in their heart. Sadly most of those girls chose the same answer Hattie did.
There were two points the author made that are stuck in my mind forever. If we found a single celled organism on Mars, it would be regaled as potential life. But an unborn child with a beating heart is not considered life or a person. How? Also the saying repeated throughout the book, “the body inside your body is not YOUR body.
Thank you Mr. Ohman for your courage, your insight, and your honesty! This book should be massively printed and put into the hands of very teenager and woman! I believe it should be required reading for all those considering abortion whether the person is pro-life or pro-choice! I can see “Other Bodies” being life changing and having a major impact on the Abortion Movement! Sorry for the long review this book is INCREDIBLE!!!
I received this book from Fly By Promotions in exchange for a honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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The Marvelous Mustard Seed By Amy-Jill Levine

The Marvelous Mustard Seed is written in such simplicity that a child’s heart and mind can grasp this scriptural analogy. The illustrations are sweet and charming. I loved the way the youngster’s expressions in the book totally capture a child’s curiosity and awe of learning.
The first part and the majority of the book make it clear how tiny a mustard seed is. It was humorous and cute as children explored the tiny seed from their young perspective. The life cycle of the mustard plant is shown from planting to full growth, emphasis on how large it becomes and its many uses. The last part of the book presents how this relates to the Bible parable of the mustard seed, found in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Children are visual learners and can connect abstract ideas much easier with something they can relate to. With the detail to what can be seen and touched at the beginning makes it easy for a child to understand more about God’s Kingdom. I plan to use it with my Sunday school class.