musicals, review, theme

Beautiful Themes in The Greatest Showman

Have you seen The Greatest Showman? If not, then you should! Not only is it a beautiful, colorful cinematic display, but the music is inspiring and the choreography is spectacularly woven through the beat of the music. I have seen it twice and it gave me goosebumps both times.

One of the things I loved about this movie was a couple of running themes throughout. The first one was the theme of inclusion. Taking the marginalized and neglected and giving them a place to belong…a home to call their own and a family to care for and love them in their uniqueness. While some would argue that they were exploited…and indeed, it was that to some extent because of the misdirected focus of Barnum, but the circus became a place of belonging for the performers. A place of safety. A place they could be who they truly are and still be accepted.

This inclusiveness is the gracious way Jesus demonstrated in His life. He called fishermen and tax collectors to be his disciples. He talked to women because they were important. He went to the home of sinners and ate with them. He welcomed children into His lap. He healed the outcasts and touched the untouchables. He loved each and every one, just as we should.

The beautiful theme of inclusion should be a running theme in our life. 

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

The second theme I saw was the theme of the prodigal losing his way and returning home. Poor Barnum. He had such dreams of being significant. Of being someone that people respected and looked up to. In his success, he lost his way. He had everything – a family, money, a great house, a group of people who relied on him and loved him. And yet it wasn’t enough.

Barnum wanted more. He wanted to earn the respect of high society…those who looked down on his father and him his whole life. He wanted to prove his worth to these people who considered anyone different to be beneath them. So he took his wealth and sunk it all into promoting a world-class singer, making a name for himself. He is seduced by the glamour and the fame.

Yet when tempted by her, the singer, he wakes up, stands firm and returns home –  and loses everything in the process. She walks out on the tour and he loses his money, his home, and ultimately his family. The circus building burns to the ground and he is utterly lost.

There is a scene where he is drinking alone in a bar during the middle of the day. His troupe walks in, surrounding him, reminding him of why he started the circus, reminding him of the family he created and the home he had provided.

He was welcomed back into the family with open arms and loving hearts. And the rejoicing!!!! Whew! What a dance of celebration!

And don’t worry, the family is reunited as well. The wife is a beautiful picture of the Father figure in the prodigal story. She is there to tell him all she ever wanted was to be with him. To have a place in his life. To be loved by him.

And isn’t that a beautiful picture of God and His desire for us? He just wants to be in relationship with Him. To love Him and want to be with Him.

So if I haven’t totally ruined the story for you, I urge you to go and see The Greatest Showman. It is well worth the money! Let me know what you think about it!

book review, giveaway, giveaways, Krista Phillips, review, romance

Sandwich, With a Side of Romance: Review & Giveaway

Krista Phillip’s debut book, Sandwich, With a Side of Romance is a savory read, flavored with humor and depth!

When Maddie Buckner moves to Sandwich to become a hair stylist, she botches her first haircut and loses her job – and the chance to gain custody of her brother still in foster care. Reuben-the-Jerk, who got her fired, is guilted into giving her a job as his assistant at his restaurant, The Sandwich Emporium.

Maddie is racing against time, as she struggles to build a stable life and get custody of her brother. His foster parents want to adopt him, and Maddie needs to prove herself as a worthy guardian. The problem is she keeps getting herself into a “pickle” and has to be rescued by Reuben-the-Jerk…who has started to become Reuben-the-Dreamboat. Throw in Reuben’s jealous fiance and you have one big, messy plate of circumstances.

There are several things I loved about this book. I loved Maddie’s new faith and her “realistic” and sometimes funny prayers. There is a realness about Maddie and how she expresses herself and her faith. It’s not contrived. It’s honest and open. I loved Reuben who, even though he grew up in a Christian family, struggles with himself and his feelings. I love that he is real…he really can be a jerk! But oh, the chemistry between these two….it is tangible and heartfelt.

I also loved Reuben’s family who exhibit what it really means to be Jesus in this world. They opened up their homes and their hearts to Maddie when she had no one…and nothing. They gave and they gave, without expecting anything in return. They encouraged and they loved, not pushing Maddie too hard or too fast. They are what I hope to be.

Krista’s debut book is a funny and happy read, but it contains meat to chew on. It shows us realness of life. It shows us how we can struggle in life, yet trust God for His blessing. It shows us that God’s family IS a real family who love unconditionally. It shows us that two people can learn to trust and love in spite of themselves.

Sandwich, With a Side of Romance is an awesome debut novel and I cannot wait for the next one!

You can order your very own Sandwich HERE!

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away a copy of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance!!!

Please leave an email adddress! ( spam free: janedoe (at) gmail (dot) com ) If I draw your name and there is no email, you will not win.
Contest is only open in the U.S. and void where prohibited. Chances of winning are based on the number of entries and winner is draw from a non-biased third party- Random.org. I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on September 16th.

* This book was provided by Abingdon and NetGalley.com for my honest review.

book review, fiction, review, romance

Review: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

It has been a long time since I have read a whole book in a day. It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a book I just couldn’t put down, that gripped me from the start, that kept me turning the page, even when I had laundry to do and supper to cook. My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade was that book for me this past weekend.

Wade’s debut Christian novel tells the story of Kate Donovan, a single woman who travels to Redbud, Pennsylvania with her grandmother to orchestrate the renovation of the family homestead. Matt Jarreau is the man hired renovate the house, and he has baggage. Lots of baggage. Matt is an ex-hockey player who can’t get over the death of his wife. It is only through Kate’s stubborn persistence that he begins to open up and feel again.


It is difficult to explain how much this book affected me…stayed with me. The pain and hurt in Matt’s heart was palatable and I could feel Kate’s empathy and growing love for him. There were moments when I would find myself holding my breath, listening for Kate’s words of encouragement, waiting to hear Matt’s heart speak, anticipating the moment when the two would connect on an emotional and spiritual level.

Secondary characters played a big role in the book and made for some comic relief. It reminded me of the movie Return to Me, with a group of seniors hanging out with the young couple, having fun, being merry, and being a HOOT! Loved these seniors!

The romantic tension between Kate and Matt was FABULOUS (yes, there were definitely some swoon moments!) and they were paced in a satisfying way. Seriously, this was a romantic book. Well done. Satisfying in every way.

I have to tell you, the characters stayed with me for quite awhile. I think it was because the author did such a great job in getting into the character’s mind and heart, going deep, delving into the dark parts. She didn’t just tell about their inner selves, she showed it in every gesture, thought, action, glance. It was brilliant.

Normally, I do a giveaway with my book reviews, but I am keeping this one. It’s too good to give up. I’m sorry! But you can go HERE to purchase it! I highly recommend it!

ABOUT MY STUBBORN HEART:

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure.  When her grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.
        Yet, she discovers a different type of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house.  He’s attractive and clearly wounded — hiding from people, from God, and from his past.  Kate can’t help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light… whether he likes it or not.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.


book review, review

Review: Wildflowers from Winter

I loved this debut book by Katie Ganshert. Her talent for layering depth, pain, healing, and romance, kept me turning the page and wanting more. The heroine, Bethany Quinn, is a tortured soul, a woman who ran from her past and has built a life free from memories and free from pain. When tragedy brings her back to her home town, she must face that past and deal with the emotional turmoil it brings.

Not only does Bethany have to deal with her past, she meets Evan Price, the handsome farmhand that has taken care of her family’s farm for several years. Bethany and Evan clash from their very first meeting, but as they get to know one another, the pain and hurt they see in each other draws them in.

I loved the depth of this book. Katie explores subjects not often seen in romance and it makes the story rich with emotional and spiritual depth. You will get caught up in Katie’s past and will root for her, urging her to open up so that she can heal.

You will love the secondary characters…well, not one of them!…who bring their their quirks, their pain, their life into the mix and make for a well rounded story. I believe Katie’s next book is about one of them!

If you love a deep, emotional, fulfilling read, you will love Wildflowers from Winter. Katie will take you on an emotional roller coaster where you will laugh, cry, and heave a sigh at the end. Well done, Katie!

About Wildflowers from Katie:

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built the life she dreamed of during her teen years in a trailer park.  An unexpected interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. 
 
Determined to pay her respects to her past while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of five hundred acres of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.
 
Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years.  When Bethany is left the land, Evan must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.
 
For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace that she’s not even sure exists?


You can purchase Wildflower from Winter HERE.
To find out more about Katie Ganshert, go HERE.

*I was provided a copy of Wildflowers from Winter by the publisher for my honest review.

book review, review, romance

Sharpshooter In Petticoats by Mary Connealy

Mandy McClellen Grey, has become the focus of a feud thanks to her husband, who made this mess and then died. Far from home, Mandy, the best little rifle woman in the west, has resigned herself to a lonely life under siege rather than call for help and endanger her family.
Tom Linscott is fed up with waiting for Mandy who should have had the sense to come to him as soon as she finished burying her worthless husband. In fact he’d’ve come fast enough to dig the hole if she’d’ve sent for him. He goes to round up his little woman and buys into a heap of trouble from a whole clan of outlaws.
Between Mandy’s deadly skill with her rifle, her determination to not bring trouble down on someone she loves, and an ever growing crowd of varmints who want to bury everyone named Grey—and anyone who sides with them, Tom may not survive getting himself hitched.
My thoughts:
Mary Connealy writes such adventurous and fun stories that suck me in from the get-go. She is so good at starting off her books with action that hooks me fast and keeps me turning the page throughout the book. 

There are many characters from her previous books in Sharpshooter, which I enjoyed seeing again, and Mary’s ability to weave these characters in while staying focused on the main plot is truly amazing. 

Both Mandy and Tom are stubborn people who butt heads from the very beginning of the story, but their chemistry together is sizzling and makes for some great scenes! Sigh…I love a strong hero who can be gentle in his dealings with the woman he loves. 

This is another great book from Mary Connealy and you won’t be disappointed! Well, maybe disappointed in that it is the last in this series, but I’m sure she has upcoming books that 
will knock our boots off!

You can purchase Sharpshooter in Petticoats HERE.

*This galley book was provided by Barbour Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for posting my honest review of the book.

criticism, review

Regifting At Your Own Risk

I went to a party last night where you regifted something you have been given, or you brought something nice from your home to give to someone else. What was interesting was someone opened up a present that I had bought for a different party last week! Someone regifted a gift that I bought. It made me feel…weird.

At first I was kinda sad that someone didn’t like what I had bought for the party, but then I realized something. Not everyone has the same taste as me. And not everyone needs–or wants–the same things as I do. It is just a matter of taste and/or a matter of need.

It got me to thinking about books and how subjective reviews can be. I have read scathing reviews about books that I absolutely loved. And I have also read glowing reviews of books that I thought were duds. So often it is a matter of personal taste. What we like and what we don’t like.

This gives me hope that someday when I get ready to put my stuff out there, there will be somebody who will like what I write–eventually. Some won’t like it, of course, but at some point, someone might like my story and possibly give me a chance. Who knows? It’s a nice thought though.

Do you regift? Does it bother you to think that someone has regifted something you have given them?

giveaways, review

Just Between You and Me-Review & Giveaway

I finished the book Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones today. I’ve been reading more contemporaries lately, since all the ideas for future projects have been contemporary ones. I don’t know if I just prefer historical or what, because the last few books I’ve read seem to be lacking somehow. I’m sure it’s just personal preference. It is harder to “escape” in a time I am familiar with. Also, I think I like historicals because there can be more adventure…you know, duels, tournaments, battles, men in armor…sigh. 😉

Book Blurb:

A novel of losing fear and finding God.

Maggie lives life on the edge, seemingly unafraid of anything. But the image she so carefully constructed is coming undone.

Her job as a videographer takes her around the world. She tells people’s stories, especially those of impoverished children. That’s when she feels most alive, like she’s making the world better.

But when a secret from her past resurfaces, Maggie gets a call that sends her home. Her dad desperately needs her help. Her estranged sister has run off, leaving 8-year-old Riley in his care. She returns reluctantly, hoping to help her niece. There she reconnects with Cooper–a once awkward and shy, now handsome, veterinarian. Her feelings skyrocket when she’s with him, but she’s afraid if she shows him her true self, he’ll reject her.

An honest, hilarious journey that will transform Maggie–if she just learns to trust more and fear less.

*****************************

All in all, this book was a pretty good read. There was great chemistry between Maggie and Connor, with alot of romance. Jones does a great job with sassy dialogue and quick wit (which I love!). I also love the theme of losing fear and trusting God.

The book dealt with some serious issues within the family and the more I learned, the more I understood Maggie’s wall she had built up around herself. It took a long time to chip away at the wall and I found myself frustrated at the slowness. But I suppose I am like that too. I can’t see what is right in front of me, because I have my own plan and want to see it through no matter what God throws right in front of me!

I am giving away my gently read copy, so if you are interested and want a chance to win a copy, please leave your email address (the spam-free way) in the comment section. I’ll announce the winner Friday. (No Fatless Friday for me this week!!!)

*U.S. residents only. (sorry!)