Monthly Archives: November 2013

Stones For Bread – By Christa Parrish

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This book tells the story of Liesl McNamara, a bread baker whose busy, yet calm and simple life is thrown into a state of chaos with the seemingly simultaneous events that begin occurring – a new deliveryman and his precocious and oh-so-adorable little girl, a surprise invitation to appear on a popular baking competition TV show, a co-worker’s illness, and much more.

Liesl must wrestle with buried emotions from her past as she walks through the new developments in her life, and must once again discover who she is – or perhaps who she was all along.

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I give this book a reluctant three stars. There are parts of me that want to give it four, and yet parts of me that want to give it two.  Overall this book was good and worth reading, but I was somewhat disappointed in some parts of it.

What I Enjoyed: Parrish did a phenomenal job of developing the characters in this book, including not just the main character but the supporting characters as well. I found myself drawn to many of the characters in the book, experiencing joy and sadness right alongside them.

Parrish also weaved a very believable storyline, paced perfectly and well developed – not too much fluff and yet no big gaps.  I appreciated the way that she would go back and tell stories from Liesl’s childhood at critical times in the story, helping us understand her reaction to events in her adult life. It was a story that made me invest in the characters and what was going to happen, and did not leave me with numerous questions lingering after the end.

What I Did Not Enjoy As Much:  The recipes were very distracting to me. Definitely given the premise of the book, they have a place within it and I do understand why Parrish chose to place each where she did – and yet personally, I would have rather seen them all at the end of the book. I skipped most of them.

There were also some scattered sections retelling the history of bread-baking through the centuries. I have to confess that I also found myself skimming over these sections as well. Again, I understand that Parrish had a purpose in including them within the story – but to me, they were choppy and hard to follow, and apart from being about bread, I didn’t see the connection to the story. I was more interested in the story itself and so since the link (beyond bread) wasn’t clear, I had trouble attending to these sections. Perhaps it would have been easier to follow if more attention was given to either transitions or separation among these sections vs. Liesl’s childhood vs. Liesl’s current life.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t recommend this book. It was a cute story with very well-developed characters and a good storyline. It was a quick read and well worth the time. It just isn’t a book that will make it to my “all-time favorites” list.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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The Christmas Candle – By Max Lucado

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This novella tells the story of the English town of Gladstone, where the mysterious Christmas candle has woven itself into the very history of the citizens. The candlemaker, Edward, and his wife Bea are the latest out of generations in a family of candlemakers to anticipate the arrival of a mysterious angel, who lights a special candle that then blesses its recipient within the week.

The tale is told upon the arrival of the town’s newest pastor, Reverend Richmond, who is at best a skeptic and at worst a cynic.  An unexpected twist to the generations old story results in a much-needed lesson for him and an equally needed reminder for the citizens of Gladstone.

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I hate to say it, because I am typically a big fan of Lucado’s books, but I give this book a reluctant three stars. I considered giving it two stars for awhile but ultimately decided on three just because I believe in the message of the story itself.

However, my first problem is the brevity of this story. It was less than 100 pages in my iBooks app, and as a result, did not provide ample time to develop any of the characters, much less the story line.  The entire novella felt stilted and awkward.

My second problem is the cost of the book as advertised on every site where I looked. I have a huge problem with novellas being sold for the same price that you’d pay for a traditional length novel – and I have an even bigger problem when those novellas are from Christian authors.  This novella should be sold for no more than $3-5 no matter the format. I understand there are costs involved in printing, but if you are going to ask for $9-12, you owe the reader a full novel.

I’m disheartened in finishing this novella – the two factors above loomed so large for me that I could barely focus on the true beauty and simplicity of the lesson learned by the town and its characters in The Christmas Candle.  It’s worth reading, and it’ll only take you an hour or two to read it – but I’d recommend you borrow a copy from a friend or your local library.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”