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Title: A Soft Breath of Wind (A Stray Drop of Blook #2)
Author: Roseanne M. White
Genre: Christian fiction, Historical fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 360 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Zipporah is thirteen when the Spirit descends upon her, opening her eyes to a world beyond the physical goings-on of the villa outside Rome she has always called home. Within hours, she learns what serving the Lord can cost. Forever scarred after a vicious attack, she knows her call is to use this discernment to protect the Way. She knows she must serve the rest of her life at Tutelos, where the growing Roman church has congregated. She knows her lot is set.

Yet is it so wrong to wish that her master, the kind and handsome young Benjamin Visibullis, will eventually see her as something more than a sister in Christ?

Samuel Asinius, adoptive son of a wealthy Roman, has always called Benjamin brother. When their travels take them to Jerusalem for Passover, the last thing he expects is to cross paths with the woman who sold him into slavery as a child the mother he long ago purged from his heart. His sister, Dara, quickly catches Benjamin s eye, but Samuel suspects there is something dark at work.

When Dara, a fortune-teller seeking the will of a shadowy master determined to undermine the Way, comes into the path of Zipporah, a whirlwind descends upon them all.

So... Nina told me that this sequel was even better than the first book in the series. And as usual, she was absolutely right! I could not put it down and finished it in just one day.

While it is a stand-alone sequel, aspects of it definitely make more sense if you've read the first book, but the main character is no longer Abigail, but rather the next generation. Abigail still plays a major part though.

But where the focus of the first book was on finding Jesus, the focus here was definitely more on following him and thus didn't just make for excellent reading, but also had elements that were applicable to my own life (sort of like "The Yada-Yada Prayer Group" which I absolutely adore!). There were certain points where I worried Roseanna White would take the plot in a direction I didn't agree with, but fortunately that never actually happened, and I ended up finding one of the best books I've read all year :-)
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Title: A Stray Drop of Blood
Author: Roseanne M. White
Genre: Christian fiction, Historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 482 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Beautiful is a dangerous thing to be when one is unprotected.

For seven years, Abigail has been a slave in the Visibullis house. With a Hebrew mistress and a Roman master, she has always been more family than servant... until their son returns to Jerusalem after his years in Rome. Within a few months Jason has taken her to his bed and turned her world upsidedown. Maybe, given time, she can come to love him as he says he loves her. But how does she open her heart to the man who ruined her?

Israel's unrest finds a home in her bosom, but their rebellion tears apart her world. Death descends with Barabbas's sword, and Abigail is determined to be there when the criminal is punished. But when she ventures to the trial, Barabbas is not the one the crowd calls to crucify. Instead, it is the teacher her master and Jason had begun to follow, the man from Nazareth that some call the Son of God...

Recommended to me by Nina who talked me into reading this even though I wasn't looking for historical fiction. I'm so grateful she did!

Beautifully written, this book blew me away, and I couldn't put it down. It would have been a solid 5-star book if it hadn't been for the certain death at the half-point mark. I understand Roseanne White's reasons for killing off this particular character and even kinda agree with them (it would have been a very different book indeed if she hadn't), it just detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of the book at that point.

Fortunately the rest of the book made up for it, and despite my annoyance at that event, it still ended up being an altogether amazing book that I may have to add to my physical library at some point. I loved Abigail, I loved Ester and Cleopas and I especially loved Samuel.
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Title: A Certain Slant of Light
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: 2/5
# pages: Audiobook
Date read: August, 2012

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen--terrified, but intrigued--is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.

I can see the charms of this book and understand its reputation, but it's just not for me.

- Love at first sight I can believe. What I don't believe is that a girl raised 150 years ago would immediately fall into bed with a guy at the first chance she got... at school even!
- The only Christians described in the book were religious nut-jobs. I know there are Christians out there like Dan and Kathy, but they're few and far between, and I would have liked to see that acknowledged.
- The entire concept of how the spirits got bodies seemed questionable and contrived.
- I liked Mr. Brown and was very disappointed that his storyline was never resolved.
- The ending seemed like a huge cop-out.

So why do I still give it 2 stars? Well, it did keep me interested enough that I wanted to see how it ended, and the first half actually wasn't too bad. It wasn't until the second half that things started going down-hill.
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Title: The House of Mirth
Author: Edith Wharton
Genre: classic
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 329
Date read: July, 2009

The beautiful Lily Bart lives among the nouveaux riches of New York City - people whose millions were made in railroads, shipping, land speculation, and banking. In this morally and aesthetically bankrupt world, Lily, age twnty-nine, seeks a husband who can satisfy her craving for endless admiration and all the trappings of wealth. Her quest comes to a scandalous end when she is accused of being the mistress of a wealthy man. Exiled from her familiar world of artificial conventions, Lily finds life impossible.

I don't do well with books with sad endings. That's a personal quirk and I'm well aware it has no influence on the literary quality of the book.

"The House of Mirth" falls into the same genre as "Ditte Menneskebarn" and several other Danish books of that era - books that are well-written, but where the author for one reason or another decide to let the main characters fail in all his/her endeavours rather than succeed. This inevitably leads up to a depressing book, so that no matter how much I enjoyed other aspects of it I can't enjoy the book as a whole.

However, I did appreciate that Edith Wharton didn't let Lily lose her integrity along with everything else.
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Title: The Fetch
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, historical fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 378
Date read: May, 2009

Calder is a Fetch, a death escort, the first of his kind to step from Heaven back to Earth. The first to fall in love with a mortal girl.

But when he climbs backward out of that Death Scene, into the chaos of the Russian Revolution, he tears a wound in the ghost realm where the spirits begin a revolution of their own.

My expectations of "The Fetch" were very, very low - practically non-existent in fact... Which is probably why I couldn't help but be positively surprised. I was fascinated by the story and had a really hard time putting it down, although now that I'm looking back at it, I'm hard pressed to say why. It was definitely more the writing style and the atmosphere than the people and the plot that caught my attention.

The book does have its problems though. It can't seem to decide on a genre and keeps switching back and forth between fantasy, historical fiction and paranormal fiction; the plot is very flimsy and the characters 2-dimensional at best. It's marketed as YA but will probably be more likely to appeal to an older audience.

The basic premise was enjoyable, but the execution could definitely have been improved.

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Title: Charlotte's Web
Author: E.B. White
Genre: Childrens
Rating: 6/10
# pages: 160
Date read: June, 2008

Summary: An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. A prancing, playful bloke, Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads "Some Pig," convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved.

Review: Before you see the rating and become outraged, keep in mind that I read this book for the first time at the age of 28 (I'd seen the cartoon, but that's it). I can see that it'd be a sweet and charming book for children who're only just starting to learn to read, but without the element of nostalgia... sorry, it doesn't cut it. Unlike books like Narnia, it doesn't have anything to endear it to adults... well, not this adult anyway, although I except I'd feel differently if I'd been reading it to a child rather than to myself.

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