Really Fun And Relatable
The Trials Of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh is the most delightful contemporary Christian novel that will leave you smiling. It is the second book in the Isabella Smugge series but can be read as a stand-alone. For maximum enjoyment and to track character development, I recommend reading book one first.
I absolutely adore the character of Isabella Smugge. She is easy to relate to and to empathise with. I feel there is a little of Isabella Smugge in all of us.
Isabella Smugge has developed tremendously since her introduction to village life a year earlier (book one). It is a pure delight to see her go from slightly stand-offish to Christian seeker as her huge heart for others just keeps on growing.
She has just started going to church and is surprised what she finds, being used to a more Anglised church. She “began mouthing the words to show willing. I wondered why people kept putting their hands up. Was this something to do with volunteering?” Her confusion is understandable. Her need to pray ‘correctly’ is easy to relate to. “I sent up a quiet prayer of my own… I’m sure God was relieved to hear someone addressing Him in the correct fashion.”
Izzy Smugge attitude to prayer is amusing. “I’d made a mental note to thank God for His very efficient answer… I don’t know how the stats normally stack up, but a 100 per cent success rate is most pleasing.” There is a serious note too, we need to be sure to not just petition God but remember to thank Him for answered prayer.
Rising From The Ashes
The Orphan Thief by Glynis Peters is a heart-wrenching historical tale that totally consumed me.
The novel is set in Coventry during the night of 14th November 1940 and onwards. The reader, along with the characters, watches helplessly on as the medieval city of Coventry is destroyed by German bombers. The smoldering wreck of the cathedral says it all.
Rising from the ashes are the remaining residents of Coventry. Though shocked, the bulldog spirit is alive. Survivors band together making new family units as they learn to live again.
The dead are not forgotten but remembered in hearts all over the city.
There is a wonderful community of love and care for the lost and the vulnerable. Most have good hearts but there are a few who take advantage and prey on the young.
The Woman In The Woods by Lisa Hall is a spine-chilling contemporary psychological suspense that completely consumed me.
The novel is set in the real-life location of the village of Pluckley in Kent, supposedly the most haunted village in England – but the story is entirely a work of fiction.
The plotline is well thought out and executed, drawing me in from the start and producing more than a few goose bumps!
All the characters are well drawn. We see the action in the first person from the point of view of the leading lady. As a result, our emotional response and reactions line up with hers. It is all very cleverly done to manipulate our responses.
There is the question of what is real and what is imagined. Suspicion lies in the most unlikely of places. I must confess I, wrongly, pointed the finger at some!
Three Sisters by Heather Morris is a powerful true story of survival during a time of great evil. It is a book that will horrify you as you witness the cruelty towards the Jewish people. It is a book that will inspire you as you observe the bonds of love between the three sisters. It is a book that needs to be read in memory of the six million innocents who perished.
Much of the book is set in Auschwitz and other camps, some is in the girls’ home in Slovakia and the book ends in Israel. The reader sees that “to survive one must remain invisible.”
Auschwitz was a place of unbelievable horrors. The three sisters each had the desire to survive in order to help each other and to fulfill a promise made to their father in 1929. “We Meller girls must stay strong and carry hope in our hearts.” They carried love too.
The camps tested a person’s faith. Some clung on to God. Others questioned. “We needed God in those camps, and where was He?” God walked beside them in the pits of hell but His presence could not always be felt. Our feelings are unreliable. God was there with His children.
People did what they had to in order to survive. “She has chosen to survive, so don’t ever judge her.” Heather Morris vividly describes the horrendous conditions, cruelty and torture of the innocents. Pictures have been planted in my brain through her words that are now impossible to ‘unsee.’