What if you walked into a home and found physical representations of your soul – even the parts you thought you’d hidden away or dealt with long ago? What if you also realized that the more you explored this house – which you’re drawn to in so many ways that you can’t stay away – the more pieces of the life you’re happy with fall away?
That’s what happens in Rooms, which is a bit of an oldie (published in 2010), but still worth the read. Here’s the back cover description:
On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.
When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.
I’ll be the first to admit that I read fiction for fun and as an escape, not necessarily to dig deep and think about things in my personal life. But while Rooms was a good read, it also was good fodder for some personal reflection.
What kinds of dreams or hopes did I have years ago that have been forgotten in the busyness of “adulting”? What if I could sit down and literally have an out-loud conversation with the voice in my head? Whose voice would I be talking to? And then there’s the biggest question of all: If I could walk into a place that represents my heart, what would it be like?
Those are some heavy questions, but they show one of the many ways that Christian fiction is different from so many other titles on the shelves: They can teach you lessons about yourself and your faith if you’re open to the possibility.
So what did I learn from Rooms? It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing, but I do have a lot rolling around in my mind. I’m glad I found this book buried in all the others on my Kindle; I’ll be looking at some other title from James Rubart now.
Your turn: What’s one of the best books you’ve read lately? Or, what’s a lesson you’ve learned from a novel?
Last week I posted a photo of some books from my to-read stack. Today I’m going to share my review of one of those books, The Discovery by Dan Walsh.
I’ve read two of Walsh’s previous novels, The Unfinished Gift and The Homecoming. They were both set in the World War II era, so The Discovery is a bit different from those because it’s set in modern times. But – Walsh still shares his love of WWII tales with us because The Discovery actually is a story within a story.
Here’s part of the back cover blurb:
When aspiring writer Michael Warner inherits his grandfather’s venerable Charleston estate, he settles in to write his first novel. But within the confines of the stately home, he discovers an unpublished manuscript that his grandfather, a literary giant whose novels sold in the millions, had kept hidden from everyone – but which he clearly intended Michael to find. As he delves deep into the exciting tale about spies and sabotage, Michael discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.
So … an aspiring novelist, a story set in Charleston, and some spies and sabotage. The combination hooked me from the get-go.
You’re about 60 pages into the book before Michael comes across his grandfather’s hidden manuscript. From there, The Discovery alternates between Michael’s present-day life and the story within the old manuscript – which you read along with Michael in its entirety. I felt like the “hidden” story dragged a bit in a few places, but it wasn’t so bad that I wanted to stop reading. I think it was partly because I anticipated some things and was ready for them to happen. But at least I didn’t jump to the ending to make sure things worked out like I wanted.
Basic fiction tools like flashbacks and back story can be tricky to work into a story, and what Walsh attempted here was much bigger than that. But he managed to pull it off and reward his readers with not one enjoyable story, but two. If you’re looking for a novel about young love during World War II that stays more “light” than “grim,” The Discovery could be worth checking out.
Your turn: What good World War II novels have you read? Do you have a favorite author who writes about that time frame?
I’ve been a reader all my life, and always have a stack of books waiting to be my next literary get-away — plus plenty on my haven’t-bought-yet list. I’ll admit it makes me a little crazy and a little sad when I hear people say they don’t like to read. Don’t they know how much they’re missing?!
That’s why I love this quote from J.K. Rowling that I saw online this weekend:
My sentiments exactly! Whether it’s suspense, romance, sci-fi, dystopian, Western, mystery, historical, or something completely different from the non-fiction part of the world — everyone can find something they enjoy reading if they take time to dig a bit. I’ve said it to plenty of my kids’ friends in the past few years.
Me, I’m always looking for another “right” book. Here’s what’s left of my to-read pile at the moment. Since there are only six (two of which I’m partway through), I obviously need to get moving on my haven’t-bought-yet list!
Your turn: I’d love to know what you’re reading or what you want to buy next. Share in the comments and we’ll all have some good books to explore.
It’s the first week of February, so let’s take a look at some of the historical fiction titles that will be hitting the shelves sometime this month.
From authors who are part of American Christian Fiction Writers:
The Prophetess: Deborah’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith — Outspoken and fearless, Deborah has faith in God but struggles to see the potential her own life holds. As an Israelite woman, she’ll marry, have a family, and seek to teach her children about Adonai – and those tasks seem to be more than enough to occupy her time. But God has another plan for her. Israel has been under the near constant terror of Canaan’s armies for twenty years, and now God has called Deborah to deliver her people from this oppression. Will her family understand? Will her people even believe God’s calling on her life? And can the menace of Canaan be stopped? (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
The Love Is Patient Romance Collection by Janet Lee Barton, Frances Devine, Lena Nelson Dooley, Vickie McDonough, Darlene Franklin, Jill Stengl, Connie Stevens, and Erica Vetsch — Enjoy the slow dance through the courtship of nine historical couples in the American west, including the territories of Arizona and Wyoming. Just at a time in life when they have nearly given up on finding love, romance enters their lives. But will it be true love, and will it be worth the wait? Find out in this delightful collection written by eight bestselling authors of inspirational romances. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan — Rachel Matthews isn’t one to rely on others to take care of her. Destitute and alone, she still wants to make her own way and her own money – even if she’s forced into the life of a dance hall girl. Horrified by her circumstances, Rachel’s brother sends a friend – the widely admired cattle baron John McIntyre – to rescue her, then sets off to earn enough money to buy back the family ranch. But when months pass without her brother’s return, Rachel isn’t sure she can take one more day in John McIntyre’s home – especially once she discovers that he’s the one who holds the deed to her family’s ranch. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
A Spy’s Devotion by Melanie Dickerson — Langdon returns home to heal from a battlefield injury — and to fulfill a dying soldier’s last wish by delivering his coded diary. At a ball hosted by the powerful Whilhelm family, Langdon meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey. Honoring propriety, he keeps his distance — until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia’s guardian. As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation’s undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman. And when Julia realizes that England – and the man she is falling in love with – need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press, an imprint of Amazon Publishing)
The Express Rider’s Lady by Stacy Henrie — Delsie Radford’s father may have kept her and her sister apart, but Delsie refuses to miss her sister’s wedding – even with only 18 days to get there. And she’s found the perfect escort in Pony Express rider Myles Patton. Myles can’t believe it when a pretty socialite hires him to take her cross-country through dangerous territory. He’s sure she’ll give up soon, but the longer they ride together, the more Myles notices the toughness and kindness beneath Delsie’s refined exterior. And though they may be worlds apart…they might just be perfect for each other. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
The Texan’s Engagement Agreement by Noelle Marchand — It’s been five years since Adelaide Harper broke Chris Johansen’s heart and their long-distance engagement. But when she steps off a train in Peppin, Texas, and strolls back into Chris’s life, he can’t help but panic. To avoid his parents’ plan to arrange a marriage for him, he’s let his family believe he and Adelaide are still engaged. Adelaide is facing her own troubles with a matchmaking mama and a parade of aggravating suitors. So pretending to let Chris court her could help them both. Surely after five years, there’s no need to worry their time together could reignite a long-buried love…is there? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Northern Light by Annette O’Hare — The Yankees took her fiancé’s life, but when a wounded Union soldier washes ashore, needing her help, will she learn to love again or will hate cost him his life? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
A few from authors in the general market:
Rush-Oh by Shirley Barrett (Virago) – When Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a whaling family in New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908, the story she tells is poignant and hilarious, filled with drama and misadventure.
The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby (Pan) – Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson take on a case rejected by Sherlock Holmes.
The Ironsmith by Nicholas Guild (Forge) – The behind-the-scenes political plots to kill Jesus of Nazareth, and one man’s attempt to save his life.
The Farmer’s Daughter by Mary Nichols (Allison & Busby) – A WWII Suffolk girl managing her sick father’s farm enlists the help of a German POW and they fall in love, to local disapproval.
The Moonlit Garden by Corina Bomann – A widowed antique shop worker digs into history to learn the story and secrets of a violin brought to her. As she unravels the mystery of the previous owner’s story, she comes to see her own life in a new light.
Your turn: What sounds good to you? I know several will be added to my to-read list! Share what you think about these or if you’ve heard of another new release that the rest of us might enjoy.