Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Very, Very Last Book Reviews of 2016

From the BBC North and South miniseries, 2004 (currently available on Netflix)

Here are my final book reviews of 2016. The first two are variations of Elizabeth Gaskell's wonderful Victorian novel, North and South, and the third is a beloved Christian classic. Enjoy!

No Such Thing As Luck: A North and South Variation No Such Thing As Luck: A North and South Variation by Nicole Clarkston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful variation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, No Such Thing as Luck follows Margaret Hale after she has left Milton for London and receives an urgent note from her brother, Frederick, who lives in exile in Spain. Their dear friend, Mr. Bell, collapsed at Frederick's home while visiting him, and Frederick encourages Margaret to come to Spain to say her goodbyes to her beloved godfather.

At the same time, facing ruin after the strike at the mill, John Thornton hears of a possible partner for him who can obtain a fresh source of cotton that will make the mill profitable for the future, and he decides to sail to Spain to meet with this possible partner.

At the docks, Margaret, who left a note for her cousin and her family detailing her trip to Spain, plans to put herself under the protection of the captain as women do not usually travel alone on ships. But on the docks, Margaret is rammed and is injured, falling back on the man behind her who happens to be . . . John Thornton, the man she regrets refusing in Milton.

And the story proceeds from there . . . .

This is a stellar first novel by the uber-talented Nicole Clarkston, and her second variation of North and South is just as good. Fans of the book and/or the miniseries will definitely enjoy No Such Thing as Luck.

Northern Rain: A North & South Variation Northern Rain: A North & South Variation by Nicole Clarkston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just as with her first novel, No Such Thing as Luck, Nicole Clarkston captures the style and characters of Elizabeth's Gaskell's beloved novel North and South in her newest variation, Northern Rain.

After her refusal of John Thornton's hand in marriage, Margaret comes across John at his father's grave during a steady rain. They talk a bit, quite awkwardly in fact, and Margaret offers John the protection of her father's umbrella. Thus a friendship of sorts is kindled between them. Mr. Hale, however, is not doing well health-wise after the death of his wife, his mind often wandering, and one afternoon he inadvertently reveals the name of his exiled son, Frederick, to John Thornton during their lessons. John is thrilled to discover that the man with Margaret at the train depot was her brother. But between problems at the mill and the machinations of others who try to befriend both Margaret and John, their reputations are soon on the line. Will their budding romance be able to bloom in the Northern Rain, or will both fail, John in business and Margaret in reputation?

I read most of this book in a single day--Yay, Christmas vacation!! It was absolutely enthralling. Anyone who loves either the North and South book or the miniseries (or both!!) will thoroughly enjoy Nicole Clarkston's Northern Rain.

My Utmost for His Highest My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If Christians are to read only one book *ever* on Christian formation, this book is the one to read. The wisdom of Oswald Chambers' famed My Utmost for His Highest is spread out over 365 daily readings. I started this journey on the first day of 2016 and finished it today, the final day.

Written in 1935, the language is a bit archaic, but at the same time, the old-fashioned words and wordings raises this book out of the ordinary into the extraordinary. It's an otherworldly book--there's no other way to describe it.

I've read parts of this book over the years, but never cover-to-cover, on a daily basis throughout the entire year. It's inspiring and convicting at the same time. Oswald pulls no punches, and there were definitely times when I felt a bit bruised. (And more than a bit at times!) But that's a good thing. Oswald rips through any pretensions to complacency, and while it's an uncomfortable journey at times, it's definitely a necessary one.

How else can we put forth our utmost for God's highest?

View all my reviews and here also is the link to my Goodreads Year in Books 2016 (I wish I could download this wonderful infographic of my Year in Books 2016 right into this blog, but it only shares to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Sigh...).

This year (2017), I plan to post a monthly collection of book reviews from Goodreads. I love having the option to save my reviews directly onto my blog as a draft, so I just cut and paste them all into a single post. Easy-peasy. And all of these reviews are also posted on Amazon as well. I think that reviewing books, especially those of fairly new authors, is one way to give back for the enjoyment of reading their work. I am strict with my ratings; my ratings average for 2016 was 4.2 on Goodreads, and my overall Goodreads average is 3.8. So when I give a "5," I truly mean it!

Happy Reading!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Susanne, I just found your blog. Looks like my kind of place.

Happy New Year!


Susanne Barrett said...

Thanks, Laura! Glad you are enjoying my blog posts. :)

Susanne :)


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