Monday, November 7, 2016

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Waves of Mercy

Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson retreats to the Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan, after breaking her engagement with her wealthy fiancé. Filled with questions about her newfound faith and troubled by a recurring nightmare, Anna finds solace in Derk Vander Veen, a seasonal hotel worker who plans to go into the ministry.
Prompted by a request from her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to sift through memories of emigrating from the Netherlands almost fifty years ago. As she writes them down for the Semi-Centennial anniversary of the town’s settlement, her story takes on a life of its own as she honestly and painfully recalls her regrets, doubts, hardships, and joys. Her story captivates Derk, who sees similarities between Geesje and Anna, and wishes to bring the two together.
(excerpt from back of book)

Waves of  Mercy is two books for  the price of one. Balancing between the story of Anna, Geesje, and Geesje youth, Lynn Austin artfully weaves a world where  characters are unafraid to address real fears and doubts while experiencing believable highs and lows within life. I will admit it took me  a few chapters  to adjust to the shifts between Anna, Geesje, and Geesje's teenage years. As a reader who gets very immersed in her books  (hence the many late nights trying to read just a few more minutes) the  shifts in time periods and characters  initially jarred me out of the  story. However, as the book progressed and I became more involved  (specifically with  Geesje's story) I was eventually able to make the first person shifts without loosing that encompassing effect.

As with any good story,  I  quickly found myself latching onto a character - in this case Geesje. While I struggled to find  a connection with Anna until the last pages of  the  book Geesje leapt off  the  pages with  a depth that's hard to find. I loved the dimension Lynn was able to work into her character and the honesty with which she addressed Geesje's doubts and struggles as her  faith collided  with life events. 

While I quickly guessed Anna's story line, Geesje's story line kept me guessing throughout, not so much in plot points but in her reactions  and responses to those events. Austin was skillful in her ability to lead readers  through events that, while greatly  removed through time, still felt real, relatable, and successfully invites readers to enter into the story.  Love is such a powerful connector but I loved  how Austin does not rely on the traditional love story to carry Geesje along. I honestly cried along with Geesje as she  made her decisions time and time again and loved the portrayal of relationship that involved  such commitment, decision, and sacrifice.

This was a perfect way to jump in Lynn Austin's writing and would make a perfect Christmas gift for any lover of historical  fiction or true love stories on  your list.

4 out of 5 stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Discipline that Connects with your Child's Heart by Jim & Lynne Jackson

Discipline That Connects With Your Child's Heart

Jim and Lynne Jackson, founders of Connected Families, teach four powerful principles for discipline that shape both behavior and your kids’ hearts. You’ll learn to communicate–even when your kids are at their worst–that they are safe with you, loved no matter what, capable of wise choices, and responsible to make right the things they’ve made wrong. As you impart these messages, you’ll create strong relationships, build lasting wisdom and character, and bring God’s grace to life in your home!
(excerpt from back of book)

Jim and Lynne's book is written by parents, for parents. Filled to the brim with case studies, real life (and in some cases personal) stories of their practices and theories in real family situation, the Jackson's heart for families is evident on every page.
Mindful of this, the authors really strive to make their work accessible to the families that need it. The case studies often have more than 1 case per point which does add to the page count (just over 300) but also allows for more points of connectivity with readers.

The Jackson's style is very straightforward. Presenting their theory: Foundation -"You are Safe with me", Connect "You are Loved no matter what", Coach  - "You are called and capable", and Correct  - " You are responsible for your actions" as a pyramid allows them to constantly refer back to the interconnection and necessity of a strong foundation within their model. I appreciated how easily  the lines were drawn between the later steps with having successfully established the prior and the permission or even direction to go back and see how steps apply in the overarching family as well as in individual situations. Additionally, while the book is obviously aimed at raising children I felt one of the book's great strengths was how they addressed parental reactions and behaviours  using their modeling to affect change. So many parenting books seem to get lost in "changing children" and not looking at the parents themselves and let's face it no matter how hard we try the only personal we can truly change is ourselves.

While the book is most definitely written for parents I could easily see how some may feel Discipline That Connects With Your Child's Heart reads more as a textbook than some of the  other parenting books currently on the market. That  said, Jim and Lynne  open, honest, and heartfelt text easily makes up for the extra challenge in reading level  and the walk through appendices provide a great starting point for parents who may feel overwhelmed and unsure how to begin applying what they've just learned.

4 out of 5 stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."