Friday, September 22, 2023

Book Review: The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

A few years, I finally read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It was one of those books I knew by reputation, but had never read for myself. After the opening chapter, I could already tell why this story had been a game changer for so many people.

When I was offered the chance to review the book and receive free tickets to the new movie version. I jumped at the chance!

At first, I thought I would just skim the pages. After all, I could write the review based on my memories, right? 

But again, that opening chapter hooked me. I devoured this book, and I'm sure in a few years, I'll do it again.

The Hiding Place tells the story of the Ten Boom family.
Watchmakers, people of faith, pillars of the community.
Even without their extraordinary story, they would have been a fascinating family. 

But when the Nazis invade Holland, their Christian faith is given its greatest test: 

How do we love our neighbours when our own lives could be at risk?

Corrie and her family start hiding Jews in their home. First, it's one or two people overnight, until safer accommodations can be found. But their operation grows. Eventually, they go so far as to build a secret wall in their home creating a "hiding place" for their guests.

It's estimated that the Ten Booms saved upwards of 800 people through their efforts!

I won't reveal the whole story, but this is a story of Nazis and the Holocaust, so you know it's going to get darker before it gets better.

But this isn't just a story a suffering. It's a powerful testimony of faith, hope, and loving your neighbours. It's an old story that's still frighteningly relevant for our current, divided times.

The Ten Boom's story begs the question: 
What would we be willing to risk to save a neighbour? 
What can we do in our own corner of the world to share God's love with those in need?

I highly recommend The Hiding Place! 

Read it yourself. Read it in a group.
Find a way to live out Corrie's message of hope and love...

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Book Review: This Is Where It Ends, by Cindy K. Sproles

 So, this is going to be a challenging review to write.

This Is Where It Ends is Southern fiction - a genre that intrigues me, given our own Nashville years, but a genre I really haven't gotten into yet. I was excited when the hard copy, with its beautiful cover, landed in my mailbox.

The book blurb goes like this:

When Minerva Jane Jenkins was just 14 years old, she married a man who moved her to the mountains. He carried with him a small box, which he told her was filled with gold. And when he died 50 years later, he made her promise to keep his secret. She is to tell no one about the box or the treasure it contains.

Now 94, Minerva is nearing the end of what has sometimes been a lonely life. But she's kept that secret. Even so, rumors of hidden gold have a way of spreading, and Minerva is visited by a reporter, Del Rankin, who wants to know more of her story. His friend who joins him only wants to find the location of the gold. Neither of them knows quite who they're up against when it comes to the old woman on the mountain.

As an unlikely friendship develops, Minerva is tempted to reveal her secret to Del. After all, how long is one bound by a promise? But the truth of what's really buried in the box may be hidden even from her.

I was hooked by the first few pages and chapters of this story. I loved Minerva and her spitfire, survival attitude. I loved the rural world of Minerva's mountain farm. And I'm just always a sucker for any kind of historical fiction.

If I'd written my review at that point in the story, it would have been glowing.
 My expectations were high!

But as the pages went on, my enthusiasm diminished. Minerva talks endlessly about how she's going to die soon (not that she has a fatal illness - there's no real ticking clock - she just feels old), to the point where is starts to feel repetitive. 

There's a "big twist" with Del that you can see coming a mile away. And the big secret about the box and the treasure is so bland it's like air leaking out of a balloon. 

Sadly, I had to force myself through the final chapters of the book. I still loved the characters and the world, and some of Cindy's writing is truly beautiful. I feel this would have been really strong as a novella. There just isn't enough story to carry it through to the end.

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