April 18, 2014

Out of the Depths

Out of the Depths
An Unforgetable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

by Edgar Harrell, USMC with David Harrell


Most of my WWII knowledge centers around the Holocaust side of things and the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day. So I devoured this book about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the first hand stories from the Pacific front.

Edgar Harrell shares with excruciating detail his experiences aboard the USS Indy including the night it sank and the 5 days he spent floating in the ocean praying for rescue in shark infested waters. The most amazing part of his story has to be the incredible peace he felt knowing that God was in control. His ability to trust and hope in God in the midst of true despair was amazing. What he and his fellow crewmen lived through was akin to torture. For days they had no food, no water, no shelter, no rest, no protection and in most of their eyes no hope. And in addition to all that they watched as many of their friends died whether it be from starvation, salt water poisoning, shark attack, other elements or injuries from the initial attack.

This is a photo of the USS Indianapolis. 

Harrell's recollection of the events is amazing. I hope it was healing in a way for him to get the words put down on paper and I am truly thankful to him and the other men that served in WWII for sharing their experiences with the rest of us so that their sacrifices won't be forgotten.

In the book the movie Jaws is mentioned because there was a character in the movie that was a USS Indy survivor. I'd seen Jaws more than once but didn't remember so I googled the scene and here is the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9S41Kplsbs

I don't blame Harrell for telling us that he's never seen the movie nor set foot in the ocean since his rescue.

I really appreciated reading this story from his own personal viewpoint as an actual survivor. But more than that I loved how his story was infused with his faith and hope in God. He readily admits that is the only way he survived. I love that he uses his story to share the Good News.

Part of why I signed up to review this book was because I love history and I love the stories of the men who served in WWII. But another reason was because my husband an I live in Indianapolis and are only about 4 miles from the museum for the USS Indianapolis. We will definitely be planning a visit after reading this book! And if you are in the area I suggest you visit too.

If you are a history buff you'll love this book. If you love memoirs and biographies you'll love this book. If you love reading stories of God's divine intervention you'll love this book.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.

April 16, 2014

Just 18 Summers

Just 18 Summers
by Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox


Just 18 Summers was a very sweet book about the different stages of family. Each chapter of the book was written from the viewpoint of a different character though so sometimes it was a little hard to follow. I did enjoy the different perspectives but at times it just seemed like there were a few too many perspectives.

However, the different perspectives were very interesting. I really liked how each of the four families in the story were at different stages of life. One family was expecting their first child and going through all the emotions involved with preparing to become parents. Another family is dealing with the grief after loosing a wife/mother. The third family has a daughter getting married and a son getting ready to go off to college and they are dealing with a lot of transitions. And the fourth and final family in the story has children they are so busy providing material things for that they forget to provide them with the love and attention they desperately need.

With so many different story lines you are so to be able to identify with at least one of the families. Parts of the book will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and others will just make you think and possibly re-evaluate your own life.

I really love how each of the characters had their own individual moments of figuring out what the really important things are in life. I especially loved the moments when they realized that doing things on their own strength wasn't the best way. There were some profound moments of prayer that really spoke to me.

I'd recommend this book to anyone that wants to have children, already does of any age, or even to the empty-nesters as they possibly approach the years of grand-parenting.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Tyndale Fiction, in exchange for my honest review.

March 15, 2014

Tide and Tempest

Tide and Tempest
by Elizabeth Ludwig

I had actually never heard of Elizabeth Ludwig nor her "Edge of Freedom" book series until this title came through my email. When I signed up to review this book I knew I wanted to read the first two books in the series and I am so glad I did! I loved No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home and by the time I finished them I couldn't wait to read Tide and Tempest! I would definitely recommend reading the series in order so you get the full effect of the story. Plus if you read them in order you can fall in love with ALL of the characters and not just the main ones in book three.

I've read books with an Irish background before but Elizabeth Ludwig does a great job of bringing their pronunciation to life when she spells words out so you'll read them in an Irish accent. For example "kinna" and "dinna."

Tide and Tempest tells the story of a young woman, Tillie, who moved to America with her betrothed - only he didn't make it across the ocean alive and the captain of the ship was kind enough to find Tillie a place to live once they landed. Unfortunately years later Captain Morgan learns that the young man's death was no illness or accident but murder by poison. He then sets out to make things right with Tillie.

Unfortunately as Tillie and Morgan and the others start looking into the situation they realize it goes much deeper than they imagined. They get some of our favorite characters from the first two books involved and together they find the answers to many of the questions brought up in all three books. Tide and Tempest does an amazing job of not only solving the murder of Tillie's fiance but also weaving a love story and solving the crimes and murders from the first two books and tying up all loose ends magnificently.

About halfway through the book I have to admit I was feeling a little bit disappointed that the love story was going to unfold too easily. Sometimes I get bored when there isn't at least a little bit of delay or conflict or changed minds! But Ludwig did an excellent job of turning the story to add just the right amount of suspense!

Ludwig writes excellent characters full of passion. I've noticed especially in book two and book three that these women love their men fiercely. Ana in book two and Tillie in book three both more than once mention both out loud and in their silent thoughts that they'd rather be hurt or die than see their men suffer. Very admirable and only goes to show how much they love them! Of course the men feel quite strongly right back!

If you like historical fiction with just the right amount of romance and suspense you'd be remiss not to read the Edge of Freedom series. Elizabeth Ludwig is a writer to watch. I can't wait for her to come up with her next series! Click HERE to like her on Facebook!

 This book was provided to me by the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.