Mmm, How I love a bookstore. There is something about all those books carefully (or not...in certain cases) stacked on rows and rows of shelves. Really, one of my favorite places to be! I get all excited and I don't know where to begin. Oh and in a Christian bookstore...I would simply melt! Well, I didn't know what that last bit was like or what "melting" in a bookstore consisted of until this summer. You see, I live in a little city where there is only one Christian bookstore (at least only one I know of) and they don't really have Christian fiction. The one they do have is in french. And no matter how bilingual I am, there is just something about reading a book in it's original version.
So, before going on vacation in the UK, one of the first things I did was to look up the nearest Christian bookstore to where I would be staying. It wasn't as easy as I thought and it was veen quite confusing. While on vacation though, I went to the closest WHSmith and asked if they had Christian books. The attendant nearly looked embarrassed as he answered "well, we have Bibles" which slightly made me smile. He then kindly and warmly directed me to the closest Christian bookstore when I asked. The directions were all jumbled up in my head but I made it a challenge to find the place and...I did. It was quite a small bookstore but it was Christian and had a small collection of Christian fiction and that, my friends, was enough for me! Oh imagine my enthusiasm!
Yes, I simply melted and didn't know where to start. Wait, actually I did. I'd intended on buying Francine River's "Redeeming Love" or another one of her books (having read none). But the vendor told me he'd only just sold the two last copies that morning and I was the second person coming in to ask for the book since he sold them. Redeeming Love is still at the top of my list!
What did I get instead? I got two books! Here's a picture:
And this is a review of one of those books: Stuck In The Middle.
Stuck In The Middle by Virginia Smith
Back cover summary
Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut.
Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.
Why I would pick this book up again
Just to break it down: I loved this book! I mean, it had it all: a dose of romance, humour and seriousness that made you think. And thing is...this book kept me up. I said I bought it on vacation right? And vacation usually means no time for books because you're busy visiting. Well, as crazy as it sounds, I started reading this book the night before the day we were scheduled to catch our flight back home. And I couldn't put it down. I read until 5am until I reminded myself that I had a long day of traveling ahead. The book just takes you through so much emotion. I admit, I cried. I found myself crying at certain points and laughing at others (although I had to contain myself as not to wake everyone). It was also a great plane read the next day.
The characters are easy to fall in love with. They face real-life issues and are quite "real". I could identify with Joan and I could certainly identify with Ken, the doctor next door. I mean, both were so natural. The Author pulls you into each of their minds in such a way that as the story progresses you get to know them more and fall in love with them the more.
The other characters are there. Not all necessarily loveable but they represent real people you can find in your entourage.
Me in PJs as I started to read. Absorbed is the word.
I have to admit, when I started reading the book, after the first few pages I wondered: is this book Christian because the author is Christian or does she actually talk about God? She doesn't do it straight away. It comes up little by little in the story but by the time you get to the middle, you can't escape the God aspect. Virginia Smith does it in a subtle way. She reels the reader in and then BAM! You don't hear the author preaching but you hear her characters talk about their beliefs and their passion for Christ which hits just as hard as sitting through a sermon no matter how subtly it's done. The characters' spiritual growth and the way they overcome the ideas of those around them (and even their own) makes the book even more attractive. Again, I loved the God aspect and how it's put together.
Since I love to write, when I read a book I do notice style and I quite liked Virginia Smith's style in this book.
My favorite phrase or passage from the book:
When Joan asks Mr. Sachs why God never delivered chocolate ice cream to her and Mr. Sachs asks her if she actually ever asked God to.
Favorite verse mentioned in the book:
"I will never leave you or forsake you" (For example, Hebrews 13:5)
Why I recommend this book
While I don't think I necessarily learned anything new, I was reminded of quite a lot of things concerning my Christian walk. If you had started to be lukewarm or basically not as zealous as you used to, I believe this book will ignite a spark in you. And if you like contemporary Christian romance (this one was done very subtly though), you probably will like this one.
About the author
Virginia Smith is a writer of humorous novels, a speaker, and an avid scuba diver. She launched her career as a novelist with the release Just As I Am in 2006, and has been cranking out God-honoring fiction ever since. She and her husband, Ted, divide their time between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean. www.VirginiaSmith.org
Like I said, I bought this book at the bookstore but I soon realized it was FREE ON AMAZON (Kindle Edition) and grabbed that one too since I loved the book so much! Do I regret paying for it? NO WAY! So if you have a Kindle device or an iPad head over to amazon and get the book FOR FREE. If you don't have a Kindle, head over to amazon anyway, you can download it on your computer!
Please note: I have not been paid to do this review, I just simply really liked the book.
I haven't read the two following books in the sister-to-sister series (focused on each of Joan's sisters) but I definitely will.
Again, pick it up at Amazon! and tell me what you think!
GOD BLESS and have a wonderful day!
Oh and remember, books are great and all BUT nothing compares to the Bible! Continue to dig deep in the Word!