• Caroline

April Reads

Here’s a roundup of the gifted books and new releases I read in April!


1. Carved in Ebony



About the Book

Inspiration from the lives of ten black women of faith


Elizabeth Freeman, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Maria Fearing, Charlotte Forten Grimke, Sarah Mapps Douglass, Sara Griffith Stanley, Amanda Berry Smith, Lucy Craft Laney, Maria Stewart, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.


These names may not be familiar, but each one of these women was a shining beacon of devotion in a world that did not value their lives. They worked to change laws, built schools, spoke to thousands, shared the Gospel around the world. And while history books may have forgotten them, their stories can teach us so much about what it means to be modern women of faith.


Through the research and reflections of author Jasmine Holmes, you will be inspired by what each of these exceptional women can teach us about the intersections of faith and education, birth, privilege, opportunity, and so much more. Carved in Ebony will take you past the predominately white, male contributions that seemingly dominate history books and church history to discover how black women have been some of the main figures in defining the landscape of American history and faith.


Join Jasmine on this journey of illuminating these women--God's image-bearers, carved in ebony.


My Thoughts

I am thrilled that this book is on the market to shine a light on the black women that church history so often overlooks. The “Hidden Figures” of the church.

Another reviewer called this a “historio-memoir” and I agree. I hold an unpopular opinion that the author’s scholarship suffered because of the personal approach. It felt as if every historical fact had been filtered through Holmes’ own outlook, sacrificing objectivity for the tunnel vision of idealogy. I believe if the chapters had been longer it would have solved this problem, but when the chapters are brief and you have only a few pages about each woman, I was left wondering what was fact and what was interpretation. (Not to mention a surprising prejudice against any denomination that isn’t Presbyterian.)


"I do not write these truths to make much of American chattel slavery but to make much of the God who intervened." I appreciated Holmes' succinct explanation of the sins of American chattel slavery and the difference from Hebrew slavery--one of the best I've heard!


It's hard to pick a favorite but if I had to say, my favorite woman was Maria Fearing and her tireless devotion to the gospel.


My issue with this book is not with the subject (which I love), I only wish the stories of these women had been presented objectively. Nevertheless, read this book for the sake of these 10 women, and be inspired by their own words.



2. The Master Craftsman



About the Book

In 1917, Alma Pihl, a master craftsman in the House of Faberge, was charged to protect one of the greatest secrets in Russian history--an unknown Faberge Egg that Peter Karl Faberge secretly created to honor his divided allegiance to both the people of Russia and the Imperial tsar's family. When Alma and her husband escaped Russia for their native Finland in 1921, she took the secret with her, guarding her past connection to the Romanov family.


Three generations later, world-renowned treasure hunter Nick Laine is sick and fears the secret of the missing egg will die with him. With time running out, he entrusts the mission of retrieving the egg to his estranged daughter, Ava, who has little idea of the dangers she is about to face. As the stakes are raised, Ava is forced to declare her own allegiance--and the consequences are greater than she could have imagined.

 

I predicted every single step of this book from the first 3 chapters, so no plot twists here, but I read this book at a time when a gentle, feel-good treasure hunt with cute relationships and father-daughter adventure were just what I needed. I enjoyed the dual timeline between 1917 Russia and modern-day globetrotting. Recommend to anyone in the mood for clean, heartwarming historical fiction with a modern-day treasure hunt.


3. All That It Takes



About the Book

When the ever-cautious Val Locklier moves cross-country with her son for a secure job, everything she'd planned unravels within the first week. After Val reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend's brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers' mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. But as Val's community begins to expand, so do her insecurities, especially those heightened by her growing attraction to a certain friendly landlord.


Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he's also been reassigned to a local ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he distracts himself by throwing his energy into a host of new projects--not the least of which is pursuing Val--without stopping to consider the future.


As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they'll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.


My Thoughts


Well done, Nicole Deese! Again, I would put this novel in the heartwarming, Christian romance category. Deese does an amazing job (as always) of weaving in the gospel and turning common misconceptions on their heads without sounding preachy. She handled the topic of unplanned pregnancies and support for mothers with tenderness and wisdom (a great read in a potentially post Roe v. Wade world!)


I related to Val’s work as a VA and filmmaker, and the relationship between her and Miles was just the love story I needed right now. I also loved Lady Gwen and her sass.


“I'd much rather my life be defined by a thousand little moments of faithfulness than by one big moment of fame.”

If you liked this review, check out my review of Before I Called You Mine, another clever, touching read by this author.

 

*I received copies of these books from the publishers and happily proved my honest reviews. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to post positive reviews.*