I have the bookfor our Church Library and CD for myself. I have enjoyed the CD very much. All the people doing the reading just brings the book alive. I will be adding this to my own library so I cn listen to it again. It is great listening to this story while I was driving, it just seems as if I had compay in the car with me.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Not my favorite seriesJuly 9 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
As a loyal reader of Karen Kingsbury's books and an avid reader, I've read every one of Kingsbury's books on their release date. I adored the Baxter family series and found the Above the Line series to be harder to get into. When Bailey Flanigan's story was set to come out I found myself anticipating stories of struggles and temptations applicable to a life-long Christian girl who must move from the comfort of her home and the protection of her family to a world that is always tempting and trying to overthrow the presence of God. I found myself sorely disappointed.
I flew through these books quickly. There wasn't a lot to stop and think about what I would do if in that situation. Either I've never been in that situation (pursued by an actor) or there weren't any true to life challenges to make me think. Bailey can't shake Cody from her thoughts. The only time she isn't thinking about him is when there is a substitute or distraction in Brandon. Brandon isn't in her thoughts unless she is caught up in his "energy." Bailey dwells on Cody. Brandon is more out of sight and out of mind.
Bailey is an irritating character at best. After being brow-beaten into believing that Bailey is a good-Christian girl with no faults, we are treated to her brief moments of "struggle" that end nearly as soon as they begin. Her anger at Cody is quickly diminished. Her guilt over her friend is over-ridden by Brandon coming to visit. People around her are envious because she is just so amazing. She's more Jamie Sullivan of A Walk To Remember than the girl down the pew from you on Sunday morning. Authors often times have a hard finding a balance between creating characters that are unique so that the world notices the difference between non-Christians and Christians or portraying them as the too perfect to be real Christians that the world despises.
Cody is perhaps the best example of a real Christian. We get into his head and see his struggles. We understand he doesn't want his life to touch the Flanigans and especially Bailey. However, perhaps there in lies the issue. Cody's imperfect life would be a blemish on the perfect Flanigans. Oh they love him for sure. But why doesn't he trust that they'd support and protect he and Bailey from his mother's addiction and boyfriend? Maybe there is the fault in why so many find Christians to be hypocritical. They are there and love when you when things are great or even not good but when things gets tough they are no where to be found. However, I cheer for Cody. He made a bad decision in not being honest so that there wasn't a chasm of silence between he and Bailey. He picked up though. Found purpose.
Brandon Paul is perhaps the largest contradiction in the book. He pursues Bailey with worldly possessions and experiences that money provides, yet he has become too perfect of a Christian. Where is the struggle he has with picking roles? Is he seeing them through fresh eyes? It isn't that I don't want to see Redemption for Brandon Paul (or the entertainment industry he represents) but you can't walk in two worlds or serve two masters. Dayne at least struggled more. Brandon didn't really ever shed his old self. Yes, the drugs, alcohol, and sex stopped. I'd have loved to see him attempt to court Bailey without out all the benefits of Hollywood.
I'd love to see Ashley and Landon receive a book of their own. Ashley's heartbreak was palpable. It was out of place though in a book about the story between Cody and Bailey and the childish love triangle that we were subjected to.
Overall, this books is a nice diversion but I'm anxious for the Bailey Flanigan series to come to an end. For Bailey to ride off into the sunset with her prince (whomever he may be at this point I don't care). I want to get back to the struggles of real Christians with real problems and deep relationships with Christ.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
We've read this before, but still enjoyable.July 9 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Sometimes authors get too attached to their characters and keep writing them too long. I wondered if this might be the case when I saw that Kingsbury had come out with yet another Baxter-spinoff series. And as I read Learning, I kept thinking that we had read this before. Movie star courts small town girl? Check. Christian character struggles to represent faith in the godless entertainment industry? Check. Even the storyline with Landon and Ashley thinking that Landon might have a rare but deadly illness--check. Last time it was Ashley's AIDS scare, remember? And of course, more Cody/Bailey angst? Check.
As other reviewers have said, the Flanigans are too perfect. I struggled more though details that just seemed unbelievable, however. Brandon's courtship of Bailey is sweet, but something out of a fairy-tale. And again, too perfect. I've got a few one-in-a-million girls in my life, but none of them are being swept off their feet by movie stars who get them private viewings of the Empire State Building. Twice. It was nice in some ways to finally see Bailey struggle in this book, but her feeling of being out-of-her league on Broadway is something that Kingsbury tells rather than shows. Would a director this hard-nosed really let Bailey go so long under the impression that she's doing just fine? Would it not have been obvious during rehearsals? And despite her association with Brandon Paul, would producers really expect a new ensemble dancer to boost ticket sales? I could see it more if she had more of a spotlight role that would get her name on the marquee.
Despite all that, this is still a Kingsbury novel and still an enjoyable read. Kinsbury has a way of making readers care about her characters, and this is certainly stil true here. Kinsbury fans and probably most readers of Christian fiction will enjoy this book. And despite my feeling that she's recycling her plots, I'll probably still read the last two books in the series to see how Bailey and Cody what seems like will be the obvious ending. But this series is on my 'library' list, not my 'buy' list.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
disappointingJan. 26 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
i have enjoyed previous Karen Baxter books, but very disappointed in this series. both this book and the previous (leaving) seem very drawn out like she is trying to make a one book story into a 4 book series. this book follows Bailey as she dances on Broadway and Brandon takes her out on amazing (unrealistic) dates; and Cody as he begins coaching a football team and grows closer to Cheyenne who has a hard road of rehab after a car accident. I feel Bailey's character is not 'too perfect' as others have reviewed - i found her life is 'too perfect', but Bailey herself i found to be selfcentred and shallow. quite frankly she often acts like a spoiled brat. even her dream of dancing on Broadway and 'shining for God' seems rather selfcentred to me. how exactly is an ensemble dancer 'shining for God'? most in audience won't know anything about her, she hasn't been much help to her colleagues or friends and it's not like she's sacrificing to care for others or make His name known; it seems she needs the attention that comes from performing rather than doing anything for God or to help other people. Through 2 whole books she is moaning about how Cody can't be her real friend or care about her because he hasn't contacted her (he did come to contact her and she as usual was with the movie star), yet she only tries to contact him once to give stuff back and when finding him beside his close friend in coma in hospital, does she offer care, support, prayer, encouragement? no, she focuses on her own selfish agenda again. a reality check is probably needed here. She has a large warm supportive loving family, is wealthy with money worries or need to support herself, living out her dream on Broadway,famous from her movie role, being courted by 'America's favourite movie star' - Cody on the other hand is a war veteran struggling with PTSD, previous addictions, a difficult childhood, mother in prison, left his home and support structures to be closer to his mum, has to earn his own living and his close friend in a coma from lifethreatening accident. He initially stayed away from Bailey due to threats which could have threatened her life. why did she not contact him and provide support during his difficulties? oh yes, she was making a movie, lots of popularity, money, media interest - no time for a friend in need... who is the one needing a friend and support here???? and who is not giving it???
i did find Cody's character development in this book better, although the turnaround in the team he coaches is a bit beyond belief. however, he at least exemplifies someone following God, struggling, but growing through the struggles and making choices to put others above himself and giving himself for the good of others. cheyenne too exemplifies some of this. this is a disappointing series, too unrealistic, too focussed on fame/popularity and not appreciating real character, i won't be reading any more of it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
typically Kingsbury with the return of beloved charactersJuly 16 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
The characters in this series are no strangers to Kingsbury fans. Bailey and Cody had recurring roles in four previous series along with the ever present Baxter family (who also make appearances in this series). Bailey and Cody are maturing as young adults and beginning their respective careers on Broadway and coaching football, which propels their personal lives in different directions.
This series has taken an idealistic approach to a Christian's struggle in everyday life. Bailey's family dynamics take on almost super-human qualities and they are always ready to dispense divinely inspired advice. Bailey's journey as a single Christian woman in search of love and her desire for fame on the Broadway stage at times seem at odds with one another and are compounded by numerous preachy moments. Inspirational messages should feel natural and flawlessly integrated into the story, but sometimes I felt like Bailey was pushing everything to be too spiritual to the point where it can alienate some readers.
Cody's storyline revolved around his success as a football coach and mentor to young boys. This plot line was heavy on the football and light on the romance. Cody and Bailey do not have any interactions with one another throughout the book, but both succumb to frequent Facebook stalking of each other's profiles. Consequently, both are aware of the other's new romantic relationships and have decided to move on with their lives in spite of their lingering love for one another. All the romantic elements in this book are very tame and appropriate for a younger audience.
I see this series as the introduction to Karen Kingsbury's body of work for the daughter's of her longtime fans. The story and the way it was written will appeal to the teen-young adult demographic, especially since a majority of the main character's interactions occur through Facebook and Skype.
Rating: 7/10 **review copy provided by Zondervan**
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
and just when you think it couldnt get any better!!! :)June 21 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
WOW...Make sure you have Kleenex handy friends!! Ok so I read Learning in 4 hours and really Wow is what I can say right now. This book is amazing. The way I can describe it is ok Leaving the first book was like your favorite team winning a playoff game and then you read Learning and its like your favorite team winning the super bowl. I can honestly say that when I received the book in the mail I was so excited but when I sat down to read it I was almost scared to open it to see if my heart was going to be broken or healed! This book will make you look deep within your souls and try to look into Baileys and see everything God is doing around her and answers she has prayed for with doors opening that she didn't even expect. This book had me not only crying but sobbing and just feeling like I was with all of them in every chapter. Karen you did such an amazing job with this book that at the end I was like NNOOOO please dont end right now! Friends you will laugh and cry and look deep within yourself to see how you want things to be!! I loved every page and just couldnt get enough. I read all of it in 4 hours and am now going back through it to see if I missed any. I love how our Father God shined in every page and you could just see him in every page, every sentence, and every word! Thank you Karen for another fabulous book that just had me filled and ready for LONGING! Oh how its going to be hard to wait now!! xoxo P.S. my friends I am still Team Cody!!! This book will have you on your toes and may make some people look at another path but all I can say is get your copy today!! It is worth every PENNY!! xoxo