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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on October 9, 2003
My husband and I were so excited to read the latest installment in Philip Gulley's previously excellent Harmony series. However, we found, with much disappointment, that "Signs and Wonders" was not on the same level as "Home to Harmony" and "Just Shy of Harmony."
First, Dale Hinshaw has previously been portrayed as a mildly annoying, but deep-down-goodhearted character. However, this book ridicules and mocks him for his old-fashioned, conservative stance on several Biblical and social issues (instead of just poking gentle fun at his eccentricities). In addition, Gulley allows his political views (on the liberal side) to creep into this book, spoiling a few chapters for any who happen to have the opposite view on these issues. While his previous books could be enjoyed by people from all walks of life and all political spectrums, Gulley has allowed his personal views to permeate too much of this book. While he has every right to express his views on these matters, they would be better confined to a different sort of book.
Several chapters were still very entertaining and peopled with the usual unique and amusing assortment of Harmony townfolk. The ending leaves room for a sequel as not every loose end is wrapped up in the concluding chapters. Here's hoping that future installments will restore the entertaining-while-gently-instructing charm of the first two books without getting enmeshed in controversial religious or political issues.
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on April 23, 2003
I really enjoyed Signs and Wonders. I discovered Philip Gulley about a year ago, and have been hooked ever since. His Harmony series is a wonderful collection of small town ancedotes and home spun tales. The characters are true to life: you'll find a Dale Hinshaw or Sam Gardner in every town across America. His true to life stories are filled with sentiment for the easier days, and a love of God.
The only thing that really turned me off this book was Dale Hinshaw. In the previous Harmony novels, he was a likable dolt. Now, to me anyway, he seemed like a bigot. He was preaching and yelling and just not accepting anyone opinions but his own. It was annoying and by the end of the novel he really started to grate on my nerves. In Home To Harmony and Just Shy of Harmony, he was a person who always seemed to learn a lesson by the end of the novel, finally coming to understand something regarding religion and life. In Signs and Wonders, he seemed ignorant and rude and generally annoying.
Other than that it was wonderful to meet up with the characters again. I really want to see Deena meet a guy, almost as bad as the Friendly Women's Circle, and seeing Harvey accept his son's lifestyle and love him for it was nice. Gulley didn't try to press the issue of homosexuality, never saying whether it was wrong or right, but he did stress that love was important, and that was what I enjoyed. He really had a bigger lesson in this novel.
There were plenty of funny moments in the novel too: the pumpkin toss and the Furnace Committee and other moments. Overall, another great book by Gulley. I look forward to hearing more stories from the simple, welcoming town of Harmony, Indiana.
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on September 6, 2003
With the latest installment on life in Harmony, Gulley maintains that pleasing blend of humor, charm and faith he brought to his previous books. I keep fearing that he will become stale or repetitive, but the stories flowed as fresh and funny as ever. It was wonderful to revisit Harmony, and to experience that great combination of old friends and edgy humor. My only complaint may be that Gulley was a might too edgy with this one. The character of Dale comes to mind specifically; he did not seem quite so ignorant in previous books, nor did Sam seem quite so callous towards him. Then again, it is almost worth it to see how Dale is contained (temporarily I'm sure) in the end. When I did reach the end of Signs and Wonders, I found myself a little sad that I won't be visiting Harmony until the next book comes out. Which is always a compliment to the writer, I believe.
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on December 26, 2003
This had to be my favorite "Harmony" book by Phillip Gulley! I laughed out loud in several places. This is a book of FICTION and it pokes fun at various aspects of a typical congregation, from the well-meaning but misguided people who judge others more harshly than themselves to those who truly do have Jesus in their hearts, but are overpowered by the strong voices of other church members. Poor Deena Morrison is still single, and everyone is trying to marry her off! Dale Hinshaw now has his "scripture balloons" sailing off to convert the heathens in Chicago, and Sam's wife wants the vacation she's never had. Oh, and then there's the replacement of the "memorial oven" in the kitchen where the annual Chicken Noodle Dinner is made! I hope Phillip Gulley continues to write about Harmony and it's inhabitants!
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on May 3, 2003
I have loved all of the previous Gulley books, but this one was not as good as the others, due mostly to the preaching on so-called "bad theology" by Phillip Gulley. He seems to be determined to "put down" fundamentalist Christians, but in a sort of cutesy, condescending manner, which is grating. He used a translation of a very well known scripture on the last page of the book (that I have been unable to find in any of the several translations of the Bible to which I have access) which waters down the message considerably. I am sensing a smugness in the writing which was not so evident in the last books, which is unfortunate, because what has made the other books so wonderful was the honesty and openness and non-judgementalism towards Christians.
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on April 25, 2003
Once again Philip Gulley delivers an awesome book. If you have been a fan of his previous writings, you absolutely must read this book. Signs and Wonders will keep you laughing out loud at the zany characters in Harmony.
Dale Hinshaw is back with another of his crazy schemes to evangelize to the Democrats. Harvey Muldock makes a false step and even Pastor's wife, Barbara gets into the action this time.
If you enjoy a visit to Harmony, please read this book. You will not be disappointed.
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on August 18, 2003
Nice light diversion for a summer day, this book offers up all the usual small town characters doing their almost predictable small town antics. As an author myself, of NEW PSALMS FOR NEW MOMS: A KEEPSAKE JOURNAL, I applaud any effort to explore faith in a work of fiction.
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on May 24, 2004
Every Phillip Gulley book is like traveling back home. The characters make me laugh, cry and give me hope that I, too, will make it through the next bump in the road. These books remind me of the Dorsetville series by Katherine Valentine. Keep them coming!
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