Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Partial Review


I cannot, for the life of me, remember how I found the first book of this trilogy, A Discovery of Witches.  I do know that it's audio book kept me sane during a week or two of driving over three hours each day for two years as I finished up my History degree in 2012. There were days I almost couldn't wait to get back into the car to hear what was going to happen next...and I giggled out loud when the author mentioned something I had just been studying in class...yeah - I'm a little weird like that! ;)

Then, when I finished listening, I bought the book and read it cover to cover in a matter of days - all 500+ pages!  As happens quite often with me...I soon discovered that the book was part of trilogy (hadn't known that when I started!) and that the second book wouldn't arrive until later that year.

Ugh.

My blessed mother bought me the book the day it came out...but I was now aware that there was no third book written, and it wouldn't be for ANOTHER year!

Pro. cras. ti. na. tion.

Well...I held out for seven months, but I couldn't wait another day to find out how things were going for Diana and Matthew.  And, again, the next, and last, book won't be out until later this year.

Ugh.

I'm not going to do a full review of the book until I finish the whole trilogy. (I think I did a short one for the first book....somewhere...) Buuuuut...

WoW!  I guess the best part of Historical Fiction for me - and the story Deborah Harkness weaves in this book - is pausing to daydream about actually being able to travel back in time to witness all of the amazing things I read about on a regular basis.  Diana gets to meet the Queen of England in the late 1500's (yeah...like Elizabeth!) sits with Shakespeare, and (carefully) aids in the discovery of the (truly) first telescope ever made. And, no...it wasn't by Galileo like we all thought.  Yes, the book is fiction, but like my other favorite author, Diana Gabaldon and her tales full of Scottish brogue <shiver> and Highland history,  Ms. Harkness takes the time to really research what it is she's writing about (in this case, Europe in the 16th century) - true delight for those of us who need a bit of a break, from time to time, from our non-fiction history tomes!

Highly recommended...uh...but a bit of a warning.  For those of you "unawares"...Diana is a witch, and her husband, and fellow time-traveler, Matthew, is a vampire! LOL! ;)
Enjoy!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Charming...

I know...I know!  I stated in my last post how difficult it is to do book reviews for Devotionals...but I just couldn't pass this one up!  I absolutely love the SisterChicks  - they remind me of gals I'd be friends with in every day life...and the words they fill their pages with are charming and heartwarming.

"Grace...it bids me fly and gives me wings."

Well...considering the reference to all things wings and birds (which are the subjects of the nicknames I use for my little beloveds) as section headings, I was drawn to this darling devotional.

This particular devotional is not divided into days, or weeks - it is simply sections that one could pick and choose based on your mood or challenge or whim.  The main goal of the authors in each section is the same though - to help you draw closer in your walk with Him. Full of wonderful quotables, bible verses, and pages flush with "Robin Egg Blue" print/pictures, this little book brought a smile to my face with each page!

Each author takes turns tackling a subject, full of enthusiasm, not just "preaching" or criticizing, and then you are offered a chance to see His take on things through listed verses.  There's even a place to write down a "Peep or Two From You!"  :) There are even wonderful suggestions to get your friendships and spiritual life "soaring"! A couple of my favorites are quiet, personal visits to a nearby woods, a "Birthday Blessing Bash" all laid out for a good friend, and "making a date for coffee with a friend who needs a new dream."

*Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this wonderful book in exchange for my personal review!




Finally!....

I sometimes forget, when I agree to do these reviews, that devotionals require much more time to read  in order to form a proper opinion to report about.  Such is the case with this book.  I have decided to go ahead and do my review on the portion I've read so far, and fill in missing pieces with general information.

This book is a seventeen week devotional study meant to help those of us desperate for a relationship with the Lord, but still apprehensive as "fearful" worshippers.  The content challenges the ideas that many carry with us - that God is "too omnipotent" or far away from our personal lives to truly care about our day-to-day doings and this directly affects our ability to pray with Him effectively.

Each week is divided into daily studies that lend to chances for reflection, memorization, and meditations, focusing on seventeen different attributes of the Lord that we may not think of often.

The part of this book that was most endearing to me were the words that Ms. Spangler uses...she isn't wrapped up in being modern, current, "new-fangled"...mainstream I think some might say.  She brings up complex, almost romantic terms for the attributes she lists, like "immutable, omnipresent, eternal, transcendent" to describe God, reminding us who exactly "I Am" is - and how we can draw closer.

I'd like to thank Tyndale Publishers for the free copy of this book in exchange for my personal review.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Book Review...Finally!!

 

The idea and message of "Life is what you make of it," and "Your life is your own story - write it well" are ones that have been written about almost ad nauseam...yet, for some reason, this book, by N.D. Wilson caught my eye.  Maybe it was the place I was at the time...ever exhausted, wondering what life had to offer to a stay-at-home mom and the wife of a well-traveled husband.

Words fall from the pages of this book like poetry. And the message felt totally new, and hit my heart strong and soft.

The message this girl got: page 21...

"If you think it, live it.  If you don't live it, you don't really think it.  You are not what you think (or what you think you think).  You are not what you say you are.  You are what you do."

The author uses many beautiful, personal examples of his trek towards personal joy. One example is as he retells his journey towards his dream of becoming a writer, even as he knew the road would be a long hard one...especially when you're not a great writer. (Something I can definitely relate to!)

God has a plan for each of us, but all he can do is steer us in the right direction...and then watch us fly.  How the journey plays out is up to us.

*A huge thanks to Booksneeze for the free copy of this book in exchange for my personal review. :)


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Let's Hear it for Louisa!!

                                            

I love when writers focus on parts of our American history that few have read about in-depth.  No, I'm not criticizing...I, for one, hardly knew who the War of 1812 even involved...and I am a student of History! (No, you may NOT have my diploma back!)

The author, Jane Hampton Cook, took a lesser-known, though very important, time period and retold the story in such a fresh, light, and interesting way that I burned through this hefty 400+ page tome without even thinking of it as non-fiction.  (See the details here.) I became completely enveloped in the love story between John Q. and Louisa Adams, incredulous to the normalcy at the time of her travels, alone (!), from Russia to Paris by carriage.  I secretly rooted for J.Q. as he struggled to be accepted back into the realm of politics that his father had made seem so easy to do.

I am happy to proclaim that I not only learned important facts about our country's history from within the pages of this deliciously thick book, but I have come away with renewed pride in the people and spirit that started us on the path to greatness.

*I would like to thank BookSneeze for the free copy of this book in exchange for my personal review.

Another "need to read it again" book...

                                                  http://www.randomhouse.com/images/dyn/cover/?source=9781601425690&width=1000

Is it okay to admit when a book is over your head and the concepts were a bit too...theological?

While I was excited to read about author Rick McKinley's concepts of the Kingdom of God being "already" being present, but "not yet"...I realized that even that quote confused me a bit.

The reader is invited to explore the possibility that we already live in the kingdom and that the idea that we, as sinners, are continuously working to get there is defunct.  In saying that, our role here on Earth becomes much different as we are asked to live out God's will as if we are already with Him.  Want a "world without injustice or oppression or poverty"?  Then create it.

This, I understood!

I see this book as being an amazing tool for pastors (as the author has himself begun a unique "community" in Portland, Oregon) and those that seek to discuss deep, revolutionary theology.  The publisher is generous enough to allow you to read the first chapter here. There are amazing ideas that I high-lighted and underlined in an attempt to give myself direction for when I go back and re-read this little gem (as it is only 184 tightly packed pages!) 


*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this very personal review.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Another Reason to Love These Authors!






Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel have written some of the best pre-tween to adult books I have ever read.  They seem to be able to tap directly into the female mind (of any age) and give down to earth but incredibly valuable spiritual guidance, full of real stuff that all of us can “chew on” and hold on to.

There have been times that I was at a complete loss as to how to help my tween daughter come through a difficult situation (sometimes that last person they want advice from is “The Mom”) and these two women’s words helped me to gently guide her and love her through it all.  Their writings have helped me to reconnect with both of my daughters’ spirits in ways I never knew were even possible.  I highly recommend checking out their line of Secret Keeper Girl books, and don’t stop there!  They write for teens and women as well!

Obviously, when I saw that I could review the “One Year Devos for Teen Girls” in anticipation of my oldest becoming a teen very soon, I jumped on the opportunity.  Of course, I was not let down.  I absolutely love the tone these women write in – so not “preachy” – more like a loving big sister…someone who’s been there and done that, but isn’t looking down on you because you haven’t. And the reader is not blasted by Theology, just the love of the Lord.

I highly recommend this devo for any parent of a teen girl.  I obviously didn’t get to read every entry (I perused several days and the Introduction so that the girls and I can enjoy the “surprise” of daily entries as they come!) but the ones I did read only reinforced my opinion of these authors.  The added “Action Step” at the end of each devo is such a great idea for continued conversation and thought for both parent and teen alike!!

*A big thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest, and personal review!