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...


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!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sticks and Stones...

I have never considered myself a gossiper and I have made strides to steer clear of those I thought were especially negative in their outlooks, both of life and others. (Needless to say, I am working to eliminate the nightly news from my life as we speak!)

But this book brought forth a revelation...just like the author prayed for in his introduction! One hasn't done enough to stop negative speech or hurtful words by just not saying them...even just being part of the conversation lends to the negativity the speaker has begun!

"An evildoer gives heed to false lips; a liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue." (Proverbs 17:4)


Dr. Sedler's call to action for all of us to avoid negative speech seemed a bit impossible to me at first, but after much underlining and high-lighting, I have begun to see how his methods can work...and how it is not only important for me to bridle my tongue, but to ensure that we are all gently guiding others to do the same.

We all know how damaging words can be.  This book can help you to discern and identify the negative words of others so that they can be stopped before the damage is done...and instead start a dialogue of a positive nature that the world needs so much more of!

This book is a great read, not condescending as many Christian writers have done in self-help books such as these, and really does provide strategies for change, not just lecture. The author places very thoughtful questions at the end of his chapters to begin the process within which sets up the resolve and provides the tools to begin this journey towards "positive words in a world gone negative."

*Thanks so much to Chosen books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my own, personal, honest review.*

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What should be...

I get the premise of Zach Hunter's tome;  a knight-inspired "code" for all Christians to follow to be an example in a world gone haywire.  I even found myself hi-lighting, writing "Amen!" beside passages, and scribbling stars and exclamation points beside paragraphs.

But I couldn't finish the book.

I suppose that I became disgusted that the author had to actually write this!  It seemed to list all of the basic fundamentals in what being a good human being meant.  Forget what the Bible says, forget what we've stamped out in our Constitution, forget all about Civil Rights!  Do people truly need to be reminded to honor life, freedom, truth...?!

Sadly, yes.

Mr. Hunter states that he wrote this book to be passed around by his fellow college classmates.  I plan on making my pre-teen read it, even if I couldn't get to the end.  I don't feel like I'm perfect, or that "I've got this!"  But the level of writing is better based for those a bit younger than I.  If you're in your 40's and this book is "new stuff"....please keep reading the book! :) Zach Hunter's code is right on!

The book does have a great section called "Onward" at the end  where you actually sign "contracts" stating your intentions to become more "chivalrous" with the help of the Holy Spirit in your life and be an example as God's design.  I think this would be a great tool for parents and their older children.  There are also study questions and ideas for music, art, books and movies to emphasize Mr. Hunter's principles.

Overall, I believe this book to be a valuable tool for young adults!

*Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a copy of "Chivalry" in exchange for my (obviously) personal, and honest review!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Three's A Charm...


After reading Ollie Chandler's best-seller, "Deadline", which moved me beyond measure,I couldn't resist giving the other two in this set a go.  As with the first, both Dominion and Deception were great mysteries, but more than that, their spiritual overtones were compelling.  I love love LOVE the author's vision of Heaven and the idea that through all of the bad we are often bombarded with here in the world - God is always good in the end.

Themes such as race, friendships, soul-searching, and the reason for hope pervade all tangled in a great story that both Christians and non-Christians alike will not only enjoy, but surely come away with something they didn't have when they started.

*Thank you Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for this free copy in exchange for my simple, yet honest, review.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Finally...a book Review!

I suppose you could say that I'm not a "fluffy bunnies and hearts" kind of girl.  When I get mad, I get mad.  When my day is going...well...NOT the way I'd planned - you'll know it, not only by the look on my face, but by the fact that my lips won't move when I speak through that clenched-up jaw.

I've hated that about myself for a long time and begged God to help me be a different kind of person. I even promised to try to bond with some fluffy bunnies.

 Until now....

The Unglued Devotional by Lysa Terkeurst was, quite obviously, penned just for me - just for all of us that feel "out of control" and can't seem to rein in our emotions, try as we might.  Lysa even goes far enough to show that, under certain circumstances and if done through the acceptance of God's grace with the realization that we aren't perfect and never will be...that's we're OK!

With titles like, "Resist the Funk", "When my Heart Feels Desperate", and my personal favorite - "Pretending I'm Fine, Proving I'm Right", there is sure to be many quiet moments spent with this devotional that every woman can relate to within these pages!

This book had me giggling, crying, but most of all, hopeful in my walk with our wonderful, forgiving, grace-giving Lord. 

*Thank you for the free copy in exchange for my personal, honest review.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book #4

"Mystery is the food of the creature's mind.  Your people love to read their mysteries, but most of them do not devote their attention to the grand mysteries of the universe, the mysteries rooted in the Creator himself." p.78

Oh, how this resonated with me when I read it!  I love to read a good mystery - hours of reading to find out "who dunnit"...missing so much detail in the process...

Mr. Alcorn's mystery was a totally different journey for me.  I, of course, was interested in the quest of the main character to solve the mystery involving the death of his two friends...but the story was in the details.  I was completely taken by surprise.

You see, it wasn't that long ago that I would have completely overlooked this book.  A Christian mystery novel?  Huh?

Truth be told, the mystery was the least interesting part for me.  It was the connection I felt with Jake, caught between his worldly friend, Doc; wrapped up in himself, women (other than his wife,) money and getting ahead - all while doing morally questionable things to achieve his goals - and his friend Finney, saved and dedicated to being an example - trying desperately to ensure that his lifelong friends were saved as well.  Jake was afraid of the life Doc lead, but was equally afraid of living the life Finney had chosen - afraid of making promises he couldn't keep and believing in something he didn't understand. Life was just easier with blinders on.

There's obviously so much more to this book - here's where you can find the official breakdown. I've never been one to re-write something the publisher can tell you much better than I can.)

I absolutely love this author's discussion of one of the character's experience of Heaven too.  Though Randy Alcorn admits that his rendition is totally fictional, based soley on his interpretation of Biblical truth...I found myself hoping he was right...and I will never look at a pregnant woman the same again! (Yeah, you'll have to read it to see what I mean.)

In the end, I guessed totally wrong on the mystery part - which I thought was way cool.  There's nothing worse than having it figured out half-way through.  And there was no racing through this time - I fully enjoyed the whole book.

Will definitely be looking into other Alcorn books!

*Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book # 3

What drew me to this book initially was the destination and purpose behind the main character’s mission. Though Sophia is “dismayed” at its seemingly dismal prospects, the idea of traveling to the Dakotas to work with Native American children seems dreamlike to me.  But, of course, one must think of the times…and the circumstances.  (You can read more about those circumstances here.)

What kept me reading this book was Sophia’s realistic vulnerability and voice, coupled with the strength she found to overcome the many, sometimes very dangerous, obstacles that life in the Territories afforded – often times against the very people and agencies established to help missions like hers.  (That and the fact that this strength came from the right source, in my eyes – His word and promises – not just the dumb luck that authors for some reason often choose to resolve conflict in their stories.)

The love story enveloped in beautifully barren scenery between believable characters never seemed sappy, but often kept me wondering if it would ever blossom to fulfillment…but the answer is something you will have to discover for yourself!

Great, easy, but page-turning read!

*Thank you to Booksneeze for providing a free e-copy for me to read in exchange for an honest opinion.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Book #2

"The truth is, as long as we try to control everything around us, we will feel out of control and overwhelmed." p.2

So, that's where I was when I picked out this book. 




...and hungry, as usual.

I was extremely intrigued by Ms. Shepard's suggestions to overcome these emotions and, in the meanwhile substitute some of the comfort foods I'd come to depend on to get me through "those days".

But, not only were there recipes for the body, but recipes for the soul to go along with them...and they were wonderful.

1.Exercise not just your body but your spirit.
2.Hydrate your body and soul.
3.Eliminate excess in life.

I tried her recipe "Hummus with Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato" and fell in love...and found a great dip to bring to EVERY potluck I go to...ever.

Between the great food and the fellowship, this book has all the "fixings" (yes, pun intended) to coach you to that new attitude - both about life and food.

For me though, personally, on the more desperate end of "deprived and depressed" - I found this book to be sweet, all honesty, I read it while downing an entire bag of Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles.

So, I guess I need to keep reading...

Onward and Forward!

* Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for providing me a copy of this book for free in exchange for my own, honest review...which I gave freely and in my own words.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book #1

I have struggled for years with the idea of "technology" and when the "E-readers" started showing up, I swore them off without even looking at them.  There is nothing...NOTHING....better than a book; a real life, made out of paper, shiny covered, heavy book.  I love the smell of them, the feel of them, paperback or hardback...holding a pile of them makes me happy - giddy even. The older, more worn out, the better.  I love a book with its own story... and not just the one on the pages.

But, admittedly, curiosity got the better of me.  And some of the things I found myself wanting to read ONLY came in e-book form.  Call it pure stubbornness, but my brain just will not let me read and comprehend more than a few paragraphs on the PC, my willpower faltered and I mentioned that I was looking to buy a Kindle.

Not long after, one showed up at my door.  (Thank you Mom and Dad.)

I still rebelled.  I put a couple of things on it.  I read my email.

But I wasn't going to become dependent...

...that is, until people (brilliant people, I might add) started to put up lists of books that you could get from Amazon for free - or at least on the way cheap.

I now have over 30 books on my Kindle.


Buuut....I still would never trade my "real" tomes for the ones I've got digitally stored.  In fact, when I read a good one from cyber-space...I immediately buy it in print!!
This latest read has already been ordered.  :)

Perusing my daily list of cheap-o books, I skimmed by the words "Kearsley has been compared to Gabaldon..."


Pant..pant...this person with a book on the CHEAP LIST has been compared to my FAVORITE author!!?

So I just had to read the review - more enticing words like "Scotland" and "Scottish" and "Scot" were, in my  mind I heard, "Surely this book was just "on sale"...not actually 'cheap.'  I have to just be getting an amazing deal...did you see that review???!  SCOTLAND!  GABALDON!!"

 Rather impatiently, I used the "Buy with One-Click" on my Amazon account to download.  (**WARNING*** This button is dangerous.  If you have a weak will, an itchy trigger finger...anything...avoid installing this on your Amazon account!  I am currently in, really...)

People.  This was a great book.  The only way I can think to express just how good is to give you a bit of "the goings on" in our home the past few weeks...

We got a puppy for Christmas.  A tiny puppy that needed nursing, burping (seriously), butt wiping, discipline...I swear it was like I had a newborn again.  I slept for a total of  maybe 37 minutes a night for, like, 9 days.

I. am. tired.

Then, I find this book.  I really only have a chance to read a chapter or two for a while, but as each page passes...things get more pressing.

I get wrapped up in an incredibly accurate historical account of the Jacobites, the attempts of King James to reclaim the Scottish throne...okay, sure, call me a Dork-a-saurus Rex - but this was all stuff I had studied in school not a year ago.  LOOK!  LOOK!  I'm using my major! <lol!>

Then there were the depictions of Scottish scenery; green landscape shrouded in mist and shivering cold quelled by warm, cozy fires...

and the <shiver> dialogue.  That Scottish brogue. <shiver again>

And that's all wrapped up in the completely believable scenario of a present day writer with "genetic memory" of a time (and love) long past....

Have I said <shiver> yet??

Well, the puppy eventually started sleeping for more than an hour at a time...I could get him in his kennel at about 9:30 and if I ran upstairs and hit the pillow immediately, I could get 5-6 hours of sleep.

er...Did I mention that Scottish brogue?

Well, last night, I didn't even try to get to bed at all. The book had to be finished before I could sleep. 

Back to the 37 minutes routine...

What else is caffeine for besides the "day after a great book had to be finished" hangover?! :)

Truly an excellent start to my reading adventures in 2013!!