Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: "Almost There"

In her new book, Almost There: Searching for Home in a Life on the Move, Bekah DiFelice gives her testimony through twelve stories of adjustments she and her husband made upon entering military life. She tells of getting married and moving away from home for the first time, of getting used to new homes and communities, of making friends, finding churches, parenting away from the support of extended family, and of trying to discern what's best for everyone involved. And as she tells her story, her testimony, she shares the lessons she learned along the way: lessons in trusting God through it all, lessons in letting Him be her heart's home.

DiFelice has a subtle sense of humor that makes her stories fun to read, yet her gift for words conveys deep truth as well. I found encouragement and gleaned useful insights from every chapter as I enjoyed reading this book, a gift from Tyndale House Publishers, so I could share my opinion with you. Whether or not you are part of a military family or find yourself moving every few years, DiFelice's stories will have something to teach you. I recommend this read!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: "Gathering the Threads"

The themes that Cindy Woodsmall explored through her latest series are relevant to all people, not unique to the Amish. That's part of what makes The Amish of Summer Grove series so fascinating. Readers will glean great insight as they learn along with Ariana Brenneman.

In the third and final book, Gathering the Threads, Ariana has returned to her home of origin, but her time living away has changed her. She's no longer willing to blindly obey - especially if doing so will hurt her or someone else. She's studying God's Word and clinging to it as the primary authority for her life. Needless to say, her father, fiance, and church leaders are not sure how to handle this. Ariana doesn't want to live in conflict with them, but she must stand up for what is right.

Her switched-at-birth sister of sorts, Skylar Nash, continues to struggle as well. Free to return to the family who raised her, she chooses to stay with her Amish family, living clean and working to discern who she really wants to be. Woodsmall ends each character's story perfectly. I recommend this read.

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers sent me a complimentary copy in exchange for this review.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Book Review: "The Separatists"

I had a mixed reaction to The Separatists by Lis Wiehl. As in the first two books in this series, the plot is intense. People all around journalist Erica Sparks are either dying or conspiring in sinister ways. Sparks is battling hidden evil in the highest levels of the American government. That element of the book is what kept me reading, totally enthralled. Wiehl picks up on scary possibilities and reveals the worst-possible what-if's, putting her main character in all the right places in order to save the day.

But I had trouble connecting with that main character. I admired her strength and determination to overcome a seriously troubled past. But she broke my heart over and over again as she pushed the two most important people in her life away. Throughout the book, both her daughter and husband were practically screaming, "Please pay some attention to me!" or "Let me help you get through this." Yet Sparks had higher priorities. I won't spoil the ending, but I wasn't entirely satisfied.

Then again, all people have their strengths and weaknesses, and life is about figuring out how to manage both the best you can. Erica Sparks revealed this as she struggled to maintain her relationships and juggle priorities.

Fans of political thrillers will enjoy this series. I thank Thomas Nelson Publisher for sending me a complimentary copy, so I could share my thoughts with you.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: "Real Artists Don't Starve"

Whatever your chosen art form (writing, painting, sculpting, taking pictures, composing, cooking, and so on), you will find Jeff Goins newest book, Real Artists Don't Starve, to be motivating, inspirational, and practical. In each of the twelve chapters, Goins cites examples from history and modern day, while sharing his own experiences in order to teach and encourage readers like us. His goal: to help us think and live differently, so we'll abandon the myth of the starving artist and instead find ways to thrive.

Each chapter explains one of Goins's Rules of the New Renaissance, principles every thriving artist lives by. Chapters are divided into three sections: Mind-Set, Market, and Money. These help artists motivate themselves to produce art, to put that art in front of an artists, and to make the money they need in order to make more art if making art is what they are called to do. I found useful advice and encouragement in every chapter while enjoying learning about the lives of several well-known and not-so-well-known artists.

If you consider yourself an artist, particularly a starving one, I recommend this book to you. Thomas Nelson sent me a complimentary copy in exchange for this review.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Review: "English Lessons"

Andrea Lucado's memoir of the year she spent studying in Oxford is a thought-provoking collection of essays revealing the insights she gained while living in a different culture. Andrea grew up in the church, the daughter of a well-known pastor and author. Discovering and learning how to relate to people who saw no need for God or who had rejected Him outright challenged her beliefs and provided a powerful education outside of her classes.

I enjoyed the way Andrea presented her story. She simply shared her thoughts, weaving from one event to another and back, revealing connections that led to lessons learned. She was honest about her struggles and challenges, showing how God kept her heart and mind open both to Him and to the truth He was teaching through her experiences and through all of the people she met. I also enjoyed reading her comparisons of Texas life with English culture and how she learned to savor both.

I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of English Lessons, so I could share my thoughts about it with you. I recommend this read to those who like learning through the lives of people who are willing to share their stories.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: "The Lucky Few"

As Heather Avis puts it, when she and her husband said yes to adoption, they stepped off of the smoothly paved path through a carefully cultured rose garden and into a wildflower adventure. They never could have imagined what God had in store for them, yet even through great challenges, scary moments, and daily struggles, they are thankful they chose His way. As Heather tells the story in her book, The Lucky Few, she explains why.

As a new mother to four daughters with special concerns of their own, I appreciated the way Heather explained her thoughts and feelings every step of the way. Many times I thought, "Yes! It's just like that!" She put my own thoughts into words, and she made them okay. Heather felt relief whenever someone said something to normalize her unusual life. Her book gave that same feeling of normalcy to me.

If you have grown or are thinking about growing your family through adoption, this book will inspire you and give you hopeful perspective. And even if adoption isn't a path you plan to take, you'll find the Avis's story a fascinating testimony to God's amazing work in and through people who choose to follow Him faithfully. I highly recommend this read.

Zondervan sent me a complimentary copy, so I could share my honest opinion with you.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Review: "Princess Prayers"

I chose this complimentary Zondervan book for review because I knew my daughters would love it. But I was truly surprised and impressed by its content. I honestly expected it to be a little silly, perhaps just sappy sweet. Yet each prayer is well done and firmly anchored in Scripture. When you give this book to your daughter, you are introducing her to prayers for all occasions - when angry, when in need of forgiveness, for worship and praise and thanksgiving, when fearful, when waking and going to sleep, when savoring God's Presence and enjoying His Creation.

Princess Prayers is a board book that can be introduced to preschoolers, yet it looks grown up enough that older girls will enjoy it too. The artwork is sweet, showing five teenage princesses pausing to pray at various times throughout their day. The prayers are rhyming poems, eight lines long. Each ends with a corresponding Bible verse.

If you have young daughters, I recommend this book to you. I predict it will become a keepsake they'll continue to read as they grow.