Saturday, November 18, 2017

Book Review: "The Austen Escape"

The title of this book has a double meaning. The Austen Escape is the story of two childhood friends who escape to Bath, England. For two weeks, they'll take on the names, customs, and clothing styles of some of Jane Austen's most famous characters with other guests staying in an historic manor house with them.

Things get complicated, though, when one of the friends actually comes to believe she's from that time period. This young woman, Isabel, gets to enjoy your vacation, believing it's her real life, while her friend Mary makes frantic phone calls home to her father and her friend's psychiatrist. Instructed to give her a few days to come to herself on her own are Mary's instructions, but troubles ensue whenever Isabel encounters modern life.

When a co-worker learns of Mary's struggle and shows up to help her out, the confusion only deepens. Soon Mary is wanting to make an escape of her own.

This book is one of Katherine Reay's best yet. I highly recommend it and will be watching for her next great story. I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy, so I could share my opinion with you.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Old Year's Race-to-the-Finish Reading Challenge 2017 - Update #1

Okay - so this isn't really an update. This is my starting point, where I stand on each of these books as I start this challenge. I finished one over the weekend, though, so that's an update.

This is the progress I've made so far on each book I hope to finish reading by the end of the year:

  • 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs - Currently on page 27
  • Born Broken by Kristin Berry - Currently on page 65
  • The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay - Finished! (Watch for my review in a future post.)
  • Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth - Currently on page 78
  • The Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls - Currently on page 59
  • The Alphabet of Grief by Andrea Raynor - Currently on page 42
  • Fiction Writer's Workshop by Josip Novakovich - Currently on page 119
  • The New Me by Rebecca Goldstone - Currently on page 81
  • Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosaline Wiseman - Currently on page 227
  • As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson - Currently on page 188
  • A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada - Currently on page 343
  • Jesus Always by Sarah Young - Currently on page 333
  • On the Loose by Jenny B. Jones - Currently on page 103
  • Sixth Covenant by Brock and Bodie Thoene - Currently on page 65
  • A Year of Living Prayerfully by Jared Brock - Currently on page xiii
  • Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon - Currently on page 98
  • Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke - Not started yet
In case you were wondering, yes, I do read several books at a time. Some of these are the devotionals I read during my morning quiet time after Bible study. Then I like to read from several different genres at once. I usually focus primarily on one book, usually one that I'm reading to review. If that book is a novel, I alternate books that aren't novels while I'm reading it. If the review book is of another genre, I alternate it with novels. I like variety. I love to learn.

How do you read your books?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Old Year's Race-to-The-Finish Reading Challenge 2017

It's that time of year again! Some people make New Year's Resolutions. I set end of year goals. Finishing books I've started always tops the list. It just makes me happy to start fresh in the New Year.

Here is the list of books I've started in 2017 that I hope to finish reading before 2018 begins:

  • 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs
  • Born Broken by Kristin Berry
  • The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
  • Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth
  • The Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls
  • The Alphabet of Grief by Andrea Raynor
  • Fiction Writer's Workshop by Josip Novakovich
  • The New Me by Rebecca Goldstone
  • Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosaline Wiseman
  • As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson
  • A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Jesus Always by Sarah Young
  • On the Loose by Jenny B. Jones
  • Sixth Covenant by Brock and Bodie Thoene
  • A Year of Living Prayerfully by Jared Brock

Here are just a few more books that I haven't started yet but hope to read by December 31:

  • Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon
  • Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke

Born Broken is part of the Biography Challenge. I'd love to add one more biography before the year's end, but that may be too ambitious. I primarily challenged myself to read biographies to encourage myself to read Lindbergh; he'd been sitting on my shelf too long. That done, I feel I've successfully met that challenge . . . but it's always fun to reach for just one more. I'll post updates weekly as I've done before.

What books are you trying to finish by the end of the year?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Book Review: "Blind Spot"

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey is the third book in her Chesapeake Valor series. This one focuses on Declan Grey and Tanner Shaw, working together, escaping danger, and falling in love all at the same time. As they try to solve the murder of a fellow agent, they begin having surprising encounters with a long lost friend of Declan's. They also find themselves working on multiple cases all tied together. Some cases will be solved before the end of the book. Others will draw readers into the next for the answers they seek with all eight of Pettrey's main characters involved. The finale to the series promises to be intense. I can't imagine how Pettrey will wrap everything up for all involved, but I look forward to reading her next work.

If you haven't read the first two books of the series, you'll want to start with those. There are elements of each book that stand alone, but there are also continuous story lines. In fact, I think I would have enjoyed this series more if I had waited and read it straight through from beginning to end. You may choose to do that; I may need to read this series again.

I thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book. I'm happy to share my thoughts about it with you.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book Review: "He Holds My Hand"

Carol Kent has been one of my favorite authors since I read A New Kind of Normal. (If your normal has changed, you need to read that book. It will encourage you through the transition, of whatever kind it is.) Now she's written a daily devotional, He Holds My Hand: Experiencing God's Presence and Protection. I recommend this book, too. And if you're looking for something to read daily through 2018, this book has been released just in time.

The book starts with an introduction summarizing the event that changed Kent's normal forever, one that is familiar to her readers, but may be new to you. (You can read the whole story in When I Lay My Isaac Down.) Following the summary, she tells how this led her to study her Bible more deeply, meditating on smaller passages and listening for God's voice. Her goal with this new book is to teach her readers to do the same, not only so they'll know their Bibles, but so they'll experience the Presence of the One Who gave us His Word. He is with us through everything.

Each devotional starts with a quotation from a well-known author. I love this feature because I enjoy reading insights into God's Word from others. These quotes are followed by Kent's devotional thoughts for each day, followed by the Scripture that prompted her thought. Kent encourages her readers to focus on the Scripture, to write it out and meditate on it, to apply its truth to life.

I thank Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book, so I can recommend it to you. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Book Review: "Indescribable"

Indescribable by Louie Giglio is one of my favorite kinds of devotional books. Pastor Louie, as he identifies himself to his readers, has developed 100 devotionals based on facts and observations from God's created world. He is letting the creation testify about the Creator, helping readers grow in faith and in knowledge of their wonderful God.

Pastor Louie identifies four scientific categories for his devotionals: space, earth, animals, and people. Kids and their parents can choose to read straight through the book or focus on one category at a time using the index on page 7.

As with most traditional devotionals, each starts with a Bible verse which is followed by information about something found in God's creation. Pastor Louie helps readers understand what this information can teach readers about God and His ways. He concludes with a short prayer. In addition, prayers are followed by a section called Be Amazed which teaches kids something new of interest about the topic of the devotional. Each devotional also has a full-color photograph or cartoon drawing for added fun.

I especially recommend this book to parents looking for a daily devotional they can read with their children before bedtime or at some other regular time of day. Tommy Nelson sent me a complimentary copy, so that I could share my thoughts with you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review: "God Gave Us Family"

I will enjoy reading this new book by Lisa Tawn Bergren to my children. It begins as a conversation between a wolf pup and his parents. The pup wants to know why some families are big and some are little. As the discussion continues, the pup's parents talk about adoption, single parent families, children raised by their grandparents, and extended families. They even touch on how some families do things differently than others. The point: when parents are caring for children that's a family. My favorite lines from the book: "Because we're family , we figure out how to get along. We need to love the family God gave us."

About two-thirds of the way through the book, Bergren changes it from a discussion between the wolf pup and his parents to a narrative of the wolf pup enjoying time with his cousins. I found this a little bit jarring and wondered if Bergren just ran out of topics for the wolf family to discuss. Bergren ended with the wolf pup being thankful for the family God gave him.

My favorite part of the book, the part I think my children will like best as well, is the sweet artwork by David Hohn. It goes perfectly with Bergren's words. I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book, so I could share my thoughts about it with you.