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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review: "A Stranger at Fellsworth"

Annabelle Thorley has a terrible choice to make. She can marry a man she doesn't love, knowing he'll mistreat her but provide financial security in uncertain times. Or she can run away from all she knows, hoping the uncle who once promised a safe haven in need will be willing to make good on his word.

A chance encounter with Owen Locke, a resident of her uncle's town and a friend of his as well, gives Annabelle courage to make the hard but hopeful choice. Instead of safety and a fresh start, however, both Annabelle and Owen find themselves surrounded by scandal, mystery, and danger.

Readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction, mystery, and romance will find everything they love in Sarah E. Ladd's newest book, A Stranger at Fellsworth, the third in her Treasures of Surrey series (not dependent on the first two books). I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review and recommend all of Ladd's novels to you.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Review: "Sacred Privilege"

Kay Warren's new book is written especially for ministry wives, and I found it a privilege to read. Within its pages Warren shares her life stories, stories of childhood, marriage, motherhood, friendship, and ministry, along with all the wisdom she's gleaned. She's as honest as she needs to be in order to make her points to encourage and bless fellow ministry wives.

Chapters cover all the essentials: sharing the dream with your spouse, accepting who you are, adapting to change, helping your children in their unique role, conflict, privacy, friendship, your personal spiritual growth, and more. I especially appreciated her personal testimony presented in stages throughout the book; it reminded me I'm not the only one facing some of these challenges and gave me fresh ideas for handling them well.

I recommend Sacred Privilege to all ministry wives and thank Revell for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.