Sunday, November 30, 2014

November's Review Round-up

Here are this month's links to book reviews I posted at Wildflower Faith:

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson





by Erin Healy







Love Without End
by Robin Lee Hatcher











I also shared some thoughts about a quote from The Merciful Scar in a post called Liking Having to Get Along.

I hope you'll visit some of these. Feel free to leave a comment to say, "Hi!"


Monday, November 24, 2014

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

A Guide to Prayer
for All God's People -
A daily devotional that runs
from the first Sunday of
Advent (11-30 this year)
through the last week of
the church year
Last week I posted my list of books I'm hoping to finish by the end of 2014. Here is where I stand after one week:

  • A Guide to Prayer for All God's People by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck (Almost finished!)
  • Heaven by Randy Alcorn (On page 171 of 473)
  • More Precious Than Silver by Joni Eareckson Tada (A little more than a month of daily devotionals to go)
  • Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney (On page 50 of 248)
  • Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron (On page 160 of 208)
  • The Merciful Scar by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue (Finished!)
  • Unspoken by Dee Henderson (On page 91 of 441)
  • Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Finished! Review posted here.)
  • One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (On page 62 of 227)
  • Undetected by Dee Henderson (Not Started)
  • The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs (Not started)
  • Love without End by Robin Lee Hatcher (Started - on page of 283)
  • Rhythms of Grace by Kerri Weems (Not started)
  • Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall - Includes: The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of Grace (Still an ambitious maybe)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Review: "Christmas at Rose Hill Farm"

For me, Christmas at Rose Hill Farm was a fun surprise. It’s a visit with characters, some minor, some more important, from some of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s other books. I enjoyed reading about Bess, Billy, and Maggie all grown up, being reminded of Bertha’s odd ways, and learning what’s become of Lainey and her family all while being treated to a brand new Christmastime story.

Two years after the love of her life vanished without a trace, Bess is preparing to marry Amos, a man who loves her and will provide her with a comfortable life. As she’s thinking about her future, she discovers an unusual rose hidden under a workbench in her grandmother’s greenhouse. The rose has one bud on it, preparing to bloom. Curious, Bess and her father call for a rose rustler to come identify the mysterious plant. It turns out, of course, that several more secrets will need to revealed in order for all people involved to find their happily-ever-after. The book is one honest disclosure after another until healing can come.

You don’t have to have read any of Fisher’s other books first in order to enjoy this one. (But if you haven't, you'll probably want to after reading this one.) I recommend it to all fans of sweet Christmas fiction reads and thank Revell for sending my copy in exchange for this review. Now I’m hoping Fisher will let us visit this community again.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: The Christmas Cat

If you enjoy reading sweet Christmas stories this time of year, I recommend The Christmas Cat—even if you don’t like cats—because it isn’t really about the cat.

Actually, there are six cats in the story. They belonged to Garrison Brown’s grandmother. But now that she has passed away, Garrison must find homes for them all, and he can’t just give them away to anyone. Garrison’s grandmother’s will has him placing these cats as carefully as children up for adoption.

Unfortunately for Garrison, he’s allergic to cats and, perhaps, afraid of them, too. Thankfully for Garrison, his grandmother belonged to a loving and helpful community of people whom Garrison is about to get to know.

I really liked this book. I only wish it had included just a few more chapters. It seemed to end too abruptly. Melody Carlson did give readers enough information to predict which way the story will probably go, but I would have liked just a little more reassurance about the happily-ever-afters for Garrison, Cara, Harry, and Elliott. Maybe Carlson will set another book in this Washington state town! I’d like to read about these people—and cats—again.

I thank Revell for sending me a complimentary copy of The Christmas Cat in exchange for this honest review.

Old Year's Race-to-the-Finish Reading List

I'm almost done with
this touching story!
Some people make New Year's Resolutions. I make 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 2014 that I plan to finish reading:

  • A Guide to Prayer for All God's People by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck
  • Heaven by Randy Alcorn
  • More Precious Than Silver by Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney
  • Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
  • The Merciful Scar by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue
  • Unspoken by Dee Henderson
  • Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher
  • One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

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

  • Undetected by Dee Henderson
  • The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs
  • Love without End by Robin Lee Hatcher
  • Rhythms of Grace by Kerri Weems

And, if I have time, I'd also like to read Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall, but it's a trilogy compiled into one book, so I'm thinking that may be too ambitious. We'll see! I'll post updates weekly.

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book Review: "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World"

This book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, has been on my to-read list for a very long time, so I was really excited when Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers offered me a complimentary copy of the newly released version in exchange for an honest review. I think I put off reading it because I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I had heard high recommendations, but I was also feeling kind of tired of the whole Mary and Martha thing. I was afraid the book would be more of the same.

But it wasn’t. This book is full of fresh insights into the lives of Mary and Martha, their relationship with Jesus, their place in history. It’s also full of practical wisdom that all women, whether they consider themselves more like Mary or Martha, will be able to apply to their lives. Joanna Weaver teaches, in an easy-to-understand way, the path to the balance we all need.

On page 5, she tells us (about Mary and Martha), “That is not to say one is right and one is wrong. We are all different, and that is just as God made us to be. Each gifting and personality has its own strengths and weaknesses, its glories and temptations.” You see? No Martha-bashing here. Weaver shows us the strengths and weaknesses, glories and temptations of both women, helps us to identify these in our lives, and teaches us how to let Jesus bring out our best. (There’s even a chart on pages 182-3 to help us see which way we may be leaning.)

I read this book at just the right time and will be  praying and waiting and watching for some opportunities to make some adjustments with the loving and gentle guidance of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. If you also are feeling as if the balance may be off in your life, I recommend this book to you.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Review: "A Mom's Prayers for Her Son"

A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son is an excellent resource for moms who want help with their prayer life. The book isn't really meant to be read through in one sitting. Seventy-seven prayers are identified by circumstance, so that a mom can find the ones that will help her find the words she needs as she begins to pray for her son. Three or four Bible verses are included before each prayer, so women can pray the Scriptures, too.

Scattered among the prayers are testimonies by other mothers regarding their prayers for their sons and articles by the author about prayer concerns mothers will especially want to cover when praying particularly for sons.

Because I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review, I did read it straight through. I discovered great value in this approach, too. I have three sons, so as I read the different prayers, I’d pray for one, then another. Sometimes I’d pray for my husband, another family member—even myself. Not all of these prayers apply only to boys, so as I read, I prayed for whomever God’s Spirit brought to my mind.

The prayers were beautiful and thought-provoking--a great jumping-off point for the reader's personal prayers. I appreciated the author’s tendency, as she prayed for her sons, to pray for herself as a mother, too. God placed our sons in our care; we’re wise to ask Him to help us be the moms He intended us to be—the best moms for them. I recommend this book to moms of sons.


Note: I was disappointed in one small aspect of the book. It’s not the author’s or publisher’s fault. But each testimony by another mother included an invitation to visit that mother’s website. Maybe it’s unusual for readers to take people up on these invitations, but I did only to discover that many were inactive—a few didn’t even exist anymore. It probably would have been better to leave the website invitations off. They were an unnecessary distraction from the book.