Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Review: "Lazarus Awakening" by Joanna Weaver

Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver"Lazarus Awakening" by Joanna Weaver is the third book in the Bethany trilogy. The previous two books focused on Mary and Martha. This book features the story of Lazarus and how his story of being raised to new life can help us as believers find new life to live fully in the love of Christ. She gets to the heart of the issue:  by getting the knowledge of God's love from our heads to our hearts, we can truly find life and love the way Christ intended. She uses beautiful biblical insights that help the reader view this well-known story with fresh eyes.

This newly expanded edition includes a bonus chapter designed to help readers determine what is truly holding them back from Christ's love. A study guide is included that would be perfect for individual or group use. This is an excellent book that many will benefit from reading and studying.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Review: "Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, & Me" by Lorilee Craker

"Part memoir and part Anne super-fan book, this book will interlace Anne's and Maud's stories with our own yarns, taking you from the red-dirt beaches of Prince Edward Island to the ginseng fields of Korea. Along the way, you may uncover truths about your own search for identity, finding yourself in places you hadn't thought to look." (p. xiii)

Lorilee Craker's book, "Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, & Me:  What My Favorite Book Taught Me About Grace, Belonging, & The Orphan in Us All" is a rich, moving look at her own story of being adopted, adopting her daughter from Korea, and ultimately how "Anne of Green Gables" helped her discover her own sense of identity and belonging. She weaves together her story, her daughter's story, Anne's story, and author L.M. Montgomery's story, sharing poignantly how each adult faced their own sense of lostness and brokenness, and how she is using these experiences to help her daughter navigate these own feelings as well.
I truly enjoyed this book. Craker does a wonderful job of sharing the stories and weaving Anne's story throughout. I loved her chapters on friendship, marriage, and transitioning to motherhood. My favorite chapter was probably the very last one where she chronicles her last visit to Prince Edward Island. She shares a bit more deeply about about how PEI shaped Montgomery's life and how home and belonging can truly be found. I am eager to re-read the books and watch the movies after reading this memoir!

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Review: "Longing for Paris" by Sarah Mae

Longing for Paris
Sarah Mae's latest book, "Longing for Paris:  One Woman's Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure--Right Where She Is", focuses on that longing for something for more than life as usual. For Sarah, that something more comes in the form of Paris. She became fascinated by Paris as a child, listening to stories told by her grandmother and mother of the years they spent living there. "It is this longing for Paris that leads me to explore my deeper longings" (p. xxv). Sarah takes nine chapters to examine some of the deeper longings commonly felt by women. Things like slowing life down and enjoying the simple pleasures, beauty and fashion, marriage, motherhood, and the idea of home are all discussed with hints of Paris and French culture thrown in. Weaving Scripture throughout, Sarah does a fabulous job of exploring these longings. It's especially helpful to know that these longings are common and that we are not alone in feeling them!

The end of each chapter includes a brief section of further meditation thoughts and a Scripture for deeper pondering. She also includes a "An Invitation to Paris" with some tips on bringing a bit of Paris to our everyday lives. The book also includes a group discussion guide which would be perfect for a small group or book club to work through. This was a great read and I found myself resonating with much of what she shared. I particularly appreciated her thoughts on motherhood, especially a section on discipline and identifying love languages.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Review: "For The Love" by Jen Hatmaker

"For the Love:  Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards" is the newest release by Jen Hatmaker. This is my third dive into a Hatmaker book, and each one keeps getting better. This collection of essays is divided into four separate sections:  yourself, your family, people around you, and faith and church. She's not afraid to tackle deeper issues like urging pastors to really examine their ministries and deeply care for themselves in the midst. On the flip side, there is a whole lot of light-hearted included as well. Laugh out loud moments abound, along with with tons of "I'm glad I'm not the only one!"

It's hard to describe this book because of the range of topics and voices scattered throughout. Humorous, witty, deep, and thought-provoking are all terms that come to mind. She speaks a lot to wives and mothers, but all women will benefit from the wisdom that shines through her writings. It's truly a fun book to read, yet still manages to challenge you in the process.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Quick Lit: July 2015

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for this month's quick lit, where I share short and sweet reviews of a few books I've read in the past month. You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

Those Who Save Us"Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum:  A brilliant debut novel that tells the story of Anna and her daughter Trudie. Anna is a young German woman who lives through the horrors of Nazi Germany. For fifty years, she refuses to share about that part of her life and all that was necessary for her (and her daughter's) survival. Fifty years later, Trudie is a professor of German history embarking on a research project in an attempt to understand what life was like for Germans under Nazi reign. She uncovers more than she bargained for. A fantastic, sobering look at life for Germans during Hitler's years of power. There is a fair bit of sex and some graphic violence as well, so be prepared.
 

Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship"Nobody's Cuter Than You" by Melanie Shankle:  This third memoir looks at the impact of friendship on our lives. She focuses primarily on her multi-decade friendship with Gulley, but also traces patterns of friendship through her life and what she's learned from them along the way. Of the three by Shankle, I think this one was my favorite. Loved it and resonated it with many portions of it.





Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul"Anything:  The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul" by Jennie Allen:  In this book, Allen details her journey of  offering God everything by praying "God we will do anything. Anything" (pg. xiii). She shares bits of her story to show how she came to know Jesus, and how finally got the point of being willing to offer everything for God's service by being willing to do anything He wanted. This updated version also includes an 8-week Bible study for use in a small group. 




Reunion (Redemption, #5)"Reunion" by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley (re-read):  This final book in the "Redemption" series focuses on the idea of reunion, gathering together with family and friends and celebrating life and relationship with them. This book wraps up neatly the initial stories of the Baxter family, plus introduces several new characters and sets up the continuing story to be uncovered in a secondary series.





The Kitchen House"The Kitchen House" by Kathleen Grissom:  This debut novel looks at pre-Civil War plantation life in Virginia. Orphaned while on board a ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia is brought back to the ship captain's plantation to serve as an indentured servant to repay debts left by her parents. She is placed in the care of the plantation's house slaves and raised as one of their own. She bonds deeply to them, despite their differences in color and, ultimately, status. This gripping story is a fascinating look at the culture and life of that time period, as well as how love, loyalty, and acceptance play out when everything is on the line.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Review: "Anything" by Jennie Allen

Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul"Anything:  The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul" by Jennie Allen details her journey of offering God everything by praying "God we will do anything. Anything" (pg. xiii). She shares bits of her story to show how she came to know Jesus, and how finally got the point of being willing to offer everything for God's service by being willing to do anything He wanted.

Divided into three parts, she shares openly and honestly about how she arrived at the place of anything. The first part focuses on her early years and common obstacles that people may find in their own journey to anything. The second part addresses the actual praying of anything and the immediate implications that brought in her life. God called her to start writing and speaking, and called their family to adopt a young boy from Rwanda. The third part discusses the ongoing realities of life after praying anything. She doesn't sugarcoat the difficulties she and her family have gone through, but she emphasizes that there are plenty of amazing, beautiful things that have come about for them.

Originally released in 2011, this book was recently re-released in 2015 to include an 8-week Bible study. Designed for small group study, the study contains a plan to read through the book and includes a corresponding Scripture study and two projects to help deepen the truths learned.

I really enjoyed this book. The first part of the book felt a little slow to me and had me wondering if I was going to actually like it. The second and third parts captivated me. I would highly recommend this book for individuals and small groups.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Review: "Hearts Made Whole" by Jody Hedlund

Hearts Made Whole (Beacons of Hope, #2)"Hearts Made Whole" is the second in the "Beacons of Light" series by Jody Hedlund. Centering of lighthouses in bygone years, she features a strong female lead loosely based on a real-life female lighthouse a keeper. Showing their strength and courage in the face of an extremely challenging job, Hedlund weaves a sweet and complex story. This story brings back Ryan Chambers, previously introduced in the first book of the series, as a Civil War veteran in desperate need of a job. Struggling with addiction after his war injuries, Ryan quickly realizes he has a lot to learn before he can fully assume his new duties. Caroline Taylor took over the running of Windmill Point Lighthouse after the death of her father. Despite her flawless keeping of the light, the lighthouse inspector replaces her with Ryan simply because she is female.

The story unfolds over the course of nearly a year. The characters are well developed and enjoyable to read about. As the challenges and adventures unfold, the emotional depth of the characters grows and they become more real as the story progresses. The lighthouse setting is creative and adds a romantic feeling to the book.

I really enjoyed this book. The story is highly engaging and I would highly recommend this book. Despite it being part of a series, it could easily read as a stand-alone novel. I'm eager to read the next book in this series!

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)