Monday, January 14, 2019

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

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 (or so). You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

The Library BookThe Library Book by Susan Orlean. My husband and I recently visited Nashville, TN, and a stop at Parnassus Books was on the list of things to do. I treated myself to this book on our visit there after hearing so many amazing things about it. What an incredible book! The author takes the reader on a journey through the Los Angeles Public Library system, highlighting the devastating fire on April 28, 1986, that destroyed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 others. She eloquently describes the impact of the fire and the aftermath, and seamlessly weaves in her love of books and libraries. While there is a true crime element present, the book reads like a love letter to readers, libraries, librarians, and books. An absolute gem!

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death RowThe Sun Does Shine:  How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton. I first came across Hinton's story in the incredible book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I stumbled on this book one day while browsing in my library and knew I needed to read it. Hinton was arrested in 1985 and charged with murder. Being a poor black man in Alabama, justice was not served for him. He was sentenced to death, despite strong evidence against his having committed the crimes. For thirty years, he clung to his innocence as he waited on death row, with that innocence giving him hope and light in a very dark place. With the help of Bryan Stevenson and the work of Equal Justice Initiative, Hinton was finally set free in 2015. An incredibly powerful, riveting story. Highly recommended!

Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters MostToo Small to Ignore:  Why the Least of These Matters Most by Wess Stafford. Dr. Stafford, a former president of Compassion International, shares his heart and God's heart for children around the world in this moving book. He weaves his personal story with biblical truth and examples from around the world on the importance of children and really focusing in on ministry and care for children and their future. It is a wonderful read for anyone who sponsors a child through Compassion, anyone involved in children's or youth ministry, and anyone who is a parent.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Review: "The Wondering Years" by Knox McCoy

Knox McCoy, co-host of The Popcast podcast, recently released a memoir/faith reflections book called "The Wondering Years". I personally have never listened to his podcast, but I follow many bloggers/podcasters who do. This book came highly rated, so when I had the opportunity to check it out, I didn't want to pass it up. The premise of the book takes pop culture references and relates them to life and things of faith.

I truly enjoyed the pop culture references and many of them took me back to childhood. The footnotes were a major highlight throughout, with many making me laugh out loud and causing my husband to just stare at me. While the book was a fun, quick read, it felt a bit disjointed and the point of each chapter was not fully fleshed out. The very last chapter was the best one of the whole book. It was the point where I felt the most connection to him and his story. It is the chapter that I wish the rest of the book had been like. I enjoyed this book and it definitely had great moments in it. But I found that the humor couldn't quite make up for the true lack of depth throughout this book.

(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.)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quick Lit, November Edition

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 (or so). You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)"There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather" by Linda Akeson McGurk. Swedish-born and raised Linda McGurk moved to small-town Indiana with her American husband in order to start their family. She quickly realized that the outdoors lifestyle she embraced as both a child and adult was not normal. After being fined for allowing her kids to play in a creek, she set out to explore the differing cultural approaches to the great outdoors. With her father facing a health crisis in her native Sweden, she and her two girls plan to spend six months there. What they experienced became the basis for this memoir. McGurk looks deeply at how Scandinavian culture values the outdoors and the benefits that are felt as a result. This book is an eye-opening look at just how much our culture needs to embrace the outdoors, not just for ourselves but for society as a whole.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption"Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson. Read this book. It is a powerful look at the criminal justice system, poverty, and race in America, particularly in the south. Stevenson developed a passion for helping the nation's forgotten in the justice system after spending most of his internship negotiating appeals for death row prisoners and ended up founding the Equal Justice Initiative. He has dedicated his career to fighting for true justice--making sure that punishments for crimes committed are fair and that the poorest in prisons have the opportunity for representation in their cases. The book revolves around the case of Walter McMillian a black man who was falsely accused of murdering a white woman. Despite lack of evidence and a plethora of witnesses who put him nowhere near the scene of the murder, he was unjustly tried, convicted, and sentenced to death row. Packed with stories, this book is both deeply moving and extremely thought-provoking. Just read it.

Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff"Cozy Minimalist Home" by Myquillyn Smith. Such a practical book! Smith takes the reader on a journey through one room in your house, any room you want, in order to quiet the space, make it cozy and keep it simple at the same time. Her steps make it easy to think about how your want a room to feel, identify how to get it there, and then make it happen according to your taste and family needs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Review: "The Ministry of Ordinary Places" by Shannan Martin

The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God's Goodness Around YouWhat a beautiful book! In "The Ministry of Ordinary Places", Shannan Martin shares candidly the story of how her family put down roots in a neighborhood she never imagined living in and seeing Jesus in the midst of it all. Life changed unexpectedly for her family when God called them from the rural to the urban. Plunked down in the middle of a city where they knew no one, they set out to truly bloom where they were planted, getting to know their neighbors and investing in the local low-income school and dying church. While it's a story of how God has used their family, it's more a story of how God has changed them in the midst of it all. By allowing their vision for life to be shaped by God, they have seen how He has worked in their own lives as they have opened themselves up to be changed and challenged by it all.

I fell in love with this book from the very beginning. Martin writes in a warm, winsome way that draws the reader in right away. The book is divided into four sections. I personally resonated with the second section in particular, which focused on hospitality. So often, we hide behind excuses instead of opening our homes for a meal or a simple chat with a neighbor. Martin reminds us that the hospitality is the point--not the state of our homes or the quality of the meal. Hospitality can be offered by inviting someone over for take-out or by meeting up a local playground. I was challenged to think how I can start opening my home to make room for people at my table.

What a gift this book is. Wise words for a challenging, polarizing time in our society. Simple acts of neighborliness, investing deeply where you are planted, and entering into the lives of others even in the midst of our own brokenness can have more impact than we can ever imagine.

"As Christ-followers, we are called to be long-haul neighbors committed to authenticity and willing to take some risks. Our vocation is to invest deeply in the lives of those around us, devoted to one another, physically close to each other as we breathe the same air and walk the same blocks. Our purpose is not so mysterious after all. We get to love and be loved deeply right where we're planted, by whomever happens to be near. We will inevitably encounter brokenness we cannot fix, solve, or understand, and we'll feel as small, uncertain, and outpaced as we have ever felt. But we'll find our very lives in this calling, to be among people as Jesus was, and it will change everything." (p. xviii)

(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.)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Review: "The Struggle is Real" by Nicole Unice

The Struggle Is Real: Getting Better at Life, Stronger in Faith, and Free from the Stuff Keeping You StuckLife is full of challenges and struggles, even suffering at times. That's the nature of life in our sinful, broken world full of sinful, broken people. In her new book, "The Struggle is Real", Nicole Unice helps people dig below the surface to identify what is really going on when faced with our struggles, and then points the reader directly to Jesus. Sharing personal stories coupled with plenty of biblical wisdom, there is something for everyone in this book.

The first part of the book focuses on what lies below the struggles in life, what really lurks in our minds that causes us to fall prey to lies and false stories about ourselves. The second part of the book drives the reader to focus on rewriting the story by finding freedom and grace in Jesus. Each chapter closes with questions for reflection to help the reader truly process what they have been reading. As an added bonus, there are six companion Bible study videos that can be accessed on RightNow media for extra teachings in a group setting or in your own personal devotional time.

The second part of the book was my favorite. As someone who really struggles with thoughts and thought patterns, I found Chapter 9, "The New Language", to be quite helpful. This book would be perfect for any small group to go through, or just to use on your own. I appreciate her thoughts and approach in dealing with the general issue of struggles, something each one of us can identify with.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Quick Lit, October Edition

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 (or so). You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

Parnassus on Wheels"Parnassus on Wheels" by Christopher Morley. I had never heard of this book until I read "Book Girl" by Sarah Clarkson (see review below). When I picked it up, I had no idea what a treat I was in for. Set in 1917October in New England, a wagon named Parnassus shows up in the farmyard of Helen McGill and her brother, Andrew. Upon discovering it is a bookshop on wheels and the proprietor is seeking her author brother to purchase the wagon, she decides to purchase it herself and have an adventure. A charming novella that I fell in love with from the beginning.

Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life"Book Girl" by Sarah Clarkson. This is a lovely book about books. Clarkson shares her heart so poignantly about her love of books and the way the written word has helped shape her life. She include many book lists containing her favorites from different seasons and spanning multiple genres. I found myself concluding a chapter and immediately adding several books to my TBR list. A true treasure that I will return to time and again!

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life"I'd Rather Be Reading" by Anne Bogel. What is there to say about this book? This collection of essays is a beautiful love letter for book lovers everywhere. I fell in love with it from the very first page and thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing. My hands-down favorite chapter was entitled "Bookworm Problems". I found myself nodding along to the majority she described! If you love books, this is a perfect little book to read, read again and again, and gift to other book lovers in your life.

Dreamland Burning"Dreamland Burning" by Jennifer Latham. I have been trying to branch out in my reading a bit this year, reading books in a genre I wouldn't normally read or focusing on issues I haven't really thought of before. I picked up this young adult novel based on a recommendation (I can't remember where), and it did not disappoint. It's a novelization of true events that happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the early 20th century. Latham shares the modern-day story of teen Rowan Chase who is seeking answers to a skeleton that was found buried on her parents' property. Teen William Tillman is living in 1921 Tulsa and shares what life was like in a racially charged city. A gripping story about a piece of American history I had never heard of before.

Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared"Imperfect Courage" by Jessica Honnegger. I am a big fan of fair-trade jewelry company Noonday Collection and was thrilled when the founder released her first book. She shares the story of how Noonday came to be, the heart behind her business, the joys and struggles along the way. She shares about her adoption journey and her desire to see people step out of their comfort zones and make an impact in the world around them. Challenging, thoughtful, and absolutely lovely.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Review: "Kingdom Citizen" by Tony Evans

Kingdom Citizen: Your Role in Rebuilding a Broken NationThis slim volume packs a powerful punch! Tony Evans brings hope the various crises facing our nation in this book, "Kingdom Citizen". With only five chapters (plus appendices), this book is a fairly quick read. Without being partisan, Evans uses solid Biblical truth to invite believers to a course of action to truly become a citizen of Christ's Kingdom here on earth.

I loved reading his reflections from the book of Nehemiah. He describes how the community in Nehemiah's day was broken, full of discord, and all kinds of bad things. But God raised up one man, Nehemiah, to bring about a change in his community and nation--all by submitting himself to God and utilizing the tools set before him to create a lasting impact.

With another election season looming in our nation, political pundits preying on fear and "doom and gloom" scenarios, and the news filled with everything but the good, it's easy to feel like there is no reason to have hope. But Evans argues poignantly that there is a reason for hope. That hope lies in believers fully submitting to God and stepping out in faith, the church moving beyond her walls and seeking to impact her communities, and true disciples being made. I believe this book is a must-read for any Christian, particularly in this stage of our nation's history.

(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.)

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

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 ...