Monday, August 15, 2016

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

Home Is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson"Home is Where My People Are" by Sophie Hudson. This memoir takes the reader on a journey through Hudson's life, particularly focusing on how she discovered that home isn't necessarily a place but rather the people around you. Her honesty shines through as she shares her story in such a relatable way. I enjoyed much of this book, but I found the frequent parenthetical comments and bits that were in all caps to be a bit annoying and over the top.


Before the Fall by Noah Hawley"Before the Fall" by Noah Hawley. Sixteen minutes into a flight, a private plane crashes into the ocean. The only survivors are painter Scott Burroughs and four-year-old JJ Bateman. With much speculation as to what caused the crash, Scott finds himself struggling to piece together his memories of the events leading directly up to the crash. The book takes the reader on journey between the present post-crash day and sharing the back stories of each passenger on the plane. It's a good read with a lot of intrigue, but there is a bit too much gratuitous foul language for my taste.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson"In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson. 1933 Germany was the beginning of Hitler's brutal reign in Germany. Things were beginning to look grim in Germany, but the rest of the world was mostly unaware of events happening or simply chose to ignore it and hope it would get better. William Dodd became the U.S. ambassador to Germany that year and was thrust into a tense and very difficult situation. His family joined him during his stint in Germany. Daughter Martha was initially enamored by what she saw in Berlin, but became more disillusioned as she began to witness what was truly happening. Dodd himself was initially optimistic that he could help keep the peace diplomatically, but everything drastically changed during the Night of the Long Knives. This book is a fascinating look at how the world failed to recognize and act against this horrifying dictator.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton"The Secret Keeper" by Kate Morton. At age 16, Laurel Nicolson witnesses from a distance a horrible crime involving her mother. She and her parents never speak of it, resulting in a secret that has been kept for fifty years. As her mother approaches the end of her life, Laurel is determined to get the bottom of the story and find out exactly what happened. The book splits the story into the present day and the past, taking the reader on a journey through time beginning in pre-WWII England, continuing through the London blitz, and beyond. The ending was spectacular with a twist I never saw coming. Absolutely loved this book and can't wait to read another by Morton.

Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert
"Luck, Love, and Lemon Pie" by Amy E. Reichert. MJ Boudreaux begins to notice a distance growing between her and husband Chris. After their 20th anniversary, MJ decides to take up poker, Chris's favorite hobby, as a way of giving them a common activity. It launches her on a journey of self-discovery and finding a way to heal the distance and brokenness in her marriage. This was a fun, light read, but I found I had a hard time connecting with the gambling portion of the story.

Friday, July 15, 2016

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

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania"Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania" by Erik Larson. This book was an enthralling look at the events surround the sinking of the Lusitania. The narrative writing style made the history of it come alive. It gives a fascinating look at what life was like in a WWI submarine and provides plenty of stories about the different people on the ship, the submarine, and in the government. The end does leave the reader with plenty of questions regarding the sinking, most of which will probably never be answered. A highly engaging read. I definitely recommend this book!



How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon, #1)"How To Train Your Dragon" by Cressida Cowell. Our family listened to this audio book while on vacation. It is different than the movie, so keep that in mind before picking this one up. Despite the differences, it was highly engaging and enjoyable to listen to. The narration (by Gerard Doyle) was done well and helped bring the story to life. My kids enjoyed it so much that they have been eager to start listening to the other books in this series as well.




Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford. A split narrative, part told in 1988 and part in WWII years, this novel tells the story of a relationship between a Chinese boy and Japanese girl in Seattle. With the war ramping up, prejudice against all Japanese ramping up, and internment camps looming, this friendship is challenged to the utmost. It's a great story with details about a shameful period in our nation's history.





"The Wingfeather Saga" by Andrew Peterson. These books are re-reads for me, and I've only made it through the first three at this point. The saga follows the Igiby children, Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli, and their adventures as they discover their true identities. The first book, "On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness", starts off a little slow and takes some time to get to the point of the story. Once revealed, the pace picks up and becomes even more engaging. The second and third books, "North or Be Eaten!" and "The Monster in the Hollows" introduce the reader to even more fun and unique characters, plot twists, and cliff hangers. The series as a whole is incredible and I'm eager to get started on the fourth and final book, "The Warden and the Wolf King". I highly recommend this series!


On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga, #1)North! or Be Eaten (The Wingfeather Saga, #2)The Monster in the Hollows (The Wingfeather Saga, #3)

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Review: "The Blessing of Humility" by Jerry Bridges

The Blessing of HumilityIn what turned out to be his final book, late author Jerry Bridges leads the reader on a journey through the Beatitudes in "The Blessing of Humility". In ten chapters, he explores each characteristic noted in the Beatitudes individually and discusses how it helps lead the believer into humility. He also includes chapters on how humility and the Gospel intersect, and gives the reader a very brief overview of humility in the New Testament.

I truly enjoyed and appreciated the layout and content of this book. Humility is a virtue that is discussed so little in churches and other Christian circles that this book stands out as a great resource. The depth with which Bridges writes helps the reader understand well each character trait in the Beatitudes. The discussion guide included at the back of the book is perfect for individuals and small groups who want to dive deeper into this topic. This was a fantastic, quick read with so much value and depth. Highly recommended!

(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.)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Review: "Unashamed" by Christine Caine

"Unashamed" is the newest, powerful book by author and speaker Christine Caine. Drawing on her own personal experience, the stories of others, and weaving Scripture throughout, Caine shares candidly about the effects of shame and the journey to overcome it. "Unashamed" helps the reader to identify areas of poisonous shame, toxic thoughts that hold us captive and distort our perspective about ourselves and about God. She shares about the consequences of allowing shame to remain hidden and continuing to give it a stronghold in our lives. She describes the path to freedom for herself and others, which gives incredible encouragement for others who are in various stages of that journey themselves.

My two favorite chapters were "God Moves In So We Can Move On" and "He Healed My Mind". These two chapters deal specifically with the healing that God brings when we bring our shame to Him and allow Him heal our hearts and minds. Retraining our minds is a large part of moving from shame to freedom, and immersing ourselves in the words of God and His promises are key in this journey. 

I have never read a book by her before, but this one definitely inspires me to read more! I found it to be a wonderful book about a topic that too many people are afraid to bring up. I hope that many read this book and begin the work needed for freedom for shame.

"...I'm writing because I've found God's rich rewards in the ongoing journey from shame-filled to a shame-free life. I have found that no matter how big the giant looms over me--no matter how hard he tries to drown out what God wants to say to me--the truth remains:  Jesus shamed my shame! So I wrote this book from a place of victory--inside my promised land--to help give you, dear reader, your victory" (pp. 180-181).

(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.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Review: "Colors of Goodbye" by September Vaudrey

May 31, 2008. The date that life forever changed for the Vaudrey family. Nineteen year old Katie left for her first day of her summer job and never made it. Her mother, September Vaudrey, captures the story of Katie's life, death, and the grief of the family so very poignantly in this book, "Colors of Goodbye".

This memoir is incredibly touching. September shares so freely the profound loss their family felt in the aftermath of Katie's death. She doesn't shy away from the difficult aspects, and is very candid in sharing how the different personalities in her family grieved in different ways. Her openness and honesty with the realities of grief captured me and drew me completely in to their family story.

Katie was a gifted artist. Her artwork is interspersed throughout the book, which gives it even greater meaning. This book is a beautiful tribute to their daughter. I feel privileged to have read this book and to have been allowed a glimpse into such a private tragedy and witnessed this family's return to joy from the depths of such a shattering loss.

(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.)


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Review: "Forever My Little Boy" by Karen Kingsbury

"Forever My Little Boy:  Loving Your Son for Now and for Always" by Karen Kingsbury is a sweet look at raising a boy. The bits of narrative are interspersed with Scripture verses and little prayers for your boy. Whimsical illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff depict the boy in the story growing up; the colorful pictures add a lot of character to the story.

With Mother's Day and Father's Day coming up, this would make a nice gift for any parent of a boy. It's a touching look at capturing moments in a boy's life as he grows up.

(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, March 23, 2016

A Review: "The Red Door Inn" by Liz Johnson

The Red Door Inn (Prince Edward Island Dreams, #1)"The Red Door Inn" by Liz Johnson is the first in the "Prince Edward Island Dreams" series. Marie Carrington flees to Prince Edward Island to escape a personal trauma. She encounters widower Jack Sloane on the boat and is invited to help him decorate his new bed and breakfast. Upon arriving, she meets Seth Sloane, his nephew, who moved to the island in order to help renovate the inn and forget about the fiancee who nearly ruined his life.

The trio work hard to establish this new bed and breakfast, while each works through personal pain from their pasts. At first, Seth cannot understand why his uncle brought in this young woman who seems to need more just a job and a roof over her head. Marie can't understand why Seth has a tendency toward gruffness and near animosity toward her. Only after they spend more time together and begin to reveal portions of their stories do they come to understand the layers underneath the initial appearances.

The theme of redemption and finding healing is strong through this novel. The characters were fairly engaging and the setting was truly gorgeous. This was a decent read and I may consider following through with additional books in this series. I wouldn't say that it is a "must-read", but the story is nice one to spend a few days with.

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