Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quick Lit: April 2015

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for this month's quick lit, where I share short and sweet reviews of books I've read in the past month.

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times"Call the Midwife:  A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times" by Jennifer Worth. I watched the first three seasons of the show over the course of the last year, but hadn't read the book yet. I love the show, and was pretty excited to finally pick up this memoir. I was not disappointed. Worth shares about her personal experiences as a midwife in London's East End, an area replete with poverty, crime, and overcrowded tenements. It provides a plethora of background information on the nuns she works with, as well as common pregnancy and post-natal practices that were common for that time period. I find that I am now watching the fourth season of the show with greater appreciation and greater depth than before. The only downfall to this book was a section toward the middle with a gratuitous description of prostitution. Otherwise, it was a great book, and I look forward to reading her follow-up book.

The Set-Apart Woman: God's Invitation to Sacred Living"The Set-Apart Woman:  God's Invitation to Sacred Living" by Leslie Ludy. This book is a call for women to reevaluate their priorities and lives, to examine where Jesus fits in their lives, and make adjustments to put Jesus in His rightful place in our lives. Using biblical truths, personal stories, and practical ideas, Ludy discusses many areas where women can exchange areas of weakness for stronger commitment to Jesus. The message in this book is clear and definitely needed in our day and age.




Big Little Lies"Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty. This was a great, engaging read. I felt it started off slightly slow, but quickly picked up speed. The characters had a certain depth and appeal to them, which made them completely believable. The elements of the mystery were expertly woven throughout, and left the reader wondering who did it and who is actually dead.






In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #6)"In the Company of Cheerful Ladies" by Alexander McCall Smith. This sixth book in "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series picks right up where the last one left off. There was less mystery in this novel and a greater focus on both plot and character development. It was an overall thoroughly pleasant, quick read.






Redemption (Redemption, #1)"Redemption" by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley. It has been several years since I last read this first novel in the Baxter Family series. Kingsbury and Smalley teamed up to write a series of five novels, all focusing on one family, in order to examine key relationship concepts. This book focuses on the idea that love is a decision. A great book with a great relationship reminder woven throughout.





The Furious Longing of God"The Furious Longing of God" by Brennan Manning. This book has been on my "to-read" list for years. Now that I've finally gotten the chance to read it, I wonder why on earth I waited so long! It's a beautiful book that reinforces the wild, radical love of God for people. Each chapter concludes with a couple of questions for reflection which will help the reader really reflect and internalize the message he puts forth in each chapter. Highly recommend.




Remember (Redemption, #2)"Remember" by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley. This second book in the Baxter Family series focuses primarily on one of the other children in the family, as well as continuing to advance the plot line for the whole family. This book introduces the relationship concept of remembering, how memories play an important role in strengthening relationships. Great relationship encouragement in this novel.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Review: "The Set-Apart Woman" by Leslie Ludy

The Set-Apart Woman: God's Invitation to Sacred Living"The Set-Apart Woman:  God's Invitation to Sacred Living" by Leslie Ludy is the latest installment in her "Set Apart" series. In this day and age when culture and media bombard us with messages of materialism, do what feels right, and truth is relative, a book like this brings a necessary and challenging message to all women who long for something deeper.

This book is a call for women to reevaluate their priorities and lives, to examine where Jesus fits in their lives, and make adjustments to put Jesus in His rightful place in our lives. Using biblical truths, personal stories, and practical ideas, Ludy discusses many areas where women can exchange areas of weakness for stronger commitment to Jesus. Some topics she covers include media and entertainment, gossip, anxiety, and self-promotion. Each chapter concludes with study questions for both personal and group discussion, making this a great book to go through with a small group or book club or for deep reflection on your own. There is also a list of recommended reading at the back of the book full of Christian biographies and books to help you deepen your walk with Jesus.

I greatly appreciated the messages in this book. Ludy doesn't mince words and her call for Christian women to live a life of full commitment to Jesus is a necessary one in today's church and world. Each chapter left me thinking about my own life and how I can apply her challenges to my daily life. While some of her points in the book were rather repetitive, this book is a much-needed call for women to get serious about their faith, urging us to pull out of lukewarm living and run headlong into Jesus.

"What if we as Christian women got serious about our pursuit of Jesus Christ? What if we became broken over our sin, desperate for undiluted Truth, and willing to radically follow Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Imagine how modern Christianity could change" (p. 17).
  
(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, March 15, 2015

Quick Lit: March 2015

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy this month for "Quick Lit", short and sweet book reviews of what I've been reading lately.

Like Gold Refined (A Prairie Legacy, #4)
 "Like Gold Refined" by Janette Oke is the fourth (and final) book in the "Prairie Legacy" series. The series follows the story of Virginia Simpson, the middle daughter of Belinda (Davis) Simpson. Detailing the adventures of growing up, this final book is a nice conclusion to the series and to the Davis family as a whole. The drama level in this book is heightened, and the faith of this family is tested and taken to new levels. I had read these books years ago, but enjoyed them just as much on a re-read.



Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships"Growing Up Duggar:  It's All About Relationships" by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar is a personal book from the four oldest Duggar girls, sharing what it was like to grow up in their family. With chapters focusing on relationships with their parents, relationships with their siblings, and relationships with guys, these four girls share how their beliefs and background shape the way they interact with others and the world around them. While this book is definitely geared more for teen and 20-something young women, I enjoyed this personal look from the girls.




Emily of New Moon (Emily of New Moon, #1)"Emily of New Moon" by L.M. Montgomery. I confess:  I have never read the "Emily" series before. I was first introduced to the "Anne" series in high school and fell so much in love with it that none of Montgomery's other books could quite compare. I did start this book once years ago, but put it down because it just wasn't the same. The book did start a bit slowly for me at first, but I was quickly captivated. Emily's adventures, hopes, dreams, and worries drew me in and I fell in love with this novel.





In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto"In Defense of Food:  An Eater's Manifesto" by Michael Pollan begins with the premise of "eat food, mostly plants, not too much". He spends the rest of the book unpacking this statement and what modern nutrition science has done to nutrition in general. The first two sections of the book were informative and read like a textbook at times, but the last section of the book contained what I thought was the most interesting and practical pieces of the entire book. It was in that section where he really explored the idea of "eat food, mostly plants, not too much". It was that section that gave me some small ways that I can begin to make changes to my family's diet and helped me develop a better, big-picture idea of where I want our diet to eventually be.


Emily Climbs (Emily, #2)"Emily Climbs" by L.M. Montgomery is the second book of the "Emily" trilogy. In this book, Emily enters high school, leaving New Moon Farm for the first time since her arrival there as a young orphan. The book is mostly set in Shrewsbury and follows Emily and her friends through their high school years. Emily continues her aspirations as a writer and finds limited fame through submitting some of her poetry and stories to magazines. Her friendships with her best friends, Ilse, Perry, and Teddy, continue to deepen, as does her friendship with Dean Priest. This book, for me, was not nearly as enjoyable as the first one. It feels a shade darker, a little more depressing, that the first book. I also found the relationship between Emily and Dean a bit creepy, given the 24-year age difference in them. I'll go on to read the third one just to see how the trilogy concludes. I do hope it improves back to the level of the first book!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Review: "7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness" by Eric Metaxas

Seven Men - Paperback"7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness" by Eric Metaxas presents mini-biographies of seven men and the faith that shaped them. The men featured include George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson.

I had previously read Metaxas's biographies of Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, but was not as familiar with the other five men. This book taught me many things about each of these men. The character of each man shone through as Metaxas explored their lives. These biographies are well-written and detailed, with the amount of meticulous research shining through.

Washington gave up power for the greater good. Wilberforce dedicated his life to fighting the slave trade. Liddell gave up a chance to win in the Olympics by putting his faith first. Bonhoeffer defied the Nazis and was martyred as a result. Robinson broke the baseball color barrier. John Paul II surrendered his entire life to God and His service. Colson ended up serving time in prison, but developed a wide-reaching prison ministry as a result.

As a mom of two young boys, I am disheartened by the portrayal of men and manhood in popular culture today. A book like this is a true gem; I am excited to introduce my boys to the men in this book. This is a wonderful book that causes me to want to learn more about the men featured here.

(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, February 25, 2015

A Review: "Motivate Your Child" by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

"Motivate Your Child:  A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told" by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller is a practical resource for parents to help them build internal motivation in their kids.

The book is divided into two sections:  moral development in children and spiritual development in children. The authors say it best:  "The purpose of this book is to define those two tools [faith and a good conscience] and to provide you with hands-on strategies to give each of your children an accurate and reliable GPS for his or her heart. Passing on the faith to kids and helping them each develop a clear and strong conscience are strategic for success in life" (p. xii).

This resource is packed with valuable tips and insights that are suitable to parents with kids of all ages at home. This book will definitely become a valuable resource that we will return to again and again as needed while bringing up our two boys.

(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.)

A Review: "Supermarket Healthy" by Melissa D'Arabian

"Supermarket Healthy" is the latest cookbook from Food Network personality Melissa D'Arabian. In this book, she sets out to prove that eating healthy at home is easy, achievable, and affordable.

D'Arabian included a nice introduction as well as a list of her pantry staples.The cookbook is divided in to several main sections:  Breakfast; Snacks; Soups and Stews; Salads, Wraps, and Sandwiches; Veggie Mains; Pasta; Fish and Seafood; Chicken and Turkey;  Beef, Pork, and Lamb; Sides; and Dessert. Each section starts with a basic introduction and index of the recipes included in that particular section. Certain recipes include supermarket strategies (buying tips, ways to save, and insights about making choices while shopping), kitchen strategies (ingredient swapping, make-ahead planning, and time-saving tips), and entertaining strategies (ways to adapt the recipes to suit a larger gathering of people). Each recipe also includes a brief introduction of her thoughts on it.

As I looked through the cookbook, there were a number of recipes that I am eager to try. I appreciate that the majority of the ingredients are things that I either already have on hand or can easily purchase from my local grocery store--a nice change from some recipes that include highly specialized or difficult to find ingredients. The one downside to this cookbook is there are not enough photos of the food. I find that pictures help me to see how the recipe should look, as well as helping me to decide if I actually want to attempt to make it. I'm eager to get started with testing out some new recipes on my family in the upcoming weeks!

(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, January 11, 2015

A Review: "Steadfast Heart" by Tracie Peterson

Steadfast Heart by Tracie PetersonTracie Peterson is one of my favorite authors. I have read many of her books and typically really enjoy her work. That being said, her latest release, "Steadfast Heart", just didn't do it for me. The book is advertised as a story about Lenore Fulcher, a young woman from Seattle who seeks true love instead of an arranged marriage, and Kolbein Booth, a lawyer from Chicago who travels to Seattle in search of his sister. He traces her to the Madison Bridal School only to discover that she is not there. Other central characters are Abrianna Cunningham, the ward of Mrs. Madison, and her lifelong friend, Wade Ackerman.

The book really fell flat for me. The characters lacked depth and the plot didn't really feel flushed out. I found the romance between Lenore and Kolbein to be completely implausible. They had only just met; he found her to be beautiful and she thought him handsome; then she leaves for San Francisco. Upon her return they are suddenly madly in love--but based on what? Having so many central characters made it difficult to relate to a particular character and didn't allow for great development of them.

 I definitely prefer her earlier works. I find that those books are Peterson at her best. This book was lacking in so many areas that I just can't recommend it. If you are new to Tracie Peterson, skip this one and try her earlier novels.

(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.)