Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Review: "A Mile Wide" by Brandon Hatmaker

A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper FaithI've been a fan of Brandon's wife, Jen Hatmaker, for a while now. It seemed natural to pick his book after reading and enjoying several of hers. His book, "A Mile Wide:  Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith," did not disappoint. He helps the believer walk through that desire for "something more" that we all feel at some point or another, that longing for depth that we can't seem to find no matter how hard we try. With so many churches and individuals talking about authenticity, it seems like depth would be easier to find. But,'s not as easy as it seems! Hatmaker shares plenty of Scriptural insights and practical ideas for developing and nurturing the authenticity and depth that so many of us long for.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 5, "A Better Community." This chapter is loaded with ideas and reflections on how to bring greater depth to your church and small group. With my husband and I about to start a small group at church, this chapter helped spark some thoughts on how to bring our group closer together and find ways to get involved with service projects to help us grow in our faith. This was a great book that was thought-provoking and challenging.

(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, October 5, 2016

A Review: "Dirty Glory" by Pete Greig

Dirty Glory: Go Where Your Best Prayers Take You"Dirty Glory" by Pete Greig is the second book in the Red Moon Chronicles. With fifteen years experience working with 24-7 prayer, Greig shares many more stories and adventures from this movement. The stories meander all over the globe, with powerful testimonies of the work of God coming from all over. The book is broken down in five separate sections:  Presence, Prayer, Mission, Justice, and Joy. The chapters in each section share insights, Scriptures, and stories that pertain to each particular theme. My personal favorite was the section on Justice. It was such an encouragement to not just sit on the sidelines while others work for social justice, but to seek ways for practical involvement as well, even in my own little corner of the world.

This book stirred something in my soul, giving me a greater longing for the kind of prayer and passion that characterizes the lives of those deeply involved with 24-7 prayer. It's a compelling read that can sometimes leave the reader shaking his head in wonder over the works of God. The book also includes a study guide for small group discussion or for the individual reader who wants to explore each chapter in greater depth. It was a good follow-up to "Red Moon Rising." It will be exciting to see where God takes 24-7 prayer in the future!

(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.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Review: "Uninvited" by Lysa Terkeurst

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and LonelyThe newest offering from Lysa Terkeurst, "Uninvited," looks at the issue of rejection and how it plays out in our daily lives.  Lysa shares openly and candidly about her experiences with rejection, both actual and preceived. So many people have internalized rejection from an early age and it still causes havoc years down the road. The roots of rejection can run deep and can hinder our relationship with our Creator. Rejection is a powerful tool used by Satan to hinder the good works that God wants to do in and through us.

I've been a fan of Lysa's work for a while, and this book was no exception. I deeply appreciated the Scriptures that she brings forth and the stories that she told from her own personal experience. I especially appreciated her encouragement to replace negative self-talk with truth and the reminder that we need to be grounded and rooted in the unchanging truth of who God is and who He says we are. This book is a true gift for all who ever struggle with believing that you are accepted and loved by God. I finished each chapter breathing out "I'm so glad I'm not alone!" I highly recommend 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, September 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.

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living"Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist. I have loved Niequist's writing from the beginning, and this latest collection of essays did not disappoint! She deals with how busyness was wrecking her life--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Beautifully written and deeply personal, these essays resonated with me. I loved the themes found throughout and it left me thinking about ways I have allowed busyness to wreck my own life. Thought-provoking and wonderful.

The Nightingale"The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah. This novel shares the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they take two very different paths through World War II-stricken France. Vianne keeps up the home front and tries to survive with her daughter as she waits and wonders about the fate of her husband, called up to fight the Nazis. Isabelle throws caution to the wind and risks everything for the Resistance. This was an incredible book that was thoroughly captivating. Highly recommend!

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared"The Reading Promise" by Alice Ozma. I picked this book as a result of listening to the Read Aloud Revival podcast. When in fourth grade, Alice and her father make a promise for him to read aloud to her every night. Once they reach 100 consecutive nights, they realize they aren't ready to be done, so they decide to continue their nightly ritual. They call it The Streak and it lasts for 3,218 nights. I love the idea of the book and The Streak. The last several chapters are fantastic. Portions of the book felt a bit slow and a little disjointed. It was a decent read and makes me curious to see about starting a Streak with my own kids.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Review: "Hope Prevails" by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Hope Prevails by Michelle BengtsonDr. Michelle Bengston is a neuropsychologist who has worked with many clients suffering depression. When she went through her own personal experience with depression, she discovered some missing elements in the treatment of depression. This book, "Hope Prevails" is her story through depression and what she learned in the process.

I really enjoyed this book as a whole. Dr. Bengston did a wonderful job of sharing her story and weaving Scripture throughout. One of the primary focus of the book was to encourage the sufferer of depression to take captive every thought--learn to recognize the lies that we have believed and replace them with the truth. It's an excellent thought that everyone, not just those struggling with depression, can take more to heart. With a heavy emphasis on the role of faith in finding healing from depression, she encourages memorizing Scripture to truly immerse yourself in the words of truth from the Bible. At the end of each chapter, she includes some reflective questions that are great to go through on your own, but would be even better with a close friend or counselor. She also shares some songs that have been instrumental in her journey that may be beneficial for the reader.

This was an excellent book that showcases how spiritual life factors into depression. The questions at the end of each chapter lend themselves to deeper thought and discussion. There is much thought-provoking material captured in this book. With depression so prevalent in society today, Dr. Bengston offers unique, refreshing insights that many will find helpful in conjunction with other treatment and self-care techniques.

(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.)

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)