Saturday, August 30, 2014

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas was an interesting quick read, with many developed characters who draw you into their stories. It is a book about a town in the '50's who are under the reign of a harsh preacher who seems to want the parishoners to worship and follow him rather than God and the Bible.

I do not want to give too many details, so I will not go into the story line much, other than to say that it is a story of love, as well as reconciliation, as well as difficulty and want, and more!

Unmarried Casewell is a woodworker who had a difficult relationship with his father, and everyone in the town seems to have a warm spot in their hearts for him. Perla is an unmarried woman with a sweet child who moves into the town and attracts all kinds of attention, mostly negative. The town enters a period of excessive drought and as the stresses increase, so do emotions and reactions. Okay, that's all I'll say!

This is a Christian romance, and there was one part that I was a little iffy with and that is the "gift from God" that Perla has of making a lot of food from not much in the way of ingredients -- not just creative cooking, but actually multiplying the foodstuffs. Other than that, the story could have been very realistic, but that "miracle" part just seemed unrealistic to me, and made me a little uncomfortable.

The end of the story is predictable (which I do like!) and also a happy ending (which I like as well).

I guess I have mixed feelings on this book. Would I recommend it? Maybe with reservations/explanations about the weirdness of Perla's "gift". I did like it most of the way, and it is an easy-to-read book, which is nice.

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate


Phew, got that out of my system! Honestly, The Story Keeper, by Lisa Wingate is an exceptionally wonderful book. It enfolds the stories of actually a few people, addressing things in lives that are emancipating in the end.

This is the story of a mountain girl with a tough past leaving her past, starting a "new" life, only to find it intersecting with her "old" life. The story of a lost manuscript which tells an amazing story from the past. The story of children and adults with no hope. The story of some with hope. I really do not want to give too much information about this book, because it is so wonderful to discover it for yourself in the pages of this book. I will tell you that it is about a book editor named Jen/Jennia and a journey she takes and a story she discovers.

This book is one that you are going to want to read and keep reading. It touches you emotionally and draws you right in to the multi-dramas. It brings up mental struggles in the reader as well, right vs just vs pragmatic, . . .and on.

I think this review is pretty cryptic, huh? :) I will say I really recommend this book. It is a fictional story, but definitely not fluffy :) It's also not hard to read -- you will want to fly right through it! Give it a try! Read it! I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Simplify by Bill Hybels

"Simplify" is a term we hear tossed around frequently. As in, "I am going to simplify my life by. . ." or "I am going to aim for living simply." I wasn't sure what exactly this book would be like.

The author of Simplify, Bill Hybels, has written a series of chapters which give you ideas to simplify your life by simplifying your mind and emotions and schedule. Not simplifying your mind as in becoming less-intelligent, but rather uncluttering it from anxieties that take precedence over everything and wear you down mentally and physically.

The chapters include such topics as forgiveness and the power that bitterness holds over us, financial stuff, scheduling and emptying out your schedule a bit, prioritizing, and focus (among others). These may not be what you expected for simplifying, but it really addresses the stuff that "hangs over you" as I would say :)

I enjoyed reading this book for the most part. Some sections more than others :) I really felt that this book was written more to someone in a career outside of the home, not for the demographic of stay-at-home/homeschooling mom such as myself. I really did enjoy parts of chapter 3, "From Overwhelmed to In Control: Mastering your finances."

Would I recommend this book? I would definitely recommend it for people in careers outside of the home. For someone who is choosing to raise your children in a God-honoring way at home, staying at home, homeschooling--I think there are better books to read for you. ones that resonate more with me.

I received this book in exchange for this honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The StickyFaith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara E. Powell

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara E Powell is written for parents and grandparents of children. It is a follow-up to research that has been done and publicized in recent years about how few children that are raised in a Christian home/church will continue in that tradition as they become college-aged and older.

I am a mom of 3 children and we have taken many steps thus far to ensure that our children are building a faith of their own, not just going along for the ride with my husband and me, but I am definitely always interested to hear/read new ideas for further firming this in their lives.

The "sticky faith" terminology is apparently a movement or series of books/etc that I was not familiar with. Not knowing about these beforehand wasn't detrimental to understanding this book, however. I WAS annoyed a bit at first with the terminology "sticky faith" (it seemed to be used so much throughout the book) -- bothered me at first, but by the time I hit the middle it was fine, I guess I got used to it :)

The set-up is that each chapter has a theme, such as mistakes, relationships, connecting, community, grandparents, service, and more. Each chapter is filled with narrative about the given topic, followed by many examples of the practice in action. Each chapter also ends with a ranking of how you are doing on each topic and discussion questions. As far as my personal preference, I don't usually like writing in books, especially ones I might share. So I didn't use those sections, but just read through them (and thought about some of them).

I really enjoyed all the stories about how different families do things that were discussed in the book. It was great pictures of putting into practice these ideas, done by a variety of different families at different life-stages. I felt like there were many examples for many different stages of family growth. Not every idea was new or earth-shattering, but different families do things differently and I bet that most people can find some great ideas and encouragement in the chapters of this book. Reading about life-stages above where we are right now also gave me some things to think about and plan for in the future. The book was also very readable. Nicely written and easy to go right through. I would certainly recommend this book

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Your Family in Pictures by Me Ra Koh

Family pictures!! Don't we all love taking pictures of our families? Have you ever looked at someone else's photos of their families and thought "How did they get such great pictures?"

This book by Me Ra Koh is written to enable moms (and others!) to take gorgeous artistic photos with whatever photo equipment they have available.

First of all, this is a beautiful book, filled with inspiring pictures of families and kids. Not only are they great pictures, but there are "recipes" for how to take that type of picture for yourself! The author is all about empowering moms (people) to take gorgeous pictures of their families. The directions are not difficult to understand and it does not require you to purchase pricey equipment -- information on how to use the equipment you already have; even instructions on how to use your smartphone to take beautiful photos!

I really appreciate this book -- it has given me lots of ideas and inspiration of how to take special pictures :) My daughter has also read the book and has started trying out some of the different techniques introduced. There are suggestions of when are good times to capture photos and also ideas for getting cooperation of the family when picture-taking might take a bit longer than they would wish :)

Obviously the title lets you know that this book is primarily geared toward taking pictures of your family. The author (Me Ra Koh) also has other publications about photographing different subjects. I will be looking for these for sure :)

I would definitely recommend this book. It is a very interesting and inspiring read with ideas that are easy to try right now!

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.