Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Beautiful Read




I am fascinated by anything and everything British, so I snapped this book up in a hurry. Andrea Lucado reminisces about her time spent studying at Oxford and her crisis of faith in a colorful, beautiful way that makes you feel as if you're walking the rainy streets with her or sitting on the banks of the Thames beside her, listening to her story. This was an enjoyable read--meandering, a little confusing at times because of little rabbit trails--but very enjoyable. I wish Andrea's questions about her faith had been resolved more clearly, but maybe that's the point. We all have questions, and not all of them will be resolved in this life. But that's where faith comes in. Where it becomes real. 

English Lessons is a beautiful book to curl up and read while drinking a cup of hot tea (of course) and listening to a fire crackle. 

3.5 stars from me. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ATG Today



I was given the opportunity to try out and review a new app, called ATG Today (Awakening to God). It's available on iTunes and Google Play. 

With a simple, easy to use format and a great design, this app encourages me to daily "check in" and gives me a verse to focus on for each day, as well as writing prompts and a place for a photo. These are all combined into a Timeline, making it easy to see highlights of my life, as well as keep track of answered prayers. It's practical, encouraging, uplifting, convenient.... 

I appreciate anything that encourages me in my walk with God, and this app is a great tool for that! 

You can find the ATG Today app here. 

More about the app:
About Awakening to God Today (ATG Today):
A devotional journal to help you enjoy your walk with God, with thanksgiving from your heart, everyday touches and prayers. Inspiration for 8 minutes with God at the start of your day, learning to hear His voice, memorize scripture, pray and journal. Lots of great ideas to build your faith, share scripture, encourage others and strengthen family devotions.


You can watch the video ‘How Do You Keep Living After the Death of Two Children’ at: www.awakeningtogod.org and see Mission, Vision and Strategy under About.

A little about the founders: 
Gerald & Jeannie Long experienced success and wealth based on the values of the world and also the deepest grief and suffering from the death of two of their three children.  On their journey, God has revealed His grace and glory to them in extraordinary ways.  In particular, they’ve experienced how God is able to redeem the most painful areas of our lives and turn them around for good.  Gerard has caught a deep awareness of eternity and Jeannie has experienced God’s presence and glory when she was close to ending her own life.  Their marriage has triumphed when all seemed lost and they’ve learnt invaluable lessons on their unbelievable journey.  And, they have a very clear message of God’s calling for each Christ follower to obey the Great Command and the Great Commission.

The purpose:
·         to inspire and encourage thousands of people in their walk with Christ (hopefully, leading to another ‘Awakening’ – see 2 Chron 7:14); and
·         to raise the funds to: dig a well in 100 villages in India, provide 40,000 meals to widows and orphans, 15,000 mosquito nets and a medical team for immunizations, cataract operations and other services.

Watch promo video: (60 sec) - https://youtu.be/QmYoDXjHi8o

Friday, March 24, 2017

People of the Second Chance



There isn't a person on earth who hasn't needed a second chance. Knowing that God is the God of second chances has been a huge comfort to me; my problem, however, is learning to forgive myself. My usual opinion of myself is pretty low. I've needed a lot of "second" chances! 

People of the Second Chance was an easy read and offered some new ways of looking at old problems. I related to much of what the author had to say, but had to take issues with some of his statements and ideas. I appreciated his openness about his own issues, as it helped to know while reading that he had gone through some of the very things, or had had the same feelings as I (and many, many others) have. 

Some truly eye-opening statements are written involving judging others, but the author goes too far, in my opinion, and nearly brushes away the fact that while God is merciful and loving, He is also righteous and just. 
 
Pros:
A beautiful cover, and a synopsis that pulls the reader in. 
Relatable. 
Real. 
Thought-provoking. 
Some really great quotes: 
"The upside down God is good at what he does. He turns weirdness into wonder. He uses opposites, prodigals, and everyday quirkiness to shame the zealous, religious know-it-alls."

"Moses was more confident in his weakness than he was in God's strength." (Ouch! That's one of my problems!) 

Cons:
On page 37 the author says that Game of Thrones is HBOs finest show. Ummmmm, no. For obvious reasons.
On pages 164, 169, and within the whole section on loving yourself, there were statements that I don't believe are biblical. We love ourselves in the sense that we care for our daily needs, but we aren't to love ourselves too much. There is a list of things that the author suggests you do, such as this one: "Let a few people down. Let them be disappointed in you. It's good for them. It's good for you too." Maybe I didn't get what he was trying to say here, but that rubbed me the wrong way. We're supposed to be dependable. I don't think it's ever right not to keep our word--to let people down--just for our own comfort or..whatever.
Once again, an author has attempted to make God sound cool. Brought Him down to our level. "He (God) likes to party. He is weird sometimes. " No. God is never "weird". That's just irreverent. He works in mysterious ways, true, but He isn't weird. God would be spoken of with only severance and carefulness, and this isn't that.

All in all, while I couldn't recommend this book without mentioning these concerns, I do think there is a lot of good stuff here. 

3 out of 5 stars. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna



I usually prefer books that are suspenseful and action-packed, but since I have fallen in love with The Mitford Series by Jan Karon, I've become more open-minded about slow, "folksy" books. When We Last Spoke promised to be just that, so I looked forward to escaping into a simpler, better time. The book, set mostly in and around the 1960's, is the story of two sisters who were raised by their grandparents in the sleepy little town of Fireside, Texas. It opens as Juliet, the older of the sisters, is going through some of the old possessions of her late grandparents. We're zipped back into the childhood memories of Juliet, and are introduced to her sister Evangeline, her grandparents Walt and Ruby, and other memorable townsfolk and kin.

When We Last Spoke was difficult for me to get into, but I kept reading, hoping that it would begin to pull on my heartstrings and whisk me away to little town of Fireside. And...it did...a little. While the characters were interesting and the tales of the people were charming, there was something missing. It came close to being really good, but fell short. It lacked heart. It seemed that the author tried a little to hard to be humorous and, while sometimes it worked, often it didn't. The book wound up feeling choppy and at some points, hard to follow. For a book that was supposed to be realistic, there were some pretty unbelievable situations. Still, I did find myself relating to some of the characters more than I thought they would, and some portions of the story were genuinely moving. One especially good and appreciated fact about this book: it's clean! However, there is a little bit of language, which I found very disappointing.

So if you're looking for a slow, meandering read and you're good at suspending your disbelief, this is your book. I'm sure there are many who would enjoy it more than I did!

More about the book:

With the heart and humor of Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, author Marci Henna introduces you to the Cranbournes—a mostly lovable and undoubtedly nutty family who’ve had more than their fair share of hard times.


A beautiful blend of tears and laughter, When We Last Spoke tells the tale of sisters Juliet and Evangeline, who are dropped off by their Broadway-bound mother at their paternal grandparents’ Texas ranch in 1967. After their cherished father is killed in Vietnam, the girls are orphaned. Still mourning their son’s death, grandparents Walt and Ruby accept their role as guardians, only to be surprised soon after by another permanent houseguest’s arrival—Walt’s kooky mother, Itasca.


Fast-forward to the present, where the warmhearted home in which the girls grew up is now just a faint memory. The estranged sisters are in need of a good dose of Walt’s famous stargazing wisdom: “You’ve got to look real close. Pay attention to what’s around you in this life. You’re liable to miss something important if you don’t.”


Packed with plenty of quirky characters and hilarious escapades, this must-read novel also digs in deep to the things that matter most—family, friends, love, and forgiveness.


Friday, January 27, 2017

I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! (GIVEAWAY!)




I don't often review little kids' books, but this offer came along and I couldn't resist. Playfully describing different types of hugs with sweet, lyrical, rhyming text combined with gorgeous artwork, I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! makes for perfect bedtime (or anytime!) reading. Also, because there aren't a lot of words per page, and a many of the words are just right for beginning readers, this is a perfect book to read together!



I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug.
Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.
Official Website
Zonderkidz Facebook Page
Zonderkidz Twitter Page

Caroline B. Cooney (Author)
Caroline B. Cooney was born in New York, grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in South Carolina. Caroline is the author of 90 Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is her first picture book. It’s based on a verse she wrote for her own children, Louisa, Sayre and Harold, who are grown now.

Tim Warnes (Illustrator)
Tim Warnes has been illustrating children's books for twenty years. He lives in Dorset, England, with his wife, children's illustrator Jane Chapman, and their two sons. When he's not drawing little critters, Tim loves to write, watch birds and play his banjo.  Visit Tim at www.ChapmanandWarnes.com

Here's how you can have a chance at winning your own copy of this beautiful book:

Just leave a comment with the name of your favorite bedtime storybook. That's it! :) 

Giveaway ends Tuesday, January 31, at 9 pm.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen (Review)




While not your run-of-the-mill, cheery Christmas tale, The Fir Tree, written in 1845 by Hans Christian Andersen, will (hopefully) make the reader stop, think, and enjoy the life they have, not the life they dreamed of. This edition, illustrated by Sanna Annukka, is absolutely exquisite! I love the vintage look and feel of the cover, and the illustrations are rich and beautiful. This is a book that I don't want to hide away on a shelf! I look forward to reading it to my children during this holiday season. 

One of the amazing illustrations.

Back cover.


From the Book Description:


Gorgeously packaged with intricate illustrations from Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annukka, this new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's well-loved fairy tale, The Fir Tree, is the perfect holiday gift for adults and children alike.

Hans Christian Andersen's tragic tale of naive greed and dissatisfaction is retold through the striking and contemporary illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in rich forest green, with gold foil embellishments, The Fir Tree is elevated from a children's book to a unique work of art and makes an ideal gift for people of all ages.



I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Amy Grant ~ Tennessee Christmas (CD Review and Giveaway)



I jumped at the chance to review this CD! I adore Christmas music and always enjoy finding new favorites! Honestly, I'm not a fan of country music, so I wasn't sure if this certain CD would become a favorite or not. So far a few of the songs, including "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm", "Christmas Don't Be Late" and "White Christmas" are promising, but others are easily skipped. I prefer Christmas songs to be, well, Christmas-y, and some of these weren't. But that's just me! I'm sure others would think differently. "Tennessee Christmas", even though it's country, is one I've always loved. (Amy Grant's voice hasn't changed a bit!) The insert includes song lyrics and photos of Amy and her family. 




Songs on this album:
  1. Tennessee Christmas
  2. To Be Together
  3. Christmas For You and Me
  4. Melancholy Christmas
  5. December
  6. White Christmas
  7. Joy to the World
  8. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
  9. Baby It's Cold Outside
10. Christmas Don't Be Late
11. Still Can't Sleep
12. Another Merry Christmas
13. O Come, All Ye Faithful


You can listen to a sample here, and purchase Tennessee Christmas here.

You can win one a copy of Tennessee Christmas for yourself! To enter, simply comment below with the name of your favorite Christmas song. That's it! The giveaway will end Tuesday, Dec. 6th, at 9:00 pm. Good luck!

The giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Vonnie Warden! 






“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.