Thursday, November 30, 2017

book review: "christy" by catherine marshall

 "The train taking nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, might as well be transporting her to another world. The Smoky Mountain community of Cutter Gap feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions, and century-old traditions.

But as Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, some see her - and her one-room school - as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove. 

Yearning to make a difference, will Christy's determination and devotion be enough?"

I was very excited to review this book! I remember watching Christy on TV when I was little, so when I think of her, I picture Kellie Martin. It was her, along with the rest of the cast that I imagined as I read this book. Reading about Christy's life and her journey, it kept reminding me of my own life. I really liked one of the conversations between Miss Alice and Christy. Miss Alice was talking about their job in Cutter Gap. "One of our tasks here is to show folks a God who wants to give them joy. How they need joy! They have such hard lives..." And that's our job as well. To show God's love to others. I like the honesty of Christy; I found myself identifying with her more and more as I moved deeper into the story. She had to battle within herself to decide whether or not she would stay and teach or return to what was comfortable. But she said, "nor did I want to be a quitter." Her prayer not long after that statement is something I think we all can relate to. Her prayer, to me, is a moment of surrender. Of exchanging her plans for what God would have her do. "Somehow this Cove was my Cove. The children were my children. Little as I had to give, I had to give it here. It was as Miss Alice had said last night, we have to decide to give - even in hard spots where there's lots of evil...Anyway if You can use me here in this Cove, well, here I am."' I love the humor is this book and the heart. The people Christy met through her journey played a huge part in her life.  People to encourage her and befriend her. People possibly placed there by God for that moment. We all need people in our lives to listen and make us laugh and encourage us when we need it. I think back to my first year as a teacher and felt much like Christy did: overwhelmed with the task before me, unsure if I had made the right choice and contemplating quitting. But that's what makes this story so timely for me. God is showing me something about persevering. Of not giving up when it seems too hard. And that's where this book comes in. Christy is working on that same lesson. Though her story takes place in 1912, it's just as relevant today as it was back then.

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read other reviews in the tour by clicking here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

book review: "israel - God's heart - landscapes and legacy" by ron gafni and kathleen barrett

Many of us only dream of traveling to the Holy Land. Very few, like Israel's top aerial photographer, Ron Gafni, soar above the craggy mountain ranges of Masada, the salty Dead Sea, and the iconic locations where Jesus walked. Israel - God's Heart - Landscapes and Legacy, beautifully captures the ancient landscapes of this great nation, as well as presents the legacy of God's redemption plan for the world.

I really enjoyed this book! I would love to travel to Israel some day - to see where the Bible unfolded! I like what it says on the first page: "The land of historical sites linked to the most decisive events in the history of humankind." The pictures are stunning! It just amazes me to see pictures of Capernaum, Nazareth and the Jordan River. And I like the narrative that runs through the book. It just all comes together to beautifully show such an important part of our Christian faith. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can learn more about the book by clicking here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

book review: "questioning evangelism" by randy newman

There was something different about the way Jesus communicated with the lost: He didn't force answers upon people. He asked questions. So why don't we?

Following Christ's lead, Randy Newman has been using a questioning style of evangelism for decades. In this proactive book, he provides practical insights to help Christians engage others in meaningful spiritual conversations. He challenges us to examine how we think about people, their questions, and our crucial message. 

I found this book insightful and interesting! I've never thought about how Jesus would often answer questions with questions and it makes sense! Reading this book has helped me to see how I can be more effective at talking to people about Jesus. 
I like how Newman gives possible conversations to allow the reader to see how things could go. To see how answering a question with a question would look and provoke thinking and ultimately understanding. "Answering a question with a question, then, has significant advantages over using direct answers. It brings to the surface the questioner's assumptions. It also takes the pressure off you - the one being asked - and puts the pressure on the one doing the asking. Shifting the burden of the response is important because as long as we're on the defensive, the questioners are not really wrestling with issues. They're just watching us squirm." I feel like the book can be summed with with these sentences: "I'm proposing a style of evangelism that is a dialogue more than a sales pitch. I'm pleading for conversations that lead to conversions, rather than presentations that lead to preconceptions. I'm encouraging the use of questions more than the use of answers."

This is a great book for those who want to do a better job of understanding what they believe and why and being able to help those understand who want to know more about the Christian faith.

I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications for my honest review.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

book review: "true to you" by becky wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100-percent focused on the present. However, when John, an adoptee, is diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his ancestry.

John enlists Nora's help to uncover the identity of his birth mother, and as they work side by side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. But can their hope for a future survive their wounds from the past?

I'm a fan of Becky Wade and was excited to read another of her books! I always enjoy a book with great banter between the two main characters and this book did not disappoint! I like how John described Nora as real but guarded and capable but vulnerable. I feel like that's something every girl can relate to! And I love Nora's love for vintage. And I'll admit I laughed out loud at John telling Nora he would carry her bag "...even though he felt like a wuss every time he put her bag with its green trim and bright pink monogram over his shoulder." I wanted to cry when John pushed Nora away, telling her he only saw his father when he looked in the mirror. I love how Nora put it in her letter to John: "All along, God knew you were Brian's son and He knew I was my mother's daughter. I believe that He brought us together on purpose, which explains why we're such a good match even though we're not much of a match on paper at all." I just enjoyed the sweetness of John and Nora's story. And his grand gesture for Nora at the end? Oh goodness. It was a great end to the story! This was a great, fun read and I look forward to reading about the other Bradford sisters! I suspect Willow and Corbin will find a way to get back together and I keep hoping Zander will tell Britt how he feels!
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read other reviews in the blog tour by clicking here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

book review: "chasing famous" by lisa lloyd

What were you born to do? Who were you created to be? What's the yearning deep within your soul? What if you could live into that very purpose? This kind of living requires us to see ourselves as instruments designed to be used for the glory of God. But most of us don't see ourselves this way. Instead, we resign to be spectators in the audience, still waiting for our names to be called - to be cast in that next big role. Of course, we all hope to be selected. We end up auditioning for life, always striving to make the cut and gain approval. 

Written by a professional actress who spent years chasing after her own fame, Chasing Famous empowers us to bravely step into the role God has for us - no longer seeking after our own fame but joyfully making God's name famous - knowing we have been selected to stand center stage and proclaim His renown to all who will listen. 

I really enjoyed this book! As I was reading, I would be reminded of things I've read in other books or talked about with others. Pretty much all through the book, God kept confirming things like this for me! Lisa had me hooked from the first page: "But the Bible is clear - God wants to use the story of our lives to radiate His fame. We exist for Him. We've been rescued for Him. He doesn't point His finger at our mistakes and screwups. Rather, He points us to the stage so that we can share with the world how truly glorious He is. Will we bravely accept the role He intends for us to play?" And it's this realization that God keeps showing me. We're here to bring Him glory! Our lives should be a reflection of who He is and His love for the world. It's an amazing thing to take hold of but also a little overwhelming. And then the doubts start to settle in of how could God use us when we've made mistakes? What will others think? But I like what Lisa says to that: "But in actuality, telling our stories glorifies God as people see that only He could transform our lives. They watch His grace unfold through us." And then there's the story of Hosea and Gomer. It's one of my favorite stories because of how it portrays God's relentless love. "God provided Hosea as a mirror to Israel to show His unreserved love for them despite their rebellion to go after other lovers." Even though people reject God and try to run from them, His love for them doesn't stop. It's an amazing thing! Chasing Famous is a great book to push us in our faith to do more and go farther for God. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review.
You can read other reviews in the book tour by clicking here.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

book review: "the elusive miss ellison" by carolyn miller

The arrival of the new Earl of Hawkesbury has the entire village aflutter - everyone except Lavina Ellison, that is. In fact, in Livvie's eyes, he is just as arrogant and thoughtless as his brother - who stole the most important person in her world.

Nicholas is weighed down by guilt, by ancestral obligations, and by the legacy of war. He hadn't anticipated that a perfunctory visit home would engage either his mind or his heart. Then the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. But between society's opposition, his brother's reckless past, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles for the two of them to ever truly get along. 

This was such a fun read! I loved the interaction between Nicholas and Lavina! The Elusive Miss Ellison is a sweet story of forgiveness and second chances. Both characters had to summon their courage. There's one line I highlighted in the book: "faith demanded courage; his future required hope." I think that's true of life in general. We must trust that God is guiding our steps and know that His plans for us are good. I really like the fact that when Nicholas and Lavina first met, it was with her bent down in her garden. And the story ended with Nicholas finding her there once more but he was there not to visit her father...but in pursuit of her. This was an all around good read! I enjoyed the humor, was excited when Nicholas surrendered his life to God and couldn't help but smile at such a sweet ending!
I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

book review: "control girl" by shannon popkin

Fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don't match your version of perfect. Tension, anger, fear - it all begins with a heart that craves control. When your vision of how life should be replaces God's vision, you doom your quest for security, peace and joy before it even starts. Thankfully, there is a better way. Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and about God from studying Control Girls in the Bible. Learn how you too can lay down this burden and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.

I really enjoyed this book! I just finished reading a book about Sarah and her struggle with waiting on God so for a chance to read about some other women in the Bible (including Sarah as well) was exciting! I like how Shannon sets up the book by talking about Eve and the full impact of her decision to eat the forbidden fruit. She made some points that I've never though of it before but make complete sense. 
When Eve chose to eat the fruit, she tried taking the lead in her relationship with Adam. God tells Eve in Genesis 3:16, "and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." What Shannon pointed out is that the desire this verse is talking about is the desire to control Adam. "As a daughter of Eve, I am infected with a desire to control." And this is the battle we all face as women. She talks about the struggle women have with wanting their husbands to lead but when they fail, the women step up, causing an imbalance in the relationship. Shannon uses a friend of hers as an example. "When Jennifer took the lead, she caused her husband to feel irrelevant. But by respectfully honoring her husband's input and being leadable, she activated the hero-leader inside of him. The Bible validates this chain reaction that Jennifer discovered. Have you noticed that the Bible always gives instructions to the wife first? It's because a husband can't follow his instructions until his wife follows hers." I like how easy the book is to read. Each chapter is broken down into short lessons, making it perfect for slowing down and really digesting each section. I also like the questions at the end of each lesson and the verse to meditate on. Control Girl is a great book to challenge and encourage us as women!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can learn more about other reviews in this blog tour by clicking here.