Tag: nonfiction

Book Review: How to Have a Better Relationship with Anybody, by James Hilt

how to have a better relationship with anybody
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:  How to Have a Better Relationship with Anybody
Author:  James Hilt
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

You can have a better relationship with anybody—God, your children, your spouse, or friends. The answers for how to do so are found in Scripture. Counselor James P. Hilt has helped hundreds of people who wanted healthier, happier relationships with his principles derived from the insights of Scripture. He will help you:

Identify and get rid of problems that separate you from others
Stop feeling bitter and resentful
Listen more effectively
Become more patient
Celebrate others more readily
Feel more satisfied in your relationships

Study what the Bible has to say about relationships, apply these healing truths to your life, and discover the remarkable difference it can make. Christ’s love can flow unhindered through your life. Don’t put up with disconnection and resentment any longer.

This was an insightful read that offered both insight and tips that were feasible and doable (Not far-fetched and almost laughable tips for those of us just trying to live our lives and keep all the balls in the air.). The voice was relatable, like talking to a friend, not preachy or condescending, and it incorporated biblical principle and scripture into anecdotes from the author, making it feel even more like sitting down for a chat with a friend that has a little more experience than you.

James Hilt is an author and a counselor. How to Have a Better Relationship with Anybody is his newest book.

(Galley courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: My Name is Tani…and I Believe in Miracles, by Tani Adewumi

my name is Tani
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  My name is Tani…and I Believe in Miracles
Author:  Tani Adewumi
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Tani Adewumi didn’t know what Boko Haram was or why they had threatened his family. All he knew was that when his parents told the family was going to America, Tani thought it was the start of a great adventure rather than an escape. In truth, his family’s journey to the United States was nothing short of miraculous—and the miracles were just beginning. 

Tani’s father, Kayode, became a dishwasher and Uber driver while Tani’s mother, Oluwatoyin, cleaned buildings, while the family lived in a homeless shelter. Eight-year-old Tani jumped into his new life with courage and perseverance—and an unusual mind for chess. After joining the chess club in his public school, Tani practiced his game for hours in the evenings at the shelter. Then he began competing in the ultra-exclusive chess clubs of New York City. And winning—again and again. And then, less than a year after he learned to play, Tani won the New York State chess championship.

I enjoyed this story a lot—from the terror in Nigeria to finding hope in New York. I’ve never learned how to play chess, and the idea of an eight-year-old being so good at it is mind-boggling to me. What I found even more inspiring, though, was the family’s faith and positive outlook, no matter how desperate their circumstances. Truly an inspiring read!

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Golden Flea, by Michael Rips

the golden flea
Image belongs to W.W. Norton & Company.

Title:  The Golden Flea
Author:  Michael Rips
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

For decades, the Chelsea Flea Market on the west side of Manhattan drew shoppers seeking treasures in booths crammed with vintage dresses, ancient swords, glass eyeballs, Afghan rugs, West African fetish dolls, Old Master paintings, and more

Writing with a beguiling style that has won praise from Joan Didion and Susan Orlean, Rips introduces the Flea’s lovable, oddball vendors, including the Haberdasher, who only sells to those he deems worthy; the Art Dealer, whose obscure paintings often go for enormous sums; the Troubadour, who sings to attract customers; as well pickers and collectors of every stripe. As Rips’ passion for collecting grows, and the Flea’s last days loom, he undertakes a quest to prove the provenance of a mysterious painting that might just be the one.

The Golden Flea was so far outside my normal reading taste that I’m not even sure why it caught my eye—and I LOVED it! I was intrigued from the very first page, and I ended up being totally captivated. (Except the fetishes. Those were just gross.) Rips’ writing brings to life vibrant people and a colorful setting—in a completely unexpected place. The characters are quirky but fascinating, and I was sad to realize the Chelsea Flea Market and its inhabitants are a thing of the past.

Michael Rips is an author, lawyer, and supporter of the arts. The Golden Flea is his new book.

(Galley courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Becoming Sage, by Michelle Van Loon

becoming sage
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:  Becoming Sage
AuthorMichelle Van Loon
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 

For the last several decades, Western churches have focused the bulk of their resources on the early stages of discipleship—children’s Sunday school, youth group, college ministry. These are all important, but we’ve neglected spiritual growth in the second half of life. In fact, an outside observer might think that after the growth of the college years, the goal is simply to coast through the rest of your Christian life. The book explores what the unique challenges of midlife can teach us about Jesus and how to think about everything from church, friends, and family, to money, bodies, and meaning.

I found Becoming Sage to be a thought-provoking and intriguing read, and it addresses a topic that seems prevalent in many churches:  the focus on family and children that seems to occupy a prominent place in church life. But what about after the children have left home? What then?

Becoming Sage explores the topic in depth, without castigating the church, which I found refreshing and hopeful

Michelle Van loon blogs, writes, and speaks about spiritual life formation. Becoming Sage is her newest book.

(Galley courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: I’ve Seen the End of You, by W. Lee Warren, MD

i've seen the end of you
Image belongs to WaterBrook.

Title: I’ve Seen the End of You
AuthorW. Lee Warren, MD
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

Dr. Lee Warren, a practicing neurosurgeon, had seen enough cases of glioblastoma to know when he diagnosed the patient, that he’d seen the end of them. With a 100% fatality rate, he knew how it was going to end. But that never stopped him from praying for his patients, even as he knew there was no hope. Even as he experienced doubts about just what God was doing. Even as he asked Why, God? It wasn’t until Lee faced a personal tragedy that he finally came to the end of himself—and rekindled the hope that had been hiding in the darkness for so long.

I’ve Seen the End of You was an incredible read! I don’t normally get enthralled in nonfiction, but I could not put this book down! Dr. Warren’s raw honesty about his fears, his questions, his grief resonated with me, and the strength it must take to face such seemingly hopeless cases every day with a prayer and an offered bit of hope is inspirational and uplifting. For anyone going through any kind of tragedy, this is a wonderful read!

Lee Warren is a brain surgeon, inventor, Iraq War veteran, and writer. I’ve Seen the End of You is his newest book.

(Galley courtesy of WaterBrook in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Ten Years a Nomad, by Matthew Kepnes

ten years
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Ten Years a Nomad
Author:   Matthew Kepnes
Genre:   Nonfiction
Rating:   4 out of 5

After finishing college, Matt Kepnes realized he wanted more out of life than a boring 9-to-5 job. So, he quit and spent the next ten years traveling the world. They say the first step—out the door—is the hardest, but for Matt, traveling was easy. It was home. Now Matt writes and blogs about traveling, inspiring people all over the world to follow his lead.

This is more than his cheap-travel tips. Ten Years a Nomad is an introspective look at travel, a life lived traveling, friendship and relationships, and home. I enjoyed reading this immensely and would love to visit some of the places Matt has traveled.

Matt Kepnes is a traveler and a writer. Ten Years a Nomad is his newest book.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Chosen for Christ, by Heather Holleman

chosen for christ
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:  Chosen for Christ
Author:  Heather Holleman
Genre:  Nonfiction, Christian
Rating:   4 out of 5

Most people spend their lives in search of something:  marriage, career, prestige, a better job, more education…but these things we plan on often leave us frustrated and searching for more. What if we started living as if we were chosen for a person, Jesus Christ, instead of a plan? A calling is about more than a plan. Turn that old way of thinking on its head and embrace your true identity.

Chosen for Christ is all about embracing your identity as being chosen by Christ—and what that really means for you and your life. This book was both inspiring and uplifting and gave me a whole new way to think about things. An excellent read!

Heather Holleman is a wife, mother, college teacher, and author. Chosen for Christ is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in October (2018)

Books Read in October: 21

Books Read for the Year: 153/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Song of the Lark, by Willa Cather (classic). I totally enjoyed this book, as well as the other two in the group.

A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park (cultural book). This novel, based on a true story about a survivor of the war in Sudan, was sad yet inspiring. Very quick read.

Year One, by Nora Roberts (TBR). Nora Roberts is one of the few “romance” authors I’ll read, mainly beause most of her books have a strong fantasy element. This isn’t a romance but a dystopian, and I enjoyed it.

Revelation, by Priscilla Shirer (spiritual). Wow. That’s all I can say.

For Review

trouble brewing

Trouble Brewing, by Suzanne Baltsar.  I enjoyed this romance about a woman trying to break into the craft beer scene. Very colorful characters, and the secondary characters were great, too.

seasonofwonder

Season of Wonder, by RaeAnne Thayne.  Sweet, simple romance about a woman with a troubled past who moves to a small town and finds herself attracted to a deputy sheriff.

words we don't say

Words We Don’t Say, by K.J. Reilly. Joel Higgins has almost a thousand unsent text messages on his phone. It’s just easier than actually communicating with people. His best friend is gone. He failed the SATs. And Eli has no idea he’s in love with her. But volunteering at the soup kitchen gives Joel something else to think about, and opens his eyes to the wider world around him. I enjoyed this a lot. Joel is conflicted and complex, and the author really lets the reader get into his head and see from his eyes.

theseventorments

The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, by Don Zolidis. Nerdy Craig and popular Amy get together and break up, over and over again. This one was just kind of “meh” for me. I liked Craig and his nerdy friends, but Amy was kind of annoying the first half of the book.

my whole truth

My Whole Truth, by Mischa Thrace. This was a powerful book. 17-year-old Seelie has her three best friends, a mother who couldn’t care less about her, and is unpopular, at best, at school. When popular Shane attacks her and Seelie defends herself, killing Shane, she’s charged with murder, and the whole town turns against her. But Seelie can’t bear to talk about what really happened that day. Even if it will keep her from going to prison. You should definitely read this! (Warning:  there are triggers here, so it’s not for everyone.)

TheDreamDaughter-cover

The Dream Daughter, by Diane Chamberlain. In 1970, Caroline receives news that her unborn baby has a serious heart defect and nothing can be done. Not then, anyway. I had a feeling this would be one of those books that don’t necessarily have a happy ending, but I read it anyway. A very well-written read, full of emotion and love.

thebonelessmercies

The Boneless Mercies, by April Genevieve Tucholke. “A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.” Mercenary girls, magic, and a Norse-esque setting? Wow. This was a heck of a read.

RoyalRunaway_4-4

The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory. This fun read about a princess who was left at the altar and who teams up with a spy to find out what’s really going on was a quick, entertaining read.

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Fromage a Trois, by Victoria Brownlee. I really enjoyed this light read about Ella, who moves to Paris in the aftermath of a breakup and ends up in a bet to try every type of French cheese as she discovers there’s more to love than she suspected.

returnofthesong

Return of the Song, by Phyllis Clark Nichols.  This felt like a quiet book, but it was good! Caroline, still hurting from the death of her fiance 6 years ago, finds things are changing—even if she’s not sure she wants them to.

IRISH

An Irish Country Cottage, by Patrick Taylor (review forthcoming). Another “slow” read that was very enjoyable. Set in the 50’s in the Irish countryside.

salt

Salt, by Hannah Moskowitz. What if sea monsters were real? What if gypsy-like families sailed the oceans killing the monsters—without the world being any the wiser? Seventeen-year-old Indi has only known the life of hunting monsters, but with his parents gone, it’s only him and his siblings left to carry on. His older sister is intent on revenge. His younger brother seems destined to be a pirate. His younger sister is smart, and deserves a chance at whatever she wants to do. Indi just wants a normal life.

And isn’t the cover awesome?

the traveling cat chronicles

The Traveling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa (review forthcoming). First of all, this is a bonus cultural book, since it’s set in Japan and translated from Japanese. This book. All the feels. It’s the story of Nana, a street cat who ends up with a human, and their travels together. So good. Fair warning:  I was sobbing by the end.

chosen for christ

Chosen for Christ, by Heather Holleman (review forthcoming). And this book is a bonus spiritual read. Also a very good read.

umbertouched

Umbertouched, by Livia Blackburne (review forthcoming). I can’t tell you how excited I was to read this! I loved the first book, Rosemarked, and this one was just as good! This continues the story of Zivah and Dineas as they seek to save their people from war with the emperor–and the rose plague.

the darkest star

The Darkest Star, by Jennifer L. Armentrout (review forthcoming). I didn’t intend to read this in one sitting—but I did. Aliens, mystery, angst…this book had a few issues, but I enjoyed it as the entertaining read it was, and I intend to read the series.

Just Because

Smoke and Iron, by Rachel Caine. For some reason, I thought this was the final Great Library book. I’m glad it’s not. I flew through the pages, trying to find out what was going to happen to Jess and the gang. Not what I ever imagined of the Great Library of Alexandria.

Left Unfinished

The Last Sword Maker, by Brian Nelson. I made it about 15% of the way through this. It was supposed to be a technological thriller, but I never got to the thriller part, and the tech explanations just lost me.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

 

Book Review: Do Something Beautiful, by R. York Moore

 

do something beautiful
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   Do Something Beautiful
Author:   R. York Moore
Genre:   Christian/Inspirational
Rating:   4 out of 5

As individuals, we are always searching for more; something bigger, better, more meaningful. No matter what we have, we want more. We want our lives to matter more, to be about more, to experience the grand, larger-than-life moments.

Do Something Beautiful shows you how to take the simple, everyday moments in your life and look at them differently, turning “ordinary” into “beautiful.”

The voice in the book is conversational, putting the reader at ease and making it feel like a chat with a friend—not an academic lecture. Anecdotes from the author’s life and stories from people he’s met bring his points to life, making this an engrossing and eye-opening read.

R. York Moore is an evangelist, a speaker, a revivalist, an abolitionist, and an author. Do Something Beautiful is his newest book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot, by Mo Isom

sex
Image belongs to Baker Books.

Title: Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot
Author:  Mo Isom
Genre:  Non-fiction, Christian
Rating:  5/5

Sex. (There. Got your attention, didn’t I?) Society is obsessed with it, and the church doesn’t talk about it, apart from an unequivocal “Don’t do it!” Christians don’t talk about it, but we should—because there are far too many people wandering lost in a world that glorifies sex, promiscuity, and sex-pectations.

Mo Isom talks about it as she tells her story of a life lived according to expectations, a life scarred by pornography, misunderstandings, and the silence of the church on a topic that permeates our culture. She takes something the world is obsessed with, removes the bondage associated with it, and turns it into something that glorifies God.

I don’t generally review non-fiction books, especially the Christian books I read. (They’re on my Goodreads and my Books Read posts, though.) However, this book is one that needs to be talked about. I grew up in church—Southern Baptist—and my church never talked about sex. (My current church—non-denominational—does talk about it, some.) None of the churches my friends grew up in talked about sex. But our culture is obsessed with it. So, why is the church not talking about it? Why does the church let the world be the only source of information related to a topic that saturates our culture? And why are we surprised when Christians have a worldly view of sex, and not a Godly view?

I loved Mo Isom’s voice in this. (So much so that I’m now reading her first book.) She does talk about sex: her exposure to it growing up, the silence on it she experienced in the church, and her struggles to give it its rightly place—not a worldly one. Her voice is like a comfortable chat with a friend and makes this a must-read book.

Mo Isom is a New York Times-bestselling author, a former All-American soccer goalkeeper, and the first female to have trained with and tried out for an SEC men’s football team. She is the author of Wreck My Life:  Journeying from Broken to Bold and her newest book, Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot.

(Galley provided by Baker Books in exchange for an honest review.)