Tag: spiritual reading

Book Review: The Middle Matters, by Lisa-Jo Baker

the middle matters
Image belongs to WaterBrook & Multnomah.

Title:  The Middle Matters
Author:    Lisa-Jo Baker
Genre:  Christian, Self-Help
Rating:  4 out of 5

The best-selling author of Never Unfriended opens up about midlife and what it feels like to have outgrown those teenage jeans, but finally grown into the shape of our souls.

For everyone who is still caught off-guard when someone calls you ma’am—even though you don’t recognize the newest tween celebrities or have a prayer of fitting into those old jeans. You’re an adult now. You’d think you’d be used to that…

The Middle Matters is a look at an “ordinary” life—from the inside—and just how extraordinary it can be. Because a life well-lived is where the beauty is. No matter how ordinary you think your life is.

The stories and anecdotes made this book so relatable! I enjoyed every single page, even the ones I truly couldn’t relate to (not having kids will do that to you sometimes). This book is like your best friend or your older sister giving you solid advice as she talks about the realities of life.

Lisa-Jo Baker is a former attorney and an author. The Middle Matters is her newest book.

(Galley courtesy of WaterBrook & Multnomah via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Seeking Him, by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth; Tim Grissom

seeking him
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:  Seeking Him
Author:    Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth; Tim Grissom
Genre:  Christian
Rating:  4 out of 5

Revival isn’t just about church. Sure, it can take place in church, but it can also take place in your heart, life, and spirit. It can change marriages, friendships, families. This 12-week, interactive study guide gets to the heart and soul of matters. Using real-life examples and stories, the authors encourage readers to examine their own lives and seek God in all areas.

Seeking Him has been newly updated by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom.

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

Book Review: Redwoods and Whales: Becoming Who You Actually Are, by Phil Joel

 

redwoods and whales
Image belongs to Emanate Books/Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Redwoods and Whales: Becoming Who You Actually Are
Author: Phil Joel
Genre:  Spiritual, Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

Redwoods and Whales offers a warning and a promise:

The warning: Don’t become that beached whale, trying to live in a foreign environment.

The promise: You will find freedom when your identity is centered under the safety of the Divine.

Life is tough. Depression, addiction, suicide, violence…they’re all commonplace in our society, and they make it hard to know where to turn. Despite the “connectedness” of our social media word, many people feel alone and adrift. But we have a choice:  we can choose to seek God and His true nature, and we can choose to live healthy, purpose-filled lives.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book, but Redwoods and Whales brought inspiration and hope while acknowledging the sometimes-bleak world around us. The casual tone combined with the chatting-with-a-friend feel of the book makes it easier to soak in the deep message in this book.

Phil Joel is a musician and an artist. Redwoods and Whales:  Becoming Who You Actually Are is his debut book.

(Galley courtesy of Emanate Books/Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Ministry of Ordinary Places, by Shannan Martin

 

ministry of ordinary places
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

 

Title:  The Ministry of Ordinary Places
Author:   Shannan Martin
Genre:   Nonfiction, Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

Many people dream of big ministries in places they feel at home in, surrounded by people like them. Shannan Martin found that that sort of ministry wasn’t her destiny at all. Instead, she ended up in a working-class neighborhood in Goshen, Indiana—okay, a neighborhood where sometimes finding a job to work at is hard—an ordinary place, surrounded by ordinary people who might be wildly different on the surface, but who are alike at heart:  struggling and in need of love.

Truly paying attention to both the big things and the small can open your eyes to the truth in the world around you, and Shannan built a home amidst people who were willing to do life together—no matter how hard that is at times. Sometimes, when God calls people to ministry, it’s not a Billy Graham-style of ministry. Instead, it’s smaller, quieter, and has a profound effect on the people around us, the people who make up our lives.

This book. This book. Usually when I read nonfiction, I can only read a few pages at a time, but I wanted to read large chunks of this at a time. Shannan’s writing is so powerful and evocative, full of truth that touches the heart and opens the mind to broader ideas of home—and what that can look like.

Shannan Martin is a writer and speaker. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson 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.

img_20181025_071922_8375716035256080981801.jpg

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: Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle , by Tony Evans

warfare
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle
Author:   Tony Evans
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

So many people have problems they’re fighting:  depression, drug use, anger, divorce, financial problems…the list goes on and on. But these are just the symptoms of a much greater problem. The real battle isn’t with these issues, it’s with the devil and his armies.

Tony Evans shows us how to fight these enemies—and win. He shows you how spiritual warfare is impacting your life and those around you, what effect these enemies are having, and the weapons at your disposal. He’ll show you how to become a victor over the enemies in your life. This truly is a war.

Tony Evans uses powerful teaching in an easy-to-understand style as he lays out the battles facing us every day, before he turns to the weapons to use to fight back, and the power that stands behind us. This a wonderful, powerful book for all Christians to read.

Dr. Tony Evans is an evangelical leader, pastor, and speaker. Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle is his newest book.

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

Book Review: God Speaks Your Love Language, by Gary Chapman

God Speaks
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   God Speaks Your Love Language
Author:   Gary Chapman
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   4 out of 5

Millions of people say The 5 Love Languages saved their marriage. Now Gary Chapman applies those love languages to God and those who follow Him.

Some people see God as an impersonal, far away deity, but He is really an up-close-and-personal Father who chooses to speak to us in the language we are most comfortable with. This book both reveals ways that God speaks to us in each love language and shows us ways we can speak to Him and learn new love languages.

I’ve never read The 5 Love Languages (Yet. But I did just buy it, after reading this), yet the author speaks so candidly and simply that all the concepts are easy to understand and relate to. I loved the sections on different forms of worship!

Gary Chapman is the author of The 5 Love Languages. His newest book is God Speaks Your Love Language.

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

Book Review: How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All Your Life, by Darryl Dash

how to grow
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All of Your Life
Author:   Darryl Dash
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

I want to call you to do ordinary things that will make an extraordinary difference, not just in your life but in the lives of others.

This quotation sums up the entire book in one simple sentence. This isn’t a complex book, full of convoluted to-do lists. Instead, the author offers simple, basic tenets of faith—praying, reading the Bible, involvement in a church—to build a foundation on, followed by “extra” things that can be added on after the basics are mastered. (Hint:  the basics are never completely mastered.) The conversational tone and examples from the author’s life make this easy to read and apply. I highly recommend it.

Darryl Dash is an author, pastor, and church planter in Toronto. How to Grow is his new book.

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

What I Read in April (2018)

Books Read in April:  15

Books Read for the Year:  57/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

(I added a couple of categories for my monthly reading).

Cultural Book:  Finding Fraser, by K.C. Dyer. Okay. so this wasn’t strictly a different culture…but it was set in Scotland, so I counted it. A fun, light read that I really enjoyed.

Spiritual Book:  God’s Not Dead, by Rice Broocks. I really enjoyed this evidence-based look at a spiritual subject–the historical Jesus.

Classic Book: A Wind in the Door, by Madeline L’Engle. I LOVE this follow-up to A Wrinkle in Time.

Personal Development:  Write. Publish. Repeat.

From the TBR pile: The Casquette Girls, by Alys Arden. I’m so mad this has been sitting in my TBR pile for months! I enjoyed it so much. The setting—New Orleans right after the Storm—was magnificently done, and I love the interwoven timelines. The characters were fantastic as well.

For Review

10,000 hills

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills, by Jennifer Haupt. Wow. This book is (mainly) set in Rwanda, after the genocide (which I knew basically nothing about), and is about an American woman, Rachel, who is searching for the father who abandoned her years ago. It’s also set in America during the Civil Rights movement, and is about Lillian and Henry, who fall in love in Atlanta. There are several different timelines at play here, and at first  I found the book slow-going, but it ended up being such a good read.

fairies

The Fairies of Sadieville, by Alex Bledsoe. I had not read any of this series about the mysterious Tufa, a clan of people in Appalachia who are searching for the way back home.

Lion-of-the-South-ebook-Cover-Large-200x300

The Lion of the South, by Jessica James. A clean romance set in the Civil War…but with no mention of the issues behind the war itself. Instead, this story focuses on the characters and their relationships, which was a nice change.

whispers

Whispers of the Dead, by Spencer Kope. I thoroughly enjoyed this forensic mystery about Steps, an FBI special investigator who can see “shine,” bright trails of color unique to every person and where they’ve been. The murder mystery itself was well done, but what made the book for me was the characters, especially Steps and Jimmy, his partner.

then-she-was-gone-9781501154645

Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell. This tale of a mother whose daughter disappeared 10 years ago who finds herself involved with a man whose daughter looks eerily similar to her own missing child was just alright. The mystery intrigued me, but the characters weren’t my cup of tea.

shattered mirror

Shattered Mirror, by Iris Johansen. The newest Eve Duncan book, this is dependable reading, with everything readers expect from Johansen:  mystery, danger, murder.

skyinthedeep

Sky in the Deep, by Adrienne Young. Can I just tell you how much I loved this book? Seriously. I read it in one sitting, straight through. Seventeen-year-old Eelyn is a warrior, fighting with her clan against the Riki, their age-old enemies. Fight. Survive. Repeat. That’s what her life consists of, until one day she sees the brother she loved who died 5 years ago fighting with the Riki. Eelyn doesn’t know what to think, but she ends up in the home of the Riki as she struggles to understand. This was a magnificent book!

suitorsandsabotage

Suitors and Sabotage, by Cindy Anstey. A light, fun, Regency YA.

Circe

Circe, by Madeline Miller. This was a wonderful read that brought mythology to life.

song

Song of Blood and Stone, by L. Penelope (review forthcoming). I enjoyed this diverse fantasy tale, and was engrossed from the very first page. Nice to see something that handles race and prejudice in this way. Highly recommended! (Also a beautiful cover.)