Monthly Archives: January 2014

Review of “Balancing it All”

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If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, you probably remember watching Full House. As much as I love the show, I love the story of Candace Cameron Bure (D.J. Tanner) even more!

For several years now, I have been truly inspired by Candace and her love of God. After the release of her first book, Reshaping it All back in 2011, Candace has come to greater recognition in Christian circles.

“I’ve found that many times my life is out of balance and my priorities need to change because need to change.”

Candace’s newest book, Balancing it All, is her deeply personal story of how she has learned to juggle priorities throughout her life, from her childhood days on Full House, to being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, to being a hockey mom/actress/charity advocate, and how her faith in God has changed everything.

When it comes down to it, if we were to only be friends with people who hold the exact same beliefs or opinions we do on everything, none of us would have any friends.”

Addressing topics as varied as marriage, parenting, working, and friendships, Candace brings a fresh perspective to finding balance. Not by doing less, but by doing the right things.

An easy read, Balancing it All is a book that will make you laugh and cry, all while inspiring you to seek God and bring balance and peace to your life.

“Life’s about choices and honestly, so is balance.”

I found Balancing it All to be both encouraging and convicting, and would give it an “A”.

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Review of “The Atonement Child”

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It was several years ago that I first became familiar with the work of Francine Rivers. After seeing the film adaptation of her book, The Last Sin Eater, I purchased a copy of the book. It would be an understatement to say I enjoyed it– I absolutely loved it!

After having several friends recommend The Atonement Child, my Mamma and I decided we wanted to read it.

“Time was you could walk from one end of town to the other without worrying.”

I have to say, The Atonement Child, while unlike any book I have ever read, is definitely one of the most inspiring novels I have ever read.

The Atonement Child tells the story of Dynah Carey, a godly college student who has a led a sheltered life. Busy pursuing her degree and planning her wedding to the man of her dreams, her life is shattered and turned upside-down when she is raped.

“Come quick, please! Someone’s screaming!”

Scared and confused, Dynah finds herself in the middle of turmoil, which only deepens when she discovers she is carrying a child.

Why would God allow her to conceive through such a violent attack?

Is God punishing her?

Should she have an abortion?

How could she possibly want this child?

As we follow Dynah’s story, we watch as a web filled with a plethora of people is woven, and we feel the anguish, turbulence, and joy as the characters must come to grips with their humanity, their sin, and their Savior’s forgiveness.

“Purity. Smashed and broken.”

A beautiful story that both reveals the underbelly of our culture and celebrates the sanctity of life, The Atonement Child is a wonderful read that will make you weep, and smile through the tears. Difficult to put down, it is an absorbing and inspirational read!

“The Lord forgives you. The Lord loves you.”

While the book does deal with the difficult subjects of rape and abortion, they are handled in a very gentle, yet truthful manner. However, this novel is written for adults, not children, and while parents should judge the maturity of their child, I personally would not recommend it for children under the age of fifteen.

I found The Atonement Child to be a powerful and tender story, founded in Biblical truths. I would give the book a “B”, as I did feel there was a small hole in the story.

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Review of “Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men”

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Stephen Mansfield  has a wonderful way with words. Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men is the third of his books that I have read, and all three have been absorbing reads!

While early on, Mansfield states that this “Utterly Invigorating Guide to Being Your Most Masculine Self”  is not for girls, I found it to be a wonderful, and very enjoyable, book.

Mansfield begins by giving four maxims for true masculinity, or what he refers to as being a “manly man”, and then moves to an intriguing  review of some of the qualities of a godly, masculine man, ranging from honor, humility, self-education, and vision.

While not a man, I found Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men to be an invigorating and inspiring read. Even though it was written to encourage men to become manly men, many (though certainly not all) of the principles Mansfield lauds could also be applied to encouraging women to be sturdy, godly women.

While I did not find it gratuitously crude, the chapter on Humor was certainly a bit colorful. However, the quips he employed very clearly suited Mansfield’s goal of revealing how men use humor to both face fear, and to communicate a philosophical truth.

I found Mansfield’s mixture of exhortation, hilarious storytelling, and biographical sketches to be absolutely wonderful, and would highly recommend it– particularly to men of all ages. I would give the book a “B+”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

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Review of “Dewey: There’s A Cat in the Library!”

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For several years now, I have heard snippets of the story of a library in Iowa that has a resident cat in the library. I found the stories to be fascinating, as books and cats are two of my very favorite things in life!

One day while at my local library, I happened to find Dewey: There’s A Cat in the Library! and knew it was going in my stack to carry home.

“On the coldest night of the year, someone left a strange surprise… A tiny kitten.”

And so begins the endearing tale of a kitten left in the drop box of a library and discovered by a kindly librarian. The librarian bathed him and named him Dewey Readmore Books, and kept him as the library cat.

Like all kittens, he played and got into everything, from book carts to file drawers!

“There’s a cat in the library!”

Such was the reaction of every child that came to the library. Because, really, what child isn’t fascinated by a kitten?

Dewey the Library Cat took it as his mission to help people, and so whatever the people did, he did it with them.

“Silly always works!”

Finally, Dewey found a little girl that he couldn’t help, and he couldn’t cheer up… until he was silly and made her laugh!

“It felt… purr-fect!”

Overall, I found Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library! to be a cute and hilarious book, that would be enjoyed by readers of all ages, but especially by younger audiences who will particularly  enjoy Steve James’ beautiful illustrations. I would give the book a “B”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

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Review of “You’ll Get Through This”

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As some of you know, Max Lucado is one of my all-time favorite authors.  It always amazes me how his words echo Scripture so well, and are exactly what I need to hear.

“In God’s hands intended evil becomes eventual good.”

You’ll Get Through This is no exception. Lucado examines the story of Joseph, and how God worked in the lives of Joseph, his family, and those around him in the midst of the grief, the tragedy, the turbulence.

All for good. That is the message of You’ll Get Through This. Even though all we can see right now are the gray skies and the darkness of this pit we are in, God is using it for good. Our good, our sanctification.

“You will never go where God is not.”

While the journey of our life may be fraught with pain, disappointment, and loneliness, it is an amazing comfort that our God not only cares, He delivers.

We have this Promise: joy will come in the morning. We have this Assurance: He will wipe every tear from our eyes. We have this Hope: in Heaven, there will be no goodbyes, no broken promises, no heartbreak.

“Waiting is a sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and belief.”

I thoroughly enjoyed You’ll Get Through This, and found it to be a great encouragement. It was just what I needed to read at this point in my life, when I am struggling with some icky relationships. I would give the book an “A”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

 

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Review of “Mary Poppins”

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I have many fond memories of watching Disney films with my Grandma, and one of my favorites was Mary Poppins. In the midst of all the fuss of the anniversary of the Disney film and the theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks (which, unfortunately, I have not yet seen), I decided to finally pick up the book and read it.

I was very surprised to find that P.L. Travers actually wrote a series of books on the “practically perfect” Mary Poppins. 

“If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the cross-roads.”

I was  very torn as I read the book. It is very different from its film counterpart, but I really enjoy both, which is unusual for me. I typically enjoy books more than films, especially if they are significantly different. I suppose there is always a first time!

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In Mary Poppins, we meet the Banks family, a family of four children who find themselves suddenly in need of a nanny, when all of a sudden a mysterious woman shows up to apply as a nanny.

Throughout the book, we follow the children, primarily Jane and Michael, as they experience amazing, yet curious, adventures with the wonderful nanny, Mary Poppins. 

“Mary Poppins is the only person I want in the world!”

Such a nanny has never been seen before: she chats with birds and dogs, hangs stars in the sky, and flies through the air with her umbrella. And while Mary Poppins is a fun, laughable novel, it is also a sweet and unforgettable look at the joys, tempest, and magic of growing up.

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I found Mary Poppins to be an enjoyable and endearing novel that both children and adults will delight in. I would give the book a “B”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

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Happy New Year!

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As I sit here typing, it is difficult to believe that we are in 2014. Where did 2013 go? It seems as if the year went by at an alarming speed!

I realize that it has been quiet here for the past month, but the time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year tends to be my “reflective” time, when I look back on the year and think about all that has transpired– the beautiful, the tearful, the laughter, the pain, the learning, the disappointments.

I have also been sick since right after Christmas, so even though I have some new books I’m excited to read and review, I haven’t been doing much at all.

All that being said, I wanted to share with you some of the highlights from my 2013, and wish you all the very best in 2014!

2013 was a year of personal struggles and growth for me, and while I know my sanctification process will never be complete, I hope that I will carry what I learned and experienced this past year with me as I begin 2014.

I’m sure some of you are familiar with My One Word? I have found it to be a wonderful idea, where, rather than making a long list of resolutions for your new year (do those work for anyone?!) you instead choose one word you want to be in the coming year, and you work towards implementing it in your life.

My “word” for 2013 was joy. And while I wouldn’t win the World’s Most Joyful award, I certainly feel like God has been at work in my life, stretching me, asking me to find joy in the now, the here, the good, the painful. I believe one of the best things I did in 2013 to help me develop joy was writing down my gifts, the little everyday blessings that God pours out on my life. While I do have a physical journal, I found I used the 1,000 Gifts app more.

I also believe that every year is only as good as it’s soundtrack. While I listened to a wide variety of music this past year, there were two albums that stayed on repeat: RED by Taylor Swift, and Fortunate Fall by Audrey Assad. I listened to RED for two reasons, first, because it’s by Taylor Swift, my favorite artist (duh) and second, because I love the variety of sounds and emotions on RED. And while Fortunate Fall did not come out until August, I listened to it just as much. I have been a huge fan of Audrey’s music for several years now, but I think Fortunate Fall is her best album yet. The music is beautiful, and the words are so powerful, packed full of wonderful Biblical truths I need to hear.

I didn’t get to go to the theater in 2013 as much as I would have liked, but I did get to see two amazing films– Catching Fire and The Book Thief. They were both well-made, beautiful films, based on two books I also happened to fall in love with in 2013!

I want to thank you all for joining me here in this little nook of the blogosphere and reading my thoughts on a few of the many varied books I read in 2013. It was a joy and adventure, and I hope to join you all soon.

So what changed or influenced you in 2013? Was there a book, song, or film that really inspired you? I want to hear about it!

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