Monthly Archives: May 2015

Review of “Not Just on Sundays”

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Image courtesy of Bonnie Lyn Smith

When I first got an email from Bonnie Smith asking me to review her book, Not Just On SundaysI was excited. Not simply because I enjoy reading and reviewing books, but because she sounded like such a kindred spirit.

When Not Just On Sunday arrived a few weeks later, the subtitle excited me: “Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day”. Yes! That sounds like what I desire to do with my life!

Not Just On Sunday might appear daunting with 312 pages, but don’t let that intimidate you. Filled with Scripture, and reflections on faith and life drawn from Bonnie’s personal journey, you will laugh, cry, and be refreshed.

Simply written, Not Just On Sunday is an easy read, and I felt as though I was reading Bonnie’s journal, or sitting with her in a coffee shop discussing what God is teaching her through daily life. With a strong emphasis on Grace, Bonnie reminds readers that God works in all things, even the seemingly insignificant or painful experiences of everyday life.

I would highly recommend Not Just On Sunday, particularly to those who are struggling in a difficult relationship, or merely need a pick-me-up. Not Just On Sunday will be a shot of espresso for your soul! I would give Not Just On Sunday a “B+” and I look forward to reading more of Bonnie Smith’s writing in the future.

Find out more about Bonnie Lyn Smith hereNot Just On Sunday is available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles.

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Review of “The Lady of Bolton Hill”

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Image Courtesy of Elizabeth Camden

Back in January, I fell in love with Elizabeth Camden’s With Every Breathand even chose it to be the book I gave away to celebrate The Nerdy Bookworm’s second birthday! I loved With Every Breath because it met my high standards for the “ideal novel”: filled with information, a continuously moving storyline, and a vibrant female main character.

Perhaps it was because I read a large quantity of non-fiction books as a child (and continue to today), or perhaps it was because a large portion of the novels I read as a child were either mysteries,  classics like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and  L.M. Montgomery’s Anne, or historical fiction such as Caddie Woodlawn and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, but I have often struggled to find substantial works of fiction that will hold my interest. Thus, when I do find a novel I enjoy, I try to read all of the author’s work that I can!

I was excited when I found out that my library had two of Elizabeth Camden’s other novels, one of which was The Lady of Bolton Hill. Elizabeth Camden did not disappoint!

Set in 1870s Baltimore, Maryland, The Lady of Bolton Hill tells the story of two friends, Daniel Tremain and Clara Endicott, who spring from different backgrounds, yet are united in their love of music. Daniel is a self-made industrial titan, and Clara is a forward-thinking journalist. As labor unions strike, and riots fill the streets of Baltimore, they will face some of the most difficult decisions in their lives. But is it too late to make a difference?

A fascinating read, The Lady of Bolton Hill will keep you turning pages until the very end. Overall, it was a well-crafted story, rich in history and detail, and I would highly recommend The Lady of Bolton Hill to any reader who enjoys quality fiction. I would give The Lady of Bolton Hill an “A”.

Well done, once again, Elizabeth Camden!

You can find out more about Elizabeth Camden here. You can view all of her novels here.

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Bitesize Biographies: Ulrich Zwingli

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As a relatively new member of the Reformed faith, I was anxious to read William Boekestein’s new installment in the Bitesize Biographies series, Ulrich Zwingli. 

I must admit, that while I have read about the life of Calvin, my knowledge of Ulrich Zwingli, the reformer, was not extensive. I knew that he was Swiss, and was a contemporary of Luther, and that was about the extent of my familiarity with him.

And while I found Ulrich Zwingli to be a thorough look at the life and times of Zwingli, it was not what I was expecting. Being unfamiliar with the Bitesize Biographies series, I was expecting a quick, light overview of the life of Zwingli. That is not what Boekestein’s book was– rather, I found it intense despite the small size (only 163 pages). I would have appreciated a timeline and map of Switzerland and surrounding areas, as that would have been a helpful aid while reading Ulrich Zwingli. 

Overall, I was a bit overwhelmed with the information presented, and underwhelmed by the presentation in Boekestein’s Ulrich Zwingli. I would have to give the book a “B”.

I look forward to reading more in the Bitesize Biographies series, particularly Augustus Toplady, Girolamo Savonarola, and Renée of France. See more titles in the Bitesize Biographies series here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Blogger Review 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 “Enough”

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Earlier this year I began to hear about these books by a woman named Kate Conner on what we should be telling teen girls. I was intrigued. After all, I’m only a few short years past my teens, and half the time, I don’t even feel like I’ve left them.

(Is that weird? Surely I’m not the only one. Maybe.)

So I picked up a copy of Kate Conner’s Enough: 10 things we should be telling teenage girls. You should see my copy now! It is dog-eared (if you know me, you know this is a big deal). I read it in one day, and during that day, I laughed, I cried, and I read sections aloud to my Mom.

Written with both honesty and humor, Kate Conner brings a fresh voice to the discussion of what teenage girls need to know. Originating from her viral blog post, Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage GirlsEnough is a book every person who interacts with teen girls needs. 

Discussing everything from beauty, boys, fashion, and feminism, Kate Conner is relatable and relevant in Enough, saying what every teen girl (and woman) needs to hear: you are beautiful, you are valuable, you are enough.  Firmly rooted in Scripture, Enough reminds us with grace that God designed us, and that while we are not perfect, we are enough; while not always lovely, we are loved; we are more than our body shape, our emotions, or what others think of us.

I cannot recommend Enough too much. I feel like I want to grab a coffee with Kate Conner, and give a copy of Enough to every family with a teenage girl. I wish someone would have handed me a copy of Enough ten years ago, because I needed it. I would have to give Enough an “A”.

Find out more about Kate Conner here, and her books here.

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Review of “Your Beautiful Heart”

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In 2011, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy‘s life was forever changed when she collided with a plane propellor. Through that accident,  Lauren was given a platform to share her faith, and gain recognition for her work, much like her friend, Bethany Hamilton.

I had heard Lauren’s story before, but when I recently saw her new book, Your Beautiful Heart on sale at my local Lifeway store, I decided to get it. (Am I the only one who has difficulty passing up a book that is 50% off?)

Your Beautiful Heart is a collection of 31 reflections, drawn from Lauren’s personal experiences, coupled with Scripture. Ideal for Bible study groups, or personal devotions, Your Beautiful Heart has questions for discussion  at the end of each chapter. Discussing everything from addictions and appearance to forgiveness and careers, Your Beautiful Heart would be enjoyable and beneficial for women of all stages of life, but particularly those in their teens and twenties.

I was deeply impacted by Your Beautiful Heart, and while I laughed at parts, I found it relevant, yet firmly rooted in Scripture. Those who appreciate the work of Timothy Keller and Tullian Tchividjian will recognize their influence on Your Beautiful Heart.

I would highly recommend Your Beautiful Heart, and would give the book an “A”.

You can learn more about Lauren’s first book, Still Lolo, here. You can learn more about LOLO Magazine here.

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Review of “After A Fashion”

Image courtesy of Jen Turano

Image courtesy of Jen Turano

When I first read the description of Jen Turano’s new novel, After A Fashion, I was intrigued, as it sounded like a romantic comedy, in the vein of Roman Holiday or My Best Friend’s Wedding

Harriet Peabody is hat maker with big dreams and a checkered past. Oliver Addleshaw is a wealthy businessman whose only goal is to amass more fortune than Cornelius Vanderbilt, even if that means working with shady men. But when the two of them are thrown together in the strangest twist of events, they strike up an unusual partnership. But questions abound: will Harriet’s unfortunate past ruin her? will Oliver’s poor business relationships cost him his reputation? will Harriet and Oliver’s business relationship become a romantic one?

I must admit, that while my expectations for After A Fashion were high, I felt the book fell a bit flat. Part Pride and Prejudicepart The Inheritanceand part Millie Keiththere were moments in After A Fashion that gave me an idea of what could have been, but it just never quite came together for me. I found that the high points of After A Fashion were overwhelmed by the mind-numbing descriptions of attraction between Harriet and Oliver, and the over-the-top romantic elements.

Overall, while portions of After A Fashion were quite enjoyable and hilarious, I found the main characters to be a disappointment, and I did not enjoy the story nearly as much as I had hoped. I must admit I plan to read the second book in the series, which comes out later this year, as it is about my two favorite characters in After A Fashion! But I would have to give After A Fashion a “C”.

Find out more about Jen Turano and her books here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House Blogger Review 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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