The past few weeks, I have been writing about wrestling with God, doing character studies on Hannah, Habakuk and Martha.
With series being done, I now have a couple of book reviews for you:
Enough Already by Barbara L. Roose
Published March 17, 2015 by Abingdon Press
This book is all about “winning your ugly struggle with beauty”. And with genuine and vulnerable writing, Barbara helps readers do just that.
From chapters on seeing beauty in all (including ourselves) to why we struggle with feeling less-than to forgiveness to balancing inner and outer beauty, spiritual truth and practical application are woven together to form one of the best books I have ever read on godly beauty.
Heart Sisters by Natalie Chambers Snapp
Published October 7, 2014 by Abingdon Press
In this book, Natalie shares her own stories and biblical truths to help readers be a better friend and form female friendships that are truly of the heart.
I greatly enjoyed this book, with its "be the friend you want to have" focus. Topics of conflict resolution, dealing with life changes, healthy boundaries and more are covered. The biblical, unselfish approach to friendship Natalie shares is encouraging and inspiring.
Looking for more good reads? Check out my other reviews.
What have you recently read that God used to teach you?
The review titles were given to me by their publishers via NetGalley for me to read and write an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.
The post Spring Reading first appeared on The Overflowing
Photo from pixabay, edited by Jessica Faith
Motherless by Erin Healy
Published October 28, 2014 by Thomas Nelson
Synopsis (from author’s website):
A whispering voice at the back of my mind reminds me that I’ve been this way for some time. Dead, that is.
The dead have a very broad view of the living, of actions performed out of sight, of thoughts believed to be private. I would know. Losing both parents is a trial no child should endure, and Marina and Dylan have endured enough. They deserve the one thing I could never give them: a mother’s love.
A mother’s love, and the truth.
My children have believed a lie about me for years and years. After all this time I can still feel their hurt in my heart. But the tether holding me to them is frayed from years of neglect . . . and I have to find a way to make my confession before it snaps.
But when the truth comes out, what other beasts will I unleash?
“Why do we lie to the children?” someone asked me once.
“To protect them,” I answered.
How terrible it is that they need protection from me.
As can be deduced from the synopsis, this story is told by one who is not living (or so we think), yet is still an integral part in the unfolding of the plot. This unique perspective and voice lent to mystery and suspense in the story. Without this perspective, the plot would not have been near as gripping.
Characters and their stories:
Each character was unique and real. They were given a back story, and it was easy to see how their past had developed them and caused them to become their present selves. And throughout the story, each character grew and learned. These were not one-dimensional, stagnant characters.
There were a few points throughout the story when the “flow” of my reading was thrown off track:
One is a shift in the voice telling the story. I can’t say much about that without giving things away, but I will say it was a bit confusing and took me a little to get back into the telling.
Next was an (what I found to be) unnecessary expletive. The character uses this word in anger and maybe the author added it to show his anger, but it seemed out of place and was more of an interruption than a showing of the character’s state of mind.
Lastly was the ending. Once again, it’s hard to go into detail without giving things away. God is hardly mentioned through out the story, but then in the end there is vague/abstract talk of Him and heaven. It just didn’t flow with the rest of the story, and, like I said, was vague and abstract, which left for a feeling of unresolvedness.
It left me wondering about the characters' spiritual journeys, and what brought them to this place.
I did enjoy this read and found it well written; an engrossing plot with mystery. But I would have like to see a little less mystery in the end.
It seems I've been doing book reviews more than anything else lately. I've been lacking in inspiration for other topics, and have also been busy, and had computer troubles, but I keep having opportunities to read books and write reviews. However, some ideas that have been brewing in my mind are ready to come out.
But for now, I hope you have been enjoying the book reviews, because I have another one for you. Instead of the usual Bible study/inspirational book, this one is a work of historical fiction:
Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman
Published February 24, 2015 by Bethany House Publishers
The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest have skills to match those of the more well-known outlaw band of Robin and his merry men, but little does anyone know, these outlaws are children and teens, stealing food and clothing just to live.
Merry Ellison, once a lady, now leads this band of orphaned children in the mission of survival. Though she dreams of her past life and longs for love, she will do anything to keep this new found family safe.
Timothy Grey is the ninth son of a baron, and wants to prove his worth and rise to greatness. When the Ghosts have been spotted in the nearby forest, Timothy sees capturing them as his chance.
But little does he know who there leader really is: the girl who once held his heart.
Dauntless is the first book in the Valiant Heart Series.
On Goodreads, Dina writes that this book is geared for a teen audience, but believes many adults will enjoy it as well.
The characters were very well-written and developed, with several learning and experiencing growth throughout the story. The character interactions were great and none of the characters seemed flat or unreal, from the determined yet lonely Merry, to the ambitious Timothy, to the oh-so-adorable little Wren. The orphan children were my favorites.
The plot itself was okay, a bit on the predictable side, but when likable, lovable (and dislikable) characters take the stage, the story becomes an adventure, even if you can figure out how it will end.
Faith and Spiritual Growth:
Several of the characters have faith in Jesus and each of the main characters experience spiritual growth. The way this is portrayed is genuine and natural. It doesn't seem as if the author writes about God just because this is a Christian book, leaving faith separate from the plot. Rather, the faith (or lack of) of each character is a part of who they are and motivates their actions, and their spiritual journeys feel authentic and are very much linked to the plot.
Lacking in Historical Enrichment:
Dauntless takes place in 1216, during the reign of King John. In a note from the author at the end of the book, Dina shares about her researching for this story, and, except for a few points which she notes, the story is historically accurate. But it didn't feel enriched by the historical setting. The story could have taken place apart from the historical events of this time. It could have even been written for a made-up world. As a lover of historical fiction, I would have liked to see the plot and characters more entwined with the historical setting.
A note to conservative readers: The character of the Earl of Wyndemere has promiscuous relations, but nothing is detailed. It is just known from a couple very subtle innuendos. The earl also uses a choice word to contemptuously refer to an illegitimate child. This word was used in proper context, but was still spoken as an insult.
Dauntless is a fun read and a great debut to this new series. I definitely look forward to the next books! I would recommend Dauntless to anyone wanting to read a clean, romantic adventure in the vein of Robin Hood legends.
Winters in Wisconsin tend to be cold, with lots of snow. There are days school or church will be cancelled because we are having feet of snow dumped on us. There are days school or church will be cancelled because it's -40 with wind chill. There are days I have to try a couple times before my car will start. This winter, there were days upon days of not seeing the sun. It can seem that the only two winter weather options are snowing, or temperatures below zero.
But I still find winter beautiful. Intricately formed snowflakes floating through the air. The sun glinting off the snow, turning the ground into a sea of diamonds.
In this chilly weather, it's always nice to curl up with a blanket, my cat and a good book. Having the enjoyment of books is probably what keeps me from getting cabin fever like my cat.
Here are reviews on a couple of books I've read since the start of this year:
He Said What?! by Brenda Poinsett
To be published February 5, 2015 by New Hope Publishers
This book is a Bible study on the conversations Jesus' had with women during His time on earth. Each chapter walks through a specific conversation Jesus had with a woman (or women). By looking at culture, the original language and the context in which His words were spoken, deeper meaning is found in these words. In examining these conversations, one learns about Jesus' character, and the same words He spoke to women 2000 years ago can speak to women today. At the end of each chapter, there are a few questions for one to ponder and answer, so the words can be taken to heart and applied to one's own life.
Many of the passages examined in this study are ones I have read, studied and heard sermons about, yet Brenda's teaching brought new understanding about these conversations. Reading this book helps one really listen to these words Jesus' spoke, as He is still speaking them to women now.
Cupid is a Procrastinator by Kate Hurley
Published February 1, 2015 by Harvest House Publishers
The title probably gives a pretty big hint as to what this book is about: being single, but desiring to not be single. But it's also about much more. In this book, Kate shares her own journey of being single, but desiring marriage and a family. She doesn't give a formula for finding "the one". She doesn't say you have to "let go" of wanting a spouse in order to be content in Christ.
She does encourage and inspire singles through sharing her own story and through sharing from God's Word. She explores the unique challenges Christian singles face. Most importantly, she reminds singles of God's love for them and inspires them to continually seek Him.
This book is not a Bible study for singles, it's a conversation, an authentic sharing of joys and pains. Being a single girl myself, I could really relate to Kate's writing, and this read was refreshing, inspiring and enjoyable.
I know I say this at the end of every book review, but seriously, if you've read anything good lately, please share!
Happy New Year!
For this first post of 2015, I have a quick book review for you:
Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg
Published by Worthy Publishing January 6, 2015
In this book Margaret shares her story of being diagnosed with and fighting cancer, exploring the real meaning of joy and how to practice joy in the midst of all circumstances. The book includes a good balance of Margaret sharing her own story, and the truth found in Scriptures, giving the biblical definition of joy. This book shows how joy is more than an emotion, but is actually a weapon in fighting life’s battles.
I hope 2015 is a wonderful year for you, and that during this year we all would know Jesus more.