Saturday, June 16, 2018

One Beautiful Dream

One Beautiful Dream *****
by Jennifer Fulwiler
Overview: What does it look like to balance motherhood and the things you are passionate about? Can it be done? It is even healthy to try? Should a mom's other interests be "put on hold" until her children are older or grown? These are some of the questions Fulwiler explores in this well-written, funny book.

She struggles through these questions as she embarks on her motherhood journey. She shares stories about their choice to practice Natural Family Planning, and the remarks she gets from doctors and strangers alike about her quickly growing family. 

She shares about struggles keeping up at home and debating hiring a babysitter only to have the first one be a critical, old woman who finally quit.

Fulwiler also takes you along on her journey to write and publish her first book.

Positive elements: Well-written, enjoyable to read.

Negative elements: none

Conclusion: I would recommend this book to any mom, religious or not. In the book, she speaks some of her conversion to the Catholic faith. However, the book doesn't talk much about religion so much as good morals and themes such as prioritizing family and finding contentment.

I think most moms at some level feel this tug-o-war between their personal passions and family. It would make a great book club discussion since each woman's life and calling is unique.

And lastly, the book really is funny. Her vivid writing put me with her in the store with all her little kids misbehaving and strangers criticizing. I had to laugh with her because it was all so terrible, and I'd felt it all before, too.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Included in Christ

Included in Christ: Living a New Story from Ephesians *****
by Heather Holleman

Overview: This is an eight-week Bible study on the book of Ephesians. Each week is broken up into five daily studies. Through the course of the study, Holleman focuses on six main words/ideas in Ephesians: chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, and proclaiming. 

Hollman is a professor and teaches classes on writing. In this study, she encourages people to write out their "Shadow Narrative." That's the internal "story" you tell yourself that's negative and comes out of past hurts, failures, etc. Then, she instructs on how to put down on paper your "Savior Story," which is what new work God has done or is currently doing in your life.

Positive elements: I enjoyed how each chapter has different kinds of questions to help the reader engage with the text of the Bible. The fifth day of each week is set aside for writing and reflecting.

Negative elements: none

Conclusion: If you love to write, you will enjoy this study. If you prefer to process your life and what you're learning in other ways, you probably won't like it. 

Honestly, I wasn't sure what I thought of the writing assignments at first, but I appreciate this quote from her explaining how this kind of writing can be helpful, but it's not what saves us. It's just a tool.

"Right thinking, positivity, and storytelling cannot forgive sin and lead you to eternity with God in heaven. Writing can heal some of the symptoms of our sin--our unhappiness, our disconnection from others, and our search for beauty in the midst of pain--but stories won't allow us to do what only the Holy Spirit can do. It is He who makes us alive in Christ and frees us from our enslavement to sin."

So, I appreciate how she is putting Jesus and the study of His word first. She is simply using the writing process to help us think through all we are learning.  Writing is a powerful tool...although I must admit there are days when I'd rather skip the hard work of sifting out my thoughts and getting them on paper.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Road to Magnolia Glen

The Road to Magnolia Glen *****
by Pam Hillman

Overview: Three English sisters come to Natchez, Mississippi, in 1972, under the assumption that the oldest will marry through an arranged marriage. When they arrive, they realize that their relations have sold them into slavery at a brothel, not set-up a marriage. A local Irish man and his friends and family help to hide them and give them a safe but temporary place to go. Some how they must regain their freedom and begin new lives for themselves in America.

Positive elements: well-written story and clean. There are a couple kisses and some rather longing looks that are a bit cheesy...but otherwise a clean love story.

Negative elements: My only critism of the story is that it is pretty simplistic. It is one of those stories where you know from about page 1 what will happen and who will fall in love.

Conclusion: If you like easy going, historical love stories, this book is for you. I rarely read these because I don't like a book where I know how it is going to end. But every so often I try out a new contemporary author to see what kind of journey he or she can take me on.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy *****
by Sid Fleischman

I liked the book because the adventure. The book is about a prince and his whipping boy who ran away. They get kidnapped by two men. And the prince and the whipping boy become friends in the end. 

I think kids 8 and up would like this book.

By Sophie Staples, 8

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Family Under the Bridge

Family Under the Bridge *****
by Natalie Savage Carlson 

An old man and three children with their mother are looking for a house. The old man finds the children in a corner hiding from the police. I like the story because the old man learns to do some thing for somebody else. 

I think kids 8 and up would like this book

by Sophie Staples, 8

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How to be a Perfect Christian

How to be a Perfect Christian *****
by The Babylon Bee

This book makes fun of Christians in a variety of areas including: finding a church, worship, pastors, community service, worldview, etc. 

The book itself is well put together. The hardcover is nice and the graphics. But alas, the quality ends on the cover. 

The book is from a Christian publisher, and yet I didn't feel that the book was at all in good taste or helpful or encouraging in any way. I read the first chapter and then flipped through it a bit.

The satire continues to the last page. I thought this quote right near the end was right on. Right after talking about Jesus's sacrifice of love on the cross, it says: "But this whole book would then be pointless because being a Christian wouldn't be about doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things. It would be about glorifying God in our lives because we adore and trust the One who loved us enough to give up everything for us. "

So, I agree with the author that this book is pointless.

I received this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. #PRHpartner 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Raising World Changers in a Changing World

Raising World Changers in a Changing World *****
by Kristen Welch

Overview: This book is about how to encourage our kids to live lives of service for God's glory. Kristen Welch shares her family's journey through starting a ministry in Kenya and how it has affected her kids. She encourages parents to set the example for their kids of a life that is compassionate and self-sacrificing...realizing that we have been greatly blessed not so that we can buy more things but so that we can give more.

The end of each chapter has questions that you can discuss as a family about what generosity looks like day to day. Her kids and husband take turns answering the questions, too, which is fun to see their perspectives.

The end of each chapter also has some practical ideas for your family to begin serving and giving.

Positive elements: well-written, challenging and inspiring

Negative elements: none

Conclusion: I really enjoyed this book. I so much want to live a life of service. It is so easy to get comfortable and think way to much about how to make your life better and your kids' lives better. It's easier to forget about the suffering around you. 

I love this quote in the book from J.D. Walt: "We think the Gospel is about sharing our lives with others, as though a seed could be shared. No, it's about surrendering our lives to Jesus, who will make of our lives an unending, unimaginable gift to the world. Sharing will never get it done. Only surrender will." 

This book is one about living a surrendered life for Jesus. It's not about doing some nice things for people in your spare time as a family. 

I would recommend this book to anyone.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.