Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice?

It’s Spring, folks! That’s simultaneously exciting and a bit sad… Each season holds a special place in my heart and promises it’s own kind of adventure, delight, and memory-filled days.

This winter was a rather fantastic one – I am so thankful for all I learned, accomplished, and experienced during the last three months, and I’m excitedly looking forward to the next season – both of life and of nature.

And now, the seventh review of this month. (Folks, I’m kinda going review crazy this year, aren’t I? It’s rather delightful to be back in review mode.)

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 176
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Title: Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice
Nonfiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

“Jesus’ advice ruined what I planned to write.”

It was the recipe for a great book. John and his wife—both financial experts—had cut their income by 80% to pursue more meaningful lives. Within six years they had two kids, were debt-free, went on several vacations, and doubled their net worth. John was ready to share the biblical principles that made this possible.

But he couldn’t. After reviewing Scripture’s teaching on money—over 1,300 verses—he realized he had missed something big.

Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice turns even conventional Christian wisdom on its head. While it answers many of the practical questions we have—like does Jesus want me to be rich or poor? Should I give to everybody who asks? Is it wrong to save?—it goes beyond these concerns. It asks bigger questions, gives bolder answers, and offers a more comprehensive view of stewardship. Follow Jesus’ “terrible” (shocking, otherworldly) financial advice, and you’ll have what money can’t buy: purpose.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

That backcover blurb, folks. It intrigued me. Plus, the title. Who wouldn’t want to read a book like that? Plus, if y’all have been around for long then you know that I’m currently working at trying to learn how to relate to money well – tracking how I spend it, reading books about how to steward my money well, and seeking God’s will for how I spend, save, and give. This book seemed like a natural read considering all that.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

For being such a short book this nugget took what felt like an inordinately long amount of time to read. In an effort to be succinct, here’s a list of pros and cons.

Pros:
*The author has done his research. He’s not only fairly over-qualified when it comes to a human standpoint (he’s a CPA with a Ph.D. in Accounting), but he also has studied the subject of money extensively in the Bible.
*He puts God’s Word above his own logic. I really liked what he had to say about that – basically, if he finds an inconsistency with what he believes vs. what he discovers in the Bible he realizes that he must be wrong somehow, so he digs in to find out the truth.
*He has a lot of good to say about how and where to place money in our lives. For the most part, I agreed with what he said and felt like he provided a good balance between the mentality and practical side of finances.

Cons:
*The biggest con for me is I simply did not relate well to his style. I’m not sure what it was about his writing but it didn’t jive well with me. I realize this is entirely subjective and even though it lowered the rating of the book for me, it’s not a bad thing by any means.
*There were several things I disagreed with – and this could very well have been a matter of interpretation, so I could have simply misunderstood him, but it bothered me a fair amount.
*Sometimes the book felt a bit redundant, despite how short it was.

CONCLUSION

The last third of the book was my favorite and where I really felt like I learned something. I didn’t agree with everything I read, but nothing was big enough for me to not recommend the book. Overall it was pretty solid and pointed out a lot of good things.

RATING

I’m giving Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice 3 out of 5 stars. Moody Publishers graciously sent me a copy of this book so I could review it – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill – by the time I push publish I’ll have gone a mile and a half
Listening to: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (Anyone surprised? I’m also dancing to it as I write which is tricky considering I’m on a treadmill…)

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite thing about Spring? 

Using Hashtags to Become Part of a Bookish Community Online

I was a bookworm long before I even knew what a bookworm was.
Or what the Internet was.
Or what a hashtag was.
Actually, I’ve been reading (or at least paging through books) for at least a decade longer than hashtags have even been around.
So, yeah.

I guess it’s not really that surprising that a good portion of my bookish world was developed before I became part of the online bookish community. And that’s probably one of the reasons I enjoy it so much now – because when I entered the bookworm community online my world of reading was suddenly burst wide open.

Now you’re obviously at least somewhat a part of the online bookish community because you’re here on my very book (and writing) focused blog, but in case you haven’t delved into the true treasure trove of learning about books from social media, I’m here to enlighten you.

Hashtags, folks. They work wonders. 

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I mainly hang out on blogs, Instagram, and Youtube, but I’m fairly sure these hashtags will work across the board, so take the information, explore, and watch your bookish world explode.

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There are any number of combos you can use… #Bookstagram #ChristianFiction #BookForDays #Bookshelfie #BooksToRead #ChristianNonfiction #WW2Books #WinterReads #HistoricalFiction

Just choose a facet of reading that interests you, start hashtagging away, and you’ll soon be making new friends, feeling inspiration take over, and have a load of recommendations so large that you’ll never run out of quality content to read.

My Instagram feed is full of people who have wonderful bookish tastes, are artistic, and will fangirl like a pro so that more people can learn about their favorite authors and top reads of the year. In fact, my personal Instagram can pretty much be described that way as well. Social media, to me, is a place where I can shout about books from the rooftops without having to worry about bothering anyone. (I mean, because if it does bother someone, they can simply mute me.)

Learning about books through the usage of hashtags and social media was one of the greatest discoveries in my bookish existence and I’ll forever be thankful for the tool it is. So have fun hashtagging away!

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill
Listening to: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (Yes, again. Or should I say still?)

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite hashtag? 

When Books Won’t Write Themselves

What happens when you don’t intend to take a break, but it somehow ends up happening?

That’s what I’m currently asking myself when it comes to writing. My TCK novel was going superbly well. I was flying high, making strides forward, producing work I was excited about.

Then it all stopped.

Except, it didn’t exactly stop. Just the measurable, numeral, accomplishment-feeling stuff that stopped. Instead of writing, I began focusing on the background of what was really happening because I realized I was in over my head and had no real clue of what I was doing.

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This month I’ve been immersing myself in the world of TCKs. I’ve been reading books, talking to people, following TCK hashtags on Instagram. Then at night when I’m too tired to do much else I lounge around watching Youtube of various TCKs and people from around the world. It’s been very eye-opening and showed me that I’ve gone in a rather narrow direction with my novel and I need to rethink things.

So March hasn’t been an exceedingly productive month when it comes to writing, but it has been a very learning month for me. And I’m okay with that. It’s a different pace, a different focus, an interlude in my writing world.

I just have to remember that before long I need to cut the chase, stop researching and get back to writing. Because ya know, that book won’t write itself…

Currently
Setting: At church (we just served the food for a luncheon)
Listening to: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (Surprise, surprise…) 
Question of the Day: Do you like sunrises or sunsets better?

8 Steps to the Perfect Caving Adventure

When you’re going caving, the first thing to do is find proper clothing to wear. In my case, that involved borrowing a pair of overalls from my brother-in-law, pairing them with knee-pads, and stuffing leather gloves into my pocket. Add a snug-fitting helmet, a headlight that works well, and old shoes and you’re all set. (Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the advice of old shoes, which y’all will hear about later.)

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Next, you find a group of fellow adventurous people, meet up with a brave guide, slide through a box to make sure you’ll fit through the tight places, then line up, number off, and begin your exploration.

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Actually, exploration might be a misnomer, because I’m fairly certain that I never want to squeeze through places 300 feet underground if said places haven’t already been thoroughly explored. I’ll let other people blaze the trail, then follow along quite contentedly, thank you.

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After you set off down the path you need to remember two things:
1) Right is always right – or at least that’s the case in the particular cave we were visiting. If we were ever separated from the group we just needed to keep going to the right and we’d be fine.
2) Don’t get separated from the group. Just, don’t.

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And, well, one more thing to remember: Don’t think about where you are or what you’re doing. Seriously. There’s nothing like belly-crawling, side-scooting, and clawing your way through a space barely big enough to fit your body through to induce panic. Especially when you consider that you’re hundreds of feet underground with solid rock on all sides. So, you just don’t think about it. Instead, you go into performance mode and get it done. (And have slightly blurry pictures to show for it since the adrenaline causes shaking.)

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Also, it helps if you choose a guide who’s bigger than you so that when your clothes get stuck on the jagged rocks while you’re belly-crawling you can calmly (haha) remind yourself that someone bigger than you just got through and all you need to do is back up a few inches and free yourself. See? No biggie.

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Also, try and remember that caving in the Spring is different than in the summer, and you’ll probably be going through water and a lot of mud. Hence the reminder to bring old shoes – or be prepared to buy new ones. Especially if you work in the food industry where shoes are a must and mud is looked at askance.

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And of course, conclude your spelunking adventure with a steep muddy hill to slide down, and a sleeping bag to burrow your muddy-self into. Because, sleeping in a dark cave – right after facing all your fears and crawling deep underground – is a very logical thing to do.

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And that’s it for today, folks!

Currently
Setting: Home!
Listening to: The beauty of nothing 
Question of the Day: Have you ever slept in a cave? 

The Artful Match

When y’all read this post, hopefully I’ll be on my way to TN to go caving… Enjoy your day, friends!

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 368
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Title: Far Side of the Sea
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Cara Bernay has never fit in. At loose ends in 1881 London after a near tragedy costs her a job, she befriends a carefree artist. With his help, she begins planning a new life and developing her own artistic talent. But soon Cara finds herself at odds with the artist’s brother–a handsome but arrogant earl forcing his brother back to a “respectable” life.

Henry Burke, the Earl of Morestowe, feels the weight of growing financial burdens. His younger brother is the one person who can save their family, and Henry needs him back home. Despite misgivings about Cara’s mysterious background, Henry sees she’s a positive influence on his brother and on Henry’s young ward, and he strikes a deal with her to return with them to their estate.

But the family has their own secrets, and when Cara, drawn ever closer to Henry, stumbles onto the truth, she must choose between following her heart and pursuing a bold plan that could bring disaster.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

It sounded intriguing. I actually vacillated a bit while trying to decide if I was going to download it for review or not, because I figured from the blurb that the romance might be a bigger part of the plot than I generally like. In the end, my intrigue won out and I read it.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

This book was not my cup of tea. I didn’t really dislike it, but I felt rather meh about the whole story. I should have listened to my instincts about it probably not being a story that I’d really like so that I didn’t have to write an unexcited review because the book wasn’t bad, just not for me.

In an effort to be succinct, here’s a list of pros and cons.

Pros:
*The life of an artist was well portrayed. Reading about the painters in the story felt very real and even several weeks after finishing the book I can still imagine them bending over their canvases.
*The main character grew up in one of the orphanages run by George Müller. This wasn’t a huge part of the story, but it was probably my favorite thing about the book, considering I read/heard a ton about Mr. Müller when I was younger.
*The misunderstandings between the brothers was very well written – and despite the fact that the misunderstanding itself bugged me to bits (I mean, come on guys!), it was executed well.

Cons:
*The life of an artist was maybe a little too well portrayed. As in, even though it didn’t go into detail I didn’t like how much it alluded to the fact that their lives weren’t exactly righteous.
*There was too much romance for my tastes, but again I know this is a personal thing, and I don’t think there was wrong romance – it just took over the plot.
*The big misunderstanding going on between the brothers bothered me so much. I won’t go into it for spoiler’s sake, but I’m really glad I don’t have a relationship with any of my siblings like that…

CONCLUSION

I don’t think I’ll read another book by this author, nor would I recommend them, but hey! It might be someone else’s style…

RATING

I’m giving The Artful Match 3 out of 5 stars. Thank you so much Bethany House and NetGalley for letting me review this book.

Busting Fear {Aka, Belly-Crawling}

One of my favorite things that I’ve ever done is going caving. I did it for three years in a row and posted about it each time in total excitement. (You can see the posts here: caving in 2013caving in 2014, and caving in 2015.)

And then we didn’t go caving for a while. I missed it a lot and hoped we’d begin doing the adventures again, so when my adopted mom informed me that another caving trip was being planned, I right away worked it into my schedule.

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Today I’m heading with my adopted parents to the Creation Museum where we’ll stay at their RV there so we can get an early start to the Cumberland Caverns in TN the next day.

I’m not sure when I’ve ever been so freaked out about something that I know will be a good experience. Like, seriously. Somehow the passage of a few years is making me wonder if I’ll even fit through the crazy-small holes, crevices, and tunnels in the cave any more.

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Some friends asked me if I’m excited about caving…and I am. I’m just more freaked out currently than excited. There are so many things I could worry about, so many things I could imagine going wrong, and so many easy ways to back out of the “extreme” caving part of the adventure. (I mean, come on, we’re also doing a walk-through tour, my adopted dad is doing a concert 300ish feet underground, and we’re all going to camp out. It will be a spectacular time. I could easily back out of the belly-crawling part.)

And yet, I’m totally planning on going the whole nine yards, belly-crawling and wedging myself into tight places included. I’m doing this for several reasons, including the fact that I’m not letting irrational fear keep me from great experiences. I mean, I know that people bigger than me fit through the tight spaces, so there’s no reason that I shouldn’t. Then there’s also that whole stepping-outside-my-comfort-zone deal, where I push and prod my comfort zone walls to new dimensions by doing things that freak me out. And plus, “extreme” caving was literally one of the highlights of all three years I did it. Maybe it will be a highlight of 2019, too?

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Currently
Setting: At my adopted parent’s house
Listening to: Dad play the mandolin 
Question of the Day: Have you ever gone caving in a place small enough you need to belly-crawl? 

Oh Wait, Am I Fangirling? Yes, I Think I Am

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 384
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Title: Far Side of the Sea
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half-sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

World War One Historical Fiction draws me in like no other. It’s so easy to find books that take place during World War Two and I’ve read dozens of them, but when I come across a book taking place during the first World War? Well, I nearly always jump at the chance to read it.

Plus, carrier pigeons. Need I say more?

And, the author. Her first book I read and disliked it in the extreme. Her next book I read and gave the very elusive (for me) four stars. It hooked me from the beginning and I didn’t want to stop reading. Her third book doesn’t stand out in my mind (although now I want to re-read it because this book apparently has some of the same characters), and then this book… Well, I thought it was worth a shot, especially with the gorgeous cover. (Seriously though, I just keep looking at that cover.)

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Life has been a bit crazy, plus I had a literal six books going at once which is a little more than I generally try to juggle at once. That means I had a bit of a slow-go getting into Far Side of the Sea although I did find it interesting.

And then last night I sat down with the book – which I was probably about a third of the way through – and I did not want to put it down. It was around 11:00 last night when I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep until I discovered what was going on, so I settled in and finished the book, not caring how long it took me.

Y’all. This story was so expertly woven in a crescendo of intrigue, espionage, beautiful character arcs, and characters who I literally had no clue who was good or bad. Okay, so I did have a clue, and I might have been right, but it kept me guessing the whole time. It was brilliant.

There were a couple of plot twists that I did not see coming. Recently I’ve felt an extreme lack of amazement at plot twists – even when I didn’t call them – which I find rather disappointing. But even my lack of shock didn’t dampen the book for me, instead, I just gave an imaginary nod to the author for her delightful plotting skills, then right away wanted to go back and read the book again to see how all the pieces fit together.

And then there were the carrier pigeons. The author gave us just enough facts and details to make them a great part of the book and really interesting while not bogging down the story. The part the played in the war was really cool, just like the part they played in this story.

Even the romance was well-written and kept the story moving forward instead of slowing it down. It was slightly eye-rolly at times – like there should have been a bit more of a lull in how the characters reacted at one point. (And there were a fair amount of kisses, although not too detailed so they didn’t bother me.) But overall, it seemed realistic and didn’t take over the book.

CONCLUSION

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book where I was so unsure about who various characters were and if they were good or bad. I’m quite impressed.

As previously mentioned, there is romance. And there’s war. And the main character went through some trama in the war which affects him throughout the book. So, I wouldn’t recommend it to people under the age of fifteen, probably, but all the issues were handled very well.

I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!

RATING

In case you didn’t know, I don’t give out four-star ratings for fiction very easily, but Far Side of the Sea gets a very solid 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you so much, Bethany House, for a copy of this delightful book for me to review. It was a delight.