Hiding From the Kids in My Prayer Closet {Book Review}

Hiding From the Kids in My Prayer Closet

BY: Jessica Kastner

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

First Person • Nonfiction • 208 Pages

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About the Book:

Soon after Jessica Kastner became a mother, she wondered if she was the only mom who found pretend play more boring than watching playdough harden and who dreaded yet another friend s Instagram post of homemade deliciousness.

In Hiding from My Kids in the Prayer Closet, Kastner shares her experience as an unmom a mom who loves her kids more than she loves the daily experience of mothering. She helps readers laugh at the ridiculous, delight in the unpredictable, and enjoy being the mothers God made them to be.

Why I Choose this Book: 

The premises sounded intriguing, and I read some samples and Miss Jessica’s writing is fantastic. Plus, even though I’m not a mom, I find it really interesting to read books on parenting to see the whats and whys and hows behind how kids are raised. The reasonings and logic behind such things fascinate me. (“Oh! Is that why parents let kids get away with this and stood firm on that?”)

What I Thought about this Book: 

First off: Miss Jessica’s writing style is amazing. The book drew me in right away and I was kept on a fast-paced, flipping-pages journey all of the way through. I imagine her as a very high-energy type of person, running through her house at the last minute throwing everything together, always one step away from disaster. (Which is kinda the way she described herself, but not quite.)

She was so real and open and very amusing. I can imagine overwhelmed moms laughing and crying with how much they can relate to the book. It’s also very candid, so if you’re not prepared to hear frank discussions of childbirth and various situations that come about when you’re raising children, then this book isn’t for you. (And, if you’re not a mom, it’s probably not for you anyway, even though *I* personally found it enjoyable, and even somewhat relatable at times seeing how I am around lots of little kids.)

Some of the chapters ended with tips of how to avoid/overcome the issues that were talked about in those chapters, and it was some solid advice. Overall the book was heavy on the amusement and relatable-factor, and light on the faith side, and somehow it was the perfect combo.

So, with all these amazing things to say about the book, why did it only get three stars? This is probably a controversial thing to say, but I think our words are extremely important, and even though it’s quite clear that the author really, really loves her children, she does talk about how they were “accidents.” And I totally get what she’s saying, but I didn’t like how she joked about it throughout the book. There were also a few other things like that which brought the rating down from four stars. I could go into it more, but I’ll refrain. Other than that though, the book was pretty amazing.

Conclusion:

Overwhelmed moms would probably either find this hilarious or chaotic. I have a feeling I’ll be re-reading this book one day in the future after I have a houseful of kids.

Rating:

I’m giving Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet 3 out of 5 stars, 6 out of 10.

*I received this book free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review

My “Adopted” Parents – An Explanation

In all probability if you’ve been around Noveltea long you’ve heard me talk about my adopted parents. Well, I’m going to be talking about them an extra-lot this week because I happen to be on a grand adventure with them out in Montana. *Cue excitement, happiness, and all sorts of dreams coming true* Therefore, I thought it might be helpful if I clarified my relationship with them a bit.

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So, what exactly am I talking about when I say “adopted parents”? That’s a great question, and one that I find rather confusing to answer. First of all, I’m not actually legally adopted. Second of all, I have a perfectly wonderful biological family who I live and work with. Why don’t I really talk about my biological family, you might wonder? Quite simply because they like privacy, and we talked about it long ago and decided that just because I choose to be a writer and make my life somewhat public, that doesn’t mean that they need their lives to be public as well. By the same token, my adopted parents already live public-ish lives, and therefore are totally fine with me talking about them on Noveltea.

I met my adopted parents years ago at a conference (my adopted dad, Buddy Davis, is a singer, songwriter, dinosaur sculptor, speaker, actor, and author who works for Answers in Genesis). It’s a looonnnnggggg story that I don’t have time to go into today, but eventually over the years my future adopted parents and I developed a close friendship, which in time turned into them becoming my second set of parents.

I call them “Dad and Mom” (or “Papa and Mama” – which is how I’ll be referring to them this week on Noveltea), and they call me their daughter. In fact, if you’re familiar with them and have ever heard them talking about their daughter, that would be me they’re referring to.

Some people wonder how it can actually really work out for us to have “adopted” each other, but they really totally are my second family. I treat them just like a second set of parents, and they treat me just like their child – a very spoiled child, my siblings from my other family always point out…. Although they get spoiled by my adopted parents too; just not nearly as much as I do. 😉

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Papa, Mama, and I have had lots of grand adventures together. I’ve gotten to help them build a life-size model of a dinosaur, watched them record a new CD in the studio, “helped” with the last half a dozen DVDs they’ve made, and co-authored books with them. We’ve spent weeks together at the Creation Museum, traveled throughout the United States, and spent many happy quiet evenings together at their cabin. Papa wrote a song for me which is on his Songs of Life, Love, and Faith CD, they celebrate all the “big moments” of life with me, we’re together during hard times, and the list goes on.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have a whole second family and all the love and joy and blessings that goes along with that. Speaking of that today is Papa’s birthday, and it’s nearly time for me to join them for breakfast though here in Montana, so I’ll leave it at that and say good-bye for now. If there are any questions I can answer, just let me know and I’ll do my best. Have a great Monday, y’all!

High As the Heavens {Book Review}

High As the Heavens

BY: Kate Breslin

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • 400 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

Why I Choose this Book:

Espionage.
Historical Fiction.
World War One.
Enough said.

What I Thought about this Book:

Oh my lands, folks. This book. This book was amazing. The first half of the book I kinda had my mouth wanting to drop open because it was nearly a five-star read and that happens about once every two years with me when I read a fiction book.

I’m still not sure what all the elements were that brought this book so seamlessly together in my mind, but it intrigued me, excited me, and made me want to keep reading, reading, reading. The writing was really fantastic, the characters seemed real, and I was totally unsure of who I was supposed to trust.

The main character was quite relatable and every few chapters we’d go back to her life before the war and see a glimpse of who she had been. I’m generally not a fan of that writing style, but in this case the author pulled it off very well. It gave a much clearer idea of who we were dealing with, and made the characters seem very real outside of the war effort. It made the war seem more painful, because we saw all the characters had taken away from them when the war started.

In the same way that I don’t know why the book totally drew me in, I’m also unsure of why, but the second half of the book took a bit of a downward spiral for me. I still enjoyed it and wanted to know what was going to happen next, but it was a solid three stars, not the five stars like the first half of the book.

The romance in the book was something that I skimmed over at times so I’m not incredibly sure how much details there were, but from what I read it wasn’t too bad, and there was an element that I’ll refrain from sharing cause of spoilers, but it made the romance way better than most books.

I don’t recall there being a ton of faith content in the book, but what there was it was from a Catholic perspective. The main character did have some horrors of war that she was dealing with, and so that plays a factor into the faith content part of the plot.

Conclusion:

There’s violence and other war-ish things that play a huge part of the book, but for the most part it wasn’t too detailed. Still, this isn’t a book I’d give to young (or even middle) teens.

Rating:

I’m giving High as the Heavens 4 out of 5 stars, and 7 out of 10

*I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review 

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible – Book Review

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible: Surprising Ways Popular Bible Stories Are Misunderstood

BY: Eric J. Bargerhuff

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

First Person • Nonfiction • 159 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Are You Sure You Know What Your Favorite Bible Stories Mean?

A surprising number of popular Bible stories are commonly misused or misunderstood, even by well-intentioned Christians. In this concise yet thorough book, Eric J. Bargerhuff helps you fully understand the meaning of David and Goliath, Jonah and the Big Fish, the Woman Caught in Adultery, and other well-known Bible stories.

Providing fascinating historical and scriptural insights, Bargerhuff helps you sort through modern-day distortions of fourteen well-known Bible stories and grasp their original meaning and purpose for us today.


Why I Choose this Book:

The title intrigued me, and the conversation drew me in. I’m always eager to understand the Bible better, so this book was a natural one to gravitate toward.

What I Thought about this Book:

The title felt a little off to me – maybe like it was “click bate” (if such a thing is possible with a book…). The tagline about the popular way the stories are misunderstood seems a lot more on point, but I guess that doesn’t flow as smoothly.

A lot of good points were made in this book. I like the balance the author has with how much time to spend on each chapter – it didn’t feel overwhelming with a deluge of information, but neither did the pace feel rushed. He also did a good job of incorporating some personal facts and stories that made the book feel a lot more relatable.

He hit fourteen “major” accounts or discussions from the Bible, and then at the end of the book he gave a brief “conclusion” section where he gives a quick outline of various ways where even well-meaning Christians often trip up. I appreciated the attitude that the author portrays in the book – instead of making it sound like he was judging or looking down on Christians who misunderstand the biblical accounts that he discusses in the book, he points out how confusing things can be at times, and why it’s so important  to search out the scriptures.

Overall the book didn’t meet my expectations. It might be because I’d already heard a lot of the information that he presents us in the book, but I didn’t have a lot of lightbulb or “ah-ha” moments. I did enjoy the deeper look into the Bible though, because no matter how many times I’ve read biblical accounts, I can still learn more.

Conclusion:

There were several different theological differences I have with the author, but I still enjoyed learning from his well-researched book.

Rating:

I’m giving The Most Misused Stories in the Bible 3 out of 5 stars

*I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review 

Packing for Montana

My intentions to vlog yesterday morning were superseded by the need to go shopping and pack for my up coming trip to Montana. (I’m leaving tomorrow! *cue happy dance*) The shopping list wasn’t incredibly long, and included elemental elements of traveling like candy, because the ability to buy candy has yet to get old. I chose three different kinds, and then like a mature child put two of them back and came away with a package of Jolly Ranchers – a hard candy which will forever hold a special place in my heart.

There was a kid my age at the church I grew up in, his name was Eli and he always had Jolly Ranchers and sometimes gave them out to the other kids. I still feel a delightful burst of summer and nostalgia whenever I pop one of those tasty treats into my mouth.

Of course there were actual needed things on my list – like a hat for protection from the sun, and sunscreen in 3-ounce-or-under containers so I could take them as carry-on (it hurt to spend so much money on sunscreen, but I figured it would hurt a lot more than $5 if I didn’t get any protection from the burning rays).

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The most important item on my list were jeans – long pants are required for the dig and since I don’t own any pants, I was off to Goodwill. (If any of y’all are curious, I’m planning on wearing a skirt over the pants, although I don’t have a problem wearing pants when needed – like when caving.) On my way to the store I realized I’ve never actually boughten pants before, so I had no clue how to go shopping for them. Well, I did buy coveralls several years ago for caving, but that was before I could drive so my brother took me to the store and I was like “David, what coveralls should I get?!?” and like the precious brother that he is, he helped me out.

After praying that I’d actually find the right kind of jeans, I headed into Goodwill and started grabbing jeans off the rack. Thankfully it took me far less time than I’d imagined to find two pairs that fit well and were comfortable.

The idea of vlogging was present when I arrived home from the store, but instead I packed, then I did some work for my non-writing job, then I took a nap with the little girl I’m babysitting (who family members had graciously watched when I went shopping). By the time evening arrived I was finally ready to vlog.

After prepping my vlogging set-up, changing into clean clothes, and making sure the camera had enough memory and battery, I was just about ready to start and…. the darling little girl I’m babysitting decided enough was enough. She’d had a long day and was ready to go to bed. I had a delightful time of reading her bedtime stories, and that was that.

I’m enthusiastically excited about going to Montana. I was working on finishing up all except the last-minute packing this morning, and of course packing for something makes it feel so much more real. Montana has always been one of my dream destinations, and to have it so close? Wow, it’s nearly surreal.

Have y’all ever been to Montana? I’d be delighted to hear about it if you have been.

The Cabin ~ Visiting

A couple of weeks ago some of my good friends were visiting Ohio, and I was thrilled when it worked out for me to take them to visit my adopted parents. Not only is it delightful to see my adopted parents, but things had been rather chaotic at work the pervious week (the best kind of chaotic), and the cabin is wonderfully peaceful and relaxing. A perfect time to set aside busyness and just visit.

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My friends, Ruth, Dalton, Kaitlyn, (and me, of course), headed to the cabin mid-afternoon, then had a fun listening to music, trekking down to the old barn, finding just-ripened berries, walking around the pond, and conversing on my favorite porch in the world.

Papa and Mama had been working on building a carport just outside their backdoor, and although I’d seen pictures of it, this was the first time I got to see it in person. It’s the first time I’d been to the cabin in several months, so it was good to be back.

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As much as I like knowing what’s going to happen from day to day and week to week, I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s the spur-of-the-moment trips like this one that garner the most memories.

Everything about the day was splendid, from interesting conversations while driving, to procuring a CD for another friend, to laughing over jokes, to finding an old fox (?) skull near one of the barns.

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In less than a week I’m going to be (Lord willing) flying to Montana with my adopted parents to go on a Dinosaur Dig with them. I’ve wanted to be able to take part in a Dino Dig for several years now, and to have the departure date just around the corner is rather exciting.

July has been an incredible month for memory-making ventures. When I think of all that has happened this month, the song We Have This Moment pops into my head.

We have this moment to hold in our hands
And to touch, as it slips through our fingers like sand 
Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow may never come
But we have this moment today

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And now I’m off to a busy day with nearly a dozen nieces and nephews to create memories with. I hope y’all have a wonderful day as well!

Overdrive – Making Mowing Even Better

I’ve discovered the best new way to cut grass – listening to audio books while doing that delightful task. This actually isn’t a new discover, it’s more like a re-discovery, and this time I have a system to make it work.

Yesterday I forewent blogging because I had a meeting at work, and then I wanted to get as much grass cut as possible before a little girl that I’m watching for the week was dropped off. (Cause cutting grass with a two-year-old in tow isn’t a safe or advisable plan.)

As much as I enjoy cutting grass, it’s rather interesting to me how long the hours seem when I’m mowing. With the heat and the jostling time sometimes seems to stand still, although pleasantly, I might add. Enter an audio book though? And somehow those hours skip by much more quickly.

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I find it delightful sharing tips with y’all for where to get great books, so I thought I’d mention where I get my audio books. When I first decided to go the audio book route to get “reading” in even when I couldn’t actually read, I looked into Audible. I received my first book for free, downloaded one that had been recommended, and started listening. Since I only had one free try, it was somewhat distressing when the book had content I wasn’t comfortable with, so I didn’t finish listening to it.

Since I somewhat often don’t finish books that I start, I figured that might be the case with audio books as well. Therefore I wanted an option that didn’t include me shelling out $15 each time. (Now, I will take a moment to say that although that sounds expensive, I realize that a lot goes into each audio book, therefore I’m not fussing about the price.)

Enter Overdrive. Looking back I’m fairly sure a couple of different people told me about this marvelous life-enhancer before I finally looked into it. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t jump at it the moment I first heard what it was….) And, although I don’t use Overdrive all the time, it always makes me happy when I do use it.

So, what exactly is Overdrive? The link above explains it better, but the short of it is: Overdrive is connected to your library, so as long as you have a library card you can receive a seemingly endless supply of e-books and audio books to borrow for up to 21 days. You can also place holds, which is extremely helpful.

As far as I’ve been able to tell, the bigger the library you’re a part of, the bigger your selection of books. I’ve also heard you can request books, but I’ve yet to figure out how to do that….

Have y’all ever used Overdrive? What are some audio books you recommend?