Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette {Book Review}

After not opening my computer for nearly three months the faithful device has shuddered and puffed and barely refused to function. We already crossed the hour mark since I began trying to log onto my WordPress account to write this book review and alas, it won’t cooperate. So, what I’m going to attempt to do is write this post, email it to my phone and copy and paste from there. Formatting might be a bit of an issue, but you’ll get the point. 

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodread

Pages: 368

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Title: Between the Wild Branches

Author: Connilyn Cossette 

Fiction 

Why I Choose this Book

When I say Connilyn Cossette is my favorite author of Biblical fiction what I really mean is that I devour her books, recommend them endlessly, and await with eager anticipation for her latest release. I feel completely honored to have reviewed each of her books and talked about them all across the internet and bring them up more often than any other author’s books in day-to-day conversation.

What I Thought about the Book

Unfortunately, this book review took me a bit of time to get around to writing. That’s mostly because I took a while reading the book because when someone likes an author as much as I like Miss Connilyn then it’s hard to come to grips with the fact that not all of her books are for me. And, that’s sadly the realization I finally had to admit to when it came to this series. 

Miss Connilyn’s writing is magnificent as always. Her characters are well developed. Her setting is rich and full of color, immersing the reader and taking them away on the wings of their imagination. 

But the story? It wasn’t for me. The main character is a fighter for sport and although the story in no way condones such behavior, that’s a storyline I’ve never enjoyed reading. The story isn’t hugely graphic, but there was enough that it soured the book for me. 

 Conclusion 

I will excitedly read Miss Connilyn’s books in the future, but sadly this is one I won’t be re-reading. 

Rating 

I’m giving Between the Wild Branches 3 out of 5 stars. Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Shadows of the White City

It’s a cloudy spring day here in Kentucky and I’m sitting by my open door with rapidly cooling coffee, singing birds, and peaceful piano music. The perfect setting for sharing my favorite read of 2021 with y’all, right?

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Shadows of the White City
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads. 

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

Why I Choose this Book

 Will I ever not want to read a Jocelyn Green book ASAP? Probably not. Her writing is beautiful, and even if I don’t like the setting or plot, I still enjoy how she weaves the storyline so convincingly and pulls me into the book. 

What I Thought about the Book

The first book in the saga – Veiled in Smoke – was set in a place that I don’t enjoy reading about (Chicago), during a time period I don’t like reading about (the Great Fire), and yet I still ended up enjoying the book because Jocelyn’s writing is amazing. Going into Shadows of the White City I expected some of the same, aka, not enjoying the setting but being wrapped up in the writing. 

But, ohhh, was I wrong. This story may have changed my mind about books that are set in Chicago because I enjoyed it so thoroughly it gave me a new appreciation for the city. It takes place in 1893 during the World’s Fair, and was incredibly interesting to read about. Jocelyn does a fantastic job of weaving historical facts into her stories without making it feel like she’s cramming information into her books. For instance, in this book, one of the main characters gave tours at the World Fair, and sometimes we as the reader got to go along and experience it with the guests. Such a brilliant way to write the cool facts into the story.

Not only did we get to see the intriguing setting of the World’s Fair, but there was a compelling plotline and interesting, and multi-layered characters to round out the reading experience. At the beginning of the book, I was a bit unsure of how I would enjoy the large time gap between Veiled in Smoke and this one, but Jocelyn pulled it off magnificently well and wrote a book whose main character was a middle-aged woman in such a way that she felt relatable. 

There weren’t any characters whose point-of-view I disliked reading from, which is rare for me when it comes to a book with multiple POV. Each of the characters who we got to follow had compelling stories – from Sylvie with her need for control to Rose with her hunger for answers. Kristof was delightful and sweet and I could feel his pain as he tried to figure out the correct way to be a good brother. 

The exploration of lost and pieced together families, cultures colliding, the danger of the era, and a lack of answers kept me from putting down the book. I wanted to read more, more, more. When I got to the end of the story and all the pieces had slid into place I was thankful that I’d gotten to go along for the literary adventure. It’s my current favorite of 2021.

Conclusion 

This book is the second one in the saga, but it can easily be read first or as a standalone. (If reading it first, it will give a few spoilers.) I enjoyed the story a lot and can’t wait to read Jocelyn’s next release.  

Rating 

I’m giving Shadows of the White City 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Talking with Teens about Sexuality

Today is a low-key Saturday – I get to go into work, but just for a few hours and at my convenience. So, this morning I spent an extra hour or so reading books for review, then put on an audiobook and meal prepped three different dishes for the week. Then I figured I’d have time to review a book for y’all before I head off to work.

Disclaimer: If you’re one of the kids who read my blog posts, this is a review you should skip unless you talk to your parents first. Thanks! 😉

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Title: Talking with Teens about Sexuality
Nonfiction

About the Book

When Dr. Robinson asked her freshman psychology students what today’s parents need to know about teens and sex, they said parents do not have a realistic view of the world their children live in. A healthy sexual identity requires more than just a list of what not to do. In today’s culture of sexual identity confusion, ubiquitous pornography, and #MeToo, teenagers need to know how to protect themselves as well as how to treat others. 

Talking with Teens about Sexuality will help you understand your teen’s world and give you effective strategies in the midst of cultural pressures. Drs. Robinson and Scott provide scientifically reliable and biblically based information about gender fluidity, types of intimacy, online dangers, setting boundaries, and much more. Along the way, the book provides useful conversation starters and insightful guidance.

Don’t let fear keep you from engaging in vital conversations. Learn how to talk to your teen with knowledge and confidence, guiding them toward a sexually healthy future.


What I Thought about the Book

First off, the normal disclaimer that I give whenever I’m talking about a parenting book: I’m not a parent. Therefore, all of my thoughts proceed from the viewpoint of a single person. I think it’s sometimes interesting to read a review from the perspective of someone the book wasn’t exactly intended for. So here we go. 

I requested this book for review because sexuality is a topic that seems to be everywhere nowadays. It’s something that is being talked about by people politically, spiritually, socially, academically, and in entertainment. It’s super important to have God’s perspective on the matter, as well as studying it scientifically. I was hoping this book would go into both realms, and it did. 

The book certainly wasn’t fun to read, and it wasn’t easy, but it was very non-awkward, and that’s a huge plus. The authors cover a wide range of topics, as well as giving examples of different situations, and generally including practical ways you can bring up the topics with your teens. 

Since I don’t have teens I can’t vouch for the usefulness of the tips, but overall the advice they gave out seemed sound. There were one or two parts I didn’t agree with, but for the most part, I thought the book gave solid answers and would be very helpful for parents in today’s world.

Conclusion 

If you currently have teens, then this would be a good book for you to check out. 

Rating 

I’m giving Talking with Teens about Sexuality 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Make Their Day

Last night I did the first Overnight at my job – that’s where a group, most often a school or youth group, come to the Museum in the evening and get to watch DVDs, do a scavenger hunt in the dark throughout the exhibits, eat a late night snack, then spend the night. Sounds pretty great, right? It’s a fun way to help make people’s day more fun, which leads right into the book I’m reviewing today…

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads
Pages: 144
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Make Their Day
Nonfiction

About the Book

You dream of making your presence really count in the lives of others, but you don’t know where–or how–to start. You want to be remembered as a woman who scattered kindness to everyone she knew, but you feel like your busy schedule constantly gets in the way. 

In this practical and deeply touching guide–inspired by her book Reach Out, Gather In–popular author Karen Ehman gives you 101 actionable ideas you can implement today to truly make a difference in the lives of other people. Make Their Day is filled with creative ideas to connect with your family and friends on a deeper level throughout the year. This book will help you develop habits of kindness, reconnect with friends and family, and make encouraging people a priority. You’ll be able to put these ideas into action in real time with everyone in your life–even if hospitality doesn’t come naturally to you or you don’t think you have time. 

Let’s outshine the negativity and hatred in our world, and reach out to others with love, just as God intended.

What I Thought about the Book

The concept of this book is beautiful – giving practical, fun, imaginative, and sometimes whimsical ways to bless other people. It gives ideas that will work for all different budgets, ages, and stages of life. It compasses ideas for multiple different groups of people. It starts with how to bless your Circle of Friends, moves on to Your Family, next is Around Town, then comes Across the Miles, Those who are Hurting, Among the Household of Faith, then the author scatters in a few ideas for the Holidays, and gives a strong ending with things you can do by Opening Your Home. 

I grew up in a very giving and celebrating family where doing special things for people – both who we knew as well as strangers – was a common practice. But, I’m aware this isn’t everyone’s background, and therefore this book is a great way to come up with very doable ideas and ways to bless others. (Plus, it gave me a lot of great new ideas!)

The author did a good job of offering a wide range of ideas – some cost money, some cost time, and some just require a few minutes of set-up, then keeping an eye open for when a situation appears for when you can bless someone. 

The book is also super easy to read. It’s short, simple, and sweet, as well as having a nice design. Each idea takes between 1-3 minutes to read, so it’s easy for even a busy person to pick up for a few moments and be inspired. 

Conclusion 

Unfortunately, even though I like the concept and content of the book it wasn’t my style. It reminded me of a compilation of 101 short blog posts, and while I enjoy reading blogs I’ve discovered over the years that I don’t enjoy books that remind me of blogs. Of course, this is incredibly subjective, and why I went ahead and still gave the book four stars because I do like the idea. 

Rating 

I’m giving Make Their Day 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Right Kind of Fool

This is the first blog post I’m writing from my new house.

Oh yeah. That. I bought a house. I’ll tell y’all about it someday. Hopefully. Because you know, it’s kinda a big deal. It’s also a lot of work, so I’m still chugging away at all that. In the meantime though, here’s a review for you to enjoy.

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 320
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Title: The Right Kind of Fool
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he’d obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined.

The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal’s absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his infant son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family’s basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it’s his father he runs to tell–shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn’t his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family’s hearts again.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Between when I read the back-cover blurb of this book and when I received it I completely forgot what it was about – other than the fact that it took place in West Virginia relatively close to where I grew up in Ohio. Going into a book blind is one of my favorite things, and I was pleasantly surprised by this one. 

The story is in third person and follows the perspectives of all three of the family members (parents and teenage son). The son – Loyal – is the main character. I liked him right away and thought he was brilliantly written. Even though the other characters had depth, the plot was interesting, and the setting was detailed and delightful, Loyal stole the show. 

I’ve had several friends who are deaf, and I’ve read several books that include a deaf character, but never one where the deafness is woven into the story so well. Loyal would have been a solidly written character even without exploring how deafness affected his life, but when you add in that element, I was very impressed. 

The characters all had issues and things they needed to work on, so they felt very real. Each one of the main characters had a solid plot arc which I always deem important in books. 

The plot wasn’t what I considered to be the star of the show, but it was still well-written and felt very true to the era. Nothing that happened surprised me much, but that didn’t detract from the book since the main focus seemed to be on the characters and setting. There was a person murdered in the story (not a spoiler since the back-cover says as much), but there were no gory details. 

I read in another review that the reviewer was confused by the setting and era because it didn’t seem consistent, but having grown up near Beverly, West Virginia it was totally something I could imagine. I thought the author capatured the feel of small-town West Virginia very well and immersed the story in a well-researchd setting. 

CONCLUSION

My favorite part of the book was how we got to see the world through Loyal’s eyes, as well as watching him and his father reconnect. Although the pace stayed consistant with the era and setting, I did find it to be a bit slow, hence the 3.5 stars rather than 4 stars. 

I would like to read more books by this author in the future. 

RATING

I’m giving The Right Kind of Fool 3.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy the book from the publishers and wasn’t required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book!

A Gilded Lady

It’s Saturday. Normally my “Saturday” is any random day during the week since I work a lot of weekend days at my job, but this week I really DO have Saturday off.

I started off the day languidly – I spent the night at a friend’s house, woke up around 7:00, listened to a devotional with her then headed back to my camper. After having my own devotions (and trying to warm up my 32 degree camper) I cleaned my camper, made plans with my sister, and then sat down to blog.

What does your Saturday look like?

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 368
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Title: A Gilded Lady
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Caroline Delacroix is at the pinnacle of Washington high society in her role as secretary to the first lady of the United States. But beneath the facade of her beauty, glamorous wardrobe, and dazzling personality, she’s hiding a terrible secret. If she cannot untangle a web of foreign espionage, her brother will face execution for treason. 

Nathaniel Trask is the newly appointed head of the president’s Secret Service team. He is immediately suspicious of Caroline despite his overwhelming attraction to her quick wit and undeniable charm. Desperate to keep the president protected, Nathaniel must battle to keep his focus fully on his job as the threat to the president rises. 

Amid the glamorous pageantry of Gilded Age Washington, DC, Caroline and Nathaniel will face adventure, danger, and heartbreak in a race against time that will span the continent and the depth of human emotion.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I read this book back in March and promptly forgot that I had received it for review. (I get a lot of ebooks from library apps like Overdrive and Hoopla, and thought this was one of those books.) I realized recently that A Gilded Lady was for review, so I get to treat y’all with my thoughts regarding this story which makes me happy because I enjoyed it immensely. 

History is something I’ve always found fascinating, but I have huge gaps in what periods of history I’m familiar with. Obviously, I studied President McKinley at some point during school, but it wasn’t until I started reading this story that I realized how little I knew about his life. In fact, other than the fact that he was president, I couldn’t have told you anything else. 

As usual, while reading a historical fiction book I didn’t do any research regarding the period of history because I didn’t want spoilers. Therefore, I was basically on the edge of my seat at times, trying to figure out what was going to happen next and how everything would end. I was caught off guard a lot with this book. If you’re familiar with the president (like I should have been) then you know the basics of the story, but if you’re not, then there are several plot twists that I didn’t see coming. The book was fantastic, the plot moved along at the perfect pace, the characters were fleshed-out, and the writing was superb. 

Generally, I have a pretty good memory for what annoyed me in a book, even months after reading it. But, in this case, I don’t recall anything negative. I know I didn’t like the main character very much because I felt like she went about solving her problem in the wrong way, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book because the character was still so complex and multi-layered and captivating. 

Learning about Ida McKinley was exceedingly interesting. I had no clue that one of our First Ladies had such a personality, and reading about all the ways the main character covered for her to help keep everything running smoothly was both funny and eye-opening. 

Having the main male character be the head of the Secret Service – right when the Secret Service was beginning – was so cool. I learned so much while reading from his perspective. I also enjoyed him as a character and could relate to him a lot more than I could to the main female character. 

This book was so engaging and interesting that as soon as I finished it I read the first book in the series (this is the second). The third book doesn’t release until early in 2021, but I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out.  

CONCLUSION

Since it’s been a while since I read this book I don’t remember if it had any questionable content, but as far as the story and writing goes I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of my next re-reads. 

RATING

I’m giving A Gilded Lady 4 out of 5 stars. NetGalley gave me an ebook copy so I could review it for y’all. I wasn’t required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thanks, NetGalley!

A Portrait of Loyalty {a fantastic end to a series}

People! YAY! I get to share another book review with y’all – but unlike the last few where I felt slightly lackadaisical, this book is a for-sure winner for me.

This is the third book in The Codebreaker Series, and if you feel inclined you can read the reviews for the first two books here and here. (I really like this series, just so you know.) If you’ve read any of these books – or the Shadows Over London series – you should let me know in the comments so we can chat!

And now, for the review:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 384
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Title: A Portrait of Loyalty
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams–it becomes a matter of ending the war.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

This is the third and final book in the series, so I went into it with excitement as I’d been awaiting the story for a long time. I’m pretty picky with my series endings, and they quite often disappoint me, so I was a little bit nervous to pick up the book and dive in. Recently I’ve not been in a readerly mood, so most of the books I’ve read in the last few months have fallen short of my expectations, so I was also a little worried. 

Then I started reading. And, Roseanna M. White did it again – she wrote a book that was delightful, fully immersive, had complex characters, and a plot that kept me wanting to read. 

Due to life being really busy I had to read the book throughout a couple of weeks, but it’s the kind of story I could have easily swallowed in one sitting. Every time I picked the book up I was sucked back into the story, eagerly anticipating what would happen next. 

Although the storyline was very interesting, it wasn’t exceedingly fast, which means I was able to get to know the characters and really delve into the time period, instead of just wanting to flip pages as fast as possible. The plot covered the topic of propaganda and (essentially) photoshopping photographs which is something I didn’t realize was happening back during the first World War. That was interesting to read about, and the author did a great job explaining it in an easy-to-understand way that also just blended into the story. 

The characters were ones I enjoyed reading about. I especially enjoyed watching Lily (the main female character) and her sister, Ivy, interacting. I’m one of five sisters and reading a book that correctly portrays a good sister relationship makes me happy. Their bond was so deep and even amid war, they were able to find joy and laughter together. 

While we get to watch Lily and her sister’s relationship, we also get that with Zivon (the main male character) and his brother. (Which is funny because I didn’t realize until just now how the stories parallel each other.) Zivon spends a good portion of the book trying to find his brother – who he’s not even sure is still alive – and we get to see how much he loves his brother.  

Another side of this book was getting to read from the point-of-view of two not-so-great characters. We got to know them a lot better than we normally get to see this author’s “villains” and I enjoyed that and the character arc that they went through. 

CONCLUSION

I liked it a whole lot. I lent the book to a friend literally as soon as I finished it so that she can read it and I can have someone to discuss the story with. 

You’ll get more out of the story if you read the series in order, but I do think this book could be a standalone if you wanted to read it that way. 

RATING

I’m giving A Portrait of Loyalty 4.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy A Portrait of Loyalty from the publishers. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me this book!

When a Book is So Good You Review It Twice

Before I called You Mine was one of those books that I went into without a lot of expectations. I read and reviewed it in February, and although I only gave the book 3.5 out of 5 stars, I’ve thought about the book on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis. And that means something has to change.

In this case, my rating is what’s changing, and it’s changing to 4.5 stars. Why not a solid 5? Well, there were still aspects of the story that annoyed me, but that’s totally a preference thing – not something the author did wrong. And therefore, for this review, we’ll be focusing on the parts that I did like.

And yes, you heard that correctly – I’m writing a second “review” for the book. The book meant so much to me and I enjoyed the e-copy so much that I requested the physical copy from the publisher so I could take pictures and share them with you and talk about the book again. To make the review unique, I’m going to go completely from memory, rather than going back and referring to the book as I often do while writing reviews. If you want to get my just-finished-reading-thoughts, check out my earlier review here.

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THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 368
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Title: Before I Called You Mine
Fiction

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In a nutshell, this book is about a woman – Lauren – who’s dream in life has always been to be a mom – something I can very much relate to. The problem for Lauren is that although she wants to get married, it’s not happening, and therefore her dream of having kids isn’t happening either. So she decides to adopt.

Throughout the story, we follow Lauren as she walks through the journey of adoption. Lauren is well-written and I felt through her so intensely as she experienced her joys and heartaches. She works as a teacher and surrounds herself with children, pouring all of her love into them as she awaits having a child of her own.

Lauren has a chaotic relationship with her family and the way she did – and didn’t – interact with them made her feel so much more real, layered, flawed, and relatable. There’s also a fair portion of the book designated to a romance, but that’s not the part that stuck out to me in the story, so we won’t go into that today.

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 6.05.45 PM

I was completely unsurprised to find out that the author has adopted a child of her own, because I’m not sure how else the book could have been so well written. The story felt real, with highs and lows and a kaleidoscope of feelings. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to adopt, but it’s something I’ve been praying about, and a lot more since I read this book.

If you’re interested in adoption, then this is a book you should pick up and read. Well done, Nicole Deese! (And thank you, Bethany House Publishers, for sending me a copy to review.)

And Then She Began Reading Again

I rarely get my computer out any more. It sits in my cupboard alongside my clothes and languishes. Okay, maybe that’s being a bit dramatic, but you get my point.

I also barely read these days. That, I suppose, is a matter of perspective, but I went through June and July without finishing more than a handful of books. My grandpa died in June, and while it wasn’t unexpected, it was emotional and exhausting. I spent the ensuing couple of months not being overly dedicated to my goals or trying to accomplish much other than work, quality family time, and rest.

But now. Now I’m ready to get back into the saddle and begin getting back on track with life. One of my goals for this week is to read for an hour and fifteen minutes each day. This is because I got into the habit of watching Youtube when I got home from work instead of reading or learning. And while the stuff I watch on Youtube isn’t bad – and is even helpful in some instances, it isn’t the way I prefer to spend my time because while it can be good, it can also be a huge waste of time.

So, that huge introduction is to catch you up on my life and let you know that I finally finished a book to review for y’all. It’s a small book, but due to the above circumstances took me a long time to read. And now, my friends, the review…

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 187
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Title: Healing Family Relationships
Nonfiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

Every family is hurting, and the wounds that come from our relatives can be deeper than all others. Conflict within a family can range from daily frictions and annoyances to rage and hatred and eventually estrangement. We want things to be different but have no idea where to start.

After 25 years of ministering to families, Rob Rienow believes reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel–reconciliation with God and one another. You will come away with specific steps you can take in your relationships with your family members to pursue peace and healing in your homes. Each chapter includes key biblical examples as well as present-day stories of families who have experienced God’s help and healing–including the author’s own miraculous healing of his relationship with his father.

Our families can bring out the best, as well as the worst, in all of us. May this book guide you in making your home and family a blessing in a broken world.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I’m actually exceedingly blessed to have super good relationships in my family – something for which I’m very thankful and don’t take lightly. Still, this book looked interesting and of course, I can always learn something new.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Is it dramatic to say this book is small but mighty? Because that’s the way I felt about it. The first couple of chapters had me kinda nodding my head, but not sure what I thought about it. The author had some good points, but since he’s a new author to me, I had to develop some rapport with him before I felt like I could really get on board with what he was saying.

I’m not sure where that point in the book happened, but partway through the 187 pages, I found myself eager to pick up the book and learn more. The author does a great job of finding balance between using the Bible, examples from his own family, and examples from people who he’s known, in order to produce a solid book.

One of the big things I look for while reading nonfiction is how practical a book is – if a book makes good points, but has no practical application, then what’s the point? Also, as a relational person, I don’t like books that seem impersonal. The author covered both these facets really well. I felt like I was actually getting to know the author and learned a lot from his life as I read. He wove his story throughout the chapters, drawing me in and making me feel the pain he experienced, and ultimately the joy when things went well.

This book is one I consider to be simple. It’s not a hard read. It’s not got huge words and a vocabulary that will make you pull out your dictionary. And, while I do enjoy books that stretch my understanding with large words, for the purpose of this book having one that was easy to read and understand was important and a good choice.

CONCLUSION

There were a few small things that I didn’t agree with the emphasis that he put on it, but overall I really appreciated this book and the author’s point of view and stance. He brought up several things that I feel are really important and most people skip over in life. (Like praying through generational issues.)

This is a book I would recommend to people who are struggling with family relationships.

RATING

I’m giving Healing Family Relationships 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of the book so I could tell y’all about it.

Called Out

The sun-dappled leaves swaying in the breeze outside my room fairly shout that Spring is here. The early morning hour is my favorite as I sit in the stillness and soak in inspiration for the rest of the day. A day full of scurrying, laughter, life, baby hugs, and remembering my own childhood. Earlier while folding the laundry for the one-year-old I came across a pair of purple sleepers that I remember wearing. But surely I was bigger than that in those far-off memories, wasn’t I?

I’m still at my oldest sister’s house and don’t have plans to leave. Today marks the two-month mark since I’ve been to my little home. I miss my home and life, but I’m also thankful I can be here.

And now, book review time.

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 192
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Title: Called Out
Nonfiction

Called Out

ABOUT THE BOOK

Too often we lean into the wrong things and burn out. We buy society’s lie that our worth is our work, our value is our vocation, our calling is our career. Confusing what we do with who we are wreaks havoc on our bodies, our souls, and our relationships.

Called Out is a deeply personal book from Paula Faris, the beloved on-air reporter for ABC News and former co-host of The View. She shares her journey through conquering fears that nearly kept her from the high-profile, high-stakes world of broadcast journalism, and then the dangers when that world threatened to consume her. She burned out and faced public humiliation, physical breakdowns, and family struggles. But along the way, she heard God gently calling her out of that dangerous place. As she struggled to find who she was outside of what she did, she discovered her true purpose and true calling. Today, she is the host of ABC’s popular podcast Journeys of Faith.

Written with passion and conviction, this book reflects on what it truly means to be called, how to move past the fear holding you back, and how to walk in God’s path for you.

Why I Choose This Book

Quite simply because the Afterward is by Max Lucado, and he’s an author whose work I really appreciate.

Several times as I was reading the book I saw what felt like influences of Mr. Lucado’s writing style, but still done in Miss Paula’s own voice, so that was a plus for me.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I’ve watched the news, but I don’t watch the news. As in, it’s not an everyday activity for me. I’m familiar with the words ABC News, but don’t know much about them, and I’d never heard of The View. So, I really had no clue who the author was, or why it was such a big deal for her to change her job. Therefore, it took me a bit to get into the book, but once I did I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from its pages.

The Pros 

-The book is interesting and the author is a good communicator. She takes lessons she’s learned both from her life and the lives of people she’s interviewed at her job to produce a book full of wisdom. The stories she sprinkles throughout the book were intriguing and I was never bored as I read. She’s also honest in her approach – sharing openly where she’s messed up, which takes a lot of courage. The book is practical as well, which is always something I look for while reading nonfiction.

-There’s a difference between your vocational calling and your life calling. I grew up being taught that, but according to this author the distinction isn’t widely known, so she does a good job distinguishing the two. She then goes on to explain how they can work in tandem with each other, and why it’s so important to get this aspect of life right.

-I don’t think the book was written for a Christian audience. This can be a plus because it can reach far more people than if it had a nitch market, and I think that the message she shared was important and can help many people. She’s also open and shameless about the fact that she is a Christian – talking about how God slowly changed her heart over the years and citing Bible verses to back up what she’s saying. For the most part, I appreciated the balance, but this does lead me to my first con.

The Cons

-Although the author does a fantastic job of sharing her faith in Christ, there were times when I felt like it seemed as if she gave other religions just as much credence as Christianity. For the most part, the book felt balanced, but there were times when it seemed to lean towards the “of you’re sincere, then you’ll be fine” type of mindset. I don’t think that’s what she was actually meaning to imply, but it was a bit of a gray area.

-Mostly I liked her writing style, but there were a few times where she seemed redundant, or something that was supposed to be funny fell flat for me. That’s entirely a preference thing though, so it didn’t bother me too much.

-I wasn’t a big fan of the way she formatted some of the book – with interviews from various people over the years. The interviews were great, but how they were added to the book wasn’t my favorite. But, this was a very small con for me.

CONCLUSION

I don’t agree with everything the author said and did – when have I ever? But overall, this book was a win for me. It was well-written, the message was one I’ve worked on my whole life, and the author was very real and honest which seems like it would take a lot of courage since she’s a public figure who is already a household name to many Americans.

RATING

I’m giving Called Out 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of the book so I could tell y’all about it.