4 Scenarios for Subjective Ratings

The more books I read in the more diverse settings and in the more various frames of mind, the more I realize that how I read and how I feel about what I read is quite subjective.

Here are a few examples:

1. The Red Herring Game 

For instance, recently I read a mystery book that was by a new author to me (review coming tomorrow). I’ve been reading/listening to quite a few mystery books recently, but they’re all written by a select few authors, and although I enjoy them I also have the mystery figured out pretty early on. So, to read a book where I didn’t know the author’s style and was surprised at the outcome made me rate the book four stars.

Since rating that book I’ve pondered it quite a bit and nothing really sticks out to me as to why it got such a high (for me) rating. The only reasonable explanation I have is that it surprised me, so I was pretty happy with it.

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2. The Hallmark Scenario  

The same thing happens when I’ve been sick for a while and therefore indulging in Hallmark movies. Y’all, those things are lame. I can say this without malice because I’m sucked into the lameness as well and watch them happily when I’m not feeling well. But they drive me nuts. And then I read a book that has some of the same components of a Hallmark movie, but then they go on and have a good plotline instead of a lame one, and I’m instantly cheering the book on – like, way to go not being a Hallmark movie! Yet in reality, if I would have read that book at a time when I was far removed from Hallmark movies, then I probably wouldn’t have actually thought the book was anything special.

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3. The Mindless Cheese Antidote   

Next, imagine you’re exhausted. You’ve got a cold, you’ve had a busy week at work, and all you want to do is snuggle in your blankets and do something mindless. So, you find the cheesiest book possible on Overdrive. And start reading.

It’s so silly you keep reading just so you can roll your eyes at it.

This happened to me last night. For nearly two hours I powered my way (aka skim-read) through half of a book by an author who I once had to read for review and felt horrible about because her books are so not my style. Last night the cheese was the perfect antidote for how I was feeling. And, as an extra bonus, I had no problem closing the book when I was tired enough to sleep, plus I have no desire to finish the story so I won’t have to publically rate it. It’s basically a win-win for everyone.

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4. We’ve Talked About This Saga

There are many books that I’ve picked up, found exceedingly uninteresting, and set back down. Skip a few months or years and you pick up one of those boring books, only to discover it’s one that you’ve recently seen an interesting review for, or it covers a topic that you’ve been chatting about at work, or it includes a historical person who you’ve been interested in studying. Suddenly that boring book is now top of your TBR pile and you can’t wait to get your hands on it.

Currently
Setting: Dancing on the treadmill
Listening to: Tightrope 

Question of the Day: Have you ever experienced one of these scenarios? 

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? 

A Song for the Stars

Today’s review is for a book that’s historical fiction that takes place on Hawaii. Sounds fantastic, right? (I say as I’m walking on a treadmill in cold Ohio where I have to wear three sweaters even though I’m inside.)

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 352
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Title: A Song for the Stars
Fiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Several years ago I went to Hawaii and found the history to be intriguing, yet despite that, I haven’t found a lot of good historical fiction books set in Hawaii, so when I read the back cover blurb for A Song For the Stars I decided to go for it.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

There was so much history, culture, and lore woven into this book that made reading it a rich experience of learning about a people group that I don’t have a lot of knowledge about. I didn’t realize until the end that the story is based loosely on that of the author’s four-times-great-grandparents, but when I read that, it made the story even more special to me.

I’m going to go with a list of pros and cons for this book, because there was so much I did like, and yet some things that weren’t to my liking.

Pros:
The setting… I felt as if I’d been immersed into Hawaiian culture and sucked into their world. I felt the rain, the thinness of the pounded bark clothing, heard the swaying of the heavy foliage, the rhythm of the waves. I could taste the salt of the ocean, imagine the terror of the battle, and see the droplets of blood from knife cuts.

The culture… I learned so much about how Hawaiians lived back then – their beliefs, practices, worldview, why they did what they did, and how it impacted those around them. It was very interesting and presented in such a way that I felt like I was learning at a good pace, not having information shoved down my throat for the sake of sharing it.

The characters… Especially Maile, the main character, were well written and had depth. I liked seeing how Maile viewed life because it was quite different from how I view life. I especially like how the author kept her very non-modern-American. There were many things that she did that I halfway cringed about, but she felt like it was so normal she didn’t give it a second thought – that was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Cons:
John killing Maile’s fiancé. As far as I could tell this wasn’t part of the true life story that the book was inspired by, and therefore it felt needless to me. It bothered me how both John and Maile reacted to this heartbreak, but I won’t go into that because of spoilers.

The amount of time John and Maile spent alone – although there was a reason for it, I couldn’t shut off the shouting in my brain that said that it wouldn’t actually be allowed since she was the chief’s daughter. Plus, that’s just not something I like in books, so…

So, obviously I don’t have a lot of cons, but they were strong enough ones that they bought the book from four stars to three stars for me.

CONCLUSION

This isn’t Christian fiction, and it does talk about the gods the Hawaiian’s believed in, etc… Plus, it has a lot about the ocean where it portrays it as something (someone?) that consciously helps, hurts, or is angry with humans. This didn’t bother me because it’s part of the beliefs the Hawaiians held, but it’s also something I don’t agree with.

RATING

I’m giving A Song for the Stars 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Raising Giant-Killers

A second book review in one day? Yep, folks. Tis the day to catch up with all things book review-ish. This one is a bit different from my normal reviews because I actually take a bit of time to explain in (some) detail why I didn’t agree with certain aspects of the book. Fun, right? 😉

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 240
Publisher: Chosen Books
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Title: Raising Giant-Killers
Author: Bill Johnson and Beni Johnson
Nonfiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

With honesty, humor, and keen biblical insight, bestselling authors Bill and Beni Johnson help you discover the keys to successful parenting in God’s kingdom. “Parents, we rule for the purpose of protection, but we also serve with the purpose of empowering,” they write. “We want to release our children into their destiny–that’s the privilege of parenting.”

In these pages, you will gain the wisdom, kingdom concepts, and practical tools you need to help raise your children to their best.

You’ll discover how to parent to their uniqueness, gifts, and strengths, as well as how you can demonstrate and reveal who God is to your kids. The authors also address pressing issues parents face today, including how to

· be fully engaged in hearing what the Lord is saying over each child
· maintain relationship and discipline
· develop character
· train your children for worship
· fan the flame of what God has put in their hearts
· and more

No matter what age your kids are, you have an incredible opportunity to shape their hearts, minds, and values. Here is everything you need to help your children walk into the destiny of their lives and see them become the awesome people they were created to be.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

My parents have done a great job of raising their kids with intentionality and a Kingdom mentality, and this book seemed like a great way to learn some practical tips on how to do that. I want to be the kind of person who helps all the children I interact with on a regular basis (not just my kids because I currently don’t have any) live the lives God created them for.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Raising Giant-Killers was a bit of an unusual read for me because so much of the book had great information that I was like Yes, this kind of thing needs to be taught! But then other parts of the book had me shaking my head in perplexment or disagreeing totally with a point.

Some of the things I really liked in the book include:
* Talking about how to raise children with intentionality. Parent’s have so many amazing opportunities to speak into their children’s lives and help them to prepare for living healthy, impactful lives. This book shares examples of how to do this in a practical, life-changing way.
* Speaking words of life. What we say really does make a difference. This is true when we say something directly to someone, and even when we’re just talking about them. The Bible is very clear that words have the power of life and death and we’re supposed to guard what we say. I’m so thankful for my parents speaking life to and about their children. This book does a great job of showing how important that part of parenting is.
*Exposing children to the right things. Parenting isn’t only about guarding your children from harmful things but also making sure they are exposed to the correct things. And by “correct” I don’t mean easy. The authors do a great job of showing how important it is for kids to see the needs of the world and develop helping, compassionate, and loving hearts.
*Learning about God from a young age and Praying over them. It’s never to early to start teaching your children about God and praying for them. One of my favorite parts of this book is where the authors talk about praying scripture over your family. There’s even a section in the back that includes a lot of scripture that can be prayed. That’s something my parents have done all my life and something that is really important.

And now I’m going to talk briefly about what I didn’t like…

The second page of the book had a statement that I disagree with, so that set a rather wary tone for me while reading the rest of the book, so I’ll address that with a bit of detail:

The authors say that we were all born into a war (which I agree with), but then they go on to say that even Adam and Eve were born into a war because in Genesis 1:28 they were told to “subdue” the earth. The authors say that this implies that there was disorder outside the Garden of Eden, then go on to use the word “chaos” to describe what life was like outside of the Garden. But this is during Creation Week when everything was still perfect. In fact, just a few verses later in Genesis 1:31 the Bibles says “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Something that is very good isn’t full of chaos and disorder. (You can read more at Answers in Genesis which has a ton of good information about this type of thing.)

There were also multiple other, smaller things throughout the book that I don’t agree with or condone. Some of the things were just the authors being more dogmatic than I believe scripture warrants, or else them taking things out of context. There were enough of these things that even though I really liked parts of the book (as mentioned above), this isn’t one I would recommend to everyone.

CONCLUSION

The authors are parents to three grown children who all seem to be doing really well in life. That, to me, is a big selling point, because that means they are talking from experience and not just theory.

RATING

I’m giving Raising Giant-Killers 3 out of 5 stars.

((This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Bookish Stats from 2018

So. Books for this year. My Goodreads shelves got a little messed up, so the stats aren’t incredibly accurate. 😉 I’m fairly certain that the “99 books read” is correct, and I just somehow didn’t add the books to the correct shelves to make them show up everywhere else the right way. Aka, don’t add all the rest of the stats together because they don’t match up correctly. 🙂

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Books Read: 99
Audiobooks Listened To: 26
Pages Read: 29,149 (which is approximately 80 a day)

Fiction: 79
Non-fiction: 16

Five Star Books: 5
Four Star Books: 30
Three Star Books: 45
Two Star Books: 16
One Star Books: 1

Favorite New Series: Shadows Over England by Roseanna M. White
Favorite Audiobook: Before We Were Yours By Lisa Wingate

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This year I didn’t add my audiobooks in anywhere or review them, but I’m thinking I might start doing that in 2019.

I’m excited about how many 4 star books I read this year – I found a lot of new favorites. ❤ I also explored a lot of new genres which was fun and eye-opening for me.

Books I bought this year: 30
Books I received for Review this year: 21
Books I received as Gifts this year: 24

Vlogs I filmed about books/reading this year: 50

My Most Anticipated Read of the Year!

Y’all. This book! This book! I’ve been wanting to read it for forever and a day and here it is, sitting next to me, waiting to be gobbled up.

Yes, folks, you heard it right: I have an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Miss Stephanie’s newest book. Excuse me while I go fangirl for the next several weeks. 😉 Thank you so, so, so much Stephanie for sending it to me! I can’t wait to dive in!

Keep Calm and Read On (8 Benefits​ of Reading)

As it turns out, reading can boast a host of benefits. As it also turns out, I read a lot so I stand here before you today (actually, I’m sitting on the couch, but that’s beside the point), to share some of said benefits with you. 😉

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  1. Reading Makes You Smarter 
    Okay, so maybe it doesn’t literally raise your IQ (but then again, it might), but reading does add to your bank of information that you then have stored in your brain. That means that in the future you’ll be able to pull from that information (on purpose and also automatically), so therefore reading does help you have more knowledge.
  2. Reading Helps You Empathize with More People 
    There have been many times when I can relate to an emotion someone is experiencing, not from my own life, but because I’ve seen the same emotion through the eyes of a character. Add thousands of these experiences together and it can give a helpful framework for how someone may want to be treated.
  3. Reading Is A Great Escape 
    It’s not always a good idea to “escape” a problem, but sometimes stepping back and getting some relief in a stressful or trying situation can do a world of good. Grabbing a light-hearted contemporary generally does the trick for me.
  4. Reading Can Make You More Well-Rounded 
    It was an eye-opening day for me when a friend of mine mentioned how a book that took place in Egypt helped her to imagine the Bible times better. I hadn’t realized until then that not everyone had the backdrop to a thousand different time periods, cultures, and settings painted into their mind through the pages of books.
  5. Reading Expands Your Vocabulary
    It’s hard to describe something when you don’t have words with which to work. Reading helps more words enter your brain, and by either using the clues of context or by looking them up, you can add them to your repertoire of words to use in the future.
  6. Reading Is A Great Way To Learn New Skills 
    There are so many how-to books out there. It’s actually rather glorious what all we can learn from reading. And, in addition to all the books, there are millions of articles. Isn’t it crazy to think of the fact that we will never run out of things to read?
  7. Reading Opens Up A Whole World Of Friendships 
    I’m not talking about friendships with characters, although that’s pretty epic, too. I’m speaking more about when you get to talk about reading with other people – it can be instant connectivity.
  8. Reading Is A Delightful, Inexpensive Form of Entertainment  
    Sure, you can spend a lot of money on books, but there are also great alternatives – like the library and book sales. So go, have fun, and learn a lot!
What is one of your favorite benefits to reading?

P.S. Stay tuned for a list of bookish recommendations coming soon!