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? 

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.

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.

Visiting Yellowstone Vicariously​

This book was one I had a lot of fun reading because it made me feel like I was in Yellowstone and y’all… goodness! I want to go there so badly!

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads

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ABOUT THE BOOK

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I read a book by the author a few years ago and although I didn’t really like it, I wanted to give the author another chance. Plus, one of my dream destinations is Yellowstone, so to read a book that takes place there sounded like just my thing.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

All throughout the book I was so into it. The culture surrounding working at Yellowstone was spot-on (or at least I imagine it was). it pulled me into the world there and felt so real. Even though I had several other books I was reading I kept coming back to this one because immersing myself in the book was great. The fact that we got to see the world of Yellowstone both from the perspective of someone who had grown up there and someone who had grown up in a totally different environment was pretty fantastic.

I also liked the characters which was a huge plus for me. I didn’t agree with a lot of what they did and some of their actions and reasonings made me want to facepalm, but I still liked them. They were real, flawed, hung up on their problems, and reacted to everything they went through in what felt like a realistic way. They were also caring, kind, hard-working, and easy to relate to.

The plot was also really interesting to me – apparently, I have a “thing” for the trope of an adult not being able to read and trying to hide it. I hadn’t realized until this book how much that type of thing interests me. That part of the story was so well written and had me coming back to read more as much as any other plot point.

There was definitely romance and at times it did kind of take over the story, yet for the most part I liked the balance it kept and didn’t find it to detract from the story at all. (Which is big because if I remember correctly I really disliked the balance of romance/plot with the other book I read from the same author.)

So, with all these great things to say about the book, why did I only rate it three stars? Good question. I was so close to rating it four stars and that was surprising and delightful to me. Then I got to the end. Y’all. I felt so let down. Not by the “twist” because I had figured that out, but by how it was delivered. There was so much build-up then plop. We were dropped to the ending in such an anticlimactic way.

CONCLUSION

Despite the ending, I still felt like the book was very worth reading because of the emphasis on Yellowstone. Also, it makes me want to read more books by the same author, so yay. (And the cover was cool enough it makes me want to buy a physical copy of the book.)

As for content, there’s a lot about fires, arson, and a childhood tragedy regarding a house fire. Plus, there’s a fair amount of kissing, etc… but never in detail.

RATING

I’m giving Ever Faithful 3 out of 5 stars – Thanks, NetGalley, for giving me an ebook copy so I could review it!

Celebrating Books with a Giveaway

Within These Lines release today! Therefore, we’re going to celebrate by chatting about the book and having a giveaway, because what’s more fun than a bookish giveaway? This post is going to contain my official review for the book, but it’s not going to be a normal review because this author is beyond that. I’m so thankful the author sent me an ARC copy of this book so I could share the joy with y’all!

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First off, let me tell you about the author. Stephanie Morrill started a fantastic blog for teen writers called Go Teen Writers. If you’re interested in writing at all – no matter how old you are – you should check it out. It’s full of honest, encouraging, practical, and ever-so-relevant writing advice. She’s also the author of a number of Young Adult books, ranging over several genres – contemporary, historical fiction, and even nonfiction. I also consider her my unofficial writing mentor, although I’m not sure she knows that since we’ve never met in person or even communicated in any way other than email. Pretty much she’s just an all-around amazing person with fantastic writing.

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And now, about the book. Within These Lines is about Evalina, an Italian-American, and Taichi, the son of Japanese immigrants. Life as they know it is disrupted when America enters WW2 and anti-Japanese feelings sweep across the country. Taichi and his family are forced to move to a Japanese-American internment camp where life is anything but a bed of roses. (Okay, maybe it’s a bed of roses, just the thorns part.)

This book is fantastically well-researched and superbly written as the author tackles the often untalked about subject of what America did with Japanese during the war. I remember the first time I was introduced to the subject of American internment camps I was horrified. This book does an amazing job of making the camps and situation come to life and wraps you up in the story until you feel like you’re right there in the drafty, crowded shacks with Taichi. Although it’s a very sad and unfair part of our country’s history, I think it’s important that we don’t bury and forget it, because history has a tendency to repeat itself.

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This book is real and gritty and sad without being hopeless – the author somehow hit a great balance with making the book exceedingly real while still being interesting and giving the readers the hope that better things are in store.

The characters are well-crafted and even though I didn’t like the way the handled certain things, they stayed very consistent to their character/personality. It was interesting to see how different cultures handled the various issues and troubles they faced. The author did an amazing job at creating a truly American/Japanese character in Taichi, vs. simply slapping a Japanese name onto an American character.

I gave Within These Lines four out of five stars and like it (and Miss Stephanie’s other books) so much that I wanted to share them with y’all. Sadly, I can’t actually host a giveaway with all of her books, but the winner will get to choose their choice of any of Miss Stephanie’s books. (A physical book for an address in the states, an ebook for international.)

A list of Miss Stephanie’s books:

Me, Just Different
Out With the In Crowd  
So Over It 
The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet
The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet 
Go Teen Writers
The Lost Girl of Astor Street 
Within These Lines

Enter the Giveaway Here 

That’s it for today, folks! I hope your Tuesday is going delightfully well!

Between Two Shores

Y’all, you know it’s a good book when I can’t stop talking about it. Well, here my official review is, so I’ll at least stop talking about it for a while. 😉

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 409
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Title: Between Two Shores
Fiction

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WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Jocelyn Green writes some of the best Historical Fiction, so she’s one of the few authors on my auto-buy (or auto-review) list. I was so excited when Bethany Publishers chose this as their book to send out physical copies to for their reviewers and right away jumped at the chance to have it in my library.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I have so many thoughts about this book – some of which I’ve shared on my blog and Instagram (if you want my extra bookish musings you can follow me there), but now I’m endeavoring to write an actual review.

Style: This book skips back and forth in time periods (over a ten-year range) which really isn’t my favorite but I see how it was necessary to tell the full story. Miss Jocelyn did a great job of keeping the backstory snippets suffice and on-point so they didn’t take away from the story we were in the middle of, plus she did a good job of keeping the time periods as unconfusing as possible.

Characters: I didn’t really jive with any of the characters, yet the story was so skillfully written and kept my interest to the point that my lack of relatability didn’t bother me.
Catherine: Seeing Catherine trying to bridge two worlds was heart-tugging and beautifully written. I can imagine that the life Cathrine lived and tried to be a part of was what a lot of children in that era experienced. Watching her struggle to find acceptance and purpose and her identity without actually saying that’s what she was doing most of the time was amazing and reminded me of what a great storyteller Miss Jocelyn was. Catherine was my favorite character and I’m so glad we got to see the world through her eyes.
Catherine’s Mohawk Family: These characters made the story for me. They hardly ever did what I wanted them to do, yet what they did was so in-line with who they were and I applauded every move they made as keeping in character, even when I wished they were different.
Catherine’s Other Family: Her dad and Thankful were both so thoroughly written and real and made me expereince all the emotions that an author should invoke in a well-crafted character.
I’m not going to say much about other characters because of spoilers, but I will say I wished I would have liked some of them more because if I had, then the one major plot twist would have hit me a lot harder than it did. More below.

Plot: This book really does focus mainly on the history of the time period which was a refreshing difference from Historical Fiction books that put far too much emphasis on the romance. In fact, every time I thought it might be going in a direction that would take away from the history Miss Jocelyn reeled it back in and I was like “Way to go!”
While reading this book I got so involved in the story that I literally couldn’t remember who won the war. We get to see it from Catherine’s point of view, and she’s pretty much being tugged every direction. Forgetting how the war ended actually really helped me stay riveted to the page and what to find out what in the world would happen next. It also made me skim some because of the suspense.
There was a plot twist in the book that when I first read it I was like “Oh.” But then as I kept reading I was like “Oh! My! LANDS!” And I knew how that plot twist turned out, in the end, would determine my rating for the book. Thankfully, the author did what I hoped and the book got a solid four-star rating from me.

CONCLUSION

Someone on Instagram asked why I only gave the book four stars while I was raving about it, so here’s my answer: I very rarely rate a book five stars (for example, last year I read 79 fiction books and gave only one of them five stars), that means that for me a four-star rating is actually really high. And, although I really liked Between Two Shores and was exceedingly pleased with how Miss Jocelyn handled the plot twist and created the characters, the fact that the style wasn’t my favorite and I didn’t really relate to the characters held me back from giving it the illusive five-stars.

There were some battle scenes in the book that were a bit detailed, plus some abuse, manipulation, drunkenness, etc… But all of these were handled with care and the violence can easily be skimmed without losing out on the plot. (And, it was very realistic for a historical fiction book set during a war.)

RATING

I’m giving Between Two Shores 4 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from Bethany House Publishers so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Growing Forward

 

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Title: Growing Forward
Nonfiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

After life is shattered by loss or a traumatic experience–whether big or small–it can seem impossible to heal or even move on. Deep down you believe God intends good for you, but you just don’t have the energy or strength to figure out how to move forward.

Author Laurie Pawlik has been there, and here she shares how she flourished despite multiple losses. Through practical tips and thought-provoking questions, she helps you take small yet powerful steps toward healing and letting go. She also offers insights and encouragement from the lives of strong women in the Bible. You’ll glimpse the painful losses these women experienced and learn how they flourished despite seasons of hardship and grief. You’ll discover how God shows His presence and power in the valleys, deserts, and storms. And you’ll feel a fresh sense of hope that, with God, you can redefine yourself, remake your life, and grow forward into a beautiful new season.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I don’t actually remember why I requested this book. It looks interesting though, and I like learning what helps other people and seeing through the eyes of people who have gone through things I haven’t gone through.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

While reading this book it was easy to tell that the author was a blogger. I’m not sure how to describe the style, except that there were several “segments” in each chapter, and quite often those segments reminded me of blog posts or at least snippets of blog posts. I’ve this done before where it bothers me, but this time I actually found the style made the book easy to read. There were plenty of places where I could set it down and then pick it back up without feeling like the flow was interrupted. This was good for reading whenever I had a few extra minutes.

The author did a great job of showing that her life wasn’t perfect, but without going into a pity party or too much detail regarding what she had faced. I really thought she hit a good balance with that, and it showed that she really has found a healthy way to deal with a lot of bad stuff – growing forward – which is what the book is all about.

There was a lot of solid information in this book. We got to look at different characters from the Bible and learn from their stories – what they did and didn’t do correctly and how people around them were impacted.

Sadly, there was also some information that I didn’t agree with. There were multiple things that I think are okay for someone to do on their own, but it can be dangerous to teach it in a removed setting such as a book. For instance, while talking about a very traumatic experience, the author said that every time it came to mind she would play the “What Then” game with Jesus, where she says what’s horrible, and Jesus says “What then?” and they keep going until she’s realized that He’s with her and she’ll be okay. I’m not saying that I think this is wrong, but it felt a little bit sacrilegious how it was written in the book. Which brings me to another part I didn’t like: I felt like she made God seem almost too human in the book. Yes, He’s our friend. And Yes, He can relate to us. And Yes, He loves us and wants to have a special relationship with us. Yet, at the same time, He is holy and deserves respect, and although I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean to bring Him down to our level in a disrespectful way, at times I felt like she did.

There were a few more things I didn’t like or agree with, like this sentence, God created crayons, paints, paper, shapes, textures, and tones – use His handicrafts to talk to Him! I understand the point that the author is trying to make, and I agree with it. But God didn’t create crayons and paints and paper, and although it’s a little thing when the little things pile up they drop my rating of the book.

CONCLUSION

Overall, the book has a lot of good information, suggestions, and an easy-to-read style. I would say if you want to read it, go for it! Just read it with an open mind and match what she says against the Bible. 🙂

RATING

I’m giving Growing Forward 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from Bethany House Publishers so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))