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? 

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!

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.))

936 Pennies {A Pretty Cool Book, Folks}

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Find It On:
Amazon
Goodreads

Why I Choose This Book:

I try not to choose books solely on the cover, but goodness, folks! This is one of my favorite book covers ever. The colors, the design, the fonts, the title, all of it comes together perfectly.

Plus, as y’all know I like parenting books – even though I don’t have any kids. There are several reasons for this, the main one being that I really enjoy the thought processes behind how and why parents parent the way they do, and the other is I figure the knowledge will be helpful one day. 😉

What I Thought Of This Book:

This book was different from most of the parenting books I’ve read recently. It focused a lot more on what the parents do instead of what the kids do, and that was a pretty neat perspective.

The lady who wrote the book has three little boys, so we get to see life from the perspective of someone who’s still very much in the midst of crazy motherhood. She talks a lot about the decisions she’s made in order to be a more intentional mother, and how she’s been working at redeeming the time to pour as much into her children’s lives as she can.

The premise of the book is how parents have 936 weeks with their children from the time they are born until they are eighteen. When I first heard that number it sounded like quite a lot, but after pondering it for a little bit, I could see how it would feel like it was going by really fast. It’s so important as parents (and from my perspective as an older sibling/aunt/friend) to make sure that you invest in children and really use those weeks wisely.

Miss Eryn tells about different ways she’s learned to invest in her children, from having specific screen-free times of the day to getting outside with the kids, to taking time to read and cuddle. The book is really practical, well-written, easy to read, and lyrical.

I could tell Miss Eryn was a blogger. I’m not sure how to explain it, but her writing style was just very much the style of a blogger. It was beautiful, descriptive, peaceful, and somewhat wordy. Reading the book made me feel restful, like sitting on a porch swing and sipping lemonade.

Conclusion:

I’m not a mother, so I try not to have very many opinions (at least that I share) on parenting books, but I thought this one was pretty spot-on. 😉

*I’m thankful to have received this book for reviewing purposes

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In Hidden Places {Book Review}

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Find It On:
Amazon
Goodreads

Why I Choose This Book:

Miss Tracie’s books are really hit or miss for me – either I am delighted at how she weaves the story together with the history of that day, or else I’m annoyed by the romances and can’t stand the book. This one is set in San Fransico, a city I actually like, and therefore I decided to give it ago. (I don’t like a ton of cities, folks, I’m so much more of a country/small town girl.)

What I Thought About the Book:

First off, I’m quite amused that every other chapter in the book they were talking about how dangerous San Fransico is. In fact, I felt like we didn’t get much of a glimpse into the world building there, except for the dangerous side. Which, considering the book is about her brother who totally disappeared, I guess that makes sense. It simply made me laugh that I was like “Oh, I like this city so I’ll read this book” and then the book was like “This is a scary and dangerous place to be.”

Land sakes, people. The main character. Sheesh, she was one little stuck up snob, but not in the way that characters are generally stuck up snobs. It actually tickled me as much as it ticked me because she was really well written. And her character arch was really good. And she was all around a character who seemed very believable. But wow, she still has a far piece to come.

There were a few things that confused me – like why the main girl needed to get a job right away. It eventually made some sense to me, but I wish the need would have been developed more.

The friendship between the girls was nice, and somewhat of a spin on how I feel a lot of books are. The writing was descriptive. The facts well-displayed. It was interesting to immerse myself in that time period and realize how much has changed in the last 115 years.

I really liked this book, to the point where I would have given it four stars if it weren’t for four things:
1. The romance – most of the book it was fine and I didn’t mind it, but then at the end, it moved way too fast and I wanted to roll my eyes and be like “Yo! You don’t know each other so slow it down”
2. There were so many points of views. I know this is totally a preference here, but I have a really hard time when I get to know exactly what’s going on in everybody’s head. For instance, several of the characters think one guy is bad, but instead of letting the reader try and figure it out for themselves, we hop over into that guy’s head and find out if he’s bad or not. That took away a lot of the mystery and suspense for me
3. There was a little bit with the conclusion of the mystery that made me feel cheated. We’d come so far to figure it out and then poof! Mystery solved just like that
4. The writing wasn’t tight. Sometimes I think that when an author gets really good, they kind of ride on their own success, instead of ensuring that each book is as polished as it really should be

Conclusion:

This book isn’t one I would recommend for anyone under the age of sixteen. Part of the story takes place inside a brothel, which didn’t go into much detail, but still. Also, there’s some violence, but nothing detailed or creepy.

*Thanks to the publishing house for giving me a copy to review

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A Refuge Assured {One of those books I’ve been really excited about reading}

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Find the Book on:
Amazon
Goodreads

Why I Choose This Book:

A few years ago I got pulled into the beauty of Miss Jocelyn’s fantastically built historical settings and I’ve felt the same draw ever since. The stories aren’t always my favorite, but the way she makes history come alive? I’ve been blown away by her writing time and time again.

What I Thought:

When I was twelve or so I read a book that took place during the French Revolution and was completely horrified. Like, crying for days and being unlike myself for a couple of months. Looking back it’s no wonder – I had no clue as a preteen that the Regine of Terror had existed, and there was no need for me to at that young age. But, because of that horrible experience I’ve avoided any and everything from that time period, except what I had to learn for school. And then this book came along. I didn’t exactly pay attention to what it was about when I requested it for review, because come on, it’s written by Jocelyn Green.

This story, folks. This story had the exactly perfect balance between letting us know what happened during the French Revolution, and not going into too much detail. You can feel the sorrow, feel the frightened confusion, feel the horribleness of it all, and yet in a balanced, vague way that won’t leave you in a depressed funk for days.

In the space of about two weeks, I (totally unplanned) read three books that took place during this time period, and this book was by far my favorite. Miss Jocelyn makes history come alive in her stories and makes me feel like I’m there, watching from the sidelines. She also has this fantastic habit of picking settings/facts/people that aren’t exceedingly well known, and therefore I’ve had so much fun researching what was true and what wasn’t when I’m done reading the book, and I’m always surprised by how much of the setting/little details are true.

As for the story and characters themselves? Well, they aren’t generally my favorite for some reason; I think it’s just because I don’t really connect with them. That sadly takes my rating down, but I think a lot of other people would enjoy them far more than me and have a much higher rating.

Conclusion:

This book isn’t one for little children – I would say probably sixteen would be the youngest I’d give this story to. The book talks about mistresses (but in a clean, vague way) and of course all the stuff that went on during the French Revolution.

*I’m thankful to the publishers who sweetly gave me this book so I could review it

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