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

a.jpg

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.))

Flights of Fancy

Today I’m not feeling well so I decided to rest for a bit and read a nice, light-hearted book. And so I started looking through Overdrive for such a book. And do y’all know how hard it is to find a good book!?! It was rather annoying as book after book looked promising but as I read the sample I ran into content that wasn’t appropriate or else swearing. Really, authors?

And then I remembered NetGalley. So I hoped on there, requested this book, and here we are, folks!

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 371
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: (January 1, 2019
Title: Flights of Fancy
Author: Jen Turano
Fiction

1

BACK COVER BLURB

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I pretty much decided Jen Turano’s books weren’t for me a few years back because they’re silly – like to the point where my personality didn’t find them fun anymore because they are so unrealistic. I realize lots of people really like this style of book and that’s great, I just don’t.

And then today came. And I’m fighting off the flu so I didn’t feel well. I had a stack of books just waiting to be read, but instead, I wanted something that would be exceedingly lighthearted and easy to read. I’ve heard various other book bloggers talk about this book recently, so I decided to give it a go. Also, I think the cover’s really pretty. 😉

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

This book was more enjoyable than I expected. I read it all afternoon and although I did skim in parts, it kept my attention and made me wonder what was going to happen next. It’s kinda like a Hallmark movie, just not quite so predictable.

To make this easy, I’m just going to go with a few pros and cons that I came up with while reading the book. And please, keep in mind that this isn’t the style of book that I normally read – so if you’ve read any of Jen Turano books in the past and liked them, then you’ll probably really like this one. It’s my favorite of hers that I’ve read. (I think I’ve read two or three before.)

Pros: I liked the main character. She was realistic most of the time, she didn’t annoy me, and she was amusing. Plus, even though she wasn’t telling the truth about her life, she basically told them that she wasn’t telling the truth. Which that sounds weird, but it worked well in the book and was actually a big selling point for me. Also, the book was well written and easy to follow which isn’t always the case for me when there are dukes and such involved.

Cons: It was exceedingly silly – which is both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because it was amusing, a bad thing because it was kinda eye-rolly with how often “bad” stuff happened. Like rolling down hills, landing in mud, etc… Also, the main character was always being picked up and carried by the main guy when she had gotten hurt, etc… I mean, really though? I’m fairly certain that wouldn’t have happened and so that type of thing bothers me a lot.

The book starts with the main character being at a ball with a duke, and the duke’s not a cool guy and he’s not being nice with how he treats the main character. He’s just kinda leering at her, so it’s not detailed or anything. Also, later in the book, there were a few things that happened that weren’t “bad” but I wouldn’t consider proper.

CONCLUSION

I’m glad I gave this book a try because it was what I was looking for today (silly, light-hearted, and not needing much brainpower), but not my normal read at all.

RATING

I’m giving Flights of Fancy 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

a.jpg

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.))

Winter Mornings for the Win {plus a book review}

It’s one of those delightfully cozy mornings. I’m wrapped up in a blanket with a hot mug of French Press and lemon biscotti listening to the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman as I watch fine snow drifting down outside.

Today’s list of things to do has grown until there’s no way I’m going to accomplish everything I want to before leaving to pick up my car (where it just got snow tires) and then head to work at the coffee shop. So, instead of stressing about it I decided to just chill and work systematically through my list and see what I can get done.

And, the first thing on the list is to write a book review for one of my most recent reads. The 10 Commandments of Marriage is the third marriage book I’ve read in the last few months and also the one that made me be like “I’ve no clue what I’m reading” the most.

Do y’all ever read books that don’t currently apply to you?

And now, on to the review.

img_7954
FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 224
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: October 1, 2014
Title: The 10 Commandments of Marriage: Practical Principles to Make Your Marriage Great
Author: Ed Young
Nonfiction

a

BACK COVER BLURB

Marriage is God’s idea. He planned it. He designed it. And if you follow His blueprint, it will be more rewarding, more loving, more exciting than you ever imagined.

In 10 Commandments of Marriage, Dr. Ed Young shares the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots” of successful relationships—straight from the pages of God’s Word. Long-married couples will find love-building precepts that will revive a failing marriage and make a great relationship even better. Soon-to-be-marrieds will discover what marriage is all about and gain priceless insights into starting on solid ground.

In words that are profound, often humorous, but always biblical, Dr. Young draws from decades of counseling couples to provide 10 commandments for a lifelong marriage that sizzles. God wants your marriage to be nothing short of incredible. And it could begin with this amazing book.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

When I’m reading nonfiction “practical” is a big selling point for me – because if a book isn’t something that can’t be applied to everyday life, then…?
Also, as mentioned previously, I’ve decided to read marriage books because I figure that I currently have more time to do that now than in the future. And, on that note, a disclaimer: I’m not married, nor am I in a relationship, so all my thoughts regarding this book come from a rather unique point of view.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

How The Book Is Set Up: At the beginning of each chapter, there’s a little bubble that says “A Personal Word” and in it, Mr. Ed writes a short paragraph where he summarizes the entire chapter and what he feels like is the most important concept. Throughout the book, there are shaded squares with some of the most important quotes, stats, and statements written in bold so you can flip through the book and quickly read something to make you think. At the end of each chapter, there’s a section called Reflecting on Your Relationship that includes questions for married people, as well as questions for those who are contemplating or preparing for marriage.

One cool part about this book is in the introduction Mr. Ed mentions that this book is for pretty much everyone – not just those who are married, but also for those who are preparing for, contemplating, or have been, married.

Mr. Ed has been married for around 50 years and pastors a large church so he’s had a lot of experience, stories, and examples to share not only from his own marriage but also from the marriages of people who he’s counseled over the years. The advice he shares really is practical – just like the cover promises. He also does a good job of writing in a way that’s easy to relate to and amusing at times.

There were a few things in the book that felt slightly overboard to me, but I’m obviously not a good judge on that. For the most part, I felt like the book was balanced and had a lot of good information that would be very helpful for a married couple.

Some of the “commandments” of marriage that I enjoyed reading the most included: Thou Shalt be Selfless (good for anyone to learn!), Thou Shalt Continually Communicate, and Thou Shalt Avoid the Quicksand of Materialism.

CONCLUSION

I feel like I would have gleaned a lot more from this book if I was actually married (which, duh, makes sense), but overall I’m glad I read it as it had a lot of good information.

RATING

I’m giving The 10 Commandments of Marriage 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.))

Money Problems, Marriage Solutions {Book Review Plus An Explanation​ of Why I’m Reading Marriage Books}

Back in November, I was on my way to Tennesee with some friends and one of them was reading the book Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. It looked interesting so when it was his turn to drive I asked him if I could take a turn reading. I finished the book before we arrived at our destination and found it to be incredibly interesting.

It was then that I realized that although I’ve read thousands of books on dozens upon dozens of topics, I’ve basically never read any books about marriage. And I figured what better time to start than now? So I promptly requested a few for review. Here’s one of them. 😉

IMG_0545

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 192
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Title: Money Problems, Marriage Solutions
Author: Chuck Bentley & Ann Bentley
Nonfiction

a

BACK COVER BLURB

It’s not just about the money…

Arguments about money are by far the top predictor of divorce, says Sonya Britt, a professor at Kansas State University. “It’s not children, sex, in-laws, or anything else. It’s money—for both men and women.”

Satan seeks every means possible to destroy marriages, and creating conflict around finances is one of his favorite tactics. But there is more to money problems than not sticking to the budget. Chuck and Ann Bentley reveal the underlying issues of financial and relational discord—and show how it robs couples of joy, intimacy, and marital satisfaction.

Money Problems, Marriage Solutions presents seven keys to peace in marriage and helps couples unite and conquer to resolve financial issues together. Through real-life stories, a solid foundation from Scripture, and practical steps for application, this book gives a plan for getting back on the same team. Here is a clear and lasting way forward for couples struggling with money problems.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Although my life is busy right now, I know in all likelihood it will just get busier. Therefore, it seems like a rather logical idea to read marriage books now, even though I’m not married. (And that’s a disclaimer, folks: I’m not married, nor am I in a relationship, hence all my thoughts about this book come from the perspective of a single person.)
Plus, I’ve always found relationship (of any kind) oriented books to be really interesting because I like the psychology aspect of why people do what they do, etc…
Last of all, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve not spent a lot of time learning about money, budgeting, and everything that entails, so I’ve been working on learning about it.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Just reading the table of contents is enough to give you a boatload of things to think about. Key Two is about Grasping the Biblical Definition of Prosperity, Key Four is about Living By God’s Philosophy of Money, Key Five is about Understanding and Respecting Your Spouses Personality, and the list goes on.

Even as a single person I’ve heard over and over again from people, books, and media, how much contention money can cause in a marriage. People are raised with their own “culture” regarding money and finances and often times they don’t realize how truly different their ideas can be compared to their spouses.

This book is written by a husband and wife team who know firsthand about the trouble money can cause in a marriage. The first twenty years of their marriage were filled with strife, misunderstandings, and miscommunications when it came to the arena of finances. Through the pages of Money Problems, Marriage Solutions, we get to explore the seven keys they discovered to help them overcome their problems and align their hearts – and finances – so they could work together as a team.

Reading this book was a breeze. Although I (obviously) am not in a position to work through money issues with my spouse, I still found the advice and examples they gave to be very interesting and logical. I liked how they talked about the heart of the matter (which is making sure that your lives are in sync with each other and where God has you), instead of just giving material tips of how to work things out.

CONCLUSION

This is one of the books that I want to keep around so I can re-read it when I’m married because it seems like it will be very helpful in a relationship.

Rating

I’m giving Money Problems, Marriage Solutions 4 out of 5 stars.

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

Giveaway Winner Announced and Parents Rising ((Book Review))

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway last week. The winner was Sherlock Has Returned from Instagram. Congratulations, Sherlock! (Also, she has some pretty great bookish pictures so y’all should check them out!

And now, for the first book review of 2019. 🙂

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 176
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Title: Parents Rising
Author: Arlene Pellicane
Nonfiction

pr.jpg

Back Cover Blurb

How to raise godly children in a godless world

Do you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle? Against the culture, against the busyness, sometimes even against your spouse and kids… Often it seems like everything is against you as a parent, and your everyday life can feel far from joy-filled. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Parents Rising will show you eight cultural trends that parents are up against today and what you can do to claim victory.

This book is about growth not guilt. It’s not a pep talk, or a “try harder” speech. This is real help for real problems that every parent faces. It’s a way to focus your efforts so that they’ll be more effective and you’ll be less exhausted.

Why I Choose This Book

I’ve read books by Arlene Pellicane before and really liked what she had to say, plus her writing style is easy to read. Miss Arlene talks a lot about children and technology and I find that subject fascinating. Plus, Gary Chapman wrote the forward and I really like his work. ((And, as always, here is my disclaimer: I’m not married and don’t have kids, therefore I’m reviewing this book from that perspective.))

What I Thought About This Book

This book was so good and so fast and easy to read. Most of the time it takes me longer to read nonfiction than fiction, but I blew through this book in two sittings and barely wanted to put it down. Miss Arlene uses a combination of examples from her own life, situations she’s seen, Bible verses, and statistics to write a compelling book that gives parents eight strategies for raising kids who love God.

As a non-parent, I always find it intriguing to see the thought process as to why parents do what they do. The psychological side of parenting is something that I’ve always found interesting and Miss Arlene does a really good job of explaining things in a very easy to understand way.

Her strategies are very practical and have solid reasoning behind them and statistics to back up what she has to say. The chapter titles include “Amusement Is Not the Highest Priority”, “Launching Adults, Not Babying Children”, and “Good Food Served on the Table.” Each chapter was encouraging, entertaining, thought-provoking, and included ideas about how to incorporate the strategy into everyday life.

Conclusion

This is one of my favorite parenting books I’ve read yet, and one that I hope to re-read after I have children. It’s short and therefore not overwhelming to pick up, plus it’s so full of good information.

Rating

I’m giving Parents Rising 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it as highly as a non-parent can get away with recommending a book without being annoying. 😉

((This book was provided 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. 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 6.23.20 PM.png

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

IMG_E7002

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