Thursday, August 27, 2015

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

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I'm not really sure what to say about this book, but "Wow"!! I started to read it over the weekend and then D's oldest niece started it as well and read it and she couldn't put it down.  I didn't want to put it down either, but duty did call and so I just now finished the book.

The story is written in two different time frames: one by the daughter Hannah seeking to understand her mother Liselotte and the other by Liselotte herself telling what she went through in Germany during WWII. She was the daughter of a prominent officer who would offer the Jews false papers, etc. in exchange for their wealth and then he would turn them in and they would be captured and taken to concentration camps or wherever, but not offered freedom. Liselotte was involved in trying to help the Jews in hiding and apparently her father was following her and turning these same people in.  I don't want to say more because it gives away too much of the story.

It's a story of redemption and forgiveness.  Nothing undoes the crimes and atrocities committed during World War II; nothing can bring back those killed in horrible ways. But forgiveness must still happen, but as humans we are not able to forgive in our own strength-- God must forgive for us.

Listen to a few portions from the book. This first one was taken when Liselotte was concerned that her daughter may be the product of a rape and not from the love of her and her husband and this is the "Sister's" response: "My dear," she laughed softly. "We're all trash. It's only His love and grace, His forgiveness, that makes us clean. And it's only by forgiving that we can be free of that poison that would steal our life. Don't hate, my child. That's a prison worse than Ravensbruck."

So true, but so hard to do sometimes. Cathy also weaves in a bit of Corrie ten Boom's story into the plot lines. In the end Hannah meets Corrie and Corries tells her story of needing to forgive the SS officer who had been one of her guards.  Forgiveness was able to bring peace.  I need to remember that in my own life. My inability to forgive will hurt myself more than it will hurt the one I cannot forgive.

The book is excellently written. I will not hesitate next time to get a book by Cathy Gohlke.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wild About Creation Sticker & Activity Book



Designed by Jody Langley

This is a fun children's activity book talking about Creation and Adam and Eve's fall into sin.  It is geared for younger children--I would guess 3-6 or so maybe.  It would depend on each child to a certain extent.  My 6 month old thought eating it would be an appropriate response to the book, so in that regard she loved it.  I salvaged it from her hands and hope to have her enjoy it even more when she is a couple of years old. I thought the book accurately portrayed the story of Creation while keeping it interesting. There are lots of places to use the stickers which is a hit in my book, plus coloring, counting, dot to dot, a maze, find a word, etc.

The book on first glance is very nice.  Glossy front and back along with glossy smooth pages with full colorful illustrations.  There is enough variety to keep a child's attention or so I would think. I would definitely recommend this book to others. The retail price is only $3.99 and only $2.09 on Amazon, so it would make a great add-on gift or just a good book to have on hand for when you need a quick gift for a little child.  It is gender-neutral as well.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Called for Life

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By Kent and Amber Brantly with David Thomas


This, this is a good book!!  Dr. Kent and Amber have felt a life long call to be missionaries and Kent determined to do it through medicine.  They moved to Liberia and were caught in the nastiest outbreak of Ebola ever.  Even through extreme safety precautions, Kent still managed to catch Ebola and became very sick.  This book is the story of that journey from health to sickness to near death to restored health.  It was a very fascinating and interesting book, well-written and captivating.  I can't imagine being Amber and being thousands of miles away from my husband while he is fighting a life-threatening illness.

One section of the book stood out to me when I read it: this thing of saying yes to people.  We cannot say yes to everybody all the time.  We are still finite beings, but if everyone would say yes to one person, then everybody would be taken care.  He stresses how you cannot use the doctor/patient relationship to force religion down the patient's throat, but because of that relationship, opportunities may arise to share why you are showing compassion and care beyond the normal standard.  For me, I think it means being in tune with God and listening to the Holy Spirit and letting Him guide you to the right people to say yes too.  That is my own words and thoughts, but I think Kent would agree with that.

I would highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a good well-written true story.  While you know the outcome because Kent is one of the authors, it is still a gripping story.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books for the purpose of reading and writing a review

Friday, August 14, 2015

Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson

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This was the second book in a series called "Brides of Seattle", so because I like to read things in order, I quick got the first book from the library and read it.  Actually the quick thing isn't quite true.  I checked our library and saw that they actually had it, so I waited another week or so and then went check it out and ta da--- it was out on load already, so then I had to request the book from a different library.  Long story short, the moral of the whole thing is: don't procrastinate and then assume that nobody in the city in which I live and surrounding villages is going to want that book.

Okay back to the book.  The underlying story line is a Bridal school where girls can come to be trained in the ways of housekeeping and then prospective suitors pay to go to receptions put on by these girls and learn to know them and hopefully find a wife.  Odd, I know, but this was back in the 1800's as well.  Abrianna, who is the main character and yet not, is a young, impetuous, no thought for herself kind of girl who reminds me a bit of Anne of Green Gables with the way she talks and talk constantly. Militine, who is supposed to be the main character of the book came to the Bridal School to hide; she has no intention of getting married, but, of course, falls in love anyway.

It was a well-written book that did hold my attention especially during the part about the Seattle fire and the two heroines and their cronies rescuing ten Chinese girls who were going to be sold into prostitution.  I wanted to be frustrated with Abrianna's naivety and trust in the man who obviously did this and the girls were given back into his care because he was going to send them back "home".  I am definitely hoping there is another book coming because the story ends at a poor spot where a lot of things are awaiting conclusion.

I was impressed with Abrianna's trust in God: she was completely committed to helping Seattle's poor and was completely mindless of social standing or etiquette or anything else.  If it meant being courted by a scoundrel because he promised her a big building so the homeless could have shelter, then she would do it.  She was completely committed to God and ready to do whatever it took to serve Him.  I could learn from that commitment.

I did enjoy the book and if I see the third book come out, I will likely read it so I can see how the story ends.

This book was given me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it. All opinions expressed were my own.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage by Kim Kimberling, PhD



Okay, another marriage book.  Aren't there enough of them out there?  When I was going through Book Look Bloggers website to try and decide what book to pick to review, I know I wasn't terribly excited about this one, but if I'm getting nice free books to review I want them to be books I can hold in my hand and not books I have to have a computer on my lap to be able to read them.  Yes, I'm from the stone age and no I don't have a Kindle and no I don't need one and I'm not even sure I want one.  My husband might like if I would start my collection of books on a Kindle instead of in our house where they have completely overflowed our bookcases and now take up residence on a bathroom vanity we are storing in our storage room.  Okay, I am way off track by now, so back to it; I wanted a hold-in-my-hands book and so I decided to pick this one.  And once again, I think God was directing my choice.  But I'll get to that in a minute.

I know some of the companies I review for like to know my opinion about how the book looks.  That's not a huge thing to me if I know the author or have read the description, but I will admit, I often do have a first impression about the looks of the book when it comes in the mail.  This book looks nice enough, but it has one major problem.  I like new books and I like books that stay looking nice.  This book the front and back cover do not stay flat.  I don't fold my books back to read them or anything like that, so I have no good reason for why it did this, but it sort of bothers me, but it's not a make or break issue, just something I don't really like.  Moving on.....

We have a great marriage most of the time.  I think I have alluded in my blog posts that over the past few month, the month of May and June especially, D has had to put up with a lot from me.  I was empty, fighting some depression, grief, and baby blues.  That's my unofficial diagnosis, but there was a lot going on in our family and I didn't know how to handle it all.  I still don't, but I have worked through some of it and am more often than not in a good mood when he comes home from work.  I think I am anyway.

This book did point out to me some areas I could work on.  The biggest thing Kim stressed is God must be first and your spouse second.  Anytime those two priorities are not in place, you are asking for trouble.  Sounds simple enough, but takes some hard work to do.

The seven steps that Kim gives are as follows:
STOP the insanities that hold us back
START the practice of putting God first, spouse second
CONNECT the art of listening and being present
ENGAGE: how to fight right
BALANCE: scheduling for a better marriage
MINGLE: sex as the mingling of souls
FIGHT: the power of fighting together on the same team

Good stuff here: will it work for every marriage?  Yes, if both parties are willing to practice them, but a one-sided effort will only go so far.  That is my unofficial idea.

What I didn't like about the book is how okay Kim was with divorce and remarriage.  While I think there are times when spouses need to separate as in the case of abuse, I don't believe God condones remarriage and so I didn't like his complete acceptance of remarriage.

Minus that, this was a very good, challenging book and it has challenged me to fight harder than ever for our marriage.   I would encourage others who want to have an awesome marriage to read the book and to work at it TOGETHER.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review.  All opinions expressed were my own.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

War Room



From the Creators of Fireproof and Courageous
War Room
Prayer is a Powerful Weapon

A Novelization by Chris Fabry
Based on the motion picture by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick

What can I say, the Kendrick brothers and Chris Fabry have done it again.  I have loved every one of Chris' books that I have read and enjoyed every movie I've watched by the Kendrick brothers and this one is no exception.

I actually feel that God has had a big hand in directing my review book picks lately.  I have been blessed and challenged by so many of them lately and this one hit me between the eyes.  The focus of the book/movie is prayer.  Clara Williams is an older lady who has a war room, her prayer closet, where she has lists of names of people she is praying for.  She storms heaven's gates and laughs at the Devil at each defeat he experiences.  She senses that Elizabeth Jordan needs something from her and commits her to prayer.  Through Clara, Elizabeth senses her own need of learning to pray and creates her own prayer closet.  She wants her husband, Tony, to change: to be more loving, more present, less angry.  In the process, she realizes that she is also the one being changed and while it is not always a pleasant process, the end result is amazing.  Tony does change, but not without losing his job and entertaining thoughts of another woman to take Elizabeth's place.

One quote from Clara from the book: "Elizabeth, you got to plead with God so that He can do what only He can do, and then you got to get out of the way and let Him do it."  How true.

The book was just a good challenge and reminder for me to spend time in prayer, to pray for the needs around me and right now the needs feel overwhelming and then also to step back and let God work, but be willing to extend grace and forgiveness to those around me.  God has forgiven me so much, how can I do any less.

The movie is coming to theaters on August 28 and I can only imagine it is going to be as good as the book and as good as the other movies they've put out.  You can go to the movie website here to get more information.

This book was given me by Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae

Product Details

One woman's search for joy, beauty, and adventure--right where she is.

Wow, this is a really great book.  I'm not finished reading it, in fact I'm not even half way through the book, but I just need to talk about it.  This is the story/journey of Sarah Mae to living intentionally. That's my term for it.  Sarah wants to go to Paris, but her family's budget has no room for such trips right now and so she has endeavored to make her own Paris right in her own hometown in Lancaster County, PA.  To keep herself from going stir-crazy, she is seeking to live out her dreams while still caring for and providing for her family.

One thing she has done is to go and search out the best croissant (croissants are French) in her area. She likes to stop and savor her food, close her eyes and taste her food with all her senses.  She is endeavoring to learn to meditate, to spend time with God, to feel Him close and to ponder what He is saying.  And that is as far as I have gotten in the book, but I have been so challenged and excited to live intentionally.

And now I have finished the book and I have renewed vision to live out of the person God has created me to be, to live fully and to live alive and to live with eternity in view, because after all that is the ultimate of our longings. As Sarah brings out in the last chapter of her book, we are made for HOME--for eternity, for our heavenly abode.  The beauty that we see here and taste and enjoy is but a foretaste and can often leave us longing for more.  We were made for more than this life has to offer, but we need to live this life well while we wait.

I want to share a few things that stuck out to me from her chapter entitled: "Holy DNA".

"Get used to who you are.

"There is so much freedom in stretching into yourself, being comfortable in who you are and how God made you. It's not only freeing, but it's really just lovely to settle into the you God made you to be.

"Don't try to be somebody else; that's no fun at all! Plus it's one of the fastest ways to dislike your life! Accept who you are. If you don't know who you are, start figuring it out. Consider it an adventure! Have fun with it. Explore!

"The color in us--our dreams and desires and longings - can be from God, and I would say that they are all from God; they just can get twisted or misplaced sometimes. We are all susceptible to that.

"...the grace of release is being able to give our dreams back to God and trust Him with them. Because remember, He cares about us and He cares about our dreams. It doesn't mean all of our dreams will bloom the way we want them to, but it does mean He will make His love evident to us through them all."

Okay that is enough, it may not make sense just reading snippets here and there, but I have been challenged and stimulated to try and live me life to the fullest.  This week my goal is to severely limit my mindless surfing-of-the-web time and to use that time to work on projects and ideas and to hold my baby and to see beauty and to enjoy life.

So, yes, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for more out of life than just mindless hum-drum living.  Life is an adventure to be lived and I want to live it being fully me and fully alive and fully the person God wants me to be.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

You can learn more about Sarah Mae here