Monday, September 25, 2017

Shine by Allison Allen

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Stepping into the role you were made for.

Allison performed hundreds of live performances of Grease on Broadway, so she knows a little about acting. She takes lessons learned from theater and translates them into real life. Are we standing on the stage that God has for us or are we trying to hide in a corner or play another role completely, one that we're not equipped for?

She talks about being an understudy and learning from older and more experienced actors and how much she could learn from them. How like life when we allow ourselves to be mentored and taught by those older than us or when we delve into the Word of God and let Him teach us.

She also talks about how an actor needs to learn to stand in the spotlight and to be at the right place and the right time so the light illuminates the main part of the story. Again, in real life, we need to stand in the light God has called us to. That may not always be easy, it might be calling us to share a difficult part of our story or step out of our comfort zone, but unless we want to leave an empty spotlight and miss the key part of our story, we need to step out into the spotlight.

This was a good book. I enjoyed the parallels between theater and real life.

I received this book from Revell and am not required to write a positive review.

how to listen so people will talk by Becky Harling

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Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections

In a day and age when it seems like books are about how to talk so people will listen, this book comes as a stark contrast. This is not a book about selling yourself or your product in such a dynamic way that everyone wants to buy it. Instead it's about how to sacrifice your own interest in talking so that people will confide in you and trust you and really talk to you.

How often do we find ourselves checking social media, email, or otherwise zoning out when someone is talking? How often do we finish  the other person's sentences? Or think about what we're going to say in response to what they're saying or how we can one up their story?

This book offers practical, helpful tips to overcoming those tendencies and becoming a listener that actually listens and hears and asks thoughtful questions.

I was challenged and convicted to be intentional in my conversations, to listen to what people are saying, to draw out more of their story and to keep my own stories and agendas to myself and not interject them. I have such a long ways to go, but I want to work on this area of listening and learn to do a better job.

At the end of every chapter are some listening exercises. First about listening to God, then listening to yourself, and then listening to others. Excellent exercises.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be a better listener, a better friend and develop stronger relationships.

I received this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman

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Embracing the Everyday Moments of Motherhood

Life is made up of moments, but too often we miss the moments in our attempts to grab onto the big things. The next thing we know, we've missed living life because we were always looking out ahead. Nichole challenges us to look in the here and now, to enjoy the moment we're in and to treasure each day.

"Creating a table with joy at the center has very little to do with what's being served."

"Holding on too tightly to relics and memorabilia can fool me into remembering things inaccurately. Everything was beautiful and easy. The babies slept soundly beneath the moon. I pureed organic carrots. What? Not even close."

"Sometimes the only thing that turns an ordinary event into a special tradition is just calling it one."

Besides being  a good reminder to cherish the moments, the book itself is beautiful. A little hardback gift book size book with beautiful photographs of the cutest little children, it's nicely put together with spots for reflection and journaling.

Looking for a gift for a new mom or a harried mom or just as a good challenge for yourself, I recommend this book.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, September 18, 2017

These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart

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Set in Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains during the time of the Frontier Nursing Service and the end of World War II comes a story that features love, adventure, and caring compassion. The Frontier Nursing Service was established by Mary Breckinridge and it still serves southeastern Kentucky and the midwifery school continues to train nurse-midwives. I really like when fiction books incorporate true history into their stories.

Francine Howard comes to the Frontier Nursing Service to run away from a botched relationship back home and, of course, you know what happens.

The book is more than that though too. There are tales of treating a moonshiner's accidental gunshot wound, Granny Em with her herbs and wisdom, a baby being born on the back of a truck in the middle of winter enroute to the hospital, and so on.

Francine embraces the mountain people, seeks to understand them and develops rich friendships because of that. She gets hopelessly lost very quickly in the mountains, but someone always comes along to rescue her.

There was a saying among the nurses that nobody comes there by accident. Isn't that true in life as well? We are not accidents. God has a plan for us and sometimes the way may seem muddled and we may feel lost, but God is there.

I enjoyed the book and thought it was well-written.

I received this book from Revell Publishers. A positive review was not required.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

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Living out the beauty of the Gospel Together

Many of you might know her as Nancy Leigh DeMoss, or as the founder, I believe, of Revive our Hearts. She has written a number of books, of which I have read very few. Right now I can't think of any other ones I have read. But I have listened to her broadcasts and inspired and challenged by what she has to say. This book was no different.

Taken from Titus 2: 1-5, 10, this is Paul's challenge for the older women to be "reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine." Then they are to teach the younger women "to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands." That is what Adorned is about, talking about each of these characteristics and encouraging the older women to get involved in the life of a younger woman, to not check out and think their work is done, but to mentor and teach. And to the younger woman, the encouragement is to seek out an older woman who will mentor them and provide wisdom and practical advice and encouragement in the day to day struggles of life.

There was some very thought provoking and challenging chapters in this book to be sure. Creating a home that is welcoming, loving your husband and children and being dedicated to mothering and being kind regardless, those are all needed reminders for me. It all is really.

Again a few quotes: "When we serve people, we serve Christ."

"Nowhere am I more tempted to be selfish and lazy than in my home with my closest relationships. Too often, we show more concern and kindness for a complete stranger than for those who live under the same roof with us." Ouch, this hits very close to home. It is so true.

"Self-control is both a lifetime need and a lifetime pursuit."

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to become a Titus 2 woman.

I received this book from Moody. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick

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This story is set in the late 1800's and is based on a true story. Jennie is a young woman married to an alcoholic. He divorces her and she goes to work as a caregiver/nurse for an older lady in failing health. In a bizarre turn of events, after the lady dies, her husband, a 64 year old man and Jennie, a 26-year old, fall in love and get married. She goes on to become a doctor and to say much more would be to give away some of the story line.  From what I was able to gather in the author's notes is that this is all true.

Knowing that this book was based on a true story does help the story line a bit, but I will have to say the book had a hard time pulling me in. There really seemed to be no plot, nothing that just grabbed my attention. The references to God were somewhat minimal, it didn't seem like a real relationship with God. There was a piece about guilt, where Jennie's friend would have said, you need to confess your failings to God, then forgive yourself, and rather than drowning in guilt over some supposed wrong, to pick up and move on and make something of yourself. Those are my own words, but I thought that was good. Sometimes, I think, we know, in our brain, that God forgives us, and yet we struggle to forgive ourselves thinking we aren't worthy of forgiveness.

So my final conclusion is that this is not my style of book at all. I'd like to think you could write a down-to-earth, true-to-life story and have it pull the reader in, this book did not do that for me at all. I can't really tell you what it was missing, but I was somewhat disappointed overall.

I received this book from Revell Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gobi by Dion Leonard

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Illustrated by Lisa Manuzak

A little dog with a big heart.

This is a hardback children's book that is beautifully illustrated and tells a true story. It's a standard hardback size, maybe around a 10x12 with a cover jacket. I'm not sure what kind of illustrations they are. The people are not real to life and yet they are not caricatures either or I wouldn't call them that anyway.

The story is about Dion's run through the Gobi Desert. On the second day of the race, a little stray desert dog finds the runners and attaches himself to Dion and runs the remainder of the race with him. Dion doesn't have extra food, but he shares a little with the dog. Other runners also share food with Gobi from their own stashes.

The dog wants to stick with Dion and be his forever friend. This is challenged when Dion goes to run through a river and the dog knows he couldn't make it. Just in time, Dion remembers and comes back and carries the dog across the river.

It's a nice story that can also bring home the character qualities of faithfulness and loyalty and kindness.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Due to some spamming comments, I have changed the ability to comment. You now cannot comment anonymously, but need to have a Google ID and will have to do a word verification. Not that I get that many comments, but it has been very frustrating to have all these spam comments, some of which are very inappropriate.

Why would people want to spam my blog? I mean really, I am so active on it and it is such a money-making account and reaches so many people..... Okay, that's all. I just wanted to rant a little on it. Oh and if you ever need some risque comment ideas, you can check with me I can help you out.

5 Minute Bible Stories by Stephen Elkins

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100 stories and 100 songs

Created by Stephen Elkins
Illustrated by Tim O'Connor

100 Bible stories that are short and easy to understand and can be read in five minutes or less. Each story is accompanied by a song that goes along with the story. The book seems to be pretty comprehensive as far as capturing the popular Bible stories: Creation, Noah, Job, four stories about David, Jonah, birth of Jesus, some parables and miracles and ending with heaven. Some of the songs include Amazing Grace to go with the Beatitudes, Be Kind to go with the story of David and Mephibosheth, He is Lord with the story of Samson and so on.

In paging through the book, a lot of the songs look familiar to me and I am guessing you could find the music on YouTube for the ones that you don't know. I would wish there was either music to go with the songs, not just the lyrics or that there was a CD with all the songs on it. If someone doesn't know a lot of Bible songs or hasn't had a two year old who loves music and we listen to a lot of children's Bible songs, it would be rather time consuming to have to look up a lot of the songs on YouTube or some other place. There is a website that is supposed to contain the full song lyrics as not all of the songs are listed in their entirety, but it appears to not be up and working yet. When I typed in that address, I got a message that the My Wonder Kids site is coming soon.

While I haven't read all the stories, they look interesting and like something my 2.5 year old will love. I'm not necessarily a good judge of ages for children's books as my daughter loves books and will listen to books that I thought she would find boring (too many words, not enough pictures). But I would say this book would be good for two year olds on up to lower grades in school as they would be able to read it for themselves.

I think this is a lovely book and I'm trying to decide if I will use it now or save it for a birthday or Christmas gift this coming year.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...