Monday, December 2, 2019

I'm Back, I think

I was just looking back through my blog posts and realized that May was the last time I wrote a blog post that wasn't a book review. That makes me sad because I do like writing blog posts. I write book reviews because I get free books for doing it, but I write blog posts because I enjoy the writing process. I don't count myself a professional by any means, but good grief, I won't improve if I don't practice.

 In fact, I just got a book off of NetGalley that I am super excited about. It's called "My Unedited Writing Life..." You can read more of my thoughts about it here. The reason I'm excited about it is that I want to use it to generate more blog posts that aren't book reviews and aren't just stuffy me-trying-to-fill-space posts either. I don't know yet what it will look like, but I certainly want to write more than once every 6 months.

A lot has happened since I last posted. Baking season has come and gone and it was a really good year. We felt very blessed by the success of it this year. We also felt very tired and ready to see it come to an end for another year, but give me another five months and I'll be ready to roll again, (no pun intended).

We've also moved to a new location and as you can tell from the picture, the children are thrilled about it. They have so much more room to play, to spread their toys and to fight in. Of course, they still prefer to play within about 2 feet of each other, but hey, if they wanted to, they could spread out. Really and truly, I think the spaces of them playing nicely together or even by themselves are increasing. I have been noticing and thinking about how nicely they are playing together.

What is it about being on the phone that seems to bring out the worst in children? I tell my mom sometimes that my kids were playing nicely so I decided to call her because I knew they would start fighting and it happens SO often. And I don't think I'm even on the phone that much. But it does give me pause to make a call when they are playing nicely because I know the potential is right there.

So I have no idea how to feel about this, but I have the Grammarly extension on my computer to catch errors in my typing and just now it pops up to tell me what tone they detect in my writing. I seem to be aiming to write mostly a friendly blog post with a little informality and joyfulness thrown in. Serious? So what next? Are they going to tell me the state my house is in while I'm sitting at my computer as well? Because if they do, we are done, we can be friends no more. I know the state of my house right now and it isn't pretty. There are doll clothes and legos scattered all over the living room and it ain't a pretty sight at all. So, while I'm supposed to provide a thumbs up/thumbs down approval of their assessment, I no-can-do. I am not comfortable affirming this sort of behavior for fear they will only dig deeper into my personal life!! :) :)

And now, I should run off and heat up some good old Thanksgiving turkey. Is it even a legitimate Thanksgiving if you have no leftovers to eat for the next few meals?

My Unedited Writing Year: 365 Invitations to Free Your Creativity and the Writer Within by Hope Lyda

My Unedited Writing Year: 365 Invitations To Free Your Creativity And The Writer Within by Hope Lyda

For some time now, I have been wanting to do more purposeful writing. While I don't consider myself a professional at all, I do enjoy the craft of writing and trying to put words to my thoughts. This book looks like a great opportunity to practice my writing skills along with helping me to think outside of the box in what I'm writing about.

I have not read the entire book. To me, this is not the kind of book you sit down and read from cover to cover. I think that might drown whatever spark of creativity you had when you started if you were to read all 365 invitations at once. I plan to keep this book close and use it on a regular basis in 2020 and maybe even beyond.

Some of the creative invitations included in this book are: "Write a permission slip for yourself to do something, to be something, or to create something you've held back from pursuing." or "Turn your attention to a secondhand object. Write about its journey or about an imagined previous owner."  I mean how fun would that be?

There are a few different categories these invitations fall into: Writing Practice and Nonfiction, Life Journey, Spiritual Inspiration, Fiction and Poetry, and Creativity Jump Starts.

I enjoy blogging and I'm looking forward to creating some blog posts using some of these creative inspirations. I just think it could be so much fun.

Since I got an ARC copy and an e-book, this will be a book I will keep my eyes open for after it has been released. Having a paper copy would be so much easier to follow along with, I think.

I received this book from Harvest House via NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns about Heaven by Ace Collins

Stories behind the Songs and Hymns about Heaven

Have you ever wondered what inspired Stuart Hamblen to write "This Ole House?" Actually, if you're like me, your first question would have been who wrote "This Ole House" in the first place. The answer is curiosity. He spotted an old, abandoned-looking house and had to see what it was. He found an old dog and a man who had passed away in the last week or so. Fascinating isn't it?

This book is filled with stories like this. Okay, I don't think anyone else stumbled across a body, but you get the idea. The inspiration for these songs came from all kinds of places and were written by all kinds of authors. I knew a fair amount of the songs, but there were also quite a few that were new to me.

"Victory in Jesus", "I'll Fly Away", "Roll, Jordan, Roll" and many more are talked about in this book. There's a short chapter for each song and, if possible, the song is written there as well.

Another thing going for this book is it's pretty. A hardcover, gift-book sized edition, this would make a nice Christmas gift for the curious soul who likes to know the origins of things.

I received this book from BakerBooks and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed were my own.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Protecting Your Child from Predators by Beth Robinson, EdD, and Latayne C. Scott, PhD

Protecting Your Child from Predators by Robinson, Beth EdD

How to Recognize and Respond to Sexual Danger.

"Love protects. It does not violate."

"Trust is the oil that greases the gears of abuse. Without trust, most abuse could never happen."  Isn't that not an oxymoron? We think trust is what we need, when in reality most abuse happens by people we know and trust. They know how to worm their way into our families, our hearts and our children's lives and then they take advantage.

This book was eye-opening, thought-provoking and downright scary. I've always been a bit terrified of one of my children being sexually abused and this book makes me want to never let my children out of sight. I am left grappling with how to take this information and make informed, conscious decisions while also not allowing it to cripple my life to the point that I am not allowing my children to grow and develop.

One of the things that is stressed in this book is creating in your child a warrior heart, a heart that is brave, noble, and prepared, a heart that knows what is right and wrong, a heart that confides in their parents and knows they have a safe listening ear there.

The book is divided into age groups and gives a list of things that each age group should know. That was very helpful. I think my four-year-old has a basic concept of the things she should know. We have had discussions about good touch/bad touch or as this book emphasizes, safe touch/unsafe touch. But I was made aware of how important an ongoing discussion is, of how important paying attention to your child's cues is for picking up on things that are not right.  I was also deeply saddened by the horror that children experience at the hands of supposedly trustworthy people. Church is listed as a very scary place, because perpetrators recognize the trust that goes on there and the ease of access to children.

But I was also encouraged by the author's assurance that with the right help and guidance, children can overcome the horrors of abuse and live a normal, healthy life. Children are resilient.

I enjoyed this book and it offers some very good, practical advice for keeping children safe. I would recommend it.

I received this book from Bethany House and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Jacobson, Lisa

The Simple, Powerful Path to a Loving Marriage

"But I had yet to learn that meeting the right guy is one thing - and loving him year after year is quite another." So says Lisa in her introduction. And I think she is so right. So what are those 100 ways and is Lisa really qualified to talk about them? Well, she has been married for 25 years; that definitely adds credibility to her words, in my opinion at least. She and her husband, Matt, have eight children, one with severe brain damage. Raising eight children, at least one with special needs, and still loving her husband through it all, also increases her credibility.

This book is a fast read, I think it took me around an hour to read it. It is basically a numbered list, one per page, of ways to love your husband. Most items have a paragraph or so expounding on it, some have only a sentence and a few have a two or three-page story to go with it. Most are just common sense items that we think, of course, and yet I needed the reminder once again to go out and truly, selflessly love my husband. I would recommend this book if you feel like you are growing stale in your love for your husband, if you are looking for that pick-me-up reminder of ways to show love, and if you just need the push from behind to give a little more effort to your marriage to take it from good to great.

They are not complicated things, but they do require effort, time, and energy, but that is the cost of relationships. One of the stories she gave was of being exceedingly, over-the-top excited to see a new acquaintance and her husband mentioned that he would like if she was that excited to see him. It's so easy for us to put our best foot forward outside the home and then drag around inside the home. I was convicted of number 13 on the list: Keep the passion burning. The single sentence under it said, "Start a small kitchen fire." And the story that went with it was how she was behind schedule with supper, everyone was hungry and she was frantically chopping vegetables. Her husband came into the kitchen and she couldn't spare him a glance, she was just too busy and frantic. He tried to hug her, but she couldn't lean in because she was too busy trying to get food ready for hungry stomachs. And then she was reminded that hearts need to be filled as well. I do this way too often. Don't get in my way when I'm busy in the kitchen scrambling to get supper on. Just leave me alone and set the table already. But that does nothing to deepen a relationship.

So I thought this was a great little book to have on hand to read through occasionally to provide some ideas of practical ways to love your husband and deepen your marriage.

I received this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

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I don't often post my NetGalley books on my blog, but this one feels like it's worth it. I have been reading a lot of light fiction lately in an effort to catch up on my review books and I have realized that I am not a big fan of heavier reading on my phone, so I read fiction. And when possible I still get those books from the library and then there are deadlines. So I've been frantically reading and getting a little burned out by the lightness of the reading, but I also want to get caught back up. So all that to say, this book was so good. Yes, there's a bit of romance, but the deeper themes throughout the book drew me in. I wanted to know what happened and how redemption occurred. It was just so good. And only a couple more library books and then I will return to some deeper reading after we move.

As I closed this book after reading the last sentence, I sat back and said, "Wow."  This was Amanda Dykes debut novel and I want to know when her next novel will be out. She has written some novellas prior to this, but no other full-length novels. Amanda is described as a "drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales" and I couldn't agree more.

This story flips back and forth from the time Robert Bliss was 18 years old during World War II to the early 2000s when he is lying in a hospital bed and his great-niece comes to visit. The story follows Robert through the next 20 or so years while still occasionally flipping forward to the present-day part of the story, if that makes sense.

It's a story of grief and hope and rocks. It's a story of loss, deep love, and redemption. Robert has a deep grief to work through and he does it by following the instructions left him: "Don't get stuck in the dark, Bob... There's a whole lotta light, go there instead." And that leads to the poem that went world-wide and brought boxes of rocks to the town of Ansel-by-the-Sea.

Annie, his great-niece, is also a bit lost. Her dad is estranged from his Uncle Bob, she feels she has botched her one and only anthropology job and is now pushing numbers in a Chicago office. When GrandBob needs help, she goes and there she meets Jeremiah Fletcher, a strong man with deep secret pain. You know how that ends up, but it is one of the most beautiful stories I have read recently. The romance is limited, but the search for hope and light is not. Jeremiah is a man who is all-in when he's all in, but with high walls otherwise and it's the slow dance of breaking down those walls one piece at a time, not through romance, but through true friendship.

This story pulls you in and makes you want more. You want to know about the rest of the people mentioned in the story, of Ed and Sylvia, of Arthur, of William and Annaliese, of Bess and even Spencer T Ripley. The way Amanda wields words makes the story come alive and I couldn't stop reading, especially at the end when I needed to make sure there would be a happy ending, not just between Annie and Jeremiah, but between two other very important characters as well.

I also thought there was some good advice given in this book. Listen to this paragraph:
"What are you growing? Annie plies the tools of her trade, hoping that the questions will lead to connections. It was what brought her into anthropology in the first place. When she was a painfully shy teenager, she discovered the magic of questions. If she asked the right questions, the other person would talk, and talk, and talk. And she could listen. She fell in love with listening, marveled at the magic of the things she found out, just by asking a few questions. Treasures buried in every conversation"

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am hoping that there are more books coming from Amanda Dykes. I am not a big fan of novellas, but I might have to go check out at least her novella prequel to this story.

I received this book from Bethany House via NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

the words between us by Erin Bartels

The Words between Us

For the first time, I think I understand why people say they want other people to read a book so they can talk about it. That is how I feel about this book. I have mixed feelings about it and I'm not sure where I come out at.

This is Erin's second book and I will continue to be happy to read anything she writes. She does a really good job. I will say though that this book has left me a bit confused and a bit unsure of what I really think.

The words we write are there. Once you send that letter or email, you can't pull it back and undo it. It's there to be read and reread and thought about. In this book, Robin expresses herself in poetry written as payment for Peter lending her books. While she captures the essence of the book in the poem, she is also desperate to be understood herself. She doesn't have a pretty background and she is running and hiding and yet wants to be known. Does that not define us all? At some point in our lives, do we not all try to hide and yet beg to be seen? I know I do and it can be a lonely place to be as Robin realizes.

I don't want to say too much more about the book because I don't want to give out spoilers. And also because I really don't know what else to say. I found the book extremely captivating and yet one choice was very disappointing to me and almost ruined the book for me based on my own beliefs of right and wrong.

However, I do agree with Robin's choice to stop running and hiding and to finally forgive and to face the past in an effort to live the present and look forward to the future. So that is where I come out, still confused, but also recognizing that there is something here for me to learn from. Loneliness and hiding are not good choices for intentional living and since I want to live intentionally and live life abundantly, I need to make the right choices.

I received this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I'm Back, I think

I was just looking back through my blog posts and realized that May was the last time I wrote a blog post that wasn't a book review. T...