Book Reviews, Fiction, Nonfiction

What I’ve Been Reading | Fall 2019 Edition

I would like to give myself a high five for blogging this week! Granted it’s a recap of books, but hey, it’s a new post! Have you read any? Would love to hear what you thought of them!

Legendary and Finale by Stephanie Garber – Really enjoyed this series! While the conclusion felt a teeny bit rushed, I think it was more because I was sad to say goodbye to so many characters. Maybe we can get some short stories of a few years down the road :).

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl – This was a fun one for book club. It’s a quick read and produced lots of reactions. My take – if you’re looking for a fast read with some interesting historical pieces and foodie culture of NYC, it’s worth checking out.

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden – She continues to be one of my favorite historical authors. She always finds little bits of history I know nothing about and creates a fun story. If you want a bit of romance and history, be sure to check this one out.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Even though I hadn’t read it yet, I was really excited when I heard this was becoming a movie (I read her debut), but honestly I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. This may be a slight spoiler: The story itself is interesting, but there was a character I felt she tried to make the “perfect” character, even when their decisions were actually terrible.

Endless Night by Agatha Christie – When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to think. It wasn’t what I was expecting and it was in first person (which I’ve never read from Agatha), but I trust her books, so I stuck with it and I have to say it was worth it. Super eerie! Of the several I’ve read, definitely her most creepy!

The Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande – I really enjoy memoirs. No matter if you agree with every point and/or every decision a person makes, I truly believe there is always something we can learn from reading people’s stories. Grande’s is a story of an undocumented immigrant and the journey of a writer. If you’re looking for a memoir, check out this one!

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell – I’m a big fan of Siri’s historical fiction novels. As that’s her go-to genre to write, so it was so much fun to see her step into suspense and thriller!

Happy reading everyone!

Bookish Radness

A Literary Rebel

Sometimes I decide to make things and sell them. This time? My love of being a Literary Rebel.

A friend once said “Books change the world because books change people and people change the world.” Books, stories, words: They help see humanity in others, they motivate us into action, move us toward compassion, give us hope. Books also teach us, encourage us, and inspire us.

Today’s times are hard. Watch the news for 53 seconds and you know what I mean. People can no longer have discussions and have hidden behind a computer to yell and name call. Critical thinking seems like a distant memory and the art of debate buried.

As a person who loves Jesus and tries everyday to love people like He does, the environment we’ve created breaks me. People no longer see people. They see issues. Issues they have opinions about.

May that never be me. May I always see a person’s value and humanity and love them, no matter what faith they follow (if any), what life choices they make, what good or bad decisions they make, whatever it is. May I always see the person.

That’s what books help with. This isn’t just an opinion of a biased book-loving, publisher-working reader. Science, studies, and so many things point to this: When we read books and stories (especially true with fiction), we are kinder and we have compassion. Why? Because we are able to see humanity through the words of a book.

So this was going to be a one paragraph introduction to the mugs and stickers I have on Etsy, but apparently I had a word to share! So friends, keep reading books. Read books about stories you aren’t familiar with and people who look and act differently from you. Be a person known for compassion.

May we always rebel against that which isn’t love.

Want the mug or stickers? You can check out my Etsy shop >> here.

Want to get more recommendations than you’ll ever need? You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to sign-up (its free) for the Penguin Random House Readers Program. Buy books, earn points, get free books. Definitely a way to be a Literary Rebel. Sign up here#TeamPRH #ReadWithLoyalty

Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading | Spring 2019 Edition

Books. Books. All the Books! Even though I don’t do book reviews anymore, I still want to keep y’all in the loop of what I’m reading! Here’s the most recent reads – some for the INSPYs, some for the different book clubs I’m in, and some for fun! Have you read any?

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano: An INSPY nominee.

The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright: Another INSPY nominee.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Y’all know how I feel about this book. I think everyone in America should be required to read this. We read it for one of my book clubs and it was a great discussion. I also did a quote series on Instagram, be sure to check it out!

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar: And another INSPY nominee.

The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong: I wrote about this a few weeks back here.

Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse: It’s a series, and I’m not so patiently waiting for the conclusion next year!

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay: I love everything she writes and this was no different! Well worth your time.

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim: Always love the creativity and her unique take on a story. This is definitely one of my favorites from Petersheim.

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan: Can murder mysteries be fun to read? I think so! I’m a big fan of Rachel and how she brings important characters and topics to the world. Be sure to check her out if you haven’t yet!

Broken Harbor by Tana French: This is my second book by French and I’m trying really hard to like her books. I like her writing, but the two I’ve read, the endings (and murder mystery reveals) have left me wanting. Usually I give an author two books before accepting we aren’t meant to be, but I’m willing to give her one more shot.

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon: Another INSPY nominee.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon: I read this for book club and it was such a great discussion. If you’re looking for a good discussion book, I definitely recommend this one. It’s also just a great book, but extra bonus getting to discuss it with friends.

What are you reading?

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

10 Minutes in the Word: Psalms | Book Review

I’m always curious about devotionals with time promises. I remember when I first became a Christian almost 20 years ago, my first devotional was called 15 MInutes With God and greatly impacted my faith and developing a devotional time. (Sidenote: I wonder what my thoughts would be on that devotional now. I don’t recall anything too controversial, but two decades is plenty of time to change thoughts and views on theology. I’ll keep y’all posted if I do :)).

This pocket-ish size devotional takes a look through Psalms and the devotionals are encouraging. Going through the themes the author of the Psalm wrestled with in a short devo, including a prayer for the reader and ending with questions for the reader to think on in their personal life, this makes for an engaging devotional. One minor thing I wish would have been done differently is to include the full scripture reading along with the devotional. It’s not a major thing (since Bible apps and access to Bibles are in abundance), but more of a preference.

Overall, if you’re looking for a gift book or a devotional for yourself, this one is worth checking out.

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK Embrace your time with the Lord, no matter how busy you are! 10 Minutes in the Word: Psalms offers encouraging insights and meaningful reflections in just 10 minutes. For the days when you most need the presence of God, 10 Minutes in the Word: Psalms is the perfect way to grow in your faith that fits into your busy schedule.

This devotional invites you into the Psalms, a place of praise and reflection. Realign your heart with God’s as you read through the Scripture and spend just a few minutes with Him. Whether you’re on a quick lunch break, between classes, or relishing some peace and quiet during nap time, 10 Minutes in the Word: Psalms gives you what you need to keep going. Just 10 minutes a day will guide you into Psalms, helping you feel closer to God and His Word.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

ICB Prayer Bible for Children by Thomas Nelson | Book Review

Help your children develop a heart for prayer with the new Prayer Bible for Children. This colorful Bible in the ICB version, the simple translation children can read and understand, highlights the most famous and beloved prayers featured in the Bible throughout the text. To put prayer life into practice, the Bible comes with a free prayer journal and a handy pocket on the back flap to carry it!

Prayer can be challenging and fearful for children to grasp sometimes, and the new ICB Prayer Bible will help show children that God loves to hear from His children and loves answering prayers.

With 160 pages about prayer and special features that show how God answers prayers throughout the Bible, you and your family will love to study this special Bible together! Featured throughout the text are the most famous and beloved prayers featured in the Bible. From Abraham’s prayers to the Lord . . . to Jesus praying before his crucifixion . . . to the way Paul prayed for the churches he planted, this Bible will teach young readers about a God who loves to hear from His children and loves answering prayers.

Special features include 160 full page prayer articles throughout the Bible. These special pages help children learn how to pray, to not fear prayer, and to see within the Word how and when God’s people prayed. The 64 colorful decorative pages will feature kid-friendly scripture prayers, topical poem prayers and fun questions and answers kids have about prayer. To put prayer life into practice, the Bible comes with a free prayer journal and a handy pocket on the back flap with to carry the prayer journal.

I love coming across books that are meant for children, but after looking through, know the adults reading with the child will be just as encouraged and engaged. This Prayer Bible for Children by Thomas Nelson is one of those!

I really loved the prayers throughout this Bible. While they are for children, so many of the words ring true for adults. Part of one of the prayers from the book of Zephaniah reads:

“Lord, I don’t need to be afraid. You, my God, are always with me…You sing over me with delight. My heart is peaceful and happy.”

It also comes with a 64 page prayer journal. It’s a fun extra for the young journaler in your life. It’s lined and matches the Bible design. This is right in the age range of my oldest niece, so I look forward to giving this to her!

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

CSB Apologetics Study Bible | Review

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible helps today’s Christians better understand, defend, and proclaim their beliefs in an age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. This revised and updated edition includes new articles and extensive apologetics study material from today’s leading apologists to reflect and provide deeper understanding of the relevant apologetics issues and questions being discussed today.

Includes commentary from over 90 leading apologists, including: Ted Cabal, Lee Strobel, Chuck Colson, Paul Copan, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, J.P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, and many more — plus a lead article by Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ).

Features include: Presentation page, Book Introductions, Study Notes, Apologetics articles from leading apologists, “Twisted Scripture” explanations for commonly misunderstood passages, Profiles of Christian apologists, Two-color interior, Two-column text, 9.75-point type size, Smyth-sewn binding, Ribbon marker, Full-color maps, and more.

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture’s life-transforming message and to share it with others.

I was really impressed with this Bible. Full disclosure, I didn’t review every single article, but I didn’t read several and thought they were helpful pieces to the conversations many of us have with unbelievers. It helped that one of the random profiles I came across was on C.S. Lewis :).

I also thought the “twisted scripture” bits throughout were really helpful. How do other religions use scripture to fit their theology? Explaining the reasons and other scriptures helped my understanding of other religions. I think information like this is not only important to engage in intelligent conversations, but also strengthens my beliefs in Scripture.

What’s one of your favorite apologetics resources?

(Thank you to Holman Bible Publishers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin | Book Review

“If a white man became a Negro in the Deep South, what adjustments would he have to make? What is it like to experience discrimination based on skin color, something over which one has no control?”

So began the journey of John Howard Griffin and story in what would become a classic in America non fiction and racial history. Griffin served in the Air Corps, studied in France (where he helped smuggle Austrian Jews to safety) and was blinded for 10 years from a war accident at which time he started writing and would soon take on this life altering project. Such a life and such a story.

In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross the color line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man. His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity-that in this new millennium still has something important to say to every American.

Where to start with this book? We’ll go with the writing – it’s incredible. He keeps you captivated and so many sentences or insights were beautifully written and profound. He cuts straight to the reader’s heart and soul. You’ll go through all of your emotions with this book. There are so many insightful quotes that I thought about including, but I vote you read the book instead. So much of what he observed can (sadly) be applied today.

“Surely in America a whole segment of decent souls could not stand by and allow such massive crimes to be committed.” – John Howard Griffin

You know those times you read about some period in history and it leaves you completely dumbfounded and speechless? There were many times I felt that way while reading this book – reading stories (ones I’ve read so many times before) of such pure hatred for no other reason than the color of one’s skin. What in the living heck humanity? I simply cannot comprehend that person’s heart or soul.

His honesty throughout the pages is profound. He doesn’t hold back his feelings. He is vulnerable and that is what makes the book the classic that it is. Here’s one of his thoughts:

“The laughter had to be gross or it would turn to sobs, and to sob would be to realize, and to realize would be to despair. So the noise poured forth like a jazzed-up figure, louder and louder to cover the whisper in every man’s soul. “You are black. You are condemned.”

This was made into a movie in the 1964, but I think it’s time for a remake. We still need to hear and see these stories.

Some of the people he encountered were amazing too. Like the old man preacher he met first in Mobile. He understood loving the enemy. “When we stop loving them, that’s when they win.”

I cannot say enough how vital and important this book still is. I’ve read this before, yet reading it a decade later is still so impactful. If you only read one nonfiction book this year, may this one be it.

“Where racism is practiced, it damages the whole community, not just the victim group.”

Is there a book that has recently rocked your world? I’d love to hear about it!

Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Inklings

If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis by Alister McGrath | Inklings Series Discussion

If you are looking for an introduction to C.S. Lewis, this book is a great place to start. Not only because you get some facts about Lewis’ life, but also an overview of his thoughts on faith, life and why he wrote many of the books he did. There’s also discussion on what Lewis’ writings mean for us today. I really enjoyed it and now I really can’t wait to get more of his books!

“Lewis does not try to prove the existence of God on purely rational grounds. His approach is much more interesting. Instead of launching an argument for the existence of God, Lewis invites us to see how what we observe in the world around us and experience within us fits into the Christian way of seeing things. Lewis’s genius as an apologist…lay in his ability to show how a Christian viewpoint was able to offer a more satisfactory explanation of common human experience than its rivals, especially the atheism he had once himself so enthusiastically advocated.”

I really enjoyed reading how all of Lewis’ experiences shaped the stories he wrote, his faith and how he shared his faith with the world. Have I mentioned he was a genius?

Lewis’ writings have shaped me in so many ways, so it was nice to read from someone who could articulate why Lewis and his writings are so amazing.

“One of the reasons Lewis embraced Christianity is that it helped him to discern meaning in life. Life is about more than just understanding things: it is about being able to cope with ambiguity and bewilderment, and about finding something worthwhile to give us direction and meaning.”

Okay, one more quote about his writing: “His approach could be described as enabling the believer to hear the harmonics of the cosmos, and to realise that it fits together aesthetically.”

The two chapters on Narnia were some of my favorite, because, as McGrath points out, through the stories of Narnia, Lewis shows truths instead of just telling us. I knew my love for Narnia was legit! ; ).

“These evocative stories affirm that it is possible for the weak and foolish to have a noble calling in a dark world…that there is indeed something beautiful and wonderful at the heart of the universe; and that this may be found, embraced, and adored.”

Can Narnia be real? PLEASE INTERNET!

Alright! Here’s a few discussion questions. Feel free to answer any or all, and of course include your own thoughts!

1. After reading this, is there a book of Lewis you really want to read?
For sure I am excited to read The Weight of Glory. I’m also interested in The Abolition of Man, since he was so fired up about the topic.

2. Did you have a favorite “lunch” (chapter)?
I enjoyed the first chapter about Narnia – I thought it profound that Narnia was written when Lewis’ life was at an all-time low. Plus I loved hearing Lewis’ response about Narnia: “Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia, and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.”

“One of Lewis’s great achievements in Narnia is to help us understand that we live in a world of competing narratives. In the end, we have to decide for ourselves which is right. And having made that decision, we then need to inhabit the story we trust. Lewis help us deal with both questions.”

3. Any other thoughts?
I will forever be sad about the direction of Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship. Sigh….

I’ll end with this beauty of a quote:
“Perhaps one of the lessons that we can learn from Lewis is that apologetics is at its best when it makes people wish that Christianity is true – by showing them its power to excited the imagination, to make sense of things, and to bring stability, security, and meaning to life.”