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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One; A Devotional of Comfort as You Mourn by Kathe Wunnenberg is written by a mother who knows loss. It's not a cliche "get over your grief" type of book but rather a "I've been there, let me help you through this journey" devotional which lends you support and encouragement during your darkest days.

What I like best about this devotional is that you can turn to the topic that is most fitting for the mood you are feeling that day. Is it anger? Sadness? Is it a special anniversary or holiday? Wunnenberg seems to have hit each mood and memory in this devotional and there is comfort for whatever mood you may be in. 

This would be very comforting gifted to someone who has recently lost someone special. 

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. 

 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Wolf Road

Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.
 But when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka. Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. 
But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

I had to let this book settle with me overnight before I could write a review and yet this morning I still don't know what I read! There seemed to be a couple story lines within the book that I'm not sure if they didn't mesh well or if I just didn't get the whole premise. The setting is post-apocalyptic, yet I never fully absorbed how the story revolved around that. There just didn't seem to be a reason why that was thrown into the book. I didn't understand what time period this story took place - in my mind it was the 1800's due to the wild west feel with little to no technology. Maybe the author wants us to stay guessing but I felt a little lost not having a timeline. 

It is difficult to review a book with such a shocking reveal towards the end without revealing what it is! I had an inkling halfway through the book what it was leading up to but shrugged it off, thinking no, it couldn't possibly be that. But yes, it was that and the minute you realize what that is a creepy little shiver runs down your spine. That is what a psychological thriller is about, right? A feeling of unease and dread and then yep...the reveal socks you in the gut. 
 
 This was a fast paced book which I started and finished in one afternoon. While it wasn't an edge of the seat gripping book, there was enough suspense throughout the pages that you just need to see how it ends.  

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Encountering Angels

I'm a big fan of books on faith and angels but there have been times that I get an uneasy feeling when I beginning reading and Encountering Angels by Judith MacNutt is included in that category. 

While the majority of angel stories in this book were submitted, so therefore not Macnutt's own stories, they didn't seem to be filtered for quality material.

I know that spiritual encounters can seem nutty and strange to someone who wasn't there to encounter it themselves. But take for example a mother who was horrified to see her child leaning out an upstairs window but then relieved to realize an angel is there blocking the window and keeping the child safe. How was the child leaning out of the window and yet the angel was blocking the open window? Either it was written in a way that was unbelievable or the story itself is. 

The writing is so choppy - one story, followed by Macnutt's musings, immediately followed by musings on a different story. You can't tell where one story begins and another ends. Within three chapters I was getting a headache and was more annoyed with the writing and editing that I had to call it quits. I didn't find this book encouraging but rather eye-roll inducing. And this coming from someone who does believe in angel encounters.

This book was given to me by Chosen Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  

The Drawing Lesson

I was in the middle of buying curriculum for the kid's coming school year when I ran across The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley. Having a tween who is a fan of graphic novels I figured one that teaches you how to draw would be a learning style right up her alley.

   It's an impressive book, showing drawing styles and working on things like shading, proportions, and basic drawing techniques in an interesting way. I'm going to be using this in our art lessons this fall for all the kids. The only draw back to this book is that the "teacher" in this book seems to be somewhat possessed...going from nice to mean to crazy looking throughout the book. It seems strange the way she is portrayed. I'm curious to see if the kids take notice of that. 

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
 

The 30-Day Faith Detox

The premise sounds good, "Renew your mind, cleanse your body, heal your spirit". With a devotional, physical detox, and recipe each day it does work as a daily encouragement during a 30 day detox. Unfortunately, I was unable to get into the recipes. 

I know that detoxes do take time and effort each day, and Smith reassures us that the foods are real foods found in most kitchens. But the majority of the recipes are smoothies and I just can't get into recipes with raw eggs or such time consuming liquid meals that would only be for myself, making me a short order cook for the rest of the family. 

It seems to me one of those things that looks good on paper but is hard to execute in daily life, at least for me.

 This book was given to me by Chosen books in exchange for my honest review.
 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fireproof

I've been elated that in the past several years Christianity has seen a large uprising in the national theaters. There have been numerous movies with good morals and very pointed messages played in our own local theater and it's a good thing for the community.

Fireproof was at the beginning of this trend. I was given the opportunity by FishFlix to review this movie. While I watched Fireproof soon after it was first produced it holds a message that can be watched again and again. 

I thought the acting was a bit cheesy when I first watched it (and again while reviewing it!), it does make sense when you realize that the actors were mainly volunteers from Kirk Cameron's own church. This is a small budget film where the message is more important than the acting. If you can get past the sub par acting you will get to the point of the movie.

Which is that marriage is not the fairy tale often seen in the movies but rather a partnership between two very flawed people that only works when both are committed to each other. Fireproof brings up the (unfortunately) very common issue of work place adultery and porn addiction. It also shows that marriage is worth fighting for.

When Fireproof first came out the message was so popular that a companion book, The Love Dare, was used by many couple Bible Studies to strengthen marriages. The message is a very powerful one, which I think singles as well as married couples, need to hear today. With a country where the divorce rate is 50% and rising it is beneficial to have movies that show someone fighting for their marriage instead of glorifying divorce, adultery, and an "anything goes" mentality.     
 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Colors of Goodbye

I sometimes wonder if I am a glutton for punishment. There was no mistaking when I picked up Colors of Goodbye by September Vaudrey that it would be an emotional book, after all, it's a memoir of holding on, letting go, and reclaiming joy in the wake of loss. 

I figured it wouldn't be as emotional for me since Katie was older (19) and died in a different way than my own (car accident after an aneurysm). I was wrong. Reading the pain, the memories, the thoughts of a mother who lost a child is just as gut wrenching no matter the age, no matter the way the child passed. As heartbreaking as this book was, it also was deeply healing.

While I recommend this book to anyone who has lost a child or knows someone who has lost a child or someone else close to them, I'd also recommend it to anyone human, as it shows that one can face the ultimate pain in life and still see the good. As Vaudrey points out on page 226: "Life is hard, and tragedy strikes. Also, life is stunningly beautiful. Both/and. But our circumstances do not have the power to steal our joy without our permission. If our purpose, our identity, our sense of God's direction hinged upon a pain-free life, how precarious the world would be. How weak God would be. How few would ever find joy."

"I now knew from personal experience that the same God who allows pain to enter our lives also sends us comfort, His presences, and more strength than we thought we possessed. And with the sorrow, He extends an invitation for the transformation of our character and a richer, wiser appreciation of life."

Vaudrey writes with such passion about Katie and the rest of her family that you fall in love with them all and feel their pain. She digs deep into what a loss such as this can do to a person, to a family, to a marriage. But she also brings hope, as well as perspective. "As much as I hate the answer I got when I prayed for Katie, I can't call foul. God never guaranteed me a lifetime with her. He never promised me any of the blessings I get to treasure every day. He promises us comfort in sorrow, strength when our own fails, inexplicable peace, His presence in storms, and life in all its fullness for those who follow Him - but not a pain-free life. And the things He promises, He delivers."

This is such a beautiful book, both the writing as well as the family pictures and Katie's artwork.

This book was sent to be by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.
 

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