Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Night of the Living Dead Christian... with GIVEAWAY!!!!

(I received this book from Tynale for exchange of a fair review)

Book:  Night of the Living Dead Christian
Author:  Matt Mikalatos

In his follow up to the critically acclaimed Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos tackles this question in an entertaining & thought-provoking way - with MONSTERS!!!

While Christians claim to experience Christ's resurrection power, we sometimes act like werewolves who can't control our base desires.  Or zombies, experiencing a resurrection that is 90% shambling death & 10% life.  Or vampires, saiating ourselves at the expense of others.  But through it all we long to stop being monsters & become truly human - the way Christ intended.  We just cant seem to figure out how.

By turns hilarious & heartbreaking, this book is a spirtual allegory that boldly explores the monstrous underpinnings of our nature & the tackles head-on the question of how we can ever hope to become truly transformed.

This isnt your ordinary book.

It has vampires, werewolves, zombies, robots & even a hunter out to rid the world of these monsters... & my favorite, a Clockwork Jesus...

See?  Not your ordinary book.

The story is wrapped up in how we are all monsters looking to be "born again"... & what it means to be a Christian.. a real Christian...

There are some really deep thoughts, especially from Luther - the werewolf that is wanting to be 'cured' from his monster-ways.

A comment Luther made was, "I went to church my entire childhood.  Its one of the key reasons that I'm not a Christian" ... see.  Told you - deep thoughts.

And the way Zombies just want to put ear phones in your ears... they just want you to hear their commentary of the Bible & agree with it completely... some deep stuff if you really look into what the story is saying.

And it also has humor.  There were witty little one liners that made me chuckle too... little insights that you're like, "yep, I totally get that"...

But its a different book too... At parts, I would get wrapped up in it & wanted to see where it was going... other times, I was just confused... & other times, I was just getting bored with it.

I would say this is something to check out if you're bored with all the other books out there right now... also if you have a good imagination & if you are open minded.
& lucky for you, you get a chance at winning your own copy.  GIVEAWAY INFO!!!!  Just leave a comment & tell me your favorite "monster" movie or tv show ... the winner will receive a certificate that allows them a free copy of the book.

& if you want to learn more about the author, stop by his site: http://mattmikalatos.com/

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Life in Stitches

Book:  A Life in Stitches
Author: Rachel Herron

As every knitter knows, the richness of life is woven into every piece you create.  A scarf for a loved one isnt just a warm piece of clothing, its a stiched symbol of affection, making it even warmer.  A sweater struggled over, cables finally wrestled into perfect twists, the neckline finally worked at the right place, becomes more than just something to wear on cold days;  it becomes a wearable proof of accomplishment.

In these twenty heartfelt pieces, Rachael Herron, shares the touches of a life spent knitting, From her very first sweater (a hilarious disaster to say the least) to the yellow afghan that caused a breakup (& ultimately a breakthrough), this beautifully crafted and candidily funny collection is perfect for the knitter who loves to read and the reason who loves to knit.


Oh my goodness - that last line is so spot on. 

I loved reading this book if only because it made my love of knitting so much stronger.

Rachael would tell the story of her life & weave it in wtih stories of knitting & knitting projects along her journey.  Some funny stories, some heart felt stories, some stories that even made me tear up...

If you are a knitter - you'll totally enjoy this book.
If you're not a knitter, when you finish this book you'll want to be one.

My Rating: 4 skeins

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mercy Come Morning

Book:  Mercy Come Morning
Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

Krista Mueller is in a good place. She’s got a successful career as a professor of history; she’s respected and well-liked; and she lives hundreds of miles from her hometown and the distant mother she could never please. It’s been more than a decade since Alzheimer’s disease first claimed Charlotte Mueller’s mind, but Krista has dutifully kept her mother in a first-class nursing home.

Now Charlotte is dying of heart failure and, surprised by her own emotions, Krista rushes to Taos, New Mexico, to sit at her estranged mother’s side as she slips away. Battling feelings of loss, abandonment, and relief, Krista is also unsettled by her proximity to Dane McConnell, director of the nursing home—and, once upon a time, her first love. Dane’s kind and gentle spirit—and a surprising discovery about her mother—make Krista wonder if she can at last close the distance between her and her mother … and open the part of her heart she thought was lost forever.
First Line:  "She's dying, Krista."
This was the first time I read a book by this author.  I enjoyed her style of writing very much.  It was easy to read, but full of powerful visuals & emotion. 
The story of Krista & her mother & the relationship they had was rough to read at times.  How hard it was to witness the final days of her mother's life with all the past still fresh & forefront of her mind.  But Krista works through not only the relationship with her, but with also her friend Dane, who owns the facility that her mother is in... as well as a past event that shaped so much of her life.
The story is full of Jesus & the grace & forgivness!  Loved that...
But it was also a hard story to read as you knew her mother was going to be passing away... & the emotions of that were just raw to me.  I literally sat & cried as the time finally came.
While the story has its tear-worthy-moments, its still full of those things I mentioned earlier - grace, mercy & forgivness - quite a good ending to it all.
My Ratings: 4 Skeins

Monday, August 29, 2011

Embrace Me

Book:  Embrace Me
Author:  Lisa Samson

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattoed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster . . . and improbably close to grace


First Line:  It's amazing how good a priest looks when you've got nobody else to turn to.

I wasnt sure about this book. It seemed to start off slow to me, but somewhere in the middle, surprise kicked in & I was involved in the story.  I dont want to give away any surprises - because it is what made the book for me...

& maybe you'll get it sooner - I'm a tad slow on picking up things - but it was a very cool twist in the book.

I loved the characters - Valentine & her fiesty attitude.  As someone who had been bured, I especially related with her issues & how she felt.  I also loved her "freak" (their words - not mine) partner who she helped.  Such a sweet soul.  I wanted Lella for my own friend.

You will love Augustine as you meet this tattoed monk & all he does - even with his grey dreads.

In the end, the story of forgiveness is all it took to win me over.

My Rating: 4 skeins

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lost & Found

Book:  Lost & Found
Author: Carolyn Parkhurst

What do a suburban mom and her troubled daughter, two recently divorced brothers, a pair of former child stars, born-again Christian newlyweds, and a couple of young millionaires have in common? They have all been selected to compete on Lost and Found, a daring new reality TV show. In teams of two, they will scour the globe - from Egypt to Japan, from Sweden to England - to battle for a million-dollar prize. They must decipher encrypted clues, recover mysterious artifacts, and outwit their opponents to stay in play.

What starts as a lark turns deadly serious as the number of players is whittled down, temptations beckon, and the bonds between partners strain and unravel. Before long the question is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost
First Line:  "By the sixth leg of the game, we have accumulated the following objects:  a ski pole, a bishop from a crytal chess set, a sheet of rice paper, a trlobite fossil, an aviators helmet & a live parrot.

I love reality TV... & this book is right in there - with a race that is similar to "The Amazing Race" - teams of couples that have interesting stories travling around the world together, learning more about each other - the good & bad - & seeing who makes it to the end.

There are MANY characters here & I actually had to write them all down - in teams & who they were... & then they end up switching so I had to mark that as well... I think I would have been a little lost if I didnt have my "cheat sheet" (I'm such a nerd)

Each couple had interesting stories, but the relationship between Laura & Cassie is what holds it together - a mother/daughter duo that is trying to learn to continue life after a tramatic night that changed both of their lives (Dont want to give any spoilers away)... I also loved the relationship between Laura & her NEW partner, Carl.  That was a fun twist...

Each chapter is told from someone's view point... we even get the host of the show giving us a few chapters.

While I wasnt expecting some of the language & "adult content" - it was a fun book that held my interest & made me anxious to see how it was all going to end.

My Rating: 4 skeins

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ask Billy Graham

Book:  Ask Billy Graham
Compiled by:  Bill Adler

The World's Best-Loved Preacher Answers Your Most Important Questions

Would you like to know what Billy Graham thinks about the most important issues of daily life? What about politics, presidents and terrorism? This book contains answers to questions many of us would ask Billy Graham if we had the good fortune to sit down with the person many call "America's Pastor". Best-selling author Bill Adler arranges topics from Graham's sermons, speeches, interviews, television appearances and writings in an easy to follow Q and A format.

Topics include Billy Graham on: Humor, Politics, Prayer, Technology and Religion, Race, Money, the Church, and Growing Older.

Hear Graham's responses to questions like

*What will heaven be like?
*Why does God bring on natural disasters?
*What do you think about the mixing of religion and politics?
*What do you say to an atheist who doesn't think there is a God?
*What is the greatest spiritual threat facing the United States?
*How can we achieve world peace?
First Line:  Would you like to know what Billy Graham thinks about his life, his work & his family?
I love Billy Graham.  Love his teaching, love his passion, love him.  I think his presence is powerful for God.  I have had the privilege of seeing him in person twice.  I have read most of his books, including his autobiography.  I think he's a treasure of our country, as well as the world.
So I was excited when I found this book on a clearance shelf. 
This book is made up of different questions that has been asked to Mr. Graham over the years from different media sources.  The chapters are broken up into topics - Faith, death, Jesus, Presidents, family ...
It is such a quick read ... I literally got through over 200 pages in one afternoon.  And such a good 'quote' book - so much in simple sentences that I want to write down to remember.  A few of his simple answers even brought tears to my eyes...
The only downside to me on this book (& its not really a downside - just something that bothered me) - was some of the questions were repeated in different chapters.  I was just wanting more & more & didnt want to waste time with the things I've already read.  But if you were just going to a chapter for the topic, I can see why that would be helpful.
If you love Billy Graham (& who doesnt) then this book is a must!
My Rating:  4 skeins
(This book was provided to me by Tyndale Publishing Team in exchange for an unbiased review)
Book:  Growing up Amish
Author:  Ira Wagler

Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good. His favorite Bible verse is from Psalm 34: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." In this new memoir, he tells what it was like growing up Old World Amish and what it felt like leaving it for a strange new world. Far more than picturesque; Growing Up Amish conveys one man's heartfelt experience

First Line:  One fateful, starless, April night, I got up at 2:00 am in the pitch black darkness, left a scribbled note under my pillow & walked away - all my earthly belongings stuffed in a little black duffel bag.

I'm usually a fan of biographies & memoirs.  I think people's lives are so interesting & insightful, so I was excited to read this book.  Especially because the Amish life is so different from my own & I love to know more about it, as it seems to be a guarded community.

I was also excited to see the author was a blogger.  If I know you blog, I instantly relate to you & feel like we're blog-family...

I have to say though, this book just wasnt for me.  I did enjoy the writing & I did enjoy learning more about the inside of the Amish lifestyle, but for me, the story just didnt hold my interest very well.  Just areas that I would have liked to known more about or the reasons why Ira did something, those points would be quickly mentioned & the story moved on.  But points of church services & gathering buggies were longer detailed... for me, I just wish it were backwards from each other.

I always feel funny when a book doesnt "reach" me because I know it can still reach someone else & really hold someone else's interset - but, for me, this book was nice.  Not life changing, no "ah ha" moments, just nice.

My Rating: 2 Skeins

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why

Book:  Thirteen Reasons Why
Author:  Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch.  Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannan Baker - his classmate & crush - who committed suicide 2 weeks earlier.

Hannah's voice tells him that there are 13 reasons she decided to end her life.  Clay is one of them.  If he listens, he'll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide.  He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah's pain, & learns the truth about himself - a truth he never wanted to face.
First Line:  "Sir?" she repeats. "How soon do you want it to get there?"

I have heard & read so much about this book so I was anxious to get my hands on it.....

& I was not disappointed.

This book goes through the tapes that Hannah makes before she makes the decision to end her life. 

I dont want to give anything away, but the 13 reasons sort of build on each other & it really shows how things in life are connected as you move on in this world.  How situations can build on each other, snowball, & sometimes grow out of control.

It also shows how someone can get frustrated & loose all sense of hope.

It is a heart wrenching story really.  My heart goes out to the character, Clay, who we follow as he listens to the tape.  He is on the list of the reasons why, & it breaks his heart.... & my heart FOR Clay. Which shows how good the writing is, that I connected so much with this character.

I would love to read another book on how these 13 people interact with each other after hearing these tapes...

Be warned, once you start this book, you wont want to put it down.  You'll want to know who the next tape is for, & what happened to drive Hannah to a place of despair.

On a personal side, I want to scream at Hannah that its stupid to let other teenagers drive you to that point of hopelessness, but we know that suicide is a reality that happens so much in our society.  This is really a great insight to keep an eye out for the teenagers you know in your life...

Favorite quotes from the book:
"Its hard to be disappointed when what you expected turns out to be true" -Hannah

"I'm listening to someone give up.  Someone I knew - someone I liked.  I'm listening.  But still, I'm too late" - Clay

My rating:  4 skeins

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Max on Life

Book:  Max on Life
Author:  Max Lucado

We have questions. Real, important & challenging questions.  Questions about sex, finances & forgiveness.  Unsettling questions regarding illness, suicide, & eternity.  Don't we crave answers to these queries that tug on the deepest parts of our hearts?

In Max on Life, one of the most trusted pastors & authors of our time takes on life's most important questions.

I am a huge fan of Max Lucado anyways so I always look forward to his next book.

This one didn't disappoint either. 

This is a book FULL of questions from ordinary folks.  All asking questions about every topic you could imagine.  I especially appreciated it because there were questions that I have had myself & also because there were questions that I never even THOUGHT of before...

All the answers, Mr. Lucado brings answers strictly from the Bible - with scriptures to back up his thoughts for his answers.  Some of the answers bring peace, some are in your face, but all of it is from God's breathed Word.

It really does cover so many topics... I think this book is perfect just to have around for when someone may have a question that you cant answer yourself.  This book would be a good "spring board" to find an answer or to lead to another answer that will suffice someone whose asking a question.

This, to me, is a book that needs to just be kept around for a good reference tool...

My Rating:  5 skeins

Friday, July 15, 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish

Book:  Money Secrts of the Amish
Author: Lorilee Craker

When writer Lorilee Craker learned that the Amish are not just surviving but thriving in the economic downturn, she decided to find out why.  What she found out was about a dozed tried & true financials habits the Amish have employed for generations that will make your cash last longer & help you build wealth.  Craker provides tips to
*use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without
*rethink your gift giving
*repurpose, recycle & reuse
*eat like royalty for a peasant's pittance

Who doesnt want more money in today's economic hard times? 

This book is really a good, easy read, easy to digest.

I will say, its not full of anything new or "shocking" - its pretty much basic things that you should already know if you have been trying to cut back on money - but its nice to be reminded.

I did love the interviews & things spoken with the Amish - to see their simple ways that they live by & be reminded that money doesnt buy happiness.

I particularly loved the chapter on gift giving as I think its gotten out of control for most families anymore.  And also, the idea of "recycling" speaks right to my "green" heart!

As a blogger, I also appreciated the sites that were mentioned for ideas - I already saved a couple of them in my favorites to go back & check out their ideas even now.

While the book isnt really tell me anything I didnt already know - it was a nice read, a good reminder & a push to be more careful of my spending  & to be more aware of things I could easily change that would add up in my bank account.

My rating:  3 skeins

Friday, June 24, 2011

Streetwalking with Jesus

Book:  Streetwalking with Jesus
Author:  John Green

For over two decades John Green's vocation has been ministering to inner city men on the margins of society in downtown Chicago.

Green didn't set out to be another Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa, and would be quick to tell you he hasn t become one. A product of middle class, church-going comfort and values, he heeded God's challenge to found Emmaus Ministries, which serves some of the modern-day lepers that are in our midst. Struck by the words of Micah 6:8 and the act of a homeless man who gruesomely ended his life in Green's presence, Green vowed to constantly ask himself: How can I live justly? To whom do I show mercy? How may I walk humbly with God?

Deacon Green's lessons learned regarding these hard questions are set against stories of men who struggle to escape poverty, addiction, and sexual sin while encountering Christ in the process. But this book is much more than the account of how one ministry combats a social problem to which most of us wish to remain blind. It is about finding joy in service to others and experiencing love in reaching out to the suffering, all under the shelter of God's unconquerable, abiding love.

Yes, Streetwalking with Jesus will sober you, but with links to evocative songs, a scripture selection to reflect upon, discussion questions, and a prayer at the end of every chapter, you ll come away challenged and inspired to live a deeper, more missional life.

First Line;  Meeting & walking with male prostitues might seem far from the road to Emmaus that Jesus walked after his resurrection.

"Under the Overpass" is one of my favorite books so when I saw this title & knew it was a story about a Christian going into the streets to help the homeless, I was intrigued.  I didnt realize it was a story of a man who had a heart mainly to help men in prostitution... I didnt even realize that existed.  I learned about myself that I am in the group of "learned blindness" that the author talks about...

This book is really great.  First - it touches in 3 different sections on Micah & how we are to act justly, love mercy & to walk humbly with our God... & it breaks it down into how this man is doing it in his mission to help these people that see no God in their life.

Its an easy to read book, in the sense that its an "everyday" kinda talk.  Like you can imagine this man sitting down & telling you these stories face to face... not easy in the sense that some of these stories are TOUGH.

I especially love at the end of every chapter, there is a moment to stop... reflect.... John's wife is a musician & she has written songs that you can go & listen to after each chapter... & there are scriptures or quotes that reflect on the thought of that chapter... then questions for you to reflect personally.  Because of that - I think it would be a great "study" for college kids - those who are ready to change the world.

This is a book that I wrote down MANY MANY quotes from as well... powerful thoughts... (that is one reason why I have started using Goodreads.  You can write down quotes there)

My Rating:  5 skeins ... was going to give it a 4, but the end of the chapter reflections made me go ahead & give it a 5

Last:  Perhaps God is begging us to remain.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heaven Revealed - with a GIVEAWAY!!!

Book:  Heaven Revealed
Author:  Paul Enns

Not one of us has been there.  But we all have questions about it.  Where is heaven?  What will we do there?  Who will we know? How do we get there? 

These questions & more are what Heaven Revealed was written to answer.  In this personal & biblical study of heaven, Paul Enns draws upon Scripture to answer our questions about life beyond the grave.

Whether you wonder about a loved one now in heaven or are curious about your own future destination, Heaven Revealed will help with any fears you might have about the lift to come.  You'll discover that heaven isnt far away.  That your new body will be much improved - & new!  And that actually being in heaven is a far cry from floating in the clouds.
First Line;  After I had parked the car, Helen & I walked to the sanctuary, holding hands as we always did when we walked together.

The topic of Heaven always interests me.  I know Randy Alcorn had a big book about Heaven that was popular... which I did not personally care for.  So I was leery going into this one.

I have to say - I was very impressed with this book.  Mainly because it is totally based off Scripture.  And while a lot of things are repeated in this book with the same scriptures, it applies to all the questions that are asked.  The book is broken up into different questions for each chapter - like "What is the Transition to Heaven"  - "What will life be like in Heaven" - "What kind of Body will we have"... & in each chapter, it is broken down with answers that are all based on scriptures... so yes, some of the scriptures apply to different chapters.

For me- its an easy read - easy to understand with personal touches in it.

This is a topic that really, when it comes down to it - something we'll never know until we're there.  And until then, its all based on faith... but its good to be reminded on what God's word says about it.

One of my favorite quotes though from the Bible really made me look differently at death:

"God prevented Adam & Eve from eternal sinfulness by giving them the gift of death, the ability to exist this life & arrive safely in the wondrous life to come.  Death, though it would appear to be man's greatest enemy, would in the end, prove to be his greatest friend.  Only through death can we go to God"

Isnt that a different view?

I was lucky enough to be given an extra book to give away.  So if the topic of Heaven interests you, then all you have to do is comment.  I'll leave it open until the end of June & then draw a name...

My rating:  3 skeins ... only because it got a little too repetitive & also because some of the questions, they personally didnt hold my interest.  That's just my personal taste.  Those questions may be exactly what someone else is searching for....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Marathoning for Mortals

Book:  Marathoning for Mortals
Author: John "the Penguin" Bingham  & Coach Jenny Hadfield

Once considered a feat for superhuman athletes, the marathon is now within every mortal's grasp.  In MFM, you'll find the courage to train, the willpower to perservere & the tenacity to finish one mile after another.  John & Jenny stick with you every step of the way, from the first insecure thoughts to your last minute jitters to your supreme joy at the finish line.  In MFM, you'll find:
*8 training programs to run, run-walk, walk-run, or walk the half marathon & marathon
*the advice you need to physically, mentally & spiritually reach your dreams
*Tips to help you customize your training, buy the right shoes & apparel & eat the best foods
*Guidance for common motivational, physical & emotional roadblocks

Join John & Jenny on an amazing transformative journey where the finish line is just the beginning.

First Line:  You already have everything you need to be a long distance athlete. Its a mind set - not miles - that seperates those who do from those who dream

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! A friend of mine who I met on Daily Mile just did his first marathon with the help of this book. He recommended it to me & I'm so thankful.

I saw that all my running ("training") was doing it the wrong way.  And maybe that's why my times arent improving.  I've actually pushed myself too hard...

This book gives wonderful tips, advice, motivation & REALITY.  They ask you questions & really stress not to pick a plan that is overwhelming for your age, your health, for YOU!  I ended up deciding to use the program that calls for "Run/Walk" half marathons... It will work best for me at my age & my past health & my weight.  And they let you know its OK to pick whichever plan... its just a journey between you & crossing that finish line. 

I highlighted so many things for encouragements - as well as knowledge I never realized before.

Here are some examples of motivation:

*For nearly everyone, races arent about competition - but rather about celebration.

*In every long distance race, your body eventually gets tired & your mind must take over

*Long distance training an be a positie & constructive form of selfishness.  After all, once you're at the starting line, you're there by yourself.  No one can run a single step for you. No one can jump in & help you.  No one but you can make the decisions about what to do to keep going.  ITS ALL UP TO YOU!

(my fav) *Crossing the starting line may be an act of acourage, but crossing the finish line is an act of faith.  Faith is what keeps us going when othing else will.  Faith is the emotion that will give you victory over your past, the demons in your soul, & all those voices that tell you what you can & cannot do & can & cannot be.

(whoooo  - good stuff)

So I start my new plan in this book in a few weeks to prepare for my 4th half marathon in November!  I'm excited to do it RIGHT.  Excited to see the changes in my body & my time...

My Rating:  5 skeins... I really do recomment it for anyone who is interested in learning to run any long distance.  (They also make a book similar for just beginning to run - not necessarily long distances)

Last Line:  Waddle on....

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Peach Keeper

Book:  The Peach Keeper
Author:  Sarah Addison Allen

Its the dubious distinction of 30-yr old Willa Jackson to hail from a well-to-do old Southern family that met with financial ruin generations ago.  The Blue Ridge Madam - built by Willa's great-great-grandfather & once the town's grandest home - has stood for years as a monument to misfortune & scandal.  But Will haslearned that an old classmate - socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood - has restored the Blue Ridge Manadam to its former glory.  Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest.  Instead a skeleton is found buried beneath the property's lone peach tree & long -kept secrets are beginning to come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurences.  Thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa & Paxton must uncover truths that have transcended time & defied the grave to touch the hearts & souls of the living.


First Line:  "The day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the one's she'd had a professional calliographer address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton"

Isnt that a great first line?  I love really descriptive lines in books.

I had never read anything from this author before & really enjoyed this story.  It's light hearted, easy to read, fun in areas & mysterious in others.  It holds a story of learned friendship... & friendships that have lasted through the span of time.  It holds the story of romance being found.  It holds the story of a secret that has been kept for years.  It also holds the story of women of the South... which I always love.

Its not a deep mystery, but its fun to learn what happened to the skeleton under the tree.

Its not a impacting story, but it is enjoyable enough to not want to stop reading.

I really fell in love with all the characters - especially Willa & Paxton, as well as Sebastian & Colin, Paxton's twin brother.  Watching Paxton learn to "grow up" & stand on her own, even in her prim & proper world, had me rooting for her.  Especially when her heart was so bare in front of her best friend Sebastian. 

You cant help but love all the characters.. even the girls grandmothers... & Rachel, the coffee wiz who can figure everyone's personalities by what they order.

It has moments where its just plain goofy & not you know things cant possibly happen, but you get wrapped up in just the story of it all... & isnt that what a good story is about?

My rating:  4 skeins
Last Line: She smiled back & said, "Me too"

The Final Summit

Book:  The Final Summit
Author:  Andy Andrews
(This book was provided to me from BookSneeze for a unbiased review)

Book Description

David Ponder is back. This time the fate of mankind is in his hands.

This is mankind’s last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.

With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history’s best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.

Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler's Gift. Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don’t know what to do.

First Line:  "It is amazing, isnt it, how one sound can distinguish itself from another"
I have loved all of Andy Andrews books... have marked them as my favorites in the past... so I was excited when I saw he had another one coming out.
This was the follow up to "The Travelers Gift" - which I also loved.  I was anxious to see who David Ponder was going to visit with again.
This time around, it had a more urgent feel, as David has to meet with all the other Travelers & come up with a 2-word answer to save humanity.
I did enjoy some of the characters David spoke with... but some of the others, they just didnt hold my interest.  I guess its the History side of me ... I'm picky about who I care to learn about... & mostly, anything involving battles or politics, it looses me... such as some of the characters in the book.
I did enjoy some of the quotes on certain topics the historical people would give...especially the topic of "Hope"... I wrote down tons of quotes on that one..
"Hope sees what is invisible, feels what is intangible & achieves what most consider impossible"
Good stuff, right?
But then, it would just get weird in places.  I would get frustrated when I saw quotes from people in today's time being used in the book as something someone said.  I saw this happen a few times... one was a quote Billy Graham had used on 'courage'... also saw some of Andy Stanley's ideas being used in this book - it was even labeled exactly as Mr. Stanley's series did with the same ideas of your destination & your direction... I'm sure Mr. Andrews got permission to use this in his book (I would assume) - but it was just weird how it was used ... almost letting these characters who are supposed to be historical, take credit for things other said.
See?  A little weird...
So needless to say, I was a little disappointed with the book.  I really liked some of the ideas - some of the points on hope & courage... but the vibe of the book was just off to me. 
I've seen others who liked it, & others who didnt... so I am assuming this is definitely one of those books you have to choose for youself...
My Rating:  3 Skeins (it woulda been a 2 on the story but some of the quotes really stuck with me marking this up one more skein)
Last Line:  And with a thrust of his wing & a burst of light, he was gone.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Pirate Queen

Book:  The Pirate Queen
Author:  Paticia Hickman
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review)

The envy of all her friends, wife & mother, Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility & accomplishment.  She lives in a beautiful Lake Normal home & has raised 3 capable adult children.  Her husband is a successful plasic surgeon - & a philanderer.  It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party, Saphora packers her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life.

Saphora's departure is interrupted by her husband Bender's early arrival home, & his words change her life forever:  I'm dying.

First Line:
One might have observed that all the right people had been invited to the Warren estate for the 'Southern Living' shoot.

I just love Christian fiction.  This story had has much intrigue & pull & "soap opera" drama to it, but without all the dirt & filth of most books like that.  It was just a good story.  A good story of a woman who was in a place in life that left her unhappy... only to receive the news of her husband dying.  How would she deal with it?

You see the strength in Saphora as she takes her husband to their summer home & helps him on his hunt for peace as he is dying.  Peace that Saphora finds along the way herself.

I loved this family - between the Warren children (especially love the daughter, Gwennie) & the grandchildren, you really feel like you understand this family in the end.

I was suprised more so of the characters that you dont even think are going to come into the picture...a young boy named Tobias, who befriends one of the grandchildren, Eddie.  Tobias just makes his way into all of their hearts, especially with the battles he's facing. 

And the neighbor Luke, who rescues part of the Warren family in his own way...

I truly adored this book, the ease of the reading of the story & the connections all the characters had.  From the pastor who helped Bender learn more about God, to Saphora's sister, Emerald who is the family drama queen - its just full of characters... but all that you can keep up with.

I particularly loved the last chapter... many years down the road, seeing how the lives turned out.  A glimpse of further down the road & how at the beginning, you would have never thought how it would have all turned out.. .sorta like our own lives, huh?

My rating:  4 skeins
Last Line:
It was time to start saying hello instead of goodbye

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crazy Love

Book:  Crazy Love
Author:  Francis Chan

Have you ever wondered if we're missing it?

It's crazy, if you think about it.  The God of the universe - the Creator of nitrogen & pine needles, galazes & E-minor - loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrficing love.  And what is our typical response?  We go to church, sing songs, & try not to cuss.

Whether you've verbalized it yet or not ... we all know somethings wrong.

Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo?  Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions?  God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself.  Because the answer to religious complacency isnt working harder at a list of to-do's & don't... its falling in love with God.  And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same.

Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

First Line:  We all know something is wrong.

This was the book of the year at Family Christian Bookstore... it's also been read I think by every Christian I know.  And I had never read it.

I have seen videos & messages from Francis Chan & take his wisdom with a great respect.  So what was holding me back from reading this?

I got it & started reading.. & then life kicked in - I think it took me longer to read this book then any other book - but I didnt want to skimp on it or move too fast... because it was good... it was powerful.... it was a kick in the gut.

Chapters on the "lukewarm" & "Profiles of the Obsessed" really showed me how short I fall.  I actually closed out the chapter called "Profile of the Lukewarm" so upset & feeling like, "No one is going to make it..." - not what Mr. Chan was thinking when he wrote this book... but it was that eye opening to me. Thank God that he ended the chapter reminding the reader that we do have God's mercy & grace... but that should inspire us to kick off some of that "lukewarm-ness"

This book is filled with so much GOOD STUFF... here are a few of my favorite quotes/lines

*We are slow to listen, quick to speak & quick to become angry.  The wise man comes to God without saying a word & stands in awe of Him.

*WORRY implies that we dont quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.  STRESS says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace towards others or our tight grip of control.  Basically, these 2 behaviors communicate that its OK to sin & not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional.

*Harsh words & the loving truth often go hand in hand

*The irony is that while God doesnt NEED us but still WANTS us, we desperately NEED God but dont really WANT Him most of the time.  He treasurers us & anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him - & we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.

*Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.

*How much would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ...

I have many many more things I wrote down... each so powerful to me...

This book is definitely eye opening, thought provoking, inspiring to make you want to rethink your relationship with God.. to think about how Crazy in Love He is with us.. are we with Him?

My Rating:  5 skeins
Last Line
May you be able to say at the end of your life, along with Paul:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth, there is laid for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, & not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing." -2 Timothy 4:7-8

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Little Bit Wicked

Book:  A Little Bit Wicked
Author: Kristin Chenoweth with Joni Rodgers

You might know her as a Tony Award Winning Broadway star, who originated the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the smash musical "WICKED" & won a Tony for 1999's "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". Or you may recognize her from starring roles on TV - The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, Seasame Street... Or maybe you say her sexy spread in FHM Magazine?  Or her appearance on Pat Robertson's The 700 Club?  Kristin is a wonderful collection of contradictions - but everyone who's ever met her remembers her as the little girl with the big voice.  At four foot eleven, Kristin Chenoweth is an immense talent in a petite but powerful package.


First Line:  "I face myself in the full-length mirror, stability in one hand, sex in the other"

I adore Kirstin Chenoweth... everything about her.  Her voice is like an angel, she always seem like Ms. Perky in every interview I've ever seen her on, & who doesnt love a girl that can make you believe she's really Glinda, floating in a bubble?  Not to mention, she totally rocks every time she's on GLEE & how did you not love her on Pushing Daisies?  (I'm still bitter the show got canceled... bitter...)

I love an autobiography anyways, but I especially loved reading the life of this lady.  She is exactly what I expected her to be.... charming, funny, talented & full of love for her family & friends.

I also learned more about her... I never realized she was adopted.  I never knew she was in a serious on/off relationship with Aaron Sorkin (aka Mr.Writer).  I never knew she was shunned from Women of Faith because of her love for people... (that part made me very sad & disappointed in fellow Christians)....

.... I do love most of all that she always keeps her faith & her relationship with God close to her & to who she is.  One of my favorite pages of the book, she writes the questions she wants to ask God when she gets there.  My favorite question she asks, "Are you proud of me?" .... that thought from her speaks tons of who she is... adorable

The book sort of jumps from current to past in weird ways... making it a little odd to read at times.  I did enjoy the book though... not sure if its because I love Kristin or if it was a good book... I do know, I'd love to be Kristin's friend. 

My Rating:  4 skeins

Last Line:  Life's too short. I'm not.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mere Churchanity

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review
Book:  Mere Churchianity
Author:  Michael Spencer (The Internet Monk)

Have you left the church in search of Jesus?  Studies show that 1 in 4 young adults claim no formal religious affliation, & church leaders have long known that this generation is largely  missing on Sunday morning.  Hundreds of thousands of "church leavers" have had a mentor and pastor, however, in Michael Spencer, known to blog readers as the Internet Monk.
Spencer discovered the truth that church offiicals often miss, which is that many who leave the church do so in an attempt to find Jesus.
In this book, Spencer's writing continutes to point the disenchanted & dispossessed to a Jesus-shaped spirtuality.  And along the way, his teachs show how you can find others who will go with you on the journey.
First Line:  This book began with an athiest in a Diary Queen, 33 years ago.

The first words that come to mind when I think of this book is: THE TRUTH HURTS


The things Mr. Spencer says about the church, I have to say, I tend to agree with his views & his reasoning. 

One of my favorite things he said is:

"Following Jesus does not require you to pledge allegiance to a religious instituion"

He made some amazing points about how people view Christians - how churches view Jesus & how churches also pick & choose what they want to see of Jesus... & what they teach of Jesus.

"What would atheists see if Christianity were something Jesus himself wouldnt recognize?"

"Would Jesus invest in 80 acres of prime suburban real estate so he could build a "campus" as a way to chagne the world?

I was reading this, shaking my head so much at the beginning.... but then, it just got depressing.  Because again, THE TRUTH HURTS... & I also see everything he was saying about the church... & it became over whelming to keep reading it & reading it &  knowing what he was saying had bits of truth in it.

I kept waiting for an "answer" at the end - what to look for in a church - a good church... but never really got that answer.  And Mr. Spencer wasnt saying there arent good churches out there... but there was definitely more of what is wrong in churches... which again, I see his point.

The saddest part... I can see where Jesus would feel that way too...

In the end, it was a good reminder that we arent to follow a CHURCH - we are to follow JESUS... & we are to read about Jesus ourselves - we are to learn what Jesus lays on our hearts .... its not always about having a set of rules set by a church - or feeling like the churches judgement on us is the final judgement we will have.  (Amen!) ... the answer is easy really.. Look to Jesus... that's all...

"There is little need for large churches stuffed with satisfied audiences.  There is a great need for a movement of disciples going inot the over looked places of the world to see & serve the Kingdom of God."

My Rating:  3 skeins .... because I'm so torn on how it made me feel.  Pumped up... then very discouraged...

Very thought provoking though... I think everyone that belongs to a church - & every Pastor - should read this book... see if you find yourself in the things He says... or if you ARE standing & preaching & teaching for ONLY Jesus....
Last Line:  And finally, when we come home, we will find that Jesus has made us like himself, & yet, amazingly, we will have remained in every way ourselves.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saved Without a Doubt

Book:  Saved Without a Doubt
Author: John MacArthur

Am I really going to Heaven?  Am I really saved?
At some point, everyone has experienced thoughts like these.  Is there any way to overcome those nagging doubts?  Now you can put them to rest by answering a resounding "YES!"
Author John MacArthur carefully examines classical biblical texts affirming the forever quality of salvation, without ignoring the troubling passages that seem to indicate otherwise.  Eleven biblical tests show how those truths apply to you, helping you determine once & for all whether you've experienced salvation.  you can make your feelings with your faith & by taking an encouraging look at victory in the spirit & the unshakable promises of God, persevere!


First Line:  It's a heartache to me, as a pastor to realize that so many Christians lack assurance of their salvation.

That first line is why the book is called "Saved Without a Doubt"

Can I tell you - I have NO IDEA how I got this book.  It literally came in the mail one day to me - & I have no idea how it got to me - no return address, nothing in it, but the book.  But the title intrigued me, so I read it. 

I will say, its not an easy read... I got confused in areas, got totally lost in other places & even had to skip some sections after getting nothing but frustrated for not understanding.

But it did have areas that really spoke to me & that I really loved... lines like:

"Jesus serves as the anchor of our souls, who forever keeps us from drifting away from God"

"He that lacks assurance of God's love, converses too much with Satan...." (that's goood stuff there!)

There was a section on forgiveness - my favorite topic - & I loved these 3 things:

"What you can't forget - God cant remember!' .... how awesome is that line?

"You may never be able to forget the years of wandering, the many sins of which you have been guilty.  But that which gives peace is the knowledge that God will never recall them again.  He has blotted them from the book of remembrance & he has done it in righteousness, for the account is completely settled.  The debt is paid"

And I loved this - it was from a new believer who was saying why he believed he would be in Heaven:
"If anyone is ever to be kept out of Heaven for my sins - it would have to be Jesus - for He took them all upon Himself & made Himself responsible for them.  But HE IS IN HEAVEN! - never to be turned out - so now, I KNOW I AM SECURE" .... isn't that a cool way to think about it?

Because it was hard, it takes my rating down - but with some wonderful stuff like I mentioned, it raised it back up a little - averaging it out...

My rating:  3 skeins
Last Line:  He will see to that for sure.

Monday, January 3, 2011

He Sees you when you're sleeping

Book: He Sees You When You're Sleeping
Authors:  Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark

Meet Sterling Brooks.  His was not an exemplary life - he was too self-absorbed to ever really think about anyone else or make a commitment to the women he loved.  On the other hand, he had endearing qualities.  His actual misdeeds were few - his were sins of omission, not commission.

It is a few days before Christmas.  For 46 years, Sterling has lingered in the celestial waiting room outside the heavenly gates, awaiting summons by the Heavenly Council.  Will he be deemed fit for entrance into heaven?  At last the day comes & the council settles on a test for Sterling - he will be sent back to earth & given an opportunity to prove his worthiness by helping someone else.

Sterling Brooks finds himself in Manhattan, at the skating rink in Rockefeller Center.  Among the skaters is a heartbroken seven-year-old named Marissa, & as Sterling soon realizes, it is SHE has has been sent to help.  Marissa's sadness comes from her seperation from the father she adores & her sparkling grandmother.  Both have been forced into the Witness Protection Program because two mobsters, the Badgett Brothers, have put a price on their heads to prevent their testifying against them in an arson case.

Sterling, able to move back & forth in time & place, masterminds a plan to eliminate the threat from the Badgett brothers & reunite Marissa with her loved ones.

First Line:  "There's nothing worse than listening to the sounds of preparations for a great party, knowing that you're not invited"

I love Mary Higgins Clark - have so many of her mysteries.  So this was a book I had on my shelf for years but put it off because I always wanted to read it around Christmas time.  This year was the year.  It was an easy, quick read - not long at all - & a cute story.  It had predictable parts & a few surprises.  While it wasnt the best book I've read of Mrs. Clark, it was a good, light read for the Christmas season.  A cute little story to end my 2010 book reading...

My rating: 3 skeins
Last Line:  "Glory to the Newborn King....."