Do Not Miss This One!

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church of the small things

 

I read somewhere between thirty and fifty books a year. Some I barely get through, others I like enough to give away to a friend, and I genuinely love only a few. Church of the Small Things falls in the LOVE category without a doubt.  Melanie Shankle is hilarious, and I feel like we might be long-lost friends. I laughed so much reading this book, much to the chagrin of my trying to sleep husband.

Church of the Small Things is a memoir type book with reflection sprinkled throughout.  Even if memoir isn’t your thing, this book will be. My favorite few lines I highlighted I might just frame and hang somewhere I will be sure to see often. Melanie says in her introduction:

“A life is not made from one thing, one big moment, or one huge success. It’s created moment by moment, often with pieces that don’t look like anything beautiful on their own but are the very fabric of who God meant for us to become as we pack lunches, raise kids, love our neighbors, and simply be who he created us to be – nothing more, nothing less.”

It would be a mistake to have you believe this entire book is that serious. It totally isn’t. However, it reaffirmed for me the importance of the people around me. How I should love them fiercely, and treasure them while they are here.  Also, that dreams are worth chasing, and friendship is worth the investment.  I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher and BookLookBloggers. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t disclose that I sought this book out. I knew I wanted to read it and so i went hunting. I was not compensated and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Book Review: The Book of Amazing Stories

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The Book of Amazing Stories

 

The Book of Amazing Stories is a 90 day devotion book filled with stories about people who have had an impact on the world.  I have read all of the devotions in the book, because I am a sucker for a good story…and there are many to be found in The Book of Amazing Stories by Robert Petterson.

Each day, Petterson tells the story of a memorable person from past. In each person’s story, there is a surprising turn or unexpected twist. I enjoyed the unknown stories of some people I knew and others I wasn’t familiar with at all. The days are numbered, but not dedicated to specific days.  At just a few pages in length, the daily devotion can be read in just a few minutes.

My favorite story Petterson tells is that of  Nellie Clyde Wilson. It is actually the first daily reading in the book! In fact, the first story is what made me interested in reading the book. Not every story is as riveting as the first, but I was I found each of the 90 interesting and inspiring.

This book would make an excellent graduation gift, stocking stuffer, or a gift for an employee.  I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not required to give an honest review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

My Favorite Nonfiction Book of the Year!

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Daring to hope

 

For the first time in a long time, I ran for a highlighter while reading a book. Typically, I try to preserve the new look of book I read so that I may pass it on to a friend when I am finished. I read so many titles in a year, I can’t imagine keeping them all….unless I really love it.  I am keeping Daring to Hope, with its dog-eared, highlighted pages to reread and reference. It is refreshing, impacting, and perspective changing.

A few years ago, I worked at a Lifeway Christian Store during the holiday seasons.  During any slow times, I would straighten books and flip through any that looked interesting.  It is here that I first discovered a girl named Katie Davis in her first book  Kisses From Katie.  I was blown away by the testimony of this young, beautiful girl who relocated to Uganda to care for orphans. Since then, I have kept up with her story on social media. This new book, Daring to Hope, offers so much insight into serving, suffering, and as Katie says, singing in the dark.

In the chapter, Come to Life, I found a particular reflection that I made a point to underline. Katie says, “Our God is not too big for the small and is glorified in our ordinary moments as we invite Him in.  When I invite Him into my tiny and ordinary moments, even mundane moments become extraordinary. Small acts of love become whispers of His glory in the midst of our everydayness. ” For a mom with a lot of everyday, ordinary moments, this statement struck a chord with me.

Daring to Hope is a must read for anyone who has been through some rough times and needs a little encouragement. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to read this book. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not required to give it a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

Unseen by Sara Hagerty

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Unseen

 

A repost from a friend on Instagram led me to discover Sara Hagerty and her gift with words. I love this book and its holy message. Unseen challenged me in a way that I haven’t been in a very long time. Hagerty challenges me to waste time on Jesus, and to enjoy all the hidden parts of lie. As the front cover suggests, hiddeness is a gift.

Unseen addresses a heart issue that is truly new to this generation of women: “…being hidden, in a world that loves to be noticed.” Our lives are lived out loud through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Everyones’ highlight reel plays before our eyes as our thumbs flip through post after post. It becomes difficult to believe that our everyday mundane lives matter. Hagerty challenges us to see that it is in our hidden moments that we develop a relationship with Jesus.

Throughout Unseen, Sara Hagerty focuses on the story of Mary of Bethany in the book of Mark from the Bible.  Mary was ridiculed for breaking a bottle of expensive perfume and pouring it on Jesus’ feet.  Throughout Unseen, Sara points back to the story and how what many saw as waste, was truly an expression of love.  In chapter one Sara writes,

“Mary has eyes for one. Her motives were oriented toward Him. She wasn’t driven to His feet by accolades, and she stayed despite criticism. What she cultivated with this man, Jesus, in the quiet and ordinary became her greatest expression. This is radical love, according to Jesus.”

After reading Unseen, I feel like I have been given a new perspective. Being seen, noticed, or having a platform are not the goal of this life. A relationship with Jesus, a life oriented toward him is the ultimate gift.  I encourage you to put to this book at the top of your list. As soon as I started reading, I instantly thought of friends I wanted to have a copy.  I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher. No positive review was required and I have not been compensated.

So Close to Amazing~ KariAnne Wood

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so close to amazing

 

Hands down, this book was the most unexpected surprise of the summer. For starters, I had never actually heard of author, blogger, KariAnne Wood until I saw a friends repost of one of her Instagram posts. A few clicks later, I couldn’t wait to read her book. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be fantastic, and I was right!

KariAnne Wood tells the story of her family’s move from Texas to Kentucky in So Close To Amazing. Her story is about their move, making new friends, and the renovation of a truly amazing farm-house that I am pretty sure I would like to buy! After reading So Close to Amazing, I am certain KariAnne and I would be best friends. She is hilarious, genuine, and an original. She is the kind of woman I admire.  Not only did I retell some of her stories to my husband so he could laugh too (about blueberry pancakes..and a pot roast), but I also found myself inspired to furnish my sparse house in more creative ways.

My list of favorite books from this year is unusually short this year, but So Close to Amazing definitely has a spot at the top.  It is unlike any book I have read and I absolutely loved it! You can find more from KariAnne Wood on her blog Thistlewoodfarms.com.  I requested a copy of KariAnne’s book from Tyndale House publishers. I was not required to give this book a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

She’s Still There by Chrystal Evans Hurst

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Shes still there

 

Just a few weeks ago one of my favorite authors/bloggers, Ann Voscamp, featured an excerpt from author Chrystal Evans Hurst new book She’s Still There.  After reading it, I knew this was a book I had to have.  She’s Still There is for any woman who can’t seem to find the girl she use to be. The girl with big dreams, ideas, and plans for her life. And as Chrystal would say, She’s Still There. 

First let me say, Chrystal is hilarious. I found myself laughing so many times while reading this book. Especially at her reference to the #fatdemon.  My favorite chapter in this book is one titled Precious Cargo: Carry Your Contents Carefully.  Chrystal tells the story of falling asleep at the wheel at a red light in her town. (This story is unbelievably funny to me because it sounds like something I would do.) Many passers-by call the police concerned about a woman who has either passed out, or is dead sitting at a red light in her car. When the police come…and wake her up, the officer reminds Chrystal that she is carrying precious cargo. You see, her husband and kids are asleep in the car as well. Chrystal then gently reminds us that we are carrying precious cargo as well. We are here to do a job. God loves us and we have value.

I think the real beauty in this book lies in the honesty and vulnerability of Hurst’s own story. She was willing to share and be real. Because of that, it is easy to relate to her. Further, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother who has lived some life. I always appreciate learning from someone who has actual life experience! I highly recommend this book to any woman, in any walk of life, who needs a bit of encouragement. I requested a copy to review from BookLookBloggers. I was not required to give a positive review.

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

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to wager her heart

 

Tamera Alexander is by far one of the best story tellers in historical fiction. Her attention to detail, realistic characters, and ability to convey genuine emotion make every novel she pens one that I will read over and over again. To Wager Her Heart is no exception. Like the two books that precede it, To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor, I was captivated from the first chapter. I quickly became invested in the story of Alexandra Jamison and Sylas Rutledge.

Alexandra Jamison is a young woman who has known tragedy and loss. Looking for purpose, Alexandra takes on a teaching position at Fisk University and loses what is left of her family. She meets an undignified Sylas Rutledge who becomes an important friend despite her first impressions. I love the way this story unfolds! I so appreciate the way the relationship between Alexandra and Sylas develops.  I also enjoyed the history Tamera Alexander included regarding Fisk University and the Jubilee Singers. There is a moment in the beginning of the novel where Alexandra mistakes a generous colleague for a maid.  It was in that part of the story, that I began to appreciate how well Tamera Alexander creates flawed characters that we can fall in love with! I was literally embarrassed for the main character…I felt what she felt. This is the mark of a great novel.

If you love historical fiction, To Wager Her Heart is a must read!  I am admittedly a huge Tamera Alexander fan and I am always aware of when she has a new release coming out. I have read every single novel she has written and they are all fantastic. However, I must say, the Belle Meade Plantation Novels have been my favorite. You do not have to read them in sequential order as they easily stand alone. But you should definitely read the entire series! I was given an Advanced Reader’s Copy by the publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. ( I would have purchased this book anyway…it was on my MUST READ list.)

Book Review: Heart on the Line

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Heart on the line

 

I never miss a new Karen Witemeyer novel! I really enjoy the way she writes historical fiction. Heart on the Line is another well written story by one of my favorite authors. It contains all the essentials for a good read: a strong woman, a hero in the making, and a few twists and turns to keep things interesting.

Heart on the Line is the second full novel in the Ladies of Harper’s Station series. This story continues the story line of the women who have come to call Harper’s Station home. These ladies have created a community where women live independently and provide for themselves. They own stores, run the school, and farm all on their own. Grace Mallory is the town telegraph operator who came to Harper’s Station after witnessing her father’s murder. She has made this town her home, but longs to stop looking over her shoulder. Grace meets another telegraph operator who shows up to help just in time.

There are some really interesting twists in this fun story.  I found the love story in this book refreshing. Grace’s love interest isn’t a perfectly handsome and wealthyman in a tailored suit.  Heart on the Line makes for great summer reading and should definitely make your short list. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not required to give it a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated. To find more books by Karen Witemeyer check out her website at KarenWitemeyer.com.

Fantastic Retelling of Sense and Sensibility!

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Jane of Austen

 

This my friends is a Jane Austen retelling done well! One of my all time favorite Jane Austen novels is Sense and Sensibility.   Jane of Austin is a funny, interesting, and lovely rewrite by author Hillary Manton Lodge. Lodge does a masterful job weaving in the original story to her current day rendition. It is was so fun to catch all the moments that were from the original.  I think the best thing about this book, is that while it echoes the Jane Austen original, it has its own authentic wonderfulness.

I think sometimes when authors attempt to do a retelling, it goes south fast because they either missed what was great in the original, or they fail to make it their own in fear of butchering a classic.   Jane of Austin is none of the above. Author Hillary Manton Lodge tells the story of three sisters who lose everything and must leave their family home in San Francisco. Celia, Jane, and Margot Woodward move to Austin when a kind but exuberant relative offers them housing and a chance to start over.  In Austin, Jane meets the oh so handsome Sean Willis (see John Willoughby) who whisks her off her feet. We all know where relationships with a John Willoughby will take you. Even though I knew what was coming, I read late into the night just to be certain.

I really do hope that this novel makes its way into becoming a movie. I loved it and I can’t wait to pass my copy to a fellow Jane Austen enthusiast. I received a complimentary copy of this book from BloggingforBooks. I was not required to give a positive review and I have not been compensated in any way.

About the Author

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA bestselling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate magazine. A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring new walking trails. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon.

Uncommon Summer Reading

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Uncommon_3D_book

My gracious I love this new book by author Carey Scott! I love it because it challenges me everyday to live differently, to choose to live Uncommon. This book is a standout from the  white noise that can be Christian Living books. It is the perfect summer read for a mental reset and a refocusing of life in all areas. I highly recommend this book to any woman who feels like she is stuck and desperate for some encouragement.

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Uncommon addresses many of the real struggles women face everyday: forgiveness, kindness, leadership, and courage. No matter where you are in your walk with God, there is something in this book for you. Author Carey Scott spends each chapter encouraging us to live uncommon. To be generous, forgiving, loving, kind and to have faith to name just a few of the topics she covers in this book. In each chapter you will find her personal reflection, stories from the Bible, scripture, a personal challenge, and a prayer.  I couldn’t have stumbled upon a better daily quiet time guide. It isn’t a Bible study, but you certainly could use it as one.

“No matter the mistakes you’ve made, the bridges you’ve burned, the moral failures you’ve committed, the painful words you’ve spewed, the hurtful things you have done… no matter your fears and insecurities, no matter your long list of excuses… with Jesus, you have all you need to be uncommon.”
Carey Scott #beUncommon

I first stumbled upon author Carey Scott on her blog, careyscott.org. I have always found her writing to be so practical and challenging. This new book releases in July, but it can be preordered now! You should check it out! Because I already knew and was confident in Carey Scott I requested an advanced copy of this book.  I was so excited to read it! I am so glad I did! I was not required to give this book a positive review and I was not compensated in any way.

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This post was inspired by the book Uncommon: Living a Life or Purpose and Pursuit by Carey Scott. Preorder and submit your receipt details at http://careyscott.org/uncommon/ by June 3oth to receive a PDF download of the Uncommon Companion Study Guide, exclusive access to Carey’s “Diving Deeper” video series and 5” x 7” printable of 10 Ways to Live Uncommon.