A Long Awaited New Release!

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The Sound of Rain

 

After reading Sarah Loudin Thomas’ new book, The Sound of Rain, I find myself ready for a part two! There must be a part two! It has been a long time since I have had the joy of reading a new book from Thomas. I can only hope she is already half finished with the next chapter of this story.

The Sound of Rain is about a West Virginia coal miner, Judd Markley, who survives a near death experience in the bowels of the mountain. He suffers a great loss that leaves him determined to live a different life. Judd finds his way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…a stark contrast to his prior existence. It is there he meets the lovely Larkin and begins work as a lumber jack for a timber company.  Both Judd and Larkin are seeking their meant to be life and the thing they were put on this earth to do.  The struggles and triumphs of Judd and Larkin make this book a good read! I highly recommend all of Sarah Loudin Thomas’ novels. I am hoping she continues this story by finding a soul mate for Larkin’s brother, Ben. It would make for a great story!

I am an avid reader of Christian Fiction, but have found after reading countless novels that only a few gifted storytellers exist. I would count Thomas as one of those gifted storytellers. Don’t miss this book or any other title by Sarah Loudin Thomas. I requested this book to review from Bethany House Fiction. I am not required to give a positive review. I have not been been compensated and all opinions are my own.

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New From Ann Voscamp!

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Be The Gift

 

I can’t think of a current author who challenges me with words on paper  (or on screen) more than Ann Voscamp. Her newest release is Be The Gift and is filled with selections from her best seller, The Broken Way.  With the Thanksgiving month upon us and Christmas right behind it, this book is a beautiful reminder to walk in kindness, generosity, and love. We can bring hope, love, healing and grace to those around us if we will open our eyes to the needs in front of us.

In her moving introduction Ann says, “The thrilling secret beyond all suffering is that even- especially- in that place of suffering, we can become God’s gift to others, and we can taste the actual goodness of his abundance.”  And, “Even the smallest seeds of kindness can begin to break the worst kind of brokenness.”  What follows is a challenge, through Ann’s personal reflection and narrative, to be the gift.  I love all of it and need this reminder that God can use all of us to be the miracle our neighbors, strangers, and friends are thirsting for. As Ann compels us to action, she reminds us that we don’t have to be perfect to participate.

Also included in this beautiful book is a list of ideas to be the gift today, and some really cute gift tags to include with the plate of warm cookies or flowers. I feel like this book would be the perfect read to launch you into a less exhausting holiday season. There is so much wisdom and love in this book! I requested a review copy from the publisher and BookLookBloggers. I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have not been compensated in any way other than the joy received from reading a great book.

New Devotional from Liz Curtis Higgs!

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31 Proverbs

 

I love this new devotional by best selling author Liz Curtis Higgs. It is a very practical, simple, and useable 31 chapter book. Higgs walks through 31 Proverbs as a guide, teacher, and friend. She also challenges us to one simple reflection or task to that applies or highlights the Proverb in each chapter called One Minute, One Step. I found these to be enjoyable and effective.

One of my favorite chapters of 31 Proverbs To Light Your Path is Chapter 17 Smart Money.  Liz walks us through Proverbs 16:16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver.” She points out that thieves can steal your money but not your wisdom. I loved her personal story in this chapter about her new raincoat. I could so see myself in this story! She ends the chapter with a brief prayer asking God to teach her to value what He values. In her One Minute, One Step, Liz encourages us to quickly go through our closets and find an item we haven’t worn in a long time. Then, try it on and if it doesn’t fit donate it to a favorite charity shop. Again, this book is very practical and good for the soul.

I first became acquainted with Liz Curtis Higgs when I read her retelling of Ruth, Mine is the Night.  It quickly became one of the books I recommend the most to friends who are looking for a good read. I know you will enjoy this book just as much. I requested a review copy from Bloggingforbooks because i knew I would enjoy it. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. I have not been compensated.

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.

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.)