Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: Playing by Heart

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Age Appropriate For: 13 and up for mild romance
Best for Ages: 13 and up
Playing by HeartDescription: Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble. After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula! Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.  However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart--and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she'd expected.

My friend and fellow author, Alicia Willis, has been telling me what a talented writer Mateer is. So, when I was given the opportunity to review one of her books, I was eager to try. Sure enough, I found that she is an excellent story teller.

At first, I thought this book was going to be very typical. Girl in man’s world shows everybody that she is even better than the men in her field. However, this book was far from typical. The twists and turns of this sweet story made me feel very happy.

Lula is a very smart girl who loves math. Mateer made her feel very real and pulled me into her inner struggle. Chet also was very well developed, with his own struggles and heat aches. Their romance was a big part of the story and was very honorable. Together, they kept me reading their story with a happy sigh at the end.

The setting was also so nice and different. High school basketball in during the world war? I don’t think I have even heard of another book like that. I really loved that some of the story was even based on the author’s family history.

This was my first book by Mateer, but it will not be my last. Her style is so sweet and God-honoring. It is the kind of book that leaves you feeling good, as well as causes you to examine your own life and faith.

I highly recommend this book for those who love historical fiction, sweet stories, and unique plots.

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I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Most of us have them: images that will never leave us, no matter how old we get. Images that are seared into our memory. For me, one of the hardest for me is the very clear memory of watching the news with my mom on September 11, 2001. We knew something had happened in New York at a place I had seen in pictures, but had never known the name. One of the World Trade Center towers was burning. Some said it was a bomb, others said a small plane, while other said that a large plane had hit it.

Then, the life changing moment: They were showing a wide shot of the burning tower and out of the corner of the screen was plane. The image of watching that plane race toward the second tower and then hit it.

Public Domain
Those of you who are to young to remember missed the horror, but also the amazing things that happened after. Like a new president rising to the occasion and helping a nation grieve and reminding them we would rise from the ashes. Like a nation that for a few month was bound together by the fact that we were American's nothing more. Like flags being sold out and on back order. Every house had a flag flying or a cross out.

May we never forget the lessons we learned that day. May all of us lift our heads and be proud that we have risen out of the ashes.

One World Trade Center
May God bless our troops, and may God continue to Bless America.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: Colliding with Destiny: Finding Hope in the Legacy of Ruth by Sarah Jakes

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Age Appropriate For: 16 and up for some subject matter
Best for Ages: 16 and up

Colliding with Destiny: Finding Hope in the Legacy of Ruth
Description: The story of Ruth is a journey of transformation. By allowing God to transform her circumstances, Ruth went from a widow who would be excluded from society to a wife with a secure and protected future, a future that ultimately paved the way for the birth of King David! Her story is full of collision--loss, heartache, poverty, even shame--but she never let her past define her. Instead, the most painful time of her life became her most pivotal, propelling her to a destiny she never imagined. Perhaps you have a past you're struggling to overcome. If disappointments, whether a result of your own choices or the actions of others, have kept you from being your true self, this book is for you. Follow Ruth's life and discover the hope available to each of us. Your yesterday does not have to dictate your tomorrow. Despite your past pain, you, too, can find redemption and restoration.

This is my first book by Jakes, and I really am impressed. She has found a great balance in sharing about her broken past, without going into so much detail that the message of her book was lost in the gritty details. I applaud her honesty and her message.

Ruth has always been a favorite character of mine in the bible, second only to Joseph of the Old Testament.  I was very excited to see Jakes’ take on this story of love, forgiveness and second chances.  Though not exactly what I expected, I felt she did a good job.

Each chapter begins with some verses from the book of Ruth. Jakes than draws from her life and crafts a lesson from each chapter. The format, although not what I expected, was nice and made for easy reading. Some of the lessons that she drew from the verses were a bit of a stretch – such as, Jakes says that when Boaz first noticed her, it was because she conducted herself confidently. However, most of the book is very biblically sound.

This book, while good, was not a real challenge for me. It seemed to contain the same information I had read elsewhere and did not add to my understanding of life or the Bible. I also felt the writing was a bit weak. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t as strong as I like in my non-fiction.

I recommend this book for those who love Ruth, honest non-fiction, and non-fiction that is easy to read.

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I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to the Least of These by David Z. Nowell

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Age Appropriate For: 13 and up for some subject matter
Best for Ages: 16 and up

Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to the Least of TheseDescription: Put Your Faith Into Action. Do you ever feel like something in your faith is missing, that going to church, studying the Bible, and tithing just aren't enough? There has to be more, right? What would it look like to truly "follow" Christ and not just believe in him? David Nowell asked the very same questions, and was led to minister to the "least of these," whom God loves deeply. In "Dirty Faith," Nowell shares powerful stories of faith in action, and encourages us to move with him from the sidelines to the front line, to get our hands dirty helping the hopeless, the disenfranchised, and the poor. Loving as God loves is central to the gospel, whether that means taking in foster children, ministering to inmates at the local jail, or something else God has in mind just for you. Let this inspiring book help you find what's been missing in your faith.

I was really excited when I saw the title and description on this book. I spend every Saturday working at the local food pantry. Many of the people who come through the doors there would be considered some of the ‘least of these’. God has really convicted me about loving these people right where they are, and I thought this book would really help.

It didn’t take long into this book for me to start skimming. I really disliked the tone of the book. It didn’t feel loving it all, it felt like a lecture on everything Americans are doing wrong. All of the book I read really wasn’t about loving others, but about how selfish Americans were. Although I agree with some of the points he was making, I really was disappointed in the book.

The tone of this book was what bothered me the most. The author, instead of sharing the things he has learned, came across as thinking he had it all figured out, while we were all selfish and lazy. I do not think that it was intended to come out this way, but that is what it sounded like to me. He seemed to take no joy in the work he has done, but just looked at it as something he had been required to do.

Overall, I felt this book really wasn’t about loving the least of these, it was about trying to wake American Christians up and get them to start putting their faith into action. Although I applaud the message, I think it could have been done a lot better.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Everyday Life: Praise God, missing Dr. Pepper

Hi everyone! Gosh, even though I have been posting on the blog, there hasn’t been a whole lot on the blog about me and what has been going on, so I thought I would stop by and share.

First off, I have some amazing news! My dad is doing better! God led my mom to an article and, as a result, my dad gave up all coffee and carbonated beverages. Within the last two weeks, we have been seeing an amazing improvement in my dad. Although he still isn’t back to where he was, we are praising God for the improvement we have seen.

A sad note, we all gave up coffee and carbonated drinks with my dad. Although my dad is seeing some wonderful health benefits, I am missing my Dr. Pepper. A lot of people have told me how awful sodas are and how much better I will feel without them, but that isn’t helping.  I haven’t seen many benefits, but I have been missing them a lot. Now my secret is out, I am not even close to a health nut. However, I am determined to stick this out for at least a couple of months to see if there really are a lot of health benefits.

On a healthy note, my sisters and I have started doing Zumba using our Wii system. Every morning at nine for the last three weeks, at least some of us are out there, doing the silly moves that keep us moving and leave us out of breath. I think I have lost a couple of pounds of fat, but I also think that it is helping to make my body stronger.

Thank you all for your prayers for my dad, keep them coming.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: Whispers from the Shadows

Whispers from the Shadows (The Culper Ring, #2)

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Age Appropriate For: 15 and up for violence, and romance
Best for Ages: 15 and up

Description: Treachery causes Gwyneth Fairchild's world to crumble. The daughter of a British general, she just barely saves her life by fleeing London aboard a ship to America. Her goal is to find refuge with the Lane family in Maryland, having been told by her father she could implicitly trust Winter and Bennet Lane, even though their nations are once again at war. After meeting their son, Thad, she soon discovers they are a family much like her own. The Lanes trade in a dangerous commodity--espionage. Not long after Gwyneth is on his ship, Captain Thad Lane experiences the tug of love, though he fears it may blur lines of loyalty. With family playing the part of enemies and enemies proving themselves friends, a future with Gwyn is uncertain. But at this moment, with the British advancing on Washington and Baltimore, they have only their shared faith in God as a shield about them.

Whispers from the Shadows was even better than the first book! White took on a time period that is not as well known in history: the War of 1812. With this historical backdrop, the story that unfolds was heart-pounding, charming, and gripping.

I loved Gwyn. White wrote her so vividly that I felt as if I had met her. As she flees England with a secret, my heart just broke. Her drawing and painting?  Wow! I felt as if I was looking over her shoulder when she drew. The paintings were described so vividly and each of them had a piece of Gwyn in them.

Thad was a bit confusing to me. Don’t get me wrong, he made an excellent hero for the story. However, I think his secret past was kept secret almost too long. Something didn’t fit, and I couldn’t figure out why. Thad had so much compassion and sweetness about him that I loved him despite my confusion.

Seeing Winter and Bennet was a delight. Although they play minor roles in the story, it was a treat to see this couple happy years later, watching their children find love.

The romance in this book was sweet even with its bumps. I love how Thad really seemed to understand Gwyn’s needs and helped her deal with the pain in her past. I also loved how Gwyn forgave Thad when he failed and accepted the help she needed.

I highly recommend this book to historical fiction lovers, those who like romance, and anyone looking for a well told story.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014