Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Review: Fault Lines

Fault Lines, by Thomas Locke,  although difficult to follow, does in the end provide the justice one seeks against the villains. The book was difficult to read because of the amount of "supposed facts" which made no sense and left me disoriented  for the most of book one. It felt choppy in style, and the characters were not easy to relate to at all. The story itself was basically not believable (unbelievable indicates to me something in a positive manner) whereas this story for the most part just doesn't strike a chord with reality. Possibly the author intended for the book to be beyond reality, but it did not appeal to me. If I had not been wanting to write a review on the book, I would not have finished it. In the end I found book two to be more interesting. I have yet to figure out the need for two book sections. There was only one small reference to fault lines in the book which was not enough for the reader to understand the meaning of the title of the book. This book would not be on my list of recommended reading.

Review age: 75+ -- couldn't finish it
2nd reviewer: 55+--forced herself to finish it
Conclusion: wrong demographic to read this book

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Publishing Group as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review: The Darkest Lie

The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn is a contemporary YA (not Christian fiction). A friend let me borrow this book from her library because I liked the cover. Yes, I'm petty enough to choose what I read by the cover design. I'm not afraid to admit that. (Authors, be smart about your covers!)

Back copy blurb:
Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.

As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death resurface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…

Disclosures: There is language, sexual references, and mentioned sexual abuse in this book. Not sex, just references to sexual acts within the context of abuse and crude humor because it is (unfortunately) the world that teens live in these days. The crude humor, sexual references, and abuse are very clearly not approved of by the author, but they are present to represent a realistic world. I'm a firm believer in reading with discernment. You can disagree with me and we can still be friends.

With that out of the way, I have to say I enjoyed this book. It is face-paced and right at the teen level in how they talk, think, and act. Pintip Dunn keeps you guessing until the end. It is heart-breaking and insightful into the lives and thoughts of those who are being abused.

The hero is not a typical jock heartthrob. He's a "nerd" type who has his own family troubles. The family units in the book all have their own particular brand of issues, covering a spectrum that most people can relate with or understand on a certain level.

I thought the heroine's journey was well done. I appreciated her relationship with her parents. There is a depth of relationship encouraged between teen and the parent which is something that culture doesn't often put in a positive light.

The story moved at a good pace and I was excited to get back to the characters when I had to take a break. I recommend the parent read this before the teen reads it as it has mature content in it. This would give you a discussion point with your teen about how to handle abuse whether it is to recognize it in friends or family or potentially spotting and avoiding someone who wants to exploit you under the guise of "love."

The encouragement to pursue the truth and not believe everything you're told is a good moral to this story.

The reviewer's age: 18-30 years old

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: The Captain's Daughter

I was delighted to read the new release of Jennifer Delamere, The Captain's Daughter which is the first book in her London Beginnings series. The cover "sets the stage" (pardon the pun) for our entrance into London and the title is reminiscent of Alexander Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter.

This delightful book is set in London in the late 19th century. (Read: historical romance) It takes place in the theatre of the day. Historical elements touch on Gilbert and Sullivan who took the theatre world by storm at that time and George Muller's orphanages. Everyone loves a good story that includes emotional elements. And who doesn't love love? So in addition for feeling for the characters, the reader also gets to learn about history. The time was well-researched and the setting authentic. The story's most encouraging part is that though bad things happen to people, they are not defeated. And sometimes we find that the places we long to escape the most will actually bring the most healing. 

I really enjoyed Nate and Rosalyn's relationship. I look forward to following books in that "London Beginnings" series. And I will be recommending it to my other Christian historical romance loving friends.

Reviewer's age: 75+ years old

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Adding Book Reviews

As a delightful and fun new aspect to this blog, I've decided to add book reviews. You guys know how much I love reading. So I've joined a couple of Christian fiction publishing blog tour groups to get started. Hope you get a few good recommendations out it!

Note I don't make any money from doing this. It's just from the goodness of my heart and my joy of reading. Publishers/authors have given me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Other of my family members will also be joining me on this journey so their review comments will also be posted and noted as such.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lessons Learned from Pregnancy

You can never really know what to expect from pregnancy no matter how many books you have read or how many stories you have heard from friends. Every pregnancy is different for every person. So what is true for me in these months might not hold true in future pregnancies. I did want so badly to be the person who absolutely loved pregnancy, mainly because I heard so many negative things about it (and parenting) before we started our own journey. And it is a gift that not everyone is able to see happen in their life.

However, while I can't say I've loved it, there are things I have enjoyed and have learned a lot already. Here are some of the lessons which also may ring true for those with a long-term illness. (At the risk of being cliche, I thought I'd document my own experience for those who can relate.)

Getting up slowly

I heard a story about a great Chicago football player (Walter Peyton) who spoke once about always getting up slowly after a tackle. That way, your opponents won't know if you're actually hurt and come after you. Show no weakness! Inspirational, right?

This is not that.

Whether it's standing up slowly from a chair so that you have your balance, sitting up slowly in bed so that you won't get nauseous, or just moving slower to prevent pulling those very loose joints and muscles, I have learned that getting up slowly is my best friend. Sometimes it seems like you are belaboring the point, but when you get up and feel good when you're up, it's a victory in itself.

Enjoying food 

This is never to be taken for granted ever again. The media is quick to splash a picture of a woman buried in a sea of food bags as a sign that she is pregnant. Similarly, people ask about cravings. Even marching into my third trimester, I've learned that enjoying food is a gift--not an expectation. It hasn't been "cravings" for me. It has been "tolerances." I open the pantry. I'm very hungry, because hunger strikes hard and fast these days, and I can't find a thing to eat because nothing sounds or looks good.

After my first trimester was over, I was SO thrilled to eat anything with flavor. I'd had my fill of crackers and Gatorade. But the same has held true over the span of these past 7 months and I've found myself eating bland foods to ward off any triggers that render me horizontal for the rest of the day in attempt to avoid nausea... or worse.

So when I can once again eat whatever I want without consequence, I will not take these things for granted. Also, I will need to be counting calories and working out so that I don't gain more weight post-baby. Moderation-- always moderation.


On the morning you wake up feeling pretty darn good, you will drop everything you put in your hands requiring you to bend down to pick it up and thus trigger the nausea. When you finally think you've gotten enough rest to get you through the day without a nap, you can trust that you will be on your side in a few hours praying your heart rate slows down and your lungs get a full breath. The day you finally have plans will be the day that you don't feel like seeing a single soul. Or the day you don't have plans and can stay home all day, you will have to run to the grocery store for a necessity. And the moment you convince yourself that you will indeed survive this very strange journey of body occupation and total takeover, some awkward person feels at liberty to share a horror story which would have been better left unsaid in the universe in general.

I think this is God's way of helping me learn to adjust my expectations each day. It's not always negative or waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it's learning to roll with the punches and not set anything in stone. Health is a fragile thing and you cannot push yourself past your limits with hopes of conquering the world as you did before. You must listen to your body and understand that this season of fragility won't last forever.

It is a wild ride of adjusting your life to sustain another life. It is a gift to feel a kick and see your abdomen moving on its own, because there are so many who can't have that. It is a weakness of your body that will result in your body being the strongest its ever been. It is a light at the end of a tunnel which seems so far off and yet way too close for comfort at times. It is beautiful and messy and discouraging and hopeful all at the same time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cleansing My Pantry and Refrigerator

My opportunity to post a New Years post is quickly slipping away. I think I've posted a post on this blog at least 10 times since Sept but apparently only in my mind.

Life is never stationary. There's plenty of mundane survival involved in living, but we're always changing and adapting to conditions around us. Not just with the new year and all those resolutions that come with it. I do prefer to attempt to make lifestyle changes instead of just resolutions. And while Jack has instituted a new silverware policy in our dishwasher so that every utensil has a designated slot in the basket (hello OCD!), we've also talked through our nutrition.

I will admit that food has been a "whatever we can afford" type of a deal for most of our marriage, but we are implementing a few new rules this year.

1) No high fructose corn syrup in the products we buy. It's the stuff of obesity and cancer and unhealthiness.
2) No MSG (monosodium glutamate)
3) Limited sugar intake
4) Cut back on milk intake (not dairy in general...just milk)

While #3 is a very large challenge, I'm convinced that in my life that the socially accepted "sweet tooth" is an addiction to sugar. I have zero legs to stand on when I say that I don't support addictions of any kind but yet I can't resist sugar (or for some it's caffeine.) As an adult, I no longer have an excuse for the bad things I eat. I choose what comes in my house (most of the time). Occasional sugar is fine, but feeling I need it every day or using it as a comfort food is unacceptable. Moderation. I feel that I did well with kicking the habit last year, but now I'm implementing it strongly in my house. Yes, Jack is now checking labels and paying attention to what's in his food. I feel like this is just the beginning of our journey with chemicals in our food and products.

Millennials have been tagged as hipsters who run to every food trend out there and spend way too much money on fancy labeled foods. But can you blame people for wanting to know what's in their food? And honestly, there is so much information out there about what companies are doing to our food source, but now it's all about finding the truth amidst the shouting. "Sustainable" food isn't necessarily healthy food. Anyway, I digress.

Small lifestyle changes that really help us see a difference and give future diseases, illnesses, and cancers less of a foothold is what we're going for. What are you changing this year?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Unchanging God That is Different

I've been reading in the Old Testament recently and have found it really intriguing that the God of the Old Testament doesn't seem to be the same God I see today. And we know that God never changes (James 1:17, Malachi 3:6), so what has changed?

God disapproved deeply of murder (Cain killing Able. David killing Uriah), yet God authorized the Israelites (especially David) to wipe out entire races of people. Everywhere David went God granted him favor over obliterating cities--men, women, children, animals, everything. On God's order, the forces would leave nothing alive and when Saul spared the life of some, he was punished severely. Today we call this kind of thing genocide or the Holocaust or "jihad."

Another place we see our view of God is different is in 1 Samuel. We find that Saul brings David to his palace to play the harp for him. In the Scriptures it mentions that God causes Saul's dark moods which have Saul throwing spears at David and trying to kill David in the wilderness. That's so different from how Western society sees things. We attribute all evil to the Devil and everything else to God. But really as I think about it, all things should be attributed to God because we know that Satan is not the opposite of God since God is Supreme Ruler. Satan/Lucifer is the opposite of Michael the Archangel. I'm not saying God tempts us with evil or authors evil or embraces evil, James 1:13 says He doesn't, but at the same time by saying the dark moods came from God it seems that we are saying "God is in control of all" as Job acknowledged.

I have other thoughts, but I find it interesting that when we read Scriptures the God we see there supersedes the God we've set up in our cultures. His ways are far beyond what we can understand. The pain, the judgment, the swords we brandish at one another for causes that we've come to understand as truth  are not all backed by Scripture. Yet all we can do is submit and say "God, you're in control. Do what you deem best and give me peace about it because you never change. In this life, I'll never see the full picture. I'll never understand what you don't give me power to understand." Some people think that God contradicts Himself in Scripture, but because we can only see through the lens of our conditioned thinking, I think our understanding of God  often contradicts God's true being. Only through divine help can we truly grasp an epically small portion of the being of God.

What are your thoughts?

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