This one seemed like a fun summer read, but I could NOT get into the story. I think it takes skill to tell a story well when you're flashing back and forth in time between different characters, and I didn't think this one did it very well. I didn't find the main characters likable or very interesting, and I felt like by about 50+ pages in, I knew exactly how the story would play out. I could very well have been wrong... but it seemed predictable and just not super engaging or worth sticking with. This one fell flat for me!
If you know the name Eugene Peterson, chances are you know it because of his Bible paraphrase, The Message. It's a popular, modern-language take on the Bible, and it's awesome. I knew Peterson had written other books and that he was a pastor, but I had never read or heard anything from him until this book. It's a rich, meaty, beautifully-written, incredibly thought-provoking collection of his teachings, most built on specific Scriptures. They're shared without updates from when Peterson originally gave them, but I found them all to be incredibly relevant and timely. This book is one you'll want to savor and read intentionally, while poring over the verses and passages too -- he is brilliant and so grounded, and this book is just an incredible gem.
This book is a gem. I knew as soon as I heard Rebekah Lyons speak at IF:Gathering that I wanted to read her newest book, and it did not disappoint. I actually led a book club on this book, and our group of women LOVED discussing freedom every week as we made it through this one. It's rich, full of great personal experiences, not too daunting or overwhelming, and has great thoughtful questions at the end of each (pretty short) chapter. I really found this one to be such an incredible look at freedom and what it means to live like we ARE free -- it's a great, great read.
The cover of this one is STUNNING (one of the prettiest books I've ever seen, no lie) and instantly drew me in, and the stories inside just continued to wow me. This kind of writing is my favorite -- honest, heartfelt stories of all kinds from all sorts of writers, all telling of moments that mattered in such a way that makes you just believe in humanity again and see the world in a better light. This is an excellent collection of stories, grouped together in 7 themes, each one as wonderful as the next. I was curious how these stories (originally told on stage in live settings) would translate to written words, but after the first few lines of the first story, I was sold. These stories are ones that will linger with me... the very best kind.
I reciveed this one from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review!
I had mixed feelings about this author based on things I've seen, heard, and read about and from him, but the premise of this book (and that awesome cover!) grabbed me. I read this one in one sitting, and found it to be incredibly well done. It covers nearly every possible question people have about faith, from the big ones like why a good God would allow suffering, to ones we don't hear as much, like what the deal was with Adam and Eve. This is a book I will absolutely pass along to friends who are wrestling through these questions of faith, and one I'm glad to have in my personal arsenal as a reference when I'm asked some of these questions. It's written with a healthy dose of humor (that sometimes crossed the line for me into sarcasm and snark) and in a very approachable Q&A format that I think worked well. A solid read!
I cannot say enough good things about this book -- it was exactly the book I needed to read in this season of my life where I've been struggling with so many feelings of depression and anxiety. It was a beautifully written book, and Esther's story is INCREDIBLE. It's heart-wrenching, but she tells it in a way that brings so much glory to God and doesn't dwell on the pain at all. I so appreciated her focus on lament, and how essential it is for us to truly lament in our faith. I have never read a book that talked about it so well, and in such an encouraging way. This book is truly a gift, and I will be sharing it with friends, because it's such a balm to weary souls. Five stars for this one.
This is such a gem of a book -- so much more than just a coffeetable book or a collection of pretty pictures (although it is both of those!). This one is stunning in every way. The "unexpected projects using 47 extraordinary garden plants" aren't one note, they aren't out of reach for the average gardener, and they're actually really useful and fun ideas too. I loved this book and will be coming back to it time and time again as the year goes on and I can add more of these plants to my garden to do these projects with!
Is the Bible Good for Women?: Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture by Wendy Alsup
THE STARS: 3/5
THE PLOT: "Using a Jesus-centered understanding to look at both God's grand storyline and specific biblical passages, Alsup gives practical, accessible tools for understanding the noble ways God speaks to and about women in its pages and the dignity He places on His daughters." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: This one... I'm still not sure about. It's the kind of title that makes my blood boil, but I wanted to give it a chance. There were parts I loved. There were parts I vehemently hated. There were parts that made me think and consider things from a new angle (which I appreciate) and parts where I feel like she totally missed the mark and did more damage to the perception of what it means to be a woman than has already been done... (did not appreciate that). So, I don't know about this one. Interesting thoughts, glad I read them, but probably wouldn't recommend this one strongly.
THE DEETS: I received this one from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.
This book is an incredible read. I didn't vote for Obama and wasn't a fan for a while, but as time went on and as the political climate has changed dramatically, I've come to appreciate and respect Obama so much more. I've been interested in the intersection of his faith and politics for a while (since listening to a podcast with his faith advisor Joshua DuBois a while back) and this book was really a brilliant read. I learned a lot, was inspired and encouraged, loved the behind-the-scenes stories, and really appreciated the thoughtfulness and relatable nature of how Wear crafted this. Highly recommend this one if you're at all curious about how faith and politics coincide, if you're an Obama fan or someone who doesn't know much about the man, or if anything about the presidency interests you.
I really, really loved this one. I've heard of Allen from IF:Gathering, but hadn't read much from her, and I was really impressed with this book. My standards for Christian book by female authors are high (so not a fan of things that are fluffy or cliche) but this one really hit home for me. It was relevant, meaningful, intentionally written (loved the great use of white space to slow down as I read, the reflection questions, the Scripture passages to stop and pray through), and really beautiful. I highly recommend this one to women who have ever felt like they aren't enough -- because this book will remind you that in Him, you ARE.
I've never been one to shy away from "self-help" or "self-improvement" types of books, so this one caught my eye. The subtitle is "how building a great relationship with yourself is the key to a happy successful life" but it was other positive reviews that actually sold me on this one. As soon as I got it, though, I read that the author was on Joel Osteen's board, and I had a feeling I wouldn't end up enjoying this one as much. I was right. It reads very much in line with the "prosperity gospel" themes, with a lot of that same language. It did have a lot of Scripture included and was clearly a faith-based book, but much more so in the "you can be successful if you just love yourself!" kind of way than a "strength comes from the LORD" kind of way. I didn't really like this one much at all, but could see people who are more encouraged by motivational speakers or "success" language getting good advice out of this one. Just not the style that really encourages or motivates me at all.
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my review.
This book is all about the power of not knowing, and that was such an intriguing concept to me when I first saw it. I'm someone who is very Type A, very perfectionistic, very much a planner, so things that I don't know or things that are out of my control are challenging, so I was really hopeful that this book would be enlightening and helpful in navigating the unknown... but I wasn't really thrilled by it. I found it to be pretty dry and not very relatable to my personal life, although the examples shared and the anecdotes and statistics included were varied and diverse. I didn't really feel like this book had a strong point or a really clear focus in the end, and it kept rambling on and going down rabbit holes that left me uninterested and skipping ahead to try to get to something that was more exciting to me. People who are more logical and appreciate facts and stats would like this book, I think, but as a creative, it didn't really connect with me.
I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review!
I've long been a fan of the whole Passion entity -- I attended the massive Passion conference several times in college, have visited Passion City Church, and really love their team of pastors and worship leaders. I was excited to see this devotional hit the shelves, especially since it's geared toward the 18-25 generation that I'm both a part of and passionate about reaching. This book is solidly written, with great thoughts shared from people my own age every day, while still being rich, thought-provoking, and biblically-based. Definitely recommend this one for young adults looking to start their day with great thoughts from the Word, written in a real and relatable way!
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my review.
MY THOUGHTS: I liked this book more than anything else I've read from Judah Smith -- it was insightful, still had his signature flavor of humor and lightness, but was more meaningful and relatable to me than Jesus Is___ was. I'm a big fan of books that look at faith through the deeper lens of the soul instead of just what's on the surface, so I found this to be a solid read (although nothing totally blew me away) and one I'd happily share with friends. I think our culture really overlooks the importance of soul-care, and this was a great reminder that our souls are where our true identity and meaning and worth lie, and that we should pay better attention to them.
IN ADDITION: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review!
I am a big advocate of reading books about faith from people who believe and live differently than I do, and this was a great example of that. Much of what I read in this book differed from my own beliefs, but I appreciated reading Nadia's perspective and seeing how she built community with unlikely people in unconventional ways. I was challenged to better love the people around me even when they are different from me as I read this book, but it wasn't one I really could click with or really loved in the end.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review!
I am a HUGE fan of the Hamilton craze that's sweeping the nation. I can't get enough of the soundtrack, and I'm slowly making my way through the Chernow biography, but was so excited to see this book pop up! It's a perfect read for any Hamilton fan (or anyone who wants to know what this whole Hamilton thing is all about) -- witty, fast-paced, conversational, informative and entertaining at the same time, and really well-written. I didn't want to put it down! If the huge bio intimidates you, this is a perfect book for you. It isn't your typical stuffy and boring biography, but really a fun, fresh twist that includes many of Hamilton's own maxims alongside awesome biographical content. Loved this one!
I have long been a fan of Oswald Chambers -- his My Utmost for His Highest book is on my nightstand and one I read daily, so I was excited to see a new collection of daily devotions released! This one is beautiful (the cover is neutral with gold accents that are just perfect) and so well-curated. Each day has a verse, a devotional passage, a prayer thought, and a passage for suggested reading. For both new believers or long-time Christians, this is a great prompting to start each morning in the Word and in prayer. This would make an excellent Christmas gift as well-- I can't wait to start reading through the entire year on January 1! An excellent collection from Chambers.
I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review!
As someone who is both gluten-free and vegan, finding great recipes I can eat is a challenge. I'm used to constantly having to figure out substitutions for ingredients I'm allergic to, and try to come up with ways to make things not only eatable with my restrictions, but enjoyable. When I saw this cookbook, I jumped at it, excited to see that the subtitle of "A year of gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo recipes for every occasion." I was, however, bummed to find that most of the recipes included meat. I should have realized they would, but I was still hoping for more vegan options throughout. What I loved about this (beautiful, I should add) cookbook is the themes of the recipes-- there are game day recipes, date night recipes, Easter brunch, even a summer shower. It covers all the bases of the year's main celebrations, which was a really clever and fun cookbook idea. While many of the recipes won't work for my vegan diet, there are several I'm looking forward to trying, like chile garlic rapini, ginger peach sangria, lemon bars, and curry pumpkin soup. If you're gf, df, or paleo, grab this one ASAP! It's a winner.
I really enjoyed this book and reading Shannan's story. I hadn't followed her blog or known about her before coming across this book, so it was great to get to know her and read all about her family and faith and life. It's a story about leaving the easy life behind to step out in faith and follow God's lead, and although very different from my own life, those themes rang true with me. I was so inspired by how Shannan and her husband continually open up their hearts and their home to others, really extending the love of Jesus to those who might otherwise never encounter him, and really redefining what "family" means. I loved it. There are great takeaways from every believer in this one-- there's a much richer and more abundant life to be had on the other side of fear and uncertainty, and this book is the nudge so many of us need to get to that place.
I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for a review, which I share with you honestly as always!
I am a major Henri Nouwen fan. I've read several of his books (browse through all the reviews of them here!) and always adore the thoughtful, humble, honest way he writes about life and faith. He never pretends to be without struggles, but instead vulnerably shares them and in doing so, beautifully points people to the cross and to Christ. Reading this book of letters was such a fascinating insight into more of Nouwen's life, struggles, feelings, and journey of faith. This book was so thoughtfully arranged and so thoroughly researched-- every letter came with a preface about the context of who he was writing to, what his relationship with them was, where he was and what he was doing in life when he wrote it, etc. It's broken into three sections by chunks of time, and it flowed effortlessly. I never found myself lacking in context as I read these letters, although I often wished I could read the other side of things and see what people had written to him, just because the responses from Nouwen were so intriguing! There were so many segments and sentences that I highlighted and wanted to memorize-- Nouwen has such a way with words and I loved discovering that his voice is truly his voice both in his books and in his conversations with dearly loved friends. This is a gem for all those who have read and appreciated Nouwen, and a great read even for those who haven't and who just want to dive deeper into the background of a the life of a wise and humble believer. High praise for this one!