Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

English Lessons

Hold on…don’t go anywhere. I’m not going to (intentionally) give you any lessons about English. Instead, I want to talk about an interesting little story that I recently read.

Through bloggingforbooks, I stumbled across a book by the daughter of Max Lucado, Andrea Lucado, that tells the story of her journey closer to God that happened to coincide with her journey to Oxford (England that is).

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From the first page of this book, I was connected. This girl gets me. She and I both practically grew up in church, so our faith in God just seem connected to who we are. That doesn’t mean we were immediately saved upon birth or anything; we definitely still each had to make our own decisions about who God is to us. In fact, that’s the purpose of her book, English Lessons.  In this personal memoir, Andrea tells of how she traveled to Oxford thinking she could use it as her personal mission field (that’s how I felt in London). Once she arrives, she realizes that being the sole Christian in her graduate classes may be harder than she thinks (I can relate). She begins to question the validity of her own faith. Through a series of friendships and experiences, she comes to realize that her life is so much richer with God, and she can’t imagine her life without God.

I was immensely jealous of Andrea’s story firstly because Oxford was a place in England I did not get to visit. Secondly, she was able to experience the city and meet so many interesting characters. Thirdly, she is very articulate about her story of questioning her faith and then coming back to God. She tells the story in a way that makes me want to ponder my own story again and be more reflective. There are possibly still lessons I could learn from the events that have happened and will happen within my own life.

Even though this book is clearly marked as an uncorrected copy and won’t actually be published until later this year, I am glad to have read it now. Andrea’s story is both personal to her and relatable to the many church kids out there who wonder what their life would have been like if they hadn’t grown up going to church.

For more information about this book, visit the publisher’s website.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Posted in Book Review

Seven-Mile Miracle

Have you ever felt distanced from God and you’re not sure how to find him again? According to Steven Furtick, you only need to go seven miles.

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In his book, Seven-Mile Miracle, Furtick describes the last seven phrases that Jesus spoke before dying as a metaphor for the steps we will take from salvation until eternity in heaven.

Mile One: God’s forgiveness

Mile Two: Salvation

Mile Three: Relationship

Mile Four: The times when we feel abandoned

Mile Five: The times when we feel distressed

Mile Six: The triumph God gives

Mile Seven: A reunion with God

This short book packs a lot of punches as it describes how we all just want more of God. No matter where we are on that journey toward the presence of God, we need more of God to take the next step.

I appreciated that the book was loaded with scripture. Many paragraphs have a scriptural reference. Furtick stays focused on what truly matters rather than delving into long anecdotes.

In the back of the book, a 40 day reading guide is also included. The guide provides the parallel gospel readings of the 40 major events leading to Jesus’s ascension into heaven. I haven’t made it through the 40 days yet, but I look forward to the journey. It would be perfect to do the 40 days before Easter, but I think I’ve already missed that.

 

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

They put me…Over the Edge

There are three creatures in this world that I wonder why God created them: ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes. Before you start telling me all of the reasons why these parasites are useful, let me have my moment. Out of those three, ticks freak me out the most. They latch onto your skin, they’re tiny, and they carry so many diseases.

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One of those diseases, Lyme, is the focus of Brandilyn Collins’s book Over the Edge. Released in 2006, this book tells the story of a real battle through the eyes of fictional character. Janessa McNeil is the wife of a famous doctor whose main platform exists on the premise that Lyme is not a serious disease and can be cured by a short round of antibiotics. Janessa is infected with Lyme by a psychopath out to prove to the world that Lyme is a long-suffering disease. Not even his own wife’s suffering health can convince him that Lyme might be more serious than his committee claims.

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Collins writes with such descriptive prose that the book kept me riveted to the page even long after I should have been asleep. I wanted to know who the mysterious man was and why he thought infecting another human with Lyme would prove to the doctors that Lyme was serious. Be prepared at the end for a major, but believable, plot twist.

Prior to reading this book, my connection to Lyme was only based on stories of people who have had it. I didn’t know the extent to which this disease can affect a body or the trouble doctors can have diagnosing it. I trust the facts in this book based on the author’s extensive notes at the end and the fact that the author herself suffered from Lyme.

This book also carries a hint of the Christian faith. The Dr. McNeil doesn’t believe, but Janessa and her daughter are believers in Christ, albeit a very weak belief. The disease pushes Janessa to read the Psalms for comfort and sympathy. The verses she reads are what pushes her to keep fighting. While the storyline doesn’t punch you in the face with the Christian faith, there are glimmers of faith.

This book will remain on my shelf simply because it’s a well-written fast-paced easy read. I won’t return to it anytime soon, but someday once I’ve forgotten the plot, I’ll come back and enjoy it again.

 

Posted in Book Review

The Cider House Rules

I’m a little slow in posting this since I finished the book over a week ago. It’s so fitting that I finished The Cider House Rules the day before Sanctity of Life Sunday.

What led me to pick up this book: I watched this movie several years ago with my best human friend. While I didn’t really remember the plot, I did recall the emotions that the movie made me feel.

The basic plot of the book: Homer Wells, an orphan, grows up in a not-so-normal orphanage that also functions as a birthing hospital. The orphanage’s doctor also performs abortions. Homer can’t seem to settle in a home, so he becomes the doctor’s apprentice. As he grows older and learns more about the women who come pregnant but never give birth, he decides that he cannot be part of that work. Eventually, he leaves the orphanage to work on an apple farm. He only returns many years later when the orphanage really needs him.

The positives of the book: At first I was cheering for Homer when he told Dr. Larch he wouldn’t perform or assist with any abortions, but then he continued to say that he wasn’t opposed to abortions being performed. He did acknowledge that the fetus is a living human which is why he couldn’t perform an abortion.

Overall, the book is well-written, and in true John Irving fashion, the characters are many and well-developed. Spanning almost 600 pages, the reader sees the duration of Homer’s life in almost minute detail. You’ve been warned: it’s a commitment, but it’s a good book to commit to reading.

The drawbacks of the book: I struggled with the views on abortion because I am totally against abortion. None of the characters fall into that category. It would have been nice to see Irving include one character to challenge Homer’s views on abortion. Thankfully, though, there is more to the book than the abortion debate.

I’d recommend this book to any adult who has a well-formed opinion on abortion. If you’re unsure where you stand, you might want to do some research first because this book could possibly sway you in the wrong direction.

Posted in Book Review

Then Sings My Soul

I’m coming to the point in my life where I realize that instead of books being good or bad, there are books that are for certain people or certain times.

My mom recommended Then Sings My Soul to me because she really enjoyed it. I did enjoy the story, but I wasn’t in a position to completely understand the character’s situation. Alternating between twentieth century Ukraine and present-day United States, Amy Sorrells tells the story of middle-aged Nel who is struggling with infertility on the west coast when her mother dies on the east coast. She travels to the east coast and discovers that her elderly father is suffering from dementia and hiding a past. She re-visits her own past while learning about her father’s past.

I found the writing style of high quality, and the story telling exquisite. The shifts between the past and present were smooth. On a literary level, I enjoyed the book, and at another time in my life I would probably find more in common with the main character. I’d tell you, give it a try.

then sings my soul

Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

Hello, Bicycle

I’ve been riding my bicycle to work several days a week for the past few months. Before that though I had to delve into the world of bike repair. I got a Schwinn World bike from an acquaintance for free, and for the most part it was in good condition. It did need new tires though because it’s current ones looked like frosted flakes were sitting on the edges. Boy did I feel like a cyclist when I successfully ordered and changed the tires on my own (or rather with the help of the internet and my best friend). Since that time, I’ve been riding uphill to work about a mile and a half, partially on road and partially on sidewalk. I’ve learned about safety while riding in the road and built a few new muscles. It feels good each day  that I don’t use my car.

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All that long story is to explain why I selected the book Hello, Bicycle as my next review book. Before I received this book, I expected fun pictures and witty text. I wanted it to be a quick read and easily organized so that I could easily flip to a particular section. From the book, I hoped to learn about bicycle repair/adjustments, how to make my ride easier, and some rules of the road.

Hello Bicycle

The book does have a fun cartoons, but more importantly the text is informative and fun to read. The text is light, but punches in the information. It includes everything from how to ride in a skirt to how to change a tire to the history of the bicycle. It also includes fun information about how to re-use old parts of your bike and recipes for on-the-road snacks.

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This book encourages me to ride my bicycle more often, and it taught me some skills in an easy-to-understand format. It’ll definitely be one that I keep on my shelf and re-visit often.

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Posted in Book Review

The Protector

Once I got started with The Protector, I devoured it. This was one of the many books I have bought recently at library book sales. Kudos to my public libraries for hosting two sales this summer!

the protector

In this novel, Dee Henderson continues the story of the O’Malley siblings focusing on Jack in this story. He’s a firefighter in a department where an arsonist keeps acting. There is a strong belief that Jack or those close to him are a common link to the arsonist’s actions, which seem to be saying something about the recent departmental cuts. Mingled in the arson mystery is a budding romance between Jack and another firefighter with a horrific past of her own. At the heart of the story is the question “Who is Jesus?”

I probably shouldn’t have jumped into this story mid-series. While I don’t know if the plot follows the other books in the series, but the book is written as if you already know the characters. Thankfully there are a few clues throughout the book that fill in details about how the characters connect. It did leave me wanting to read the others so I could learn more of the backstory.

While I did appreciate the fact that Jack came to believe in Jesus and accepted him for who he was, I felt that part was cheapened a bit by the romance. There was one moment where she seemed to care about his eternal destination, but it felt that the female character was mostly waiting for Jack to believe the same as she so that they could be together. The topic of unequally yoked dating is messier than I might like it to be though. I am appreciative that Henderson included this internal debate for the female character.

I’d recommend this book to pretty much anyone. It may be more appealing to female adults, but c’mon guys, it has a firefighter as a main character. The story has bits of romance,  mystery, and action.