August 24, 2016

They Were Christians by Cristobal Krusen

One of the first things I do when I get a book with an author I am unfamiliar with is search for the author on google.  Maybe I am a huge geek but I want to know more about who wrote the book I am about to read.  I knew absolutely nothing about Cristobal Krusen when I got this book.  I suspect many of you don't know who he is either so I will tell you a bit about him before we get started with the book review.

Cristobal Krusen is a director, writer, producer and actor.  He has two degrees in film arts and has a lifelong love of classic literature and writing as well as photography.  One of the first entries I found when I did a google search on him was a link to IMDb!  He has worked on a few Christian biography projects on film.  The projects include a biographical movie called Undaunted: the early life of Josh McDowell and one about the early settlers to Jamestown called First Landing.

It seems only logical that he would write a biographical resource such as They Were Christians based on his love of history and writing.  This book is full of short biographies of some of the most influential people in history.  The subtitle says "men and women" but there was only one woman represented in this text.  It also speculates that some were Christians who may not have actually said they were but the fruit of a relationship with God was there according to Krusen's accounts of their lives.  I believe this book is well researched and historically accurate.

It is very well written.  I think I would enjoy reading more by Krusen.  I see potential for a series of books like this from him.  The book is not intended to give huge in-depth biographical information but, rather, it is designed to show faith in action in the lives of those he has chosen to write about.  

If you love reading biographies this is perfect for you!  I think it would lend itself to a homeschool library very well.  It is definitely for the older student.  The book is full of faith accounts and I believe it will strengthen our own faith to read about the challenges and faith during hard times in the lives of these historical figures.  My favorites were Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens and Frederick Douglass.  There were a few that were new to me, too.  I always love meeting new people in history!

This book was sent to me free of charge in exchange for reading and honestly reviewing it by Baker Publishing Baker Books Division.

I recommend this book highly and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

August 02, 2016

Murder Comes By Mail by A. H. Gabhart


This is a modern day mystery written by a Christian writer and published through a Christian publishing company.  It is clean in language and presentation but it is not overtly religious.  It is very well written and suitable for all audiences from high school age up.

It opens with a small town deputy sheriff, Michael Keane, doing a favor for his aunt.  He was taking a busload of women from her church to a neighboring town for a performance.  On the drive there a most unexpected event happens.  Keane has to make an emergency stop along the way to talk a suicidal man off a local bridge.  Just shortly after pulling the man back from the brink of suicide against the man's will a simple threat sets things in motion.  Days after the rescue the mystery begins with an envelope that is delivered by mail with photos of a dead girl that no one can identify readily.  Keane is forced to begin his investigation even though it is out of his jurisdiction... an investigation that will, hopefully, save the lives of those closest to him and eventually his own life.  A colorful cast of characters includes a newspaper man, a lawyer friend from Keane's childhood, a feisty aunt and a neighboring police chief and his assistant who all come together to work it out before more people die.  

My Thoughts

This was my first murder mystery to read for review and I was pleasantly surprised at how addictive and enjoyable this book was.  So many quick read mysteries tend to be predictable and cliche but this was not like that at all.  I did figure it out before I got to the end but it kept me surprised and guessing all the way up to the moment I realized who did it!

I really loved the writing.  It was not complicated with lots of new vocabulary words but it was certainly a book I had a hard time putting down.  It was the perfect vacation book for me this summer.  I enjoyed it so much I came home and ordered the first book in the series for my fall reading list.  It is the second book in the series and there is a hint that more are coming in the Michael Keane stories.  I look forward to enjoying those, too.

This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for a fair and honest read and review.  It was sent to me by the publisher.... Baker's Publishing Revell Division.  I clearly enjoyed it and purchased the first in the series on my own.  LOL  I give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it highly for all those murder mystery friends out there.  It was a great read!

August 01, 2016

More Change = More Stress Ahead!

Mt. Rushmore - Summer 2016

As another month begins I am living with a constant knot in my stomach!  There has been a LOT of change this summer and we are not done.  I mentioned before that there was a graduation and a wedding and then we had a giant trip to 8 different states over a month's time.  After that we have had a diagnosis of congestive heart failure for one parent and a failed bypass valve with another.  I am done with drastic!  Middle boy has started back with summer band for high school and he will be a junior this year.  We have a girlie leaving for college in 13 days and neither one of us is feeling ready yet.  I may never.... children leaving is just hard.  I am, however, so very excited for what lies ahead for her.

With a new month comes new goals and plans and August is especially full of those kinds of things. Once we get girlie settled we head straight back to prepare here for the start of another school year and the hubby going back to work full time.  I am looking forward to some structure and routine again.  Summers always make me feel discombobulated!

I have books that have been started to finish and new books to begin.  A new Bible study is beginning on August 29th with Love God Greatly and my book has already been ordered.  There are cleaning projects that have been in progress all summer that will continue.  I have a ton of photos of the changes around here. There is furniture to move and some to give away. I have lined up some painting projects and photo sorting projects to keep me busy come August 22nd when I have an empty house again.  Oh, and there are always new menus to plan and a new schedule to coordinate.

I am hoping to be here more... to write more... to share more.  It is in the list of goals for a new semester.

There are also eating and exercise changes coming for me.  It may sound harsh but as I have watched our aging parents struggling with health issues this summer I have determined in my own mind that I will make my future different by being attentive now to the things that can keep me strong and healthy as I age.  I cannot stop everything but I can stop some of it.  The kids and I have all had doctors appointments, dentist appointments and vision testing for new glasses so that is behind us come this Friday.

Dan has been diligent in getting much of his stuff done this summer in regards to his health.  I am grateful that he is concerned with that.  I have watched as others in our family have not been so thoughtful of their loved ones.  It is important to care for one's own health in order to spare such stress to those around us.  You cannot take care of those around you if you don't put your own "oxygen mask" on in a plane emergency and that goes for the rest of your life, too.  I plan on making sure I am able to continue to care for those around me well for as long as I am able.

With that in mind I am also preparing for another Whole30 in September... with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) restrictions this time.  I will spend August getting ready to hit the ground running for that.

I hope someone is still out there to share all of this with.  LOL

Do any of you have big plans for a reboot for fall?

I would love to hear from you!

June 21, 2016

Summer is here.... there should be goals right?

My life has been so insane lately that I have let summer sneak up on me with zero personal goals.  It seems the big obvious goal is to make it from one thing to the next right now.  We have had three major life events and a few smaller but important events lately with more on the horizon.  I am hoping there will be a respite at some point before my daughter leaves for college but for now I think I will just give you the rundown of all that is consuming us lately.... with photos.

Eagle Court of Honor

Youngest became an OA member

Girlie had a senior recital 

Youngest got inducted into NJHS

We made a trip to Texas State Solo/Ensemble competition where Em had two first divisions on a solo and an ensemble.... that brings her total to 8 gold medals and one silver for her time in high school.

We had a last day of school... with a senior, sophomore and sixth grader.

We had a graduate on June 13th

and we added a new daughter on June 18th.

I told you.... crazy!  LOL

Now, we are moving toward getting the girlie ready to go off to college.  If I survive the summer we will start over with a new school year come August.

There have been projects, too, but we will save those fun things for another day.

Happy summer...

What are you planning to accomplish this season?

April 22, 2016

Readathon TBR April 2016

Mostly working through the top three but the bottom three are just in case.

I actually bought Ruth Reichl's book today for 30% off at Barnes and Noble.  I had been waiting until I had coupons to get it.

Tomorrow will be a little insane with guys coming to replace two giant windows that are cracked on the back of our house and some running around of kids.  We also have tickets to the Harry Connick, Jr. concert for our family so there won't be as much reading as in years past but I will work some in as I have time.  I will be checking the reading website on and off, too.

Are you reading with us?

What are you reading?

April 21, 2016

April 2016 Dewey's Readathon is Saturday.... April 23

It is not too late to sign up so I am sharing here for those who want to join in...

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Blog Page - you can go sign up and check out some of the warm ups to do before the event starts or during the event if you like.

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

This is a modern day Christian romance novel set on the famous Prince Edward Island.
It is the first in a series by Liz Johnson with the second one due out in the fall of 2016.

The story revolves around Marie Carrington who is fleeing from her past.  She leaves her home in Boston to head north to Canada to escape the recent events that are haunting her and bringing her to full blown panic attacks at every turn.  Escaping is not enough, though, because she must hide her location from her family and former community, also.  Her father must not find her or he will drag her back to relive all of it again in a very public way.  She must not be forced to face it all again.

A kind stranger named Jack, an elderly gentleman, crosses her path and steps in to help her.  He is struggling with his own burden of trying to get a bed and breakfast up and running in his small community.  He is seeking to honor his wife, Rose, who passed away some time ago by opening a place that can shelter others from the storms of life and bring healing to all who stay there.  Jack offers Marie a job without knowing anything about her past and she reluctantly accepts the work and the place to stay.  The drawback is that she will have to work alongside Jack's angry nephew, Seth, to bring the bed and breakfast up to standard to get it opened on time.

Jack, along with a whole cast of characters, begins to take Marie in and treat her as family.  She begins to find her passion in life as God draws her closer and begins to peel away the layers of hurt and rejection.  

It is a familiar theme with a predictable but enjoyable romance or two along the way and a beautiful picture of how God the Father is the perfect Father unlike many of our own.  As Marie begins to see that God the Father is not like her own harsh father at all and that He really does seek to show her a better life full of love and forgiveness and second chances.

I did enjoy this book.  As many of you know, I am not typically a fiction reader but this one was a lovely read about a place so many of us long to see someday.  Prince Edward Island is spoken of so often in the Maud Montgomery novels and it is depicted beautifully in this novel.  Marie is a fan of the Montgomery novels as well.  

It struck a chord with me because it is set around a bed and breakfast and a small community with an antique shop, a scrumptious bakery that made me hungry every time it was mentioned and, of course, the beauty that surrounded all of it.  The characters from the community are absolutely charming and lovable for the most part.

I am certainly interested in reading the sequel to continue the story of the people in this story.

I would give it a 4 out of 5.

Want to know more about Liz Johnson and her books?

Check out her WEBSITE.

This book was sent to me free of charge by Baker Publishing Group's Revell division in exchange for an honest read and review.

April 06, 2016

A Woman's Guide to Knowing What You Believe by Patty Houser

This book is nonfiction. 

This is one of the most theologically sound books I have read in a long time.  It is full full full!  Patty Houser seeks, in this text, to teach us the importance of knowing exactly what you believe about God and His Word.  She encourages us to stay in the Word daily and to seek out the Truth of God.

Patty is a master communicator and writer!  So many books in the Christian realm are so fluffy these days with no substance and depth but this is CERTAINLY NOT ONE OF THOSE.  Patty is highly educated and well researched on matters of theology and Christian apologetics.  She lays the facts and information out very clearly for both the novice and the seasoned theologian.

For this year I have seen a recurring theme as God has spoken to me about how we should we live.  

The passage in Mark 12:30.... 

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and 
with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."  (ESV)

has been at the forefront of what I keep hearing and reading.  Patty's book addresses this theme over and over again.  

I mentioned apologetics and I have heard women (and men) say that they do not put stock in apologetic and feel that apologetics are divisive.  They clearly have no idea what apologetics are so I will not assume here that everyone knows that word.  Here is the definition of apologetics from the source

The word, "apologetics," is derived from the Greek word, "apologia," which means to make a defense. It has come to mean defense of the faith. Apologetics covers many areas: who Jesus is, the reliability of the Bible, refuting cults, Biblical evidences in the history and archeology, answering objections, etc. In short, it deals with giving reasons for Christianity being the true religion. We are called by God to give an apologia, a defense: "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence," (1 Pet. 3:15).

More simply put in the book by Patty in the glossary section, apologetics is... a rational defense for the truth-claims of Christianity.  

I feel that apologetics are essential for all Christians and to say otherwise is a cop out.  Patty agrees and in her book she lays out how we should know what we believe and then how we should reach out to the world around us with the Truth of God's Word.  She encourages us to have a personal relationship with Christ and to KNOW HIM and His Word intimately.  

Her challenge to us is to KNOW what you believe...  

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approveda worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

and then go into the world and give them the Truth to bring them to Christ.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20

This is an important book that will go on my shelf next to writers like C.S. Lewis and J.I. Packer because it is that valuable to our daily walk with Christ.  No, it is not the Bible but it exalts Christ and the Bible in a way that many modern day Christian writers completely miss.  It is a great resource for every Christian.

The book ends with a checklist of what we believe.  It is intended to show us where we might be unsure so that we might focus on those beliefs and really study them for ourselves.  Lifelong study is key and we can never know all there is to know about God but we should constantly be in search of His Truth.

Add this one to your resources if you are serious about your relationship with Christ and studying the Bible.  It is something for both new believers who are trying to figure out this journey and more mature Christians who have read and reread the Bible throughout their lifetime.  

Get it for yourself... gift it to a fellow Christian or new believer.... it will bless you both!

I give this one a solid 5 out of 5!

This book is published by Bethany House: a division of Baker Publishing Group.
This book was provided to me free of charge for an honest review.


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