Category Archives: books

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen Insight Edt.

Sense and Sensibility is probably my least favorite Jane Austen novel, and I’ve read them all. It never captured me like Pride & Prejudice’s Darcy & Elizabeth’s love story or even the impetuous Emma’s mistaken matchmaking. But with Bethany House’s new Insight Edition, Sense and Sensibility’s long-lasting effect on culture finally, well, made Sense to me. I enjoyed it this time around, and this will certainly not be my last time to read this beloved classic.

This new edition doesn’t mess with the original text of S&S – at all! Quite the opposite – it enhances the reader’s experience.
The Editors point out little quirks and interesting facts found within the text, which had those notes not been there I would have missed it entirely!
Other footnotes are witty, knowledgeable and even have some fun tidbits about the movie variations.

I definitely enjoyed Sense and sensibility more the second time around thanks much in part to this insight edition! There are limitless editions of Sense and Sensibility available, but this one is by FAR my favorite.

Thanks to Bethany House for providing this book for me to review!
I definitely enjoyed Sense and sensibility more the second time around thanks much in part to this insight edition!


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Charles Dickens? Check!

I finished the Charles Dickens books I had planned on, before my birthday! I cut it closer than i ever have before, by two days, but i also had 4x as many books to read!

I found a great resource, particularly for those Dickens which were a bit dry! It’s called the Friendly Dickens by Norrie Epstein, She explains the plot and subtleties so i can understand Dickens (at least a little more!)
Here’s the highlights!

Favorite: Bleak House and Little Dorrit
I don’t know if i would like these books quite as well as if i hadn’t seen the movies based on these! They’re sweet, but with a bit of that classic dark dickens in them. Also Bleak House is the ONLY Dickens to be written (at least partly) from a female’s perspective!

Most thought-provoking: A Tale of Two Cities
I was VERY intimidated with this book. I was afraid that all those subtle under-lying themes would be lost on me. But, i took my time with it and found that it was quite enjoyable… if a little heavy 🙂

Least Favorite(s): Martin Chuzzlewit
I never got fully invested in this book. It seemed like it had the driest characters out of Dickens. It just seemed to drag!


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Review of Stand:Unleashing the Wisdom of God

Stand: Unleashing the Wisdom of God By Alex McFarland

I have to admit, as soon as i opened the package i exclaimed “how cute!”.
It’s one of the smallest books i’ve seen, it’s as tall as most books but the width of it is tiny. However, the words within are anything BUT cute.
The writer dives right into the nitty gritty of the message in Proverbs, WISDOM. He doesn’t skirt around issues or try to brush them up to make them appear better, he tells it how it is without any sort of apology.
He explores deep into the Proverbs and Solomon’s life, and also shares great, funny stories from Alex own life. He is very transparent, and that makes for a relatable read. I’m not sure how “original” this book is, since many books have been written for youth focusing on wisdom and Solomon, but this is certainly one to check out. I’m looking forward to reading the others in the series!

The Stand series of three books are written specifically with youth in mind. The titles are Stand: Unleashing the Wisdom of God, Stand: Diving into God’s Words, and Stand: Seeking the Way of God

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Religions of the stars review

religionsBy Richard Abanes.

This author has also written several books on Christianity and Pop culture. I’ve always enjoyed learning about different religions and how they compare to Christianity. Richard Abanes is one of the very best authors on this particular subject.
He covers every major “celebrity” religion out there (at least the one i could name off the top of my head) I definitely appreciated all of the the notes and references on the religions. He writes in a fun and easy to read way.But he also manages to write with a clear urgency to fight against the false teachings in these religions. highly recommend for people who wish to know what the popular culture deems “cool”.
My sister is interested in these types of book as well. She’s looking forward to reading this book!

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So Long, Status Quo


By now you might have read a couple of the Blog Tour posts i’ve participated in or review I have written.
This book was one i wasn’t able to sign up for since i missed the contact by date. Once the blog tour came around, desperately wanted to read it!
So, in my desperation, i contacted the author to see if there were any leftover review copies. I guess i sounded needy enough since the author took pity on me and sent me a copy. 🙂
One of my favorite things about this book? She talks about Jane Austen in one of the chapters!
This book is immediately one you do not want to put down. I tend to take a bit longer for non-fiction books, but this captured my attention right away!
Susy Flory is great at telling the reader both how she came to learn about the person she highlights and how she applied their life to her own. It shocks you out of complacency, but also gives you a guide to actually go out and apply what you have just read.
One of the most powerful chapter for me was when she discovered just how much she actually had. She decided that she would sell some of the excess to build well in Darfur, Sudan. You really need to read this book to know what i’m talking about!

This is an awesome, practical book for every woman in your life. From a daughter, friend, mother, or grandma this is a book to be shared!

Be sure to check out the author’s website(just click on the photo) She has some great FREE resources!
My mom is currently reading this book, but if i know you in person and you’d like to read it, let me know!

Here’s the first chapter!


Addicted to comfort

“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside

and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive …

One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt, on her 77th birthday

I love my couch. It’s covered in a squishy soft velvety material the color of oatmeal laced with honey and the cushions are fat. Three big loose pillows rest against the back, the material woven into an exotic, vaguely Eastern pattern of impressionistic flowers and trees in tawny gold and lapis blue. My favorite spot in the entire house is the far end of this couch, with two smaller pillows behind my back and my legs stretched out long ways. I do this every day.

For a while we had an uptight couch. Bright Colonial red with little blue and yellow flowers, it reminded me of the calico dresses Melissa Gilbert used to wear on Little House on the Prairie. The fabric was quilted in the shape of puzzle pieces and the back rose straight up, pierced by a row of buttons. A boxy pleated strip of fabric ran along the bottom. It was really uncomfortable and almost impossible to take a nap in. That couch didn’t want you sitting there very long; it was a little Puritanical, wanting you up and around, taking care of business. We sold it at a garage sale for $20. Good riddance.

But the comfy oatmeal couch—it loves you. It calls you to sink down into comfort, and to stay awhile. A long while.

From the couch I can see the kitchen where my kids are grating cheese for quesadillas or searching the fridge for leftover pizza. I can look out the back window, at the drooping branches of the monstrous eucalyptus tree overhanging the back yard. Or, I can stare at the ceiling fan, slowly circling overhead. But, really, I hardly ever look at anything but words. Books, newspapers, catalogs, magazines, letters from friends—those are the things I look at when I’m stretched out on the couch.

Sundays are my absolutely favorite. After church, we eat lunch at the taqueria, then head home. The newspapers await; I don’t want to waste time changing my clothes so I head straight for the couch. News comes first, then business, travel, entertainment, and the Sunday magazine. Last are the sale papers: Target, Best Buy, Macy’s.

By this time I’m sleepy, melting a bit around the edges. My head grows heavy and I turn, curl up, and snuggle into the cushions. I fall asleep, papers crinkly around me.

A while ago my teenage son, just to aggravate me, staked a claim on the oatmeal couch. He’d race home after church in his little pick-up truck and head in the door, kicking off his shoes and diving into my favorite comfy spot in one gangly flop. He made it his goal to be asleep, limbs a sprawl, before I even made it inside the house. A few times I tried to extricate him but it was useless, like trying to wrestle a wire hanger out of a tangled pile.

I decided to wait him out and so after he slept on the couch a few Sundays, he gave it up. He had better things to do, usually involving his computer.

Things returned to normal, the oatmeal couch remembered the shape of my behind, and I took to snuggling into the tawny-lapis pillows once again.

It was safe, my velvety couch cave.

Just like my life.

In one of my favorite books, A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel writes about her mother, always on the couch with a cardboard box of books by her side. There she was, forever reading a book and waving at her children as they went back and forth, in and out of the house, busily doing whatever kids in a small Indiana town did. She stayed there, curled up on the couch, peacefully reading her books as her husband ran around who-knows-where, maybe coon hunting, gambling away his paycheck, or sleeping with the divorced woman across town. She was comfortable there. Zippy unexpectedly became a bestseller and Kimmel traveled around giving talks and signing books. The one question everyone asked her was, “Did your mother ever get up off the couch?”

I don’t live in Indiana; I live in a suburb of San Francisco. My kids don’t run in and out of the house; they pretty much stay put. My husband is a hard working, non-gambling, faithful guy who pays the bills. And my life is pretty good. But I have lived most of it lodged safely in the corner of my couch.

My secure couch cocoon was really a picture of what I had let my life become. Lethargic, sleepy, with a love for security and for comfort, I lived for self. I avoided suffering at all costs. I didn’t want to ever do anything uncomfortable. I think I was addicted to comfort.

My journey out of my couch-life started years ago when I was a college student on vacation, idly looking around a gift shop. Flicking through a box full of enameled metal signs, I came across one that read “We Can Do It!” Underneath was a portrait of a woman, looking sort of like Lucille Ball in her cleaning garb, hair up in a red bandanna. Glossy lips, a little pouty, with arched eyebrows and thick eyelashes. She wore a blue collared shirt, sleeve rolled up over a flexed bicep, toned and powerful. Her eyes were wide open, focused, determined. Who was she? I hadn’t a clue, but I bought the sign and installed it in a place of honor by my desk.

Later, when I was married, the mother of two small children and too busy changing diapers to sit much on the couch yet, I learned she was called Rosie the Riveter. She, and six million other women who toiled in factories while their men were off fighting in World War II, changed the world. Even now, as I look at the old enamel sign next to my desk, I’m haunted by the determination in the line of her jaw and the resolve in the curl of her fist. I wanted to be like her.

But the couch called. I forgot the sign; it migrated to the back of my bookcase and I took a part time job teaching English at a private high school. My kids were in school, my husband was fighting up the corporate ladder, and with the days sometimes a blur of homework, basketball practice, and ballet class, I hoarded my couch time.

Funny, though. It wasn’t satisfying. I just couldn’t ever seem to get enough.

And then, one day, stretched out reading the Sunday paper, I saw Rosie again. It was a full-page department store ad. Across the top ran a banner: “Help end hunger.” Something had changed. Rosie looked a little more glamorous than I remembered. The “can” in the “We CAN Do It!” was underlined and capitalized to emphasize the can of food in her fist. I unfolded the page and examined it; it was an advertisement for National Hunger Awareness day. If you made a $5 donation to the department store, they would in return give you a 15% coupon for regular, sale and clearance-priced merchandise. It’s our thanks to you for helping to relieve hunger in our communities.

I pondered the page; something didn’t quite make sense. Somehow, by partnering with Rosie to spend money at the department store, you would help to relieve hunger. Rosie and her factory worker sisters had changed the world by serving for low pay and little recognition on factory lines during a war. They had sacrificed personal comfort and convenience for a cause greater than themselves, a cause they believed in and sweated and grew calluses for. Now the department store was asking me to be like Rosie, tie up my hair, bare my biceps and leave my couch, so I could … shop? You’ve got to be kidding.

But my irritation that day over the hijacking of the Rosie the Riveter image piqued my curiosity. Who was Rosie? Was she a real person? Was she still alive? What would she think about the ways her image, once meant to encourage and inspire the Nazi-fighting women of World War II, had been used for merchandising? I was intrigued by her determination and I decided to roll up my sleeves and get to the bottom of her story. So I did. And after Rosie I found eight other women, amazing women, who changed the world. I found women who, with grit and guts, made their lives add up to something much more than just a satisfying Sunday nap. And somehow, in the finding, the oatmeal couch lost its allure.

I wanted to feel alive, to experience something more deep and dangerous than my middle class life. I wanted more than a Ford Expedition SUV with leather seats or a 401K groaning with employer contributions. I craved something beyond Ralph Lauren Suede paint or a giant glossy red Kitchen Aid mixer. I was ready to wake up from a very long nap and do something meaningful.

So this is the story of how, slowly, I began to get up off the couch of my boring, safe, sheltered, vanilla existence to something more real, sharper, in focus. Rosie led the way. Along came Eleanor, and Jane. Then Harriet, Elizabeth, and more. These women became mentors calling me to a different kind of life. Passionate for change, each woman sacrificed money, love, comfort, time, and, ultimately, self, to make a difference to thousands, maybe millions of people.

Living like the women who changed the world is not easy, but it’s good. It feels right. It is satisfying.

This is how I got up off the couch and tried, with much fear and trembling, to make a difference in my world. And I’ll never go back.

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Talking to the Dead(Great Book!)

As i’ve mentioned before i didn’t have a strong desire to read this book…. until i read all the wonderful reviews people were posting! It seemed a bit too creepy for me, and maybe a little bit too “grown-upish” fiction. (FYI… It isn’t!)

I got another opportunity to read this book so, i had to sign up!

While browsing the author website i found one of the neatest things… A book soundtrack. I wish so many more authors would do this! I’m a HUGE music nerd and have heard (and love) most every artist on this list. I’m glad to hear about the ones i don’t know of too. If they’re on this list with all the other wonderful artists I know they’ll be great!

I’m really glad that it’s not only comprised of the token christian contemporary artists. CCM artists are great but I love to hear about people I haven’t tried before.

Gee thanks, Bonnie, now my Itunes cart got that much longer! 🙂

Here with Me by Dido

Holy Moses by Jann Arden

Kite Song by Rosie Thomas

Riverside by John Gorka

White Flag by Dido

Long Lost Brother by Over the Rhine

Paper Doll by Rosie Thomas

Out Loud by Mindy Smith

Why Waste More Time by Rosie Thomas

If Words Were Bullets by The Daylights

Jealous of the Moon by Nickel Creek

Much Farther to Go by Rosie Thomas

If This City Never Sleeps by Rosie Thomas

Too Much Love Will Kill You by Queen

Analyse by the Cranberries

Let Him Fly by Patty Griffin

Peace of Mind by Mindy Smith

Shooting Horses by Jann Arden

Little Girl by The Daylights

For the epilogue: Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse

Jack’s song: I Believe by Derek Webb

Kate’s song: Hard to Get by Rich Mullins

Okay, i’m now going to actually talk about the book. 🙂 MHMMMMM! This is GREAT! I’m so, so proud of David C. Cook for publishing great fiction this year! You get a GIANT thumbs up from me, you guys!

Bonnie Grove is an incredible first novelist. I was shocked that she’s never written a fiction book before. Basically this book is perfect! It has all the wonderful markings of great book. There’s a bit of mystery, sorrow, grief, hope and love in this book. Bonnie Grove is excellent at weaving an intricate and beautiful story.

Kate is a multi-dimensional character and i had a great time reading more about her and what made her tick. Very highly recommended. This book should come with a warning though. It is not good public reading. I should know! i read it while in a doctor’s waiting room. Do you know how hard it can be to not start outright sobbing when this book moves you so to tears?

Be sure to check out her site, it’s pretty neat(click on the photo!)

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Woman of Mystery

Woman of Mystery
Here’s a great new book by much loved teen author, Hayley DiMarco.

Every woman longs for some form of romance, and God longs to fill that romantic need. Hayley is honest, real, and engaging in her newest book.
I received this book today from Tydale Blog Network today and LOVE it. Hayley quotes some fantastic movies and people in the book. One of the quotes was from a movie my sister & I watched yesterday, Ever After (with Drew Barrymore), I thought that was fun!
I almost couldn’t STOP reading the Woman of Mystery! It’s a seriously engaging read. I’ve read quite a bit of Hayley DiMarco’s books and i have to say that so far this has been my favorite. The Woman of Mystery is written both for women who have found their mates and those of us who haven’t yet. She shows that the single ladies are to be preparing for future husbands, and married ladies are to understand their spouses needs. She also reminds us that we are to be living wholeheartedly for our Heavenly Bridegroom too. Great book, I highly recommend it for a woman of any age, whether married or not!

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