Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Lamplighter (Maria Susanna Cummins) - Book Review

The Lamplighter (Rare Collector's Series)The Lamplighter by Maria Susanna Cummins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually I have already decided how many stars I'm going to give a novel by the time I'm halfway through it. This earned a solid 3 stars in my head, because even though it was kind of going nowhere, I liked the characters and especially loved the old English.

But then I reached the last 10 chapters or so, and...PLOT TWIST. And then ANOTHER TWIST. And TWIST SOME MORE! Until finally I finished the book and was left with a feeling of awe, as well as something resembling how I feel after riding Raging Bull at Great America. I was also smiling and stroking the cover; something that I catch myself doing after an especially satisfying read.

So, yes. This was one of the very first books I ever added to my to-read shelf here on Goodreads, and the 3 stars turned into 5 stars because of the marvelous, masterfully-sculpted ending. Read it!

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Monday, August 28, 2017

the martial view

"It has become, in my view, a bit too trendy to regard the acceptance of death as something tantamount to intrinsic dignity. Of course I agree with he preacher of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to love and a time to die - and when my skein runs out I hope to face the end calmly and in my own way. For most situations, however, I prefer the more martial view that death is the ultimate enemy - and I find nothing reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light."

- Stephen Jay Gould

Friday, August 25, 2017

Through Gates of Splendor (Elisabeth Elliot) - Book Review

Through Gates of SplendorThrough Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My goodness. This is one of those books for which writing a review seems disrespectful. I will say that my favorite portions of this were the quotes from Jim's diary, as well as Betty's sharing of how the widows faced the tragedy with peace and confidence. Because of how the mothers viewed what happened - in truth and unwavering faith, their children were raised knowing it was a sacrifice for God, and they would see their fathers again. It was worth it. So moving, convicting, and emotional. A must-read for any Christian.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mary Jones and Her Bible (Mary Ropes) - Book Review

Mary Jones and Her Bible (Rare Collector Series)Mary Jones and Her Bible by Mary Emily Ropes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The thing I struggle with with almost all Lamplighter stories is that everyone in them is perfect. Paragraph upon paragraph expounds on the sweetness of character, the gentleness of spirit, the willingness of service, and so on and so forth, of the main persons of the story. Someday when I read these aloud to my children, I will appreciate that their moldable minds have such exemplary people to hear about, but as a somewhat cynical and more experienced Christian adult, I know everyone struggles at some point with SOMETHING, so these stories just feel unrealistic.

All that being said, I really did like this little story of the young Welsh girl who walked 50 miles roundtrip simply to purchase a Bible for her very own. This is a true story, and Mary Jones was unknowingly the one to begin the huge movement to bring Bibles to people far and wide, of various nations, denominations, and status. This short historical narrative was very inspiring, as well as convicting. Do I treasure my Bible as much as Mary Jones did? Am I storing it in my heart?

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Scarlet Moon (Debbie Viguie) - Book Review

Scarlet Moon: A Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (Once Upon A Time, #5)Scarlet Moon: A Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood by Debbie ViguiƩ
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The writing was poor, the romance unbelievable, and frankly, it was just too gory for me. "She tasted so sweet." Really? Just yuck.

I think after having my mind blown in the first season of the Once Upon a Time TV show (where Red is ALSO THE WOLF !!!!!!!!) I keep hoping for some originality with this fairytale, but it isn't to be here. The wolf is the love interest and, as others before me have said, it just isn't cool.

Most of the books in this series I just love, but this goes in the pile of nopes.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie) - Book Review

Murder On the Orient ExpressMurder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Predictable much? I'd give this 2 stars but 1) I just love the sarcastic, dry humor, and 2) it's sacrilegious to give Christie 2 stars. Ready for the movie now!

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Worldliness (C. J. Mahaney) - Book Review

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen WorldWorldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World by C.J. Mahaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a surprisingly good read. This book contains six chapters written by five different pastors. Each chapter tackles the subject of worldliness in these different areas: media, possessions, music, and dress. While I didn't agree with the end stance in the chapter on music, I found all the subjects very strong in their encouragement to aim higher. To do all things, own all things, listen to all things, wear all things, to the glory of God. There is no corner of our lives that God does not care about and does not have a principle for.

By far my favorite thing about this book was the Modesty Heart Check and the Wedding Day Modesty appendices in the back. It is quite rare to hear specifics on modesty these days without a legalistic attitude behind them, or the other extreme of not enough. The lists given (compiled by the women in these pastors' lives) were specific but only to the point of helping brothers not to struggle. They were written by women who themselves face the struggle of dressing beautifully but without compromising biblical principles of modesty. I really appreciated the effort and care put into this part of the book.

Overall, definitely a good read for anyone! It's a short read, too, making it a nice addition to morning devotions.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Vienna Prelude (Brock and Bodie Thoene) - Book Review

Vienna Prelude (Zion Covenant, #1)Vienna Prelude by Bodie Thoene
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So I don't know if this was simply the right book at the wrong time or what, but I found myself groaning every evening when it was reading hour because I just could not get into this. It didn't move quickly, and the history was very over my head. History is not my fave so the long, dry paragraphs of details didn't do anything for me.

Also, the only character I cared for in the entire book was Rudy. The others are just way too selfish, fickle, and cliche. Also, the Christianity that was barely there felt forced, so I didn't really connect with it on that end, either.

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The Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence) - Book Review

The Practice of the Presence of God (Paraclete Essentials)The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is by far the most Catholic book I've ever read. I was surprised to discover that, apart from one chapter, the book is not written by Brother Lawrence, but rather it is a compilation of letters and conversations collected by a friend of his, who wanted Brother Lawrence's life and service to be remembered after his death.

While I found the idea of constant prayer and moment-by-moment submission to the will of God to be motivating and inspirational (albeit a little mystical perhaps), I mourned the obvious lack of salvation understanding on Brother Lawrence's part. Here was a man who for years endured much suffering and humble labor out of pure love and adoration for God, but believed in penance and purgatory, refused to trouble himself over heaven or hell, and would do such unnecessary things as purposely lying on his infected side so he'd be in more pain for God. He was lacking doctrinal truths that would have freed him from many stresses, both physical and spiritual.

While I do believe in rare cases Catholics can be saved and bound for Heaven, from what I read in this short book, I was not convinced Brother Lawrence was one of them. His chapter called "Spiritual Maxims" was very sweet and helpful, but on the whole I could not in good conscience recommend this book to anyone.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

We're Back!

These recent days have been happy and busy ones, as we officially moved back into our house Saturday night! I am busy cleaning, organizing, shopping, and moving things over from my family's house, finally, but when I'm finished, I'm going to do a before/after post on here. Also, we're getting another family photoshoot done Saturday so I'll try to post some of those as well. :)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Old Yeller (Fred Gipson) - book review

Old YellerOld Yeller by Fred Gipson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy, reading this bittersweet story for the first time brought back so many childhood memories of watching the endearing Disney film over and over and over, and crying every time! As I read this, I couldn't help but think how excellently cast everyone was. I have to say this is one case where the book and the film are equally good! I loved reading this from Travis's point of view. It's a rare thing these days for teen boys to aspire to manhood, and it was great to read the old-fashioned country story of a boy taking care of his family while his pa is away. Loved this so much!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande) - book review

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tears on my cheeks have not yet dried as I type this. I did not have many expectations going into this book, but still, its making me cry was certainly unexpected. I'm crying for many reasons.

- This book was written so beautifully, tastefully, carefully, sacredly. Atul held a painful subject in his hands and gently made it graceful.
- I am so personally drawn to ministry to the elderly and dying, and this book made me even more eager to search out ways to be of help.
- My grandma would have loved this. Many of the scenarios presented throughout the book were ones we went through with my grandma, and I couldn't help but admit it hit close to home. She always hated the thought of losing her independence, of being put in a home, of hanging out with the "old ladies," of, frankly, dying. She always wanted to volunteer to make those on their way out feel that they have a friend. I remember her telling me, "People always celebrate and make a big to-do about a baby entering the world. But where are the people helping people leave it?" As I said, she would have heartily agreed with Atul's thoughts, and I cry because if only I had discovered this book sooner. :(

This might not look like your cup of tea, but I do feel like everyone should read it. We all will die someday, and perhaps already know someone dying, and this book will give you a good starting place to encourage and prepare for the final days and decisions. I need a copy of this on my shelf. Definitely want to read again.

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