Sunday, February 25, 2018

Book Review: The Roanoke Girls

BookThe Roanoke Girls
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher/Publish Date: Crown / March 7, 2017

"Beautiful.  Rich.  Mysterious.
Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl.
But you won't when you know the truth." 

I am a huge fan of stories with a twist and this had a few of them. The novel follows the life of Lane Roanoke, who goes to live with her grandparents after the suicide of her mother. Told in flashbacks and side stories, we learn the history of the women who have lived in the Roanoke household. That along with the wealth and beauty, so far all the girls have either run or died. 

Through Lane we discover the hidden secrets of the family. I have to say that there were parts that  I did not care for, but other parts I enjoyed. The writing style is personal and emotional, and allows you connect easily with the main character. So beware, the book is dark and a bit disturbing, so read only if you like those types of books.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review : You Are the Beloved

Book: You Are the Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living
Author: Henri J.M. Nouwen
Publisher/Publish Date: Convergent Books / October 31, 2017

"This is a book of daily meditations, selected from the writings, talks, and letters of Henri Nouwen... Taking time for daily meditation was crucial for Henri. It was his time to be present to God, to hear God speak to him." (introduction)

Henri Nouwen is an author I have enjoyed for awhile. I read his book The Return of the Prodigal Son a few years ago and loved his ability to shine a new light on a bible story, forcing me to look at it from different points of view, while identifying how I am like the characters in the story.

This latest devotional book, combines some of his writing, talks and letters, in a year long devotional, each entry being a page or less. Nouwen snuggled with loneliness and anxiety, and found strength and wisdom by spending devoted time with God each day. And in that same way, this book is a great tool to draw us closer to God each day.

I look forward to reading this through the year. I highly recommend checking out his many other books on spiritual life.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Nothing to Prove - Book Review

Book: Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard 
Author: Jennie Allen
Publisher/Publish Date: Waterbook Press / January 31, 2017

This was the first book I read from Jennie Allen and it won't be the last. If you are not familiar with Allen, here's a little back ground. She started in college leading bible studies and has written a couple Bible Studies. In 2013 she established the IF:Gathering, an annual conference to "gather, equip, and unleash women to live out God's calling on their lives. While the main event takes places in Austin, TX, it's simulcast all over the world and I recommend everyone attending, it's inspiring, encouraging and a lot of fun.

Onto the book. I had heard about the book from Allen through Facebook as she was starting to write it. I think this topic is timely and something that all women can relate to. We try to prove we are good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, friendly enough, helpful enough. But what if God is enough? He've proven it all, and what if we don't have to work as hard as we do.

Allen presents us with 7 stories from the Bible of where God was enough, showing how his disciples, and others in the Bible found rest and freedom in Christ. How abiding in Christ fills us up, makes us enough for everything he wants to do through us.

Read this book to be encouraged, refreshed, and inspired to allow God to do amazing things through you. To sit back, take a deep breath, and stop trying to prove yourself, since we have Nothing to Prove.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Braving It - Book Review

BookBraving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild 
Author: James Campbell
Publisher/Publish Date: Crown / May 10, 2016

It's not a secret, I really enjoy reading wilderness adventure books. Often I read books about the hiking the Appalachian Trail, traveling a crossed Australia on camelback, solo trips across the ocean, and lots of books like that. Definitely an armchair traveler. As exciting as it sounds, I know that I enjoy reading about it much more that I would enjoy being on any of these trips.

This book was no exception. Loved reading it, and following along on their adventure, but don't think I would be up for braving the Alaskan wild like they do.

This book, Braving It, follows a father and his daughter as they head to Alaska on three different trips. The father had fallen in love with Alaska when he was younger, and wanted to share his experiences with his daughter. Lucky for him his daughter loved the adventure just as much, falling in love with the northern wilderness, the icy isolation, and the beauty unique to that area of our world.

It was exciting to follow along on their final trip, which included backpacking as well as a canoe trip down a river in northern Alaska. In the middle of no where they could view nature in her rawest form, both the best and the worst she could throw at them. 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves stories about adventures and the close knit bond between a father and his daughter. And an amazing way to view the beauty of Alaska in the warmth of my home and on the comfort of my couch. 

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson - Book Review

BookThe Invoice
Author: Jonas Karlsson
Publisher/Publish Date: Hogarth / July 12, 2016

I got this cute little book to review, and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The author, Jonas Karlsson, who also wrote The Room, does an amazing job of crafting an intriguing story from a small plot point.

The main character one day receives a mysterious invoice in the mail, and a call to the help center leads him down a rabbit hole into the mysterious question of what is the cost of a pleasant life.

Though not a super deep book, it does make you think about the big and small things in life that make life good, make it worth living. And if just sailing along pleasantly is really the best path to take, or take a harder, more difficult and exiting path in life. It's a fairly quick read, and I'd recommend it to anyone that likes slightly quirky and unusual novels. Looking forward to reading more in the future from this author.

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

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City - Book Review

BookEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Publisher/Publish Date: Crown / March 1, 2016
"From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America" (From
This is a brilliant book I highly recommend everyone to read. Matthew Desmond tells the story of single moms spending 70% of their income on housing that has no hot water. Stories of families getting evicted over and over again as they try to keep a steady job and make enough to cover rent as well as feed their kids. He includes stories of the landlords who have the power to let the rent slide or evict the tenants, and the challenges they face trying to make a living off of property in poor neighborhoods. You can't read these stories and not come away unchanged.

I'm so impressed that Desmond committed to living in these neighborhoods where evictions are common and immerse in the lives of the people in his book. He put himself in a situation to truly learn, from the inside, what the lives of the landlords and tenants look like.

While I enjoy learning more about subjects like this, this book was hard to read. As I got further into the book, it was really depressing the situation many people in the US are in. I actually stopped reading it for about a week, with just the last chapter to read. But, in the end, it was worth it. I value the information I learned from the book, and Desmond does a great job of telling the stories in an engaging, thought provoking way.

I truly hope this book, and other writing on this topic, will lead to change in the US on how to deal with the housing costs and shortage, and I appreciated the suggestions that Desmond had at the end of the book. This is a tragic issue that needs to be dealt with so people can have a roof over their head, and have a boost in trying to overcome poverty.

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books with no expectation that I would provide a positive review. The thoughts, opinions, and reactions are entirely my own.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Better Than Before - Book review

Book: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Publisher/Publish Date: Broadway Books / December, 2015

I am so excited to get my hands on this book. While I haven't read Gretchen Rubin's previous book, The Happiness Project, I have been extremely enjoying the podcast that she does every week with her sister. A lot of the podcast talks about topics that are in this book, and I was excited to dive into them a little deeper.

If you're unfamiliar about what the books about, I will let the tagline on the cover explain things for you: "What I learned about making and breaking habits-to sleep more, quit sugar, procrastinate last, and generally build a happier life." That all sounds great, right? Well maybe not the quitting sugar part.

A self proclaimed "Street scientist," Ruben can explain a big idea in a very tangible, easy to understand way. And in doing so she makes it easier for us to understand ourselves and work to change the habits that form our daily lives. She takes science, and research and blends them together with their own observations of people to find new insight on habits: why some are hard to form and others we seem to acquire overnight, why some people adopt habits easily while others resist, and why the consequences of our habits (for example: poor health) don't always convince us to change our habits.

What I would call the thesis of the of the book is that to change our lives, research has shown that people that have good self-control simply spend less time resisting desires, and by creating good habits we can spend less time decision-making therefor needing less self-control to make positive decisions.

It was fun to discover if I was a lark or an owl, a marathoner, a sprinter, or a procrastinator, and under buyer or an over buyer. Well some of these things I sort of knew before, it was good to look at them from the point of view of how these traits can shape my daily habits. For example, I am a lark, I prefer for waking up early and getting to work right away. It reminds me that I should do a better job of getting to bed early so I can get up when I brain is most active.

This is book is great for anyone who's inquisitive about human habits, why we do the things we do, and how to change those things. So many great tidbits that anyone can apply to improve their quality of life.

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