Tag Archives: book review

Book Review – Stepping Heavenward

19 Oct

Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. E. Prentiss is, I feel, a book that every woman should read – no matter their age or where they are in life. It was given to me by some dear friends when I graduated from culinary school and I thoroughly enjoyed  it, and learned from it then. But this time reading it as a wife and sufferer of chronic illness, I feel like I gained so much more from it.

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(side note: I’m currently trying to learn a new image editor… bear with me as I figure it out) 

We watch as Katherine grows from a sixteen year old girl, in the year of 1831, to a woman of God with a husband and children. The trials of life beat against her as she seeks to live her life honoring God.

I marked a few sections that I wanted to share in this review:

“I see now that my first desire has not been to please God but to please myself, for I am restless under His restraining hand and find my prison a very narrow one. I would be willing to bear any other trial if I could only have health and strength for my beloved ones. I pray for patience with bitter tears.”

“The scenes of sorrow through which we have been passing have brought (husband) nearer to me than ever… Besides we have modified each other. (He) is more demonstrative, more attentive to those little things that make the happiness of married life; and I am less childish, less vehement- I wish I could say less selfish, but here I seem to have come to a standstill.”

Trying not to give anything away by taking out the name of her husband!

“Bishop Wilson charges us to bear all things ‘as unto God’ and “with the greatest privacy’. How seldom I have met them save as lions in my way that I would avoid if I could, and how I have tormented my friends by tedious complaints about them! Yet when compared with the great tragedies of suffering I have both witnessed and suffered, how petty they seem!”

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I identified so often with Katherine in the struggles of life and seeking to do the right thing, that I ended the book encouraged in the path. It reminded me that we all grow and change, even if we don’t see that growth. That we are not meant to suffer through life but to thrive and to make our will aligned with His. As I said before, I recommend this book to anyone. Yes it’s written in an older style, as you can see in the sections I shared but how deep and rich a meaning of daily faith is weaved throughout this book.

Also – Elizabeth Elliot even recommended it to “men, who need to better understand the wives they live with, and to any woman who wants to walk with God.” 

~Laura

Have you read this book? what did you think of it? Have you read a book like this, that inspired you? 

Series Review – English Garden by Lori Wick

6 Oct

Ahh, fellow book lovers. If you’ve been following SGL for a while, you know that I love Lori Wick books. This series is probably my favorite of hers. Although, to be completely transparent, I feel that way after every book or series of hers. They all are so delightful that the most currently-read one is my favorite.

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Photo by Ruxandra Mateiu on Unsplash

This series is set in the early 1800s in Collingbourne, England and by the end of the four books you will wish you could live in the delightful small town that Wick creates.

The Proposal – When William Jennings finds three young cousins on his doorstep, he is at a loss as to what to do with them. Needing guidance, he seeks out his sister and her husband. In the process, he meets Marianne.

The Rescue – Weston had planned on a quiet entry into town but instead is forced into marriage within hours of his arrival. Eventually he sees that his new wife, Anne, had no choice in the matter either, but still chose to risk her reputation to protect his good name.

The Visitor – Alexander Tate has come to town to rest- and hopefully regain his eyesight. As a distraction, one of the beautiful Steele sisters comes to read to him. But he never expects to fall in love with her.

The Pursuit – Edward Steele is finally heading home from Africa when his trip is waylaid by fellow passengers in need of assistance. This adventure, from Portugal to England,  eventually leads to meeting the mysterious Nicola Bettencourt.

 

Wick admitted to being a Jane Austen fan and this series is a sort of tribute to her. Which, really, makes it that much better. I love reading books set in this time period. Wick, as usual, filled them with so much good, faith-based lessons that at the end of each one I was contemplating them just as much as I was the story. I will add that the last novel, The Pursuit, is probably my favorite of the four- it deviates from ‘just’ a romance story in a delightful way.

This series would be great for early-teens (it’s when I started reading them!) as they are clean, fun, faith-based and just great stories.

 

~While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.~

What are you currently reading? Have you read any of Lori Wick’s novels? What did you think of them? 

(also, I love getting comments from you guys! please share what you’re reading, or what you’re wanting to read!)

~Laura

Sept 2017 Book Review

29 Sep

I don’t have a lot to share with you this month since my to-read list is longer than my just-read list! Ha.

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Spindle’s End  by Robin Mckinley – On her name-day, Princess Briar-Rose is cursed by Pernicia to one day prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a never-ending sleep. But Katriona, a young fairy, kidnaps her in order to save her from her fate. She takes the princess to her small village and there, her aunt and her raise Briar-Rose where no one knows her true identity. But Pernicia won’t easily give up the chance to exact revenge for a defeat over four hundred years old.

~I first read this in 2015 and have to say that I enjoyed it even more this second time. The world-detail that bothered me last time didn’t even phase me. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve been reading more fantasy since then or just because..well, I’ve already read it. Perhaps a little of both, eh? Either way, this book has shot to the top ten of my favorite ‘fantasy’ books – right under Mckinley’s Beauty  and Sanderson’s Elantris and Mistborn.

 

The English Garden Series – The Visitor and The Pursuit by Lori Wick – Set in the early 1800s in England, this series has a delightful ‘Austen’ feel that I love.

~Watch for a full – separate -review of this next week!

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie OMartian – Worrying about your marriage isn’t going to do anything, but praying about it can change everything! This book is set up in a prayer-a-day format with stories from real-life and verses that go with the topic. Some of the topics are: his spiritual walk, his health, his roles as father/leader/etc, his emotions.

~ I knew I needed to get back into the habit of praying for my OH (and our marriage) so I pulled this off the shelf again and am glad that I did. I have marked the prayers that I felt were especially relevant for him and us and have plans to go back over them regularly. I reviewed this here a few years ago as well.

Currently Reading:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (how have I not finished this yet? I’ll tell you. my copy was printed in the 1800’s so I won’t read it while: eating, bathing, outside with the puppy playing in the water, etc….)

Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. E. Prentiss

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

 

On my To-Read Next List:

Beside Still Waters by AnnaLee Conti

Collected Poems of Henry Thoreau

Pillar of Fire – Rev. J. H. Ingraham (printed 1864)

Samantha Among the Brethren by Josiah Allen’s Wife (printed 1892)

Brandon Sanderson books from library

 

~While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.~

What have you been reading? 

~Laura

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – Boundaries

Book Review – Boundaries

22 Sep

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

“When to Say Yes

When to Say No

To Take Control of Your Life”

 

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Photo by Nick Tiemeyer on Unsplash

My OH had been suggesting, off and on, that I read this book since we first met. And finally, after some things happened, I decided that I really could benefit from it. It took me a few months to get through – as most books like this do since I tend to read them during breakfast. I feel like I gained so much from this book, as the authors take you step-by-step through why people act the way they do. As well as how to set up boundaries in the different areas of your life – such as family, friends, work and God.  I learned so much in the sections about how we form boundaries in our childhood through what was said and what was not said from those around us.

Here are a few sections that stood out to me :

“Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it… We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside. In short, boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. They guard our treasures so that people will not steal them… Sometimes, we have bad on the inside and good on the outside. In these instances, we need to be able to open up our boundaries to let the good in and the bad out. In other words, our fences need gates in them.” Page 31

~~~
Do not try to get to freedom without owning your reactive period and feelings. You do not need to act this out, but you do need to express the feelings. You need to practice and gain assertiveness. You need to get far enough away from abusive people to be able to fence your property against further invasion. And then you need to own the treasures you find in your soul. But do not stay there. Spiritual adulthood has higher goals than “finding yourself” “. Page 96

~~~

“... Because of unexpressed boundaries, the relationships suffered. An important thing to remember about boundaries is that they exist, and they will affect us, whether or not we communicate them... If our boundaries are not communicated and exposed directly, they will be communicated indirectly or through manipulation. The Bible speaks to this issue in many places. Listen to the words of Paul: “therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’ : do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Eph.4:25-26) The biblical mandate is be honest and be in the light.” Page 101

~~~

“Anger tells us that our boundaries have been violated. Much like a nation’s radar defense system, angry feelings serve as an “early warning system”, telling us we are in danger of being injured or controlled.” Page 112

~~~

“The more biblical our boundaries are, the less anger we experience! Individuals with mature boundaries are the least angry people in the world. While those who are just beginning boundary work see their anger increase, this passes as boundaries grow and develop… The old saying ‘don’t get mad. Just get even’ isn’t accurate. It’s far better to say, ‘don’t get mad. Set a limit!” Page 115

~~~

“You can imagine how well not taking ownership over our lives will come across the Lord then: ‘but I had a dysfunctional family.’ ‘But I was lonely.’ ‘But I didn’t have much energy.’ The rationalizing “buts” will have as much impact as excuses of the service in the parable of the talents did. This isn’t to say that we are deeply influenced for better or worse by our backgrounds and our various stressors. We certainly are. But we are ultimately responsible for what we do with our injured, immature souls.” Page 178

~~~

I especially liked the analogy of ‘fences make good neighbors’ – just make sure to ‘have a gate’. Our fences aren’t walls to keep everyone and everything out.

Like I said, these are just a few of the sections that stood out to me as I read this book. I feel like from the day I started reading it, I was recommending it. To my doctor, friends, family etc. This will most likely be a yearly read for me.

I have also read another of their books, Boundaries in Marriage, and it was equally good. I have plans to get it from the library and read it again, since it’s been four years since I read it. (I did a mini-review of it here)

I definitely recommend this book for anyone and everyone! Whether you realize that you need to set better boundaries – with yourself or those around you – or not, I know you’ll learn a lot from it.

~Laura

 

Book Review – August 2017

1 Sep

I’m so proud of myself for getting this up today, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to! I feel like I should get a gold star. Kidding, just kidding. There’s quite an array of genres this month, so hopefully you find something to add to your to-read list!

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Anathema by Colleen Coble – In the peaceful Amish community in Indiana, Hannah harbors a secret. She has an English beau that she sneaks out to be with. But one night, while she’s gone, her parents are brutally murdered. The entire community is shocked but encourage Hannah to forgive the killer. Instead, she runs away with her English beau, Reese. When circumstances force her to return to the community, can Hannah find forgiveness and a place to call home once again?

~I’ve read many Amish-based novels over the years so when I heard this one was really good but very different, I was kind of skeptical. I mean, how different can you get? Well. Coble did it. This is a tear-your-heart-out story that you are so glad you read. (as opposed to those that leave you dissatisfied and wishing you hadn’t ever heard of it much less read it). There is faith mentioned but it’s not as big a message as many of the Amish books I’ve read. This would get a four out of five stars from me for characters and story line, I enjoyed it that much. I would recommend this to anyone – although you might want to pre-read it before passing it to a young teen as there are some intense scenes.

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss- The beloved tale of a Swiss family being shipwrecked on an island and using everything around them in order to survive and thrive for years. From taming wild animals to building a spinning wheel and drawbridges, the Robinson’s ingenuity and tenacity inspire readers of every generation.

~If you’ve been following SGL for a while, you’ll know that I started out listening to this story via Libravox sometime near the beginning of the year. I finally bought a copy so I could finish it. Thank goodness for Powell’s, feeding my book addiction. Anyway, while there was much described that I didn’t understand (names of animals for instance), it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this story. I love the faith displayed as well. A great adventure story for just about any age.

Love Finds You in Sisters Oregon by Melody Carlson – It’s been over 10 years since Hope has been back to her hometown of Sisters, Or. And just as long since she saw her two sisters. But when her grandmother passes away, she can’t avoid them any longer. Her plan is to be there just long enough to attend the funeral and then she’s out of there. But then she finds out that she inherited Nona’s house and little dog. Not to mention a friendship with Nona’s handsome young attorney. In order to keep her inheritance, Hope is going to have to learn how to live among her sisters – who are none too happy about her inheriting everything.

~ The Love Finds You series is a large series and Carlson wrote a few of them – In Pendleton, Or, being one of them. This was a cute story overall – and it was fun knowing the places she was talking about. I  have to admit to being a bit disappointed with it though. The development of the characters seemed rushed at the end. I liked the parallels/comparison of the sisters to the Three Sisters (mountains) but the discord among them honestly got on my nerves. By the end of it, I liked it better than I did halfway through, if that helps! It was cute and it’s a good light, fun read overall though.

The English Garden Series – The Proposal and The Rescue by Lori Wick – Set in the early 1800s in England, this series has a delightful ‘Austen’ feel that I just love.

~I have read the first two and am waiting to read the rest! And then I will share a full series review with you. For now, suffice it to say that I enjoy this series every time I read it. 

I also shared three series reviews with you this month. Check them out if you missed them!

Series Review – Guardians of Childhood

Series Review: Mistborn Trilogy

Series Review: Seasons of the Heart

Currently Reading:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

The Prayer of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinley

 

Once again, I’m linking up with the Reading Roundup! Click the picture below for some great book reviews!

Reading Roundup
Laura

July 2017 Book Review

1 Aug

Hello hello! I read quite a bit this month – which always makes me happy. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book is there?

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – While set in a sleepy town in Virginia, the events that take place in Scout Finch’s childhood, rock the residents of the town.

– I hadn’t read this book since high school and since I seem to be on a classic kick this year, I pulled it off the shelf! I feel like opinions on this novel are very divided – either it’s loved or hated. Well. I’m on the loved it side – I do not know why it took over 10 years for me to read it again! I enjoyed  Lee’s descriptions – the sleepy street, the moonlight on the trees, the rabid dog making its way down the street – they were so vivid I could see them. I think everyone should read this book at least once.  (Now I want to read Go Set a Watchman)

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson – A full review of this great trilogy will be coming next month! (I promise. the wait will be worth it.)

Seasons of the Heart series by Janette Oke – Watch for a full review of this in the next few weeks!

When God Doesn’t Fix it by Laura Story

Currently Reading:

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Anathema by Colleen Coble

On my To-Read List:

One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – I finally picked up my own copy of this book. I’m excited to read it (I’ve been doing an audio version) and finally finish it!

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

 

Book Review – When God Doesn’t Fix it

27 Jul

Hello friends! I have been wanting to write this review for a few weeks now – maybe longer? –  it is such a great book and I highly recommend it! (there you go, now you know, you don’t even have to read the rest of this post, haha!)

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But seriously, When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story is one of those rare books that doesn’t focus on ‘if only your faith were stronger’ or ‘God is distant and doesn’t care for our day to day’ books (yes, I’ve read both of those type of ‘help’ books and I’m sure you have too!) Instead, she shares her trials and what she’s learned along the way – that despite our flaws and hard stories, God can still use us in extraordinary ways. If we remain faithful and willing.

Here are a few sections that stood out to me :

in reference to John 9, “Neither the man’s nor his parent’s sin caused the blindness. . . Imagine the deep sense of relief the blind man must have had to hear that… Jesus wanted the disciples, the blind man and the religious leaders listening to know that it wasn’t one person’s specific sin that caused this man’s hopeless situation… Jesus was clear that neither this man’s nor his parent’s sin caused his blindness. But neither did God cause it.” (page 138/139) 

This section right here made me sigh in such relief. FINALLY. Finally someone who doesn’t teach that physical sickness is because your relationship with God isn’t right. I can’t believe how many times over the years I’ve been told that. I will avoid getting on my ‘soap box’ about it but let’s just say that it’s not Biblically accurate and leave it there. (although, I encourage you to study more about this topic.) Really, she sold me completely when I read this section. I’d been holding my breath just waiting for this topic to come up.

The Bible is a book of broken stories and of sinful behaviors that cry out for redemption. That’s why the entire story of the Bible points to a Redeemer. And that Redeemer isn’t Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul or even Mary. The entire Bible points to Jesus as the Redeemer – our Redeemer.”  (page 186)

I really liked this chapter. We all know the heroes of the Bible aren’t perfect but how she explains why God uses their stories to teach us is so wonderful.

What if David hadn’t been willing to write his story? Consider how different our faith would look if David’s story, both the highlights and the lowlights, had never appeared in the Bible. Think of how often we turn to the Psalms for comfort. What if David’s psalms were missing?”  (page 193)

She’s talking about being willing to share our story -even when we haven’t reached the happily-ever-after yet. When we are still in the ‘lowlights’ as she calls them. This point of David never sharing his story hit home for me. I have Psalms highlighted in my Bible from high school ( I no longer write in my Bible, but I did back then!) and have taken so much comfort from them – what if they weren’t there?!

I hope this quick review encourages you to go out and snag a copy of this book for yourself! And then, go ahead and share it with someone you think might gain from it. That’s how I got to read it, my sister in law let me borrow it (thanks sis!).

~Laura

Series Review – Timber Ridge Reflections

22 Jun

Hello friends! I have a quick series review for you today. You simply must check this series out. You Must!

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From a Distance – Eastern photographer Elizabeth Westbrook hopes that Colorado will prove to be a place where she can not only further her career, but also be cured of the illness that’s threatening her life. Loner Daniel Radcliffe only wants to protect his land but when he’s called on to repay a debt, his carefully guarded secret is threatened.

 

Beyond This Moment – The small Colorado town of Timber Ridge represents a chance for Dr. Molly Whitcomb to start over. But being a Professor in Romance Languages doesn’t prepare her for the new life she’s forced to invent. Sheriff James McPherson has always been able to read people – and he knows that Molly has a secret. But when he learns what it is, it threatens his position in the town and what he’s always known about himself.

 

Within My Heart – Rachel Boyd and her two sons struggle with running their ranch without their late husband and father. When her only recourse is to trust Dr. Rand Brookston, she balks at it. He is a doctor, just like her father was. Dr Brookston came to the Colorado Territory with a dream of opening a proper clinic but trust, and money, are both hard to come by.

 

While at the library one day, I stumbled upon this series and am so glad I did! It is now on my ‘favorite series’ and ‘favorite author’ lists. I adore historical fiction novels and Alexander does a fabulous job of describing the times just enough so that you’re engrossed in it but doesn’t overdo it to where you’re bogged down with descriptions. The plots of these three books were enjoyable and there was at least one point in each that I teared up. She throws surprises in that I did not see coming – which makes them even more fun! They are set in the late 1800’s, which is one of my favorite time periods.  The descriptions of the dresses made me long to actually see them. (And wear them!) 

I also liked that Elizabeth was working in a field that was still largely a male career ; that Molly’s story highlighted how different the expectations/ repercussions were for men and women; how Rachel fought to keep her ranch afloat despite the physical labor and frustrations. You continue to see/get to know the characters from the previous book and I love when authors do that. 

I highly recommend this series to anyone wanting a great series that has a message in each book! I can’t wait to read more by Tamera Alexander! 

~Laura

Have you read any books by Alexander? Who’s your favorite historical fiction author?

Book Review- Messianic Jewish Manifesto

13 Jun

It took such a long time for me to finish this book – two months I think? – but I am glad I did. It is a well-written book on the Messianic Jewish movement originally published in 1988. Clearly its contents are a bit dated but the majority of it is still viable. David H. Stern covers theology, ideology and program for Messianic Judaism.

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Messianic Jewish Manifesto

He shares a call to action for Messianic Jews and information for those who are against, for or unsure about where they stand.

He encourages us to push away the ‘either-or’ mentality and embrace being 100% both Jewish and Messianic.

He challenges those involved in this movement to fully catch its vision – to heal the breach between the church and the Jewish people.

I marked a few areas that really stood out to me :

“…Israel is called God’s son as far back as Exodus 4:22. The Messiah is presented as God’s son a few verses earlier in Mattiyahu 1:18-25, reflecting Tanakh passages such as Isaiah 9: 6-7, Psalm 2:7 and Proverbs 30:4. Thus the Son equals the son; the Messiah is equated with the nation of Israel. This is what Mattiyahu is hinting at by calling Yeshua’s flight to Egypt a “fulfillment” of Hosea 11:1.” page 107

 

“Unless we have the mind of God, our own dreamings and willings are mere strivings after wind.” page 190

 

“Holiness means doing everything in life in the fear of God and in obedience to his commands.” page 190

 

If you are wanting to learn more about the Messianic Jewish movement, I encourage you to read this book.

~Laura 

Book Review – Lorna Doone

16 May

Have you ever fallen in love with a name simply because you saw a movie once?

Lorna Doone is one of those for me.

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I watched the movie years ago and enjoyed it (although I’ve only got vague recollections about it now) so that when I saw a copy of it at Powell’s bookstore the other month, I knew I had to get it.

It took me a while to get through it – it’s written in a harder-to understand style so that I often grabbed another novel for something fluffier and easier to follow. But I enjoyed it SO much. I figure I’ll enjoy it more the second time reading it, being more familiar with the story and shouldn’t get bogged down with trying to picture things – and having to look up words. (like culvern.)

Synopsis:  The Doones are a hated family that terrorize the country. Their violent, plundering ways often end in murder. After losing his father to the Doones’ love of violence, John Ridd knows there isn’t any good in the lot of them. But then, he meets Lorna. The girl that is at odds with her evil family, due to a gentle heart and giving nature. He determines to rescue her but never imagines all he’ll have to go through in order to do just that.

The way Blackmore threads together so many characters over a long period of time is amazing. As I neared the end I just got more impressed – and more intrigued by how he was going to finish it. I’ll even admit to setting it down because I was so upset by what just happened that I couldn’t take it. Of course, that only lasted maybe a minute before I picked it up again! The side characters he created are fantastic  – Gwenny with her heartbreaking tale and stoic nature, Tom Faggus the ‘heroic’ outlaw, Uncle Ben with his many secrets, Annie who is the only one who knows of John Ridd’s true feelings (aside from, of course, Lorna) and the list goes on! I do wish I’d been able to read it quicker as then I wouldn’t have forgotten who some of the characters were.

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anyone else have a love for puffin classic editions?

 

 

Now I want to watch the movie again. Preferably this one from 2001.

I can recommend this book – although probably not for younger readers as its plot can get very hard to follow and while the violence isn’t gory, it might be too much for someone younger. All in all, a wonderful classic that I’m so glad I finally read.

Have you read Lorna Doone? What’s your favorite classic novel?

~Laura

 

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