Friday, June 3, 2016

May Book Review

It's finally summer break! I hope that means time to read even more books (crosses fingers). I had read 28 books through April, more than half-way to my goal of 50! This month I finished seven books. You can see my selection below. If you want to catch up on my former reads, check out my posts from January, February, March and April.

1. How Can I Help?: Caring For People Without Harming Them or Yourself by Lynda D. Elliott

   A good friend told me that our pastor suggest that she and I read this book together. So we started to and both were enjoying the book. Then life got busy and we have not had time to talk more about the book. I continued to read it (and told her I was going to) because I found it to be full of useful information about helping people dealing with various issues. I have a friend who is now in the midst of a lot of stress and upheaval and have found some wisdom in this book that I hope is encouraging her in her process. It covers a variety of topics - helping someone with anger, fear, depression, abuse, grief, illness, betrayal, poor self-image and bitterness. I know we all deal with some of these in our own lives. I tend to be someone who becomes a safe place to share struggles so I want to be as equipped as I can to offer encouragement and healing. I anticipate referencing this book often when helping others.

2. When They First Met (Short Story) by Debbie Macomber

   I borrowed this from the library. When I checked it out I did not realize it was a short story. Apparently it's the prequel to the Rose Harbor series she has been writing. I thought it was the story that told the meet/romance/marry story of a couple who bought an inn in Rose Harbor and then the other books would tell the stories of the occupants. Apparently the first full book of the series takes place after the man in this story, Paul, dies and his wife, Jo Marie, purchases an inn. The short story moved along fairly quickly and did not have any twists to it. Short, sweet, to the point. I suppose if you choose to read the Rose Harbor series, it might be good background information for you. I don't know that I'll read the first book, The Inn at Rose Harbor.

3. Deeply Devoted: A Novel by Maggie Brendan

   This book is about a mail-order bride who moves from Holland to Wyoming with her two sisters to marry a man she has corresponded with for six months. She has secrets from her past that she is hesitant to share with her husband. She dives into learning life as the wife of a wheat farmer. Her new husband's mother is not keen on his choosing a mail-order bride over the woman she had picked out for him and stirs up trouble for the newlyweds. 
   I like historical fiction, especially with a faith-based bent, and this hit those marks. The story was enjoyable, but predictable. I believe there are additional books about each of the sisters and I'm sure they would also be a nice read. Nothing world-changing, but a nice summer read.

4. Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God by Gary Thomas

   This book states that there are nine spiritual temperaments that describe how people relate to and worship God. It has a chapter for each temperament, talking about what worship and relating look like, various ways of practicing the temperament and potential weaknesses of the temperament. Gary states that people tend to be a combination of several of them. There is a quiz at the end of teach temperament chapter for the reader to determine how well that temperament fits them. He encourages the reader not to completely ignore the weaker scored temperaments, reminding us that we can learn something from each one. The temperaments listed are: naturalist, sensate, traditionalist, ascetic, activist, caregiver, enthusiast, contemplative and intellectual.
   I very much enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the descriptions of different ways people feel closer to God and choose to worship him. I know I have tended to think that the way I spend time with God is the best way and, perhaps it's the best way for me, but it's not for everyone. I also have times when I feel like my quiet times become rote and I desire something to shake it up and make it new and refreshing again. This book gives me ideas on how to relate with God in a new way. I filled out the survey and discovered my top three are ascetic, contemplative and traditionalist. I was very low in sensate and activist. It wasn't surprising to me, but I enjoyed feeling affirmed in my temperament/personality. 
   I would very much recommend this book if you are feeling like your time spent with God is not fulfilling or helping you feel closer to him. It can spark ideas for drawing closer to him and worshiping in meaningful ways. It's a great book to refer back to and to help others who feel confined by the general prescription of "30 minutes in prayer and reading the Bible". 

5. Transformed from the Ashes of Brokenness: A Step-by-Step Plan Toward Wholeness by Donna Adams

   This book was written by a member of the church I attend. I was interested in learning more about her story and supporting her as an author. I only know her as a woman who is deeply in love with Jesus, has a strong, effective prayer life and is passionate about caring for people. I did not know about her traumatic past and all of the hardships she has endured. This book gave me more insight into how God transformed the woman I know and given her victory, hope and life in spite of her history and circumstances. 
   Donna's experiences have given her a desire to see healing come to all others and has provided a way for healing to come through her book. Each chapter talks about a way she found healing and freedom and provides an exercise for the reader to complete in order that he/she might begin his/her own healing process. It is a practical and useful book.

6. Four Letter Words: Finding Hope in a Tiny Wild Life by Krista Wilbur

   This is a memoir-type book that reads like fiction. Krista Wilbur opens up about her 30+ years of living and shares the good, the bad and the ugly. Her childhood and adolescence are heart-breaking. Reading about her history of neglect, abuse and being shuffled between family for most of her youth, I just wanted to scoop her little girl self up and tell her that she is loved and valued and that I would protect her. It hurts my heart to learn of all that she experienced and to know that there are many others who could tell a similar story.
   I hoped continuously throughout my reading for her rescue and restoration. I was grateful to read about her resilience and strength and God's pursuit of her. I was quickly captured by the way she shared her story and was very engaged and emotionally moved throughout the book. I appreciate how she has allowed God to love her, change her thoughts and beliefs and use her experiences for the benefit of others and God's glory.
   I greatly admire Krista's transparency, vulnerability and truthfulness. I was encouraged by her story, her strength and the reminder that God can redeem all of us and give our history purpose and meaning.

7. The Invention of Wings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd

   I chose this book from a recommendation off of The Happy Hour podcast. I had read The Secret Life of Bees a long time ago and remembered enjoying it. This book is a fictionalized account of Sarah Grimke's life, a young woman who grew up on a plantation in Charleston and had an abolitionist's heart from an early age. The book is told from both Sarah's point of view and Hetty's, a slave that was given to Sarah on her eleventh birthday to be her maid. 
  I did not realize that Sarah Grimke was a real person. I looked it up after I recognized the name Lucretia Mott. I enjoyed getting to see the viewpoint of both Sarah and Hetty as it allows the reader to be more knowledgeable about what was going on in various circles during the early to mid-1800s. 
  I found the book very interesting and engaging. I am rather fond of historical fiction. If you are, too, I would recommend this book.

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