A Fresh Infusion of Joy by Sheila Walsh: A Book Review

_140_245_book-1998-coverCould you use a joy infusion?

When was the last time you had a spontaneous laugh because your heart was absolutely overwhelmed with joy?

Whether you’re facing mundane routines or painful hardships, joy often feels out of reach. But those who know Jesus can live joyfully, no matter what—it’s a gift that can only come from God. Jesus engulfs His followers with great love so that He may fill them with His joy.

Bestselling author Sheila Walsh invites you to discover daily joy. Through funny and inspiring stories, powerful takeaways, and encouraging scriptures, Sheila shows that joy sometimes comes from gratitude, God’s beautiful creation, grace, or simply delighting in God’s goodness and love. And it always comes from spending time in Jesus’ presence. He brings life, restoration, and . . . joy!

The 5 Minutes with Jesus series is the perfect way to start your day with a joyful heart.

My Review: I don’t know what it is about the word JOY that just gets me. I love joy and when I saw the title of this devotional and that it was written by Sheila Walsh, it definitely caught my eye!

This is a very nice devotional and I love that it’s made to be read in just a few short minutes. Not that I think devotional time should be rushed or timed, but with the busyness of life these days, time is precious and I think this devotional does a good job of making those 5 minutes count.

Each devotion begins with a story or thought that inspires joy. It doesn’t take long to read them, but Sheila does a very good job of getting her point across in just a page or two for each. My favorite thing about this devotional is that it is packed with scripture. You may only be spending 5 minutes in this devotional, but most of that time will be spent meditating on the word. I love that.

I’m really looking forward to continuing to read this devotional and becoming even more so a lover of joy!

*I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review from BookLook Bloggers.

Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs: A Book Review

9781601428615About Really Bad Girls of the Bible

Discover the Truth About
God’s Sovereignty
from the Bible’s Really Bad Girls.Eight of the Bible’s most notorious females strut across the pages of Really Bad Girls of the Biblewith troubles that still hit home in the twenty-first century.The Medium of En Dor crossed over to the dark side. Jael stood up to a ruthless enemy. TheAdulteress was caught between a rock and a hard place. Athaliah made a bid for power that ended badly. Bathsheba captured the wandering eye of a king. Herodias made a cruel request of her husband. Tamar exchanged her widow’s weeds for a harlot’s garb. And the Bleeding Woman had a serious health issue only a great physician could handle.

“Higgs does such a remarkable job telling their stories that many of the Good Book’s ‘bad girls’ become downright sympathetic.… Higgs is a refreshingly astute biblical commentator…(and) ably points readers to ‘good girl’ tips they can apply from the Bible’s cautionary tales.”
—Publishers Weekly


Really Bad Girls of the Bible
shines a spotlight on God’s sovereignty, demonstrating one life-changing truth: God rules the lives of those He loves with mercy, compassion, and hope.

My Review: This is one of those books that has been around for some time, and I’ve always meant to read, but haven’t. Now I finally have and I’m quite glad that I did. This is a revised edition published in 2016, so I’m not sure how it differs from the original publication.

I really love the idea of exploring the lives of some of the lesser known women in the bible. Those imperfect women who were “bad” to some degree or another. Higgs takes these biblical stories and weaves a modern retelling into them to help us relate to these women and their lives just a little bit more.

As I read this book, some of the women were familiar, and some were more of a vague recollection to me. Reading their stories told with a modern twist really brought them to life for me in a new way. Some of these women were courageous in their choices and some were downright evil. Definitely, they all made some questionable decisions and they all have a story to tell. There is no doubt we can learn some valuable lessons from these women.

Higgs doesn’t just stick with the modern retelling though, she brings the actual biblical stories to life as well and offers a lot of insight into them. This is a really unique and valuable book and I think it’s definitely one that is worth reading.

I’m sure that as I study the bible in the future or hear about these women in a sermon or another book, I will look at their stories differently. Definitely a recommended read.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

 

August Reading Round-Up!

Well…

It’s September. August has flown by and summer is on it’s way out! It’s been an incredibly busy summer and I know my reading has suffered as a result. I am hopeful that with fall comes a more relaxed schedule and much more time to catch up on my reading.

You’ll never guess how many books I read this month? Yep, 5! How did you know? I’m currently about 8 books behind schedule for the year, and I’m starting to feel the pressure to catch up.

Below we shall explore the books I have read for August:

Wow! I just realized that only one book was for review purposes, and that was Uninvited. (I actually did have another review book, but for the first time in the history of ever, I refused to finish it. It was, to put it mildly, vulgar and pornographic.) Three out of five books were library picks by authors I’ve come to truly enjoy. Those were The Good Girl, Truly Madly Guilty and Crowned and Dangerous. And, the last book I read was of course, for my monthly Reading Challenge. That was, to read a classic. I chose a beautiful copy of The Secret Garden. I purchased it at Barnes & Noble specifically for the occasion.

I can honestly say that aside from the disappointing experience with the unfinished book, this entire month has been full of really good reads. It’s really hard to say which was the best of the best, but I would have to choose Uninvited. The only non-fiction book of the group, this book has left a lasting impact on me and reached the very core of my heart on many levels. I highly recommend it to any girl who struggles with fitting in in this glittering world. Among the novels, while they were all excellent, I’d have to choose Truly Madly Guilty as my favorite. I have become a huge fan of Liane Moriarty, though I’ve only read two of her novels to date.

Now comes the time in the post where I promise to do better next month and read more books. I hope to. I really, really do.

After all…

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Until next month…that’s all folks!

365 Pocket Morning Prayers, My Review

978-1-4964-1334-5Each morning when you arise, take a moment to talk with God about the day ahead. Ask Him to prepare your heart so that you can be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers can guide this time of life-changing conversation and help you express your needs and concerns to God. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Instead, release your troubles and concerns into God’s care by reading and meditating on the prayers featured in 365 Pocket Morning Prayers. Begin your day in joyful anticipation, trusting that God is in control of your life and wants only the best for you.

My Review: I love this little book! First of all, it’s beautifully bound and adorably sized! But, more importantly, the content is enriching. This book is broken up into 365 daily prayers. Each prayer is one page. It’s a very quick and easy read, but it packs a lot into each day and I am amazed by how much I take away from this each morning. Each prayer also includes a scripture and I’ve found the prayers so far to be quite relatable. Because each day’s reading is short, I feel like it really leaves a lot of time to meditate and ponder on each one. I obviously have not read all 365 pages yet, but so far I’ve really gotten quite a bit of depth from each day. I think this is an excellent way to start each day, and it’s nice to know that even on days when time is running short, you can still include this in your morning. I believe that quality is more important than quanity, and this book exemplifies that quite well.

* I received a copy of this book free of charge from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Gratitude, A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal: My Review

978-1-4964-1579-0Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal invites you to bring creative journaling and the calming act of coloring into your quiet time with God. This beautifully designed interactive prayer book from Tyndale’s Living Expressions collection helps guide your thoughts as you pray about concerns such as health, overcoming stress, personal relationships, and more. Gratitude gives you a way to celebrate and give thanks to God for the many blessings he provides. Filled with over 100 designs to color, plenty of space for journaling and sketching, and 40 needs-based prayers, Gratitude helps you express your devotion to God with your whole heart!

My Review: Over the past year or so, I have really come to appreciate the art of creativity. It’s more than just being imaginative or inventive, it’s an expression of oneself. It’s seeing things from a new perspective. It’s putting your heart, your thoughts and your unique point of view on paper, in a tangible, expressive way. I’ve been amazed at how scripture has come to life for me in a new way since I’ve started bible journaling, and now I have had the opportunity to find more creative expression with this journal.

This journal is beautiful and it allows so much opportunity to personalize your experience as you ponder each page. There is prayer and scripture, pages to color and opportunities to journal your thoughts throughout the pages. It really is a gorgeous and creative journal. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I am excited that it exists. This book would make an excellent gift as well.

God is an expressive, creative God and I believe that he has created us to be the same. I am grateful that Tyndale House has published such an incredibly inspiring collection. You can click HERE for more information about this journal and the other items available in this line.

Also, if you are thinking that maybe this sounds like a great thing to get into, but you don’t know where to start, THIS link will help to inspire you as you begin your own journey to creativity.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst: A Book Review

_140_245_Book.1988.coverThe enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers: • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt. • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence. • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging. • Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.” • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

My Review: I cannot recommend this book enough! This was my first experience reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst, and I was so excited for the opportunity because I had heard a lot of great things about her and her writing. And, every single one of those great things are true!

This is a very personal book. This is a book about our hearts and the things that have come along to hurt and injure us. Things like rejection, loneliness and feelings of inferiority. I am sure every single person in the world has experienced these things, but yet when we do, it feels like we are the only person in the world who does.

This book was very, very timely for me. I consistently struggle with feeling unaccepted, left out, different and just like I don’t belong. However, when I picked up this book to read, it was right after a particularly low couple of days for me socially and this book really spoke to my heart and literally pulled me out of the little pool of self-pity I was determined to swim in.

There aren’t a lot of books that I have to stop and jot down a thought or paragraph from, but this book had several passages that really spoke to me and I found myself typing them out so that I can remember and meditate on them in the future.

Things like:

I don’t want to keep being a slave to my runaway emotions and assumptions. I don’t want my days to be dictated by the moods of other people. And I really don’t want the rejections of my past feeding my propensity to feel rejected today.

No soul can soar to the place of living loved when it’s a performance-based endeavor. Living loved is sourced in your quiet daily surrender to the One who made you.

How dangerous it is when our souls are gasping for God but we’re too distracted flirting with the world to notice. Flirting will give you brief surges of fun feelings but will never really pull you in and hold you close. Indeed, the world entices your flesh but never embraces your soul. All the while, the only love caring enough to embrace us and complete enough to fill us, waits.

How it must break his heart when we walk around so desperate for a love He waits to give us each and every day.

Proximity and activity don’t always equal connectivity.

We must respect ourselves enough to break the pattern of placing unrealistic expectations on others. After all, people will not respect us more than we respect ourselves.

The devil wants me to fill my emptiness with an unhealthy dependence on the acceptance of others. Because then he can get me so focused on the shallow opinions of others I get completely distracted from deepening my relationship with Christ.

I love reading, and I read mostly for enjoyment, occasionally taking away some interesting tidbit or thought, but this book offered me so much more. I learned and grew from reading this book. I won’t say that I’m no longer insecure or that I will never feel the effects of rejection again, but I am more focused now on living loved by Him. And, I feel less alone because I believe that Lysa writes from a place of understanding and it helps me realize that I’m not the only one who often feels Uninvited.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson, A Book Review

9780804141376ABOUT THE GAP OF TIME

The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “late plays.” It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.

In The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of The Winter’s Tale, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.

My Review: Oh boy. How do I even say this? There have been many times that I haven’t enjoyed a book, and had to force myself to endure it for the sake of writing my review, but I do believe this is the first time that I was unable to finish a book. I had no choice but to put it down after forcing my way through the first 60 or so pages.

I went into this book unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and I realize that this is a “modern retelling” but I have to imagine that Shakespeare would be appalled by this interpretation.

Before I get into my reason for putting this book down, let me give my one positive note on this story. The first chapter. The first chapter is about Shep and his son Clo. And, it’s beautifully written. I honestly don’t know how the rest of their story unfolds, and it’s a shame that I was unable to get to it.

From chapter two on, at least as far as I was able to force myself to read, the author uses the most vulgar, inappropriate, pornographic language and descriptions I have ever read in a novel. I am not a wimp and I can understand and appreciate tastefully written and descriptive sexual language in a novel when appropriate, but I’m sorry, this was disgusting.

As much as I hated to give up on a book, especially one I committed to reading and reviewing, I had no choice. There was no redeeming quality to be found in it.

I do thank Blogging for Books for giving me this copy for review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A novelist whose honours include England’s Whitbread Prize, and the American Academy’ s E. M. Forster Award, as well as the Prix d’argent at the Cannes Film Festival, Jeanette Winterson burst onto the literary scene as a very young woman in 1985 with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Her subsequent novels, including Sexing the Cherry, The Passion, Written on the Body, and The PowerBook, have also gone on to receive great international acclaim. Her latest novel is Lighthousekeeping, heralded as “a brilliant, glittering, piece of work” (The Independent). She lives in London and the Cotswolds.