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Showing posts from 2014

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

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I picked up Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet by Sara Hagerty based almost completely on the absolutely stunning, gorgeous cover. I like the Bible verse the title is based off of as well ("The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.", Proverbs 27:7), and am currently going through some "bitter things", so I figured I could benefit from this book. The description reads:

"In the age of fingertip access to answers and a limitless supply of ambitions, where do we find the God who was birthed in dirt and straw? Sara Hagerty found him when life stopped working for her. She found him when she was a young adult mired in spiritual busyness and when she was a new bride with doubts about whether her fledgling marriage would survive. She found him alone in the night as she cradled her longing for babies who did not come. She found him as she kissed the faces of children on another continent who had lived years without a mommy’s touc…

Price Of Privilege

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Price of Privilege is the third and final book of the Price of Privilege trilogy by Jessica Dotta. I was on pins and needles waiting for this last book to be released so I could finally find out how Dotta was going to wrap everything up in the end, and see what would happen to the characters that have grown to feel like friends. I was super excited to get it in the mail and started reading it immediately, and couldn't put it down! The back cover reads:

"Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he’d kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.

Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter—and one of…

Without You, There Is No Us

As soon as I saw Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim I knew it was a book I had to read. I've always been fascinated by North Korea and the stories of people who have been there and people who escape from there. The picture painted of life in North Korea is at the same time fascinating, terrifying, and heartbreaking. Suki Kim's book was so compelling because she had an inside view of how people in North Korea live - not just the tour they take people on. The description reads:

"A haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea's ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il's reign

Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut do…

The Bracelet

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The Bracelet by Dorothy Love sounds like one of those books you just have to read. It has southern charm, intrigue, history, and suspense all blended into one. The description reads:

"The mystery surrounding Celia's home in Savannah threatens her family reputation . . . and her very life.

Celia Browning is counting the days until her childhood sweetheart Sutton Mackay returns to Savannah after two years in Jamaica looking after his family's shipping interests. She's certain he will propose marriage, thus joining two of the city's most prominent families. But just as Sutton returns, an unsavory newspaper reporter arrives in town, determined to revive interest in the secret tragedies that occurred in the Browning mansion on Madison Square when Celia was a child.

A series of mysterious notes arrives at the house, followed by an anonymous gift--a bracelet imbued with a sinister message. Is it merely a coincidence, or is someone out to harm her?

As war clouds gather o…

Unplanned

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After a long wait, I finally received my copy of Unplanned by Abby Johnson (co-written by Cindy Lambert). I was super excited to read this book after hearing so much about it. It sounded amazing - a dramatic conversion from pro-choice Planned Parenthood director, to pro-life advocate working with the Coalition For Life. The book is the story of Abby's life - from a naive college girl signing up to volunteer as an escort at Planned Parenthood, to directing that Planned Parenthood clinic she used to volunteer at. Along the way she had two abortions, a failed marriage, and a remarriage. Abby is very honest with her story and doesn't hold anything back. She describes her journey from fierce Planned Parenthood advocate to the day she was called in to assist with an ultrasound guided abortion procedure. After that day and viewing the procedure up close and personal, she decided to quit her job and ran to the local Coalition For Life for help.

This is just an amazing story. I couldn…

Inside The Criminal Mind

Inside The Criminal Mind by Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D is a very different look on criminals, their thought process, and why they behave the way they do. This book was originally written in 1984 and now is on its third edition, published in 2014. It's a groundbreaking look at the inner workings of the criminal mind. This new updated edition includes a look at new, modern topics such as computers, drugs and pharmaceuticals, video games, movies and TV, social media, and updated genetic and biological research. In this book he offers his solutions based on his many, many years studying this topic.

This is definitely not the typical crime book. Samenow's views contradict nearly everything we hear and read in popular media. Most people believe criminals are "born that way", or fall prey to influences completely beyond their control - poverty, abuse, etc. Samenow believes this is not true, that criminals have a certain thought pattern and can retrain their thinking to fix th…

Kidnapped By The Taliban

Kidnapped By The Taliban is the thrilling account of Dr. Dilip Joseph (co-written by James Lund). Dr. Dilip Joseph was working for an NGO, Morning Star Development. He traveled to Afghanistan on multiple occasions to oversee, provide medical care and train native medical workers to better serve the Afghan people, especially in rural areas with no health care options. The back cover reads:


"“Am I About to Die?”

On December 5, 2012, American medical doctor Dilip Joseph and two colleagues are driving back to Kabul, Afghanistan, after serving villagers that morning at a rural clinic. Suddenly a man waving an AK-47 blocks their path. More armed men jump out of hiding. For Dilip, it is the beginning of a nightmare—he’s being kidnapped by the Taliban.

Dilip and his friends endure a nine-hour march into the mountains, gruesome images of torture and death, and repeated threats of execution. Four days later Dilip is freed in a daring and deadly rescue that claims the life of a SEAL Team Si…

Just Babies

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Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom is a little gem of a book. The cover is brilliant and is what initially drew me in to even taking a look at it. I really enjoy books about psychology, and this didn't disappoint. The description was really intriguing, so between that and the cover, I knew it was a must-read:

"A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone.

From John Locke to Sigmund Freud, philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates. Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the role of society—and especially parents—to transform them from little sociopaths into civilized beings. In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality. Drawing on groundbreaking research at Yale, Bloom demonstrates that, even before they can speak or walk, babies judge the goodness and badness of others’ actions; f…

Hope Crossing

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Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall is a three-in-one book that includes all three full length novels from her Ada's House trilogy. The book description reads:

"Hope Crossing…where Ada’s House stands as a haven for weary souls looking for kindness, faith, and second chances.

The Hope of Refuge
Two very different women are pulled by their strongest desires. Deborah Mast joined the Amish church and longs to marry her fiancĂ©, but he is changing. Cara Moore is forced to look into a life that was meant to be hers. Will Ada’s House help them realize their hearts’ desires or will it force them to accept what life has done to each of them?

The Bridge of Peace
Living out her passion for teaching, Lena Kauffman’s work is suddenly interrupted by a series of pranks and accidents targeted toward her and her students. When tragedy strikes her dear friend Grey Graber’s family on school property, the school board begins to blame her for the trouble. As grief and confusion take their toll on G…

Motherless

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When I first read the description of Motherless by Erin Healy, I knew it was a book I just had to read right away, even though I've never read any of Erin Healy's books before and wasn't sure what to expect. The description reads:

"A whispering voice at the back of my mind reminds me that I've been this way for some time. Dead, that is.
The dead have a very broad view of the living, of actions performed out of sight, of thoughts believed to be private. I would know. Losing both parents is a trial no child should endure, and Marina and Dylan have endured enough. They deserve the one thing I could never give them: a mother's love.

A mother's love, and the truth.

My children have believed a lie about me for years and years. After all this time I can still feel their hurt in my heart. But the tether holding me to them is frayed from years of neglect . . . and I have to find a way to make my confession before it snaps.

But when the truth comes out, what other …

SWEET Cookbook Giveaway!

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I recently reviewed Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More - a totally awesome cookbook put together by the Food Network with their absolute best dessert recipes. It's one of the best dessert cookbooks I've ever seen - a full page color photograph for EVERY recipe, step by step instructions, and simple, easy-to-follow recipes that anyone can make. In short ... I love it! It's my new go-to for desserts.

Anyway, the publisher recently contacted me and asked me to host a giveaway. One of my lucky friends will win a copy of Sweet - the publisher will ship it straight to your house. Please enter, guys! It's such a cool cookbook and I know you will love it - besides, it's free to enter and free to win! What can you lose???

Just fill out this form to enter, and make sure to include my blog URL (ramblingsofacaliforniacouponer.blogspot.com) so they know who the entries "belong to" and can pick a winner:




Easy peasy! Good luck, can't wait to see wh…

Churchless

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I was excited for the opportunity to read and review Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them by George Barna and David Kinnaman. I belong to a large church that is active in soulwinning efforts, so books like this are great for insight on how to reach people. The book description reads:

"Churchless people are all around us: among our closest loved ones, at our workplaces, in our neighborhoods. And more and more, they are becoming the norm: The number of churchless adults in the US has grown by nearly one-third in the past decade. Yet the startling truth is that many of these people claim they are looking for a genuine, powerful encounter with God—but they just don’t find it in church. What are they (or we) missing? How can we better reach out to them? What can we say or do that would inspire them to want to join a community of faith? Containing groundbreaking new research from the Barna Group, and edited by bestselling authors George Barna (…

Never Ever Give Up: Author Q & A

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Recently on my blog I reviewed the touching and heartwarming story of Jessie Joy Rees, who tragically passed away from cancer. However, before she passed away, she began the JoyJars and NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) movement, and her short life is still touching and blessing others around the world. Today I'd like to post a bit about her father, Erik Rees, who is carrying on Jessie's mission, and an excerpt of a brief interview.


Erik Rees is the Chairman of the Jessie Rees Foundation, better known as

“Jessie’s daddy” to the 310,000 Facebook fans he talks to weekly. Through Erik’s

leadership, Jessie’s mission to encourage every kid fighting cancer to “Never

Ever Give Up” is becoming a reality. He is the author of S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and

Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life and of Only You Can Be You. He and his

wife, Stacey, live in Orange County, California, with their children, Shaya and JT,

and their four dogs.

Here is an excerpt of a Q&A session with him:

Never Ever …

Refined By Fire

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Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace is author Mary Potter Kenyon's memoir of sorts about the tremendous loss she endured during a very short period of time: of her mother, husband, and young grandson. The book description reads:

"Where is the handbook for widows?" Mary Kenyon lamented as she planned a funeral for the beloved husband whose triumph over cancer she chronicled in Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. During the ensuing weeks, as she attempted to make sense of his untimely death, she filled two journals, blogged, and read the inspirational writings of others who had gone down the road of grief before her--authors like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle. She eventually found herself studying grief and bereavement in her quest to unearth answers to alleviating the pain associated with profound loss. In the process, she discovered a strength and emotional reserve she didn't know she had, along with an evolving faith that helped her face …

The Invisible Front

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The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War by Yochi Dreazen is an exhaustive look at the huge crisis threatening our troops: PTSD and suicide. Dreazen's book focuses on the Graham family: Major General Mark and his wife Carol, and their children; Jeff, Kevin, and Melanie. The Grahams face the loss of both of their sons while in the Army: Jeff to a roadside bomb in Iraq, and Kevin to suicide. Jeff was lauded as a hero, while Kevin's death was met with silence. Mark and Carol are now on a mission to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide within the military. The book descriptions reads:

"The unforgettable story of a military family that lost two sons—one to suicide and one in combat—and channeled their grief into fighting the armed forces’ suicide epidemic.

Major General Mark Graham was a decorated two-star officer whose integrity and patriotism inspired his sons, Jeff and Kevin, to pursue military careers of their own. His wife Carol was…

Noah

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Noah is a wordless picture book by Mark Ludy. I've never reviewed a wordless picture book before, so it's a bit different of a genre, but I selected this book because I have a 4 year old, 6 year old, and 8 year old and thought especially my 4 year old son would like this book because he loves the story of Noah and the ark. The book description reads:

"Mark Ludy’s latest book will appeal to adults and children alike. Digging deeper than the Sunday school tale of cuddly animals on Noah’s ark, the story follows the biblical text and illumines Noah’s relationship with God, his wife, family, nature, and humanity. Ludy’s world-class artwork lets people see, as though for the first time, the beauty within this story - revealing a clearer picture of the nature and character of God and his relationship to humankind. It’s immersive and epic in scale and scope. The wordless format invites conversation and storytelling, key building blocks of literacy. And as with his previous books…

Not Just A Hearer But A Doer

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I recently read a devotional book by Yolanda Shanks entitled Not Just A Hearer, But A Doer: Deliberately Living Life Devotional Study. The title caught my eye because I feel like as Christians we can hear a lot of messages, but never actually do them or put them into action - and deliberate living is definitely the answer. The description reads:

"We sit in the pews. We sing the songs. We recite
Scripture–Scripture we know by heart. And yet buried in the midst of this routine are commands and requests straight from the Most High that go ignored. We've become so reliant on God fulfilling His end of the bargain that we fail to follow through with ours.

We've Become Hearers.

In 31 days, Yolanda Shanks' devotional study, Not Just a Hearer but a Doer, will help you find calls to action within Scripture... and then act upon them. Starting with small things, like seeing that the Lord is good and working your way up to bigger actions, such as being a bold witness for Christ,…

Playing Saint

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Playing Saint is new author Zachary Bartels' debut novel. Sometimes I'm nervous about reading a new author, but the premise of this book sounded so intriguing that I just had to give it a shot - and I wasn't disappointed. The description of the book reads:

"Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power.

Today, he’s just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim.

Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a my…

Chemo-Therapist

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Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured A Marriage by Mary Potter Kenyon is part memoir, part marriage book. I love reading memoirs, although sometimes have trouble reading cancer memoirs because many of them can be scary or depressing. This one, however, is neither scary or depressing, although it is sad since Mary's husband does pass away - not from the cancer (he was cured of his cancer and past his 5-year remission point), but rather of a heart attack.

The description of the book reads:

"When Mary Potter Kenyon’s husband David was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2006 she searched libraries and bookstores for books on cancer and the caregiving experience. What she discovered was a plethora of technical and medically-oriented books or those written by a caregiver whose loved one had died, a scenario she refused to contemplate. While serving as David’s companion during Wednesday chemotherapy treatments, Mary began journaling about their experience as a couple and parents o…

Blue Ribbon Baking From A Redneck Kitchen

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Blue Ribbon Baking From A Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson immediately caught my eye because it's all about two of my favorite things: old fashioned Southern cooking, and desserts! I'd never heard of Francine Bryson or The American Baking Competition show, so I wasn't sure what exactly to expect, but I wasn't disappointed.

The description on the back reads:

"National pie champion, mom, homemaker, and self-proclaimed redneck, Francine Bryson won the hearts of bakers everywhere when she appeared on CBS’s The American Baking Competition and went on to become a finalist on the show. Known for her down-home Southern charm and sass (and for successfully pairing chocolate and peanut butter with bacon), Francine now shares her sought-after recipes and tips in her very first baking book.

“Here are the recipes and tricks I was taught by my Great-Granny, Granny, Nana, and Mama—the women who schooled me on the ways a Southern woman keeps a kitchen—and that I learned from t…

Tell Me About Prayer

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Tell Me About Prayer by Stephen Elkins is the latest title in the Train 'Em Up series for kids. Other titles in the series include: Baptism, Bible, Church, Faith, Grace, Praise & Worship, and Salvation. The description reads:

"Train ’Em Up is an interactive, fun-filled, and affordable series that uses a train locomotive theme for teaching kids core Christian beliefs and principles. In Tell Me about Prayer, a friendly train conductor, Mr. Steve, teaches kids what prayer is all about, how we should talk to God, and why our conversations are so important to Him. Through bold graphics and interactive songs and stories, Train ’Em Up makes it easy for parents and teachers to explain biblical concepts like prayer in a way that helps with attention, memorization, and recall while building a solid faith foundation. Each book in the series includes a CD with sing-along songs and narrated stories with sound effects, plus a colorful sticker sheet!"

This is the first book of the…

Move On

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Move On: When Mercy Meets Your Mess by Vickie Courtney was one of those books that, by the description, sounded like it would either be amazing or a flop, so I opened it up not sure what to expect. Well, it was amazing! The description reads:

"You can say good-bye to the person you've been pretending to be!

Life is often messy. God makes provision to help us move beyond our messes.

Oftentimes our first instincts are to hide, deny, ignore, or run. In Move On best-selling author Vicki Courtney helps readers come clean with their muddy messes, revealing the deeper issues they must face, including:

-the need for approval
-struggles and broken dreams
-shame
-legalism
-idols
-Christian snobbery

It is in the middle of our messes, Vicki says, that Mercy shows up and offers us a safe place to process our struggles, imperfections, doubts, and fears. Once we face our messes, God, with his sweet mercy, can help us to get real, deal, and truly move on. Then with Mercy by our side, we a…

Never Ever Give Up

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Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and Her JoyJars is the story of Jessica Joy Rees and her family after she is diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor at just eleven years old. The book chronicles the fight Jessie goes through in an attempt to beat the odds of her grim prognosis, and how she focused not on her illness but how she might bless and help others. She immediately came up with the idea of JoyJars - clear jars stuffed with toys and goodies that were distributed throughout hospitals to children fighting cancers and life threatening illnesses. Told from the viewpoint of her father, which was unique because most (if not all) childhood cancer memoirs I've read have been written from the mother's viewpoint, you will be taken through the diagnosis, illness, Jessie's ultimate and unfortunate death, and the aftermath and impact her brief life has left on the world.

Never Ever Give Up is an inspiring, heartwarming, yet sad story. It was a very quick …

Where Treetops Glisten

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Where Treetops Glisten is a charming collection of three heartwarming Christmas romances set during World War II. The back cover copy immediately caught my eye - "The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime. Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas". The first story is White Christmas by Cara Putnam. Abigail Turner loses her beau to the war, and she's nervous about becoming romantically involved again. A young man comes into her life and challenges her to learn to love again.

The second story is I'll Be Home For Christmas by Sarah Sundin. She introduces us to Abigail's brother, Pete. He's a fighter pilot home from the war just in time for Christmas. While home, he meets a sweet child and has to convince her widowed mother that he's not the childhood bully she remembers ... and tries to win her heart.

The third offering, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Tricia Goyer, Merry Turner…

Abraham

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Abraham: One Nomad's Amazing Journey of Faith by Charles R. Swindoll is billed as a biography of the life of Abraham, one of the great patriarchs of our faith. Abraham is one of those characters in the Bible who lived such an amazing and faith-filled life that I was eager to learn more about this ancient biblical figure. The book description reads:

"When we rewind history back to Abraham’s era, we encounter people who concocted false superstitions to explain the unexplainable. Powerful kings claimed to be gods, building massive pyramids to achieve immortality. Out of this mass of misunderstandings, one man emerged. The man we know today as Abraham not only claimed that one true Creator existed but also staked his entire life on this belief. Why, thousands of years later, are we still discussing the faith of this desert nomad? One of America’s most popular Bible teachers, Pastor Chuck Swindoll, answers that question and many more in this compelling and insightful biography th…

Messy Beautiful Love

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Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages by Darlene Schacht isn't just another book about Christian marriage. Darlene has a gift for cutting through all the niceties and getting down to the nitty gritty: real marriage isn't a fairy tale. It can be messy, tough, and full of trials, but it's also beautiful. The premise of the book is learning how to clean up messes God's way, surrendering your marriage relationship to Him, and obey God's plan for marriage and will for your life. The book opens with Darlene sharing the story about her husband confronting her about the affair she'd been having (on his birthday, no less). As soon as I read the first chapter, I knew this was going to be a book I'd love.

This is one of those rare books that pulls back the curtain on Christian marriages to show the good, the bad, and the ugly. Darlene doesn't shy away from confessing her sins, but most importantly, she brilliantly shows forth the glori…

The One Year Devotions For Active Boys

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The One Year Devotions For Active Boys by Jesse Florea is an engaging devotional book for tween boys that promises to keep their attention and teach them important truths from God that they can apply to their daily lives.

The description reads:

"This fun devotional includes 365 upbeat devotions, each with a special twist or dose of humor to keep active boys engaged. The devotions combine Scripture and a spiritual message with jokes, riddles, puzzles, and hands-on activities to engage tween boys. The devotions help boys find how real people interacted with God and help them discover solutions to contemporary issues. Each devotion will help guide a young man in developing a lifetime habit of learning from the Bible. Themes include how to navigate the Bible, make good choices, discern God's will, use good and uplifiting language, avoid temptation, choose good friends, trust God, etc."

I selected this book for my 12 year old son, hoping it would help him to have a more re…

The Homesick Texan's Family Table

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The Homesick Texan's Family Table: Lone Star Cooking From My Kitchen To Yours by Lisa Fain is a beautiful hardcover Tex-Mex cookbook. Lisa Fain is a Texas native who's been transplanted to New York and I understand she's a popular food blogger; however, I've never read her blog. I am a cookbook collector and was excited to add a Tex-Mex cookbook to my collection as it's a category I don't have yet and I love Mexican-American food. I've never been to Texas so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but I did have a general idea. This book is chock full of stories of Lisa growing up in Texas. I loved reading about her family and anecdotes about her grandmother and mother's cooking. This was one of my favorite parts of the cookbook. Sections included are Breakfast and Breads; Starters and Snacks; Salads and Sides; Chilis, Soups, and Stews; The Main Event; Sweets; and Accompaniments. It also includes an introduction with explanations about the recipes, a…

Raw Faith

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Raw Faith: What Happens When God Picks A Fight by Kasey Van Norman is the story of her struggle through cancer. Just when Kasey thought she had it all - a ministry to women, a family, faith, etc. - her life was shattered with an aggressive form of cancer. She had to decide if she was still going to trust God and follow the message she had been sharing with so many women - to trust God during times of crisis.

This book is less memoir and more Bible study. Kasey draws on a multitude of Bible characters and stories to bring home the points and lessons she learned throughout her battle. I hadn't read Kasey's previous book, Named By God, but now I can't wait to read it. I'd love to learn more about her story - it sounds great. Kasey is extremely honest and vulnerable in this book - she doesn't hold anything back. I appreciate authors who can tell it like it is and not hold back the less pretty aspects of themselves and don't try to sugar coat everything. Kasey is a…

What Life Are You Waiting For?

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What Life Are You Waiting For? by Pete Hise is one of those rare books that can truly propel you into action. The description intrigued me:

"Have you ever stayed up late into the night, wondering if God has more for you than this? Do you keep saying you’ll “eventually” get around to the things you most dream of doing? What Life Are You Waiting For? is a bold, God-sized vision that will inspire you to stop waiting and begin living this life today— like it’s the one you’ve been waiting for. Pete Hise speaks directly to your heart with a truth that’s so personal, so beyond “good enough,” that you may be almost afraid to believe it: The dreams you have for your life can actually happen. Maybe you dream of building a thriving marriage, finding your true calling, learning to hear God’s voice, investing in your kids, or making a lasting impact on the world. Whatever it is, God is with you and is poised to begin . . . right now. He has a bigger plan for you than you’ve dared to imagine—…

Surprised By Motherhood

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Surprised By Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being A Mom is Lisa-Jo Baker's memoir of sorts, of her childhood, the loss of her mom, and becoming a mother. Lisa-Jo lost her mom as a teenager and had determined to never have children. God changed her heart (like He often loves to do when we say "never"), and she became a mom of three children. I had never heard of Lisa-Jo before reading this book, so maybe regular readers of her blog would know more of her background, but I knew nothing coming into the book.

This book is written blog-style - it feels like she's sitting down chatting with you. It was a bit rambling at times, but I was still able to follow the story. It aims to show the messy, inconvenient side of motherhood, not just all the fun moments and mushy stuff. This is a very honest story and didn't sugar coat anything. I couldn't relate a ton about her struggle to have children since I've always wanted to have children. I did enjoy r…

Captive In Iran

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Captive in Iran: A Remarkable True Story of Hope and Triumph Amid the Horror of Tehran's Brutal Evin Prison by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh is a captivating account (no pun intended) of Maryam and Marziyeh's arrest and imprisonment for converting from Islam to Christianity and advertising and promoting Christianity (a crime punishable by the death pentalty in Iran). This book walks us through the day of their arrest to the time of their release and briefly describes their immigration to the US. They hold nothing back in telling their story - the horrifying conditions in Evin prison, the other inmates and their stories, the interrogations, the torture, lack of medical care, and more.

This isn't a light and fun story, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. I couldn't believe just how people are living and treated in Iran, and it really opened my eyes to the situation and how desperate and horrifying it truly is. I believe this is an important book for every C…

Sweet

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Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More is a cookbook put out by the Food Network magazine, and it's a compilation of dozens and dozens of dessert recipes. Sections included are:

-Cupcakes & Whoopie Pies
-Cookies & Bars
-Candy & Snacks
-Pies & Crumbles
-Fake-Out Cakes
-Show-Off Cakes
-Frozen Treats
-Holiday Desserts

This book is absolutely stunning. When I pulled it out of the box and my husband saw it he remarked, "Sweet!" (no pun intended - ha ha) because it looked so wonderful. There is a gorgeous full page color photograph of every single recipe (love this - hate when cookbooks don't show all the recipes). The index for each chapter contains a small photograph of every recipe so you can scan it and quickly find what you're looking for. All the recipes have thorough and clear step-by-step instructions, and the more difficult looking recipes even have photographs of the steps to make it even easier to follow along. All the recipes use…

The Midwife

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The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim is one of those books that I passed over reading for awhile because I'm not a huge Amish fiction fan. I like most of Beverly Lewis' books, but I've found the huge surge of Amish fiction following Lewis' popular work to be largely cheesy, unrealistic, and poorly written. So I never jump to read an Amish fiction that's not by Lewis. However, the description to this book sounded so intriguing that I gave in and gave it a shot. The description reads:

"The story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers . . .

The Past -- Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents' decision to end the pregnancy -- and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothe…

The Remaining

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I just finished reading an exciting new release, The Remaining, by Travis Thrasher. The Remaining is the novelization of an upcoming movie of the same name. It's a category I enjoy - Christian horror/thriller, so I was very excited to read and review this book, and look forward to watching the movie as soon as it comes out! The premise of this book isn't groundbreaking - a group of six friends (Skylar, Lauren, Tommy, Allison, Jack, and Dan), preparing for the Dan and Skylar's wedding. After the vows are exchanged, people suddenly begin dropping dead at the reception. It soon becomes clear that this is the Rapture, but instead of their bodies disappearing, just their souls are caught up into Heaven. All of the friends except Lauren are "left behind" and have to try to survive and figure out what's happening around them.

Although the concept is nothing new, the execution does bring some fresh ideas, such as the bodies being left behind and the events of the a…

The Trail

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The Trail: A Tale about Discovering God's Will by Ed Underwood is an allegorical tale (there seems to be a lot of these being published lately) that will help you discover eight principles for discovering God's will for your life. The story follows Matt and Brenda, a married couple facing challenges and tough decisions, on a hike through the High Sierras with guide and former firefighter and current pastor Sam Lewis, who their friends Brian and Lindsey introduced them to. As they hike the trail, Sam gives them important instructions and the eight principles. The principles and Scriptures are summarized in the back of the book and there is also a discussion/reader's guide included.

I'm not a huge fan of allegorical fiction, so I wasn't expecting too much out of this book, to be honest. I normally have a difficult time reading this type of book because I'm generally the type of reader who wants either a non fiction book or a fiction book, not one mixed together.…