Category Archives: Book Review

You Should Read Me

You Should Read Me

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott

Confession: I used to be a terrible reader. It would take me forever to read a book. I was a great book ‘buyer’, almost a collector of sorts. I was even pretty good at starting books. That was my strong suit. But my attention span was limited, and if it didn’t really pull me in, well then, I was out.

Times have changed. I still feel like I take longer than most to read a book. But the good news is that I actually make myself finish a book before I will reward myself with reading another (unless it’s just completely boring or horrible and then I give myself permission to be out). I’ve noticed the more I read, the better of a reader I become. And the more I read, the more I enjoy the process and journey of learning, growing, and getting lost in a good story. My writing also benefits from reading a lot of books.

Something else I’ve learned is that I can NOT read in bed at night. This is a big no-no for me. I will be asleep in 4 minutes flat. True story. Over the past couple of years I’ve been blessed to be on multiple book launch teams. Sometimes the publishers house will send you the book and other times they send it through a pdf. It’s been so fun reading some incredible books lately, I just had to share a few of my favorites!

Some of my favorite reads from the past year:


Memoir-

All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth

All the Pretty Things“I don’t know how old I was the night the trailer burned down, or if the rumor was true that Daddy was the one who set it on fire.”

For a long time, Edie thought she had escaped. It started in an Appalachian trailer park, where a young girl dreamed of becoming a doctor. But every day, Edie woke up to her reality:a poverty-stricken world full of alcohol and violence, where getting out seemed impossible. She taught herself to drive a stick shift truck at twelve years oldso she could get her drunk daddy home from the bar.  She spent Saturdays at Brushy Mountain prison visiting her incarcerated cousin.  She watched adults eat while her stomach gnawed and then there was torching of the family trailer, where she dug through the ashes to try to salvage her most prized possession–her Tammy Wynette album.

And at the center of it all was her charismatic daddy. She never knew when he would show up but when he did he was usually drunk; she learned the hard way that she couldn’t count on him to protect her.  So she told herself it didn’t matter.  All she wanted was to make him proud. Against all odds, Edie “made doctor,” achieving everything that had once seemed beyond her reach. Only, it was too late, because her Daddy died a year before she graduated medical school. She split the cost of his funeral with her sister.

When her past finally caught up with her, it was all too much so she did what her Daddy would have done–she set it all on fire.
It would take her whole life burning down once again for Edie to be finally able to face the truth about herself, her family, and her relationship with God. Readers of The Glass Castle will treasure this refreshing and raw redemption story, a memoir for anyone who has ever hungered for home, forgiveness, and the safe embrace of a father’s love.

The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna Le Baron (to be released March 21st)

The Polygamist's DaughterMy father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .
This is the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. Ervil’s criminal activity kept Anna and her siblings constantly on the run from the FBI. Often starving, the children lived in a perpetual state of fear―and despite their numbers, Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?

Filled with murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is the harrowing, heart-wrenching story of a fatherless girl and her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home.

The Con-Man’s Daughter by Candace Curry (to be released May 16th)

The Con Man's DaughterWhen Candice Curry was a little girl, she put her hand in her father’s back pocket so that she wouldn’t get lost in large crowds. Little did she know that as she followed him, he was plying his trade: conning people. Her family drove stolen cars, lived in stolen houses, and shopped with stolen credit cards. Drug use was regular, as were visits from strange people who were trying to track her father down. Though she eventually cut ties with her father, Candice could not ignore the scars that were left from her childhood.

This is her story, one steeped in secrets but one that, ultimately, led her to a place of forgiveness and freedom. As she struggles to understand her criminal father, as well as her own imperfect life, Candice comes to realize that we are not defined by our circumstances but rather by how we react to those circumstances. She’s found peace in the knowledge that God doesn’t love us because we’re perfect–but because he is.

Learning to Ride Again by Amanda Stephens

Learning to RideOn a lazy Saturday in autumn, a vintage bicycle was rescued from the cobwebs and adopted by an eager young couple with plans of romantic, post-restoration rides and life adventures. Mere months later, tragedy took the life of the husband days after their first anniversary, leaving the bike and anticipated future in pieces. The twenty-seven-year-old newlywed faced the harsh reality of a world without her husband, void of dreams yet still with the promise of hope. From debut author, Amanda Stephens, Learning to Ride Again is a powerfully poetic memoir that explores the painful shock and wondrous awe of learning to live beyond unexpected sorrow. From the night of the tragic call in Texas, to the dreamy hills of California for a cathartic goodbye, this deeply heartfelt story records the intensely personal yet universal experience: A portrait of love, loss and faith.

Christian Living-

Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie

We all live with fear. It hangs around, whispering in our ears, reminding us of all we can’t do or will never be. But that’s not the end of the story. We also have a God who draws close to say, Fear not. I am with you. This Spirit transforms us into fear fighters–women breaking free of trepidation to find bold dedication to God’s peace-, purpose- and joy-filled callings.

With remarkable compassion born from personal experience, Kelly Balarie shows women how to

· Cultivate unstoppable faith by harnessing God’s Word and promptings
· Pray panic-, blood pressure- and stress-reducing prayers to usher in lasting peace
· Discover clear and immediate action plans to exchange worry for God’s greatest gifts
· Implement daily bravery decrees to stand armed through the day
· Participate in a 12-week study guide to foster new courageous habits

Kelly pulls back the curtain of fear so you can find the beautiful woman God created you to be.

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff (to be released March 22nd)

Love Lives HereThis is a book about discovering what we really need.

There are a lot of second-best options, but we weren’t made to live a second-best life. Finding what we actually need is different than what we are often offered. There are many books full of opinions, steps and programs. This isn’t one of them. This is about craving the things that matter. Things that don’t just work, but last.

In a life that may seem to be all fun and games with an endless supply of balloons, author Maria Goff shows how this life is also lived with intentionality, passionate purpose, and a little planning—all of which make a life rich in legacy. But she had to figure out the help she needed first in order to live the beautiful life God wanted for her and wants for us.

Love Lives Here is a collection of stories that include the ways Maria and her husband, Bob, navigated family their way, without clear instructions or a road map. It’s about what they learned to make their lives meaningful and whimsical and how they created a space for their family to grow together while they reached outward.

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

Nothing to ProveNo More Pretending. No More Performing. No More Fighting to Prove Yourself. Are you trying your best to measure up—yet you still feel as if you’re losing ground? You are not alone.

Jennie Allen understands the daily struggle so many of us face with the fear that we are not enough. And she invites us into a different experience, one in which our souls overflow with contentment and joy. In Nothing to Prove she calls us to…

* Find freedom from self-induced pressure by admitting we’re not enough—but Jesus is.
* Admit our greatest needs and watch them be filled by the only One who can meet them.
* Make it our goal to know and love Jesus, then watch what He does in and through us.

As you wade into the refreshing truth of the more-than-enough life Jesus offers, you’ll experience the joyous freedom that comes to those who are determined to discover what God can do through a soul completely in love with Him.

Discover the answer to your soul-deep thirst

Too many of us have bought into the lie that our cravings will be satisfied if we are enough and if we have enough. So we chase image, answers, things, and people—and we wonder all the while, Why am I still thirsty?

My single goal with this book is to lead your thirsty soul to the only source of lasting fulfillment: Jesus. He is the living water, a limitless supply that will not only quench your thirst but will fill you and then come pouring out of you into a thirsty world.

Because of Him, you are loved. You are known. You can take a deep breath.
Because you have nothing to prove.
—Jennie

For Real by Kerrie Oles

For RealIn a culture that values shiny images, and perfect selfies; there’s a whole mess of us that are aching for another way to live: Real.

In For Real, author and sought-after speaker, Kerrie Oles helps us understand how to navigate through the turbulent seas of this life with great faith, and there was no better story to be the back-drop of her book; than the story of Job. Through her  humorous style, and spiritual wisdom, she will lead you through a journey that offers encouragement, and life-transforming insights to how God will reveal His faithfulness and build our faith through each and every trial.

How do we take an age old story, and make it real to us?

Kerrie Oles, does just that. Job’s story is all of our story. We suffer in this life, but inside each of us is an overcomer, that can grow from hurtful experiences, and be equipped and empowered to help others. And, along the way, to our destination, it will build great faith!

Come with us. Get on board, let’s journey to being-For Real.

Devotional-

I Am by Michele Cushatt

I AmFrom the moment a woman wakes until she falls, exhausted, on her pillow, one question plagues her at every turn:

Am I enough?

The pressure to do more, be more has never been more intense. Online marketing. Self-help books. Movies, magazines and gym memberships. Even church attendance and social media streams have become a means of comparing ourselves to impossible standards. Am I pretty enough? Hip enough? Spiritual enough?

We fear the answer is “No.”

When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.

With raw personal stories, rock-solid biblical teaching, and radical truths on which to rebuild your life, I Am will help you:

  • End the barrage of negative self-talk with an empowering new narrative.
  • Refuse to ride the roller-coaster of others’ opinions and start believing what God’s says about you.
  • Stop agonizing over past regrets and failures and make peace with God’s sovereign plan for your life.
  • Leave insecurity behind as you exchange temporary fixes for an identity established on God’s unchanging affection.

I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.

Happy Reading!!!

**Disclaimer: There are many good books that I have read. This is by no means a comprehensive and exhaustive list! If you are an author and have a book out, please note that I could not list every single book out there, but just picking a few! Thank you so much for understanding!

Let’s All Be Brave- Stop Waiting to Feel It

photo-1

Remember the high board at the swimming pool? After days of looking up at it you finally climbed the wet steps to the platform. From there, it was higher than ever. There were only two ways down: the steps to defeat or the dive to victory. You stood on the edge, shivering in the hot sun, deathly afraid. At last you leaned too far forward, it was too late for retreat, and you dived. The high board was conquered, and you spent the rest of the day diving. Climbing a thousand high boards, we demolish fear…
Richard Bach- A Gift of Wings

I am the best starter ever. I have started a thousand books. Don’t ask me how many I’ve finished. I started reading ‘let’s all be brave‘ by Author Annie F. Downs. And no pun intended (well, maybe some), but I didn’t want to put it down (see what I did there?). The message in my heart all year has been, be brave, step out, don’t compare, be your best brave. I ordered her book because I was researching the topic of brave. And this book spoke words my heart needed to hear. Sometimes in a quiet, encouraging whisper, “Hey, you’ve got this, it’s time.” Other times shouting to the fear that likes to hang around all too much, “Hey punk, leave, I’m doing it anyways.”

When I moved from Colorado to Texas, many of you know I didn’t want to move. I wanted to live and die in Colorado. True story. But God had other plans. And just like Annie talks about her move from a place of friendship, family, and comfort, I too was leaving a place that was all of that and more, and embarking into the unknown. But God knew. And He’s reminded me since something that I hold so deep and dear in my heart…. my home is wherever I am with Him. He is my home. But I never ‘felt’ brave. Page 53- “I never felt brave. I never had a moment of extreme courage or belief that this was going to be the best decision I had ever made. I just did the next thing. Quit my job. Sold my house. Packed my belongings. Said good-byes.”

I’m convinced that many of us are waiting on a feeling. We want to feel brave before we step out. We want to feel brave before we jump off that diving board. We want to feel brave before we make that next move. But we get stuck. We get stuck on the diving board of life. The jump looks too high. The fall makes our stomach turn a bit. And we wait. And wait. Let me rewind and tell you what would have happened had I waited for that ‘brave’ feeling. My 20 year old self would have never packed up her life and threw everything in her car and left Palm Springs, CA. headed for Bible College in Oak Cliff, TX. My 30 year old self would have never left her comfortable spot as the Children’s Pastors of a large church in Irving, TX. to head for a small church in a parking lot in Castle Rock, CO. (which BTW has since has grown into the largest church on Castle Rock, CO.). And my 30 something year old self would not have left a huge chunk of my heart in Colorado to head for South Texas (Literally five minutes from Mexico). And last, but definitely not least, my 39 year old self, had I waited to ‘feel’ brave would have NEVER agreed to my husband quitting his position as the Children’s Pastor, pulling my kids out of private school, homeschooling, once again selling our house, moving in with my in laws for a year, and starting a non-profit. Seriously, if I had waited to ‘feel’ brave, my adventures might be limited to anything that feels safe and comfortable, which ironically can’t quite be counted as an adventure, now can it?!

Let me make something quite clear if I haven’t already- BEING BRAVE ISN’T A FEELING. Page 37- “I know my my tendencies and fears, and I also know my gifts and hopes. It’s where those meet that I often find God cheering for me to make the brave choice. You have to believe in the One who made you. I am confident in who God made me, but certain I couldn’t do this life-or be brave-on my own.”

And everyone’s brave is unique and different. Page 41- “…God made us each on purpose. If we are unique as the Bible says we are, then our calls to courage are each equally unique.” “We each just have to be brave in our own ways.” Someone once said. “Be Your Best Brave“. Okay, it was me.

Some of you reading this have regrets. You wish you had done things differently. You wish you had taken that trip when you had the chance or chose another job than the one you have now. Here’s what I know about God- (1) He uses everything. Nothing is wasted. (2) It’s never too late to start living your brave.

And if you feel like your best days are behind you and wonder if there’s even any point to asking God what His brave is for you, I have this quote from Michael Hyatt1614356_10152539872289385_2062504460153364420_oHere’s the deal- you still breathing? Okay, then there’s braver living to be done.

You have today. And that is more than some. No one ever said that being brave was going to be easy. But I promise, it is worth it, choosing brave over comfort, it is worth it… Every.Single.Time.

The last thing I want to say on this (seriously, I could quote this book for days), is about her chapter on ‘the rhythm’. She talks about the ‘D’ word. I know, I know, don’t check out yet. In our day and age the word ‘discipline’ has gotten a bad rap.  Whatever brave step He’s calling you to take next, you won’t get there by sitting around and ‘hoping’ something happens. Page 181- “Professionals choose to practice, even when it hurts, because they know that practicing gives them the strength and power to perform in clutch moments.” Page 189- “Your discipline, the rhythm that makes you the best you- whether it’s training your body, your mind, or your spirit- shows up when it is time to say the right thing, do the right thing, be the brave person you want to be. It’s the practice that makes perfect, and the practice that makes you brave.” So stinkin true. Look at discipline as your tool to preparing you for your next brave move.

If it’s not obvious enough, I definitely recommend this book. Annie writes from her own brave place and I love how her voice comes through in her writing. She writes from many different coffee shops, so if you know me, she had me at the first coffee shop!

Let’s pray….

Lord, I believe you’re calling us to step out, into the great unknown. (Sorry, about to sing an Oceans song). Lord, guide and direct us to live this life that you’ve given us brave. Help us to kick fear to the curb and do it anyways. We can’t go back and change what’s already been done, but we have today. And I pray we don’t waste it. Thank you that we are brave because You make us brave. Thank You that You redeem everything and with You, nothing is wasted. Am I breathing? Yes. I have purpose. Help me to be my best brave so that You, Lord, would receive all the glory in my life. Amen.

 “What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?

BTW…Want it on sale? Click here… Let’s all be brave…. (you’re welcome) 🙂