Friday, July 18, 2014

Love in a Broken Vessel, book #21

Be still my heart.  I have found my new favorite book.  Maybe it's because I just finished two not so stellar books.  Maybe it's because I liked the cover. Maybe it's because there was a message for me in it.  Maybe it's because it's the first time I get the deeper meaning in a book.  But this is it.  My new favorite.  And I think everyone should read it.

As you know, I am not a big fan in general of fictionalized Bible stories, unless Francine Rivers writes them.  They just always make me nervous about how much "liberty" they are taking.  I read another book by Mesu Andrews and did not like it.  I wasn't even going to read any more by her, but my friend insisted I read this one so I gave it a shot.  I cannot thank her enough!

This is a rendition of the book/love story of Hosea.  Naturally I was a bit skeptical because who can top Redeeming Love?  Funny thing is, Mesu actually acknowledges this right off in the Note to the Reader

When you think of reading the story of Gomer and Hosea, what novel comes to mind?  Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, right? I think I've read it at least four times.  It's tied for first place in my all-time favorites, and Francine Rivers is hands down my favorite author.  So why would I dare write a novel that might be compared to such a classic?  Because Love in a Broken Vessel is biblical fiction, and Redeeming Love is a biblical story set in a prairie romance.  Trying to equate the two stories would be like comparing apples and oranges--both are fruit, but very different yummy flavors.  My hope is that readers wil enjoy each one for the unique story it is.

So right off you know the author is not trying to "beat" Redeeming Love, but do a different spin.  You had me at "Hello."  

I think the thing that just resonated over and over with me is how God/Hosea keeps on loving me/Gomer, even when I/she feel(s) so unworthy.  Even when I/she fight(s) back, not wanting or feeling like I/she deserve(s) the love.  Not even being able to accept the gifts God/Hosea gives me/her.  It's like after I had children I kept seeing that parent relationship played out time and time again as I try to discipline my children, hearing God say the same words to me as I am saying them to my children.  

Hosea is a hard book to understand.  Even after reading Redeeming Love I still didn't feel like I understood the book.  THIS book really brought it more to life, the loving her despite the fact she runs away time and again, loving her children born of different men, waiting so patiently on her and rejoicing in the end when she does turn to him.  I had tears at the end, even knowing it was going to work out but having no idea how it would!!!  Needless to say, this book gets all my thumbs up!!


Hosea has been charged by God with a difficult task--marry a prostitute in order to show God's people the nature and depth of his love for Israel. When Hosea goes to Israel to proclaim God's message, the prostitute God tells him to marry turns out to be his childhood friend Gomer. He finds her broken and abused, unwilling to trust Hosea or his God. But when marrying Hosea becomes her only choice, Gomer does what she's good at--she survives. Can Hosea's love for God and God's love for Israel heal Gomer's broken spirit?

With her potent combination of in-depth research and masterful storytelling, Mesu Andrews brings to life a complex and fascinating biblical story of the power of love and forgiveness in the face of utter betrayal. (picture and description from Amazon.)


Happy Reading!

O:)
Melissa



Monday, July 14, 2014

Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel, book #20

Sigh, here we go again.  Another book, another series, another author who leaves us hanging.  At least this time she did wrap up some things, as compared to the last.  We Some people  I read this for book club and then we didn't even end up meeting because there was this little Tennessee hurricane that blew through right before the meeting.  And lots of people were just busy that night.  So now I read this book for no reason.  Alas .... 

That said, while I was reading the book, I did enjoy it.  It was a light, funny book (as compared to the last one!) with a little romance.  If you don't mind books that don't have closure and leave you wondering with baited breath what on earth will happen next, then you may like this book. 

With high hopes, Dorothy Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dot passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Dorothy, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Dorothy only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dot’s cats.(picture and description at Amazon)



So I decide maybe I will invest in the next book, only to discover it also is apparently a cliffhanger with no resolution either.  And the third book isn't even out yet.  It could be considered a fail, but you could also say, "Well, at least I know now ..."


The good news is the book I am now reading is NOT in a series, which means there will be closure and I am thoroughly enjoying it!!

O:)
Melissa


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Born of Persuasion, book #19

My response to this book? 

I don't THINK so!!!

So, this book was one that was on my bedside for a very long time.  I am not even sure how it got there, whether it was a donation that I thought sounded good and I wanted to read, one a bought at my beloved BAM! on sale, from my mom, who knows!!  In the mean time, as it collected dust, I learned the author is the wife of someone Roger knew who worked at LifeWay.  Since I got the Paperwhite, I was trying to whittle the books on my bedside by adding them to my Amazon WishList.  Also in the meantime I sort of stumbled on how to get books from the library on my Paperwhite.  Long story short, this is the first one I read via R.E.A.D.S. for free!  But, I only had seven days to read it and it has 450 pages!!  (Again, I have been working on this all week, not just since I last posted.)

Well, I get into the book and decide I really didn't like it.  At all.  But, I am also of the nature that no matter how horrible the book is, unless there is excessive language or other worldly topics, I'm gonna finish it.  I have to see if it gets any better or if there is any hope for these pathetic characters.  (Remember The Chance?) Well, this book kept me so stinking confused I could never tell which way was up!!  Who was good and who was bad. Apparently there were all sorts of secrets that everyone knew except the main character and some people would begin to tell her some of them, but would then decide it wasn't time.  There were lots of flash-forward moments (beginning with paragraphs like, "Later, when the whole story came out, I would see how important this truly was..." or "In hindsight the teaset really didn't matter" ... ) which seemed to occur every chapter at least once.  Are you kidding me?!?  I don't remember a one that was actually fulfilled, unless I took the time to actually buy the book and go back and hunt for each flash-forward and see if I could find where it came true.  But do you honestly think I am wasting any more time on this book?  No!!!

This is the beginning of a series and while I kept holding my breath for the end, well, don't hold your breath.  I'm all about series books, but not when you have an ending that demands you read the next one immediately.  That, dear authors, really ticks me off.  And I think it is selfish of you, like giving a child one bite of an ice cream cone and then taking it away and eating it all yourself while the child watches.  Like, purposefully withholding secrets to make you want to read the next book and spend another $10+ on it.  Or, even worse, when it is a new series and you get to an end like this and have to wait another 6 months to a year to find out what happens.  (This actually happened once to me and I actually threw the book across the room.  When the next book finally came out there was an author's note at the front that revealed I was not the only one who felt that way.  And the author actually apologized!)

Ok, enough about that soap box.  But I will tell you I'm not clamoring for finding Book 2 in the series.  I could care less what happens to Julia and if she and Edward ever end up together.  There are too many others "fish in the sea" to waste my time on them!! And, I haven't started the book for Book Club next Tuesday which promises to be considerably better!

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.  (picture and description from Amazon.)

O:)
Melissa
 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Discovering your heart with the Flag Page, book #18


No, I did not read this book in 4 days or however long it has been since I lasted posted a book review.  I have actually been working on this one since February or March.  Not that it is a hard book to read, but I have picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down.  But now I am really finished reading it. But am I done with it?  Never!  I'm sure this will be a source book I go back to over and over again.

Earlier this year we went to Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage conference at church, led by Mark Gungor.  We did indeed laugh all weekend, but we also learned a lot too. One of the things he talked about the Flag Page, which is NOT a personality test, but instead focuses on our motivations -- what we truly love about life.  With this computer guided test, that takes about 5 minutes, you can learn all about what you love in life, which then translates into which "country" you live in, thus which "flag" represents you. (As in, the flag for that country.)  Ok, the metaphors are heavy, but this has opened my eyes to more things in my life as it is right now than any other book or test I have done.  

Long story short, here is a summary of me:

I live in Peace Country, which makes me just want everyone to get along.  I am happiest when my environment is tranquil, calm and secure.  

My adopted country (a close second!) is Perfect Country, because I have a high need for organization and I need to pursue new and improved ways to doing things.  

I am a Balanced person when it comes to soft and hard traits, but interestingly enough I do lean more on the hard side.  That means I am less of a relational person and more of a worker bee. 

So far as my talents (things I ranked highest) I am 47% Task Talents and 30% Creation Talents.  The other percents are made up of People Talents, Leading Talents, and Showman Talents.

But the most important part of the Flag Page is the Flag itself.  In order of importance to me of things I love:

1. Optimistic
2. Perfectionist
3. Avoids Conflict
4. Dry Sense of Humor
5. Neat

Once you learn all this about yourself, reading the book helps you understand more about how these traits can be used for good and how they can be used for bad.  It will also help you learn how you can express these to your family (especially your spouse!) and thus have better communication, thus making everything better.  [Yes, I was a communications major in college and I still firmly believe communication done right is the BEST thing for any relationship!] 

I cannot begin to tell you how this book opened my mind to so many issues in relationships I have been challenged by!  It has been for the better, but there are still things I just look at and say, "Well, God, what should we do about this?"   

Highly, highly, highly recommend this for anyone!!!

The Flag Page is an incredible program designed to help you discover who you are and more importantly....who God created you to be. If you are looking to discover the great things God has in store for you, you will want to create your own Flag Page.
In his book Discovering Your Heart with the Flag Page, national marriage speaker Mark Gungor explains how to interpret and understand the colorful printout that is the Flag Page. He shows the reader how to understand why they act and react the way they do, and what important needs they have in their life that are the keys to their success and happiness. By using the Flag Page, Mark has helped thousands of people discover and understand not only who they are and who God made them to be, but also understand the people closest to them. (picture and description from amazon)

O:)
Melissa

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lives Given, Not Taken, book #17

Ok, so this book was either a donation to our church library or my mom gave it to me, I can't remember which.  It has been sitting on the bedside table for a while now.  The other day I was trying to clear some more stuff off the table and add the books to my wish list on my Paperwhite and found this one.  I picked it up again and brought it downstairs where it laid on the kitchen table for awhile before I picked it up.  

Being a storyteller (love to hear them, love to tell them) and a lover of foreign missions and missionaries, I'm not sure why I haven't picked it up yet.  But over the last two days I have read all the amazing stories of these eight martyrs who chose to go in war-torn countries, riddled with Islam/Muslim, terrorists and the like, because their call to go was so great, the burden so heavy, they had no choice BUT to go. 

Some of these people had been in the lands for many years, some had been there less than 3 weeks before they were tragically killed.  But through each death, as senseless as it seemed at the time, the LORD was glorified even more.  In their death, HE was made strong in Yemen, in Iraq, in the Philippines. 


Even though the cover looks rather dated and may not entice those just glancing at it, I highly recommend picking it up!  It will leave you with a new sense of mission and passion ... and a desire to seek the Lord with all your hear to see what His mission is for you!

Immediately following the deaths of Southern Baptist workers in Yemen, Iraq, and other places, the International Mission Board received an outpouring of support and consolation. But it did not take long for the questions to come. “Why do missionaries go to dangerous places?” “How can the IMB be so irresponsible to send missionaries to places where their lives will be endangered?”

There were demands to bring the missionaries home. Some reflected that this loss of life was such a waste and could have been avoided. Apparently the top priority in the minds of many was the safety of missionaries.

Yet, those who died gave their lives as a witness to their faith and testimony to their obedience and devotion to their Lord. They died because they were willing to be in a place where their lives were vulnerable—because offering eternal life to others was more important than maintaining their own earthly lives.

These were individuals whose lives were given, not taken. (picture and description from amazon)


Happy Reading!!

Melissa
 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One Perfect Spring, Book #16

My second book on the Paperwhite!!  I'm really getting into this, but I still want to rotate between ebooks and "real" books because I can't forget my first love!!

This is the book we chose for Book Club for June and it was a real delight.  We were curious how it would go since Irene Hannon usually writes involved, police, mystery type books and this one looked like fluff for her.  But I must admit I was pleasantly surprised.  There was some meat to it, and it really made me think a lot about adults who were adopted as children, and how that carries over well into adulthood.  

Claire Summers is a determined, independent single mother who is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Keith Watson is a results-oriented workaholic with no time for a social life. As the executive assistant to a local philanthropic businessman, he's used to fielding requests for donations. But when a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk, everything changes. The girl isn't asking for money, but for help finding the long-lost son of an elderly neighbor.

As Keith digs reluctantly into this complicated assignment, he has no idea how intertwined his life and Claire's will become--nor how one little girl's kindhearted request will touch so many lives and reap so many blessings.

Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, Irene Hannon offers readers this tenderhearted story of family connections that demonstrates how life is like lilacs--the biggest blooms often come only after the harshest winters. (description and picture from amazon.com)


O:)
Melissa


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Fault in our Stars, Book #15


Ok, she made me read it.  See, Rebecca and her friends are SO STOKED about going to see this movie Saturday and I told them I would take them.  I had seen the previews and read the first chapter or two, but she made it mandatory I read it before I go.  Now I am mad at her.  

See, the book takes all kinds of twists and turns you would never expect.  And now, I don't even want to see the movie.  (Not exactly true, I do love going to the movies, but I already know what is going to happen!!!)  Reading through all the bad language that is somewhat situational and somewhat unnecessary and all the un-Christian views on eternity and life after death was frustrating, but it really did open my eyes to a world I do not know.   A world where kids are sick and sometimes get better and sometimes never do.  Some are just a "grenade" ticking, while others actually do find a miracle and are cured for life.  Some kids DO make a difference in their world in their short life, and others end just a name on a list.  It will be interesting to see how true the movie follows the book, or if they change it drastically to fit in the allotted 2 hours.  

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. (picture and description at amazon)


O:)
Melissa