Saturday, December 30, 2017

Upcoming Book Release Pre--Order Bonus: Mesu Andrews: Isaiah's Daughter

Have you read Mesu Andrews books before?  I had not.  But now I will enjoy her other books.  I have loved other books that are Biblical fiction- and take the reader back to how the events in the Bible might have fully developed with the thoughts, emotions, experiences, and daily life of those written about in the Bible.  And this author really developed the years of King Ahaz and King Hezekiah in an engaging, believable, and educational manner.  She must have researched a lot to bring to life this season of struggle, joy, desolation, delight, and to share what a Prophet would endure, as well as a coming King and his bride.

We are led to remember the centrality of the Word of the Lord, and anything that reminds me of how I am to live- makes it worth my time to invest in.

Here's a link to a pre-order bonus that you might want to do if you will buy the book.  The book releases January 16, 2018.
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I've enjoyed reading aloud to our children at Christmas Jotham's Journey, Bartholemew's Passage, Tabitha's Travels and Isthar's Odyssey, and then revisiting the characters in Amon's Adventures (an Easter experience.)  I forgot that there are books for adults out there that help history come to life, and share of Biblical times.  My favorite part of this book, was that it encouraged me to go back to Kings & Chronicles and read the real elements of the story from the Word of God. 

I have a hard time reviewing fiction books and discussing the details, feeling like I'd give away too much of the story.  So I'm sharing the book without going into the well developed plot taken out of the Old Testament. But the theme of the book is learning to Trust Yahweh, and seeking His Word for answers, as you wait for eternity.  (and that's a pretty good investment for anyone wanting to have the word whispered in their own life or with their children!)

I loved Ms. Andrews character development, life like setting, the way she chose to bring to life the OT lives of so many characters and the portrayal of desolation, God's faithfulness, provision, and the challenges of trusting Yahweh through the known and unknown prophecies.  This book not only was a joy to read and be lost in, it also helped me recognize what we can so easily glaze over as we read the bible and not recognize the emotions, conflict and trauma faced when you witness it first hand.   She does an amazing job helping us imagine and see how a girl/young lady/woman lives through this time- physically, emotionally, spiritually, and we have a great glimpse into the thinking and feelings of the people.  She also really develops how prayer and seeking the Lord's help influences a person's heart.  It encourages me to remember and look to the Lord in all things.

Captivating, engaging book, that has you step right into the time of King Ahaz and King Hezekiah in the land of Judah.  You read and envision living among the prophets, as they are hearing from the Lord and transcribing scrolls of scripture.  The author does an excellent job with the details and makes the story alive as you read.  What I enjoyed even more than the setting, was the real characters brought to life, and feeling their joys and sorrows, watching them learn and grow, and interact with one another.  I laughed, smiled, fought tears, and learned a lot as I enjoyed this book.

I had 'aha' moments as the characters experienced in their real time living moments that I have studied in the Old Testament.  When I started the book, and King Ahaz was sacrificing people to his god, Moluk, I wondered if I would continue reading, but the author did a great job laying out the real facts of their lives, but moving the book through a 30 year time span with a good balance of the challenging aspects of life with the heart-warming experiences, romance, and family interactions.  I couldn't put it down at parts.  Mesu Andrews is a new author to me.  I am thrilled to see that my public library has three more of her books and will request her other books now!

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This book shared idol worship, sacrifice, and other traumatic events from the Bible in a detailed description.  The toughest to cope with was near the beginning, and if human sacrifices had remained the focus, I doubt I would have gone on, as she described the experience with enough detail to portray the ugly. But it did happen, and it is necessary to accurately portray the impact it had on the lives of the family.  Basically it's aspects of history that many of us are happy to ignore, but show how evil man is, and how God works through many different experiences for His glory.  I only mention this because it gave me pause, and I would want parents to read it alongside their kids to help them discuss and process this.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Book Review: The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

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The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You were Made For, by Jo Saxton
Her blog

The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

If you are interested, Goodreads is hosting a giveaway, and I've been impressed- I've won two books from the giveaways this month!  This giveaway ends January 10, 2018. 

I saw an opportunity to join the launch team, and I love reading pre-release books and sharing my opinion.   I didn't know much about Jo Saxton and haven't heard her speak, but Ann Voskamp is a book mentor I love and she wrote the forward, so I jumped in.  After reading her book, I feel like I can refer to her as my friend, Jo.   She has the knack of making the reader feel known, seen, and visible in the book, as she encourages you (maybe some would view it as a pretty direct push) to think, process, pray, and seek God's dream of you, and be an active participant in living it.  I have the utmost respect for Mrs. Saxton, but since she told me I'm her friend, it's natural to call her Jo.  (even if I don't really know her in person.) 

In her book she mentions she likes lists (and she also directs us that some parts of life a list doesn't fit!), so I think I will share a list of things I like about the book:

  • Format/Content- Super engaging and personal, you feel like you are sitting with your friend or mentor Jo, learning from life together, and seeking God's dream of you.  
    • the book is very practical, clear, and approachable.  
    • Each chapter opens with a letter from Jo.  She writes as if we are friends, shares her heart, empowers the leader, and engages us in the journey of thinking through the lessons she's learned in her life.  
    • Most chapters end with a task, a question, or a prompt to process and review the main idea presented.  
    • Chapters have titled section breaks that help keep you focused.  
    • Jo is vulnerable and shares her own experiences, thoughts, doubts, and struggles, but often caveats them with parallel issues others may deal with, so we all are forced to recognize we need to mentally evaluate our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and what has influenced them, or slowed, or separated us from them.  
  • Scripture- Jo makes her points clear as she teaches us how to find our true identity in Christ and let go of our broken identities, to live as God would direct us.  It's personal with her stories, but it's truthful with her excellent examples in the Word of God.  She has us thinking about Jesus, life, teachings, perspectives and how heroes of the Faith lived their real identity- Esther, David, Paul, ....   
  • Style (shared a bit in format.)  
    • Her style is culturally relevant, and embracing each woman where she is.  It's authentic, and she pushes us to transform our minds and renew our thoughts with the help of the Holy Spirit. 
    • She is a direct shooter, she doesn't mince words, she's clear, to the point, and easy to understand.  Some may not like this, as you can't ignore easily thinking and applying the strategies to yourself.  (Some of us may like to read about how to grow, but we prefer a distant, less internalized approach, so we can believe we are growing, but not really be confronted directly.)  But her style embraces a guilt free, where you are, one step or moment at a time, she even talks about how to move ahead little by little.  
  • The last few chapters were practical strategies, tips, ideas with room for you to add more of your own, to really find your identity in Christ and learn to live in it. 
I enjoyed this book, some of the struggles mentioned were not mine, and I didn't feel like every aspect or perspective fit me, but that really didn't slow me down or turn me off because she so often mentions that all her struggles, might be very different than our own, and that's okay. It also may be that I've walked the process Jo talks about, as a woman older than her, and those are seasons or stages that I've made it through and don't break me any more.  So that gave me hope, that i am growing!

 And I believe this book will be beneficial to many, many women who are seeking to find fulfillment and transform their lives to the life that they were made for, a life transformed, led, and directed by a loving, gracious, all knowing, glorious God, who is ready and willing to direct our steps, we just need to stop and let Him.  

Ebony Review

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review: Sunlight Burning at Midnight, A Memoir by Jessica Ronne

The books I've read this year- all seem to have a common theme- not one I planned on or looked for, but one that many of us can identify with in our own life.  It's a theme of seeing who God is, and choosing to know Him more, through faith, by embracing the messy, ugly normal life situations that enter into our existence, and if we aren't careful will swallow a person whole.  Situations where we can only thrive and survive, by recognizing that as followers of Christ, we are not given more than we can handle when we live by faith. 

As people who want to "whisper the word" to the children that the Lord blesses you to have contact with on a regular basis, this is a lesson to not only learn personally, but to testify to it, and make sure you follow the OT guidelines of placing rocks (symbols) around you to help you remember that the Almighty God, our Redeemer, Rescuer, and Righteous Judge- not only saved you from your sins, He daily sends the Holy Spirit to save you from yourself. 

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This book by Jessica Ronne shares her memories, journals, and thoughts through multiple life scenarios that sound like something out of of a soap opera, not real life.  But through her testimony, you see her faith transform, doubt creep back in, and she wrestles with God, but her life is transformed as she learns to lean on the Lord in all circumstances.  It's a hard read at first, never knowing where she's going, what will really happen,  but it's honest and real, and I imagine her feelings are pretty typical of most of us in lots of different situations.  I enjoyed her witty titles, verses, and quotes at the start of every chapter, helping bring her story into perspective with the Word of God. 

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This book is raw, makes your burdens feel light, reminds you there is always hope. God is at work, healing, in His perfect way. Everything has another side, and you can walk through it. By sharing the ongoing reality that unfolds in her (author) life, hope is found. Redemption occurs. God is still present and accepts you for who you are. No matter her perspective in each trial, Jess Ronne journals and prays that God would heal and help. And through it all, she recognizes and shares how Gods hand was bringing beauty from the darkness, and preparing her for each season of life and living. If you want encouragement that you can “keep livin” through anything, this memoir will be that for you. Thankful that I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s a book that I know many whom it will benefit, and I needed this perspective in my own search for the sunlight burning at midnight. It’s a testimony of truth and shows Gods glory beyond and in life’s messes

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Here's a trailer of the book on Youtube from Jesse Ronne....

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Book Review: Laugh it Up by Candance Payne


I never know what to think about a book from someone who has viral fame and then gets to write a book.  I honestly ordered this book as a pre-order because I wanted to read her story and find out if her fame was the video, or if the viral video was a tool that God used to give her a platform.  I can tell you-- God uses even chewbacca viral video to bring a person to the forefront, and give her a book!! 

This book will touch many lives. I've already been impressed to see how many people that in my world I consider famous- like Donalyn Miller author of the Book Whisper, who was on the plane with Candace and can't wait to read this book!  

I loved the illustrations for each chapter that she drew to help illustrate the concept. It brings to life her life story that is told with brutal truth, sorrow, and how she found joy in her life. I found that I laughed out loud and felt like she was talking right with me.


She shares her brokenness and struggle but shows how joy breaks through in all things. Her approach is real. Easily related to. Her faith is clear. Her tips are practical, simple, yet packed with wisdom.  She's honest, an ordinary person, minus a few special events because of her viral video and new platform, and that makes it even better to read her strategies and story for 'counting it all joy.'

I ordered a pre release copy and was blessed to get a PDF version in advance to read. But this is my opinion only. And I can't wait to get the book in my hands to highlight and read again. Practical advice and clear hope.