Tuesday, April 26

This Little Prayer of Mine

Tonight we read a sweet little picture book: "This Little Prayer of Mine."  I asked my 5 and 6 year old daughters what they thought about it after we read the last page.

Beth said, "I like it but I do like other books better."

Olivia said, "I like it because there is a kitty in it!"

Milena said, "I like the kitty, too!"

As you can see, my daughters like animals.  Animals get their attention better than cute little kiddos like themselves.  (In case you're wondering, the "kitty" in the book is a gift to an old man who needs cheering up).  My kiddos do admittedly like other books more than this one.  Still, that didn't keep them from asking me to read it to them again and again!

From a mommy perspective, I like this book because it doesn't teach just rote prayers like some children's praying books do.  This book is an example of a brother and sister's prayer and they pray about everything, "without ceasing" as the bible tells us we should do.  It shows what a real childlike relationship with God can look like and it shows that we can call on God not just when we need something, but when we're sad, alone, scared, left out, and even selfish.  It's a great book and I definitely recommend it!

The wonderful people at Waterbrook Multnomah provided me this book in order to facilitate a thoughtful and honest review. 

The Girl in the Gatehouse... just like Jane Austen!

I fell in love with Miss Julie Klassen's writing voice upon finishing the first sentence of "The Girl in the Gatehouse."  So reminiscent of Jane Austen, this book could've been written by her... if it had been written 100 years ago and if Miss Austen would have had more mystery in her books.  I've tried other wannabe-Austen writers, but this is the only book that held my interest for more than a paragraph.

I love literary classics and, as you can tell by now, Jane Austen is one of my favorite classic writers along with Louisa May Alcott.  There are also hints of Alcott's influence in this book, too.  If you read it, you'll find the conclusion very reminiscent of an event in "Little Women."  Julie Klassen goes a step above Jane Austen, who didn't write faith into her books (with the exception of, perhaps, walks to church on Sundays).  "The Girl in the Gatehouse" is a story of God's love for us, redemption, and grace.  It's a timeless tale, and one we all need reminding of.

The heroine, Mariah Aubrey, is incredibly likable, witty, and sometimes feisty.  She's actually based on a minor Austen character of the same name.  The reader likes her almost instantly even though she has obvious, unlikeable flaws.  We see Mariah's character change and we see how God is working even her mistakes out for her own good and, as the pages turn, we see Him drawing her to Himself.  Oh, and the mystery!  This book is so wonderfully full of it and the way it all comes together in the end is both enchanting and exciting!

When it comes to fiction, I'm hesitant to review something by an author I haven't read before.  I have a high standard when it comes to books, especially fiction books. If a book doesn't speak to my heart on numerous levels, I feel it's a waste of time in a world that speeds by too quickly to be wasting that precious commodity!  Julie Klassen's "The Girl in the Gatehouse" is not only written exceedingly well, but it's a gem of a book.  My only reservation is that it's so hard to put down!  I've got a new favorite author and that hasn't happened since I discovered George MacDonald 2 years ago (his books are also the perfect combination of mystery, Jesus, romance, and history).

Now, if you head over to Amazon, you can read the first few pages of "The Girl in the Gatehouse" by using their "Look Inside" feature.

This book was provided to me by the wonderful people at Bethany House in exchange for a thoughtful and honest review!

A Collection of Wednesdays, A Passionate Read!

Each of us waits, like the sleeping Juliet, to be awakened by our Lover's compassionate kiss, to be awakened by a Lover who has already died and lives now to love us.  I am a believer in this Lover.  I too wait for Him to come and awaken me.  I believe in Him with passion... I decided... that I would be a person who lives with passion, and that I would allow God Himself to be the fuel of that passion.

So ends the first chapter of Miss Amy Gaither Hayes' new book, A Collection of Wednesdays: Creating a Whole from the Parts.  This book stirred my heart from the beginning.  Not only do its pages contain thought-provoking, heartfelt anecdotes but beautiful literary poems also grace those pages.

While working towards my Associates degree in Creative Writing, I took two poetry classes.  I'm not at all a poet, but my brother was and I sincerely appreciate great poetry.  If you aren't familiar with literary poetry you may have a hard time reading Miss Hayes'.  It doesn't rhyme, though it does have rhythm.  It's more like trains of thought.  I love her poetry; it spoke to my heart many times and flowed so well with the stories in her book.  The devotionals and memoirs in the book were also very eloquently written at times and often seemed a bit like poetry themselves.  The author writes about ordinary things but shows us how precious those everyday things really are.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not easily impressed by modern books.  I've read too many eloquent authors whose works have fed my soul and changed my life to be able to enjoy "just anything."  But within the first few pages of A Collection of Wednesdays, my eyes misted as my heart was touched by the words and by God.  Miss Hayes is a woman after my own heart and I hope to see more from her.  If you like to read memoirs, poetry, love Jesus (or want to), and long to be a more passionate woman in every aspect of your life, you won't be disappointed in this Collection.

I was blessed with this book by the wonderful people at Zondervan to facilitate a thoughtful and honest review.

Thursday, April 14

How to Be God's Little Princess: Royal Tips of Manners and Etiquette for Girls

Let's face it. Being a princess is not as easy as some might think... I have some wonderful news. That's where grace comes in! What is grace? Grace is God's free gift of unconditional love poured out on all His princesses. That means you are as loved on your good days as your bad days. It means that there is nothing in the entire world that can keep you from God's love or keep His love from you. The best news of all is that when you are God's princess you don't have to get it right all the time. Being God's princess is not about being perfect, it's about being perfectly loved... And now... let's take a look at all the things a princess might need to know.

So begins Miss Walsh's book How to Be God's Little Princess: Royal Tips of Manners and Etiquette for Girls. It's for any little girl because, after all, every little girl is a princess because her Father is the King. And, honestly, that intro touched my own heart. Even we grown-up princesses sometimes need to remember what grace really is and that we are daughters of a wonderful King, too.

I homeschool my daughters and we're using this as the textbook for a fun class on, you guessed it, "Royal Manners and Etiquette for Girls." The idea that every girl is a princess is one that I think of often (I'm actually writing a YA novel about that very thing) so as soon as I saw this book, I wanted it for my little girls. They already believe they are princesses inside because Jesus is the King but, as 5 and 6 year olds, their manners and etiquette need a little work. This book is a fun way to teach them those things.  It teaches everyday things like how to be respectful and use good table manners and dress modestly, spiritual things like how to love Jesus and how to live in grace, fun things like how to make tiaras and party invitations and how to bake pink cookies, and silly things like how to bathe a royal dog.

I think this book is spectacular and believe it would benefit any little girl from 5 to 12. It helps girls to understand what it mean to be a real princess, a Jesus-is-my-Savior kind of princess, and it does it in a fun, easy going way. I've seen some reviewers saying that the biblical message isn't present in every section and so they gave it 3 stars, but I don't find that to be true--God relates to every part of our lives and is very evident in this book.  Even though the author doesn't point Him out in every little section, He's there through and through!

I give How to Be God's Little Princess 5 stars but don't just take my word for it. Head on over to Amazon or Christianbook.com and read it for yourself here!  By the way, this book is a nice hardcover & it's only $7.99 at Christianbook.com (a better price than Amazon's $9.99).

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson to facilitate an honest and thoughtful review.

Monday, April 4

Galileo, the Christian Encounters Series

Galileo is the first I've read in the Christian Encounters series.  I love Christian biographies--they encourage me to be more for God and they show me that amazing people weren't perfect and often fell short.  They had their own problems but God still used them to do glorious, amazing things.

Galileo was a man like that.  He wouldn't bow down to "the Church" of his day or the scientific community when their beliefs and ideas were wrong.  No one wanted to believe the earth was round, whether that was true or not.  They didn't want anyone questioning their long held traditions because of the control those traditions and thoughts held over the people.  Thinking of this book makes me think of the scripture, "Let God be true and every man a liar."

Perhaps you didn't realize Galileo was a Christian.  After all, he was excommunicated by the church as a heretic.  Well, so were Martin Luther and William Tyndale, who defied the Catholic church around the same time.  They brought about the Protestant Reformation and brought the Word of God to the common people.  

This book opened up my eyes about this amazing man.  He not only made amazing strides in Science and Mathematics, but was also a man whose "love of words would change the style of Italian literature."  A man after my own heart! In more ways than one... I didn't realize before that Galileo was a Christian but that doesn't surprise me--the way the public education system has completely rewritten history and removed any mention of true Christianity is despicable.  Judge a man not by what the religious "leaders" of his day did or believed in, but judge him by his own words and actions.  After he was condemned as a heretic by the church, he wrote:

This afflicts me less than people may think possible, for I have two sources of perpetual comfort--first, that in my writings there cannot be found the faintest shadow of irreverence toward the Holy Church; and second, the testimony of my own conscience, which only I and God in Heaven thoroughly know.  And He knows that in this cause for which I suffer, though many might have spoken with more learning, none, not even the ancient Fathers, have spoken with more piety or greater zeal for the Church than I.

I found the various Christian quotes to be just as interesting as the amazing discoveries of Galileo.  He obviously had strong convictions as a Christian and as a Scientist. He was not arguing for secular Science over the Bible--he believed his Scientific ideas and his Christian ideas were both true.  I like books like this that reveal that God and Science aren't incompatible--after all, any Scientific truth will never contradict the Truth of God's Word because He is the Creator of both.

I received this book for free from Booksneeze to facilitate an honest and thoughtful review.