Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Stuff I Like | July 2019



Well, now that we are halfway through August, let me tell you about things I liked in July!

First off, these two moose that we saw in July were pretty cool.








Pina Colada Iced Tea

When we went to Seattle last fall, Derek and I visited MarketSpice at the Seattle Market.  Man, I wished I could bring home every type of tea they had in there, but I restrained myself.  When we got home, I looked up MarketSpice to see if you could order tea, and you can!  Alot of their loose-leaf teas end up being cheaper than teas you can buy in the grocery store, even with shipping, as long as you buy 6-8 at a time.  So in the Spring I ordered several summer teas, and this was one of them.  It is so good with a little sweetener, it almost gives me dessert vibes!

Skinny Syrups

Speaking of sweetener, I was browsing in HomeGoods the other day and ran across these bottles of flavored syrups in the food aisle.  They are sugar-free, but I think they still taste pretty good, without that weird sugar-free aftertaste.  I bought a few and have been using them for my iced coffee and tea this summer, and they are so yummy!  So far the Coconut and Mango are my favorites.  The coconut is really good with the Pina Colada tea.

Moss And Lichen Nature Journal

These free nature journal worksheets are just too inspiring not to share!  I wish I could draw as well as she does.

Tarte Shade Shifting Color Splash Lipstick

Tarte was having a really good sale, and I tend to like their makeup, so I decided to try some lipstick. These shades are really fun because they are somewhat iridescent, without being over-the-top!  I got them in "Bodysurf" and "Sunlit", and I really like both.  They are coming on vacation with me this week.

Tarte Sizzle Eyeshadow Palette

While we are on the topic of makeup, I have to say, I really like Tarte's "Rainforest Of The Sea" eyeshadows.  They are a nice consistency and really pigmented, and if you aren't a crazy makeup artist (as I'm not), the shades are perfect.  I really like the Sizzle palette this summer, and this one has been my go-to for a while now.  Just put a lighter shade on your lid, and one of the darker shades on the outer half of your lid and your crease, and I really don't think you can go wrong.  They blend so well, and all the shades are really neutral and brightening. (And if $36 seems like too much for an eyeshadow palette, try to catch one of the sales on their website - you can often get them for $20 on sale.)

The Princess And The Goblin by George MacDonald

I've mentioned that a few friends and I are trying to read more classics together this year.  We just finished up The Great Gatsby, and our next pick is The Princess And The Goblin.  I read through almost half the book in just a few days!  It's a fairytale written by a Christian minister in 1872, and it is delightful.  I really like some of the little subtle virtues he's giving Princess Irene, like this line:

"'What a strange creature you are," said the nurse - "first to want a thing and then to refuse it!'
But she did not say it crossly, and the princess never minded any remarks that were not unfriendly."

I just love that so much, because that is the kind of person I am trying to be, and the kind of person I want my daughters to be.  I know so many people who take offense to any comment that rubs them wrong, and I've been that way too at times.  And because of that, I know how exhausting it is.  It's so much better to have an attitude of never minding any remarks that aren't unfriendly.

It's also free on Kindle, so check it out!

Apollo 11: What We Saw

In case you didn't know, July was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing!  This is a podcast that goes over the history of the moon landing, and also kind of places it in it's cultural context so you can understand how important that moment was (besides the obvious reasons).  Derek and I have listened to two of the four episodes, and I think we'll listen to the rest as we are traveling to Cape Canaveral on vacation!

Speaking of vacation, I'm supposed to be finished packing today, so I better finish this and go to it!  If you have any tips for where to eat or things to see in Miami and Orlando, send them my way, and you can follow me on Instagram to see what we are up to!

A Serial Killer's Daughter | A Review



Occasionally I'll get on a true crime kick, and it was one of those days when I found out about this book and requested it to review.  I am usually interested in true crime because I like to see how law enforcement solves the crime and catches the bad guy.  And I guess it should have been obvious from the title, but this was not that sort of book. However, it made me think alot more about the families of criminals and how they are affected by these crimes.  It's not something I considered that much before, and I'm glad I read this memoir for that reason.

Kerri Rawson was an adult when she found out that her father was the BTK (Blind-Torture-Kill) killer.  I just cannot even imagine the shock of that.

Most of the book is Kerri sharing some of her childhood memories of her dad, particularly different situations that she would later come to correlate to the times of his crimes.  The picture painted here is just surprisingly...normal.  She describes her father's sometimes erratic moods, and a couple occasions when he did physically abuse his family, but most of her memories are not terrible.  The family was never tormented by their father in the way he tormented his victims.  He was living a complete double life, and no one had any idea or inkling that he could have done something like this until he was arrested.

Kerri shares some of her journey of faith in Christ through the book, and the trauma and healing she had to go through when she found out what her dad had done.  I was so sad for her.  She loved her father, and still loved him even after he was arrested.  She continued to communicate with him and attempted to show him love and encourage him to get help, even while she was hurting so badly.  I thought that was inspiring, and also heartbreaking at times when her father failed to show proper remorse.

There is no tidy way to wrap up a memoir like this, but Kerri still manages to end the book on a hopeful note.  Though I can tell I have some theological differences, I appreciated her inclusion of how Christ died to save us from our sins and will forgive us when we turn to Him.  This book was hard to read in many parts, but it gave me a new perspective on the true crime genre, and alot to think about.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.


Book Snobbery



I drag two chairs together, and spray sunscreen on my legs because I plan to be outside for a while.  The kids are jumping on the trampoline, until one of them shouts "Let's ride bikes!" and they head to the other side of the house.  I settle in the chair, and I can hear my children calling to each other, birds chirping in the trees, grass rustling in the breeze, distant cars on the highway across the hills, and ice melting in my glass.  I lean back in my chair, my head in the shade from the patio umbrella and my feet in the summer sun.  This is my ideal summer day - nothing to do, nowhere to go, kids playing happily, and a book in my hand.

To me, Summer is the season of reading a bunch of books that I don't have to read.  This summer has been pretty successful on that front - I've read alot, and I've been able to get through books quickly!  It's been refreshing, since it usually takes me months to finish any one book.  I've been reading alot, and as if to up my book-nerdy-ness quotient, I've also been watching a bunch of book-related videos on Youtube, which has been so fun!  I've discovered new channels, and the whole community kind of reminds me of what blogging was like back in the early days.  Just the average person, putting their thoughts out there and making friends.

Anyway, one of the channels I've been watching created this "tag".  Remember the old "awards" that used to go around blogland in the day, and they came with a list of questions that you had to answer?  This is like one of those!  I thought I'd answer the questions here (and maybe on Youtube too), just for fun.  Feel free to grab these if you want (you can give credit to the original tag here).  Then we can evaluate our book-snobbiness together!



1. Adaptation Snob: Do you always read the book before you see the movie?

I actually do not have any requirements for reading books before watching the movie. In fact, my philosophy is quite the opposite. Sometimes if I would like to read a book but haven't been able to get myself to pick it up, I'll actually seek out the movie version and watch that first. Often when I watch the movie first and enjoy it, it actually makes me more interested in reading the book.

2. Format Snob: You can only choose 1 format in which to read books for the rest of your life. Which one do you choose: physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

Oh, this is a hard one. I think I'd have to say physical books, but a little part of me wants to say audiobooks because I listen to books so much these days. But I don't think I'd want to give up actually holding a physical book in my hands.

3. Ship Snob: Would you date or marry a non-reader?

Yes, I would, and I did. Derek reads some, but he wouldn't call himself a "reader". I don't think you have to share all the same interests to be in a relationship with someone, and when you get down to it, reading is just a hobby, just one way of gathering information or learning or being entertained. And on the flip side, I think if reading is the only way you are getting information or being entertained, you actually could be limiting yourself a little. Being with someone who isn't exactly like you in this area could help you branch out and become more well-rounded yourself, just as you might challenge another person by introducing them to books you like. Derek and I have all kinds of interesting and intellectual discussions, so I don't think reading alot or not reading as much is a factor in that. If you are not married yet, don't be a snob in this area! There are alot more important filters to sift your dates through than if you share one particular hobby or means of gathering information.

4. Genre Snob: You have to ditch one genre - never to be read again for the rest of your life. Which one do you ditch?

Horror, because I never read that anyway, ha!

5. Uber Genre Snob: You can only choose to read from one genre for the rest of your life. Which genre do you choose?

Ouch, this is painful. I guess I would say "Non-fiction", because I'm an information person. I read books to gather information as well as a means of entertainment, and I think I can get both of those from non-fiction.  


Except don't let me think about books like Lord Of The Rings, or Anne Of Green Gables, or Chronicles of Narnia, because then I'll be so sad. Maybe I meant to say "Classics" instead. That would encompass all my favorite books, so that might be a better choice.  


It would definitely be one of those two though.


6. Community Snob: Which genre do you think receives the most snobbery from the bookish community?


I would probably say Christian Romance books (in my circles anyway), and I think it may or may not be warranted. On the one hand, alot of Christian Romance books are not super well written, or filled with cliche plot lines, or surprisingly racy while still managing to be a little preachy in not a good way. On the other hand, there are some good ones out there, and sometimes you just want a light and fluffy read that you can enjoy without sifting though inappropriate content, and a good Christian Romance is your safest bet for that. I've read plenty of books from this genre that I've enjoyed at one time or another, and plenty that I haven't.

7. Snobbery Recipient: Have you ever been snubbed for something that you have been reading or for reading in general?

You know...no, not really. I haven't had any comments directed toward me specifically anyway. But I'm also a little oblivious to other people's judgement, so maybe someone has been snobby to me about it and I just haven't noticed. I think generally speaking, readers/intellectual readers are a little more likely to be snobby toward non-readers/light readers than the other way around, but I haven't personally encountered that from either direction.





So basically I don't think I'm much of a book snob, ha! I do have specific tastes or things in books that I like or don't like, and I'm not shy about sharing my opinion (as anyone who follows my Goodreads reviews will know). But I do try not to be snobby toward people if someone else has a different opinion about specific books or reading in general. People are in different places and want different things from their reading, and I think that's okay.


Reader friends, feel free to snag the questions if you want, or tell me what you think in a comment! I'd love to read your answers.

Stuff I Like | June 2019


I have a few fun finds from June to share!

$1 Summer Movies

In case you weren't aware of it, a lot of theaters play older kids' movies in the morning in the summer and charge only $1 for admission.  (See this post for a general list, or just google "one dollar summer movies" in your area). The kids and I went to see "Turbo" with friends a few weeks ago, and I'm hoping we can catch a couple of the other movies before the summer is over!  Especially having a bigger family, we rarely get to go to the movies because it's so expensive for all of us - so this is one of our best chances to see something in the theater!  We don't care if it's an older movie.

Poesie

One of my recent goals is to read more poetry.  I have always struggled to find poetry that resonates with me.  I came across this app, which makes my attempt at poetry appreciation a little more fun -  the app has a daily poem, but it also has a bunch of free poems you can read within the app, organized by author or mood.  I actually found a couple poems I like this way!  However, the art choices for some of the category covers are a little...um, questionable, so don't let your kids poke around on there.

Colorized Photos

I ran across this album on Facebook, which contains iconic pictures that someone has taken and colorized.  Oh my goodness, they are amazing.  You know how sometimes you look at an old black and white picture and the person in it almost doesn't seem real?  The way these photos are colorized makes you feel like you are sitting right there in the scene, like you could have lived right next to these people.  It's just really neat.  I especially liked this one taken on D-Day, the ones of Einstein and Churchill, and this one from the Civil War.

Never Grow Up by Brooke White

I am a big fan of JJ Heller's lullaby album, and I know many of you are too.  Well, this album by Brooke White kind of reminds me of that other album.  The sound is a little different, but the lyrics are still all about memories with children and babies and growing up, with a bit of a lullaby quality to some of the songs.  I found it a few months back, but I've been enjoying it again in the last week!

The Far Country by Andrew Peterson

Another album I've enjoyed this month!  Once again, what makes the album for me is the lyrics.  The theme of this album seems to be the ultimate destination for the believer in Christ - which is Heaven - and looking ahead to the unseen in faith.  I think this is just a nice one to play in the background around the house on a quiet summer afternoon, and I've found it encouraging.

Note: Both of those albums are on Amazon Music if you are a Prime member.

Alma Classics

Some friends and I decided we want to read more classic books together, so we've started a little classics book club.  Of course, if I'm going to be reading all these classics, I can't think of a better opportunity to search out pretty copies to add to my collection while we are at it!  Unfortunately, the UK seems to have a monopoly on all the really pretty editions of classics, but I will not be deterred.  I found a couple of the classics on my list through online used book retailers, and one of the publishers I search for is Alma Classics.  They print paperback copies, but the covers are definitely some of the prettier ones available in the US, and usually you can find reasonably priced copies online.  Here's the Alma Classics copy of The Great Gatsby, which I recently bought for book club:



Kiddie Pools

This is probably going to make me sound a little hillbilly-ish, but there is just not much that is nicer on a hot summer afternoon (when you have five little kids) than to sit on the back porch in the sunshine, reading a book with your feet in the kiddie pool while the kids play.  It's nicer than taking them to a real pool for sure, because they are all right there in front of me so I don't have to worry so much about taking my eyes off them, since I can literally stretch my legs and touch them.  Nothing bad is going to happen if I read for a few minutes, because they are two feet from me.  But we still get the benefit of water!

Chirp Books

This is a new audiobook deal website!  I found out about it early, because I am also signed up for BookBub's ebook deal emails.  They have some good audiobook deals on here though, and a few different titles that I am interested in!  I'm just sitting on it for now while I think about which ones I should consider buying, but I figured I'd share with my fellow audiobook-lovers in the meantime.

Do you have any good finds from June?  Please share!







My Homeschool Mom Summer Reading List



Even thought this post is going to be about my summer reading list as a homeschool mom, this is actually the first summer since I started homeschooling my kids that I don't feel an urgency to read a bunch of books about homeschooling over the summer.  Maybe it's because I've started to settle into being a homeschool mom and have become more comfortable with my philosophy and what I'm doing - or maybe I'm just more in need of a break from homeschool stuff now that we are really in it!

Either way, I still think the summer is a great time for me to build up my internal encouragement stock, and homeschool books and talks do that for me.  These are the books that I'm looking at reading this summer.  I took June completely off from homeschool planning, and it was good for me, but I'm ready to tackle these in July and August.



The Underground History Of American Education Volume One by John Taylor Gatto - If you don't know who Gatto is, he won a big "teacher of the year" award, and then promptly quit teaching and spent the rest of his life pointing out some of the problems he saw with the public education system.  His story is always interesting because of what a sharp turnaround he appeared to make.  This particular book is about the history of our public education system in America, including a look at the methods that are used in public schools and where they came from.  I'm expecting to be fascinated.

Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erikson - I have the opportunity to review this book on the blog (coming soon.  It's about dealing with insecurities as a homeschool mom.  I've read the first couple chapters and already feel encouraged, so I'm really looking forward to the rest of it.  Keep an eye out here for the review when I'm finished with it!

Plan Your Year by Pam Barnhill - I found a planning method that I really liked and used last year, but I figure there is always room to tweak things, so I was interested to read this book about planning out the homeschool year.  I'm hoping to pick up a few tips, since I'm still fine-tuning my planning process!




Know And Tell by Karen Glass - Karen Glass has written several books that take a deep dive into different aspects of Charlotte Mason education.  This book goes into depth on narration - what it is, why it's important, and how to do it right.  I am actually not a hard-core Charlotte Mason person, but I do like several of her methods, and narration is one I try to incorporate into our homeschool.  Narration is just the practice of having your child tell you what they learned after reading aloud.  I credit our (rather pathetic) attempts at narration for improving my kids' listening skills during read alouds, so I'm hoping to finish this book and pick up a few more tips!

The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart - If you have ever heard of Brave Writer, Julie Bogart is the creator of that writing curriculum (if you can call it that?  I don't really get Brave Writer).  We don't currently use Brave Writer, but this book still looked interesting to me.  I'd say it looks like a book with general homeschool encouragement, and tips on how to make learning a joy.  I have listened to part of this already, and I'm looking forward to finishing it!



Of course if you want to know my thoughts on each of these books, follow me on Goodreads to keep up with all my reviews!  You can also check out one of my previous homeschool mom summer reading lists.

(Georgie is always following me around the house, and she plopped herself right in my picture and started shouting "cheese!" at me, ha!)

Fellow homeschool moms, what has been your favorite book about homeschooling?  Anything I should add to my "to-read" stack?

Wooing Caddie McCaffery | A Mini Review



I'm going to do something a little different for this book review today and keep it short and sweet on my actual blog.  If you want the long version of what I thought about this book, head on over to Goodreads for my full breakdown.

I haven't read a Christian "chick-lit" type book in a long time, but I was at a point in my reading life when I really wanted something light and fun, so I requested Wooing Cadie McCaffery by Bethany Turner. The description said that in this book, Will and Cadie have been in a relationship for a while, and Cadie decides it's going nowhere and calls things off.  Then Will tries to win her back through emulating famous romantic comedy movies.

Sounds cute and fun, right?  I started reading the book and I initially loved it.  The characters were quirky, the writing was fun and light, just like I needed.

Then suddenly the two characters who were supposed to be Christians committed to purity before marriage slept together.  And now this book is dealing with a pretty serious situation where these characters have to deal with how this sin has affected their relationship, and it's all a mess and just not a fun, light book anymore.

I was particularly annoyed with this book because it did not fit my expectations, and it was not the light read I was needing.  I felt like it promised something that it did not deliver.  I also thought the topic of what to do after falling into sin was really weakly dealt with in the book. There were some ridiculous parental characters that I just couldn't get behind.  And there were lots of examples of what I will teach my children NOT to do in a relationship.  Some of these situations and miscommunications were probably supposed to be funny, but with some of the heaviness in the plot, and also because of my frustration at this book not being what I expected, the misunderstanding tropes were just painful.

By the end I was so ready to be done with this book.  I'm disappointed because it started out so strong.

If you want more specifics, you can read my full review of Wooing Cadie McCaffery on Goodreads.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Summer Hold List



If you don't like to read or were just living under a rock last week, you might have missed that Anne Bogel put out her annual summer reading guide.  I have to say, every year this guide does kind of kick off the summer reading season for me.  I'm fairly sure that Bogel and I do not share quite the same tastes, but she still rounds up some interesting ones each year, and I enjoy branching out and trying fiction books I wouldn't normally pick up.

This is how it usually goes - I request the books that looked interesting, and somewhere around the beginning of June they all come in at once.  Then I spend the next two weeks reading a chapter here and there to try to figure out which ones are worth committing to, and which ones I can discard.



This year I thought I'd share which books on her list caught my eye and why!  I cannot guarantee that these books are ones that I will, in fact, like or recommend.  There has been many a book from past guides that I have abandoned part-way through after I figured out that I was bored, or that it wasn't for me for some other reason.

I'll try to post updates on which ones I actually read and enjoy as they come in, but for now, these ones are the books that are on my hold list at the library!




The River by Peter Heller 
A disastrous adventure/mystery story set in the wilds of Canada?  I just rediscovered "I Shouldn't Be Alive" and binge-watched it a few weeks ago, so sign me up for this one.



Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson 
I just started a different book by this author, and her style is fun to read, plus I have a thing for southern fiction.  This one sounds like a mystery and involves a book club, so I had to give it a try.




Recursion by Blake Crouch 
I should probably read Dark Matter (by the same author) before I read this one, huh?  Since Dark Matter has been sitting on my shelf and all.  I do sometimes enjoy action books with a little bit of science fiction thrown in, and this one sounds like it involves medical science, which is usually up my alley.




Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey 
I'm very skeptical of secular chick-lit/romance novels, but this one sounds like it stays fairly PG-13 (I will update on this).  A screenwriter works with an annoying actor, but then I'm assuming she eventually falls for him.  Cliche, but I like some light fiction in the summer.



Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald 
I suspect this book has some sort of time-travel element, which I am all there for.  I at least have to try it!




The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson 
Beauty pageants and a Jane Austen retelling?  How could I not pick this one up?




The Island Of Sea Women by Lisa See
This is about an isolated culture on a South Korean Island, where all the women go fishing to support their families.  Apparently this is based on a true place or true events.  I like reading book set in other countries and cultures, but I've had mixed luck with this type of book.  We'll see how I like it.




The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth
I don't typically like terrible mother-in-law stories, but this one sounds like it could be a little redemptive - even though I think the plot involves the mother-in-law being murdered.  Yikes!  The mystery element interested me though.  I don't know about this one, I'll report back.




Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen 
I read one other book by this author a while back, and it was pretty depressing to be honest, but it was a page-turner.  It's also a mystery, which I'm typically drawn to.  So I might try this one.  Or I might not.




The Inheritance by Dani Shapiro 
The only nonfiction book I picked from the guide. I have no idea who Dani Shapiro even is, all I know is that there is some family secret she unearthed that was fairly shocking (don't tell me if you know), and this book is her memoir about it.  Sounds good to me.




The Unlikely Adventures Of The Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Three sisters who haven't seen each other in years travel to Punjab to scatter their mother's ashes.  Once again, I was interested because I like reading fiction books set in foreign cultures.  This is some sort of family drama.  Anne says the author keeps it light-hearted even though the sisters are keeping some serious secrets.  I'll give it a shot.




Hope And Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum
This one involves a mystery surrounding 9/11 and two of its survivors.  I believe this is YA, which I have mixed feelings about typically, but the plot sounded interesting.



Okay, that's it!  Once again, please do not take these as recommendations, because I have no idea if they are decent or not!  They just caught my eye.  I will update this post with my reactions to these books and whether I actually read them or not.

Did any of you take a look at Bogel's Summer Reading Guide yet? 
Which books piqued your interest?  
Have you found any winners from her past summer guides?




Grumpy Mom Takes A Holiday - A Review



Are you all ready for a really long review? (I'm sorry in advance, but I couldn't make it shorter.)

I saw Grumpy Mom Takes A Holiday by Valerie Woerner when a blog friend shared a few really good lines from one of the chapters.  I've developed an aversion to books written for Christian women in general, but I thought the points from the book that my friend shared were really interesting, so I decided to give it a go.  And I do have thoughts.  A lot of thoughts.

Before I start, I just want to say up front that I really agonized over this review for one main reason - I'm really hoping the author will read this review.

I'm hoping she will read it because I think she is actually really talented.  It's no small thing to write a book, and her voice is relatable and fun.   I can tell that she really has a heart for the Lord and wants to serve the Lord well, and that goes a long way in my book.  She also mentions a few times in the book the value of having a teachable spirit and being able to listen to a critique.  I do have some critiques to give that I think are really important.  I'm hoping the author reads this because I have no doubt that she will write another book in the future, and I hope she can consider these points when she does.

First, let's talk about what she did well!



Positives

This is such a great topic for a book in today's culture.  I fully agree with the author's assessment of the problems with being a grumpy mom, and how the different aspects of modern mom culture (like wearing "hot mess" like a badge and one-upping each other on how little sleep we got, for example)  are only contributing to our general grumpiness about motherhood.  Her chapter on not being constantly offended is right on the money, while also being really self-aware of her own areas of weakness when it comes to being offended.  She hit on alot of great points throughout this book, and really did a great job in pointing out some of the problems in our collective attitudes about motherhood.

As I said, her voice is also really relatable, and the writing was overall fun to read.  Alot of her personal stories reminded me of the days when my kids were a little younger, and also of some of my own struggles as a mom right now!  This book does an excellent job of letting mothers know they are not alone in their struggles, and that I think is definitely valuable.

Negatives

This is the not-so-fun part for me.  I feel like I need to preface this section with saying that to me, this book actually felt like two separate books.  I felt like the underlying focus of the advice in the first 40% of the book, and the last 3 or 4 chapters was completely different than the middle. The first part and the last few chapters were mostly focused on more secular concepts with a Christian twist (by secular concepts, I mean concepts that would apply to anyone, secular or Christian, or that you could read in many psychology or self-help books), while the middle was packed with many more Bible references and a more biblical approach to the problems.

I don't know that much about the book writing/editing process, but it felt like the first part and the last part were written at the same time, and then the section in the middle was written later during a period when she grew in her faith and biblical knowledge.  If I'm right, it's a great thing that her outlook grew to focus more on Scripture.  For the sake of the book, it was not a great thing that the book couldn't all have been written after she decided which type of advice she wanted to focus on, because like I said, it felt like two completely different books.  All that to say, some of the critiques I give below are more prominent in the first half and last few chapters.


1.The gospel is poorly presented (and even misrepresented) in this book.

I am bringing this up as someone who has made the same mistakes in my writing in the past, so I hope it can be read with that in mind.

It was clear that the author was addressing her book to an audience that are already believers in Christ. The problem is that in the current culture, you can’t assume that everyone who picks up a Christian “self-help” type book will actually be a Christian. Especially with a title like “Grumpy Mom Takes A Holiday” - all kinds of moms who struggle with grumpiness will be picking this up. As a Christian author, you have to keep this in mind.  If any nonbelievers pick this book up, it will do them absolutely no eternal good if they learn how to be less grumpy at their kids, but they still don’t know what it means to be saved.

In the first few paragraphs the author assured the reader that the Holy Spirit will help her on this journey.  She can make no such assurance though, because unbelievers do not have the Holy Spirit. 

There are two things that need to happen to explain the gospel - you need to tell WHY we need to be saved, and tell HOW we can be saved. Unfortunately, the book missed the mark on both counts.  

Just to be clear, the gospel is NOT that God will help us to be better, less grumpy people. The gospel is not about doing our best for God.  The gospel is not about God helping us live our lives more abundantly. The gospel is not about self improvement.  Some of those things can RESULT from the gospel, but it’s not how we are saved.

Unfortunately alot of this book gives the impression that this is all there is to being a Christian, because the actual gospel is never explained in full, though in some of the middle chapters it is touched on.

The author makes an attempt to explain the gospel in Chapter 9 after admitting that until fairly recently, she was relying on works to save her, until she realized she could never do enough. But I was disappointed when the only thing she described being freed from was her “guilt” (not her sin and it’s consequences). She prays “Only you can save me from my own requirements for righteousness that I put on myself.” 

The problem is not that we are guilty of not living up to our own standards. We are guilty of not living up to GOD’S standard (Romans 3:23), and His standard is perfection, because He is perfectly holy. We have earned nothing for ourselves but eternal punishment in Hell, because we have sinned against an eternal God and broken His laws (Romans 6:23Matthew 25:46).  Even our supposed good deeds are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6).  We cannot pay this sin-debt, we cannot make ourselves righteous.  Which is why we need Jesus, because HE is the only one who meets God’s standard (Corinthians 5:21), and He took our punishment for us. 

God loves us, and because He loves us, He didn’t leave us in our sins, but provided a way for us to be saved. God became a man, Jesus who was fully man and fully God. He lived the sinless life that we couldn’t, and then died in our place, paying the penalty for our sin. Then He rose again, defeating sin and death, proving He was God! And now all we must do to be saved is repent, meaning to be sorry for our sin and turn to Jesus, putting our faith in Him to save us and not in any work of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we do that, He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), so we can stand blameless before God. He also gives us the Holy Spirit, who then empowers us to live no longer for ourselves but for Christ.

I’m not saying the author doesn’t understand the gospel, I think she does because of different things she writes. But no one could read this book and put the gospel together unless they already knew the gospel themselves.  Elements of the full gospel are scattered in various phrases throughout the book, but it’s like a super-confusing Easter egg hunt, one that starts with the results of the gospel and works backward. But even the reason Jesus died for us is never explained, His resurrection never mentioned. 

The whole gospel is awfully hard to find in this book amidst all these disjointed and missing puzzle pieces, and perhaps an opportunity to reach unbelieving moms who pick up this book is missed. Worse, I’m afraid that because our sin problem isn’t addressed and the gospel isn’t fully explained, some may leave with a confusion about what it really even means to be a Christian. This is so important to get right in any Christian nonfiction book, in my opinion, and the lack of a clear explanation of how to be saved was my biggest problem with the book.



2. There was more of a focus on self-help than biblical advice.

A lot of the advice in this book is repackaged self-help, with a few Bible passages sprinkled in to support her points. I thought this was a shame. The Bible actually has a ton to say about complaining, selfishness, worry, grumbling, unthankfulness...all the things that make us act like grumpy moms. This book could have been so Biblically rooted if the author had started with the Bible and worked out from there, but she often starts with her own thoughts (many of which are not that different from other self-help books) and her own experiences with Christian living, and then the biblical references felt tacked on in order to support her points.

In all fairness, this critique applies more toward the beginning and last few chapters of the book. She hit a better note in the middle. 


3. She seemed afraid to address the actual root cause of being a grumpy mom. 

The truth is, we are not grumpy just because we aren’t flexible enough. We’re not grumpy because we don’t take enough time for self-care, or because we rely too much on chocolate. At the root, being grumpy at our kids is really a lingering sin struggle.

We don’t like our kids interrupting whatever we’re doing because we’ve put our interests ahead of theirs (Phil. 2:4).  We complain about all the work kids involve and how we never have time to brush our hair because we are viewing a gift from God as a burden, harboring ungratefulness.  

These are just examples from the book, but hopefully you can see my point.  These things won’t be fixed by bandaids like more flexibility and self-care. Selfishness, complaining, and ingratitude are all sins, and ones the Bible has plenty to say about, but she didn’t include any of the really relevant verses, or address them as sins at all. She didn’t explain how Jesus has freed those of us who believe in Him from the power of these sins in our lives BECAUSE He died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. This book would have been so much more powerful and useful if she had spent more time on these things. Christians still need to be reminded of the true gospel too.  I think that’s the most effective way to overcome these struggles -when we are focused on what Christ did to save us from sins like these, they automatically lose some appeal.

I got the feeling through some of the book that the author just wanted to be positive and not address the hard truths. She seemed mostly hesitant to use the word “sin” through most of the book, mainly using euphemisms like “mess” and “brokenness”.  

There is such a thing as being too nice - and it’s when it causes us to avoid speaking the truth in love because we are worried speaking the truth clearly might cause hurt feelings. Avoiding saying hard things might be “nice”, but it’s not kind.

4. Questionable use of Bible translations.

Warning: This is just a pet peeve of mine.

I almost hate to bring this up, because a lot of you may just tune me out here, but can we all just be a little more careful with our use of the Message? This is not an actual Bible translation, and it’s not God’s Word. It’s a paraphrase. If I paraphrase something you say, I’m not spreading your words, I’m taking what you said and putting it in my own words. A paraphrase of the Bible is man’s word, not God’s Word.  There is nothing wrong with referencing it occasionally, but please, let’s not quote the Message as if it’s God’s Word. Because it’s not. 

The author did okay with qualifying that it was a paraphrase at the beginning, but she used the Message heavily throughout this book and then eventually dropped the qualification. 

Whether you like the Message or not (can you tell what I think about it? ha!), the Message should not be referenced or read as your main “Bible translation”. Because it’s not an actual translation. 

Okay, I’m off my soapbox now.

---

To sum it up, who would I recommend this book to?

Because of the problems with presenting the gospel clearly and the confusion that might result, I would absolutely not recommend this to anyone that I was not already sure was a strong Christian who really understands the gospel.  

Because of the weak beginning and end, I am hesitant to recommend the book to my Christian friends too.  There are some gems in this book, but they are buried beneath too much soft or confusing language, and a hesitancy to address these issues as sin.  I just think there are alot of other books that are more rooted in the Bible and the gospel (Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges is one).

Again, I'm sharing all this not just for people who want to know what to expect, but also because I hope the author sees this.  Valerie, if you are reading, please know that I tried my best to approach this review in love, as a sister in Christ.  I've been praying over this review, and hope you can see my heart and give some thought to these issues.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley for free, in exchange for an honest review.

Stuff I Like | April 2019



It's May 1st!  It snowed yesterday, and there is frost dusting my porch as I write this, but I can hear the birds chirping from the tree just outside my window, and golden rays are busy melting the ice.  So  it's a typical start to the month.  May there be more golden rays, more rain and dew, and less snow this month!

On to what I enjoyed in the month of April.


Bible.is App.  

Derek randomly decided to search for audio bibles one day, and he found this great app!  You can get the ESV version of the Bible for free to listen to through the app.  But my favorite part is that they have a normal reading and a dramatic reading.  The dramatic reading has music in the background, and the actor does different voices.  It's so fun to listen to!  Different sections of the text are linked to well-done videos too.  It's just cool!


Skylar's Scent Club

(The link is a referral link that is supposed to give you 25% off? And then I get a credit if you decide to try it.)

I have a tiny weakness for subscription boxes, and in April I decided to try Skylar's Scent Club.  Skylar is a company that makes perfume that is supposedly more natural and less "toxic", which is nice...but to be honest, I just signed up because I like things that smell good.  Each month they send a rollerball with a  limited-time scent.  In April they sent one called Magic Bloom, and it was so fresh and happy-smelling.  May is going to be Vintage Rose.  I may be checking my mailbox daily until it arrives.


Spearmint Oil For Laundry. 

Speaking of things that smell good - that is also the reason I have a little essential oils stash in my cabinet.  I just don't buy alot of the claims made about essential oils, but I do know that I like nice-smelling things, so I use them for some things around the house.  In April I felt like I had a ridiculous amount of laundry, but the process was made just a tiny bit more fun by putting a few drops of spearmint oil on a dryer ball.  Each time the dryer is running my laundry room smells like a pack of gum.

It's the little things.

This is where I buy oils. (Another referral link here that is supposed to give us both a $10 discount.)  And I feel great about the company, thank you very much my oil-selling friends.  You know I still love you guys!


The New Little Women Movie.

Last year they came out with a modern movie version of Little Women.  After a very long wait in the library hold line, I finally watched it yesterday, and it is so cute. I loved it!  It stays true to the characters, and doesn't "dirty up" the story at all with modern nonsense.  It's basically the same as the old movie, but set in the present day.  It was very well done!  I honestly don't even know how it got a PG-13 rating.  Aside from a scene with some teen drinking and making out, it was pretty clean.  I'll definitely watch it with my girls when they are older.



A New Swimsuit.  

Guys, you don't understand, this has been a months long process.  After having Georgie, I knew my old swimsuits were just not going to cut it anymore.  I bought a new top last summer to tide me over, but it was time to hunt down something new and more flattering.

I've been eyeing swimsuits all winter, I ordered a couple items that I ended up returning.  I finally found these bottoms a few months ago that were a little higher waisted, so they smooth out my tummy lumps nicely.  I've been on the lookout for a top to match, and finally ordered this one.

It's a winner!  I've found it!

I may order another pair of the swim bottoms just for a different look, but I finally found something that makes me feel pretty good about visiting the pool this summer.  Victory!  A picture of the swimsuit on me is in my Instagram stories today if you want to see (I'm not sure I wanted a permanent record of that on my blog, haha!).


None Like Him by Jen Wilkin.

I'm late to the party on this one.  I've been listening to this audiobook about God's attributes after my Bible time in the morning, and it is very good.  I usually end up taking a full page of notes on each chapter, and she gives Bible verses for further study of each attribute.  Highly recommend!


Spring Flowers.

In late April, I finally found some flowering trees!





Spring is officially here now.

What new discoveries did you make in April?

What I Read | First Quarter 2019



When I set my reading goals for this year, I only had one goal.  I told myself I wouldn't buy any books this year - I would only read the books from my unread shelf.

I only have one word for how it's going: ha!

In my defense, I've bought almost all my new books with a gift card I had, so technically I am counting them as gift books and still attempting to limit the amount of books I buy.  I have not, however, been limiting library books very well, so my totals are not very satisfying this quarter.

Books I Read: 16
Books I Bought: 10 (ugh!)
Books Off My Unread Shelf: 5

I lost ground.

However, checking in here reminds me that I really need to get back to reading just the books I own, so I'm going to try!



Without further ado, here's what I've read so far in 2019.  You can click the links to read more thorough reviews on Goodreads.





Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Calahan - I am glad I read it, because it is interesting to know more about C.S. Lewis and his wife, but it didn't exactly endear Joy Davidman to my heart.  Also, too much quivering for my taste.





Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson - Enjoyed the book recommendations in this book, and decided I will not read another book by Sarah Clarkson if I can help it.  I just don't want to know what I'll do if I read about how she studied at Oxford one more time.





The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery - This book really can't be described by any word better than "delightful".  I loved it.  It was outlandish, it made me laugh, it made me love Montgomery more.  If you like broody classics, this is not one.





Three Wishes by Lianne Moriarty - Moriarty's books are like really fattening candy - not good for you, a little embarrassing, but great as an occasional mindless stress-reliever.  That's about how I felt about this one.  It's not my favorite of hers, but I needed something light.





Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown - I liked the hero, I'm glad I read it, I'm a little embarrassed to have enjoyed it so much, and I wouldn't really recommend it.  How's that for an opinion? It was just very violent and crude.  Very.






A Man Called One by Fredrik Backman - I wouldn't necessarily say I think it deserved the level of hype it received, but it was alright.  I typically like grump-character-finds-true-friendship stories, so I enjoyed it.





Micro by Michael Crighton - If it weren't for some briefly described and unnecessary nudity toward the end, I'd give this an unreserved thumbs up.  It's like a fusion of Jurassic Park and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and read exactly like an action movie would if it were really a book.





Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos - Not a huge fan.  I did enjoy the quirky humor, but I wanted more from this book.  I think some opportunities to touch on some really meaningful themes were missed.  Also, way too much ridiculous political opining for a kids book.






The Giver by Louis Lowry - Badly miscategorized as a middle-grade novel, in my opinion.  But I thought it was great, reading as an adult.  I don't think kids, even teenagers, would get nearly as much out of this as an adult would.






Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt - I loved it so much, go read it right now!  I'm a huge Schmidt fan.  If you need an entry point to good middle grade books, you should read something by Schmidt (except not Orbiting Jupiter, because I think that one is pretty sad - start with his more quirky, fun books first).






Voyage With The Vikings (Imagination Station #1) - I read this to the kids for fun, and it is the first read-aloud we've read so far where my oldest was actually begging me to read another chapter.  Wyatt has read the next book in the series now, all by himself, so if you need something that will get your kid into chapter books, this may be a place to start.  Wyatt is such a science kid, it was fun to see him getting excited about history-related topics for once!






The Radium Girls by Kate Moore - Derek and I read half of this together on vacation last year, and then he tapped out, so I finally got around to finishing it by myself.  If you don't like medical dramas, you might not like this one, but I am all about medical and courtroom stories, so this was right up my ally.  The history and personal stories of these girls were so tragic and fascinating.






The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair - I picked this up for inspiration on reining in my social media habits - it worked.  But I only really liked this first half of the book.  The second half would be helpful to naive parents of teenagers, but was just disturbing to me as someone who is neither a parent of teenagers nor naive.






America's First Daughter by Stephenie Dray - This was my book club's recent pick, and it was quite good overall.  It made an amazing audiobook on 1.5x speed.  I HATED the main character's casual thought of using abortifacient herbs though, and wonder if the author was making this up (about a historical figure, no less) to make a modern pro-abortion point.  Which if she was, that actually makes me angry.

My goals for the next three months:

Read more books on my unread shelf!

Read more books that will make it in my "Top Books Of 2019" list.  I want a nice long list of strong books to recommend to you at the end of the year - the only ones from this quarter that I see making the cut would be The Blue Castle, Radium Girls, and Pay Attention, Carter Jones.

What are your favorite books from the year so far?
© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.