Book Review: #Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World by Craig Groeschel

strugglesBook Review: #Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World by Craig Groeschel

This book takes a detailed look at how social media can potentially change our relationships with God, with others, and with self. It is not a book that says technology is evil, but rather focuses on how to keep your relationships and online habits in perspective.

I hesitated to pick this book up because while I love the author, I wasn’t really sure how much this applied to me. I thought I had my social media stuff under control. I was wrong. This book will have chapters that hit home to different people in different places; because everyone  is unique, but if you have an online presence, you will most likely find yourself somewhere in this book.

P.S. If you haven’t read The Christian Atheist, go read it today. It is one of my favorites! It’s all about the way Christians say they believe, but deny Christ with their lives. Great stuff.

Quotes

“Because Jesus is all we need, let’s pursue him with our whole hearts. Only in him will we find true joy and true contentment. Only he is life, and only he truly satisfies.”

“Social media practically trains us to present a self that isn’t honest.” (I loved this because if you think about it, you don’t post all ten bad pictures you take-you only post the good one)

“But to say that you care but not act is not to care at all. Compassion requires action.”

Recommended Age: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction
Overall Opinion:   Recommend
Source: ebook

Book Review: Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

wordsBook Review: Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

Set after the Taliban have left Afghanistan, this novel is a beautiful story of a girl named Zulaikha. Zulaikha’s story involves learning to read, meeting an American soldier who arranges for a surgery to help fix her cleft lip, and the realities of life for a woman in her culture.

This story is sure to capture your heart. The audio for this book is very well done and the story moves quickly. My heart broke for Zulaikha and her family and my head shook at how sometimes we get things wrong even when we try to get them right. Great for fans of Shabanu, but a quality book all on its own.

Quotes: None

Recommended Grades: 7-12
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Overall Opinion:   Above Average
Source: audiobook from Audiobooksync.com

Book Review: Summerlost by Ally Condie

summerlostBook Review: Summerlost by Ally Condie

When tragedy strikes Cedar’s family, they buy a home closer to her extended family to spend the summer. There, Cedar takes a job working a Shakespeare festival and meets Leo. Together they have some adventures and learn about friendship and love.

I picked up this book because A) Ally Condie is a great writer and B) I heard her talk about why she wrote this book on an author panel. It is a very honest book without being forced. I loved the quiet friendship between Leo and Cedar, but I also loved the brother sister relationship in this book and the complexity of the characters

Quotes

On why Cedar liked to hang out with Leo:

I wasn’t sure why. But if I had to guess, I would say it was because I liked talking to Leo. He always seemed to be thinking about something. His brain was very busy.

I wanted to go along with him, tag along with his mind like a hitchhiker, so that I could keep my brain busy too.

On missing someone

“You don’t have to know someone all the way to miss them,” Leo said, “Or to feel bad that they’re gone.”

On tunnels…and so much more.

As we came out of the hallway, I pretended that the whole world had secret tunnels, where people could walk straight to wherever they really wanted to be and ignore all the meanness in the middle.

I wiped my eyes on my sleeve before Leo could see.

Recommended Grades: 5-8
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Overall Opinion:   Recommend
Source: Book

Book Review: Booked by Kwame Alexander

bookedBook Review: Booked by Kwame Alexander

Nick is great at soccer, but not so thrilled about reading. On top of teachers making him read novels in class, his father is making him read the dictionary, and  his crazy librarian keeps trying to get him to join book club! Good thing there is soccer, his best friend Coby, and his crush April.

Told in verse, this is a beautifully written story. So much happened in the plot, but it didn’t feel forced. There are moments of poetic brilliance in this book. I also love the books Alexander chose to highlight at the end. Other great examples of novels in verse. I’m excited to read other books by this author.

Quotes…since I can’t quote as much as I’d like, here is a great discussion on parents between Nick and Mr. Mac (the librarian)

Why do parents suck?

Try a different word.

My bad, Mr. Mac. Why do  GUARDIANS SUCK?

Ha! Ha! Who your parents are now is not who they were or who they will be. You may not like them now, but you will.

Doubt it.

Recommended Grades: 7-12
Genre: Novel in Verse
Overall Opinion: Recommend
Source: Book

Book Review: This Momentary Marriage by John Piper

momentaryBook Review: This Momentary Marriage by John Piper

John Piper uses his experiences with marriage and the biblical portrayal of marriage to discuss how to build a marriage that lasts through both good and bad. He focuses on building a marriage of commitment and not just sticking together when things are easy.

This book was recommended to me by a friend who was reading it at the time. At first I wasn’t impressed because some of the language is a little thick and it is a very repetitive in parts, but there are moments of brilliance in this book. Early on in my life, I prayed that I would have a marriage that was different from the casual examples I’d seen modeled. My parents divorced early in my life, and I really don’t think they would have even gotten married had I not been an unexpected addition. Later in life, I’ve seen true examples of forgiveness and been blessed to see some wonderful examples of marriage.  For me, this book clarified some of the reasons why those relationships were so successful.

Quotes

On fear and forgiveness

His bride is free from shame not because she is perfect, but because she has no fear that her lover will condemn her or shame her because of her sin.

On living with grace

But the reasons I stress living vertically from the grace of God and then bending out horizontally in forgiveness and justification toward your spouse are 1) because there is going to be conflict based on sin and strangeness (and you won’t be able to even agree with each other about what is simply strange about each other and what is sin); and 2) because the hard, rugged work of enduring and forgiving is what makes it possible for affections to flourish when they seem to have died; and 3) because God gets glory when two very different and very imperfect people forge a life of faithfulness in the furnace of affliction by relying on Christ.

On the heart behind submission (you’ll have to read this chapter for it to make sense probably)

If a husband is loving and wise like Christ in all these ways, his desire for his wife’s change will feel, to a humble wife, like she is being served, not humiliated.

O
n hopes of marriage

A Christian woman does not put her hope in her husband, or it getting a husband. She does not put her hope in her looks or her intelligence or her creativity. She puts her hope in the promises of God.

Recommended Grades: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction
Overall Opinion:   Average with above average moments of brilliance
Source: ebook

Book Review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

beautyBook Review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Book three of The Remnant Chronicles starts off right after Lia and Rafe’s dangerous escape from Venda. Once they are safe, they are quickly faced with the decision of how to save two different countries. A change in Rafe’s status means that they are forced to make some tough decisions. But can they act in time to save the people they love from Venda?

Sigh. I couldn’t read this book fast enough. Such a great series. I was very pleased with the ending (eventually). I also appreciated that we learned a little more about Pauline but still kept true to Lia, Rafe, and Kaden’s journey. Definitely don’t read this series out of order.

Quotes

On change:

“You are who you needed to become, Lia. We’ve both changed out of necessity.”

On things being for the best:

He nodded. “You’re right. It’s probably the best.” Bitterness rose in my throat. I hated things being for the best. They never really were. It was a phrase that sugarcoated the leftover crumbs of our options.

On love and choice:

“Everyone deserves to be loved, General, and not because a piece of paper commands it. Choice is powerful and can lead to great things if not held in the tight fists of a few.”

Recommended Grades: 7-12
Genre: Action Adventure
Overall Opinion:   Highly Recommend
Source: ebook from Edelweiss

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

sineaterBook Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Twylla learns at a young age that instead of becoming a Sin Eater like her mother, she is goddess-embodied, and thus goes to live with the queen to become her executioner. Although she is engaged to the prince, she feels trapped. When her normal guard becomes ill, Twylla finds herself falling for her new guard because he doesn’t seem to be as afraid of her as everyone else around her.

This story is pretty action packed and has a definite cliff hanger ending. Personally, I felt like the relationship progressed too quickly (straight to sex) but I thought the storyline was interesting and am planning on reading the next book. I was surprised at how well we got to know the main characters in such a short period of time.

Quotes: None but only because I was on a road trip and I couldn’t safely bookmark.

Recommended Grades: 9th and up (some language and sex)
Genre: Fantasy
Overall Opinion:   Above average
Source: Free audiobook from Audiobook Sync