Friday, October 18, 2019

Discussion 3 ~ Christy Read-Along


Welcome to the third discussion of the Christy read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapters 12-18. If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Christy read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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Christy: Chapters 12-18

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "As I came to know the children and to think of them as persons rather than names in my grade book, I forgot my reactions and began to love them. I suppose the principle was that the higher affection will always expel the lower whenever we give the higher affection sway."
  • "Teacher, Teacher, hain't it true, Teacher, that if God loves ever'body, then we'uns got to love ever'body too?" I looked at the six-year-old in astonishment. "Yes, Little Burl, it is true." Forever and forever and forever.
  • "Ye make the Almighty seem—come-at-able."
  • "Lord," I says, "I don't rightly know whether I'm gonna live or die, but it don't make no differ. From here on, my life belongs to You." And it did too, for a fact. From that day I could feel His love a-feedin' my starvin', thirstin' soul. And the more I tried givin' His love away to my young'uns and my man and the neighbor-folks, the more love He gave back to me.
  • "The minute I take my leave of this wore-out flesh, that second He'll be a-waitin' for me. Rest yer soul on that, son, like this old lady does."
  • She would interrupt her work to call the children and revel with them in the grandeur of thunderheads piling up over the mountain peaks, heat lightning flashing behind the clouds like fireworks. "It lifts the heart," she would say, and that was explanation enough for any interruption.
  • "It's today I must be livin'."

General Impressions

Oh my! These chapters have some of my favorite scenes so far. I just love all that Christy's learning from the people of the Cove, be it a child, a woman on her deathbed, or a mother with five kids. (Speaking of the latter, Fairlight and her family and their way of life are all so delightful! Their joy and love and attitude inspire me.)

It was interesting to hear Miss Alice tell the story of Dr. MacNeill's family. I enjoyed that! And it was sad to see the setback for the school with the books and maps being ruined. Granted, I think Miss Alice had a good point about Christy's pride in her "accomplishment" of securing the donations from Mr. Smith. I'm not quite sure what to think about the way Christy had approached him... She has such a big heart and a desire to take action, which are both good things! And it's hard to judge her for being materialistic when there are obviously items that would be a big help to her students (like new books). She tried to be careful in her approach, especially once the word materialistic was brought up... But it seems like Christy is still trying to find her way, figuring out what's really needed and how she can be the most help to the mission and the Cove.

But perhaps the scene that stands out most to me (although I do so love the scenes with Fairlight too!) is when Christy and David go to Aunt Polly's home. First, how lovely is it that her place is next to a waterfall? But more importantly, I find Aunt Polly's words so encouraging.

I've cried while watching the scene in the TV series, and it's stayed with me. I just love the points that Aunt Polly makes and how, even though David and Christy went to bless her, she really blesses them with her simple, solid faith, her absolute hope and lack of fear in the face of death. It's so beautiful, whether seen on the screen or read from the book. ♥ ♥ ♥

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Of Christy's students, which one has left the biggest impression on you so far, whether positive or negative?

2. What are your thoughts on the Sewing Circle? If you were in attendance, how might you contribute to the gathering (hosting, providing snacks, reading Scripture, sharing ideas)? How might you interact with the women of the Cove?

3. Which character's attitude and perspective has inspired you the most so far in the book?

Join us next Friday for our fourth discussion! 
(Chapters 19-25)

*Catherine Marshall, Christy (New York: Avon, 2006), 158, 167, 189, 223, 224, 226.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles


As I checked out a few bloggers' posts for this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl), I felt the urge to go check my shelves and see if I could pick out 10 standout titles. And here they are! :) I picked five fiction and five nonfiction from my shelves of favorites, but I did limit myself to physical books that I've kept (rather than ebooks, audiobooks, or books I've read but no longer have).

Five Fave Fiction Titles


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch {Goodreads}

Haunting Joy by Lena Goldfinch {Goodreads}

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson {my review}

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers {Goodreads}

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner {Goodreads}


Five Fave Nonfiction Titles 


We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson {my review}

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman {Goodreads}

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller {Goodreads}

The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee {Goodreads}

Love Does by Bob Goff {Goodreads}

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Check out a round-up of other bloggers' picks HERE

Which of these titles most appeals to you?
What are some of your favorite book titles?

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Thought-Stirring Little Read on Hospitality | Review of The Simplest Way to Change the World



About the Book
(from Moody Publishers)

How to make disciples using hospitality

Deep down, every Christian wants to make a difference. But for many of us, the years come and go and we never do. The good news is: change can be as simple as opening your front door.

The Simplest Way to Change the World is about biblical hospitality and its power for the gospel. Since people will sooner enter a living room than a church, hospitality is a natural and effective way to build relationships for Christ. You'll learn:

  • How the home can be a hub for community 
  • How hospitality leads to joy, purpose, and belonging 
  • How it grows families to love the things of God 
  • How it's not about being the perfect host 
  • How to be hospitable regardless of your living space 

Hospitality is a beautiful legacy of the church, and a great way to make disciples. As you open your life up to others, you share in the very character of God and experience His joy. And you get to witness lives change—including your own.

Includes 20+ creative ideas for hospitality, plus questions for small groups

Available Now!


My Review

This is an easy-to-read, engaging book that helps you better understand why hospitality matters and how you can embrace it in all seasons and stages of life. Granted, some of the ideas feel more scary to implement than others, but I appreciate that this book challenges the reader in a fun, encouraging way.

The Simplest Way to Change the World is a fairly quick read, and both authors jump back and forth in sharing their own experiences (or their friends'). While I'd say this book is geared more toward couples (especially ones with kids), the authors do address singles and college students, and a lot of the ideas are general enough to apply to anyone with a space for hosting.

The "Practical Rhythms of Hospitality" chapter is really neat, offering a variety of ideas for being intentional about inviting others into your life on a weekly, monthly, and/or yearly basis. A lot of the ideas provide a fun, foot-in-the-door sort of approach that can help you start building relationships. One of the weekly ideas involves inviting people over to watch a TV show, and I know that I've been blessed by others who did just that!

And besides the creative ideas, I appreciate that this book includes chapters like "How Do You Meet Your Neighbors?" and "How Do You Get to the Gospel?" Because, well, we don't want to be creepy or annoying or uncaring! So these chapters provide helpful perspective on being available, reaching out, and truly loving others without shying away from talk of Jesus.

I like that there's a small-group guide for those who want to study the book and its topics together. This book doesn't impart boldness to you or magically make your schedule more open, but it is a thought-stirring little read that speaks to the importance of hospitality and the need for any and every Christian to have a hospitable heart.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Friday, October 11, 2019

Discussion 2 ~ Christy Read-Along


Welcome to the second discussion of the Christy read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapters 5-11. If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Christy read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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Christy: Chapters 5-11

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "This is so beautiful that I want to hug it—if you could hug a room. It's like—well, like coming home." "That's the nicest compliment my cabin's ever had." 
  • "[God] was always right there beside me, looking at the dreadful sights with compassion and love and heartbreak. His caring and His love were too real for bitterness to grow in me."
  • "You see, Christy, evil is real—and powerful. It has to be fought, not explained away, not fled. And God is against evil all the way. So each of us has to decide where we stand, how we're going to live our lives."
  • "[God] suffers more than any of us could because His is the deepest emotion and the highest perception."
  • "What goes on at a deep level inside you, Christy, is not silly, whatever else it may be."
  • "When you have something important to say to a man," my mother had always advised, "never say it to a hungry one. Wait until he's had a good meal."

General Impressions

I think some of my favorites scenes from this section (and there are lots of compelling scenes!) are the ones where Christy is talking with Miss Alice. The weighty topics they discuss are approached with appropriate gravity but also hope, and there are some very thought-provoking lines (a few of which I included in the quotes section above). I really love Miss Alice's approach, how she's a great listener, asks important questions, boldly addresses the pain and evil in the Cove, and points to a loving God who has never failed her.

In these chapters we also get to see Christy's first day teaching school, her unexpected visit to the heartbreaking O'Teale cabin, the letter receiving and writing that leads to lots of donations to the mission, the tragic truth behind the McHone baby's death, unknown men skulking about at night, Dr. MacNeill's cabin full of "contradictions" (chapter 10), and the surprisingly successful start to the mission "store." Phew! That's a lot for Christy to face in such a short time, and a lot to take in as a reader.

Since I've seen (and I love!) the TV adaptation of Christy, it's interesting to see how some of these scenes were approached differently for the screen. For example, if I remember right, the store idea took longer to form and involved the students more than how it's depicted at the end of chapter 11. I drew a smiley face in my book next to the line about the people of the Cove using the fancy shoes they'd traded for as "door stops." :) Not something you'd probably see very often!

While the chapter on Christy's first day of school was definitely full and fun, it's interesting to me how Christy's role as teacher hasn't been highlighted too much yet; mostly, we're getting to meet different people and problems in the Cove. I'm curious to see how the book differs further from the TV series and what happens in the next set of chapters!

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Despite all the sad revelations in this section, what moment or scene stood out to you as either really funny or really uplifting?

2. Now that we've gotten to know David and Dr. MacNeill a bit better, what are your impressions of them? How do you feel about their characters, their attitudes, and their interactions with others?

3. What are your thoughts about Christy's requests for donations from friends and various companies? Do you think she was foisting a cause upon others inappropriately? (To reference a conversation in chapter 11.) Or do you think such letters could be a blessing to both giver and receiver? Would you have approached things differently?

Join us next Friday for our third discussion! 
(Chapters 12-18)

*Catherine Marshall, Christy (New York: Avon, 2006), 59, 102, 103, 104, 113, 149.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Engaging and Wonderfully Described Glimpse into a Tragic Time | Review of Memories of Glass



I feel like the following description of the book gives away a bit too much... While it does help the reader know what to expect, it might keep you looking for certain plot twists too early in the story. So, bear in mind that the story unfolds in its own sweet time, but it's a great journey!

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About the Book
(from Tyndale House)

1942. As war rips through the heart of Holland, childhood friends Josie van Rees and Eliese Linden partner with a few daring citizens to rescue Eliese’s son and hundreds of other Jewish children who await deportation in a converted theater in Amsterdam. But amid their resistance work, Josie and Eliese’s dangerous secrets could derail their friendship and their entire mission. When the enemy finds these women, only one will escape.

Seventy-five years later, Ava Drake begins to suspect that her great-grandfather William Kingston was not the World War II hero he claimed to be. Her work as director of the prestigious Kingston Family Foundation leads her to Landon West’s Ugandan coffee plantation, and Ava and Landon soon discover a connection between their families. As Landon’s great-grandmother shares the broken pieces of her story, Ava must confront the greatest loss in her own life—and powerful members of the Kingston family who will do anything to keep the truth buried.

Illuminating the story and strength of these women, award-winning author Melanie Dobson transports readers through time and place, from World War II Holland to contemporary Uganda, in this rich and inspiring novel.

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

As with other Melanie Dobson books I've read, I found this story engaging and the writing lovely. Both the historical and the modern plots hold interesting twists and compelling characters sharing their perspectives. I enjoyed following Ava to Uganda and seeing how her first meeting with Landon on his plantation goes much differently than expected... And I found Josie and Eliese to be sweet women struggling with terrible choices and heartbreaking circumstances in the midst of war.

I admit that Hidden Among the Stars, which released last year (2018), remains my favorite of Dobson's books that I've read so far. I think I became more emotionally invested in that story (especially with a certain character's scene near the end; so poignantly written!!), and I liked some of the unique elements of the story in the historical setting, as well as the bookish nature of the modern point-of-view character's career.

Not that Memories of Glass isn't unique! But Ava's situation and her personality remind me a bit of the main character in Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, in terms of their professionalism and the high-power family drama they face and their determination to learn the truth (with a charming man arriving on the scene). :) Although I do admit to not finishing Before We Were Yours, but rather skimming the latter parts...that book was perhaps too much for me personally, but I digress! I suppose my point is that Ava's character and the addition of an older character's point of view might not stand out quite as much in this genre, although the contemporary and historical scenes certainly have their own life and beauty.

Overall, Memories of Glass has much to offer as both a great read and a thought-provoking glimpse into a tragic time in history. Josie and Eliese especially shine as characters with flaws and questions and doubts, but also big hearts that only grow over time. While it can be a bit difficult to track all the relational connections throughout the course of the book, the story comes together in a satisfying way by the end—very neat, but also very uplifting. Another engaging, wonderfully described time-slip novel from Dobson!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Also by Melanie Dobson...

Hidden Among the Stars {my review} *Favorite!
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor {my review}
Chateau of Secrets {my review}

Friday, October 4, 2019

Discussion 1 ~ Christy Read-Along


Welcome to the first discussion of the Christy read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll have a quick little discussion on chapters 1-4. If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Christy read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

Let's get started with the compelling introduction to this story...

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Christy: Chapters 1-4

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "I would walk softly into the realm of what might have been."
  • "For no reason at all the white fields on either side of the narrowing lane reminded me of the top of one of my mother's devil food cakes, thickly covered with white frosting. I remembered my child's-eye view when I had been just tall enough on tiptoe to be eye-level with the cake: that expanse of snowy white icing, glazing over where it was beginning to harden; the little wavy lines in it, so unsullied before any small fingers had sneaked bits off here and there." {I just love this comparison and the tantalizing descriptions!}
  • "She's a smiley woman. All her wrinkles are smile-wrinkles."

General Impressions

So far, I'm loving the descriptions of the setting and Christy's journey! It's a meandering sort of beginning, but it's fascinating to experience a new world with Christy (and her daughter in the prologue).

As a side note, I'm completely intrigued by the fact that Christy's daughter's name is given as Catherine! But from the author's bio, I see that author Catherine Marshall's mother had a different name...Leonora. I've just done a quick online search, which seems to indicate that there is some truth in the basis of the novel, although it's definitely fiction. If you're interested, here are a few articles I found (although beware of spoilers!):
So interesting!

Anyway, I love the variety of characters and personalities introduced in these early chapters. I think Christy's perspective is captured so well; she definitely sounds like a young woman who is eager to make a difference but is still quite innocent and naive, stumbling a bit as she enters a new world. I love how she describes it as stepping into the past, like old photographs have "come to life" around her.  

I realize there's so much more I could say about other characters and the scene with Bob Allen, when Doctor Neil MacNeill makes his memorable entrance to the story. But I'm about ready to head to bed. ;) So I'll just add that I like Mr. Pentland's character, how he's so dedicated to his work but also compassionate toward Christy, not forgetting her in the midst of the craziness. I also thought it was fun to see that there are some Holcombs in this story, haha! And I'm looking forward to reading more...


Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What do you think of the narrator/perspective for the prologue? Would you prefer to jump right into the story, or do you think the prologue is effective in piquing your interest?

2. What are your first impressions of Christy and her goals?

3. If you were in the cabin when Bob Allen is brought in, how would you react? Would you lend the doctor a hand? Watch the surgery in fascination? Step out the door as fast as you could?

Join us next Friday for our second discussion! 
(Chapters 5-11)

*Catherine Marshall, Christy (New York: Avon, 2006), 7, 32, 34.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

You're Invited to the Christy Read-Along!


Hello, friends! It's been pretty quiet around here on the blog lately... I'm so sorry I have yet to finish writing/posting Maya's story and there hasn't been much to check out here! It's been a busy season full of changes for Josh and I, including a move this month from Montana to Eastern Washington. (Bittersweet, for sure, but we're hopeful this will be a good next step for us!)

While I don't expect to start posting all the time, I really want to host another read-along this autumn. :) And with Christy by Catherine Marshall being 46 chapters, it should fit perfectly into October and the first half of November, before Thanksgiving and the holidays arrive. Yay!

This is a book I've tried starting before but haven't finished, and I'd like to change that! (I confess I'm a big fan of the TV series from the '90s.) Whether you're in a similar place, wanting to read a classic you've never completed before, or you're looking for an excuse to re-read an old favorite, I'd love for you to join me in reading and discussing Christy. :)

Here are the details...
  • The read-along will start Tuesday, October 1, and end Friday, November 15.
  • We'll read 1 chapter per day for a total of 46 chapters/days. Hopefully I did my math right!  
  • Discussions will take place here on Fridays (October 4, 11, 18, 25, and November 1, 8, 15) for a total of 7 discussions.
  • I'll provide ideas and questions, and you can take part through commenting on my discussion posts or creating your own blog posts!
Here are some examples of past read-alongs I've hosted: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense & Sensibility, The Silver Chair, Emily of New Moon.

It's always such a blast to read a book with blogging friends and share thoughts and impressions! Let me know if you'll be joining this read-along by commenting below or posting on your blog. (Feel free to use the image in this post and share it wherever you'd like!)