Sunday, November 10, 2019

Dark and Meaningful Fantasy | Review of Dragonwitch



About the Book
(from Bethany House)

Book 5 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood Series

Who Will Dare to Face the Dragonwitch?

Submissive to her father's will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet the future King of the North Country and a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves.

But within the walls of his castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta's tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the entire nation.

And far away in a hidden kingdom, a flame burns atop the Citadel of the Living Fire. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice...and for the hero who can wield it.

Available Now!

My Review

I'm embarrassed to confess that this book has been on my shelf for YEARS. From reading the first four books I knew the in-depth, epic nature of this series—and Dragonwitch is no exception. It's not a light or fast or easy-to-binge sort of read. But, as with its predecessors, the story comes together in a powerful and meaningful way.

When I finally reached a point where I determined to stick with the book rather than stick it back on the shelf for another time, I still almost gave up. I didn't like the darker descriptions of the goblins and the various settings. It felt almost too much for me, and I wasn't sure I wanted to finish.

Am I glad I did? Yes. While I don't really see myself returning to this story, not wanting to immerse myself in the darker plot once again, I'm glad to know how everything comes together. The beginning mostly zooms in on one place and how various characters meet, but as the story progresses you get to know their true identities and backstories, and it becomes easier and easier to care for them and cheer for them. I loved the personal growth, the development of some sweet relationships, and when various characters encounter and embrace truth. So good!

Some revelations come a little late in the story, things that seem like they should be obvious earlier on. I liked the surprise of this but also felt like maybe some things came out of left field for me when there should have been more clues in the characters' thoughts and behavior. Maybe that's just me, though! Also, while some elements of the story are unique to this book, it might have helped for me to have a clearer memory of the previous books (instead of years between readings!).

Dragonwitch is a creatively told fantasy and very satisfying in the way it wraps up, even with the tragic fact that not all the characters make the right choices. As with other books in this series, there's plenty here to inspire and make you think, and the imaginative detail is fantastic. It's a hefty, dark, and intense read, but a valuable addition to the Tales of Goldstone Wood series.

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


My Reviews of Other Tales of Goldstone Wood Books

Friday, November 8, 2019

Discussion 6 ~ Christy Read-Along


Welcome to the sixth 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 33-39. 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!

~ ~ ~

Christy: Chapters 33-39
Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "I learned that true forgiveness includes total acceptance. And out of acceptance wounds are healed and happiness is possible again."
  • "Only in the mountains had I seen such hues: the dark red of the sourwoods; the brown and bright orange of the red oaks; the luminous gold of the hickories; the crimson of the sumac and the scarlet oaks—always with the purple-blue Smokies for a backdrop, like the stain of ripe Concord grapes."
  • "After a while the love of God was more real to me than any old ghost. And then all the ghosts went away, and ever since the dark has seemed friendly and cozy."
  • "This love disclosing itself was no cosmic Creator of a mechanistic universe, for the revelation was intimate, personal. Perhaps the assurance always has to be personal, revealed to the inner person alone, since only man sees other men en masse, whereas God insists on seeing us one by one, each a special case, each inestimably beloved for himself."
  • "I knew now: God is. I had found my center, my point of reference."

General Impressions

Man...there have been some difficult scenes leading up to this section, but I think this week's reading has been the darkest so far between Miss Alice's painful story from her past and the awful nature of Fairlight's passing. These tragic scenes are divided by Ruby Mae's rather wild wedding and the disappointing conversation with David about the school and the creepy talk of Old Marthy, the "witch." It's a lot to take in!

Even with the really dark moments, though, I love that the light still shines through Miss Alice's recounting of her community's love and acceptance...and Christy's comforting words to Zady...and also Christy's honesty with God and her recognition of His love amid all the uncertainties and unanswered questions.

I confess I wasn't taken by surprise to find out the identity of Dr. MacNeill's wife, only because it's a big part of the TV series. But I'd be curious to know if those of you who haven't seen the show or read the book before found that to be a shock! And I'm also curious to see how that revelation might affect the last chapters of the book, if at all.

Dr. MacNeill was...interesting...at the wedding. I like that he's a good dancer. ;) But he's definitely forthright in his opinions about sex and marriage! Not that it's bad to talk about, but if I were in Christy's shoes, I think I'd be uncomfortable hearing a widowed man discuss that topic in that place and context.

As for David...sigh. He makes me less and less inclined to prefer him as a suitor for Christy. He's preoccupied with kissing her but neglects to encourage her or value her opinions or deal with his own lack of faith. And this from a preacher! Again, sigh.

I was not prepared for Fairlight's death. That was definitely not something I remember from the show, and her awful terror that never really was soothed makes me so sad. I'm glad she had Christy with her at the end, sharing Scripture and comfort. And I'm glad Christy had Miss Alice to point her to the people in Scripture who asked questions of God and poured out their pain to Him.

It seems like there's still so much to wrap up with only one week's reading left, and I'm curious how the book will end!

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 Folk School idea that Mrs. Browning shared with Christy? Do you feel like it would be beneficial to the people of the Cove?

2. Do you find nighttime and darkness bothersome or appealing? Have your feelings changed since childhood?

3. What are some of the things you hope will happen or be resolved in the last chapters? (Or, if you've already read the book, has anything stood out to you differently so far while reading the book this time around?)

Join us next Friday for our seventh and final discussion! 
(Chapters 40-46)

*Catherine Marshall, Christy (New York: Avon, 2006), 415, 444, 455, 478-479.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Cover Reveal! | Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl (Sweet Nonfiction for Fiction Authors)

Happy Monday, friends! I'm happy to be teaming up with a fellow blogger and debut author to share the cover for her upcoming release, Dear Author! :) I've already had the pleasure of reading this gem, and it's such a sweet nonfiction treat for fiction authors who could use some encouragement. I plan to post my review later on, but for now, enjoy this peek at the colorful cover and some exciting pre-order goodies...


Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl
  Laura A. Grace
 Genres: Self-Help, Motivational
  Publication date: December 3, 2019

About the Book

Think your words might not matter? Think again. Words have the power to change lives, especially when they are used to create meaningful stories. In this collection of letters, bookish fangirl Laura A. Grace addresses topics related to every writer’s journey. From “character conversations,” to embracing one’s unique writing style, to celebrating a release day—there is a letter for every author no matter where they may be in sharing their story with others.

Dear Author includes six illustrations by Hannah S.J. Williams.

Signed PaperbackAmazonBarnes & Noble — Book Depository (Coming soon!)


Pre-order the paperback or e-book and fill out the form below to receive some fun little extras!
(Details can be found in the form.)

Pre-Order Goodies Form


About the Author

Laura A. Grace had a lifelong dream of getting to know authors behind the covers of her favorite reads. Little did she know that one day she would become an author too! Now an avid book blogger at Unicorn Quester and writer of clean, Christian manga, Laura creatively balances her passions of supporting indie authors and feeding her readers new stories. In between, she wields plastic lightsabers with her children and binge-watches anime with her husband. Join her quest to find wandering unicorns for your favorite authors at unicornquester.com!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Discussion 5 ~ Christy Read-Along


Welcome to the fifth 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 26-32. 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!

~ ~ ~

Christy: Chapters 26-32
Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "It's been the delight of my life to find God far more common-sense and practical than any human I know. The only time I ever find my dealings with God less than clear-cut is when I'm not being honest with Him. The fuzziness is always on my side, not His."
  • "Fixin' onything is man's work," came Opal's firm answer. "Tearin' down or killin', that thar's easy. Any addle-pated fool kin pull the trigger of a rifle-gun or fling a rock. It's fixin' that's hard, takes a heap more doin'."
  • "Ask questions, never be afraid of truth."
  • "Preach the gospel, David, teach it, preach to the hearts of men. That's your business. Then the fruits, including the reforms in other areas, will follow as fruits."
  • "When your heart is ablaze with the love of God, when you love other people—especially the rip-snorting sinners—so much that you dare to tell them about Jesus with no apologies, then never fear, there will be results."
  • "The sun sifting through moving branches overhead would splinter the light into diamonds on the water, tossing them back into my eyes with such magic that I would want to shout and dance just for the joy of living—and usually did."

General Impressions

There are some rather suspenseful scenes in this section, from the men harassing the women in the mission house to the standoff at the McHones' home. I love that Opal could see God's love through Christy's appearance in the middle of that tense situation. And I love how Opal appealed to Bird's-Eye (in that second quote above).

There's also some great tragedy in this section in regards to the death of Tom. The conversation it led to between David and Miss Alice was so powerful. I think it goes really well with the sermon my husband and I heard at the church we visited this past Sunday, which was on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, addressing the utmost importance of the gospel and what we should remember about it. I just love those quotes from Miss Alice above (the fourth and fifth ones on my list), how if David wanted to see true change in the Cove he needed to focus on the gospel. Or, as the pastor we heard from on Sunday reminded us, the real problems in the world today are not politics or loneliness or suffering; the real problem is our sin, as it has always been. Yes, the other issues matter, but we will never find true comfort or undying hope or real direction apart from being made right with the Lord through Jesus' sacrifice and apart from seeking God first. It's so tragic that David doesn't seem to understand the power of the gospel, that he is so determined to fix the outer issues without getting to the heart of it all!

And as I was thinking about all this, I realized how much it ties in with Christy's conversation with Dr. MacNeill from the last section. He asked her, "Why don't you just concentrate on the school and the good works and forget all about the religious doctrines that just confuse the people anyway?" (page 325 in my copy). But if that's all the mission did, there would be no hope for real heart change in the people...no forgiveness or reconciliation...no purpose beyond their day-to-day lives...no true healing of the soul, only temporary fixes for the body, if that. If the mission focused on "the good works" apart from the gospel, well, they'd never be making a lasting difference or helping the people in the way they truly need it.

I just love the way the book is helping me think more about important truths through the characters in this story!

To finish off my thoughts on this section: David's proposal hardly seems loving and came out of the blue. I'm glad Christy didn't rush into an answer or feel pressured to say yes. Of course, I love the scenes with Fairlight and the descriptions of her nature outings with Christy. I'm curious about what might come of the "Compt book" and Bird's-Eye's note to Opal. And the account of the last day of classes was a lot of fun. :)

Discussion Questions

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

1. What turn of events shocked or surprised you most in this section?

2. What do you think drove Christy to climb a mountain? Have you ever been driven to do something out of the ordinary or especially challenging for you? What was the experience like?

3. What was your favorite part or performance from the school's last-day festivities?

Join us next Friday for our sixth discussion! 
(Chapters 33-39)

*Catherine Marshall, Christy (New York: Avon, 2006), 341, 354, 365, 374, 375, 383.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Discussion 4 ~ Christy Read-Along


Welcome to the fourth 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 19-25. 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!

~ ~ ~

Christy: Chapters 19-25
Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "Beware the chasms in thy life, David. Sooner or later thee will fall down in the chasm thyself."
  • "The Christian religion is not a thing—like a piece of paper—that we can tuck away in the cubbyhole of a rolltop desk and then put the lid down and lock it. Christianity is a life and contains the germ of life in itself."
  • The sky overhead was an inverted bowl with a pale blue lining; over the far mountains, rose faded to peach, with tiny gray clouds looking as if they had been given their marching orders to tramp as majestically across a twilight sky as small clouds can. "Living in the middle of beauty like this," I said, "we've no call to have puny ideas about God."
  • "Christy," his voice was gentle, "I did not ask you what Alice Henderson believes or for a resume of her latest talk to her Bible class. I wanted to know why Christianity is important to you, what you believe."

General Impressions

Well, this was a very interesting section and rather different from what precedes it. Not as uplifting as last week's, but more suspenseful and challenging. It's as if last week's section was showing all the ways Christy had been encouraged and inspired, and now we're seeing her (and David) having her faith and grit put to the test in very stark ways.

And really, this section centers a lot around David and his reactions and relationships. It starts off with classroom trouble for Christy and escalates to violence, cruelty, and the revelation of an unlawful way of life some of the people of the Cove abide by. David's work ethic and strength are challenged, his horse is sheared, and he finds himself tangled up in the whole blockading affair as he preaches against it and tries to shut it down.

I hated seeing the women feel so helpless as their husbands treated David unkindly at the working. And I confess I'm torn about David's sermon... At first, I found myself underlining several of his comments about faith and the church and admiring his forthrightness. But I also agree with Christy and even Dr. MacNeill about David's heavy-handedness, the lack of compassion and complete understanding about the situation.

Sin should be directly addressed, but perhaps lumping the whole congregation together as the target of his harsh words might not have been the best route. He makes some good points, and I think the people were probably aware in advance that the sermon was going to be about an unpleasant topic. But I guess I'm torn about David's methods. As Dr. MacNeill says, "All I know is, when you accuse people, a wall goes up. Then the last thing they're interested in is changing their view or their actions" (p. 299 in my copy). Forthrightness is good and something necessary, but repentance needs the hope of grace and mercy.

Dr. MacNeill is not necessarily "hero material" at this point, but I do appreciate the last chapter of the section and how he challenges Christy to think critically about her faith and own it. I found it a good prompt for myself too. :) I'm curious how Christy might grow in this way in time.

Discussion Questions

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

1. Did this section make you want to read faster (because of the suspense) or slow down (because of the heavy topics)?

2. Imagine yourself in one of these tense situations: hearing Uncle Bogg's story at the working, listening to David's sermon, or coming upon Prince in his sad condition. How would you respond?

3. If you could help the McHones in even a small way, what would you do?

Join us next Friday for our fifth discussion! 
(Chapters 26-32)

*Catherine Marshall, Christy (New York: Avon, 2006), 267, 288, 305, 326.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Lighthearted Take on Friendship Advice | Review of Better Together



About the Book
(from Moody Publishers)

Being a mom is hard, but it doesn't have to be lonely. 

Are you trying to do this mothering thing alone?
So focused on the kids that you're hungry for friendships of your own?
Have good friendships, but you want to enjoy them more?

Jill Savage, mother of five, knows those challenges well, and she's here to help. Presenting a compelling vision of motherhood as a group effort, Better Together shows how you can:
  • Combat isolation and enjoy a supportive mothering community 
  • Increase your social confidence and stop the comparison game 
  • Deepen your friendships as you share life with others 
  • Strengthen trust and build friendships without fear 
  • Increase your joy and thrive as a mom 
All these things are possible. Dive into this storehouse of creative ideas for how to make mothering easier, richer, and more fun than you ever thought it could be.

Available Now!


My Review 

Better Together is a fairly light read that covers the basics of being a good friend. It provides ideas for reaching out, getting together, being there, showing grace in the difficult seasons, and blessing others (and being blessed). I appreciate the scope of the book, and it was fun to take the personality tests included in the back, which correspond with a particular chapter. :)

I confess the tone felt a little too young for me, given the audience is supposed to be adult women. I realize it's probably meant to be fun and and provide mothering cheerleading, but there were a lot of exclamation points, along with labeling categories of friends and reference to putting on "big-girl panties"—that sort of thing. Some readers might appreciate the lighthearted nature of the book, but it was a bit much for me.

Some of the ideas also felt a bit much for me in other ways, like the co-op suggestions for cooking lots of meals at once, trading babysitting, etc. But that's probably more a personal issue! Some of those projects sound overwhelming, with a lot of work and prep involved that could be fun when tag-teamed but could also be stressful and difficult to plan.

I did appreciate chapters like "Helping Together" and "Caring Together"; I love how the authors encourage community and thoughtfulness and ways to be there for someone who is going through a painful time or simply could use a helping hand. It's a good reminder to be on the lookout for ways to love others better.

On a note that's unrelated to the content, I really like the look and feel of the book! The cover is pretty and the size of the book is great for a paperback. While the tone and some of the ideas in Better Together weren't completely up my alley, this book does have thought-provoking tips and relationship reminders.

*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 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!

~ ~ ~

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}

* * * * *

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!

~ ~ ~

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!

*

*

*

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...

~ ~ ~

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!)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Important Identity Reminders and Motivations | Review of Defined by the Kendrick Brothers



About the Book
(from B&H Publishing)

Inspired by the Kendrick brothers’ new movie OVERCOMER, and written by the #1 New York Times best-selling author team behind The Love Dare and The Battle Plan for Prayer, comes an exciting new resource about discovering your God-given identity and embracing the wonder of who you were created to be.

At this very moment, what you believe about your own purpose and value affects almost every area of your life—including how you think and feel, the way you react to circumstances, and how you approach God and your relationships. But what is guiding your core beliefs? Are they healthy and founded upon solid truth? Or are they constantly shifting with the opinions of others or your own emotions?

Based upon powerful insights from the scriptural book of Ephesians, and seasoned with personal stories and practical wisdom, Defined challenges you to let the One who knows you best be the One who guides your heart the most. It’s time for all of us to live in the amazing light of His acceptance, abundance, and strength.

Available Now!


My Review

When I was presented with the opportunity to read and review a book by Stephen and Alex Kendrick (with Lawrence Kimbrough) that is a companion of sorts to their new movie, Overcomer, I was drawn in. My husband and I have enjoyed other movies by them (Fireproof, Courageous, War Room) and are anticipating going to see Overcomer in theaters.

What's really neat about this book is how comprehensive it is. It takes you through the basics of faith in Jesus, who we all are from birth and how you are defined once you become a follower of Christ. You learn the different facets of your identity and (in the latter portion of the book) how an understanding of your true identity should change you in your attitude, habits, and responses.

In order to get the most out of this book, to be most influenced by it, I think the steps the authors recommend in the introduction would be helpful: reading only a chapter per day, looking up the Scripture passages they mention in each chapter, and praying.

I confess I didn't follow those guidelines, and this isn't really the best book to read in big chunks at a time. I could definitely see how treating each chapter like a daily devotion would allow time for deeper reflection and thought. Defined isn't really a page turner, and it's easy to lose focus after a while of reading, the different chapters and themes blending together.

The first few sections feel a bit drawn out...but again, I think reading the book slowly and pondering each chapter might help. And as much as some believers might feel quite familiar with the subject matter, it never hurts to be reminded of the all-important truths and foundations of our faith, to consider again what salvation really means and how it transforms our identity forever.

I enjoyed the reminders about renewed living in section 4 and the biblical perspective throughout the book. I also liked that the writing feels down to earth and humble, while still providing a few interesting glimpses into the lives of these beloved movie producers (more of Stephen's experiences).

Defined is a great book for new believers (or people considering the Christian faith)—but it's also encouraging for long-time believers who want to remember how Jesus's sacrifice and resurrection changed everything and should continue to change our lives in internal, practical, and eternal ways.

*With thanks to B&H Publishing and Icon Media Group for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Find More

Monday, July 22, 2019

Experience Small-Town Refuge | Review of Welcome to Last Chance



About the Book (from Revell)

She's learned you can't count on anyone—but she didn't count on landing in Last Chance.

The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it's her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life—especially since she's on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town dramas and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

(through July 31, 2019)

My Rating

Spring

My Review

Last Chance is a fictional town worth visiting, populated with a caring cast of characters. While the plot isn't a big page-turner, Lainie's journey and the growth of her relationships with different people in the town are definitely engaging. There's a subtle suspense element that makes itself known now and then; the romance is a little more prominent but pretty gentle; but the faith and friendships end up taking center stage in a sweet way. :) I would have liked a little more from the ending, rather than jumping straight from the climax to the epilogue, but overall I was satisfied with the story and enjoyed experiencing the changing seasons in a small town in New Mexico—and in the life of a young woman who finds refuge there.

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Bright New Paperback Edition! (How a Star Falls)

Back in 2015, I revealed the new cover for How a Star Falls. (You can check out the story behind the updated cover HERE!) The ebook and audiobook editions of the book each got a makeover as a result, but because of the extra effort required to update a paperback, that edition remained unchanged for years. I just never made it a priority to pursue that update...until this year!

And truly, all the credit goes to my wonderful friend and designer, Lena Goldfinch. She's the one who did the work and took the time to make this happen, not only updating the front cover, back cover, and spine, but also freshening up the interior formatting for the paperback and ebook with shooting-star dividers and a classy look. :)

What do you think?






Each book I've published is special to me for different reasons, but this project was just so much fun! Every stage has been a blast, from dreaming and writing to working with the designer (Lena!) and the audiobook narrator...and seeing Derrick and Brielle's story come alive in new ways. :) I loved including things that mean so much to me and bring back dear memories, from my home county to the dancing to the music references to the ocean. And I enjoyed writing from Derrick's perspective!

* * *

Purchase your own copy today on Amazon!

* * *

So far, four of my six books are available in paperback format, and Lena did an absolutely lovely job on all of them. Here are the other three...

Forget Me Not (Amazon)

Bleeding Heart (Amazon)

Where Trains Collide (Amazon)

For those who prefer to hold a book in your hands—and have covers match in style, as How a Star Falls and Where Trains Collide now do—I hope you'll enjoy adding this latest update to your shelf!

P.S. I'm currently running a giveaway on Instagram for a chance to win one of two copies of this refreshed paperback, along with a cross bookmark! Check it out HERE.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Sweet But Not Simple Historical Romance | Review of Under a Blackberry Moon



About the Book
(from Revell)

Which wilderness is more treacherous--the one she must cross to find her home . . . or the one she must traverse to find love? 

Just a few days after she gave birth alone in the northwoods, a recently widowed young Chippewa woman stumbled into a nearby lumber camp in search of refuge from the winter snows. Come summer, it is clear that Moon Song cannot stay among the rough-and-tumble world of white lumbermen, and so the camp owner sends Skypilot, his most trusted friend, to accompany her on the long and treacherous journey back to her people.

But when tragedy strikes off the shore of Lake Superior, Moon Song and Skypilot must depend on each other for survival. With every step they take into the forbidding woods, they are drawn closer together, until it seems the unanswerable questions must be asked. Can she leave her culture to enter his? Can he leave his world to enter hers? Or will they simply walk away from a love that seems too complicated to last?

Get swept into a wild realm where beauty masks danger and only the truly courageous survive in a story that will grip your heart and your imagination.

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring

My Review

I confess this is one of the books that sat unread on my shelf for far too long. Part of me wonders if maybe I would have enjoyed it a little more if I had read it closer to the time I read the other two books in the series years ago... Perhaps a stronger memory of the characters and some of the backstory would have been nice.

Still, I found Under a Blackberry Moon to be an interesting read with a sweet (but not simple) romance! Based on the description of the book, I think I had a somewhat different idea of the main course of the plot compared to what actually happens. I wasn't expecting a secondary character to have a primary role through the first half of the book, and some of the scenes with that secondary character create an odd mood.

But I appreciate the various twists and how even when the plot changes direction, love and survival still play key roles in different ways. I also appreciate the history and what led the author to include certain elements in the story (as revealed in the author's note at the end). I like how the characters are forced to make difficult decisions about what's practical, what's important, and what's worth the sacrifice.

I feel like the story isn't quite as cohesive as I might wish... Different historical and relational elements take center stage at times, so the plot feels a little scattered in focus. But then again, real life can feel that way! While I didn't feel super emotionally invested in the characters and their choices, I still found myself intrigued by the story and eager to know how it would all unfold. It's a compelling journey!

*With thanks to Revell for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book, which I won through a giveaway. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Want More?

Check out my reviews of other Serena B. Miller books:

The Measure of Katie Calloway | A Promise to Love
Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio | An Uncommon Grace

Monday, May 27, 2019

Left with Much to Ponder | Review of Your Future Self Will Thank You



About the Book
(from Moody Publishers)

Why can't I control my anger? Or stop overeating? Or wasting time online? 

Why can't I seem to finish my projects? Or make progress in my spiritual life? 

Why do I fall for the same stupid temptations over and over again?

When we fail, its easy to make excuses or blame our circumstances. But let's face it: the biggest enemy is usually the one staring back at us from the mirror every morning.

We lack self-control.

Self-control isn't very popular these days. We tend to think of it as boring, confining, the cop that shows up and shuts down the party. But the truth is that people who cultivate this vital virtue lead freer, happier, and more meaningful lives. After all, our bad habits—from the slight to the serious—bring a host of painful consequences. Ultimately, they keep us from becoming the people God created us to be.

Your Future Self Will Thank You is a compassionate and humorous guide to breaking bad habits and growing your willpower. It explores Scripture's teachings on how to live a disciplined life while offering practical strategies for growth based on the science of self-control. Whether you want to deepen your spiritual life, conquer an addiction, or kick your nail-biting habit, this book will help you get motivated, stay on track, and achieve your goals.

Sure, self-control is hard, but it doesn't have to be that hard. Get the help you need to be freer, happier, and more productive. Your future self will thank you!

Available Now!


My Review

This book has given me a lot to think about: strategies I want to implement, truths I want to remember, attitudes I want to change. It's a lot to take in, and the trick is to figure out how to apply the information in a way that will stick. Because, as this book makes perfectly clear, we are weak and prone to stay in our ruts, taking the easy way with the habits we've already established. That's definitely true for me!

I greatly appreciate both the practical guidance and the biblical perspective in Your Future Self Will Thank You. In chapter 7, there's a really great discussion about why self-control matters since we're saved by God's grace and sustained by His power. In chapter 3, the author provides some helpful insight on the temptations Satan presented to Jesus and Jesus's response. And chapter 8 sadly resonates with me as it addresses the very real issue of technology (especially social media) and its affects on our time and self-control.

The meat of this book has to do with willpower and habits and approaching those things with right reasons and a view of our need for God's strength. It's eye opening to realize just how much our habits determine our days...and to face what might be feeding those habits we wish we didn't have.

I like that these pages don't promise an easy way forward. Change is hard, and good habits aren't easy to establish (nor are bad habits easy to break). Finishing this book won't automatically change your life or make you feel like you've won the battle. But it's a great tool in that it makes you want to examine your own routines and consider what you need to change (and how you might begin doing so) in light of God's goodness and power.

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

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Helpful Support and Suggestions | Review of Homeschool Bravely



About the Book
(from Moody Publishers)

Quiet the voices of "not good enough" and step courageously into guilt-free homeschooling

Many homeschool parents have a long-term relationship with self-doubt. "Did I make the right decision?" "Could someone else do this better?" "Am I robbing my kids of something by not sending them to 'regular school'?"

What if there's a better way? 

Not a 3-step technique or a shiny, new curriculum, but a change in perspective that transforms the way you plan, teach, and homeschool?

Homeschool Bravely teaches you to see homeschooling as a calling, helps you overthrow the tyranny of impossible expectations, and guides you through the common bumps in the road, including how to:
  • juggle school and parenting with toddlers at home 
  • teach a struggling learner 
  • plan with the end in mind 
  • accept your own limitations without feeling guilty 
  • stay the course even in the face of criticism 
Reclaim your hope, renew your purpose, and transform your homeschool. Because the truth is: God will use every part of your homeschool, even your fears, faults, and failures, to weave good plans for your kids.

Available Now!


My Review

I'm personally not in the trenches of homeschooling right now, but I could see how this book would be like a big sigh of relief for those who are! It's full of encouragement and good reminders about keeping the journey in a far-reaching, even eternal perspective.

I was never homeschooled myself, but it's something we're considering as an option for any children we may have someday—hence my interest in this book. :) I like that Homeschool Bravely celebrates freedom: the freedom found in trusting God's sovereignty over our children's lives, the freedom to pursue education in a way that works for each family, and the freedom to let kids explore their interests and cultivate a love of learning in unique ways.

There were some great suggestions in these pages for teaching and working with kids of various ages and levels, especially when some kids are old enough for school and others aren't quite there yet. And there are some great words of advice about keeping homeschool plans focused, simplified, and meaningful.


Certainly not surprising, based on the title and topic, this book centers around homeschooling and defending its value. So while it does talk abut how defensiveness isn't needed and fighting about educational choices isn't productive, this book is definitely for those who believe homeschooling is the best choice for their family. If you're a homeschooling mom or definitely plan to be one, you'll find lots of support in these pages. If you're on the fence, you might not get a super balanced view between the various options, but I realize that's not the purpose of this book. :)

One of the appendices is titled "Questions to Ask Before You Start Homeschooling," and I confess I had hoped it would provide some sort of questionnaire for self-assessment; whereas, it's actually a list of questions to ask other people about their homeschooling experiences before you take the leap yourself. Which can still be quite helpful, for sure! Just not exactly what I had personally hoped to find.

All in all, though, Homeschool Bravely is a nice resource, especially for those who have already started on the homeschooling journey or are planning to begin soon. There are some neat tips to ponder and a lot of encouraging words about keeping the focus on God and His sovereign work in the life of your family.

P.S. The cover is really cute, and the design of the pages within is visually appealing!

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