Friday Peanuts – Book Reviews

Friday Peanuts

I recently was introduced to a site that allows bloggers to review recently released and upcoming releases of books for free.  I, of course, took advantage of this wholeheartedly and have been reading my heart out for the past few weeks.  Now that I’ve gotten a couple of titles under my belt, I’d like to share reviews with you!  (Please know that these reviews do fall under my link/review disclosures and I was given these books to read for free but all opinions and reviews are my own.)

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1. The Reconciled Hearts Trilogy: 3 Novels of Contemporary Romantic Intrigue in Beautiful Europe

This is three books in one and a great read if you’re looking to stay interested and intrigued by the story lines.  All three stories involve mystery, reconciliation, and discovering of God through stories told across America and Europe.  The characters are all very well developed and the character arcs are superb.

In the first book, we are introduced to violinist in Vienna, Kerina, and a mother in California, Ashley, and must find how they are connected and what the resolution will be to their story.  In addition to the human struggle, there are numerous art thefts taking place while Kerina plays her enchanting violin throughout Europe.  Who is behind the thefts and can they be caught and brought to justice without any unsuspecting pawns being hurt in the process?

The second book tells the tale of Sydney Barrington and her search to find the missing piece in her life.  She responds to an opportunity that is laced with questions by flying to the Cotswolds in England.  As she searches for answers to unravel the mystery of the legal questions, she finds herself drawn into the countryside and people in the quaint town.  But when an IRA fighter shows up in the village and might still be hiding, sinister forces begin to play against Sydney.  Can she make the best decisions for herself and her new friends while also staying safe?

Rachel McCully is the heroine in the third book as she gathers all of her courage to fight the battle of her life.  It takes her to the Lake District in England where she is drawn into another dangerous situation involving art theft.  As she reconnects with former students and associates, can she release herself to God and find the plan that he has for her instead of struggling to keep to her plan whether or not it is in line with God’s?

All three novels intertwine some characters which is always lovely to see.  The stories are told with beautiful writing and in a way that you are involved in the story but never too much in suspense.  Overall, these were wonderful books and I would highly recommend them if you’re looking for something to carry you over a period of time since the three novels are all of decent length.

Publication date: March 1, 2014
Genre: Christian – suspense, love
Setting: America and Europe around present day
Rating: A

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2. Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom

Being a reader of Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog, I was ecstatic when she announced a few months ago that she had written a book.  I suspected that it would be just as encouraging and uplifting as her blog posts typically are and, let me tell you, the book did not disappoint!  I was highlighting sections left and right and I can’t wait to go back and reread and reread as my children get older and glean even more insight as our seasons of life change.

Throughout the book, Lisa-Jo mixes her unique blend of humor, honesty, and confession to create  intoxicating imagery that you can’t help but fall in love with.  For instance, I now have a huge desire to go to South Africa and see the dust and trails and Jacaranda trees that Lisa-Jo speaks of with such reverence and love.  And just as she can draw you in to a beautiful setting she can bring the dirtier sides of life into reality with descriptions of the human trafficking work that she did in the Ukraine.

I think that Lisa-Jo wrote this book to tell her story.  The story of a girl who grew up unsure of herself in South Africa and lost her mother at 18.  The girl who swore that she would never have children and has ended up with three.  The girl who was going to change the world and right injustices that she saw in her country growing up and who is now encouraging Mom’s daily in the US and around the world that their job as a Mom is equally as important and life changing as any other job.

There was a lot that I needed to hear in Lisa-Jo’s book.  A lot that God used her words to breathe life into parts of my soul that were withering and needed food.  One of my favorite quotes from the whole book was this:

God doesn’t ask us to trade who we are for the label of “Mom.”  Rather, he builds all the courage and calling of a lifetime into a story line big enough and rich enough to encompass kids, passion, work, creativity, and dreams that don’t end in the labor and delivery ward.

I encourage all Mom’s to read this book because you will take something from it whether you are pregnant, have toddlers, teenagers, or grandchildren.  Lisa-Jo opens up about her life and her walk and reminds us that we are not alone and that doing the best that we can is all that God or our children ask from us.

Publication date: April 1, 2014
Genre: Christian – non-fiction, parenting
Setting: Present Day
Rating: A+

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3. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms

I had not heard of Gloria Furman or read her other book when I started Treasuring Christ so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Was this going to be a devotional with readings for a set number of days?  Would it be more of a memoir about her life?  Would it make me feel burdened with the ways that I wasn’t measuring up as a mother?  But what I found as I read Treasuring Christ was a book full of hope and encouragement for mothers of all ages that is Biblically backed by scripture.

This book is not as lighthearted or as easy a read as some other parenting books.  Nor is it structured so that you can read a short meditation (as it’s referred to in the title) each day.  It is set up as a novel with a mix of Gloria’s real life experiences and learnings but always with a direct arrow pointing you back to Christ and his word.

I found some chapters less helpful than others, but when I went back and looked at the sections that I had highlighted in the book I realized that I have many many nuggets of wisdom and faith to help me remember what mothering for Christ is all about.  Some examples of this are:

“We need to remember that God is no less good to us when we find ourselves in a battle of wills with a preschooler in the checkout line at the grocery store than he was as his Son dragged a cross up a hill that Friday two thousand years ago.”

“I feel like I could lift a bus to protect my offspring, but if you ask me to hand over my peanut butter banana smoothie to one of them, then I have to really think about it.”

“Being a mother is wildly fun, yet because of eternity it is a serious joy at the same time.”

If you are looking for a book that is just going to pat you on your back for your mothering techniques, then this is not the book for you.  But if you want to learn more about what it means to mother your children with eternity in mind, if you want to remember God’s promise to us through our children, and if you want a challenge to work more diligently in your everyday, sometimes mundane and trivial life, to glorify God to the best of your ability, then this is the perfect book for you to read.  A mixture of humorous anecdotes and gut-wrenching honesty, you will be pulled to the base of the cross again and again as you relearn what it means to be a Christ-centered mother.

Publication date: March 15, 2014
Genre: Christian – non-fiction, parenting
Setting: Present Date
Rating: B+

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4.A May Bride (A Year of Weddings Novella)

As part of the “A Year of Weddings Novella” series, this is the May offering of love and romance in a Christian setting.  Written by Meg Moseley, we find Ellie Martin in Atlanta with her baby sister getting married, an overprotective and judgmental mother, and a job that she just tolerates.  When a guerrilla wedding stumbles upon her as she pulls weeds in a church garden, we watch and wonder if Ellie can overcome her obstacles to find the one that God has meant for her without sacrificing her convictions.

A May Bride is a novella so it can be read in a single, long sitting or would be great for a flight.  Despite the shortness, you feel connected to the characters and don’t feel as if their storyline has gotten compressed or that anything has been left out.  With solid writing and well thought out characters this is a great fiction piece to help you unwind from the stress of your daily life.  And with eleven other novella’s written by equally talented authors you can find an escape from the every day even more often.

Publication date: April 22, 2014
Genre: Christian – fiction
Setting: Present day Atlanta
Rating: A

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    Around the Web | Tales Of A Peanut
    March 25, 2014 at 2:30 am

    […] – Don’t forget that Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker comes out in one week!  I’ve seen on instagram that it’s already out in some stores so you might want to check if you’re in a bookstore.  It is a fantastic read!  You can read a longer review of it in this post. […]

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