Sunday, January 14, 2018

Faithful Finance, by Emily G Stroud

Faithful Finance, by Emily G Stroud, is a guide book, from a biblical perspective, on how best to handle and control your money instead of letting it control you.

Stroud, an MBA and CFA, is clearly knowledgeable, and she organizes her thoughts well.  She writes in a warm, conversational style that makes a topic that could be rather dry into something that is easy to read.  The book is broken up into ten chapters, and covers everything from saving to budgeting to managing debt and more.

This is a great book for those looking to learn more about managing their finances in a responsible way.  My only caution would be that if you've already read a lot of related books, this covers very similar information.  I have read several things by Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, so this book did not contain a whole lot that I had not already heard.  Still, it was presented well, and was easy to understand.  If you're new to the idea, and/or have had difficulty connecting with other authors' interpretations, this book is an excellent place to start.

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

In The Middle Of The Mess, by Sheila Walsh

In The Middle Of The Mess is about struggle, darkness, and ultimately hope. It is a lovely book full of practical suggestions, by someone who has spent her own time deep in the trenches.

As someone who is intimately familiar with hopelessness and even suicidality due to bipolar, I so much more appreciate the perspective of someone who has actually been there herself, rather than an expert who is only talking about book knowledge and hypotheticals. Walsh has lived it, and she shares her experiences, her struggles, and her strategies with such honesty and grace. With her strong faith, her daily practices of mindfullness and awareness, and her carefully cultivated social connections, she overcomes and even thrives. It is both an inspiration and a strong testimony.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when she talks about the importance of her "sister-friends", those friends who are so close that they can go to each other with anything, without reservation and without judgement. My illness has required that I find and recognize those sister-friends in my own life, and I've come to realize that their presence has been every bit as vital as medication and therapy. Walsh understands this so very well.

Overall, this is a wonderful and inspirational book full of practical advice for any Christian who might find themselves "in the middle of the mess."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls, by Colleen Coble

Beneath Copper Falls is a fast-paced mystery, suspense, and romance all crafted into one story.  It centers around Dana Newell, a 911 operator who escapes an abuse partner and returns to Copper Falls; and Boone Carter, a local man still trying to come to terms with the brutal murder of his sister. Together, they try to make sense of a string of murders, and whether or not they are connected to his sister's death, or to Dana's violent ex-fiance.

I really enjoy Colleen Coble's writing, and I really enjoy reading suspenseful books. The characters were well-developed and likable (at least the ones who were meant to be likable) and it was easy to root for Dana and Boone.  The story moved quickly, and built in intensity right up until the climactic finale.

My one real gripe is that I figured out who the killer was halfway through the book.  It didn't completely stop me from enjoying the rest of the book, because I still got to see how it all played out.  However, it was very frustrating to know more than the characters, and at certain points I wanted to yell at them, "How can you not see who it is??"

Overall though, it was a well-written, fast-paced read.  I just wish I hadn't solved the mystery SO much sooner than the characters.

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Carve, by Melanie Abrantes

I was really excited to get this book.  With the tagline of "A Simple Guide to Whittling", it was pretty clear what the book was about.  It was a simple, and beginner's, guide to whittling.  I'd never tried whittling before, but I'm a big fan of trying new things, especially when I get to use my hands and create artwork of some sort.

The book itself is lovely.  Nice feel to the cover, thick pages, beautiful photos.  It would actually make a great coffee table book, and conversation starter.

It was very clear that the author is both knowledgeable and passionate about the art of whittling.  The instructions are clear, easy to follow, and everything makes sense.  The book is well organized, and takes you through the basics, including supplies, techniques, and safety.  Finally, it includes several projects to try, with detailed instructions and specific tips, starting with the most basic and increasing in difficulty.  At the time of this writing, I am close to completing my very first whittling project:  a pair of chopsticks.  The process has been both fun and challenging.

Wonderful book, and hopefully the start of a rewarding new hobby.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Friday, September 22, 2017

Convicted, by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins

Convicted is a really incredible (and true!) story.  Let me just start there.  I finished it yesterday, in my car after an appointment, because I couldn't bear waiting until I got home.  I have not been able to stop thinking or talking about it since.

Jameel McGee was an innocent young man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Andrew Collins was a corrupt cop who was determined to make another drug arrest.  A falsified police report ensured McGee's "guilt," and he was ultimately sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

The story is told, in alternating chapters, from both McGee's and Collins's points of view.  While McGee describes the horrors of being wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, as well as the violent anger that it caused, Collins honestly recounts his descent from eager young cop making some bad decisions, to the full-blown corruption that prompted an investigation, cost him his job, and eventually landed him in prison as well.

While the book reads like a gripping crime novel, it is really the ultimate story of forgiveness.  When Collins' crimes are brought to light, leading to McGee's full exoneration and release from prison - after four years! - the very last thing you'd expect would be for the two to become friends.  But that is exactly what happened.  Both men found their own paths to God, to redemption, and to forgiveness (both of self and others) and forged the most unlikely of relationships.

The story was superbly told, and while I immediately had compassion for Jameel McGee, I found myself having compassion for Andrew Collins as well.  Yes, he did utterly inexcusable things.  Yes, he put an innocent man in jail.  But never did I feel he was a bad person... just a person who let his ego take charge, and made some really terrible, snowballing decisions.  His remorse and shame at what he had done felt genuine and sincere.  He was a man who truly wanted to right his wrongs,while McGee was a man who truly wanted to learn to forgive.

Beautiful, inspiring, and touching true story.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Launch Your Dream, by Dale Partridge

Launch Your Dream, by Dale Partridge, bills itself as a 30-day, step-by-step plan for preparing, launching, and growing your own business.  And that's what it is... kind of.

I had mixed feelings about this book. On the positive side, it was written and organized well.  It was easy to read, with nice short chapters, and his writing style was warm and conversational.  There were some good actionable steps to take, and some generally helpful business advice.  It also went into such areas as creating your mission statement, conducting market analysis, and navigating your social media presence. 

The problem I had was that if you've read any sort of book in this genre before, it really didn't contain anything new.  I was actually excited to read it, but felt a little bit let down.  It was fine, and it was motivating in the way that a polished motivational speaker is motivating, but it didn't feel like it had a lot of substance.  At times, it also felt like an advertisement for his website (and its accompanying paid consulting course). 

Dale Partridge has built a very successful and lucrative business for himself, so he is clearly doing something right.  But this book - largely for reasons I can't really put my finger on - just felt a little "off" for me. 

*I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Here and Gone, by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone, by Haylen Beck, is the consummate page-turner.  Audra is a caring mother, fleeing an abusive husband with her two young children.  As she drives though a long stretch of desert road in Arizona, she is pulled over by a local sheriff, and a routine traffic stop quickly devolves into a series of events that finds Audra taken into custody. 

Without giving away some major plot points, Audra's troubles quickly become any parent's worst nightmare.  She soon finds herself an unwitting participant in a race to save her kids - and herself - from a dangerous and highly organized group of sophisticated criminals, whose reach far exceeds anything Audra could have imagined.  Aided by an unlikely source of help, a man with his own vendetta to settle, she sets out to uncover the truth before it's too late.

A fast-paced and shocking thriller, this is a book best read when you have a weekend to spare.  You won't to put it down after Chapter 3.  Well-written, suspenseful, and a satisfying and wild ride from start to finish.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.