Book Review | All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

all we ever wanted

Book Description:

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

In an age where pictures can be shared in seconds via social media and texting, and long-term repercussions are not considered, this story takes a very realistic scenario and plays it out with such fast-pace that it pulls you in and challenges everything you believe.  “White privilege” and minority stereotypes were addressed in this story and it was extremely well written, without being forceful toward a certain agenda.  Thankfully fiction stayed as fiction.

This story really made me feel all kinds of emotions: compassion, sympathy, anger, sadness, happiness, disgust. I loved the writing, as it was so incredibly vivid.  The characters were definitely realistic, even the teenage viewpoints and I felt like they weren’t forced.  The “uppity” status exemplified by Nina’s husband was sadly believable as well, and the conversations had between multiple parties flowed.

I really enjoyed the novel, didn’t mind thinking about the worst case scenario when it comes to consequences and actually think this book might be extremely relevant for mothers, fathers, and teenage children to read together to cause discussion.  I would definitely read another book by the same author anytime, and enjoyed this book, despite the raw scenes. It was refreshing to read something that was mature about a topic as severe as this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Book Review | Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson

your-sacred-yesThis book was a strengthening journey of confirmation for me on the benefits of saying yes and no.  Choosing whether to say yes or no to something can be hard, especially if you are a people-pleaser and want to make everyone happy (hopefully by now, you know that’s an impossible, futile task).

This is the first book I’ve read by Susie Larson, although I’m sure I’ve heard her radio program over the years (http://myfaithradio.com/programs/live-the-promise/).

What a phenomenal writer!  I enjoyed her perspective, her insight, and her godly wisdom. She shared personal stories, lessons learned and ways to say no without feeling guilty. We can honor God by using our time the way He means for us to use it, and it doesn’t mean every obligation is ours.  This theme of listening to God for time management is paramount in the lives of Christian women today.  We have duties to our relationship with Jesus primarily, spouses, families and then wherever God needs us.  When we let that slip, we become overwhelmed and drained.  That is not the way the Lord wants for us to live.

Her chapters are organized very intelligently: Sloppy Yeses, Shackled Yeses and finally Sacred Yeses.  Sadly, we all fit somewhere on the spectrum.

      your-sacred-yes-3  your-sacred-yes-2  your-sacred-yes-1

My prayer is that you will take some much needed time to read this book, as time allows 😉 and tuck away the Scriptures she gives, so you can give yourselves permission to steal away time for rest and regeneration with your Lord.  It’s an essential reward.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the love of Jesus by Jessica Thompson

Everyday Grace

So, this past year, I’ve been doing some soul searching (aren’t I always?) and Bible reading and it has occurred to me that even though I’m waking up every morning and living my life, sometimes there are still areas I’m struggling.  And I’ll even admit that sometimes I don’t allow the Holy Spirit to do what He does best, which is transform me.  #imaginethat

I have wonderful relationships, but they could certainly be better.

You may be significantly different from me by color of your hair, skin or eyes, but I’m pretty sure grace is not something any of us are born with. Sure we see children who have compassion for each other, but take their favorite toy away and see if they’re still as gracious.  And I’ll admit, sadly, I’ve seen some adults who still have that reaction; faster than you can say “Golden Rule”.

What makes this book so special?  There are many books on the topic of grace, loving others, even having the love of Jesus.  What made this book stand out to me, and why am I recommending that you take time out of your precious day to read it?  Because it’s unlike any other “Christian help book”.

Jessica starts out by addressing what we all need to know: that we are all sinners who need a Savior.  One line from her book that struck me (and will resonate with you too) is the following: “We are a performance-based people, which is completely ironic, because our performance every days is far less than perfect.  We live in performance-based relationships.”  We tend to ask what others can do for us, instead of seeking to meet their needs.  From there, she goes right into the truth of our need for a Savior who can meet us in that place, and change us.  Once we recognize our need for love and grace, we can accept it with the help of the Holy Spirit and then let Him transform us so we can give those inhuman attributes to those around us.

The other beautiful thing about this book is that she ACTUALLY goes into HOW to give grace in the relationships we tend to have: children, friendships, communities, marriages, families, church families, and coworkers.  She doesn’t give step-by-step instructions with bullet points, but provides relevant and Scriptural sound advice on how to deal with our own insecurities, so we can give the best parts of ourselves to others.  We can move from “what can you do for me” to “what can I do for you” without batting an eye.

It seemed to me that every word written was necessary in this book; there wasn’t a ton of “filler”.  Everything was beneficial to tie the ends together and I think it’s a lovely read, with a powerful message.  Do you want to have healthier relationships?  It starts with us loving like Christ.

Pick this book up today!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Publishing’s book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”