Book Review | The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis by Jane Rubietta

the forgotten life of evelyn lewis

Book Description:

In a desperate attempt to save her company from bankruptcy, designer Evelyn Lewis decides to sell the only memento from her past worth anything—the family farmland. Determined to get in and get out of the abandoned property, she finds the valuable land tangled in a trust, and wonders who she can really trust, Not the property manager and affable southern gentleman, Taylor Simpson.

Caught up in the mechanics of a farm, a legal document she can’t break, and pressure from her company for money, Evelyn turns to her own wiles and willpower…but can she resist the South’s wooing?

I know Jane Rubietta as a non-fiction Christian author/speaker and have appreciated her insight over the years.  She is inspirational and enthusiastic about her Christian faith.  In 2015, I reviewed: “Worry Less So You Can Live More” – [https://freshlyprinted.blog/2015/05/21/worry-less-so-you-can-live-more-by-jane-rubietta/%5D. And I will continue to read anything she puts out, non-fiction and fiction alike.

This book was such a refreshing novel for me.  The writing was splendid, and I knew this was Jane’s first attempt at a novel.  I was so intrigued to see how it would go.

If you’re unfamiliar, Jane has a unique writing style that is very descriptive and seems to bring beauty to words in a way unparalleled.

For instance, in describing laughter, “Silver wind chimes of his child’s laugh pealed and filled his soul”, or someone’s eyes, “Those eyes could set fire to wet timber”, and finally, “Handel never heard a more beautiful chorus of amens.” Rich terms to give visuals that stick.  Her books continuously flow with these gifted words.

So, on to the actual review: this book will stay with me for a long time. I almost wish there was a follow-up novel to continue the direction the book was going.  If you’re a Hallmark movie lover like myself, yes, this book is reminiscent of some of those happy town scenes and relationships built.  But there was so much more.  The depth of character that Jane was able to produce, in the main character Evie with her struggles in business, relationships and life in general, in Taylor with his grief and family struggles, in the townspeople who were seeing a city girl come to make change, they were so incredible, you feel like you’ve actually met them!

There is definitely conflict and the ability to overcome at certain points in the book (and I certainly won’t spoil the situations, as each moment is so vivid and unique). That is why this book stands out to me.

The aspect of Evelyn Lewis losing a part of herself throughout her life is something most of us can relate to.  And in witnessing her journey through tears, pain, conversations and relationship, her growth and desire to change was so encouraging.  I felt like I knew her!

I also appreciated her love interest in the story and the way their relationship developed.  It was written so believably, especially in how it included “the good and the bad”. I love stories that are not entirely perfect.  And this one was fantastic!  There were so many parts I would love to point out and address, but I wouldn’t be letting the book do the talking.  So I’ll just encourage you to grab the novel, get a cold glass of sweet tea and read it on your front porch.  It’ll be a sweet ride, one that leaves you with a smile and a Southern sigh at the end. Kudos Jane, you are a gift!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Jane Rubietta. 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 | Rethinking Sexuality, God’s Design and Why it Matters by Juli Slattery

rethinking sexuality

Book Description:

Sexual abuse, sex addiction, gender confusion, brokenness, and shame plague today’s world, and people are seeking clarity and hope. By contesting long-held cultural paradigms, this book equips you to see how sexuality is rooted in the broader context of God’s heart and His work for us on earth. It provides a framework from which to understand the big picture of sexual challenges and wholeness, and helps you recognize that every sexual question is ultimately a spiritual one. It shifts the paradigm from combating sexual problems to confidently proclaiming and modeling the road to sacred sexuality.
Instead of arguing with the world about what’s right and wrong about sexual choices, this practical resource equips you to share the love and grace of Jesus as you encounter the pain of sexual brokenness–your own or someone else’s.

I loved this book. Not only do I know Juli Slattery from Authentic Intimacy (https://www.authenticintimacy.com/rethinking), but I’ve heard her countless times on Christian radio.  She is a professional who speaks truth. And sex needs to be talked about.

This timely book starts out strong, “Although sexuality presents an enormous challenge to Christians and the world at large, it is not a problem to be solved but a territory to be reclaimed.” Bold, yet truthful! She provides stats and research regarding the epidemic of discounting the importance of sexual purity, but also recounts the harmful effects of sex outside of the God-given boundaries.

She is also clear to point out, “The world is watching and laughing at Christians who worship the same God and read the same Bible can’t agree on God’s intention for sexuality. We can’t guide others if we ourselves are lost.” Amid the confusion of today, she’s got some answers, with glaring totality. The world can provide sexual answers, or we can go back to God, the originator of the Design and seek His will above the noise.

As the world pushes more toward postmodernism and humanism, we are sucked into the mindset that there are no standards of right and wrong, no moral compass.  But is this actually true?  When did what God said about the beauty and gift of sexuality become something we had the ability to define? “The transgender movement is the ultimate expression of postmodern thought, denying even the biological constraints of male and female. Gender becomes something we create in our own thoughts instead of a physical reality to which we must adjust our thinking.” There has to be a movement back to the basics, back to reality where we let God speak about what He’s created, instead of letting our sinful nature draw us away from the One who designed us intimately.

So why does purity matter?  Why should sex be confined to the marital bed and not out in the streets where lust takes control of us? Why does this all matter?  Because we can teach the next generation about the discipleship of sexuality.  “…if the church were using a discipleship model to teach about sexuality, these young people would understand the underlying spiritual importance and implications of their sexuality…they would also know how to apply the broader message of the gospel (Jesus’s love and redemption, the power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling) to their lives in all circumstances.”

It’s that important.  I applaud Dr. Slattery for being bold enough to speak out about the dangers of misusing our sexuality, mislabeling and giving into sin, instead of seeking the One who gave us the gift of gender and sexuality.  We all need the Living Water.

Check out the website above. She has provided many resources for education, and check out the podcast “Java with Juli” for more of her content.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and Waterbrook & Multnomah.  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.”

Book Review | How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God by Erwin Lutzer

eternity with God

From the Back Cover:

“Be wrong about social security, be wrong about baseball, be wrong about your career choice, but don’t be wrong about where you will spend eternity.”

How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God—it’s a big promise, but this short book delivers. It answers a host of questions, such as:

  • Will good deeds help me get into heaven?
  • Who goes to heaven and who doesn’t?
  • What role do I have in my own salvation?
  • Can I lose my salvation if I commit a serious sin?
  • Is it wrong to doubt my salvation, and what should I do if I doubt?

Dr. Lutzer takes many scriptural teachings and siphons them into clear, cohesive truths. The result is a concise, accessible book about how to be saved and be sure you are saved. It is straight gospel—applicable to the skeptic, newly saved, and long-time believer alike.”

Do you know with absolute certainty where you are headed when your physical life on Earth is over?  There are many temporary things in life we can afford to be uncertain about, but this is one question that needs to be answered by every living person, who will one day stand before the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.

If you’ve ever heard a sermon by Dr. Erwin Lutzer, the senior pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, then you know he is very blunt and direct, however he is Scriptural and truthful.  I’ve been listening to him for years, and have read several of his books.  I have absolute respect for him as a pastor, and fellow Christian brother.

This book was a fast read, and one that gave me a lot of things to think about.  As a practicing Christian for almost twelve years, I have been asking the Lord many things about my future, salvation, who is in and who is out, how do we know for sure, and where do I stand?  And because of a desire to know the truth, I have been digging deeper into the truths of the Holy Bible, and chose to do a book review for Moody Publishers.  When I saw that it was from Dr. Lutzer, I jumped at the chance.

If you are seeking confirmation of your eternal future, this book is for you.  And if I can shut some doors on false teaching for you, let me start by sharing this truth from page 18,

“Recently I was discussing the credentials of Christ with a woman who said, ‘I believe that there are many paths to God.  People can come in their own way.’ I told her I wished that were true, but I was confronted with a choice- do I believe her well-intentioned opinion, or do I believe in what Christ Himself had to say?

…Christ insisted that there was a narrow road that led to eternal life, but in contrast, there was a broad road that led to spiritual death.  Clearly there are separate gates, therefore two roads and two very different destinations.”  This can be found in Matthew 7:13-14.

Dr. Lutzer explains three different approaches to eternity: The Ladder Climbers, The Religious Types, and The Mystics.  To get a better understanding of these, please pick up a copy of this book today to see how these three groups are misguided in their attempts to reach Heaven.  You may feel an immediate offense, but I can assure you, that he makes his case airtight against these methods.

Now if you are like me, you may have tried earning your salvation, using religion, and even questioning other methods that didn’t involve sitting in a church pew.  But the truth is that salvation is not secure in any of these routes.  The grace of God is sufficient for anyone who realizes their humanity and their helpless condition.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, He not only fulfilled years of prophecy to be the ONE and ONLY MESSIAH, He made the way for us to be in relationship with His Father, GOD, and we can therefore declare our salvation in Him alone.

“God has entered the cemetery.”

Did you know that before your life with Christ, you were considered “dead in sin”?  Ephesians 2:1 declares us to be.  And the wonderful truth is that when we turn to Jesus, we can become ALIVE in Christ.  Be reassured by Romans 6:11.

I loved this book, and will keep it on hand for family, friends and even myself, if I should end up on the spiritual treadmill inadvertently.  Knowing for sure that I will be with my Lord is the only thing that matters on Earth for me.  And the other thing that I’ve been tasked with is to make sure that others know how as well.

“…when you come to Christ, you do not come to give, you come to receive.  You do not come to try your best, you come to trust.  You do not come to be helped, but to be rescued. You do not come to be made better (although that does happen), you come to be made alive!” – Dr. Lutzer

Do you know Him?  https://needhim.org

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Moody Publishers.  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.”

 

 

Book Review | The Domino Effect by Davis Bunn

domino effect

I loved this book!!  It follows the story of Esther who is a high risk analyst at a very high profile bank.  Her ability to see trends and decipher some kind of pattern in her bank’s behavior alerts her that something heavy will affect the stock market and result in a 2008 mirror effect of today’s economy.  She goes to her bosses with her urgent intel, only to find out that they have an escape plan for what’s coming, and she’s not part of it.

Among the constant urgency that can be felt throughout the book are two additional subplots: one is that her brother was in a very tragic accident that left him in a nursing home and she is the only survivor in her family to take care of him.  Due to his dependency on her, she is forced to deal with some painful memories from their childhood.  And in addition to visiting him on a regular basis, she also meets a man who has quite an effect on her, and helps her learn to let go of some things and to love again.

I enjoyed the overall story line, even though I’ll admit, some of the banking and economical words were over my head.  But even for a layperson reading this novel (hoping it’s not prophetic!), it’s a simple read with depth page after page.  I would definitely read another book by this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Baker Publishing Group. 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 | Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up by Larissa Murphy

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Eight Twenty Eight was a very easy, yet emotional read.

Larissa Murphy writes a first-person account of meeting a young man and falling in love with hopes of a picture perfect wedding, only to have those dreams shattered when her new love survives a very tragic accident that changes both of their lives forever.  She writes deeply about the love that she has for him which was maintained during learning what it’s like to live with someone who can’t do things by themselves anymore.

Ian and Larissa, both young Christians, demonstrate intense faith amidst great tragedy.  Much of what is in the book comes from Larissa’s journals during that time, and she struggles very candidly with whether or not she has the level of love needed to continue the new relationship with Ian.  Trust in God becomes a new trial and she questions God’s grace and purpose in all of it.  But with a renewed sense of who she is and who God is making Ian, she pushes forward to care for, live with and pursue a relationship, and ultimately a marriage with the man she knows God had in mind for her.

It’s beautiful how she writes through the pain, allows us to see the heartache, and the hunger for God during her questioning, struggles and uncertainty.  With raw emotion, she details exchanges between herself and Ian’s family, friends and others whom she encounters.  And she’s not afraid to admit her anger during her grief.  I enjoyed this book a lot and shed many tears through its pages.

The flow of the story was disjointed at times, and I believe it was because her emotions were the focus of the story and not a chronological timeline.  It’s still understandable, but that would be my only con.  Other than that, a great read about faith being strengthened, relationships growing and grace persevering.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through B&H Publishing 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 | Eternity: Understanding Life After Death by Tony Evans

eternity

We’ve all heard the saying, “You only live once”, but I believe what the Bible implies, “You only die once.”  The unsettling truth is that we’re all going to die a physical death at some point, but our souls live forever.  The question is will it be in Heaven or in Hell?

This was a great book on the afterlife from a biblical perspective.  It was also a short read (took me two days in the sunshine to finish) and answered many of my questions.  In today’s world, we seem to have so many different interpretations of what Heaven will be like, but God gave us clues and insight to our eternal home in His Word.  Tony Evans put together a concise book filled with answers from the Bible to our most asked questions, such as: Will we recognize each other in Heaven?  What will we do there?  And how can I get there?

A relationship with Jesus Christ is essential to our eventual outcome.  Knowing God’s Word but not knowing His Son is not enough to be with our Heavenly Father forever. And Tony Evans shares how to know the Lord and accept His Son into your heart so you can be with God for all of eternity.  If you’ve read “Tony Evans Speaks Out on Heaven and Hell” from 2000, then this book would be repetitive, as most of the material comes from that book, but there’s enough here to glean the truth of life after death and the urgency in making a decision that affects everything.

If you think we’ll be strumming harps and floating on clouds, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  Dr. Evans pulls back the curtains and shares about our roles, our gifts and how we will spend time with God.  It gives me hope and encourages me to stay the course.  Life on earth is fleeting, and time is temporary here.  Longing for our Home needs to stay forefront as we journey here.  And from what Dr. Evans shares from the Bible, it’s worth it!

Thank you to Moody Publishers for their advanced reader copy and the opportunity to provide an honest, unbiased review.

Book Review | No More Perfect Marriages by Mark and Jill Savage

no more perfect marriages

Wanting a perfect marriage is typical of newlyweds and romantic hopefuls.  And for a while after the wedding bells are rung, things seem to be just that.  But then dust settles and life takes over, and the real “US”es start to show.  Could it mean that a perfect marriage is unattainable?

Instead of answering that question, I think the question should be, “Are we focusing on what marriage is really supposed to be?” Because the truth is that, if we are, we will realize the truth of what Mark and Jill have written about in their new book, “No More Perfect Marriages”- there is no perfect marriage.  They give very real and candid examples from their own lives and long-standing marriage, which I found to be incredibly admirable, and they discuss many changes that many of our marriages may face.

Understanding that each marriage is unique (remember two of us are becoming one), we have to also understand that both people are bringing their pasts, experiences, understandings, expectations, and realities to the center.  And trying to blend those things doesn’t always work out without understanding, grace and forgiveness at the ready.  So needless to say, we need help for our marriages, picture-perfect or not.

One section of the book that I loved was right in the beginning.  They addressed the masks that we wear.  In any marriage, it’s easy to resort to old habits or hide when we don’t get our way, but the problem lies in what those actions do to our spouses.  We need to be realistic and admit when we let selfishness creep in where God wants us to put the other first.  It’s hard, but can be done with Christ’s help.  And Mark and Jill show us how.

I also love how they laid out some God-tools- relevant for all of us, and practical items that we need on a daily basis to consistently put our spouses first, and recognize how our behavior affects each other.  This book has some additional links for support, a link to Jill’s page (http://www.jillsavage.org/) and many fun, practical ideas for how to get over trying to pretend our marriages are perfect.  You’ll love their honesty, raw emotional stories and uplifting outcomes.

This book is (dare I say, PERFECT) for marriages of any length of time, those who are thriving and those who are struggling.  There is help, and these two, along with Gary Chapman are some great Christian resources!

perfect 1 perfect 2perfect 4 perfect 3

I received this book, free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  I am very thankful to Moody Publishers for giving me this advanced reader copy, and providing me an opportunity to post about it with all of you.  Pick up your copy today!

Book Review | The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler

gods-eye-view-225

Barry Eisler captured my attention within the first few pages by citing names stripped from today’s NSA headlines. I was interested in the book simply because I love a good mystery, but I’m even more drawn to a conspiracy driven mystery that seems to give a glimpse to hidden networks and clearances mere civilians will never see. I work for our nation’s government, and also am prone to wondering if there is more than meets the eye.

This story follows an NSA employee who knows too much and sees things she’s not supposed to. Of course, she must be dealt with, and the person in charge of ordering that, appears to be someone who would not normally be suspected-unless of course, he has something to hide. I didn’t find the plot to be unbelievable. Interlaced in the story are code names for projects and programs that the NSA has in place, and the possibility for these to be a reality, made me question whether this book was fiction or non-fiction.

I loved the suspense, the romance, and the outcome. Worth the time to read, and I would be interested in reading more of Eisler’s work.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley.  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.”

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 | Death on Hold: A Prisoner’s Desperate Prayer and the Unlikely Family Who Became God’s Answer by Burton Folsom Jr and Anita Folsom

death on hold
Death on Hold was the first book I’d ever read that was based on the life of an inmate.  Very intense at times, somber and sad at others, but told from the perspective of the one who lived the moments.  It’s an amazing story of growth, love, forgiveness and God’s redemption.

Mitch Rutledge made some bad choices after his mother passed and his dad abandoned him and his siblings.  He took to the streets and followed the path of drugs, alcohol and gangs.  Finding his “family” in the gang worked for a length of time, but eventually landed him in trouble.  He made a decision to take a life, and as a result, was found out by the law, and prosecuted.

Mitch’s story is told primarily by Mitch, however he begins to develop relationships with some families outside of prison; people who want to show him hope, the Gospel and love.  These families that wrote to him shared their perspectives through this book as well.  It’s beautiful to see their hearts and viewpoints during court sessions, meeting Mitch in the “yard” and during their prayers as he had to wait to see if he could get off of death row.

To Mitch, a young man who couldn’t read or write, it took a while to find out what the letter writers were saying, but he began to study English and believe that he had value.  Fellow inmates would read him the letters of those who wanted to teach him about Jesus, and as a result, he learned to read and write, and took what he was learning from his friends and the Bible to heart.  He ended up becoming repentant, and became a person known in prison for staying neutral and defusing tough situations.

Read this book to learn the story of a man who is rehabilitated, learn about Jesus in a new way, and/or see the work of the Lord behind bars.  No one is out of His reach!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. 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.”