Thursday, December 30, 2010

Years in Review

Just in case you are new, before we start our 3rd year I have decided to go ahead and give you a list of all the books we have read thus far. Some of the books we had some great discussion on and I did A LOT of writing and others not so much writing was done on my part. For this I apologize but life is busy and sometimes I don't always have the time or a lot to say. Regardless I hope that you find something enjoyable. The books are also listed down the right hand side of the blog with the link to all posts related to that book.

Book Club Year 2009

January – Traveling Light by Max Lucado
February – Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
March – Same kind of different as me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
April – The Shack by William P. Young
May – Having a Mary heart in a Martha world by Joanna Weaver
June – The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
July – The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
August – The Five people you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
September – One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury

Book Club Year 2010

January – The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall
February – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
March – God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew
April – A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers
May – Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin
June – The Measure of a Lady by Deanne Gist
July – A shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm by Phillip Keller
August – Redemption by Karen Kingsbury
September – For One More Day by Mitch Albom

I will mention other books I read that are not a part of the book club selections. Just click on the right hand side that says "What other books Amber is reading" and you will be taken to all those posts. I am getting things ready for January so stay tuned for that announcement! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Break....almost over...

I know I never did do an official blog post to state this but most of you know that our club is on a break during the months of October, November and December. I am currently getting a list of books together for 2011 and in the process of making a decision on our January Selection. I have been reading just not as often as I would like to since I have been going back to school at night. Bummer. But it has had me listening to alot more books on CD. I hope to be able to start catching you all up on what I have been reading/listening to soon. If you have any suggestions for a great book club pick, PLEASE share!!!! :)

Thanks for sticking around! I pray you have a very blessed Christmas Season!

Stay tuned for January...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September Book Club Selection

Wow... our 2010 book club year is coming to a close. Two years of so many wonderful books and great conversation! I can't believe we are announcing the last official book for the year but can't wait to see what the year 2011 will hold for us. As you may remember, we read Jan-Sept and take Oct-Dec off for Holidays. I finally decided on the September Book after reading the recent edition of Homelife Magazine where they featured famous Christian Speakers/Authors and their favorite books. Our September book will be, For One More Day by Mitch Albom which also happens to be a favorite of this past month's author, Karen Kingsbury! This book is inspirational fiction. It is only 208 pages long. Here is a bit about the book from the author's site:

“Every family is a ghost story . . .Mitch Albom mesmerized readers around the world with his number one New York Times bestsellers, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie. Now he returns with a beautiful, haunting novel about the family we love and the chances we miss. For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? As a child, Charley “Chick” Benetto was told by his father, “You can be a mama’s boy or a daddy’s boy, but you can’t be both.” So he chooses his father, only to see the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence. Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. And he decides to take his own life. He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother -- who died eight years earlier -- is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened. Albom has said his relationship with his own mother was largely behind the story of the book, and that several incidents in “For One More Day” are actual events from his childhood. (End quote)

I read the book a couple years ago and really enjoyed the "what if's" of the story. It really changes your perspective for the here and now, for the future of how you treat and respond to others and the assumptions we all make about our loved ones. You can find this book at your local library. Our September meeting will be Saturday September 25th at 8:30-10:00 in Swift's new building. Thanks so much for your participation!!! Remember I LOVE book suggestions and am here if you have any questions or need some other book ideas to read when you finish the monthly book. You can also check out the blog and see What other books I read and review as I try to find books for the club and for my own enjoyment.

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Recently I decided to pick up the book, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and see what all the fuss is about. Especially with the new movie coming to theaters with one of my favorite actresses, Julia Roberts, I thought I should go ahead and check it out from the library. On one hand I have a friend that LOVED it and on another hand a friend that didn't care for it and couldn't get into it at all. So I decided I needed to make an opinion for myself. In case you are reading this and haven't heard about the book, This is non-fiction story of a woman's healing journey through Italy, India and Indonesia. The book is about 352 pages and to find out what it is about here is what I found off of Amazon:

Gilbert grafts the structure of romantic fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights--the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners--Gilbert consumes la dolce vita as spiritual succor. "I came to Italy pinched and thin," she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair. Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry--conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor--as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote and impression. (end quote)

Well I read the book and have to say that I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed her story, humor and attention to detail for her reader as she traveled through the three countries which I have never been to. And by saying that I liked the book I have to tell you that I do not condone or agree with everything in it. It is one of those things where you just have to agree to disagree and not judge others decisions and just enjoy the story. I like her ability to make fun of herself and the courage that it took for her to do what she did as she tried to put her life back together. I would recommend the book with this warning of keeping an open mind and that just because you read it doesn't mean you have to agree with everything she says, just enjoy the story and admire the tales. There is some cussing and brief intimate sexual detail shared just so you are aware. With all this being said I would definitely read the book again and can't wait for the movie. It will def have to be a girl's night out so I can go see it in theaters. This will not be a book club selection but still wanted you to know about it just the same.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

August Book Club Selection

This morning we completed our July meeting for A shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm by Phillip Keller. We had 4 people in attendance but discussion was great. We all agreed that we are so thankful to be a sheep in our shepherd's care!

We also decided on the August Book Club Selection which will be Redemption by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley. This is Karen's first book in her Redemption series about the famous Baxter family. BUT the only requirement for August is the first book and it's up to you if you choose to continue with the series later. Don't worry it doesn't end in a cliff hanger! :) This book is inspirational Christian fiction and the author's address everyday real life issues. The book is 384 pages long. Here is what the back of the book tells us about this book:

A Betrayal: Kari Baxter Jacobs is furious, hurt, and confused. Her husband, Tim, a respected professor of journalism, is having an affair with a student. Stunned, Kari returns home to the Baxter family to sort things out. But when an old flame shows up, she is more confused than ever.
A Decision: How can Kari forgive her husband? And what about her own revived feelings for Ryan, a man she knows she should avoid? What remedy could possibly ease the pain?
A Hope: The gifted writing team of Gary Smalley and Karen Kingsbury brings us a profound story of redemption. A betrayal. A broken marriage. Will Kari ever love again? A story of love at all costs. (end quote)

I know that several at the church have read this series before but I also know many of you who haven't.I'm hoping more of you haven't! :) I read the book for the first time this past month and couldn't put it down! Remember we read a Karen Kingsbury book last year in September, One Tuesday Morning and you all seemed to love it. I hope that this month's book finds your favor as well. This book has a copy in our Church Library, local libraries and may be at the $5 book store. Kathy will let you know about a book order if needed for anyone.

Our August meeting will be Saturday August 28th at 8:30-10:00 in Swift's new building. Thanks so much for your participation!!! Remember I LOVE book suggestions and am here if you have any questions or need some other book ideas to read when you finish the monthly book. You can also check out the blog and see What other books I read and review as I try to find books for the club and for my own enjoyment. Check it out!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell

This week I finished reading the book, A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell. This book is about 384 pages of historical christian fiction although the Christian part of the description is quite downplayed. Here is a brief description of the book from Amazon:

"Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Her destiny is guaranteed ... at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen." (end quote)

This book historically takes place during the time of the first Queen Elizabeth's reign in England. This book was odd for me. It was compelling in the sense that it kept me wanting to turn the pages and see what happens next but at the same time it was lacking. Lots of parts felt repeating and then the end finished up so quickly that it left you wondering why the book took so long to get to the climatic point and then just end. I have to say it was quite interesting learning about the ways of beauty during that time and how it can certainly be compared to the lengths people will go to be accepted among their peers. All in all.. I can't say it was a bad read but I do question the overall structure and quick ending. I was torn as to whether have it as a book club selection or not and have decided not to read it at this time as a group. And whether you decide to pick it up or not, I do hope that you enjoy it as I know others have! To each their own! :) Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury

Recently I read the book, Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury. I was looking about for something for the book club and after a family member recommended this one I decided to check it out. Karen is the author of many many books and this is one of her stand alone titles. This is Christian life changing fiction and about 336 pages. Here is a description of the book:

"Sometimes hope lies somewhere in the shades of blue. Brad Cutler, twenty-eight, is a rising star at his New York ad agency, about to marry the girl of his dreams. Anyone would agree he has it all … a great career, a beautiful and loving fiancee, and a fairy tale life ahead of him—when memories of a high school girlfriend begin to torment him. Lost innocence and one very difficult choice flood his conscience, and he is no longer sure what the future will bring except for this: He must find his old love and make amends. Haunted by the past and confused about the future, he turns to God seeking forgiveness and redemption. Three people must work through the repercussions of a decision made long ago before any of them can look toward a new future." (end quote)

Spoiler alert... what I'm about to tell you tells you what the book offers healing from and I know it doesn't tell you in the description but feel like it's something you should know about going into it. This book deals with healing and forgiveness between a man and a woman that went through an abortion in their younger years. There are several great themes that the author incorporates into the book other than just that and it is a good read. I'm sure that if you or someone you know (man or woman) had been effected by an abortion that this book might help look at things differently and help them in their healing. Our book club won't be reading this at this time but still thought I would share with you in case you are interested! You can check out Karen's site here and see all the comments and reviews. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

June/July News

This past month we had our meeting on June 26th. We had 4 people in attendance and conversation was great! Everyone in our group agreed that they would recommend the book to others and were interested in reading other books by Deeanne Gist. One thing that was really neat about this author was that several of her books have Christian Book Club discussion guides ready for you! Click Here to check it out. The $5 book store in the outlet mall usually carries several of her books if you would like to read some others. And If you still would like to purchase this book or would want to purchase it for someone else, Kathy may still have one extra if someone hasn't snagged it yet!

Our July book as you already know is, A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. At the meeting last month I noticed that there were 4 copies available in our church library as well. This is a very short book so it's not to late to pick it up and read it so you can attend our meeting! Our July meeting will be on Saturday, July 31st at 8:30 AM. I know since we are in the middle of Summer this could mean even less participation in the meetings but we are still going to keep going strong. The RSVP system has been working well so when you get your reminders before the meeting, I appreciate your reply. I hope you enjoy this month's book and have a great July! If you have any recommendations, please share them with me! Our June book was another pick from a book club member and we would love to have a pick from everyone! So keep telling me what you are reading! I need some books for the next few months! I hope to have the August book announcement out soon. Thank you so much for your continued participation!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

July Book Club Selectoin

A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller is going to be our book club selection for July . Ever since our January 2009 selection, Traveling Light by Max Lucado, this book has been a favorite of mine after learning about it from Jody Beth. At this time Pastor Keith is doing a series on the 23rd Psalm and makes references to this book. I thought it would be fun for us to read along and learn more as Keith does this series.

Here is a description of what the book is about:

"Phillip Keller's unique perspective on the beloved psalm is a genuine classic about how a real-life shepherd views the love Jesus the Shepherd has for his flock. His inspirational insights come from his firsthand experiences in developing and managing sheep ranches." (end quote)

This book by itself is only a little under 200 pages but the amount of insight gained about how much we are his sheep is amazing. This book gave me a whole new understanding of my relationship with God and my need for him. Before I had no idea why we were called his sheep and after reading I learned how much we are similar to them and it's pretty interesting. I wonder if you have ever thought about how much you are like the ways of a sheep?

If you are interested, there is a trilogy of his available that includes this book as well as two others: A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd and A Shepherd Looks at the Lamb of God. The cost for all three books together is around $10.00 since it's combined into one. For our July reading the requirement is only the one main book: A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23. I just wanted you to know about that option. Kathy will be in touch with you all soon about a pre-order. I haven't checked yet, but don't forget to check out the $5 book store and see if they have it in stock. I picked up a copy once from there last year sometime, never know when they may have it in again!

We do hope to see some of you who haven't been in a long time attend a meeting soon. We miss your company and input. Thank you to those of you who faithfully attend!

**Don't forget the June meeting is coming up soon on June 26th at 8:30 am - 10 am in Swift's new building, classroom 2. Feel free to bring your friends and family! We ask that you RSVP back to this e-mail and let me know if you will or will not be attending the June Meeting. I really appreciate it***

And don't forget, any book suggestions are always appreciated. Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Refiner's Fire Series Wrap-up

Back in the month of May, you may remember, we read the first book in the Refiner's Fire Series. We read, Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin. A lovely lady from our book club had loaned me the three books in the series to read and I have to say I loved them all. These books don't have to read in any particular order because all three have separate story lines that are interconnected by different characters. Each book is a different perspective on the civil war and each is around 400 pages.

Everyone at our meeting loved the book. The most often made comment was about how courageous the heroine in the book Caroline had to be for herself, her slaves and her world in general. I know many of us say, "If only we had THAT kind of courage to follow God's will...." and at the moment we may not feel like we would or do but I think Caroline probably felt the same way much of the time... just at that moment of need when she needed him more than anything, God was there. When our time comes and we want the courage of Caroline, PRAY for God's provision. He is the great provider! Many readers mentioned how much they loved the Southern perspective because so often the South is painted as all slave abusing people when really that probably wasn't the case to classify ALL Southern people that way.

Those in the group that had already read the other two books, loved the whole experience of learning about the civil war this way. If you are interested in reading the other two books in the series I have provided all three in order listed below:

1) Candle in the Darkness (South Perspective): CAUGHT in a nation splitting apart. ANGERED by those who would enslave others. EMBOLDENED by a passion to make a difference. TORN between the one she loves and a truth she can't deny. Here is Caroline Fletcher's story. Candle in the Darkness, Book One in the Refiner's Fire series, tells the story of a timid southern girl who finds her voice as she begins to tell the truth about the atrocities around her. A short stay in the North confirms her abolitionist feelings, but when she returns to the South she finds herself torn between her home, a beloved suitor who doesn't share her feelings, and the principles she knows are true. Standing for right may mean standing alone. Does she have the courage? (end of quote from author's site)

2) Fire by Night (North Perspective): This compelling story of love and sacrifice follows the lives of two very different young women—one seeing the world for the first time and one who has seen too much already. One DECEIVED by a life of wealth and ease, the other DESPERATE to flee her true identity. In a land SHATTERED by war, unlikely heroes test the limits of their strength? And discover that LOVE has a meaning far beyond their imagination.(end of quote from author's site)

3) A light to my Path (Slave Perspective): SHACKLED in a world where authority is not questioned, Where the will is BATTERED as surely as the body, Hope will not be DENIED. But BROKEN chains bring daunting choices: The way of revenge or the way of the SPIRIT.This is Kitty Goodman's story. This powerful conclusion to Lynn Austin's REFINER'S FIRE series brings to a close one of the most acclaimed sagas in Christian fiction ever. Each of the first two novels won Christy Awards for Historical Fiction. Now Austin completes her trilogy with a dramatic examination of the Civil War through a slave's perspective. Riveting, eloquent, and gripping as all of her previous works, it's the conclusion for which you've been waiting. (end of quote from author's site)

I accidentally read them out of order so can tell you that the order is not a necessity. And remember this is coming from someone who does not like it when things are out of order! Nevertheless these books have everything. They are historical fiction with romance, action and inspiration to keep you page turning. I have to say that the first and second were probably my favorites. I didn't think I would like the 2nd at the introduction of one of the main characters but it turned out to be really good. If you haven't told me what you thought of Candle in the Darkness or read the series later, please share with me your likes/dislikes. I love to hear them! Happy Reading to you in June!

Friday, May 14, 2010

June Book Club Selection

The Measure of a Lady by Deanne Gist is going to be our book club selection for June. This book is historical christian fiction with some romance, which takes place during the San Fransisco Gold Rush. After reading the book and talking to others who have previously read it, I felt this would be a perfect "summer" read. :)

Here is a description of what the book is about:

"Rachel Van Buren arrives in Gold Rush San Francisco with two wishes: to protect her younger siblings and to return east as soon as possible. Both goals prove more difficult than she could imagine as her brother and sister are lured by the city's dangerous freedom and a missionary-turned-gambler stakes a claim on her heart. Rachel won't give up without a fight though, and soon all will learn an eloquent but humorous lesson about what truly makes a lady.

Speak Politely. Even when you're the only respectable woman around, protesting the decadence of a city lost to gold fever.

Dress Modestly. Wear your sunbonnet at all times. Ensure nobody sees your work boots muddied by the San Francisco streets.

Remain Devoted to Family. Protect your siblings from the lures of the city, even against their wishes.

Stand Above Reproach. Most difficult when a wonderful man turns out to be a saloon owner.

Rise Above Temptation. No, not even just a little kiss ....

When these rules become increasingly difficult to uphold,
can Rachel Van Buren remain a beacon of virtue in a city of vice?" (end quote)

This book is 320 pages long with a couple notes from the author telling you about the research she did for the novel to try to make it historically accurate. Many thanks go to book club member Christy Bledsoe for recommending this book. It is a book that can keep you turning the pages pretty fast, It's an easy read that I did not want to put down.

Kathy will be in touch with you all soon about a pre-order. I checked the $5 book store yesterday (5/13) And they did not have this book at this time.

We do hope to see some of you who haven't been in a long time attend a meeting soon. We miss your company and input. The June meeting will be Saturday June 26th.

**Don't forget the May meeting is coming up soon on May 22nd at 8:30 am - 10 am in Swift's new building, classroom 4. Feel free to bring your friends and family! We ask that you RSVP back to this e-mail and let me know if you will or will not be attending the May Meeting. I really appreciate it***

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Cross Gardener by Jason F. Wright

Recently I finished up reading The Cross Gardener by Jason F. Wright. I have read other books of his previously and this story intrigued me as well. This book is a Christian Fiction and about 293 pages long. Here is what I found to tell you about the book from the authors website:

The Cross Gardener is an inspiring story of a man touched by tragedy - and a quiet stranger who helps him rediscover the joy to be found in life, love, and family...John Bevan believed life was complete. Married to his high school sweetheart and father to a young daughter, John finally had the traditional family he lacked as an orphaned child. But that all disappears when a fatal car accident changes his world. Filled with sorrow, John withdraws from life and love. He erects two crosses at the scene of the accident and visits daily, grieving. Then one morning, he encounters a young man kneeling before one of the crosses, touching it up with white paint. Conversations with the mysterious stranger - known to him only as the Cross Gardener - begin to heal John's heart. But only when they undertake a journey together does John truly come to see what he must embrace in this world - from the secrets of his own past to the sorrow of the present - if he is to start his life anew. And only as the journey ends does John divine who his guide may really be. In The Cross Gardner, Jason F. Wright tells a timeless tale that explores the questions we ask when our lives are touched by loss: How do we carry on? Who will show us the way? The answers John Bevan finds may illuminate your world as they did his - for even in our darkest hour, we are not alone. (end quote)

I enjoyed the book for a bit and have to tell you it is a tearjerker but just never felt that "wow" factor. It was an easy interesting read and I'm glad I did read it. It helped me to understand how to empathize with those who put the memorials at roadside accidents. I never did understand why people would do that because it didn't make sense to me but now I have an idea and "get it" so to speak. I'm a little uneasy at the fictional idea of the who the cross gardener is and how things work out after someone dies. I don't think it will be a book club selection for our club for that reason and like I said before if it didn't wow me I'm not going to risk it on everyone else. But like Jason's other book, The Wednesday Letters, I was mediocre about it but another friend loved it. So as always don't take my word for it but discover a book for yourself. If you have lost a loved one, this book just might be helpful to you. Happy Reading!

Friday, April 30, 2010

April/May Book Club News

This past Saturday we had our April book club meeting with 7 people in attendance. It was a great meeting with good conversation.

We did discuss what to do with the lack of participation in meetings and have decided for now to continue meeting. Many of you only need to read the book and just enjoy knowing you are reading along with others and that is okay. I am just glad that you are enjoying the books and that so many of you have rekindled your love for reading. Then others of you pointed out how wonderful the meetings are because you get to hear other people's perspectives of the book that may make you think about something that you hadn't noticed before. Each and every person brings new insight, thoughts and opinions to the table that are valuable. I appreciate your participation whether you are just reading along or do make it to some of the meetings. I encourage you to try to make it to a meeting if you have never been before and see how you like it. If there are any thoughts or insight you can share as we try to make this club the best it can be, please do so!

I did write on the blog a few times this month but I encourage you to really check out the seek and find section of your books and dig deeper into the scriptures. I pray you distinguish between fact and fiction and that you have enjoyed this month's selection.

Our May book information can be found on the blog here. Encourage a friend to read along with us and bring them to our meeting. This Month's meeting will be on May 22, 2010 at 8:30AM in Classroom 4. The last Saturday in May is Memorial day weekend, so we are having our meeting the week before. There is a session retreat going on at that time but we will have access to Classroom 4. I hope you enjoy reading this month's selection!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Unafraid, Mary's Story

The 5th and final novella in A Lineage of Grace is Unafraid. This is the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus: "All eternity had been waiting for this moment. She responded in simple obedience to God's call." Here is what tells you about the book:

In this conclusion to Rivers's series about Jesus' matrilineal ancestors (e.g., Unshaken), Mary is not the serene Madonna historically depicted in art. She is instead a willful child, an unwed pregnant teenager thrilled that the long-awaited Messiah will come from her and failing to understand why people won't believe her when she tells them of her vision of an angel of the Lord. Only after God appears to Joseph does he believe and wed Mary. From then on, even though she loves her whole family, Jesus is Mary's sole focus, almost her obsession. Before her faith can become strong enough to endure his crucifixion, Mary must learn that her son was never really hers and that she was the vessel through which God worked his grace. The Christy Award-winning Rivers provides a fresh look at the historical Mary in much the same way Ellen Gunderson Traylor (Mary Magdalene, Mark) and Thom Lemmons (Daughters of Faith series) have done with other biblical figures. A solid addition to all collections. (end quote)

The book about Mary was a great conclusion to the other 4 novellas we read about the women who God used for the lineage of Jesus. It was definitely interesting to read the story from what might have been Mary's point of view. How heart wrenching and confusing it would have been for Mary to watch her son die but amazing for her to have the realization and comfort from God that he was never just her son. He was God's son. And that the dreams that she had for him were nothing compared to what God had planned. When God doesn't answer our prayers and fulfill our dreams he may just have something even better in mind. Again look to your seek and find section of your book to dig deeper into the story of Mary.

I hope you have enjoyed reading A Lineage of Grace and will pass it on and recommend to others. I am so blessed to have had my eyes opened to the Lineage of Jesus and the imperfect women that God used to bring about his Son. I pray you go back to your bible and read over these stories again. I pray that you are able to distinguish between the fact and the fiction and that this reawakens a thirst for the scriptures. Happy Reading!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Unspoken, Bathsheba's Story

On to Book 4 in A Lineage of Grace where we learn about Bathsheba's Story: "Her beauty stirred the passion of a king. Her pain moved the heart of God." Here is a bit more of a description from

In award-winning writer Francine Rivers's five-book Lineage of Grace series about women in the family tree of Jesus Christ, perhaps the most compelling installment is Unspoken, the love story of David and Bathsheba. This Old Testament saga of adultery, power, and battles fought both on the field of combat and in the human heart touches on the cost of poor choices, the need for forgiveness, and finding ultimate fulfillment--themes that are relevant today. Rivers writes poignantly of how Bathsheba falls in love with David as a little girl, and of her bitterness when she comes of age and is given in marriage to Uriah, one of David's mighty warriors. Love cannot be commanded, however, and it's not long before the sexual tension between David and Bathsheba reaches its logical conclusion, with disastrous results. Rivers adeptly brings the biblical account to life, portraying the difficult struggles of good people, the corrupting influence of power, and God's love for those who make mistakes--even big mistakes. (end quote)

Reading through this story of Bathsheba and David was new for me as this is a part of the Bible I hadn't ever read or studied. I had a vague sense of awareness of the adultery but that was about it. It was quite a drama filled story.. even without Francine River's help. You can't say the bible is dull! So for me this being the first reading of this story, I was amazed yet again at the power of God's forgiveness and how he took the sin of David and Bathsheba and made great things in his will. Their son Solomon would become king and continue the line of David to our Savior. Over and over again God's love is shown to us and that you are never too far gone for him to make something beautiful of your life. And even if you are like David.. a man after God's heart... and stray away... we all sin and God is there when we recognize it and repent. He works with the mess we have made and can use it to further his will. Even though Bathsheba and David sinned.. they suffered for it.. but were restored to God.

I enjoyed reading what Bathsheba's point of view could have been and what she went through. It definitely shed some light in a realistic way on details that the bible leaves out but that she would have had to endure.. such as all the other wives of David, her family rejecting her, etc. Again I urge you to check out the seek and find section of the story and did even deeper into God's word. Yet again I am connecting the dots on the Lineage of Christ and all the women God used who needed his Grace. Have you accepted his Grace yet? Nothing you can do will ever earn it. Repent, accept consequences and forgiveness and live your life for Christ.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Unshaken, Ruth's Story

The third novella in A lineage of Grace is Unshaken. This is Ruth's Story, "She gave up everything, expecting nothing, and God honored her." Again another book that reads so quickly. I can't believe I am still so amazed at the way the author adds a little fiction to this classic story and seems to revive it somehow... I'm not sure how to word it... a friend of mine even laughed as she mentioned that she wished the whole bible was written this way. Not to demean the Bible but I guess if you have read it and you read this story you can see what I mean. I love the way the author does the back and forth between perspectives for the main characters. And I love the "what the women were saying.." and "what the men were saying.." parts that show the perspective of the community as the story plays out.

I had heard Ruth and Naomi's story before but never really gone in depth with it. I think I always just assumed that it was about Ruth's loyalty to Naomi and the kindness of Boaz... and didn't ever consider the way Ruth and Boaz ended up together and were included in the lineage of Jesus or that Rahab was Boaz's mother. I just didn't connect the dots. Again this is an example of where God used someone who was not one of the chosen Hebrews to be blessed and become one of his people. The wisdom Boaz, Ruth and Naomi showed at times certainly made me want what faith they would show. We all can stumble in our walks but I just felt like the wisdom in this story was very inspiring. Is there anything that God really showed to you during this story? Is there a character that you identify with more? Check out your "Seek and Find" section of the book and see what God speaks to you. Are you seeking Godly wisdom and counsel when you are in dire times or do you seek worldly wisdom? I pray that we can be like Ruth and seek God no matter what.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Unashamed, Rahab's Story

Book 2 of A Lineage of Grace is Unashamed, Rahab's story. "A woman with a past to whom god gave a future." I was able to fly through this novella just as easiest as the first. Again a story of the new testament, Joshua, that I had read through several times but never really took in the importance.. the meaning of how God used Rahab.

By then and even today's standards, she was not a woman whom many people would pick out to be used by God. But over and over again in the bible God shows us that his ways are not our ways and that he wants to save those who need the saving! God used a woman...non-hebrew...a harlot.. to bear children who would one day bear the Messiah. It is just SO amazing! God is so good. To those of you who think that you are too bad and that God wouldn't want anything to do with you.. your wrong! God still wants to save you and use you for his kingdom purposes! Not just Rahab but over and over again in the bible he is using those who are "unworthy"... if you haven't noticed NONE of us are!

In the seek and find section, the book reminds us that Rahab's story does not end here. She is mentioned for her faith later in Hebrews and again in the beginning of Matthew. "The outcome of Rahab's story is the honor given to her where she is listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ the messiah: Rahab and Salmon had a son, Boaz. Boaz (wife Ruth) was the father of Obed; Obed, the father of Jesse; Jesse, the father of King David. And from the line of King David (born from Bathsheba) of the tribe of Judah came the promised Messiah." You can see a full listing in your bible or in the back of your book. I just can't express how cool it is that these women were involved in Jesus family tree.

Think about what this story of Rahab has taught you about Faith? Rahab's story didn't end here and yours doesn't either. What changes do you think you need to make after reading her story? Do you want the story to end for you or live on in the Glory of Christ?

"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see... It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute did not die with all the others in the her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies." Hebrews 11:1, 31

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unveiled, Tamar's Story

I was late starting A Lineage of Grace because of other books I was in the middle of and trying to get through. But I have to say that doesn't seem to be a problem as I am flying through the book. This is the second book I have read from Francine Rivers and I have to say that it is just as good as the first, Redeeming Love. The first novella in A Lineage of Grace is, Unveiled. It can be purchased as a separate book or together with the 4 other novella's in this months book. This is a story about Tamar from the Old Testament, "Betrayed by the men who controlled her future, she fought for her right to believe in a loving God." Here is the description off Amazon of this book:

Her name meant "date palm," and like her namesake, Tamar hoped to survive the harsh environment she was placed in: to bend but not to break. Rubbed with scented oil and arrayed in wedding finery, 14-year-old Tamar is thrust into a world of abuse, betrayal, and disillusionment when she is given in marriage to an evil, idol-worshiping man. In the face of her suffering, she must make choices: Will she let her new husband, Er, destroy her innocence and corrupt her? Will she leave the religion of the Canaanites and embrace the God of the Hebrews despite the life of misery she is cast into? Or will she fall into despair and become as wicked as her husband and his brothers? (end quote)

You can find Tamar's story briefly mentioned in the book of Genesis but Rivers is such an amazing author that she weaves detail into a story that makes you believe you KNOW this woman. Here God used a women who was not a Hebrew to be used for the benefit of his Kingdom. Jesus came from the line of Judah, through the son that Tamar had with him. What a cool idea for Rivers to highlight these women who had such an impact in God's kingdom. It's one of those duh moments when you think... why didn't I think of that?! haha! I had heard Tamar's story so many times before but always looked over it. When I read the story the first thing I would see is the deceit done to Judah... not that what Judah did in his actions to her were okay.. but after reading the story it definitely changes my perspective. These times and customs were not like the ones we have today but Rivers weaves the story in a way that helps us identify with their emotions, doubts, prayers and feelings.

I enjoy the "Seek and Find" section of the book that includes lots of thought provoking questions and scripture for review. It would be interesting to do a short bible study and go over these questions with others in depth. Because of time constraints we will only highlight so much during our meeting and I won't begin to transfer all this knowledge on here. It's so overwhelming and so abundant in information that I don't even know where to begin. I urge you to really spend time in this section of the book. The author did not go to all of this trouble for you just to skim on over it. Think about Judah and Tamar's story... have you ever felt God left you with no other options? What did you do about it? Are you willing to wait on God to do what is right by you? Do you care more about the opinions and guidance of those around you than God's?

Like so many parts of the Bible and in each of our daily lives, God uses the sins of a repentant people to bring about great things for his kingdom. I leave you with the last line of this book, "May God's word always produce the fruit of obedience and accomplish much in you."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Recently I finished listening to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I have several classics on my reading list and when I was looking for something to listen to on CD... this classic came to mind. I have never read any of her famous novels but have seen some of the movies other than this one. So I finished listening to it and have to say I enjoyed it. That is... after my brain caught up with the British accent and the fast elegant talking. At first the reader was talking what seemed to be so fast and then with her accent and elegant dialogue of the time.. I was having difficulties. But I got used to it and enjoyed the book. Here is what Amazon has for a description:

Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is a wonderfully entertaining tale of flirtation and folly that revolves around two starkly different sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. While Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, her younger sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a husband, but neither Elinor’s reason nor Marianne’s passion can lead them to perfect happiness—as Marianne falls for an unscrupulous rascal and Elinor becomes attached to a man who’s already engaged. Startling secrets, unexpected twists, and heartless betrayals interrupt the marriage games that follow. Filled with satiric wit and subtle characterizations, Sense and Sensibility teaches that true love requires a balance of reason and emotion. (end quote)

I enjoyed the setting of the story and reading about scandals that could happen today but handled with so much more grace and care than would be done in today's world. I did enjoy her style of writing and look forward to reading some of her other novels... or listening to them.. just depending on what I have time for first. I think it's very important to read the classics beyond your education in school. If books can stand the test of time and be so wildly popular so many years later that has to say something. You may find the book dull and outdated but I felt it was a refreshing read compared to other works of this time. This will not be a book club selection but I would recommend the book. Happy Reading!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wrap up of God's Smuggler

Brother Andrew

This is quite overdue but I can't put the book away and start writing about the next without finishing up. If you read and finished the book you know what happened from where I left off with my writing. We left off with Andrew at school and learning the overwhelming reality of God as provider. As you continue reading through the book there is story after story of obstacles that Andrew would come up against and God would provide a way. A way... for bibles to be smuggled, a way.... for a community to receive hope... A way.. for a car to be provided... much needed funds to appear. And the list goes on and on not just in Andrew's story but in all of ours if you stop to think.

Stop to think about your typical day from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep at night every tiny little thing the Lord provides for you. First things first, he provided that you WOKE UP!!! What a blessing we take for granted that the Lord has gifted us another day here on his earth in our blink of an eye existence. Then continue thinking about your regular morning activities and all that God has provided.. warm water, a shower, a toilet, toothpaste, food, clothing, shoes, water, etc. I could go on with this but I think you know where I am going. Even if you don't feel like your story is as adventurous as Andrew's.... every story is an adventure. Every day God is providing for you. Stop a moment, recognize it and Thank God for it. Think about what you might be able to help provide for others with what God has provided for you... pass it on just as Brother Andrew does.

I pray that this book has left some kind of an imprint on you to commit to be even closer to God and follow his will. The work that God has done and continues to do through Brother Andrew is nothing short of one miracle after another. Brother Andrew founded Open Doors and still is working his Father's will. Andrew is spreading the gospel all over the world and if you are interested in reading more about the work he is doing you can check out the latest book: Secret Believers, What happens when Muslims Believe in Christ. I am glad that the epilogue provided in the book gives you further glimpses into what he is currently involved with. He makes good points that to witness and provide for others you must be with them.. you must be there. You may not be called to be a missionary, but make the decision to be there for those around you and love them and show them love as Christ has loved us. I hope you enjoyed the March Selection and continue to read along with us. Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

May's Book club Selection for $5.00

I checked the local $5 Christian book store at the Tanger Outlet Mall tonight and they had our May Selection. The book was only $5.00 and if you happen to have a 20% off coupon that has been in the local papers recently, you can purchase the book for only $4.34. There were 3 books left on the shelf when I left but the store clerk said that she still had 5 more copies in the back. I hope this helps some of you and that you read along with us. Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

May Book Club Selection

Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin is going to be our book club selection for May. This book is historical christian fiction with some romance in there too, which takes place during the Civil War. Here is a description of what the book is about:

"The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised in a culture that believes slavery is God-ordained and biblically acceptable. But upon awakening to the cruelty and injustice it encompasses, Caroline’s eyes are opened for the first time to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. Her journey of maturity and faith will draw her into the abolitionist movement, where she is confronted with the risks and sacrifices her beliefs entail." (end quote)

This is book 1 of 3 in Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire Series. Usually I want to stay away from series books but this first book is too good to pass up and can stand alone on it's own. Many thanks go to book club member Carol D. for recommending this book. Don't be scared by the 432 page count. It is a book that can keep you turning the pages pretty fast. I know so many of you who read way more than one book a month so I am confident you will be able to do it!! Lynn Austin won the 2003 Christy Award for this novel and I truly hope that you find she deserves it in your reading.

**Don't forget the April meeting is coming up soon on April 24th at 8:30 am - 10 am in Swift's new building, classroom 2. Feel free to bring your friends and family!***

And don't forget, any book suggestions are always appreciated. Happy Reading!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Club News

Hello Fellow Readers!

I have decided to start a follow-up message after meetings so that if you missed one you will still be in the know about what's going on with the book club.

Meeting News

At our March discussion of God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew, I am sorry to say that we only had 3 people in attendance. And in case you didn't know, 5 in February and 8 in January. Reading this, you can probably guess that our numbers are diminished. I know that so many read the book but just don't have time for the meetings or maybe the meetings really aren't something that you need. For some, I know it's enough just to have the idea of reading along with everyone. At this time ideas are being tossed around about possibly moving the meetings to every other month or quarterly? Maybe meet somewhere other than the church? Discuss changing time of the month? Nothing is certain, these are just ideas that will be discussed later in the month.

Blog News

When we started the book club the idea was born of having a blog about the book club so that members who couldn't or didn't want to attend meetings could read about the book online and make discussion there. Which became, Serendipity Book Club Blog. At first I was constantly writing about the books throughout the month and every once in awhile someone would comment. But as the year went on the participants dwindled and so did my motivation. I'm not sure how many of you read it, but just want to announce that I will no longer attempt to constantly blog about the book each month. I will still tell you about the other books I am reading and make announcements and write about what we are reading a little bit. But I am officially removing the self-imposed pressure to blog throughout the whole month.

Well that's all the news for today. I hope you are enjoying the April book, A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. As always please e-mail me with any questions or concerns.

Thanks for being a part of the Serendipity Book Club. Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Andrew's return home and off to school

Andrew returns home to lots of happenings and welcome from all his family. He attends a tent meeting not exactly meaning to and later finds a thirst for God's word. He begins to read the bible, go to church and allow it to.. in a way consume him. Some friends and family who don't understand worry about him and don't want him to burn him self out or they believe it's just because of the war that he acts the way he does. Andrew finally comes to a time where he prays, "Lord, if you will show me the way, I will follow you. Amen."

After Andrew prays this prayer he share with his friend Kees and others in the village. Kees and him end up attending a Revival where they were called by the pastor to become missionaries. Andrew wasn't sure what got into him or caused him to do it but they started reaching out to those nearest in Witte. He gets a job at a local factory and happens to run into Corrie van Dam, the girl that invited him to the tent revival back when he was in the hospital. They began to work as a team of missionaries at the factory. Helping the women that worked there. The first conversion that Andrew ever saw was a woman named Greetje all because he followed God's will in his conversation with her. Soon after he was promoted and his boss even agreed with his missionary work in the factory. But this work was not all Andrew wanted and decided to finish his schooling. But there seemed to be several roadblocks in Andrew attending school. One day while deep in prayer Andrew finally realized what his problem had been. He admitted that he was always saying Yes to God but saying, "Yes, but I'm not educated. Yes, but I'm lame." Andrew realized he was going to tell God Yes no matter what. The moment Andrew stood up from this prayer and affirmation, he received a miraculous healing in his ankle. And since then it has never bothered him since.

Andrew hit a few more would be roadblocks in his attempt to go to school but he decided to trust God and follow anyway. Andrew got on a train and went off to London to a school he hadn't even been accepted to at the time. Just as he had been told there was nothing available such was the case when he arrived. But God opened other doors to prepare him for when it was his time to attend. Andrew tells us several stories of his time at the Hopkins home and how he was learning to trust God in all things. He went on to school and had to face this even more. He had to completely depend on God to provide for his tuition, his daily needs and even a cake once. God did a work on Andrew that molded him into the person God needed him to be, completely dependable on God.

The stories that Andrew tells us during these chapters in the book are remarkable one after another and not uncommon either. I have heard similar stories before from the person who gets the check in the mail right when the power was due. Or the free bag of groceries right when the last can in the pantry had been eaten. God does provide. He may not provide as fast as we would like him or in the way we would think is best but if we place our complete trust in him he will come through. He is God our Provider. Will you trust in him in all things?

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I just finished listening to this book on CD. This is one that had been on my reading list for some time now and when I was looking for another book to listen to on CD the library happened to have this one. This book is about 204 pages and tells the story of Steve Martin's life of stand up. And instead of repeating information here is what Amazon tells you the book is about:

At age 10, Steve Martin got a job selling guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland. In the decade that followed, he worked in Disney's magic shop, print shop, and theater, and developed his own magic/comedy act. By age 20, studying poetry and philosophy on the side, he was performing a dozen times a week, most often at the Disney rival, Knott's Berry Farm. Obsession is a substitute for talent, he has said, and Steve Martin's focus and daring--his sheer tenacity--are truly stunning. He writes about making the very tough decision to sacrifice everything not original in his act, and about lucking into a job writing for The Smothers Brothers Show. He writes about mentors, girlfriends, his complex relationship with his parents and sister, and about some of his great peers in comedy--Dan Ackroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carl Reiner, Johnny Carson. He writes about fear, anxiety and loneliness. And he writes about how he figured out what worked on stage. This book is a memoir, but it is also an illuminating guidebook to stand-up from one of our two or three greatest comedians. Though Martin is reticent about his personal life, he is also stunningly deft, and manages to give readers a feeling of intimacy and candor. Illustrated throughout with black and white photographs collected by Martin, this book is instantly compelling visually and a spectacularly good read. (end quote)

I enjoyed listening to it but I had also checked the actual book out from the library so that I could see the pictures he included. It was interesting to hear about his life and I learned alot about him. Like I had no idea it was he who coined the phrase, "Well excuuuuuussseee ME!" How funny!? It was an entertaining quick read/listen and I did enjoy it. If you are a fan of Steve Martin's I would recommend it. He reads the book on CD so I think that listening to it is probably better than reading but I would do like I did.. and get the book for pictures too. It's nice to have the visuals. Def not a book club contender.. but nevertheless wanted to share the review. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Mysterious Benedict Society By Trenton Lee Stewart

In the past couple of weeks I have been listening to a children's book series called, The Mysterious Benedict Society. I first saw this book in the newspaper because the author came to a local bookstore for a signing that the children in the area had won in a contest. I was intrigued by the name and the way the cover looked and thought it might be interesting. Because of my lack of time to read and too many books to read I chose to listen to them on CD from the Library. There are three books in the series and I am unsure if the author will write anymore. The books are fiction and have quite a bit of pages, but like other large children books, Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, I think if the child is interested enough they won't mind the long book. Here is a little summary of each book and it's picture from the books main site:

Book 1: The Mysterious Benedict Society

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. With their new found friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all? (end quote)

Book 2: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

They are back with a new mission: a mind-bending international scavenger hunt designed to test their individual talents. As they search for all the clues and riddles Mr. Benedict had hidden for them, Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance face an unexpected challenge that will reinforce the reasons they were brought together in the first place and require them to fight for the very namesake that united them. (end quote)

Book 3: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma

"Is this the end of the Mysterious Benedict Society?" Join the Mysterious Benedict Society as Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance embark on a daring new adventure that threatens to force them apart from their families, friends, and even each other. When an unexplained blackout engulfs Stonetown, the foursome must unravel clues relating to a nefarious new plot, while their search for answers brings them closer to danger than ever before. (end quote)

I like how the author wrote the book to make it easy to relate with different children. I also liked that these children were not interested in television to have fun. In the book these children were clever and smart and liked solving riddles, puzzles and mysteries. I would recommend these for your kiddos and hope to have mine read them when they get old enough. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

April Book Club Selection

A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers is going to be our book club selection for April. This book is fiction based on the real stories of the bible and is a hefty 542 pages. But please take note it is basically 5 smaller books combined into 1. Here is a description of what the book is about:

"In this compilation of the five books in the best-selling Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, we meet the five women whom God chose-Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each was faced with extraordinary-even scandalous-challenges. Each took great personal risk to fulfill her calling. Each was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World." (end quote)

There has been much talk throughout the book club about this book series and it's compilation into one. If you will recall we read another book by Francine Rivers back in February 2009, Redeeming Love. And I believe you will be just as excited about this one as you had with her previous. I know that the page amount seems like alot but do not let it intimidate you. I know so many of you who read way more than one book a month so I am confident you will be able to do it!!
Kathy will be in touch with you all soon about a pre-order. Our April meeting will be in Swift's new annex at 8:30 AM on April 24th. Please let me know if you have any questions.

We do hope to see some of you who haven't been in a long time attend a meeting soon. We miss your company and input. Please talk to me if there is a problem about the meeting time/location or anything that we may be able to help you with.

**Don't forget the March meeting is coming up soon on March 27th at 8:30 am - 10 am in Swift's new building, classroom 2. Feel free to bring your friends and family!***

And don't forget, any book suggestions are always appreciated and remember to participate on the Blog!

Happy Reading!

Brother Andrews Beginnings

In the beginning of God's Smuggler the authors who worked with Andrew on the story share how he has become a part of their family. Brother Andrew opens his story telling us about his childhood in Holland and how WWII affected his family. The childhood escapades he describes like skipping church and lieing about it and playing tricks on neighbors would cause many never to believe "a boy like that" would grow up to become a famous pastor but amazing indeed how God can change the heart of a person. Brother Andrew goes on to describe his time as a solider in war for Holland and the horrors he saw. He eventually made it out of the war after becoming shot in the ankle. He shares the many raw emotions he felt from his experience and he definitely makes it easy to relate to many people in several different aspects of life. One story I want to highlight in this part of the book is when he was in recovery.

While he is in the hospital recovering from his wound, his mother's bible (whom also had died while Andrew was away at war) is brought back into his sight after spending alot of time in the bottom of his rucksack. He wonders why the nurses (sisters) who work in the hospital are always so happy and they answer him, "with the love of Christ" and urge him to look in his Bible. In the meantime he receives a letter that happens to give him an outline for reading the Bible! He reads through it and begins to wonder if all of this is really true? Before he sets out to leave a sister tells him the story of how a monkey will let go of freedom just to get something they really desire. They are so stubborn they become chained. The sister questions whether or not that is Andy, letting something hold him back from being free.

The same is true for us. What do we allow to hold us back from freedom in Christ? Pride, Self-centered beliefs, money, sin, loss of self-worth, etc.? Do you have something? Brother Andrew didn't fully believe as we leave him here to return to his homeland for the next season of his life but the Holy Spirit did indeed begin to plant seeds.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser

I just finished up reading the 443 page book, The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser. This is a Christian Fiction based on some historical facts and settings. Here is the description from the back of the book:

Getting Past Her Grief Would Lead Her Across Town - To a Whole New World Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family's wealth. But a tragedy that touches all of Atlanta sends her reeling in grief. When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl - and everything changes. For although Carl is her opposite in nearly every way, he has something her privileged life could not give her. And when she seeks his help to uncover a mystery, she learns far more than she ever could have imagined. (End quote)

Months ago a friend of mine referred me to this book back when I first started the book club. Well I am always reading for new options and decided to pick this one up finally. I was originally hesitant because I knew it had a sequel (The Dwelling Place) and wasn't sure if this book could stand on it's own without the next book(s). This is a good sized book and I have to admit has taken some time for me to get through. I felt like the beginning opened strong, lagged throughout spots in the middle then finished up with a bang. Throughout the middle I had to make myself pick the book up and read and thinking that it's not going to be one I would care to read on to the sequel. Then at the end it had me in tears and loving it. I guess in a way now I understand how some felt about Redeeming Love who felt the same feelings. And now I know (when I have time) I will read the sequel. I feel like the author left lots of questions un-answered at the end about all the different people who played such an important role in the life of the main character, Mary Swan. Anyways this will not be a book club selection for us but that's not to say I wouldn't recommend it. When I do get around to reading The Dwelling Place I will def share that with you too. Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guernsey Sweet Cake

Recently we finished reading, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. And we had our meeting at the end of February where I wanted to make a traditional Guernsey dish for that morning. I chose to make a Guernsey Sweet Cake out of some recipes a friend had given me. Her family is originally from Guernsey and she still goes back to visit with those still living there so she had some good ones in her arsenal but me not being as skilled as her, just took the easy way out. And of course I had to share with you.


6 oz butter (not margarine)
6 oz caster sugar aka superfine sugar (I just used regular sugar)
3 eggs
5 oz self rising four
3 oz plain flour
1 to 2 tblsps milk (I used 2)

Cream together butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add milk and finally fold in mixed flour. Bake in a 2 Ib. loaf tin or equivalent size for approximately 1 and 1/2 hours at 325. I baked mine in a 8 inch cake pan because I didn't have a loaf tin for 1 hr and 15 min.

I was kinda freaked out making it since I had no clue what it was supposed to turn out like. And after it was done... my thoughts were.. is it like a cornbread? a pound cake?.... hmmm I would have to say it's like a cross between the two. Slightly grainy like cornbread but not really possibly because of me using regular sugar than using superfine... ?? Although a pound cake would be the best comparison because it would probably be real good with some fruit and cool whip. But we just had it plain with coffee and that was good too. So there you have it folks, An easy from scratch traditional Guernsey Dish that you can make on your own if you missed our meeting.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Part 2 of the letters and conclusion

We have had our meeting for this book this past Saturday and there were 5 of us to chat. A good friend of mine came who's family is from Guernsey and shared pictures, stories and food! (more on the food later) We had a good conversation and were sorry that so many couldn't make it this month but I do know many had trouble getting in to the book's story. But then I know several who really enjoyed it. I think it might be the letter format that bothers some. But oh well, can't win them all! I almost feel ashamed at how little I have written about this book that I claim to enjoy so much but I just can't get into the writing for it. And my apologies for glossing over so many of the smaller story lines within the book but it's no matter now. Let's finish up!

In part 2 of the letters in the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society the letters have changed some now that Juliet is on the actual island. We really get to know the people even better and learn their hardships. The author does a great job of really making these people come alive. When I finished reading the book, I didn't want it to stop, I wanted to keep reading about these people because I felt like I really knew them. I have to remind myself that this book is fictional! We have a love triangle that goes on with Juliet and Dawsey and isn't resolved till the end of the book as we read the "Detection notes of Miss Isola Pribby." And I have to say I felt like it was a happy ending. I was happy to see Juliet and Dawsey end up together. I enjoyed the last letter in the book from Juliet to Sidney. I love how when Juliet writes she compares her life to a book and how she describes everything to Sidney in the last letter. The author did a fantastic job of portraying so happy, in love and content Juliet has become.

If you make a visit to the website for the book there are lots of resources there to be used depending on your interest. I got our discussion questions off of the site even though they have them in the back of the books on the chance that someone forgot their book for the meeting or something. Also check out this neat map on Google that shows the island and different pictures of places mentioned throughout the book. After reading this book, Guernsey is added to places I would like to visit one day.

And on the chance you are reading and were not at our meeting but would like to share your opinions on the book feel free to answer some questions from the reader's guide or just tell us what you thought! I have answered in Italics a few with my opinions on the chance you are interested. :)

1. What was it like to read a novel composed entirely of letters? What do letters offer that no other form of writing (not even emails) can convey? I loved reading the book of letters and it really didn't throw me off at all like it has some readers. After a while I stopped paying attention to the dates and other info and would just look at who it was from and to. I still believe in written hand notes and letters as they convey the thoughtfulness and time someone sat down and took to think of you. It conveys someones personality with handwriting and misspellings.. something they actually touched and held in their hands.

2. What makes Sidney and Sophie ideal friends for Juliet? What common ground do they share? Who has been a similar advocate in your life?

3. Dawsey first wrote to Juliet because books, on Charles Lamb or otherwise, were so difficult to obtain on Guernsey in the aftermath of the war. What differences did you note between book selling in the novel and book selling in your world? What makes book lovers unique, across all generations? In the novel during that time period it was definitely alot more personal and people were grateful for the books. In today's time you can be hard pressed to find a book store owner who cares that much about their customers. It is easy to take for granted the mass of books we have at our fingertips.

4. What were your first impressions of Dawsey? How was he different from the other men Juliet had known?

5. Discuss the poets, novelists, biographers, and other writers who capture the hearts of the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What does a reader’s taste in books say about his or her personality? Whose lives were changed the most by membership in the society?

6. Juliet occasionally receives mean-spirited correspondence from strangers, accusing both Elizabeth and Juliet of being immoral. What accounts for their judgmental ways? I'm not making excuses but I do think it needs to be remembered that the war was hard on everyone and it was a difficult time and place. Things are much different in today's time. And people may have said and done things they may not have under different circumstances.

7. In what ways were Juliet and Elizabeth kindred spirits? What did Elizabeth’s spontaneous invention of the society, as well as her brave final act, say about her approach to life?

8. Numerous Guernsey residents give Juliet access to their private memories of the occupation. Which voices were most memorable for you? What was the effect of reading a variety of responses to a shared tragedy?

9. Kit and Juliet complete each other in many ways. What did they need from each other? What qualities make Juliet an unconventional, excellent mother?

10. How did Remy’s presence enhance the lives of those on Guernsey? Through her survival, what recollections, hopes, and lessons also survived?

11. Juliet rejects marriage proposals from a man who is a stereotypical “great catch.” How would you have handled Juliet’s romantic entanglement? What truly makes someone a “great catch”? I didn't think Reynolds was a great catch... he didn't care about what Juliet cared about or was interested in.

12. What was the effect of reading a novel about an author’s experiences with writing, editing, and getting published? Did this enhance the book’s realism, though Juliet’s experience is a bit different from that of debut novelist Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, children’s book author Annie Barrows? I did feel like the book was real and since I am so into books I really enjoyed this aspect.

13. What historical facts about life in England during World War II were you especially surprised to discover? What traits, such as remarkable stamina, are captured in a detail such as potato peel pie? In what ways does fiction provide a means for more fully understanding a non-fiction truth? I think fiction helps a non-fiction event feel more personal and real than a just the facts rendition, which can sometimes be lacking depending on who is telling the story.

14. Which of the members of the Society is your favorite? Whose literary opinions are most like your own? I would have to say that Isola was my favorite. I enjoyed her quirkiness and she just was a likable.. different type of person who didn't care what others thought of her.

15. Do you agree with Isola that “reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones”? I suppose that could be true.. but nevertheless you could say that about all things correct? Watching good movies ruins you for the bad..etc.

I really do hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned as I will make one more post for this book and share a Guernsey Sweet Cake recipe before starting on March's book. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Local Author at Gulf Shores Library

It was brought to my attention recently that a local Christian Author will be speaking soon at the local Gulf Shores Library. I have never read any of his books but nevertheless thought you might be interested. I think it's pretty cool he lives in Gulf Shores! Here is the information copied and pasted from the Library Blog:

"On Monday, March 8th, 2010, best-selling author Gilbert Morris will be speaking at the Thomas B. Norton Public Library in Gulf Shores. One of today's best-known Christian novelists, Mr. Morris was a pastor before becoming an English professor and earning a Ph.D at the University of Arkansas. His best-selling works include the Christy Award-Winning Edge of Honor, Jacob's Way, the House of Winslow Series, and the Appomattox Series. He lives in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with his wife, Johnnie.

During the meeting, Mr. Morris will be discussing his novels and taking questions from the audience about their favorite Gilbert Morris books. Books may be purchased at the meeting and signed by the author. The meeting begins at 6:00 pm and will be in the library meeting room. Light refreshments will be served. We invite every one to attend and bring a friend to what promises to be a very entertaining evening. For more information, please contact Amy Maliska at the 968-1176."

I will not be attending this function but if you do I sure do hope you enjoy it! Have a great week!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Recently I finished listening to this book on CD, Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom. I am a big fan of his and love every book he has written so far with this one included. Here is what Mitch's website tells us about the book:

"Albom’s first nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie, Have a little Faith begins with an unusual request: an 82-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy.

Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into a world of faith he’d left years ago. Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor – a reformed drug dealer and convict – who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof.

Moving between their worlds, Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and well-to-do, Mitch observes how these very different men employ faith similarly in fighting for survival: the older, suburban rabbi, embracing it as death approaches; the younger, inner-city pastor relying on it to keep himself and his church afloat.

As America struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Mitch and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; intermarriage; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times. Although the texts, prayers and histories are different, Albom begins to realize a striking unity between the two worlds - and indeed, between beliefs everywhere.

In the end, as the rabbi nears death and a harsh winter threatens the pastor’s wobbly church, Albom sadly fulfills the last request and writes the eulogy. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself.

Have a Little Faith is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story." (end quote)

I really enjoyed listening to this book and cried in the car as it finished up. I plan on making this a book club selection for our group as soon as it comes out on paperback because right now it's only available in hardcover. I would recommend picking this one up. It's not very long (only 192 pgs) so it would make for a quick read. Listening to it on CD was only 4 hours. Albom isn't pushy on either religion but just tells these two different inspirational stories. As with his other books I really don't think you will be disappointed. Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Part one of the letters

Because of the format of the book I haven't had much to say on it this month and my apologies if you are a faithful reader of the blog. In the beginning some say the book is slow going. And I can see that, but I have to say that I didn't have a problem getting into it right away which may be because of how much authors, books, history and the like interest me so. Rather than recount our start and what the book is about which you know if you are reading is jump right in to two of my favorite quotes. I especially love two of the first thoughts Juliet shared with us in her very first letter to Dawsey Adams:

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers."

"That's what i love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight and for no other reason than shear enjoyment."

I love Juliet's English humor that is shown through her letters and her thought process. It is neat isn't it how we end up with books that belonged to those who have come before us and the common interest that we show in them. Amazing how books can bring people together. And I love what she says about one book leading to another. I can certainly agree with that wholeheartedly as I have a reading list because of this process that expands to 150 books plus! Juliet has a job to do for an article for the times and becomes interested in the Literary Society that Dawsey Adams mentions. And so begins the correspondence between her and the members. We learn how the society came about with the unusual name. On the off chance you are interested here's the recipe I found online for a Potato Peel Pie... I would try it at your own risk if I were you! Here it is word for word from the site:

"Here’s a recipe for a potato peel pie, but I warn you, it tastes like paste. The more authentic it is, the nastier. These ingredients will make a very small pie (expand at will):

1 potato
1 beet
1 Tablespoon milk

Peel the potato and put the peelings in a pie pan. Don’t cook the peels, because you’re in the middle of an Occupation and you don’t have any fuel. Boil the potato and the beet together in salty water, but not for very long, due to the fuel problem. Just until you can stick a fork in the potato. Take them out and mash them up with the milk. Pour the glop in the pie pan. Bake at 375 for as short a time as is consonant with digestion (fuel again), say, fifteen minutes.

The finished product will look quite attractive and pink. If you squint, you can almost imagine raspberries. Don’t be fooled. It looks a lot better than it is. However, if you forgot that you were in the middle of WWII and added a bunch of butter and milk and salt, it could be quite tasty. "

Blech! Don't believe I will do any pretending with that dish anytime soon. But this is the truth in what the Island was restricted with, how thankful we should be for all we have today. We learn history of what was going on with the island of Guernsey during WWII through the letters of the Society members writing to Juliet. It is quite amazing reading all these different stories and how books pulled them all together. It is amazing how you could never have been a reader before and all it takes is that one right book to pull you in to the wonderful world of literature. I dare say this has happened to some of you since we started this club as several of you tell me all the time.

It's interesting reading the letters from the individual who is disapproving of the Society and I am glad the author also made this perspective for us. I enjoy the fact that books helped one man romance a woman to be his wife and begin his new love of reading. And with this, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing you can't do if you are willing to pick up a book and read about it. The letters that go back and forth captivated me and are quite believable. The author gives you a great sense of feeling as if you know these people. We come to the end of Part 1 and Juliet is off to Guernsey to meet all those she has been writing back and forth with and the adventure is just beginning for her.