Books

Crazy Joy

The cover is a patchwork of letters in bright colors. The topic of joy is an appealing one, especially in the times we are in. We do need more joy. I was excited to get to read this new title by MK.

I’ll be honest. I was in the headspace for a more in depth theological book on the subject. The category Christian Living does not equate to that. If you want Christianity light then this is the book for you.

MK shares some great stories from her life that show how she has found and implemented joy into her life. She makes some great points on what joy is and what it is not. MK also shares how happiness and joy are two different things.

I was hoping for some Biblical wisdom on the subject of joy. There was a tiny bit of it, but to be blunt I think you could easily share this book with a nonbeliever and they wouldn’t run. In plain language this book isn’t preachy or filled with Christianese verbiage. Actually there are a few swear words inside. Certainly I’m not innocent in that regard, but it did surprise me a bit.

I received a copy of Crazy Joy by Mary Katherine Backstrom from Worthy Publishing in exchange for my honest review. Thoughts expressed are strictly my own and my own choice. If you are looking for a somewhat lighthearted read on the topic of joy with a variety of life stories interspersed then I recommend this upcoming book, Crazy Joy.

Books · Personal

Fleecing The Flock

Retail price for Bibles should be criminal. Fake leather editions are as pricy as bonded leather. It’s sickening. Does it truly cost that much to make a non genuine leather Bible? How has making the Bible accessible become a cash cow?

Recently visiting a large Christian bookstore was eye opening not to mention how New Age has infiltrated left and right. It was very in your face. I couldn’t believe there were crystals bracelets and a whole section on the enneagram. I know believers will squawk that it’s not demonic. I beg to differ. I was at a regular bookstore that had a new age table of books and the same eye image was front and center. Recently I’d bought a new Bible and going through it I discovered a drawing of an eye and it matches what’s below. I returned it.

While at the Christian bookstore I felt like screaming, crying, but mostly wanted to sob out of the grief of all the New Age that was sprinkled throughout the store. I was thoroughly disturbed.

Book Review · Books

Red Lip Theology

The title sucked me in and the contents through me out of my comfort zone like a touch down in a football game. This book dropped me headlong into what it’s like to be a black woman in the black church. I’m as much of a white girl as you can get, so this was a cultural journey I got to experience through the eyes of Candice.

The author was raised by her single mom. Though they didn’t always see eye to eye they still loved each other throughout their disagreements and tears. When suddenly Candice’s mom passes she discovers just how toxic the church can be when she was needing her church family the most.

This book is Candice’s faith journey, her experience of the being raised in the black church and how it shaped her. Not only does Candice share about how she’s come into her own faith, but how stepping outside the spiritual system she was raised in has helped her grow in ways she wasn’t expecting.

I’ll be honest. I facilitated between agreeing one moment and the next trying to not be horrified. I have had my own outside of the box journey and dipped my toe in areas of spirituality that I’ve skedaddled from in abject fear and repentance. We won’t know otherwise unless we explore. It’s not easy to decide to journey to what can be viewed as the wrong side of the spiritual tracks.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Red Lip Theology by Candice Marie Benbow from Convergent Books, care of NetGalley. The views shared are mine and fully my choice. If you are looking for a book on faith that will challenge your old school ways then I recommend checking out this upcoming 2022 title. I think I’m still mentally processing all I’ve read. Thank you for being bold when others would rather you be silent. Thank you Candice.

Book Review · Books

Carry The Dog

Some books burrow a place into your soul. Carry The Dog has done just that. The last page has been read and my brain is reeling from this novel. This novel is NOT for kids or teens. If you are sensitive to dark topics then you may want to proceed with caution. It’s dark. Pitch black, can’t see ANYTHING in front of your face. The only thing you can do is listen to the main character, Bea’s thoughts.

How do you survive a childhood overshadowed by a famous mother? To have a parent whose loved and hated by society for producing what she considers art? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if that perspective is twisted and marred?

Bea is on the cusp of the big 60 and her childhood that she thought was ‘normal’ keeps throwing her flashbacks. She’s trying to survive. One cig and drink at a time. Thankfully she has her younger sister, of sorts, Echo to keep her grounded.

When Bea’s ex tries to worm her into agreeing to allow someone to do a documentary on her mom she’s confronted with a past she’s trying forget. How does one process trauma? She thought ignoring it would make it disappear, but when Bea tries to confront her aging father, she realizes sometimes you’ve just got to dive into the pig sty and face crap head-on.

This novel tackles the intricacies of family on a whole different level. What is a family? Can a fractured one be pieced back together? Is it possible to pick up the shards of a disassociated self and make her whole again? How does our own perception morph between childhood and adulthood?

I received a complimentary physical and digital copy of Carry The Dog by Stephanie Gangi care of Algonquin Books and NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own volition. Thank you Stephanie, Algonquin Books and NetGalley. This novel is Gone Girl level on the psychological front. I almost couldn’t stomach it, but I’m glad I did.

Book Review · Books

I Won’t Die Alone

Do you like comic books and/or graphic novels? If so, you might enjoy this short book about the end of the world that’s filled with different types of quotes with modern cartons of animals. Maybe it’s my mindset, my mood, but I know artwork is in the eye of the beholder. You either love it, or not so much. Sadly I’m in the last category. I wanted to like this book, but for some reason the artwork brought back Richard Scarry’s short story: Goodnight Little Bear. That artwork creeped me out as a little kid. I think for me it’s just not my personal cartoon style preference.

I received my complimentary digital copy of I Will Not Die Alone by Dera White and illustrated by Joe Bennett. The views are mine and my own choice. Please don’t let my review detour you. Check out this comic later this fall.

Book Review · Books

Petals Of Rain

Rica’s life draws you in from the very start. This memoir is poetic, dreamlike, yet hard hitting in spots. Rica shares her life with you: the good, the bad, the hopeful, the shocking. Her home life growing up isn’t the greatest unless she’s at her grandparent’s house. At a young age she meets a cute guy who she marries young. Here is her ticket to a better life. After a few years and they’ve got two little boys: KJ and Sym. The latter is a wrecking ball of anger that is hard to keep at bay.

Rica tries church to see if adding this social element will help her family. For awhile things seem to improve. The boys start to get used to going and her husband seems to be settling in. That is until the one time he seems to disappear after they are all situated in their pew.

When Rica’s husband gets verbally abusive towards their son that is her last straw. The family she’s tried her darnedest to keep in tact is having a monumental shift. No more house or life like she’s known. The boys aren’t too thrilled with the life changes, but it is what it is.

Following Rica on her journey to find herself and place after all she’s been through is insightful. It’s hard to put down her story. Rica is inspiring. She writes as though you are sitting across from her over coffee and she’s sharing her deep soul with you.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Petals of Rain by Rica Keenum from The Book Reality Experience care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice.

Book Review · Books

Chasing Wonder

Do you ever feel stuck in a rut? This world can feel that way. Especially with how world events are panning out. Chasing Wonder, is the story of how the author, Ginger Stache, came out of her shell to live an adventurous life.

Ginger’s life didn’t start out glamorous, but through outshe’s learned to say, “Yes,” to God when he leads her. Being the Chief Creative Officer for Joyce Meyer’s Ministries has taken her on countless adventures overseas to help those less fortunate. These different adventures have taught her that even in the moments when inside she’s begging herself to say, “no,” that by her, “yes,” Ginger has grown in her faith and gratefulness.

Witnessing others who live in squalor, but have a joy that surpasses any American is humbling. Traveling to third world countries was life changing. Ginger got to experience sleeping in a hut in Zambia with a wild assortment of insects and cringe worthy animals. I don’t know if I could brave having wasps and bees trying to get through my mosquito net all night, or finding a huge spider under my pillow. Hello, panic attack.

I received my complimentary copy of Chasing Wonder by Ginger Stache, care of Worthy Publishing. The views are mine and of my own will. This collection of adventures showed me that I can find adventure and joy in the simple every day doings of life. I don’t have to go fancy and pricy to get a worthwhile time.

Book Review · Books

Over It

If you are a girlie girl then this book cover is going to make your heart happy. Pink everywhere. I haven’t liked pink since the first grade, but it’s starting to grow on me.

Kelsey talks candidly about how growing up in the evangelical world there are silent expectations. If you are a perfectionist then this is a challenging combo. You may feel the need to measure up culturally and spiritually. Is this realistic? It’s not. It causes anxiety and stress. Kelsey tries to measure up, but never feels arrived.

College felt like it would be a fresh new beginning. Being away from home can make you feel all grownup. That is until Kelsey discovers partying. As a perfectionist she does it with abandon.

When Kelsey Mets Chris at college she knows there is something special about him. There is something forbidden. He is a PK, adored by his family and church. He was Mr. Christian popularity. Everything seemed all sparkly, until Kelsey realized the underbelly wasn’t all charm.

Growing up in the evangelical world, a woman has her place. Kelsey wasn’t raised to speak up. Things aren’t that bad she reasons. Abuse only counts if it’s just physical. Kelsey dives deep into what it was like to be in a toxic relationship.

I received my complimentary copy of Over It by Kelsey Grimm from Worthy Publishing. The views are mine and of my own will. I’ll confess at first I felt like this book came across a tad spiritually fluffy, but not to worry there is spiritual meat in this memoir. I commend Kelsey for opening up about her experience. If the topics of toxic and abusive relationships are triggering then I caution you as you read this book. Kelsey is a survivor and an inspiration. Thank you Kelsey.

Book Review · Books

Holy Hot Mess

Christianity can scream for perfection, especially when it comes to women having to come across perfect in their looks, life and schedule. I’ll confess. I like to look at the author photo. I wasn’t disappointed. The author, Mary Katherine is stunning. Honestly I was afraid I was in for one of those cheesy, feel good Christian books. I wasn’t wrong. MK’s book is one of those such books, but it’s not all warm fuzzies and hot cocoa.

MK tackles some deep topics. There are topics that I can really relate to. The chapter on growing up and wanting to be accepted and be friends with a particular girl at school, well I’ve been there and got burnt as well. Going to church and not being in the mood to go? Yes, I am guilty of that more times than I can count. But you know what? I miss that family atmosphere. Yes, there is always going to be church drama. Imperfect people crammed into one building all trying to learn about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit that equals a recipe for spiritual/faith drama.

I loved Holy Hot Mess. MK never is condescending or uppity, she gets right across from us and shares her heart, soul and some extra leftovers because she doesn’t want any of her readers to be left hungry or left out. She is funny, serious, vulnerable and most important readable. She doesn’t dumb down the tough subjects, but her writing is conversational, personable and memorable.

I received my complimentary copy of Holy Hot Mess by Mary Katherine Backstrom from Worthy Publishing. Views are my own and my own choice. I am so thankful I got to read this book. I love getting to discover new favorite authors. Thank you Worthy and thank you MK. I can’t wait to go read more of your books.

Book Review · Books

Peaceful On Purpose

Currently in the world, peace seems like the last thing that’s a possibility. We’re dealing with a world wide pandemic, there are raging fires and earthquakes that feel like they are just ramping up for a big one. Life feels like we are stuck on mental rollercoaster mode and we just want to get off this trying ride.

I admit I was a tad skeptical on the topic of being peaceful on purpose. How is that remotely possible? Christian or not. It sounds too pie in the sky and wishy washy. I’m sure lots of readers may be rolling their eyes. It’s understandable. Times aren’t exactly screaming peace.

Joel’s book is short with a powerful point. God is in control. We may be not be able to see the bigger picture or outcome, but He is in control. Not that we shouldn’t be responsible or accountable for our actions, but knowing He does have us in the palm of His hand should be comforting. We try to hold tight control to so much. That stubbornness just gives us more frustration and anxiety. Do we need more of both when times are already nuts? No. We need less.

I received my complimentary copy of Peaceful On Purpose by Joel Osteen from FaithWords in exchange for my honest review that is fully mine. This book was definitely thought provoking and even though the topic is very Christianese, it’s even more relevant for today.