Book Review · Books

The Very Worst Missionary

If you love reading Sarah Bessey, Elizabeth Esther and Nadia Boltz-Weber’s memoirs on their outside the box Christian walks, then you’ll adore Jamie Wright’s memoir: The Very Worst Missionary. If you don’t squirm at the occasional colorful language then you’ll feel right at home reading Jamie’s account of her family’s fore into being Christian missionaries in Costa Rica. Jamie holds back nothing in her candid account of what it’s like to go spread the good news in a country already filled with Catholics.

Jamie is honest in sharing how she came to faith as an adult, having been brought up Jewish and how she met her high school boyfriend who later becomes her husband. Having grown up a PK I don’t know what it’d be like to discover Christianity as an adult with little kids, but I think she describes how easy it is to slip into the stereotypical suburban Christian mom role. The only problem is that Jamie can’t sit quietly and pretend to agree on everything. Jamie talks about what it’s like to move to a foreign country with little kids and the challenges of feeling at home in a new place.

This memoir spoke to me. I’ve gone on short term mission trips as a little kid to Mexico. Jamie brings up so many important points when it comes to the question of if having all the American Christians come swooping in to save and help the poor if it is truly helping, or merely enabling a reason for a country to not have to improve because foreigners will come in to give free aid. The other points she makes are thought provoking. It’s great to help others, but do we really have to travel to foreign countries if we have our own countrymen who are in need?

I received a complimentary digital copy of The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright from NetGalley. The views expressed are my own. This memoir is hilarious. I laughed, snorted, cried, giggled and wanted to shout, “Amen!” in agreement through so much of this book. One of my favorite parts of this memoir is the introduction of Knife. Best black cat name ever. I’m still shocked to hear a believer swear, but I’m not innocent in my use of language either. Sometimes a little flavor drives the point home, not to mention those parts made it even funnier. Needless to say I love snarky humor. Even snarky humor aimed at Evangelicals. I used to be one, but my faith has been somewhat of a chameleon.

Book Review · Books

Becoming Starlight

Do you ever have a book that just slaps you wide awake spiritually when you are least expecting it? Becoming Starlight did just that for me. I fell in love with the cover first. My favorite colors are blue and purple, so my eyes naturally were drawn to it, to find out what it was about.

I’ve only read a few books on NDE and had never heard of SDE (side death experience). An SDE is where a loved one experiences death alongside the person whose passing, where they go out of their body and go along with the person whose passed away, but only to a certain point, then the person experiencing the SDE returns back to their body in the physical realm. This memoir of this women’s SDE experience took me on the spiritual ride of my life.

Mrs. Prentice talks about how she met her husband, Steve and how her first introduction with death was the passing of their daughter, Stephanie. Her description of grief that deep and raw is palpable. Mrs. Prentice discusses how in that deep of grief she tuns out everything, but her anger and rage at God for not saving Stephanie. If you’ve ever been furious with God you’ll be able to relate to her pure hatred.

This would not be Mrs. Prentice’s only reason to be angry at God. Steve gets sick and the doctors for the longest time can’t figure out what’s wrong.

This is Mrs. Prentice’s memoir of dealing with her anger, rage and hate at God for what He throws at her. She keeps her emotions stuffed down until the moment she doesn’t want to have to ever experience. Steve passes. Her anguish unleashes in the hospital where she has an SDE, supernatural experience. This experience throws her for a loop and is outside her traditional Christian comfort zone. What Mrs. Prentice experiences is life changing.

This book was eye opening for me. The things that the author experienced and shares just clicked with me. I had a few, “Ah ha,” moments and I highlighted a lot. I definitely want to buy a physical copy, so that I can highlight and make notes. I don’t know how I’d react if I got to go alongside a loved one whose died and see them after the fact. It would be comforting to see they are still alive in some form you recognize them in, but still a unique experience.

If you are needing a book to think outside the traditional Christian box then this book is the perfect read for you. Did the author’s experience rekindle her faith? Have you ever had a night of The soul experience? Do you ever question what you were taught about God? Have you had an NDE or SDE experience? Read this book to find out more.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Becoming Starlight by Sharon Prentice Prentice from Waterside Press, care of NetGalley. The reviews expressed here are mine only. This book is one you are going to want to highlight, dog ear (gasp), get coffee stains on from reading it multiple times, etc.

Book Review · Books

Beauty In The Broken Places

What would you do if your spouse had a stroke right in front of you and you are only in your early 30’s? What if this happened in the air on a plane? Novelist, Allison Pataki experienced this on their way to their Hawaii vacation to celebrate the daughter they were going to be having. Beauty Of The Broken Places is Allison’s memoir of what happened after that fateful June day.

This memoir was a front row seat to what it’s like to experience your loved one ending up with a traumatic brain injury and how to care for them. Allison doesn’t hold back the raw fear, frustration and sadness over what happened. She also, shares how her and her husband, Dave’s friends, family, strangers they met along the way helped out. Allison also, covers the topic of faith, doubt and hope.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Beauty In The Broken Places by Allison Pataki from NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own. This memoir is my second favorite book I’ve read this year. This book is intense and such an important read. This memoir is truly about the power of family and friends, how even the smallest assistance given when someone needs it is huge for them.

Book Review · Books

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

I haven’t read the whole Chronicles Of Narnia series. Yes, it’s a shame since it was one of the earliest series my mom would start to read to me as a little girl. As an adult I had heard bits and pieces about C.S. Lewis and his marriage, but until I read this stunning historical novel about his wife, Joy Davidman I had no idea all it entailed.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis sucked me into Joy’s 1950’s world of New York. She was married to Bill with two little boys. Her and her husband were both writers. Bill was an alcoholic and a cheater. Joy was miserable, but did her best to try and keep the peace at home.

One day Joy has a spiritual conversation of sorts. She decides to write to C.S. Lewis some of her spiritual, Christian questions. She had read one of this books and thought he may be able to provide her some insight. This brings to life a correspondence between them that gets intense. Bill starts to get concerned, but when Joy’s health goes down hill she is told she must get away to rest. Of course Joy decides to go to the UK, to C.S. Lewis, to finally meet the man, the myth, the legend. Will meeting her new friend be all she hopes it to be? Will Joy and C.S. Lewis’ friendship blossom, or will the reality of being in person dampen their connection?

This novel is the best love story I’ve read in a long time. I’m not into romance novels, but this one is sweetly written, magical, suspenseful and leaves you feeling stunned after the last page. If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis and want to read a historical novel that will keep you reading nonstop, and it’s over 400 pages, then I highly recommend this beautiful novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan care of TLC Book Tours from Thomas Nelson. The opinions in this review are strictly my own. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this amazing book grab a copy from Amazon and check out more about the author, Patti Callahan. To get a sneak peak of the audio clips of chapters one and two: https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/sets/becoming-mrs-lewis

Book Review · Books

Shameless: A Sexual Reformation

If you love edgy, outside the box Christian then you’ll love any book by pastor Nadia Boltz-Weber. When I saw Shameless, as an option to possibly get to review I had to request it since I loved reading her book, Pastrix.

Shameless is a book about how the church and Christianity has made sex and sexuality something to be ashamed of if it doesn’t fit in the white conservative Christian picket fence family dynamics. Pastor Nadia shares some stories from a few of her parishioners that are gut wrenching and disturbing. She also, shared stories from her own life in how the way the church talked about sex was seen as dirty unless you were married. Pastor Nadia also, talks about the gender stereotypes kids are shaped into by their church and family. If you aren’t straight you can be viewed as sinful, off the straight and narrow and needing to be reigned in.

If you were a Christian teen in the 90’s you may recall the True Love Waits Movement that swept Christendom up in its hype. Did this movement prepare young Christian couples for intimacy in marriage? I’d wager no. Hearing your whole life you have to wait till marriage doesn’t exactly prepare you for the wedding night part. I get waiting for sex till you’ve found your forever partner, but just being told no without any directions on what to expect once there’s a green light is the blind leading the blind.

Sadly Christian schools and some Christian families are against sex education in schools. If Mom and Dad won’t have any in-depth talk then all those kids being pulled out of Sex Ed are oblivious to potential dangers when they slip up and go too, far when their sex drive awakens and I’m not meaning the potential pregnancy scenario.

This book was a really personal read for me being raised in a Christian home. I did survive public school Sex Education class. All I recall is there being a fill in the blanks body part test in fifth grade. I recall my parents helping me study for that. Only main thing I was told was not to wind up pregnant like so and so. Ah, how could I forget the book for preteens my parents gave me to read. I’ve always been a bookworm, but something’s are more personal when talked out vs being given a manual of sorts. I know talking about literal private things can be awkward for a parent, but I’d rather hear from my own parents on what to expect. I can relate in more ways than that with this book, but that could be a separate blog post.

This book gives me hope for Christendom. I have so many evolved views on sexuality, marriage, education and more. This one is a keeper and I can’t wait for it to come out so I can have a physical copy to highlight and notate to death.

This review is for a digital ARC of Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Boltz-Weber from NetGalley and is my own unbiased opinion. I loved this book. I adore how wise and snarky Pastor Nadia is with such an important topic. If you need someone who understands and has been through a similar upbringing then you’ll want to preorder a copy of Shameless. If you need someone to talk to or vent to feel free to contact me.

Book Review · Books

Rose Colored Glasses

Memoirs steal your heart. The author gives you a peek into their personal life, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Jo Ann Simon does just that in her memoir, Rose Colored Glasses. In her book she chronicles her marriage to Tom otherwise known as TK. Their love and romance reads like a fairy tale until they are faced with a harsh health update for Tom.

What would you do if your spouse or partner suddenly has to deal with a terminal illness? Jo Ann meets this challenge head on like a freight train, determined to find a cure for Tom. She is honest about their good days when Tom is back to his old self and days when getting through the day is a challenge. I can’t fathom going through what Jo Ann has. You expect to grow old with your other half.

I received my free digital ARC copy of Rose Colored Glasses by Jo Ann Simon from NetGalley care of Smith Publicity in exchange for my honest feedback. This memoir was beautifully written with little notes from Tom to Jo Ann sprinkled through out the pages. Loosing a partner to disease is devastating. Jo Ann shows how we can get through to the other side of this premature challenge to live life again. If you have a friend, family member, or an acquaintance that needs assurance they aren’t alone going through this kind of major life change then I recommend to read this book. It’s a book about hope.

Book Review · Books

Where Hope Begins

Some beautiful book covers are just that. Beautiful. The innards don’t always mirror the outer. Where Hope Begins by Catherine West is a book I asked to review because I thought the cover was gorgeous. The cover didn’t remotely prepare me for the depth of the story waiting for me.

Savannah is a mother still reeling from the untimely passing of her eldest daughter when her husband, Kevin, decides he wants to separate. He had an affair and decides to move out to go live with the other woman. To help herself heal and move forward, Savannah decides to go stay at her parent’s cabin.

She discovers she has nice neighbors to keep her company. One of the neighbors is Maisy, a little girl who looks so much like her late daughter. Savannah is captivated by Maisy’s Dad, Brock, not realizing who he actually is. Through her neighbor’s friendship she begins to heal her broken heart. Brock’s Aunt Clarice keeps Savannah on her toes spiritually, seeming to know so much without Savannah having to say a word.

Savannah feels like her life is finally showing signs of healing when Kevin wants back in. Will Savannah let him? How can you forgive someone you love and trust after betrayal? Is it possible for a family to be repaired? Can a family move forward after the loss of a child?

This novel tackles so many tough topics that are realistically portrayed through Savannah’s story: marriage, betrayal, death, faith, love, hope, family, relationships, friendship and more. This novel will stick with you long after the last page. I wish there was a sequel. Better yet a movie.

I received my free paperback ARC copy of Where Hope Begins by Catherine West for free from TLC Book Tours care of Thomas Nelson in exchange for honest review. To learn more about this talented author check out her website and buy a copy from Amazon.