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 and NetGalley 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.

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

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

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

The Most Beautiful Disaster

I can’t deny that the berry color on the cover of The Most Beautiful Disaster drew me in. What drew me in even more so, is Hope’s personal story of redemption. Airing one’s dirty laundry in order to help others takes cojones and bravery.

Hope shares her life’s journey through having an affair while being a pastor’s wife and having her own ministry. She shares about the aftermath and all it took for her to gain back redemption. This memoir isn’t an easy read emotionally or spiritually. Hope gives helpful end of chapter sections called: Think About This and Scripture to Meditate On. She doesn’t merely share her very deeply raw story, but gives guidance on how we are raised helps mold how we handle future relationships.

What I love most about Hope’s memoir is how she encourages us, no matter what life has thrown at us, by our own choices aka consequences that we can lift out of our dark mire through taking it to God, asking for forgiveness and starting fresh. Life doesn’t have to be crappy. Even if it currently is we can work through it and clean it off.

I received my complimentary copy of The Most Beautiful Disaster by Hope Carpenter from Faith Words. The views are mine and my own choice. This memoir I think would make a great women’s Bible study read. I think it’s a topic that is taboo and kept hush unless the media gets wind of it, if you are a big name. None of us are ‘arrived’ and I think it would help women to see they aren’t alone.

Book Review · Books

Always Yours, Bee

Bee and James had the perfect life with their three boys. That is, until the day James insisted on biking to work on a very rainy day. That choice ends in an accident. Bee blames herself as she was focusing on hearing back from her book agent. She did offer to drive her husband, but of course he insisted he’d be fine. James survives, but the mental aftermath is ugly.

What is it like to suffer a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD? What is it like to care for the love of your life who can’t recall their psst and know they are supposed to love you, but it feels brand new to them? Bee has to deal with these changes in James. She gets so wrapped up in helping her husband, Bee doesn’t realize her own depth of trauma. Follow Bee and James on their journey to work through recovering from Jame’s accident.

This memoir is intense, gripping, emotionally draining, insightful, mesmerizing, and hard to put down. I’ve never read Mia Hayes before, but after reading this gut wrenching memoir of hers, I want to read her other books.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Always Yours, Bee by Mia Hayes from Finn Star, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. Thank you NetGalley for always providing memoirs that become all time favorites. This is one of them. I can’t wait to grab a copy when it comes out. Thank you Mrs. Hayes for opening your heart and past, so that others could see there is hope on the darkest of nights.

Book Review · Books

Let Them Be Kids

This book is great for parents or childless couples. The theme of this book is about how we need to allow kids to be kids and not burden them with adult worries. Kids today seem to be more acknowledgeable about topics that are too, grownup for them. The author, Jessica breaks down the sections into different categories from manners, to age appropriate activities for your kids, to writing your own family manifesto and more. Jessica gives examples from her own life and family as well, which I found quite reminiscent of my own childhood.

Even though I don’t have any children this book brought back my own childhood memories and how I was raised. It makes you think on how we raise today’s kids shapes how they will be in the future. It’s interesting to see how each generation is raised so differently. I like how Jessica brings it back to the basics, not the prehistoric kind.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Let Them Be Kids by Jessica Smartt from Thomas Nelson, care of TLC Book Tours and NetGalley. The views given are mine and my choice. To grab an inspiring copy via Amazon and to find out more about the author. This book is not boring. It’s refreshing and hopeful to know that there are parents out there who are determined to raise kids who know how to fully be kids and not mini adults.

Book Review · Books

Death Is But A Dream

First off the cover is unique. It makes me think of an old school composition notebook with the style of binding. The colors on the cover are vibrant. The topic of this slim volume is one we like to avoid: death. Not just death, but our dreams we have before we pass on.

Dr. Kerr is a doctor at Hospice Buffalo. He wanted to give a voice to those in the process of dying, to have these patient’s voices be heard fully. He shared cases of all different types of patients from children, to couples, to those with a rough and tumble past, as well as mentally/physically challenged. He wanted to share what type of dreams they are having and how these dreams helped the patient graduate towards accepting that they were going to pass.

If you are into dreams then this book may be of interest. Dr. Kerr wasn’t looking to interpret these patients dreams, but to see how they helped each patient in having resolution.

I think each patient who graciously allowed themselves to be interviewed was fascinating, insightful and comforting. How can dreams before death be of comfort? I think Dr. Kerr noticed a pattern how the person’s dreams helped the person come full circle regarding their life.

I received my complimentary copy of Death Is But A Dream by Christopher Kerr from Avery, care of FSB Associates. The views are mine and of my own choice. This book was hard to put down. Even though the topic we all have to face some day isn’t easy, this book I think is a great conversation starter and after finishing it I actually feel more comfortable with the topic. We don’t get to choose if our passing will be sudden or gradual, hence why we have to be spiritually prepared at all times.