Monday, December 23, 2013

Sex and the Single Christian Girl by Marian Jordan Ellis

From the publisher:
"True love waits"--but what exactly are you waiting for? After all, we're constantly bombarded with Hollywood's idea of romance--that sex is no big deal, that everyone is doing it, that it's the only path to a happy ending. Maybe you've even begun to wonder, What am I missing? Is the wait really worth it? Marian Jordan Ellis has been there. She knows the pitfalls of giving in to temptation--but also the blessings of God's best found in waiting after she committed herself to Christ and to sexual purity. Now, from one Christian woman to another, she hopes to spare you from the heartache of sexual sin and instead point you toward God's best. Marian offers lots of practical advice, backed by biblical truth, to equip you with the tools to overcome past mistakes and future temptations.


I asked to review this book because while I am married, these type of books were very influential for me in my teen and young adult years and I wanted to see what was out on the market now to help Christian girls think through the decisions they make.

I particularly liked that she had small group questions for each chapter at the end of the book because this could be a good book for a small group to go through to help create accountability partners and a safe place to be supported and supportive.

Marian Jordan Ellis shares her own stories with the reader and I think this goes a long way to show that she has personal experience and struggles in these areas and has found a way to overcome in Jesus.  Marian shares how this is not just a physical battle but a spiritual battle and yet she also gives some practical advice.  Her book is not solely theoretical but she tries to be practical in her advice.

My main problem with the book was that at the beginning of each chapter she has a quote from a "rom-com" movie.  This bothered me because if she is trying to direct our thoughts away from all the "rom-com" industry, then this is definitely unhelpful.  She could have found just as powerful of quotes in other awesome spiritual books that make a similar point.  Having the quotes at the beginning of each chapter turns the reader, even if for just a brief bit, toward the "rom-com" world that Marian Jordan Ellis is trying to point away from.

I received this book free from Bethany Publishing House in exchange for my honest review.

Emma of Aurora: The Complete Change and Cherish Trilogy by Jane Kirkpatrick

From the publisher:
The Change and Cherish trilogy, based on the true story of Emma Wagner Giesy, now available in one volume:
A Clearing in the Wild
When Emma’s outspoken ways and growing skepticism lead to a clash with the 1850s Bethel, Missouri colony’s beloved leader, she finds new opportunities to pursue her dreams of independence. But as she clears a pathway West to her truest and deepest self, she discovers something she never expected: a yearning for the warm embrace of community.
A Tendering in the Storm
Determined to raise her children on her own terms, Emma suddenly finds herself alone and pregnant with her third child, struggling to keep her family secure in the remote coastal forest of the Washington Territory. As clouds of despair close in, she must decide whether to continue in her own waning strength or to humble herself and accept help from the very people she once so eagerly left behind.
A Mending at the Edge
As a mother, daughter, sister, and estranged wife, Emma struggles to find her place inside—and outside—the confines of her religious community. Emma reaches out to others on the fringe, searching for healing and purpose. By blending her unique talents with service to others, she creates renewed hope as she weaves together the threads of family, friends, and faith.


All three stories are in one large volume.  This is a positive a negative feature.  The positive aspect is that it is wonderful to have all the books together and not have to wait for the next book to come out before continuing on with the story.  The negative part is that it is cumbersome to travel with or read.  Being so thick (over 1000 pages) it isn't a book to take from home.  It also made it hard for me to want to begin reading it, in a way it felt overwhelming.

Jane Kirkpatrick has done her homework in making this historical novel based on Emma.  The afterward by the author includes more information about the real people and more facts concerning the Aurora Colony.

These books are not a love story but a story of a women who is really surviving and trying to thrive.  Readers of history will like to learn more about Aurora Colony and the way it was founded and set up. 

As a trilogy the pace is more slow than fast and some readers will enjoy this pace and others will not. I was not hooked into reading this so while I was not drawn into the story, others might be.

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Take Charge of Your Emotions by Dr. Linda J. Solie

From the publisher: 
Respected Christian Psychologist Helps Readers Find Relief from Emotional Pain

Linda J. Solie, a psychologist who has been in private practice for more than 20 years, says everyone can benefit from taking charge of their emotional health. She gives readers the skills to take control of their thoughts and behaviors by first identifying the problem thinking that creates painful feelings and undesirable conduct. Then using a seven-step process, she helps them change their feelings and behavior. Throughout the book the seven steps are applied to a variety of situations, both short term--such as a distressing mood--and longer term, including significant longstanding emotional pain. Grounded in faith, the reader's relationship with Jesus is always central to the process.

As William Backus pioneered a generation ago with Telling Yourself the Truth (more than 700,000 sold), Solie will reach thousands of readers who don't have easy access to mental health providers or can't afford them. Pastors and lay counselors will also find this an excellent resource to use and recommend.

Readers will find this book one that they want to keep on hand to go back and reference.  This is not an fluffy-easy-to-read book but instead takes the reader through the steps in a thorough manner.  Solie provides charts and appendixes with situations to help the reader be able to overcome the depression, anxiety, and anger they are in.  

Christians will resonate with her base of Christian moral and standards but will find this book to be a serious help to their emotional distress.  Some readers may find it too much to read straight through.  I could recommend reading a section and applying it and waiting a while to apply it before moving onto the next section.  In my recommendation I would not say that this is a book to speed read through but to take time in understanding and applying the concepts.

Perhaps my favorite chapter is entitled "Finding Joy".  I recently read another book that applied the idea of finding joy.  I am so glad that Solie included this in her book as life is not always easy, and even when we have steps and processes to help us overcome depression, anxiety, and anger--one of the best things is to be able to find joy in and despite the circumstances.

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love

From the publisher:
The war is over, but at Fairhaven Plantation, Charlotte's struggle has just begun.
Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold.  But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.
To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt.  Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear.
Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together  mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.
I was interested to learn more about the reconstruction time after the Civil War, especially from a former plantation owners’ point of view.  This book will give readers one glimpse into the struggles and victories of that time period.

As far as a Christian fiction book, I did not feel that the character’s had any relationship or time where they connected to God.  Charlotte, the main character has her doubts about God, but there doesn't seem to be any resolution or any real struggle. 

I struggled with the character development aspect of the book, as Charlotte and Nicholas were growing feeling for each other, but it was more of a “tell” and not a “show”.  Even the ending left me feeling like I wished more had been said.  This was also the case with other secondary characters.  They were introduced and taken away and then reintroduced without it seeming very important or building up their characters.

There were some interesting facts about yellow fever, rice planting, and differing opinions after the end of the Civil War.

I received this book free from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.