Saturday, December 31, 2016

WAIT AND SEE: FINDING PEACE IN GOD'S PAUSES AND PLANS BY WENDY POPE

Image Credit: goodreads.com
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've participated in three Online Bible Studies facilitated the Proverbs 31 Ministry. In the latest installment, I read Wendy Pope's new book, Wait and See: Finding Peace in God's Pauses and Plans. I do believe that sometimes books find us at the right time, and this was certainly a great book at the right time for me. Proverbs 31 Ministries is based on Proverbs chapter 31 in the Bible. As such, much of the educational and spiritual material is targeted toward women.

Wait and See is not only a motivational and inspirational book. This study takes a different approach from the previous two (5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Quit by Nicki Koziarz and Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst) in that this book includes a Bible study portion that focuses on many of the Psalms King David penned in the Bible. Additionally, the book becomes a personal journal, allowing the reader to write her own chapter through writing prompts in chapter 10.

Pope clearly is knowledgeable about the Bible, she has a strong faith, and her conversational tone helps to inspire the reader to have patience during the period (or periods) of wait that she may be in. There is so much to be taken from this study, but the biggest gift Pope gave me was one of hope. Whenever I get down, I try to remember to reflect back on the author's guiding principle - Focus on the Person of my faith rather than the object of my wait.

Recommendation: If you're waiting for something important, like a job, healing, or mate, this book will help you. If you are not a believer, it can show you how some believers approach patience (read: waiting well) as a tenet of life.

Until next time ... Read on!

Monday, December 26, 2016

BROKEN HARBOR BY TANA FRENCH

Image Credit: goodreads.com
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Broken Harbor by Tana French is the fourth in her Dublin Murder Squad Series. I was first introduced to French by a co-worker who recommended In the Woods, which is the first book in the series. We read that book in book club, and I was hooked!

Broken Harbor is narrated by detective Michael "Scorcher" Kennedy. The book wastes no time. We learn early on that a family of four has been attacked - the father and two children dead and the mother clinging to life. Kennedy is the lead detective on the case and is also training a rookie detective, Richie Curran. Scorcher prefers working alone and has an excellent solve rate, while Curran is working his first major case and takes a more empathetic approach to investigating. As the novel goes on, we see Curran and Scorcher's personalities and tactics complementing one another quite nicely. French sets up some hope for a clean solve and a career partnership.

However, French's novels are not happily ever afters. Her stories are very real to life, and the characters are greatly flawed but also have redeeming qualities. The relationship between Curran and Scorcher becomes the primary story with the mystery as the backdrop. As for the mystery, that's my only negative about this book, it seems to drag out a little bit and some of the activities surrounding and leading up to the murder are not very realistic. That being said, as with French's other novels, I did enjoy this one. The themes and conflict she addresses leave you pondering for days. Her writing is simply exceptional.

If you enjoy an expertly-crafted murder mystery, this series is for you. I normally do not like to read series because I feel obligated to read the whole series. The good thing about French's series is you don't necessarily have to read them in succession. The books are written independently of one another. The author usually takes a secondary character from a previous story and he or she becomes the primary character of the next. While other characters may be referenced across books, it's not vital to understand each individual story. There are two more novels in the series. I'm in the middle of The Secret Place (book #5). The sixth book, The Trespasser, was released in the fall of 2016, which I will be tackling soon so that I can finish the series as it stands.

Recommendation: French definitely has a way with words and can tell a good story. As a reader, you become invested in these flawed yet relatable characters.

Until next time ... Read on!

Friday, December 23, 2016

BEAUTIFUL WORD BIBLE (NIV) BY ZONDERVAN PUBLISHING

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

About this time last year, Pastor Robert White of Freedom Church (@myfreedomdfw on SoMe) in Bedford, Texas challenged our congregation with reading the Bible in a Year. He provided us with the Tyndale House Publishers reading plan, which can also be found (for free) at Bible.com. And you might have guessed, there's an app for that!

All my life I have wanted to read the Bible in its entirety, but I always fell short of my goal and gave up. Taking on the task with my church family made me accountable. Staying focused and making a habit to read every day was challenging at times. The whole experience was life changing. Just because I've completed the task given to me by God through Freedom doesn't mean I'm done reading it. The Bible is God's love letter to us, and there's always something new in it. As with most reads, it's your personal experience that enhances the content of the book. As you grow and develop, the text is amplified accordingly.

I don't really have a formal review for this book. It is, after all, the greatest story ever told. There's nothing I can add to it to make it any more than it already is. Reading and meditating each day has given me a great gift ... new perspective and answers to life's struggles. I encourage all to read this book, believers and non-believers. It's beautifully written. It includes all kinds of stories - dramas, mysteries, romance, and even a comedy, to name a few. The best thing about the Bible is that every time I sit down and dig deep, I am rewarded.

Recommendation: If you're a believer, you should already be reading this. If you're a reader, read this. If you're breathing, read this!

Until next time ... Read on!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

AND EVERY MORNING THE WAY HOME GETS LONGER AND LONGER BY FREDRIK BACKMAN

Image Credit: goodreads.com
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earlier this year I read A Man Called Ove by Fredik Backman, and it gave me all the feels. So, when a co-worker shared his love for Backman's novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, I braced myself for another heart-tugging read. Backman did not disappoint.

In this book, Backman introduces us to Grandpa, his grandson Noah, and his son, Ted. We learn about a man who's lived a lifetime and loves his family, despite their differences, in the midst of him attempting to hang on to what once was.

With A Man Called Ove, Backman offered many life lessons illustrated through the all too familiar stories. The beautiful nugget that this author gives through his writing is in the way he crafts each story. He takes care of the characters. In identifying traits and feelings that most of us experience or have experienced, he draws the reader in, leaving a lasting impression. This little book can probably be read by most in one sitting, but it will have you thinking and feeling days after you finish.

This short but sweet book can be summed up what most of us already know ... Life. Goes. On.

Recommendation: Backman is becoming one of my favorite authors. I strongly recommend this book as well as his others. I already have My Grandmother Asked me to Tell you She's Sorry on my list for early 2017.

Until next time ... Read on!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

DARKTOWN BY THOMAS MULLEN

Image credit: goodreads.com
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in pre-civil rights era, Darktown by Thomas Mullen, opens with two of the first African Americans on the Atlanta Police Force encountering a young and beaten African American woman in a car with a Caucasian man. Because of racial tensions and limited police authority, the African American officers are not able to investigate properly. So, when the young woman turns up murdered days later, these "beat" officers along with another (Caucasian) rookie work in an unofficial capacity to solve the case.

Told from a third person perspective, the author captures the essence of the time, illustrating the inequality and atrocities that many African Americans, in reality, faced during the late 1940s and early 1950s ... and still today in 2016. I found the story to be formulaic but suspenseful enough to hold my interest and finish the book. Having said that, it seemed to bog me down in some places with too much description and unnecessary detail. I got the feeling that Mullen was writing with the intent to option the book for a movie. And sure enough, the story will come to life starring actor Jamie Foxx.

If you're looking for a detailed pseudo-detective story with racial overtones, this just may be the book for you. I won't say it's a bad book because the story is compelling and the writing is decent. It just simply wasn't my cup of tea. Rather than motivating me to turn another page before bedtime, it put me to sleep night after night over a three-week period.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book for someone who enjoys police dramas. I think it's better suited for an independent read as there isn't too much to discuss in a group setting.

Until next time ... Read on!

About Melyssa

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Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog. I am an avid reader who enjoys reading fiction. I also read biographies as well as fiction and non-fiction books about the Holocaust and Civil Rights period ... and I've been known to read a blog or two! If you'd like me to review a book, please complete the contact form below my bio. I'll be in touch!

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