Sherman by Agostino Von Hassel and Ed Breslin

Well, as you can tell, I wasn’t any more faithful writing in 2012 than I was in previous years, but boy was 2012 full of some fun and life-changing events. I began reading a blog written by a mom of three children, and each month she shares what books she reads. Let’s just say I have been amazed! I need to read more. I used to (like last week) feel very guilty reading anything other than devotional books or the Bible, because I figured if I had time to read, I ought to be reading the Bible. Well, that blog recently posted a great post about that very topic. There is a different kind of comprehension necessary when reading the Bible versus reading a biography, fiction novel, or non-fiction book. That’s when it hit me that I want to read more and a broader realm.

Last year, I read a decent amount of parenting books and birthing books, I mean I did have a baby, but this year I want to grow in general knowledge too. Will it be a New Year’s resolution that results in me completing one book and starting ten others (and never finishing them), maybe, but so far the book I have finished has been a good one that has encouraged me to keep going, and since I like getting free books to review, here is the most recent book I have finished.

Sherman by Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin was a book documenting “The General,” William Tecumseh Sherman.  I picked this book months ago hoping to expand my reading genres. It has taken me some time to pick it up and actually read it. I started this book Friday and finished it in short order. It was surprisingly very easy to read. I didn’t even know that was possible for history books. I learned so much about the life of Sherman that I didn’t know. I mean I remember from history class about his fiery trek to the sea, but beyond that I couldn’t have told you anything. This book did a great overview of his life in 160ish pages. You learned everything from the fact that William was not his given name, why he got the name Tecumseh, and his lifelong struggles.

General Sherman moved around a lot during his life which was amazing in light of the lack of modern transportation. Steam engines were just entering the market and were responsible for many injuries and deaths for early passengers. So the fact he moved lived in Ohio, Florida, Maryland, New York, California, Louisiana, and I think a few other states was pretty impressive to me.

In this book, the author did a great job of highlighting the inner struggles he had with trying to make his own mark on society, providing for his family, and determining what his lifelong career should be. It’s not often I leave a non-fiction book with facts that I could share with someone, but the author presented the story of General Sherman’s life in such a way that it’s hard to forget his struggles and victories.

And, as a side note, it has to be a great book, because the Sutters of the Gold Rush were mentioned. Did you know General Sherman was who confirmed that there was a Gold Strike in California, and it was because of Gold found on Johann Augustus Sutter’s land? So, if you’re looking for a non-fiction read, I think this would be interesting. I had pretty much said I wouldn’t get another book like this one, but they have a series about many of the great Generals, and I’m more inclined now than I was to get another. I’ll be sure to let you know what I do.

 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review
bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I
have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal
Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>
: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Hermie: A Common Caterpillar

So, as you remember, I periodically do book reviews, so here is another. I requested Hermie: a common caterpillar, because it can never hurt to have kids books around, and Max Lucado was sure to be a good read with quality content.

I was not disappointed. The book is about Hermie, a caterpillar and his friend Wormie who seem ugly and inadequate when compared to their other worm friends and to animals like the butterfly, ants, snails, and ladybugs. Each time the worms are discouraged, they pray to God, and God responds “Don’t worry. I love you both. And I’m not finished with you yet.” The book concludes with Hermie taking a very long nap in his cocoon and emerging as a beautiful butterfly, and Hermie encouraging his friend that God is not finished with him as Wormie falls asleep in his own cocoon.

Even as an adult, I thought the book was an excellent reminder that the circumstances that we are currently experiencing are not all there is to life. God is using those circumstances to mold me and shape me. It was also a good reminder that having godly friends can help you through the hard times to focus on God and His truths. I am currently going through another study called the Truth Project, and he compares his spiritual breakthroughs to going into the cocoon.  It was a perfect reminder that we will not stay in the cocoon forever. God is not finished with me yet!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Max on Life by Max Lucado

So, if you haven’t been reading my blog very often, one of the things I do is review books periodically for a website called booksneeze. It’s really my sneaky way of getting free books. Just kidding. It’s not too sneaky since that’s what they’re about. You sign up, read a book, write a review, and then get a new book. If you don’t ever review the book, you just don’t get any more books. I have been a little lax in the department of reading, but this has helped me read more this year and to actually broaden my reading horizons a bit. So, without further adieu…

Max Lucado’s Max on Life is a great resource for new and growing believers. I even believe it would be a great resource for maybe a strong Christian to break down difficult answers and scriptures while training new believers in the Word. Max touches on common questions relating to marriage, hope, life after death, prayer, children, work and money, and more. Each question and answer is about one page long, so they are not too overwhelming to get through even if you try to read the book from cover to cover. This book will serve more as a resource though for those counseling others.

Based on what was written above, this book surprised me a bit because the answers to some of the topics seemed very vague or circular. This was not the case with all of the questions, but with a small handful of them. It also would have been nice to have more scripture references included with each question. The way the book is currently formatted, it appears that Max’s opinion on life is more important than God’s opinion on life. I know from reading other Lucado books, this is not his intention, but unfortunately, it appears to be that way in this book.  Overall, this was a good book, and I would recommend it to others. I just do believe there could have been better decisions made in the formatting to acknowledge that Lucado’s are only that of a man’s and that God’s ideas are supreme over any man’s interpretations.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Reading much?

I know…my blog has turned into a book review site, BUT that’s not a bad thing. I have been trying to read more. The book reviews keep me accountable to actually finish a book. I have been knocking books out this year that I have not been reading otherwise….even books that I am not reviewing. So exciting to actually feel like I am learning again (for me reading is always a lesson since I come across new words and different perspectives on life). Here is the review for my most recent book. Someday soon I will return to blogging about life…now that I can have one again (i.e. busy season is almost over).

We Be Big by Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey was a wonderful read! I have recently been trying to expand my reading selection and just happened to select this book knowing nothing about the content. WOW, was I pleasantly surprised. It’s a story of how two people with a passion for radio made it “big.” The book was very well written. Each chapter flips perspectives between Rick and Bubba. They are very up front about their road to stardom which is no different from their radio show (so they say). They portray in their book that their radio show is different from most because they talk about topics that heavily influence their own lives (i.e. their faith in Jesus Christ, family, hunting, politics, etc.).

The book was encouraging simply because of their honesty and their constant encouragement to keep Christ at the center of what they are doing. It was also an encouragement to see the story of redemption in Rick’s life. Rick was honest that he strayed away from Christ in the early years and later dropped the title “cultural Christian” for being a true Christ follower. The Lord would later test Rick and his family, but through his testing many would be brought to the Lord.

Having never listened to Rick and Bubba, I feel as though I know them. If you have the opportunity to read this book, take it and ENJOY!

The Inheritance of Beauty by Nicole Seitz

The Inheritance of Beauty is set in the Low Country of South Carolina. It walks the reader through the lives of four people: George, Magnolia, Ash, and Joe Stackhouse. Maggie, as they called Magnolia, was Ash’s sister, and she later married George. The story jumps back and forth between the past and the present. Through the time, you see George’s deep love for his wife even in her old age where a stroke has left her helpless and speechless. The characters experienced a very traumatic event eighty years ago, and the story unfolds to help them come to peace with what happened before they pass on. When you think all the plots have been resolved, one twist at the end makes the whole story even more magical.

I have not read a fiction book in quite some time, so I was a bit hesitant especially since I did not begin this book on the recommendation of any others. The book started out a bit slow, and I found the jumping back and forth between characters and time to be a bit confusing. However, around the 15th chapter of 54 short chapters), I could not put the book down. I took it everywhere trying to figure out what happened to George and Maggie. How did Ash and Joe play into the mix? As I saw the love between George and Maggie, I kept telling husband and myself that I wanted to be such a wife that my husband loved me as much as George did in those last days. His wife could not speak to him. She could not even kiss him or hug him, but he loved her dearly. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants an easy read and an enjoyable plot.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson

In Constant Prayer educates the reader on the ancient practice of praying the daily office which can help a believer fulfill the commandment to “pray without ceasing.”  It is one book in a series of seven discussing similar ancient practices. The daily office is a liturgical approach to speaking with God. It requires the believer to stop seven times a day and pray specific prayers outlined in books of prayer, sometimes referred to as breviaries.

I selected this book because I desire a deeper prayer life, but as I read, I was often distracted by trying to figure out what denomination the author was presenting his viewpoint from. He was quick to say that he was not going to advocate one denomination over another (which he did not), but his lack of transparency on his own position proved to be distracting. Benson is an easy-to-read author who does not claim to be a theologian and uses self-deprecating humor to prove his points.

The author explains that for a novice, praying the daily office can be intimidating or even impossible. He suggests a few ways to get started. Once I got past his religion (later learned he’s Episcopalian), I found myself intrigued. I always grew up that such regimented worship was not what the Lord wanted. We have all heard how we should approach our faith with a childlike attitude, but Benson points out that sometimes routine is necessary in worship. This concept was new to me. “Routine” seems like a swear word in the circles that I grew up in, but it makes sense that I may not want to talk to God each day (if you are honest with yourself, you will admit that you sometimes feel that way too), so praying the office requires you to stop and worship God seven times of day. In our culture, stopping to pray to God one time a day seems to be a challenge.

After reading the book, I do not believe I will begin praying the written prayers that are part of the office, but I do believe I will attempt to spend more time praising God than petitioning God and that I want to truly pray without ceasing…that means I may have to pray when it feels like a routine, but God will know my heart, and if anything, I feel as though my spiritual knowledge and my knowledge of church history have been expanded. I pray that I can maintain my recent thirst for knowledge.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”