Finding God in My Loneliness by Lydia Brownback – a fabulous book

Product Details

The opening of this book is powerful. It made me excited to read this book. Brownback articulated many things that I have felt and experienced but hadn’t put words to. It helped me.  It really blasts away some of the falsehoods we believe about loneliness. For instance, we often think that married people aren’t lonely because they have someone there all the time….or that others we know aren’t lonely because they put up so many happy posts on social media. We don’t realize that EVERYONE deals with loneliness at times. We are not unique in this. Brownback states, “God created human beings with a capacity for loneliness so that we would yearn for and find our all in him:

In Genesis 2 God ordains the marriage of male and female as another aspect of his design for our aloneness. Yet he never designed marriage to fulfill the incompleteness or eradicate the aloneness. Rather, it more fully reveals our need for our ultimate destiny-to be in union with him” (location 59).

Marriage…a design for our aloneness…and a pointer to our need to be in union with God? I had never thought of marriage in this way and found it challenging my paradigm a bit.   The whole book was very thought provoking.

She talked about how all the freedoms and options we have can increase our loneliness. “Because we no longer have to stay in one place and do life with the people also staying in this place, we don’t make commitments” (location 99).

“The god of open options is a cruel and vindictive god…He promises you that by keeping your options open, you can have everything and everyone. But in the end, you get nothing and no one” (location 105) We engage in the push and pull of relationships….not wanting others to get close enough to hurt us but not wanting them to stop being an “option” either. I am around a lot of teenagers on a regular basis and I hear this kind of talk all the time. “Do you want to hang out this week?” “Maybe….if I’m not busy (read here – if no better option comes along) then I might come over…”   We are more connected than ever (via technology) and, I believe, more lonely than ever.

Brownback talks about the various things we do to try to escape from loneliness and how they often breed more loneliness. Instead of trying to escape from it, she talks about redeeming it.

I could go on and on. This book challenged me and made me think about some of my own “coping mechanisms.” It encouraged me and made me excited. It is a book I will come back to often. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Thank you to Crossway for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

“Only Dan Avery could turn rest into hard work” (location 1847).   Dan was forced by life to take responsibility at a very young age and he struggles with emotional attachments and doesn’t have much room for leisure and relaxation. Quintessa Beaumont is quite the opposite. She dances like a fairy and bursts with life and enthusiasm. She is beautiful inside and out but fears that people only see her outward packaging, not the real her. She wants to do more to help the war effort and joins the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) in the Navy. It’s interesting to see how two people who seem to be opposites can be so good for each other….although there’s plenty of friction before they realize it.

This book really shows well the mood of the country during the early years of World War II. People were committed to doing their part in many ways. It’s a different atmosphere than we’ve had in our country in a long time. It seems foreign though very desirable.

I learned more about the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit and the early stages of learning how to defeat German U-Boats. It was fascinating and there was just enough information to keep me interested without it feeling like I was reading a military tactics book.

As in the other Waves of Freedom books, there is a bit of intrigue and mystery that involves the girls and gets quite dangerous. It was a very enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it.

Thank you to Revell for providing me with a free e-copy. All opinions are my own.

Waves of Freedom Series:

Book 1:  Through Waters Deep

Book 2:  Anchor in the Storm

Book 3:  When Tides Turn



Quick Tips for Busy Families: Sneaky Strategies for Raising Great Kids by Jay Payleitner

This is a book filled with 144 tips/strategies to use with your kids.  There is a lot of variety.  There are tips that will work with young kids and some geared more towards older kids.  I found there were a lot of things I’ve done or tried before and some were new ideas for me.   Each tip is a page or two long.  It’s a pretty fast read. There isn’t any real organization to the book.  It’s more of a hodgepodge.  One thing that I found interesting is that he doesn’t always tell you why he recommends doing something. For instance, he once stopped the car and told the kids to get out and to meet him on the other side of a bridge without really saying why.  Is this just so his kids get more exercise?  Or does he just want to be an unpredictable parent?  I’m not sure. 🙂

Most of the tips make more sense to me than that one.  One of my favorites is “If it’s important to your kids, it’s important to you.”  (That is how I got my first tattoo.)  My daughter has always drawn on herself and loves tattoos.  I knew she was going to get one when she turned 18 so we got them together.  By showing an interest, we created a special bond between us and I was able to help steer her towards a more reputable place and had more input in the process.  With my son, it means I’m shooting zombies and tying on my roller skates each week.

Some tips are quirky and geared towards having fun with your kids.  I hope to use the “three ways you can engage a tree stump” tip soon.  Other tips are highly practical like taking a picture of your kids when you arrive at a theme park in case they get lost.  You’ll know what clothes they were wearing and have an up-to-date picture on hand.  Others were  simple science lessons to prompt a good discussion.

The real gold of this book for me is the reminder to enter into their world….to make it my goal that every conversation my kids have with me makes them glad to have had it(location 1306).  I need the reminder to listen and ask questions more and to talk less.  This book gave lots of ideas to help me with this.

This is not a comprehensive how-to parenting book.  You can’t go to an index and find a page for whatever you might be dealing with.  However, if you’re looking for some fun, thought provoking ideas, give this book a try.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a free e-copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.


Beyond Justice by Cara C. Putman

Product Details

Hayden longs to make a difference as a lawyer. When an immigrant woman’s son is murdered while in a U.S. detention facility, Hayden knows this is what she was meant to do. This woman needs a skilled advocate who knows how the U.S. system works. At first Hayden seems a little uptight. She would look at trial notes as a way to celebrate winning a case. However, just when she gets to know her roommate’s cousin, Andrew, and starts living a little, things become dangerous. Bad things start happening. Are they connected to her case?

I found myself relating more to Hayden’s roommate, Emilie, than to her. I hope Emilie will be featured in an upcoming book. She lives life “at full volume.”   Andrew was an interesting character as well. He’s a senator’s son with a secret passion who also wants to make a difference by helping immigrant children.

I enjoyed the story line more than the characters.  There was lots of action and suspense which I liked. There wasn’t too much legalese to bog things down.   It was my first book by this author and I would recommend giving it a try.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano – a delightful start to a new series

Behind the Scenes (Apart From the Crowd Book #1) by [Turano, Jen]

I LOVE this book!!! Like Turano’s other books, it is funny, full of chaotic, crazy situations, and has a host of quirky characters. I found myself laughing out loud and just sitting there smiling as I read. Some of my family members looked at me a little strangely and I just said, “You have to read this book.”

Permilia’s stepmother and stepsister find her woefully lacking in the “necessities” for society. Permilia purchases clothes from “less than desirable locations” and actually talks to common people who are assisting her (shocking!). She even breaks the cardinal rule of wallflowers which is that they are not to converse with each other….ever! Despite all this and her desire to be back working in her father’s mines, Permilia meets with some success when she actually makes the acquaintance of a man, Mr. Asher Rutherford. When she overhears a plot involving him, chaos ensues, and Mr. Rutherford is forced to believe she’s a lunatic.   Will Permilia be able to make him understand the threat is real?

This book is a great start to the Apart from the Crowd series. It looks like each book will focus on one of the “Wallflowers” who are a little set apart from society. There was a brief introduction to them in the novella, At Your Request. They are a delightful, quirky set of ladies. This book really whet my appetite to learn more of Mrs. Davenport and her antics. She and Miss Cadwalader will be featured in the next book and I can’t wait!

If you like witty writing, quirky but loveable characters, and bizarre situations with twists and turns, you really need to give this book a try. I’d highly recommend it!

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

This is a rich story of loss, fear, hope, love, and forgiveness.   Jenny is a nurse who loves helping the soldiers wounded for their country. It helps take her mind off her own loss and regrets. But when her lost love, Ryan, returns to her life and needs her help, Jenny needs to decide just what she will do for her country and for her former love.

The characters are what made this story for me. Finn was so real to me. I had an exact picture in my mind of what he would look like and how he would behave and why. I would love to read a book about Finn’s adventures in the next chapter of his life. I felt for Ryan. He was in such a hard spot. He couldn’t tell Jenny why he hadn’t returned to her. His heart for his daughter and his desire for her to be raised in a country where “quirks and individualism were celebrated” and where she’d be safe was admirable. Simon reminded me of the parable of the “pearl of great price.” He was willing to sacrifice everything when he met up with real treasure. Jenny, it was said, had a “streetwise toughness” because of her youth. It didn’t seem like that toughness was shown much in her current life. It would have been fun to see that toughness come out in her nursing in some quirky way. Her compassion and understanding of Finn was touching.

There is some danger and intrigue in this book. I learned a lot about pearls and how they are made and that was fascinating. It was an enjoyable read. I’d recommend it.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a free e-copy of this book.   All opinions are my own.

Shine Like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky

Product Details

While I am a big fan of Carrie Turansky books, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t connect with the characters more. Maggie experiences some extreme swings in how she sees a friend. It seemed a little unrealistic to me. People who really know and care about someone should give him/her the benefit of the doubt or at least be willing to listen and try to understand. Maggie eventually comes around but she kind of irritated me with her actions and expectations of others through much of the book. The most likeable, believable characters in the book were Clara and Lily and they had more minor roles.

That said, I did enjoy the story. Nate comes home when his father dies and must face trying to take over household and business responsibilities from those who don’t want to relinquish them. He is reacquainted with Maggie who is still dealing with the deaths of several family members years earlier. When another tragedy strikes, Nate vows to stand by Maggie through her trouble. But family and friendship loyalties tend to collide and make things all the more confusing and tricky.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing me with a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.