Dec 2, 2015

November Book Reviews



7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness
Eric Metaxas
7 Women is comprised of seven mini-biographies of seven extraordinary women who loved God and loved people. It was an excellent read and inspired me in many ways. Joan of Arc, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa each are world-changers, followed the call on their lives, and courageously trusted God even in the most difficult circumstances. I loved learning about these seven women and how their boldness, compassion, bravery, and intelligence were rooted in their deep love for Jesus. Each of them was different and so admirable in her own way.
Eric Metaxas is a brilliant biographer and is well-known for his other biographies, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.  His portrayal of the seven women was riveting. It was factual, often heart-breaking, and inspiring.

I chose this book for November's #Collaboreads and wrote more about it here.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free through BookLook in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Waiting For Morning
Karen Kingsbury
When Hannah Ryan finds out her two daughters and husband were hit by a drunk driver, her life is devastated and forever changed. Saturated in hate and anger towards the drunk driver responsible for wrecking her family's life, she vows to not stop fighting against drunk driving until he is imprisoned with first-degree murder charge. In the midst of her grieving through activism and focusing on revenge against the man who killed her husband and daughter, she loses focus of her surviving child and her need to process and grieve. 

This story, along with many of Karen's books, shows that bad things happen to good people, but that does not mean God is still not good. Hannah Ryan struggles to believe in a good God who would allow such pain in her family and asks a lot of questions that we too would likely ask in this heartbreaking situation. Karen's an artistic novelist who can weave the gospel message of Jesus' redemptive love, God the Father's unfailing love for His children, and heart-aching circumstances like grieving the death of loved ones. It's a great read, though seemed to be a bit longer than necessary. 

My rating: 3.5 our of 5 stars 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free through Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Notes From A Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World
Tsh Oxenreider
I heard of this book from a few different bloggers in the past few months. They all raved about it, so I thought I'd check it out at our local library. I LOVED it! Tsh (pronounced "Tish") writes in a way that is both memoir-like (as she looks back at past traveling experiences) as well as wisdom-writing (as she processes through lessons she learned in the years back in the U.S. after three years as expats working for a nonprofit organization in Turkey).

Tsh strongly believes in living simply and intentionally. She notes that this living looks different for everyone. For the Oxenreiders, it looks like traveling nomad, purchasing fair-trade and organic foods from local venders, prioritizing what's important and setting boundaries to keep distractions and time-suckers steal joy and rest. There's plenty more, but you get the picture. Tsh  and her husband met in Kosovo while doing relief work, and they each had a deep love for exploring the world, so once they had children, they found ways to make it happen with their family of five. They also found ways to feel content while living in the U.S. and pausing their international adventures (briefly).

Tsh explains decisions her family has made together as a team to live simply. She dives into areas they are intentional about, including education, travel, food, work, and entertainment. While not a blueprint to follow perfectly, it's what works for them and she encourages everyone reading the book to explore their own priorities and evaluating what "noise" they can minimize to live fuller and more intentional days.

Not everyone can leave the country on a whim or work from home as she does, and she does not pretend they can. She has practical advice and questions to evaluate if there are small changes that can be made. In my opinion, this makes her writing approachable and relatable rather than her sounding like a snob. She writes humbly but with conviction about living simply and it was inspiring for me to read. I look forward to buying a copy so that I can underline the mess out of it!

For more about Tsh, visit her blog, The Art of Simple, her Instagram (which has lots of fun photos of their world-wide adventures), and her podcast, The Simple Show.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Reader's Edition)
Malala Yousafzai wioth Patricia McCormick
In 2009, the Taliban became a strong, vicious force in Malala's hometown in Pakistan. A once peaceful area was now a breeding ground for terrorism of those who wanted to wipe out any scent of Westernization. One thing that the Taliban wanted was for girls and women to live in purdah,  segregation in their homes. Under sharia law, women wouldn't be able to walk to the market to pick up groceries unless accompanied by a male relative. They were threatened if they did not wear a niqab, or scarf, that covered everything except their eyes. And they wanted to take away education for girls.

Malala was nine years old when the Taliban's influence and vicious power was on the rise. She deeply loved her school, which was owned and operated by her father. He encouraged girls to learn as much as they could. He also was an activist for education as well as freedom from the Taliban, traveling throughout Pakistan. Together, this father and daughter team became a loud voice in Pakistan for the right for a girl to go to school. Over the following three years, her beloved hometown became a war zone between Pakistan army and Taliban, so much so that her family had to escape to the mountain villages as IDPs (internally displaced persons). She and her father were part of a documentary by the New York Times  in 2009 called Class Dismissed: The Death of Female Eduction that chronicled the Taliban order to shut down all girl's schools (many of which were bombed).  

On October 9, 2012, amid recent death threats for protesting for girl's rights, Malala boarded her bus to go home after a day at school. The bus abruptly stopped, and the next few seconds forever changed the course of Malala's life. Two masked Taliban entered the small bus filled with school girls and three bullets were fired toward Malala. Malala was shot in the face by one bullet and two other girls (who had non-life-threatening injuries and recovered well) were also shot. Malala was not expected to survive since the bullet was thought to have entered her brain. Against all odds, Malala slowly and painfully healed after many operations to heal damaged cranial nerves.  The Taliban thought they'd silenced her, but they gave her a bigger platform and a louder voice since her story became an international headline, and later, in 2014, she became the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (see her speech here)

I didn't realize I checked out the "young reader's" version of the book and was tempted to return it for the original, but ended up deciding to read this version and to review it as a book for teenagers and whether it would be appropriate and beneficial for young readers. Yes and yes! The writing style was simple to understand, yet still beautifully and artfully written. Malala has wisdom beyond her years, and it shows through her writing. Her story is inspirational, from start to finish. Her courage to speak about girls' right for education when she was in her preteens, her resilience after she was shot and while healing, and her determination to continue speaking out in defense of access to education in third-world countries, is worthy of applause. The book also had a good balance of history and politics with her memoir. It was enough to help understand some of Pakistan's history without getting overwhelmed with names and dates, which is something I heard from those who have reviewed the original I Am Malala. There was an appendix with more history as well as a glossary of terms used in the book.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


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Currently Reading: 
You & Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan
The Inner Life by Thomas a Kempis
7 Men by Eric Metexas
Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis 


1 comment:

  1. Eric Metaxes spoke at the last convocation I went to at my university. He was a wonderful speaker. I had not heard of this book you reviewed, but it sounds great. I am going to have to find it! 🙂

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Elle Alice