The Road to Paradise

The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel
By Karen Barnett
Published: 2017, WaterBrook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance

The Road to Paradise was the book that won the most votes for my monthly book club; and it did even come down to a tie breaker. It was not my vote and I was not very interested in reading it, but I am glad to be a part of a book club that helps introduce me to books I probably would have never read otherwise.

The promised view of the mountain peak waited, cloaked in mist like a tissue-wrapped gift not ready to be unveiled. Margie Lane drew a small, leather-bound journal from her pocket and braced it against her knee to jot down the words flooding her mind. The lush treetops to the valley below inspired her.

The Road to Paradise is not in a genre I usually particularly care for but it did have a lot of positive elements within its pages. It was a wonderful light book to read after some of the more deeper novels I have read lately.

The writing in the novel was beautiful. The descriptions the author created of the scenery and outdoor environments surrounding Mt. Rainier were breathtaking and gave you a feeling of being right there in the shadow of the mountain. Karen Barnett  weaves her obvious love of God’s nature throughout the story, giving a rich depth to her novel.

The romance aspects in the book were somewhat predictable and cheesy, as most romance novels are (which is why I don’t usually particularly chose this genre).
I did enjoy watching the unfolding of one of the main characters and their faith journey.

It was quite refreshing that the lead character, Margie, had such a deep love for God and that she was not willing to waver on that, even for the love of a man. I relished that the antagonist received consequences for his behaviors in the story rather than just having it brushed aside.

The ending was a wee bit foretold, however it was pleasant to see that the story turned out how it should have.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

Many of the ladies in my book club agreed that the book was beautifully written and that it was refreshing to read a book with a minimal story line. It delightful to read a book that had descriptions about places that the majority of us had visited at some point in our lives. Yes, some of the romance was cheesy and some of the story was a little bit predictable, but we enjoyed reading a book that wasn’t deep and did not require a whole lot of brain function. 🙂

The majority consensus was that the book was a decent read that most of us enjoyed.

The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel

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Rooms

 Rooms: A Novel
By James L. Rubart

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Rooms was the pick for my monthly book club. I will give my own review and then after my book club meets, I will expand on the discussion and others’ thoughts on this novel.

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It took a little while for me to be able to get into this one as it delves into the supernatural world in a way that has never been explored. As I continued to read through it, I began to realize how much meaning and depth was buried within its pages.

James Rubart does a fantastic job of creating a tangible, understandable way into how God and the Holy Spirit work within our hearts and lives. As we follow Micah through his journey to a closer relationship with God, it helps you to think about your own relationship with Him and to evaluate what you can do differently.

I have always thought of a life as a believer is similar to a choose your own adventure book. God has all of these different plans laid out for you, different paths but each is still His will for your life. God gives us as humans free will; He wants us to have the the ability to make our own choices because He did not intend for us to be mindless robots. He wants us to choose Him, not just be a blind follower.
Because of that free will and the freedom to make our own decisions, I think (just my own opinion here) that God has various paths laid out for us based upon which decisions and life path that we make. Just like the choose your own adventure books we read as children.

Rooms, Micah’s story, follows along with my theory, which you will see as you read through the book.

“Walk with God. Listen to the Holy Spirit. You know His voice. You’ll come to know it better as you practice listening. And listen to your heart. It knows the truth, for as you know, that is where the temple is and where the King dwells.”

Sometimes, when you have had your own dry season, it is refreshing to read about someone else’s journey and watch their path to God unfold. It changes your perspective in the desert when you watch another human just beginning their walk with God or finding their way back to Him. I loved reading Micah’s story and seeing how God worked in his life and his heart. It reminded me that the most important thing is my relationship with Him; not all of the other clutter that sometimes can get in the way.

Freedom, Micah, the Lord is always about freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. If what you do brings freedom and life, it is most likely Christianity. If it doesn’t, it is possibly religion, and there is already too much of that in the world.

Do not get stuck in the clutter and the “religion” but make sure you are finding your relationship and your freedom with the Lord.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

I think that this is one of the few books we have read in our 10 months of book club that everyone liked and had good things to say.
We all agreed that Rooms has a tremendous amount of depth and a lot to offer. Rubart was able to give us a concrete example of how we all wrestle with our subconscious and Satan and how we can rely on the Bible and our tribe to find and remind us where the truth really lies. Eventually, we all need to face our past and the people who have hurt us, so we can find healing and move forward with freedom in Christ.

The following is from the Author’s Note:

I long to step into the freedom that Micah discovers, to live more completely in the divine design and destiny God has created for me, to be victorious over the voices that hold me back from living the full life God intended me to live.
I loved writing Rooms because it’s my story. It’s your story. It’s the story of anyone who wants to step into greater freedom, step into the glory of how God uniquely mad him or her, step into the destiny planned for them from before time began.
He is the Great Healer of wounds. He is the Great Restorer of freedom.

Everyone needs to read this book. I highly recommend it.

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In fact, because I think everyone should read it, I am going to give away my copy to one of my lucky readers.

Click here to enter!

Follow the instructions at Rafflecopter to be entered into the giveaway. Giveaway ends 7/29/17 at 12:00AM. Winner will be announced on 7/30/17.
Good luck to everyone!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED! 
WINNER CHOSEN!

 Rooms: A Novel

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

Tuesday Thoughts

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Today marks the 200th Anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. Jane Austen is viewed in the literary world as a classical author worthy of enormous praise.
I once tried reading a Jane Austen book when I was a young teenager; Sense and Sensibility. I am not sure if it just was not her best work, if it is just not my genre of literature or if I was just too young to be able to enjoy the true beauty of the novel.

So help me out. Should I try reading it again? Should I try a different Jane Austen book? What is your favorite Jane Austen book that you have read?
I want to love her books, but I am afraid to try them again.

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My book reviews seem to go in groupings since I tend to read more than one book at a time. I hope that you understand where there is often some period of time between reviews on my blog. I seem to finish the multiple books all around the same time.

This next week, I should soon have 2-3 reviews ready to go. I have finished reading the monthly book club book, but I like to post the review after we meet and have discussion. I have one more book that I have about 1/4 of the book left to read and 2 books that I have just started.

Who else tends to read 2-3 or even 4 books all at the same time?

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One of the books I am just starting is of course More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated, by Erin Odom. It is available for pre-order right now! Plus, Erin just release a FREE, 5-day E-Course called Eating Well on a Budget. I have signed up for the course myself because I am always saying that it is SO hard to eat good healthy foods while staying on a budget. You can sign up for the course HERE on the book launch sales page; scroll all the way to the bottom and you will find it.

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I’m so excited that I have been selected to be a part of Brooke McGlothlin’s Gospel-Centered Mom book tour!

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Stay tuned for more info on the book and the upcoming blog book tour!

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I am excited as my “hobby” continues to grow. I took a leap of faith and stepped into this with the hope that I could combine my long-time hobbies of reading and writing into something larger. I appreciate and treasure each of you because you are here with me at the beginning of this journey; who knows where it will go from here.
I want to share my love for books with the entire world and you can help me do that by sharing my blog, my Facebook page, and my Instagram account with your friends and family.

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Monday Musings

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I have been selected to be on the launch team for the new book, More Than Just Making It by Erin Odom at The Humbled Homemaker!!!!!
I recently received my pre-launch book and I cannot wait to begin reading it. I will be posting quotes and tidbits on both my Instagram and Facebook pages; you can find my account info here. I am really excited to have my first “big break” as a book reviewer/book blogger.

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You can get $5 off a $15 purchase of books on Amazon now through 7/12! That means you can get More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated for as low as $6.59!!!!
Remember that pre-ordering on Amazon guarantees the lowest price between now and the book launch! In addition to the super low price, you can claim the bonuses by pre-ordering: More Than Just Making It

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I just planned 3 new books to start with each of my kids. I love reading aloud to them. I love the time I get to bond with them over books and I get to revisit some of my own childhood favorites. Sometimes, I get to read some amazing children’s books that I never had the chance to read as a child.

My 8 year old son and I will be reading Stuart Little. This is one that I have not read, although I know of the story. I hope that we will enjoy reading it together.

I will be reading The Secret Garden with my 11 year old daughter. I read this as a young girl and loved getting lost in the beautiful story. I hope she will love it as much as I did.

My 13 year old son and I began reading through the Harry Potter series when he was 9. I have read every single word aloud to him from the first 6 books and we have watched all 6 movies together. Because of various life situations we have not been able to read the 7th book yet,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . Part of it might be that I am holding back about ending this time of ours together. We have bonded over this series and found a mutual love for Harry and his magical world. But alas, it is time to bring this chapter to a close.

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I would love to hear what some of your recent favorite books are or what Must-Read books are on your list. I am always looking for new books to try and ways to get out of some of the ruts I get in.

I am working on a review for a book I recently finished. I have almost completed my book club book for the month. I have a book that I am reading for fun. I have a book that I have been very slowly working through for personal Christian Development.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the books that I not only want to read, but the ones I think I should read. Anyone else have this small panic attack occasionally?
Then I read a article on Book Riot titled You will NEVER Read All The Books – And That’s a Good Thing; and then I felt a wee bit better. I won’t ever read all the books and it is okay. If I do not read every single “classic” literature book that was ever written, it will not be the end of the world. Books are meant for enjoyment and knowledge; if it is not something I enjoy reading, I will not gain knowledge from it.
So, it is okay that I only read the books that I want to read and that I have the time to read.

What books are you currently reading? What is currently on your stack of books?

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A Cup of Dust

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl
By Susie Finkbeiner

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I am part of a Christian Ladies book club. We get together once a month to discuss the book we had voted on at the previous meeting the month before. This month’s book selection was A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner.

The book takes place in the 1930’s, during the depression era in the state of Oklahoma. Before reading A Cup of Dust, I had no previous knowledge of The Dust Bowl. It is not something I recall ever reading about in my history books, which to me is sad because of the huge impact it had on the mid-western states in the 1930’s.

The Dust Bowl was the name given to the Great Plains region devastated by drought in 1930s depression-ridden America. The 150,000-square-mile area, encompassing the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and neighboring sections of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, has little rainfall, light soil, and high winds, a potentially destructive combination. When drought struck from 1934 to 1937, the soil lacked the stronger root system of grass as an anchor, so the winds easily picked up the loose topsoil and swirled it into dense dust clouds, called “black blizzards.” Recurrent dust storms wreaked havoc, choking cattle and pasture lands and driving 60 percent of the population from the region. Most of these “exodusters” went to agricultural areas first and then to cities, especially in the Far West.

*source here*

A Cup of Dust was able to shed light on a major historical event that does not get discussed a lot as being a part of The Great Depression era. Learning about The Dust Bowl and how it affected cities, homes, families and people was quite interesting, from a historical perspective.

Overall, I thought the book was average. Besides the history within the book, I felt like there was not a lot of other meat to the book that pulled me in.

I thought there was a lot of stretching within the book in order to have enough words included to constitute a novel. The plot took quite a long time to develop and once it did finally unravel, it was quite predictable.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for light historical fiction around The Great Depression Era.

“Last, and only on clear days, I could see straight out to the sharecroppers’ cabins. The folks that lived in those little shacks had to pay the rent with the crop they harvested. Seeing as nobody had a crop to speak of for years, most of them had been forced out by the banks.  A few had managed to hold on, though nobody could figure out how.”

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This section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

There were a couple of reader discussion questions we talked about that did give me an enlightening perspective on the book. We had some great dialogue about the racism towards African Americans and Native Americans. We had a great conversation about sin and how churches of the past used the sin of the community to explain away and condemn things like the Dust Bowl; about how the pastor of a community can set the tone for the church.

We also had some great conversation about what it means to love when you come from a family upbringing where that seems to be lacking; how do you overcome your own past?

Where you come from isn’t who you are.

Many of the ladies in my book club enjoyed this book and found it quite an emotional read. Another factor we discussed is that most of the other ladies read the book in 2-3 days while I read the book in 2-3 weeks in small chunks; perhaps I was not able to fully immerse myself into the emotional aspects of the book.
After discussion, I did see that there was some merit to this book and it is definitely worth giving it a chance. It is not a book that I would read again nor will I read the second book in the series, A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression, however it is a good read for anyone looking for a historical fiction book to read.

 

 A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl

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Loving My Actual Life

Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me
By Alexandra Kuykendall

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This right here. This is my actual life. It is busy. It is messy. It is chaotic most times.
It is not perfect. But it is MY actual life.

“Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.”
~Galatians 6:4~

I am a work-at-home, homeschooling, every kid in sports and activities, 2 kids with autism with another 1 on the maybe side, trying-to-hold-it-together-sometimes kind of mom. My life is often quite challenging.
I know life is challenging for everyone and everybody’s story is THEIR story. However, God has thrown some gigantic, demanding wrenches into my story.

Recently, after some of my posts on Facebook and many weeks of showing up looking quite frazzled, a friend of mine recommended this book to me. I will be forever grateful to her for that recommendation. Just from the title alone Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me, I knew that I needed to read this book.

I have struggled many days loving the life that God has granted me. My life has been filled with battles, dark days, and questions as to why God allowed me down this particular path. I found it difficult to truly love my actual life.
If He had pulled me from the wreckage of all that rubble, then WHY had He not put me on a path to do exceptional things with that mess? WHY wasn’t I living in abundance, full of overwhelming joy and happiness; much like I continued to observe from those around me?

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Enter this book. In a time when my life was feeling low, when I felt like the endless chaos was at its highest point, when I was feeling utterly lost, completely broken and profoundly insignificant.

This book has taught me much; tangible things that I can DO as well as a change in my   perspective about my actual life.

What if our big is found in the small? What if we do each small thing with great passion because we can? Because we are here and we are able to and yet do it with the knowledge we can’t change the world in a day. But we can leave our small, unique imprint on it. ~Alex Kuyukendall

Alex helped me realize that my actual life is not about this giant, amazing big work of art. My actual life, in this moment, is about my husband, my children, my family, my friends, those dirty dishes, those piles of laundry, those endless trips back and forth between sports and activities, feeding the dog, wiping down counters, putting toys away, and cooking meals. Those things create my giant, amazing big work of art.
THAT, is where I need to be, right now, Loving My Actual Life.

One life. Portioned into segments. Years. Months. Weeks. Days. Hours. Minutes. Seconds.
One life. God has granted for now. It is temporary. It is now. And if I’m not careful I might miss it.
One life unique to me. Not like anyone else’s, nor should it be, and yet I’m always longing for that next thing.
One life I want to cherish. I want to hold close and appreciate. To not waste. To not take for granted.

~Alexandra Kuykendall~

I highly recommend this book. It will change your perspective, it will impact the monotony of your days, and it will guide you in learning to love YOUR actual life.

 

 Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me

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