Tuesday, February 28

Writing My Wrongs: Book Review


Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor

This memoir felt very important for me to read. I haven't picked up a book that addresses a topic like this book did; after all, the subtitle was "Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison." I mean, WOW.

This book follows Shaka's childhood in a middle class neighborhood of Detroit during the height of the 80's crack epidemic. He was an honor roll student and a natural leader before his parents' marriage started dissolving at the age of eleven, and the abuse from his mother worsened which sent him on a downward spiral, leading him to run away from home, turn to dealing drugs to survive and then end up in prison for murder when he was nineteen. In that small period of his life, when your world is already infused with all the insecurities of being a teenager, I simply cannot imagine the pressure and uncertainty that Shaka experienced. It quite literally broke my heart that children go through this type of thing every day.

In prison, Shaka discovered literature, mediation, self-examination and the kindness of others and used these to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him and being atoning for the wrongs he committed. When he was released after nineteen years of being incarcerated, at the age of thirty-eight, the memoir described how he became an activist and mentor to young people facing similar circumstances.

This book tackles poverty and violence in an incredibly real way. He doesn't shy away from the hard things he lived through and dealt with, even as he struggled with redemption and the fact that our worst deeds do not define us. The way this memoir opened my mind to life outside of white suburbia was outstanding, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciated it.


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Monday, February 27

The Polygamist's Daughter: Book Review


The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LaBaron and Leslie Wilson

This biography was entirely fascinating to someone who knew nothing about cult-like polygamist families outside of the fact that a husband could have multiple wives. Granted, Anna's family was on the run as her father, Ervil LaBaron, was wanted by the authorities for his hand in planning the murders of people who tried to leave his cult. In this book, Anna describes her father having thirteen wives and over fifty children. She talks about interactions and how favorite wives or children were treated. Most of the book describes her childhood, constantly being shuffled from house to house in the middle of the night to avoid being detected or people asking too many questions about the abnormally large number of women and children living in one house, and sometimes in the back of a box truck lined with members of her family. 

The memoir doesn't get to the part where Anna leaves the cult until about 3/4 of the way into the book. At this point, she's a teenager and is able to leave with the help of one of her older half-sisters from another of her father's wives. In reading it, I appreciated learning about what her life was like as a child and the moments that made her realize that her family cult lifestyle wasn't normal...or healthy. Often they were starving and living in a perpetual state of fear of being found, separated and questioned by the authorities. In fact, she talks about how they were trained to respond if they were actually questioned by police or the FBI that was tracking their family.

The middle part of the book was a bit slow, but overall, this memoir was fabulous in its detail of how this cult family operated. I would give it two thumbs up for being an intriguing memoir and very different than other books in that genre!


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge by Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Wednesday, February 22

Lent Resources

Lent is almost here! In fact it starts a week from today on Wednesday, March 1st. There have been years when I've given up something for Lent (usually soda of chocolate), but I've never spent much time thinking about why I - and others - felt the need to give something up during this forty day period. I've known it was born out of a Catholic practice, but that's the extent of the research and thought I've placed on Lent leading up to Easter.

This year I wanted to give Lent more thought, focusing not on giving something up for the sake of simply giving something up, but adding something positive in place of giving up something. While I'm still on the fence about what to give up, I wanted to grab a few resources about Lent. Here's what I got my hands on...


The Good of Giving Up by Aaron Damiani

This book is perfect for me because I know so little about Lent. The book's synopsis begins with the author saying, "Like many evangelicals who love the gospel, I had my doubts about Lent." YES, that's me too.

Lent can seem like an empty ritual, while it should be more of a "springtime for the soul," or a season of cleaning to make room for growth. In this book, Damiani talks about the history and purpose of Lent, how to practice it with proper motivation, ways it can reform your habits/convictions and how to lead others through it (at home or at church). While I don't anticipate leading anyone through Lent, I loved the other sections of the book, especially the history and purpose of Lent.

I found this book a good blend of informational and inspiring. I'm very glad I read it before this year's Lent season began.




This is a hardcover devotional that is a bit smaller than a traditional book, but bigger in size than a daily devotional. It's complied with writings by Tozer, and as I'm a big fan of Tozer, I know I'm going to enjoy this devotional during the Lent season.

Each day's reading has a Scripture passage, followed by something Tozer has written, and the day's readings are longer than a page. I like this format because there's a lot of "meat" to each devotion. That's what I love about Tozer - his writings are deep and still relate-able!

This Lent devotional gets two thumbs up from me.


Disclaimer: These books were provided to me free of charge by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Tuesday, February 21

The Inkblots: Book Review



I have to start off by saying that I REALLY like the cover of this book! It grabbed my attention right away. Hats off to whoever designed this cover on creating something fun to look at, while still being informative. 

This is the story of Hermann Rorschach, the man who created the famous inkblot tests. Growing up, I heard about the Rorschach inkblot tests in books and movies, but I was never exposed to the tests themselves. And I had certainly not given any thought to the man who created the tests. 

The biography portion of this book was fascinating (I love a good biography). Hermann Rorschach created these inkblot tests in 1917 while working alone in a remote Swiss asylum as part of his role as their psychiatrist. It started as an experiment to probe the human mind with a set of ten carefully designed inkblots. As a visual artist himself, he had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than a matter of what we see.

The book goes on to describe how the inkblot tests spread to America after Rorschach's early death, places and governments that used the tests (including being used at the Nuremberg trials) and the power of perception. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing style was great for the type of book it was. Two thumbs up!


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Friday, February 17

No More Faking Fine: Book Review


No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece

The title of this book caught my eye right away. How could it not? If you've ever been given empty cliches during hard times, you know how painful it can be be to misunderstood by well-meaning people. Far too often the response we get when we communicate our hurt, pain or disappointment is to suck it up, pray it away. This book is an invitation to get gut-level honest with God through the life-giving language of lament. Lament isn't a word that we hear very often today, and if we go back to Scripture, we find that lament was a way of praying that God never ignored, never silenced and that time in lament praying was never wasted. 

The author, Esther, learned about lament the hard way by believing that she could shut down the painful emotions that haunted her heart from a broken past. In silencing her pain, she learned that she had been robbing herself of the opportunity to be healed. This book defines Biblical lament and is about giving yourself permission to lament.

The topic of this type of Christian living book is, well...hard. It's deep, and it's emotional. What I loved about Esther's writing was the openness she sunk into as she dared addressed the fact that we don't truly seem to lament anymore and the freedom found in doing so.


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Thursday, February 16

Praying the Psalms Book Review



Praying the Psalms by Ben Patterson

This book is just slightly bigger than a pocket size Bible and bound in a faux leather. It's adorable! 

The book contains sections adapted from Patterson's book God's Prayer Book. I've never picked up that book, but heard good things. Patteron's book contains fifty chapters from Psalms and pairs inspirational devotionals with those songs of praise, cries for help, glad rejoicings and humble offerings. The aim is to use the Psalms to open a window in your prayer life. 

Given that the size is small and thin, it's easy to slip into my purse for on the go reading. The devotional writings grouped with the chapters of Psalm were well written and thoughtful. Overall, it's a good resource and would make a great nontraditional gift. 


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge by Lifeway/BH Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Monday, February 13

Answers to Prayer Book Review


Answers to Prayer by George Muller

This book is part of a series of books and writings that are being republished and re-imaged for the modern reader. At first, I wasn't sure what to think of this idea, but then I read a book that was written by Madeleine L'Engle (the author of A Wrinkle in Time) that had originally been published in the 80's, but republished with a fresh and trendy cover. I don't think these are by the same publishers, but I adore that older books and classic writings are being re-introduced today. I would not have picked up a copy of this book, Answers to Prayer, had it not been republished in a modern way.

This book is a collection of diary entries and other writings by George Muller. You might have heard about him? He was the man behind the English "Orphan House" during the mid to late 1800's. Over the span of his care, the orphanage was able to provide for over 10,000 orphans...and most miraculously (literally), without the aid of Muller seeking out financial assistance to run the orphanage. Muller relied on prayer for all support, and saw God provide time after time, often at the last minute. 

Reading this at a time when my prayer life has dipped significantly, I found encouragement in the pages. The principles and examples of prayer Muller set from the writings in this book and through his life are outstanding. Muller's faith was deep. His prayer life was beyond active; it was like oxygen to him and the orphanage. I wish I could say the same thing about my prayer life.  Muller's writings should be a staple read for any Christian.

The book itself is a bit thinner than I expected, but the writing is powerful. Also, you see the white part of that book image? That's actually a cover that can be removed (like normal hardback books have). The blue cover is textured and reminds me of how vintage hardcover books feel. I really liked the cover color and texture. 

All in all, this is a deeper read, but definitely well worth your time!


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge by Lifeway/BH Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Monday, February 6

Cooking for Picasso Book Review


Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray

I got this book on a CD to listen to my drive to work from a northside suburb of Indianapolis all the way downtown Indianapolis. The drive can take thirty-five minutes if conditions are right, but if there's an accident on any one of the four highways I take to work then the drive usually takes well over an hour. It's a bit on the annoying side of things in life. Thankfully, I only have to make the drive three days a week, and have gotten in the habit of listening to books on CD to make me feel like I'm being productive while I drive. 

This book was adorable! Jumping back and forth between a cook in the French Riviera in the late 30's to her make-up artist granddaughter living in present day New York City, this book is basically the story of the grandmother who cooked for an eccentric artist living in a villa the family rents. The novel does a good job at describing not only the history and painting of Picasso, but the food and scenery of the French seaside village. The characters were darling, and believable. It was a fast, wonderfully charming light-hearted read. 


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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