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Julie

Book Reviews

Death in Trout Fork – REVIEW

Book Description:

She should have known when she fished that Pink Floyd T-shirt out of the creek that it belonged to that waitress, the one who disappeared… 

Kathryn “Ryn” Lowell has escaped the stifling confines of her office at the New York travel magazine she writes for and pulls into Trout Fork, a tiny fishing hamlet in the Colorado Rockies, to write an article about the town. She hasn’t been there long, when along with her orange tabby cat, Jack Kerouac, she discovers a T-shirt in the local creek that belonged to the missing waitress. Now foul play is suspected, and Ryn, who has fallen for the quaint mountain town, is determined to find the killer and give her new friends closure. Teaming up with the local police detective, who seems to want more than Ryn can give him, she puts it all on the line—her heart, her job, and her life.

Review:

The first time I ever heard of D.M. O’Byrne was the day I received an email from Voracious Readers asking me if I’d like to read and review her latest book, Death in Trout Fork. I read the same blurb that you read above, and thought what the heck. I said yes, and hopefully I will be able to review the next one too.

First off, I just have to tell you that this is really a believable story. We have traveled to the same small mountain town in Colorado for almost 30 years, and all of those trips made this story relatable. (We did not travel to the town in this book.) I could see many of the people Creede taking in a young woman such as Ryn. I have seen people passing through help out a business while they are in town. It is all so real!

O’Byrne starts with some meat of the story right off, which makes it a complete page turner from the beginning. Before you know it you are finished reading, and ready for Ryn’s next adventure.

The storyline flowed like the little river Ryn and Jack, the jogging cat, would frequent. The scenes were written in just enough detail that you could picture them all. Some of my favorites were Jack on the leash, Ryn’s motorcycle adventures, and her working at the cafe.

Just when you think you have this one kind of figured out, it twists just a little.

Death in Trout Fork Book Cover Death in Trout Fork
Ryn Lowell Colorado Mysteries
D.M. O'Byrne
Cozy Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery
Black Opal Books
October 13, 2018
ebook
270
D.M. O'Byrne was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book, via Voracious Reads, in exchange for my honest review.

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock ~ juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock – Book Review

Christmas was a month or so ago, I realize this but I really want to tell you about this book by one of my favorite authors. Terri Blackstock writes in a way that grabs your attention from the first page, and makes you want to forget the laundry you need to do or the dishes that are piling up. That is what happens at my house. Just being real. Here’s a little bit about Catching Christmas.

Book Description
This Year, Christmas Comes Just in Time 

As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

Review

Looking for a typical Terri Blackstock novel? Well, you’ve found one. Just replace the suspense with Christmas, and read away. Although, this isn’t your typical romantic-comedy Christmas; this one is about real life situations.

The story is told from two different points-of-view. Finn and Sydney are quite lovable characters, as is Miss Callie. I can picture several grandmas that would try to set their granddaughter up at Christmas. I do not know of any granddaughters that would hire a cab to take their grandma to the doctor though. And, I certainly have never heard of a cab driver staying to wait on the grandma without being asked to. It either shows that there are really good people out there that we just don’t stop to recognize, or we wish there were. In my opinion, there are great people out there and we just fail to see the good they do.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of long chapters. I find myself counting the pages until the next chapter, and I don’t tell myself just one more chapter. But, Terri (I hope she doesn’t mind me just calling her by her first name) keeps these chapters short. You can “just one more chapter” yourself through the whole book rather quickly. That’s good and that’s bad. Good because you found out how it ends, and bad because it ends.

I’ve been trying to figure out who should play Miss Callie in a Hallmark Movie version of this book. Any ideas? I really think they should make a movie out of it.

Spoiler Alert, if you can call it that: There is a happy ending. The only thing sad about this book is that you have to leave the characters behind.

Let me know if you read this one!

Some other Terri Blackstock books I’ve reviewed:

If I Run

Downfall

Catching Christmas Book Cover Catching Christmas
Terri Blackstock
Christian Fiction, Romance: Clean and Wholesome, Holiday
Thomas Nelson
October 9, 2018
ebook
304
NetGalley was kind enough to provide me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
Book Reviews

Everybody, Always – Book Review + tiny update

I love reading, reviewing, and writing but, it seems like I dropped the ball, yet again. The reviewing part of the ball, that is. You can always catch me reading (because that is the easy part), just not writing and posting the reviews. I have no idea why; oh yes, I do. Sewing and quilting, quilting and sewing, and quilting some more is what has taken up my time. I spent months getting ready for Christmas, and now I shall review the books I have been reading. There will be times that you get more than one review, and others that there will be just one. Let’s see how this goes.

Welcome back!

Everybody, Always by Bob Goff

New York Times Bestseller!

What happens when we give away love like we’re made of it? 

In his entertaining and inspiring follow-up to the New York Times bestselling phenomenon Love Does, Bob Goff takes readers on a journey into the secret of living without fear, constraint, or worry. The path toward the liberated existence we all long for is found in a truth as simple to say as it is hard to do: love people, even the difficult ones, without distinction and without limits.

Driven by Bob’s trademark storytelling, Everybody, Always reveals the lessons Bob learned–often the hard way–about what it means to love without inhibition, insecurity, or restriction. From finding the right friends to discovering the upside of failure, Everybody, Always points the way to embodying love by doing the unexpected, the intimidating, the seemingly impossible. Whether losing his shoes while skydiving solo or befriending a Ugandan witch doctor, Bob steps into life with a no-limits embrace of others that is as infectious as it is extraordinarily ordinary. Everybody, Always reveals how we can do the same.

Review

Can you guess how many I purchased? Three copies! I would have bought more, but I think other people started doing the same thing so there weren’t anymore at the store. But that is okay!

As soon as I read this book I felt like everyone needed to read it. I knew that I wanted my grandma to read it, and I have several friends that I felt would like to read it. I also know how I can be when someone recommends a book to me. I always have good intentions, but half the time I forget the title. So, I decided to just hand people this book.

This was my first Bob Goff book. He is such an amazing storyteller. I found myself laughing, and “aww”ing through the whole book. He shares many stories of many adventures he has taken, and by adventures I mean meeting people, teaching people, etc. There is Carol (who might be my favorite), the limo driver, Walter, jails/prison socks, crop drops, crocodiles, and witch doctors. Yes, real witch doctors.

I think Bob Goff might have more humdrum days if he didn’t have eyes to see those in need and the opportunities to help. He has encouraged and inspired me to try to have eyes to see, and the courage to step up and love Everybody, Always.

Loving everybody, always is a hard thing to do. I can think of at least two people off the top of my head that I have a hard time loving. I am working on it. Trying to take a few of the quotes from this book, and apply them to my life.

Some Quotes I Liked

“I want people to see you and me and feel like they’ve just met everyone in heaven.”

Bob Goff
Everybody, Always

“Loving people means caring without an agenda.”

Bob Goff
Everybody, Always

“Grace never seems fair until you need some.”

Bob Goff
Everybody, Always

“What a shame it would be if we were waiting for God to say something while He’s been waiting on us to do something.”

Bob Goff
Everybody, Always

These are just a few of the quotes that I need to put on my mirror and read every day.

I accept this challenge to love everybody, always. Do you?

Quick bit about the cover. I heard Bob on a podcast last year sometime talking about the dots on the cover of his book. I was amazed to learn that those colorful dots are not just regular dots. Those are fingerprints. Fingerprints of each of the witch doctors in the school at that time. How cool is that?

Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People Book Cover Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People
Bob Goff
Christian Living, Spiritual Growth
Thomas Nelson
April 17, 2018
ebook
237
NetGalley was kind enough to provide me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

If You Only Knew - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey – Book Review

Book Description:

What if you knew all the moments of my past that I am not proud of? What if you really knew me, the messy parts that I’ve hoped to forget and worked hard to conceal? For so long, my greatest fear was what you might think of me if you only knew the whole story.

It’s exhausting, this guarding of our stories and struggles. Fear of being found out had caused me to hide—but I wasn’t just covering my flaws, I was unintentionally blocking the beauty of God’s grace. My journey to real freedom began when I quit running from my mess and started trusting Jesus to make something beautiful of it.

This book is that story. It’s stepping out of shame and insecurity into gospel freedom. It’s  letting God turn our failures and frailties into testimonies of His faithfulness. I’ve discovered that when we quit hiding, God gets the glory and we are able to fully embrace not only our relationship with Him, but also with one another.

Transparency brings freedom, and in every moment, we’ll find that God can absolutely be trusted.

Review:

A year or so ago, I started listening to a podcast called The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.  I became addicted to Jamie’s fun-loving, funny, honest, and completely sincere podcast. I binged on it, which is all the rage these days, and when she mentioned that she had a book coming out I pre-ordered one.

Have you ever met someone for the first time and thought, “oh if you only knew what I’ve done in the past”? Or have you avoided subjects all together because you might be expected to share your thoughts or experiences? I know I have! Did you grow up in a legalistic church and think you were most definitely going to hell for what you have done?  I did! Jamie went through these things too. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not near brave enough to talk or write about all my past like she has done.  I am thankful for honest women like Jamie, who are willing to be vulnerable, open and honest about their lives so that others will know that we are not alone.

Jamie shares her story of struggles, but then points us to scripture time and time again. Pointing out how God sees us despite all of our messy parts. She encourages everyone to trust in Jesus, and shares her walk with Him so that we can see that it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Your struggles might not be what hers were, but you can approach them all about the same. Remember God’s grace!

She has an amazing testimony, a messy one, but amazing. I loved reading how God worked in her life, and still does.  I know you will too!








If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free





Jamie Ivey





Christian, Non Fiction, Memoir




B Books




January 30, 2018




ebook




240




Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.



Girl, Wash Your Face - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Girl, Wash Your Face – Book Review

Book Description:

Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

Review:

I got on a roll with Christian-Living, non-fiction, self help books a few months ago, and I really can’t say enough good things about this one.

Rachel Hollis is not only honest with her words in this book, she is almost completely transparent.  I mean, I say almost because there has to be somethings she left out.  I know her other book will be out soon, and I can’t wait to get my hands on that one too.

While reading this book, I found myself nodding my head and laughing all at the same time. Sometimes it was because this girl is hilarious, but other times it was because I could totally relate.  She is down-to-earth, and speaks the truth so plainly that you will wonder why you hadn’t thought of these things before.  I liked how at the end of each chapter she would include “What Helped Me,” and share with us how she overcame the lie that was covered in that chapter.  She has a way of encouraging and empowering all at the same time. This woman is a power-house, and she is sharing with us that hope and dream to be like her.

I think this book has found a permanent place on my bookshelf so I can re-read it ever so often, and I think I need to get one to loan to my friends too.  You might feel the same way after you read it too.

Here’s a few little snippets that I highlighted in my copy.

Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.

Nobody will ever care about your dream as much as you do.

Our words have power, but our actions shape our lives.








Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be





Rachel Hollis





Christian Living, Nonfiction, Self-help




Thomas Nelson




February 6, 2018




ebook




240




Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.



In Bloom - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

In Bloom – Book Review

Book Description:

Every woman is intimately acquainted with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Whether fueled by a culture of makeover shows, by the lingering memories of mean girls, or by events much more wounding to the soul, we can become so conditioned by self-doubt that it becomes our inner monologue.
What we want is to be free of shame and comparison, to turn our uncertainty into a bold confidence. But to flourish in our own skin, we first have to rewrite the narrative.
In this fearless, funny, and refreshingly relatable chronicle of her own metamorphosis from the insecurity that once held her captive, author Kayla Aimee unfolds the blueprint for women to:
 
• Identify the deep-seated sources of our assumed inadequacy and replace them with steadfast truths of scriptural affirmation
• Replace our need for approval with the enduring promise of acceptance
• Uncover our purpose, unlock our potential, and celebrate the God-given gifts in our unique personality
 
To every woman who longs for belonging, this journey through Kayla’s inviting prose, biblical promises, and journaling prompts will help guide her from restless insecurity to a beautiful becoming.
 
Poignant, laugh-out-loud-funny, a must-read book for any woman who has ever felt like she just doesn’t measure up.—Crystal Paine, New YorkTimes bestselling author
 
Every woman is intimately acquainted with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Whether fueled by a culture of makeover shows, by the lingering memories of mean girls, or by events much more wounding to the soul, we can become so conditioned by self-doubt that it becomes our inner monologue.
What we want is to be free of shame and comparison, to turn our uncertainty into a bold confidence. But to flourish in our own skin, we first have to rewrite the narrative.
In this fearless, funny, and refreshingly relatable chronicle of her own metamorphosis from the insecurity that once held her captive, author Kayla Aimee unfolds the blueprint for women to:
 
• Identify the deep-seated sources of our assumed inadequacy and replace them with steadfast truths of scriptural affirmation
• Replace our need for approval with the enduring promise of acceptance
• Uncover our purpose, unlock our potential, and celebrate the God-given gifts in our unique personality
 
To every woman who longs for belonging, this journey through Kayla’s inviting prose, biblical promises, and journaling prompts will help guide her from restless insecurity to a beautiful becoming.

Review:

Do you know a woman that is not insecure about something?  Let me answer that for you.  No, you don’t.  Women are insecure about many things, but we usually won’t tell you that.  I go to the gym and work out with some pretty amazing women who compete in body building competitions, and they are insecure about their bodies too.  Let’s be honest, I could give each of them part of my body fat and they would still look good!  But they see flaws in themselves that I just don’t see. We are insecure beings.

Kayla Aimee reminds us of several scriptures that God says about us, such as: “I am a place where God’s Spirit lives. (1 Cor. 6:19)  I am God’s incredible work of art. (Eph. 2:10)  I am a whole new person with a whole new life. (2 Cor. 5:17) I am greatly loved. (Rom. 5:8)

She tells it like it is, but in a way that we can all relate to.  She doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself.  In fact, she shares some of the moments in her life that we have probably all experienced but, don’t have the nerve to talk about in public. I can see myself hanging our with her, and being able to let my hair down.

There were several times that I laughed out loud.  1) The cheesecake skidmarks. 2) When she yelled, “Stop, drop, and roll, Mom!” and 3) When she stuffs her bra using balloons filled with Jell-o pudding.  I can’t help but giggle as I type this.

You have to read this book! I could go on, and on about this book, but I will leave you with this… You are not alone in your insecurities.  Many of us have the exact same ones, and we are just too embarrassed to talk about it.  I have talked to friends, after reading this book, about some of our insecurities.  Some different and some the same.  If Kayla hadn’t opened that door, we might have walked those crazy paths alone.  I have to say, it is much more fun when someone else is on that path with you.






In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence Book Cover




In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence





Kayla Aimee





Christian Living, Nonfiction




B&H Books




February 6, 2018




eARC




208




Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.



Confessions

Down Goes the Internet

Seriously folks!

Our internet has been down since last Thursday! My data plan is going to be blown this month!  Right this minute, I am sitting in a friend’s driveway bumming their WiFi!  Yep, really!

So, I thought I would let you know.

I think it is just my luck! I’ve gotten all kinds of things going in my noggin to write, so I am getting it all down and will post it soon.  We are supposed to get a new modem from our satellite internet provider this Thursday!  Fingers crossed!!

It is crazy how much I find myself wanting to get on then internet.

Guess this might be just the break I need.

Keep On Keepin’ On!

Oklahoma Teacher Walk-Out My Thoughts | juliekmccomas.com
Confessions

Oklahoma Teacher Walk-Out – My Thoughts

First of all, I want you to know that I do not claim to know anything about this hot topic.  I can only address what I am hearing and seeing on social media or television. One of my favorite people in this whole world is a teacher in Oklahoma (Love you, Sis!), we have a granddaughter in Oklahoma public schools, and several of my friends are teachers here so, this is why I am concerned. (Yep, that is a run-on sentence. You know that because of a teacher. Hmm)

What I am hearing from the people that are not in the teaching profession is that all the teachers want is a raise.  Wait! Before you teachers start commenting about how wrong that is, let me finish.  This is all about my thoughts, so be sure you read this well before commenting. Read it twice if you need to. One of the main reasons a lot of people think this is because of a certain man in the OEA was heard on the news complaining that the raises that will be given are not enough. Then, our fabulous news media shows it over and over. Social media isn’t much better. I think the OEA needs to get on the same page as the teachers.

What I am hearing from the people that are in the teaching profession is that they would have rather had funding for the classroom than a raise. We need more teachers because they need fewer kids in each classroom, but there’s no money to hire more. We need new textbooks! When kids have to tape their textbooks together to be able to use them, that is no bueno. (Do you know what bueno means? Thank your Spanish teacher.) Oh, and get this, the tape used to tape those textbooks together was bought by the teacher or the parents.

I know that many teachers need a raise.  I know that many of the staff need a raise.  I also know many people who would be looking for a new job if they were not given a raise in a year or two years.  How long have teachers gone without a raise?

What about the funding that the teachers are asking for?  Do you go to work for a company expecting to supply your own pens, staplers, file folders, calculators, computers/tablets, supplies, or coffee (that’s a big one for many)  needed to do your job?  I for one loved being able to pick all new supplies to be provided by my employer when I started a job. I know a teacher that decided not to go to the Capital today to take a stand. Instead, she bought paint and was going to take the day to paint her classroom.  Am I the only one that finds something wrong with this? She bought the paint? And she has to paint the classroom? Why is she doing this? Because, she takes pride in her classroom. She wants her kids to have a nice place to learn. (Yes, I said her kids because believe it or not every teacher I know worth a damn considers them their kids. Just ask one.)

Yes, I know the argument.  Teachers only work nine months out of twelve, and they get paid all year.  They get Spring Break, Thanksgiving and Christmas break, and they only work until four p.m.. I’ve heard it all, in fact I’ve used it. That was a long time ago, and after watching my sister and many teacher friends through the years, I know the facts. The facts are that teachers work almost all year, and they are paid for nine or ten months (I am not positive which) over a twelve month period. They are almost always working over every break they get. They get sick days and/or personal days, but if they run out of those days they have to pay a substitute teacher out of their own pocket.  It isn’t that they just don’t get paid, they have to pay. They get off work at four in the afternoon. Yea, I know that isn’t true.  I mean, they may leave the building most days by four, but they work at home, coach, sponsor extra-curricular activities, or work in the concession stand at school sporting events. Yes, I know, coaches get more money for coaching. I was married to a coach, and I know that they money they paid him as a contract coach didn’t amount to anything. Many teachers have more than one job. I’m sure I could go on and on, but this has to end sometime.

Speaking of this having to end sometime. When will this end? When will everyone be happy?

Not everyone is going to be happy in the end. If the teachers get the funding that they deserve, then legislature won’t be happy. If the teacher walk-out continues then parents won’t be happy. Finding childcare for that many on such short notice won’t be easy or free.

What needs to happen?

I don’t really know, but I will tell you what I think.  You have your opinion and I have mine. We do not have to agree. We (most of us) are adults, and should be able to act accordingly. This is my website, therefore, I can say anything I want to here. Capiece?

I don’t think the teachers will get funding unless the walk-out causes pain and suffering for others. By pain and suffering I mean, I think parents need to have to find childcare for their kids or have to take off work to care for them. I think those parents then need to complain to the legislature, and make a stand any way that they can. People usually don’t react until it affects them. That is what I think might help teachers get the funding that they deserve.

Whatever happens, I am praying for the teachers, the kids, and even the legislature. I am praying for an outcome that will be better for everyone. In the end, the kids are the ones getting the short end of the stick. Our future teachers, employees, even politicians. How is this affecting them?