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Church of the Small Things | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Church of the Small Things – Book Review

Book Description:

Is my ordinary, everyday life actually significant? Is it okay to be fulfilled by the simple acts of raising kids, working in an office, and cooking chicken for dinner?

It’s been said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” The pressure of that can be staggering as we spend our days looking for that big thing that promises to take our breath away. Meanwhile, we lose sight of the small significance of fully living with every breath we take.

Melanie Shankle, New York Times bestselling author and writer at The Big Mama Blog tackles these questions head on in her fourth book, Church of the Small Things. Easygoing and relatable, she speaks directly to the heart of women of all ages who are longing to find significance and meaning in the normal, sometimes mundane world of driving carpool to soccer practice, attending class on their college campus, cooking meals for their family, or taking care of a sick loved one.

The million little pieces that make a life aren’t necessarily glamorous or far-reaching. But God uses some of the smallest, most ordinary acts of faithfulness—and sometimes they look a whole lot like packing lunch. 

Through humorous stories told in her signature style, full of Frito pie, best friends, the love of her Me-Ma and Pa-Pa, the unexpected grace that comes when we quit trying to measure up, and a little of the best TV has to offer, Melanie helps women embrace what it means to live a simple, yet incredibly meaningful life and how to find all the beauty and laughter that lies right beneath the surface of every moment.

Review:

Pick up this book!  Seriously, I felt like I was spending time with a good friend listening (or reading) her stories about everyday life.  The simple acts, she calls them, of life are actually significant.  I love reading a book where the author doesn’t try to sugar coat things, and Melanie certainly doesn’t sugar coat things.  I felt like I could really relate to everything in the Small Things I Wish I’d Known in High School chapter since I am approximately, if not, the same age as Melanie.  One of the small things is “Tucking your jeans into your socks just makes you look like an ice cream cone. An ice cream cone with a big, crispy perm on top.”  Oh good grief, I think I have photos of myself impersonating an ice cream cone!

There are so many funny things in this book.  If you don’t laugh reading the Bangs, Bangs You’re Dead chapter then you might need to check your pulse!

What is great about this book is that every woman will be able to relate to something.  Church of the Small Things is written like a memoir, and Melanie shares memories from childhood to present day.  There are memories with her grandparents, sister, dogs, friends and family.  This is why I feel like every woman will be able to relate to this book in some form or fashion.

The small things sometimes turn out to be bigger than we thought, and they are significant.  You’ll find this lovely, reflective, funny memoir hard to finish.  Why?  Because it is so lovely you won’t want it to end.  After reading this I have determined to pay attention to the small things a little more.  I hope you will get this book, read it, and learn to look for the small things too.

Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life is available for pre-order at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, Barnes&Noble, etc.

Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up A Life Book Cover Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up A Life
Melanie Shankle
Christian Living, Humor, Religion
Zondervan
October 3, 2017
eARC
224
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Prostitutes and Polygamists | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Prostitutes and Polygamists – Book Review

Book Description:

Jacob and Solomon were polygamists. Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes. What are polygamists and prostitutes doing on the pages of Holy Scripture? And God told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute. What about Cain—did he really marry his sister? Abraham did, and he was also a polygamist. Lot offered his daughters up for rape, David committed adultery (or rape?) and the Bible calls both men righteous. Love, Old Testament style, was bizarre.

As readers of the Old Testament encounter these weird, confusing, and horrific “love” stories they ask, “What’s up with sex in the Old Testament?” The church often ignores the R-rated bits of the Bible, so it’s hard for people to find answers to their disturbing questions about sex in Scripture, which can lead people to give up on God and God’s word. However, these stories were included in the Bible for a reason, to reveal an even more shocking “love” story. When humans behave badly, God behaves graciously. God not only forgives people with sexual baggage, but also redeems their lives and includes them in his mission. God’s word records their story to benefit us. Just as sex was not often ideal in the Old Testament, it’s often not ideal today. Instead of ignoring these stories, Prostitutes and Polygamists engages, discusses, and learns from them.

Review:

Let’s be honest here, the real reason I read this book is because of the title – Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style – and the cover. Doesn’t that peak your interest?  Since we are being honest, have you ever wondered why the church rarely ever talks about the scandalous sexual issues?  Sex is just something that people don’t talk about.  Apparently, we are supposed to talk about it and learn about it, or it wouldn’t be in the bible. God thought it was important enough to be written in His word, so we shouldn’t just gloss over it or ignore these stories.

David T. Lamb has obviously researched these issues, and has given us a well-rounded, yet humorous, look into the lives of the biblical prostitutes and polygamists.  I loved how he spotlights God’s forgiveness!

I believe I have learned something new, and enjoyed myself in the meantime.  I don’t usually spend a lot of time in the Old Testament, and I felt forced to hunker down and check the scriptures/stories for myself.  If nothing else, this is a great source to get you back in the Word.  This book also reminded me that if God can use them, certainly He can use me too! There is hope for us all!

I would love to hear your thoughts, if you have read this one.  Let’s discuss!

Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style Book Cover Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style
David T. Lamb
Religion, Old Testament
Zondervan
September 1, 2015
eARC
197
Netgalley, HarperCollins Publishing

The One in a Million Boy | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The One-In-A-Million Boy – Book Review

Book Description:

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that the world can surprise us at any age, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find ourselves again.

Review:

I loved this book!  That is my review!  Loved it!  Everyone needs to read this!  Everyone!  Men.  Women.  Children.  Okay, maybe not children, but everyone else! And I kinda sorta lied, I am going to give you more of a review because I just love this book so much I have to share!

I am really bad about picking up books because of their cover, and if I would’ve seen this book in a bookstore I would’ve walked on by.  The cover is not the most appealing, but the reviews were so good that I just had to read it!  Do you listen to podcasts?  Well, I listen to What Should I Read Next with Anne Bogel, aka Modern Mrs. Darcy, and she was recommending this book to everyone! She couldn’t sing it’s praises enough.  I had to have it!

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall during someone else’s conversation? That is how I felt when the Boy was interviewing Ona for his school project.  It was so cute, because he didn’t want his voice on the tape recordings, but the way these interviews are written you can hear him.  It is so hard to explain, but believe me you can.  She answers his questions, and ends up confessing secrets to him that she hadn’t shared with anyone else.  He encouraged her! She grew because of him.  She is in the Guinness Book of World Records because of him!

I realize that I am writing about them like these characters are real life people.  I loved these characters so much that they became real in my mind.  I think they will for you too!

The One-in-a-Million Boy is a character study.  Each character grows in this beautifully written novel.  It is a hopeful story that reminds you to keep living; whether you are 11 years old, or 104 years old.  Keep living, learning, and setting goals to strive for.  It is a heartwarming, sweet story about life and friendship, that is easy to read.

Read this book!  I cannot stress this enough, you need this book in your life!

The One-in-a-Million Boy Book Cover The One-in-a-Million Boy
Monica Wood
Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 5, 2016 Reprint Edition
kindle edition
339

Big News - New Reviewer Lindsey Trammell | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews, Reviews, Reviews by Lindsey

Big News – There’s A New Reviewer Here

Big News!!

I have asked one of my best book buddies to write reviews here for all of us to enjoy!   Everyone meet Lindsey!

Lindsey Trammell

Hey! My name is Lindsey, wife to Anthony and mom to Kendall and dog Charlie. We are from and live in Oklahoma. I like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain…. Just kidding. I love to cook, listen to podcasts, read, and attend group fitness classes. I am just your average yoga pant wearing, nosy, coffee drinking soccer mom with a passion for discussing books.  Mysteries and historical fiction are my favorite genres. I’m always in search for books that will stick with me for a long time no matter the category.

Please give Lindsey a warm welcome!  Friend her on Goodreads. Stick around, she is reading some great books on her upcoming vacation, and I bet she has some reviews for us when she gets home.

So glad to have you contributing your reviews here on my little dot on the web.  Thank you!!

Into The Water: A Novel - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews, Reviews by Lindsey

Into the Water – Book Review

Book Description:

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
 
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
 
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
 
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Into The Water: A Novel

Review:

Jules’ older sister, Nel, spent most of their childhood terrifying Jules with local lore of the infamous Drowning Pool. The Drowning Pool is where troubled women go to be taken by the water. While Nel’s obsession grew around the notorious town of Beckford, where they spent their summers, Jules could not escape fast enough. Unexpectedly, Nel is the next victim of the Drowning Pool and Jules is forced to go back to Beckford to care for Nel’s teen daughter, Lena. Together they unsurface the secrets in the water.

Cracking open this brand new book and seeing the line “For all the Troublemakers” was the hook for me. The best part about this book is the theme of troublesome women and the men behind them. I enjoy a good mystery whether it is predictable or not. Hawkins has a way throwing in every twist she can. Every chapter had me wanting to read a bit further. If you want a good summer mystery; this one, for me, was a fun ride with a “who done it” air. I’ve seen a lot of reviews already mention there are too many characters. I do agree, but it’s worth sticking it out. I found myself a few times going back to make sure I understood who a character was. If you can’t look past that, I would say don’t bother. The book leaves you with a few loose ends that I wish the author would have cleaned up, but I do believe they were intentional. Maybe she left a few free mysteries for us to ponder on once we’ve finished the book. I give it a 3.6 on Goodreads.

 

Into the Water: A Novel Book Cover Into the Water: A Novel
Paula Hawkins
Women's Fiction, Literary, Suspense
Riverhead Books
May 2, 2017
Hardcover
400

Cooking With th Dead | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Cooking with the Dead – Book Review

Book Description:

What do you do when there’s trouble brewing in the kitchen…?

Already pressed to solve one murder investigation to clear her name, Laura Howcroft is glad that her life has settled into a pleasant and predictable routine. Enjoying her new-found acceptance to the quaint village of Millerfield, Laura is grateful for the shared life with new friends. Even her tentative relationship with Dr. Lucas seems to be progressing nicely, a fact that makes Laura content to have things simply carry on.

But when she employs a contracted pastry-chef to mind the kitchens of The Woodend Cottage Hotel, Laura could never have guessed that it might cost him his life. With the newly-hired chief found murdered by his own pastry cloth and police suspecting that his death was directly linked to his acceptance of the position, Laura feels honor-bound to investigate the cause of his death. Wrapped up in a world of challenge rivalries, flaky franchises and crooked chefs, Laura, Howard and Monty once again find themselves on the trail of a killer. But this is no missing crumpets case and Laura is forced to realize that this time her meddling could cost her more than just her reputation… it could cost her life.

Can Laura clear her conscience of the dead pastry-chef?

Or will the killer track her down and silence her for good?

Review:

One of my favorite book genres is mystery, and cozy mysteries sound so, I don’t know…cozy.  Who doesn’t want to be cozy?  I know I do.

Laura has a cat named Monty that talks.  Okay, he doesn’t talk out loud, but they communicate through their thoughts.  This is where things just didn’t jive for me.  I love mysteries, and I really wanted to like this one.  The story line was good, but was poorly developed.  I am certainly not qualified to knock someone’s writing skills, but this book seemed to be lacking here.  I believe an editor should have caught at least some of the mistakes, and helped a little with the content.  There are several conversations between characters that really didn’t need to be there, and made it feel very elementary.  On a more positive note, I was guessing who the killer was up until the end.

I’ll say it again, I really wanted to like this book, and I tried I really did.  I don’t like writing bad reviews because well, authors work really hard on these books. They pour all their time and energy into them, and then we either like them or we don’t. I am in the minority, because Cooking with the Dead has a 4.2 rating on Amazon, and a 3.92 on goodreads.  It just wasn’t for me, and now I feel like I need to apologize.

I was given a free kindle edition of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Cooking with the Dead Book Cover Cooking with the Dead
A Millerfield Village Cozy Murder Mystery #2
Carrie Marsh
Women's Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Detective
Smiling House Publishing Co.
March 1, 2017
kindle edition
251

Deep Extraction by Diann Mills | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Deep Extraction by Diann Mills – Book Review

Book Description:

A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution.

A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional—the victim’s wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI’s prime suspects.

Clearing Sally’s name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer—and to each other—the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.

Review:

Let me tell you why I wanted to read this book before I tell you what I thought about it.  If you know me at all then you are aware of my sudden cardiac death the week before my 28th birthday.  If you don’t know me then you might want to read a little to catch up.  When I saw that the victim was killed by a someone hacking into his pacemaker and jacking with it.  It immediately peaked my curiosity since I have a defibrillator.  Actually, what the what is what went through my mind.

A Pacemaker Hacker? Is there really such a thing!?

Now, let’s get to my thoughts on this title.

Deep Extraction is the second book in the FBI Task Force series, and here again I have read the series out of order.  I do not know what has gotten into me.  But, I am glad to tel you that the first book in this series is Deadly Encounter and both can stand alone just fine.  You do not have to read these in the correct order.  Just be a rebel, like me. 🙂

I’m a sucker for police-type dramas, books and television, and the more action, details, suspense and twists, the better.  I am also a Christian, so the mention of prayer and God did not affect me at all.  The Christian aspect is minimal.  It is not distracting, in your face or pushy, at all.  It is approached very realistically.  Having a defibrillator (mine has a pacemaker function) and having gone through cancer, I felt I could really relate to this one.

After mentioning all of the above, I am happy to say that this book is all that I have already talked about.  Lots of action! Explosions, gun fights, heroes and heroines.  There are some feelings in this one as well.  It is a very well rounded book!  There are a few things that are a bit predictable; one being the little romance that blossoms.  I like my police-type dramas to be a little more realistic, and most of it is realistic, but in the real world, friends of a murder victim would not be able to be involved in the investigation. But, it was refreshing to read about friends taking a stand for the victims (their friends).  I think they did what many of us would try to do, and that is do whatever they had to do to find the killer.

Diann Mills is one author that I plan to read every book she comes out with.  I like her writing style that much!

Thank you to NetGalley and Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Deep Extraction
FBI Task Force
Diann Mills
Suspense, Christian Fiction, Fiction
Tyndale House Publishers
April 4, 2017
396