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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.

The House on Foster Hill - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The House on Foster Hill – Book Review

Book Description:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–
including her own–are lost?

Review:

Dual timelines must be all the rave now. It seems like every time I turn around the book I am reading is set in dual timelines. I found myself interested in one story line more than the other, and think that both should be able to hold their own in a sense. This just didn’t ring true for these.  It was quite interesting to read about Ivy and her father’s job, and how Ivy documented everything in her death journals aka obituarys. It was also quite interesting that Kaine (the main character) purchased a house sight unseen so soon after her husband’s death. If I were in her shoes, I would have run! Crazy!

While I only gave this book three stars on goodreads and amazon, it wasn’t a bad book. It just started off a bit slow, and it was an effort for me to pick it up each time to finish it. It was a good story line, and I did like the ending but, don’t expect to finish this one in one setting.

This is Jaime Jo Wright’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading her next one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

The House on Foster Hill Book Cover The House on Foster Hill
Jaime Jo Wright
Mystery, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Suspense
Bethany House
November 21, 2017
eARC
364
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

A Moment to Breathe - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

A Moment to Breathe – Book Review

Book Description:

When the rush of regular life leaves you breathless by day’s end, this collection of everyday stories becomes the place where you can come as you are, and find yourself among friends. Friends who have been there. Friends who’ll lean in close and say, “Me too!” Through our stories the bonds of friendship deepen as we listen to each other, laugh with each other, and learn from each other. Because we’re better when we’re living this one beautiful life together.

With stories from 80 writers, these pages become the very place your soul can exhale, where you can: 

· Connect with the hearts of women through stories that echo your own.

· Find beauty in the ordinary and sometimes messy moments of your everyday life.

· See your own stories as an offering of hope to those around you.

· Treasure the unseen ways God moves through even your most regular days. 

With 365 readings, each day begins with a passage of Scripture, tells a story of everyday faith, and encourages you to take a moment to breathe with a simple but fun way to complete your day. So kick off your shoes and join us for a relaxing but special time, where friends come together and share the real stuff of everyday faith.

Review:

This book was a treasure trove for me. While I fangirled over many of the contributors like my friend, Robin Dance, Suzanne Eller, Lisa-Jo Baker, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Renee Swope, Holley Gerth, Annie F. Downs, and Emily P. Freeman just to name a few, I also found a bunch of the other contributors to be just as swoon worthy. They speak my language! They take everyday life and speak (or write) Jesus into those spaces that many of us seem to overlook.

One of the coolest things in this book is “A Moment to Breathe” at the bottom of each day’s devotional.  There are many days that I don’t know what to do, or I just need a little spiritual shove.  These are perfect for those days when I am at a standstill.  There are little ideas for you to either act on (pray for someone that seems to have it all, or just be present with someone).  The actions and ideas are simple, don’t take much time, and will surely bless you and someone else, too.

Fair warning:

This is a 365-day devotional, but it you are anything like me, you will catch yourself reading more than one day’s devo at a time. It’s a nice feeling that someone out there has the same situation or feelings that you do. It is nice to know that we are not the only ones that need A Moment to Breathe.

Thank you to B&H Publishing for providing me a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

A Moment to Breathe - 365 Devotions That Meet You in Your Everyday Mess Book Cover A Moment to Breathe - 365 Devotions That Meet You in Your Everyday Mess
from the (in)courage community
devotional
B&H Publishing
October 3, 2017
Hardcover
392
B&H Publishing

19 Souls - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

19 Souls – Book Review

Book Description:

Private Investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. When his latest client, Sophie Evers, asks him to find her brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.

Daniel is not Sophie’s brother. He is her most coveted prey. Clinging to the belief that they belong together, Sophie kills Daniel’s real sister to manipulate Jim into flushing Daniel out of hiding. She will create the “perfect life” for the only man she’s ever loved, no matter how many people she must kill along the way.

When Jim discovers the truth about Sophie, he’s driven to set things right before her delusional plan claims even more souls.

Review:

Do you like television shows like Criminal Minds, Law & Order, NCIS, or Homicide Hunter? Those are some of our favorite show, and I think that is part of the reason I devoured this book and loved every bit of it.  If you like these types of shows, I am sure you will like this one too!

Oh, hi my name is Julie and I judge books by their covers. The cover of this one is what drew my attention to it, but I was hooked before I even finished the first chapter.  J.D. Allen really kicked it in high gear from the very beginning.  This story is full of non-stop action, and you don’t want to stop reading until you get to the very end. There were times that I just wanted to let Jim have it, even though I developed a soft spot for him.  But Sophie, on the other hand, was so easy to just loathe with every fiber of my being.  A couple of things were a little predictable, but it wasn’t enough to mess with the story.

I’m sorry to say that this book will not be released until February of next year, but really that is just around the corner.  I will be posting a reminder for you because I would really hate for you to miss out on this one.

19 Souls Book Cover 19 Souls
Sin City Investigation #1
J.D. Allen
Thriller, Crime, Detective
Midnight Ink
February 8, 2018
eARC
360
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

The Writing Desk - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Writing Desk – Book Review

Book Description:

Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny?

Review:

I feel like I need to start by saying that I love everything written by Rachel Hauck.  So, you shouldn’t be surprised when I say that I loved this book!

The Writing Desk is a multi-generational story set in the Gilded Age, as well as the present.  It is a story of love, loss, regret, faith, forgiveness, and do-overs. The characters are well-developed and lovable with such enchanting story lines that you don’t want to stop reading until you know what has happened to each of them.  And the plot twists are the cherries on top!  I have to cut this review short, or I might give too much of the story away.  But that desk, and it’s story! I love it!

I love to write, and reading about two writers and their challenges hit home for me.  But you don’t have to be a writer for it to hit home.  The Writing Desk is also about mothers and daughters, life lessons, and love.  Ever feel like just staying in your PJs all day? Well, then you will find something to relate to in this fabulous novel.

 

 

The Writing Desk Book Cover The Writing Desk
Rachel Hauck
Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Zondervan
July 10, 2017
eARC
352
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.