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The Girls - A Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews, Reviews by Lindsey

The Girls – Book Review by Lindsey

Book Description:

An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong—this stunning first novel is perfect for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.
 
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
 
Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction.

Review:

Summer of The Girls

Evie is a Californian teen fumbling her way through the summer of 1969. She grows bored with the monotony of boys, beauty treatments, and hanging with her dull best friend. Until, one day, she sees The Girls walk through the park – no cares, intriguing, and unapologetically head turning. Evie cannot stop thinking about the girls she saw. She sets out to befriend Suzanne, the dark, wild haired girl of the group. They give her a summer that will define the rest of her life.

I read the first chapter of The Girls and honestly did not know if I could finish this book. It is grisly. This book unsettled me in a way you cannot stop thinking of a bad dream you had. I would go ahead and warn anyone that might be sensitive to gory scenes to beware. Please don’t take this as I didn’t enjoy the summer hit. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Her writing is sometimes overly detailed, but overall beautiful with so much feeling.

The story is a renamed retelling of Charles Manson and his infamous girls. I have always been interested in aspects of their cult and notorious crimes. The story itself is unoriginal, but there’s twist. I am applauding the author’s insight into the mind of Evie, the unheroic protagonist of the tale. I remember the feelings Evie sorted through throughout the book as my own feelings from adolescence. I “got” Evie. I was Evie at one time. A revisit into my own times as a teen where I put myself in possibly bad or dangerous situations. Emma Cline puts words to thoughts and feelings we all have, but never say out loud. This was a fast summer read. It has been a few weeks since I have finished this book, and I still feel stuck in 1969. I highly suggest it if you need something gritty that might rub you the wrong way.

 

The Girls: A Novel Book Cover The Girls: A Novel
Emma Cline
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Thriller
Random House
June 14, 2016
Hardcover
355

A Fierce Love | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews, Faith

A Fierce Love – Book Review

Book Description:

Love is easy to give when you are getting it back. Are we still called to God’s plan of how to love when we are getting none in return? Shauna Shanks’s brave journey through obedience reveals the outcome of when we dare to follow God’s ludicrous outline for love as described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Wrecked with news of her husband’s affair and his request for a divorce, Shauna finds herself urgently faced with a decision. Does she give up and divorce her husband and move on, or does she try to fight for her marriage? The former choice seems to contradict God’s plan for how to love, such as “love never gives up,” “love is patient,” and “love is kind.”

Taking God at His word and assuming the love chapter was really meant to be followed literally word by word, she not only finds herself falling in love with her spouse again, but also falling in love with Jesus, which changes everything.

First Corinthians 13 presents an audacious, illogical, and irrational context of how to love, meant to be applied to every marital context not just the fairytale marriage. If God’s instructions seem illogical and audacious, you might just expect the same kind of results in return!

This book is not air-brushed. It was written in the midst of the author’s deepest trauma, and she purposefully did not edit out her mistakes and failures during that season. This book will resonate with women who do not feel like the picture-perfect Christian woman with the fairytale life and marriage. A Fierce Love is the story of a train wreck and reaching out to God not in the calm but in the chaos and finding hope for the future.

 

Watch Shauna talk about her new book, A Fierce Love, and answer all of our questions.  Loved being able to see this live last night!

Review:

I loved A Fierce Love!

Let me clarify.  I hate that Shauna and Micah had to travel this road.  I hate that anyone has to travel this road, whether it is the husband having an affair or the wife that has an affair.  It isn’t pleasant at all for anyone.  If you are one of the few that know our story, then you know that we have been down this road and we have come out on the other side stronger than ever.  Loving this book does not mean that I love what happened to them, it means that I love that they have shared their story with us.  I love that they are still writing the rest of their story.  No, I do not have any inside scoop about another book or a Hallmark movie (which was mentioned on the live chat), I mean that they are still doing life together.  They are still in this love story.  I love that Shauna listened to God, and applied the Love Filter to her life.  I love this book!

A Fierce Love is a book of life, hope, heartache, and healing.  Divorce happens, and it happens a lot.  I’m not judging.  I have friends, family and even my husband has been divorced.  A preacher man that I am “friends” with on the Book of Faces pointed out that even God has been divorced.  I’ll leave the scripture right here so you can read it for yourself.

Jeremiah 3: 8
New International Version (NIV)

I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.

I know that is a completely different blog post, but it is written right there in the Bible.

Back to the book, A Fierce Love.  When we get married, we make a vow before God, family and friends, and lots of weddings are in churches. LOTS!  We want God there when we are in the midst of all the wedded bliss, but when we are wronged we often forget to bring God into the situation.  This book is a wonderful example of how we can go to God, listen to God, and obey God in what seems like the end of our world.  Don’t get me wrong, this happily ever ending won’t happen for everyone, even with God being in the situation.  But shouldn’t we be willing to bring Him into more of our situations?

Oh I seem to be getting off track here, let me see if I can wrap it up with something about the actual book.

A Fierce Love is a book that I recommend to everyone!  Men and women! I admire anyone that is willing to showcase a terrible time in their life to remind us that God is good.  They are willing to share their story in hopes that someone will gain from it.  I’m sure there will be haters out there, because anytime God is glorified the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.  (Sorry!) Just shake it off! (I know, sorry! Couldn’t help myself!)

Love this book! Go get it! Read it! Share it!

A Fierce Love: One Woman's Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage Book Cover A Fierce Love: One Woman's Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage
Shauna Shanks
Nonfiction, Christian, Marriage
Zondervan
June 27, 2017
eARC
240
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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