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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.



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