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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.

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

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough - Book Review juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough – Review

Book Description:

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before.

David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has written a novel that takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling.

Review:

Wow! Just WOW!

I’m just dying for someone I know to read this so we can discuss it!

When I agreed to read and review this book for Macmillan/Flatiron Books I had no idea how difficult it was going to be for me to actually write a review.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  I’d never heard of Sarah Pinborough, and now I’m searching for anything and everything she has ever written.  This chick is good!  So, I will apologize now if this seems a bit rambly or repetitive. It is just so, so hard to review this particular book without giving anything away.

Behind Her Eyes completely consumed me.  Gripping is a good word for it!  I love a good page turner, and this is one heck of a page turner.  I carried this book with me every where I went, and I mean every where.  If I had to wait in line at the grocery store, then I had this book in my hands.  I even sent my husband into the post office so I could read a page or two while I waited.

There is a little bit of a supernatural twist to the story, but not so much that I wanted to put the book down.  That just isn’t something I typically read.  Something else that I don’t typically read is love triangle stories.  Behind Her Eyes is written from the viewpoint of Adele and Louise.  It does go back and forth between them, and at times I found myself having to really think about which one was which.  That is the only thing that slowed me down a teensy tiny bit.  It is so well written with twists when you aren’t expecting them, characters that you can’t figure out who to trust, and a deranged mind-blowing ending.  I am not blindsided by book ending very often, but this one got me good!  In fact, one of the hashtags for this book is #WTFending, and I am not a WTF kind of girl, but it is certainly that kind of ending.

I’ve given this book 5 blooms.  I have gone back and forth on whether to give it 4 or 5, but I settled on 5 because it is just so good.  You’ve got to read this!

Many thanks to Macmillan for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, also for introducing me to a new-to-me author.  Thank you to Sarah Pinborough for such gripping novel!

 

Behind Her Eyes
Sarah Pinborough
Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense
Flatiron Books
1/31/2017
Hardcover
320
Macmillan

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth (Book Review)

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth
Guinnevere Shuster
Pets & Animal Care, Cats, Dogs & Animals
Andrew McMeel Publishing
May 3, 2016
Hardcover
128

Book Description:

Man's best friend! What better way to showcase adoptable dogs than by letting their true personalities shine in a photo booth! In the tradition of the best-selling dog photography book, Underwater Dogs, Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth wins the heart of all dog lovers.

Often seen as sad, rejected, and behind cold metal bars, it's no wonder people would avoid images of shelter dogs awaiting forever homes. From talented photographer (and now public figure and adoption champion) Guinnivere Shuster comes Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth, a guaranteed-to-make-you-smile photo book featuring shelter dogs in a brand-new light. Get ready to see the cutest canine portraits you’ve ever seen! Guinnevere’s fantastic photos went viral  and have been featured on websites, in magazines, and on television programs all over the world: Good Morning America, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, Time, The Daily Mail . . . even celebrities have gotten in on the action: Amy Poehler, Cesar Millan, and Zooey Deschanel have made statements and posts declaring their love of Guinnevere’s work. After the adorable and up-for-adoption photos of these furry friends were seen and enjoyed by millions, adoption rates at Utah's Humane Society skyrocketed.

The book features 100 dog photo booth style photographs, each accompanied by a short story about the dog's personality, how the dog ended up in the shelter, and the adoption date. A follow-up will conclude the book, with photos of some of them with their new families.

A portion of the proceeds of this book will benefit the Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

My Review:

BUY THIS BOOK!

This book is super-duper cute! I know that when I first saw the title of this book I thought of the ASPCA commercials on television. Seriously, some of those are the most depressing commercials...the photos and the songs they pair them with...oh my!

Back to this book.

Have you ever tried to take a photo of your dogs? I feel like these are the types of photos I end up with myself. The dogs personalities really shine through the photos.

If you are a dog lover, or just want a little pick me up kind of picture book then this is for you. You will not be able to help but smile. You might even laugh at some of the cuties. I plan on getting this one for a few of my peeps for Christmas.

When you BUY THIS BOOK you not only get a great book that never gets old (you can read it over and over), but you also contribute to great organizations, Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

Book Reviews, Confessions

Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Have you ever heard of the book Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?

Well, that is what the Sisterhood of the Traveling Book is like, except it is something you read instead of something you wear. At our age, we probably couldn’t find a pair of jeans to fit each of us in our group. I can’t find a pair of jeans to fit me period, but that is a completely different post just waiting to happen.

To be honest, I really don’t remember how I got involved in the Traveling Book group on goodreads. The first group was supposed to read Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall. It started out great, but after the second or third person read it the book just disappeared. It happens. So, we started another group.

We are reading The Time In Between by Maria Duenas, journaling our thoughts about the book, and sending the book and journal along to the next gal on the list.

I will tell you now that I was not looking forward to reading this book.  First of all, it is 615 pages long. Not short, long.  Here’s the book description:

The Time In Between is a word-of-mouth phenomenon that catapulted María Dueñas, a debut author, to the top of Spain’s bestseller lists.

The Time in Between

This sweeping novel, which combines the storytelling power of The Shadow of the Wind with the irresistible romance of Casablanca, moves at an unstoppable pace. Suddenly left abandoned and penniless in Morocco by her lover, Sira Quiroga forges a new identity. Against all odds she becomes the most sought-after couture designer for the socialite wives of German Nazi officers. But she is soon embroiled in a dangerous political conspiracy as she passes information to the British Secret Service through a code stitched into the hems of her dresses.

I’m sorry, but this just didn’t peak my interest at the time. BUT! I loved this book! I read the 615 pages in two days. (We won’t discuss the fact our electric was out due to an ice storm, so I had a lot more free time to read.) Two days!

Here’s what I know. I do like historical fiction, mystery, Secret Service, spy like and all that jazz. (I do like Jazz, too.) I do not care for romance. Why can’t people leave all the kissy kissy, smoochy smoochy stuff out of there? A little bit is okay, but seriously get a room. Keep it private. And as for the other details, we know that in real life the sex scenes are nothing like those written in novels or movies. It’s just not my thing. Kapeesh?  I have read books with “those” scenes in them, and I’ll just tell it to you straight…I skip those parts! Ah, I digress.

This book IS historical fiction. This book HAS spies and secret service. This book HAS mystery! Okay, it has a little smoochy smoochy, but it could be worse. There’s a nice little love story, victory, and a satisfying ending. Although, I could have kept reading. I actually missed the characters when it was over. I wish they could make it into a movie.  I wish the synopsis weren’t so, dare I say, boring. Give this book a chance. I’m pretty sure you will enjoy it.  Then come back and tell me who you think should play Sira if they made it into a movie.  I’m thinking Anne Hathaway.

(Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links; shopping through them makes me a little money and makes you even brighter than you already are. At no extra cost to you.)

Happy Reading!!

Julie K. McComas

 

 

 

Book Reviews

Gone Girl – Book Review

Gone_GirlBook Description:

Marriage can be a real killer.    

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.    

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?    

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?   

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

Review:

This is the hardest book to review. The. Hardest. I can't tell you any more that what is written in the book description, because I try really hard not to include spoilers. 

I can honestly say, that I've never read a book that I loved and hated.

I realize that I am kind of late to the Gone Girl party, but I did get it read before I watched the movie. So I felt like I accomplished my goal. I downloaded it a long, long time ago. Several friends had recommended it, and I really thought I would dive right into it. Then the next day (not really, but time does fly, you know) I saw the movie preview and started thinking about reading it again. Then one day a friend wanted to read it, and then see the movie. So we made a date for the movie, and HAD to read the book.

When I finally started reading the book, I was just like almost everyone else. I was sucked into the story, and hated to put the book down. I was told it was a physcological thriller, that would be true. I was told that it was twisted, that too, would be true. I was not told about the ending. If someone would have been so kind to tell me about the ending, I might not have even read Gone Girl.  All I will tell you about the ending is that it is wrong! So, so wrong! I don't think I've ever read a book that the ending literally made me mad. Mad enough that McD knew something was wrong, and asked me about it. I'm sure he had no idea what he was getting into when I had to explain the whole story, and then how it ended.

I have a friend that seems to take endings like these in stride. She says that in real life we rarely see the fairy tale endings, and this ending just seemed realistic to her. I see her point, and that did help my frame of mind, some.

I won't tell you what happens at the end, but I will tell you that I really, really liked this book. Well, until the ending, but I am okay with it now. This is a must read book if you like to keep wondering where the plot will take you. Well done, Gillian Flynn.

Now, about the movie. I will say that I didn't like the movie. I don't know if it was because I did read the book first, and there was absolutely zero suspense for me. Or if it was because it was just so slow!

Those are my two cents on Gone Girl. What are yours?

Book Reviews

The Waiting – A Review

ThewaitingAn unforgettable true story that will touch your heart and make you believe in love’s enduring legacy, and in the power of prayer.
In 1928, 16-year-old Minka was on a picnic in the woods when she was assaulted and raped. And suddenly this innocent farm girl—who still thought the stork brought babies—was pregnant. The baby was secretly born, named Betty Jane, and given up for adoption. For decades, Minka wrote letters trying to get news of her daughter; she kept loving and praying for her, even though she never dared believe they would meet again. Until nearly eighty years later, when Minka whispered her secret, impossible prayer for the first time: Lord, I’d like to see Betty Jane before I die. I promise I won’t bother her or interrupt her life. I just want to lay eyes on her. Unbeknownst to Minka, that very same day, a judge was releasing the sealed adoption records to her 77-year-old daughter. And soon, Minka’s phone would ring. Written by Cathy LaGrow (Minka’s granddaughter), The Waiting brings three generations of this most unusual family together over the course of a century to tell a story of faith that triumphs, forgiveness that sets us free, and love that never forgets.

Review:

This is a beautifully written, true story that seems like it could be nothing but fiction.  This has been one of the hardest reviews for me to write, because everytime I start to type I either repeat everything in the book description or I give too much information (spoilers).

So let me tell you that I read this book in less than two days, so I can honestly say that I couldn't put it down. I loaned this book to a friend, and she did the same. Then she loaned it to her mother, and she read it in record time as well. Three out of three, folks!

It is so compelling, and heartwarming. A wonderful story written about patience and faith. This story made me want to be as faithful and dedicated as Minka.

I have to say that I am not a crier when it comes to reading books.  Remember the friend that I loaned the book to? Well, she is a crier, and so is her mother. They both mentioned that they cried through the whole book. So, if you are a crier, grab some kleenex!

This is one of those books that will always have a place on my bookshelf, and one of my highly recommended reads. I apologize for such a lame review, but I tried my best to let you know that I loved this book without telling you everything that happened in it.

The Waiting on Amazon

Thank you to Tyndale for providing me a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

Book Reviews

Wasted Prayer – A Review

 

 

 

 

Wasted Prayer Book Cover Wasted Prayer
Greg Darley
Religion & Spirituality, Christian Living, Spiritual Growth
Thomas Nelson
July 15, 2014
Paperback
208

Wasted Prayer: Know When God Wants You to Stop Praying and Start Doing by Greg Darley

Book Description:

Faith without works is dead. Prayer without action is wasted.

What would your life look like if you stopped praying about God’s will and just did it instead? How would your church look if it spent as much time serving as it spent praying about serving?

The truth is, sometimes when you think you’re praying, you’re really just procrastinating. And when you think you’re asking that God’s will be done, you’re really telling him no. In times that call for action, prayer can be disobedience in disguise. Wasted Prayer uncovers the ways we use prayer to dodge responsibility for the work God has assigned us.

Complete with punch-in-the-gut biblical exposition that will help get you off your knees—and out of your chair—Wasted Prayer will provide you with the jolt you need to start living like a Christian, instead of just praying like one.

It’s time to stop praying and start doing.

Review:

Wasted Prayer is a pretty fast read, just shy of 200 pages, and filled with wisdom.  The kind of wisdom we should already have in our lives, but we tend to forget.  I'll be honest, when I saw the title of this book, I balked. Seriously, how can we have wasted prayers? Well, we can, and I am as guilty as the next person.

Let me tell you about one of my wasted prayers, just one mind you. A fellow church member, who happens to be a teacher, asked me if I might be interested in helping her with her classroom. It sounds like a great idea. There are lots of parents that can't make it to special events, parent/teacher conferences, programs, etc. and they are wanting a few people that can be there for these kids. That is a super short description, but trust me it is going to be good. This teacher friend of mine knows that I am not big on teaching kids at church or being in the nursery, so when she asked me I said, "Let me pray about it."

Sounds fine doesn't it? Sounds reasonable too, right? Well, after reading Wasted Prayer, I now know that it was a prayer for the Religious Cycle, a reactionary prayer, even a procrastination prayer. You just have to read this book if you can relate.

Greg Darley used several biblical examples of the Discipleship Cycle, a more proactive approach. The Good Samaritan parable was one of them, and it's very fitting. I don't want to give too much away, but the Samaritan just reacted.  He didn't have to run home and pray for several days. Another example he gave, to which we can all relate, is that if your house was on fire would you rather your neighbor fall to his knees and pray that it stopped? Or would you prefer he grab his water hose and help put it out.

There are lots of times that we should just react, but we say a procrastination prayer instead. This book opened my eyes to Wasted Prayer, and I hope to have learned from it. There are lots of books out there about prayer, but this one is a must read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”