Friday, September 26, 2014

Catching Up On Months of Book Reviews

As per usual, I am reading more books off my reading list than on it.  Part of the reason is that I have chosen books that are more challenging to read, and thus require more discipline to read due to the less intriguing factor.  It's not that they aren't interesting or fascinating, but rather certain books lack the magnetic appeal, the one that pulls me into a book where I don't want to set it down, but am driven to finish it.  It is not just a fiction versus non fiction problem either. For example, I read Shepherding a Child's Heart, and that was one that I wanted to finish and read through it quickly, less than a week.  However, I am stuck on Tom Wood's Nullification and can't seem to find that niche.  This is my third time to try reading it in 3 years.  It is not due to a lack of interest in the topic and content, quite the contrary, it is fascinating because I love history and care about the future.  I don't know why this is, but I am working through it. I do know one thing that frustrates me is having a lot of books I want to read, but getting stuck on one and I drag my feet to finish it.  Meanwhile I'm eyeing bookshelves with lots of other books I would voraciously consume in days, and this other book is taking me months to finish.  It comes down to this: is it merely a matter of self discipline?-needing to discipline myself to finish the book at hand to reward myself with reading whatever I want after that?  Or is it a matter of learning more versus less?  Or maybe a combination of both?  I'll let you know when I know.  One thing I do know, it does not matter how difficult a book is to read, understand, or get through, if I am drawn in, I will finish it, and promptly.  Even with the Rushdoony books I have read, it is only a matter of weeks, not months. I am still working on self discipline in reading, but for now, I am setting aside Nullification and am pursuing other types of books.

Since I have sadly neglected this blog the last few months (and even have few unpublished blog notes, still waiting to be posted), I don't feel I have the time or fortitude to sit down and write an entire review for each book I have read.  More than that, not all of them deserve a full review.  I have been reading quite a bit more fiction lately.  Instead, I am going to list the books and their respective biased Leah ratings and give a few thoughts on each one (as well as linking to my goodreads reviews if I have written them out).

July Books:

Freedom Under Siege - 4 Stars

As per usual, Ron Paul delivers a hard hitting truthful book addressing such topics under girding individual liberty such as, military conscription, foreign policy, and the Federal Reserve, monetary systems, and economics.  This also includes his weak foundation for where liberty is derived, he speaks of some believe rights come from our Creator, but does not go very far to build on that. An excellent book everyone would do well to read.

-Shepherding a Child's Heart - 5 Stars

I whole-heartedly recommend this book as a must read for every parent, expecting their first, or in the midst of a gaggle of children.  Wow, what a great book to read for those of us who have no idea what a Christian parent is supposed to do when disciplining and raising a child! It amazed me just how much my husband has been teaching me, the wisdom his own parents and grandparents have shared as well, that were reflected in this book. It only cemented the things I have been learning from those God has placed in my life. This gives general biblical principles and helps you to understand how to implement them, by the grace of our precious Lord and Saviour.

-The Pastor's Wife - 4 Stars

Such a heart-wrenching, riveting, encouraging, and challenging auto-biography written by Sabina Wurmbrand.  She has such a rich and robust faith, tested by the fires of persecution, but to my utter amazement, she has some weak theology and bad ideas which in turn are a bit pragmatic in the negative sense. Apart from that weakness, this is an incredible true story every Christian would find edifying to read, despite the horrors contained therein.  God is gracious and longsuffering to us, and a beautiful reminder that He uses all of us where we are, no matter how much we do or do not know doctrinally, and doesn't always bring us to the same place in the end.

August Books:

The City of Ember - 3 Stars

Such a fun imaginative young reader book.  Refreshingly clean with an intriguing story that keeps you wanting to know what will happen next. Some try to put this as Christian allegory but I think that is way too much of a stretch, just let it be what it is: a fiction story with no Christian ties. Strong libertarian, individualistic, self-reliant, use your thinking skills in this book, which is a positive thing, but subtly feministic in ways.

The Other Baby Book - 3 Stars

A wide array of baby and parenting how to's, could do's, and encouragement.  An attachment parenting book to the core, but with well researched and well present information. Worth reading, but with the caveat of the glaringly bad theology of babies being totally innocent.

-The Complete Divergent Series
-Divergent 3 Stars
-Insurgent 2 Stars

-Allegiant 2 Stars
-All "Four" Books 3 Stars

Yes, an entertaining series, but the first and Four books were the only ones worth reading.  The rest were just to satisfy my curiosity of where the world would end up: newsflash, I did not appreciate the ending at all.  Though this author claims to be some sort of Christian (I assume, for she gives credit to God and His Son), this is in no way a Christian book, nor does it even remotely have a Christian theme.  Pretty sensual relationship between the main characters (everything is sparks and electricity).  As I am coming to find with most dystopian novels, strong liberterian/liberty/individualistic themes within it. As one friend's husband commented, it is very juvenile. I would have to agree. I don't recommend anyone reading this, surprisingly. The only redeeming point was the fascinating world building (if only you could cut out the irritating teenage romance).

-Thriving the First Days of Becoming Mommy - 3 Stars

Written to read like a devotional book, a realistic and honest view of the varying aspects of motherhood.  Weak theology, though scripture is prevalent and appreciated. A light, somewhat immature, and humorous book to encourage mom's everywhere. Click above for full thoughts.

Partials Trilogy
-Partials - 2 Stars

-Fragments - 2 Stars
-Ruins - 2 Stars

Interesting world building, but with a severely flawed foundation. Another of the Dystopian Genre.  The "Partials" are considered half human or partially human.  Sentient beings created by humans that are essentially super-beings.  While the series makes it a definite negative to try and play "god" and create new species, it just accepts the partials as humans and fights against discriminating against them as sub-human because they are in every way like humans in their physiology, DNA, emotions, etc., making it a racism issue. What?! A fast-paced, action packed, thought-provoking "What makes a human a human?", incredibly flawed book.  While the story is interesting, and there is ok character development, I can't get past the fact that it makes it ok to try and play God and pretends like one can create soulful beings.

September Books:

-Lend Me Leave - 4 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this Austen "spin off".  Clean, imaginative, with a wonderful introduction of interesting characters and subplots.  The book of Emma through Mr. Knightley's eyes, second book of the two. With religion talked of, but no mention of the gospel. The only caution is that it is still a romance, and thus, infatuation with the beloved, no matter how "clean" it is, it is what it is.  And I must say, I found some parts to be a bit too  dramatic to be the thoughts of a man. But who am I to say? ha!

Uglies Series
-Uglies - 2 Stars
-Pretties - 2 Stars
-Specials - 2 Stars
-Extras - 2 Stars

Well, this was actually my second time to read this series.  The first was around the 16/17 age range.  It is amazing how much you can change in a few short years and enjoy something at one point in your life, then lose that the next point.  I saw things differently than I did initially.  Such as the major environmentalist agenda and demonizing of mankind (actually, as Christians we ought to be a the forefront of taking dominion and caring for the planet God has given us). There are constant put downs about the way we do things now (They read newspapers and threw them away EVERY DAY?!; they actually clearcut forests?! etc).  There is definitely a liberterian flavor as with all the dystopias so far (question the totalitarian government, don't depend on them for everything), as well as this underlying message that you are find the way you are (no need to be pretty according to some arbitrary standard, better to be unique). The main character of the first three books was a bit obnoxious. She is a compulsive liar and everyone believes her, she is selfish, impulsive, and her ultimate driving force is looking out for number one. She does grow a little bit. Fourth book is very unrealistic, the girl is obsessed with becoming famous, gets everything she wants, and saves the world. I don't particularly recommend this for anyone, I just felt the need to satiate my own curiosity for personal reasons to re-read this and finish the books I never finished.

Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23 - 5 Stars

I simply must rave about this book! What a delightful, biblical, beautifully done allegory for young children.  A must have for every Christian parent's bookshelf.  The gospel is clearly presented in simple and clear language woven into the story of a little lamb teaching another lamb about his good Shepherd. The artwork is very touching as well.  There are even discussion questions in the second half of the book to correspond with each chapter, chock full of good biblical theology, lot's of scripture references, and application to a child's life. I am very grateful to the friend who gave me this book at my son's baby shower.

Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education For Your Child - 5 Stars

An excellent primer for the parents who are serious about the education of their child(ren).  In this easy to read book, Kevin Swanson delivers practical principles derived from the Word of God in a hard hitting challenge to parents everywhere.  He does not give specific "how to's" but general principles with a few over-arching suggestions.  This is a book I will be reading again and referencing in my journey of raising my son, and any more children we are blessed with. Though Swanson home educates his own children, he is firm in his conviction to Christian education, not narrowly or pietistically saying his way is the only way. A highly recommend this to all parents everywhere who care about their children and their future, especially Christian parents.

A House For God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family - 5 Stars

This is my second book to read by Andrea Schwartz, and it did not disappoint.  It was extremely practical, encouraging, challenging, convicting, and inspiring.  Each chapter tackles a different topic but each foundation is the same: God's Law Word. Though there is one point of disagreement, the foreword written by Martin Selbrede says it well, who is leading the charge to bring all Christians to apply the word of God to their lives?-do not cut down those willing to stand for truth even on a few disagreements, the important part is that someone is willing to stand.  Andrea is not ashamed of the Gospel, nor the full counsel of God and applying it to all areas of her life and encouraging women everywhere to do the same.  If you want to read more of her work, check out her Website and blog. All wives and mother;s would benefit and be blessed to read this book.

Raising Godly Tomatoes - 4 Stars

This book is a great compliment to Ted Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart, for it goes into specifics, how to's, and plenty of practical ideas of just how to discipline your children.  Though I do not agree with everything she says, it is an excellent resource. She makes great points about consistency (how convicting!!), out lasting your child, biblical restoration (discipline is restorative, not punitive), and covers a myriad of questions from real life parents on real life situations. If you have no idea where to start with your new baby, or have a house full of hooligan's this book addresses different stages, mostly younger years, not teenage. If you were like me and grew up with parents who did not understand biblical discipline, this would be a helpful read.

Lessons Learned From Years of Homeschooling - 5 Stars

Another fantastic book from Andrea Schwartz. Geared toward home educating mother's, it shares Andrea's insights from her successes and failures.  Whether you are new to the idea, submersed, or at the beginning of your journey, this book is for you.  It encourages, it empowers, and it reminds us the reason: for the glory of our risen Lord and Saviour. I found many ideas, good direction, and my heart over flowing with encouragement for the task ahead and at hand.  I loved that she spoke to all women at different stages, she gives practical advice for the mother with infants/toddlers to prepare for what's ahead, as well as the mom in the midst of schooling, or about to begin with "school" age children. It is not only for the home educating mom, it is for the mom who wants to see her child(ren) excel in a Christian education and be an integral part of that.  Mom's who are serious about their children's education would find themselves motivated all over again after reading this book.


Well, when I look at my reading list goals from January, I am in the midst of reading two on there, "Leading Little Ones to God" and "The Excellent Wife".  Each night I read one of the short chapters with 2nd Samuel from the first book, and I believe I can finish it before the end of the year.  I bought at PHF last year at the recommendation of a lady I met, but I actually did not peruse the inside and see the way it was geared.  I thought it was a parent's handbook of how to, but it is actually geared to little ears, in simple straightforward language. So far the theology is biblical and I have no issues on that front. But I thought it would be more beneficial to read it with my child than read it to myself.  The latter book is one some friends of mine and I are supposed to be reading as a book/bible study together, but have yet to begin!-so I am only a few pages in.  The other two books from my list are John Owen's (I started it, but found it was too much to take on), and Nullification, which I started and am finding it hard to get absorbed into. I still have three months to finish those two... we shall see. I at the bare minimum want to finish Tom Wood's book (Nullification) by the end of the year.  But poor Mr. Owen is a bit over my head and may have to wait for another year.  

A sub goal of mine is to read one of Andrea Schwartz books a week until I have read them all.  I heard a hard hitting and great challenge from Bojidar Marinov at a recent conference I attended where he said his talk would not change your life, but reading 50 pages a day from good books (referenced Chalcedon's works) would change and shape your life. You can find his Two Kingdom's talk on my church's website.  I am learning to set attainable goals as to not overwhelm myself with failure. I know I can read one of Andrea's books a week. I am also reading Rushdoony's Institutes in my bible study with Andrea, and on top of reading God's word, I believe this is a good place to start. I will higher my personal expectations of my reading as my self discipline becomes more ingrained.

As you can tell, I have also been giving myself the liberty to read more fiction the last couple months.  I have been very interested in the Dystopian genre and decided maybe one day I could write my own, so I wanted to read what other's were like. So far I am not overly impressed.

Here's to reading, and the weather that is ushering in more hot tea to cozy up with!

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