Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife

Submissive. The word seems to raise the hair on the back of every woman's neck. Even men seem uncomfortable with the term, in general, because to want their wives to be submissive often comes across as chauvinistic and unfair, but to not want their wives to be submissive can make them seem as if they are not concerned with upholding a biblical mandate of man as the head of the house with wife as the submissive helpmeet.

So where to find balance? I picked up this book, "My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife" by Sara Horn to review because I wanted to see what this particular woman had to say about submission, as she experimented in her own life, trying to follow what she believed the Bible says about being a submissive wife and struggling with it. Submission is at once simplistic and involved. "Easy" and extremely difficult. And yet, by the end of the book you are left feeling that Sara Horn may finally have begun to find that ever-elusive balance in her own home, in such a way that works for her and for her family and her marriage. Not that she states that every other woman should proceed just like she chose to (as documented in a very personable, one-on-one account in her book).  But Sara gives a lot of insight into her numerous struggles as well as small victories and accomplishments along her journey. It's refreshing to note that she did not attempt to write a "look at me, I've got this down and here is what you should do down to the last detail, a-b-c" sort of how-to manual. She simply shared her inspiration for attempting to walk in what she considers godly submission, and the results.

What I liked about this book: I liked that Sara chose to be personal in it. That she not only shared the good times, the triumphs, the happiness, the good insights she gained, but that she also shared the times when she felt frustrated, irritated, overwhelmed, resistant, or not good enough.  It's a very "real" book.

What I didn't like about this book: It is hard to find things I don't like about books. I think probably the only thing I didn't like about this book is simply that I don't necessarily agree with every conclusion Sara comes to.  I might not feel a certain way about situation "a" as Sara did, or agree upon how she interpreted the results. But for the most part, I agreed with or at least found a great deal of reasonable thoughts and thus views within her conclusions.

I would give this book 3/5 stars.  I felt it was relatively well written, very engaging overall and had some very important ideas to put out there.  I liked, as I mentioned before, how personal Sara chose to make this book.

Thank you to and to the publisher of the book, Harvest House Publishers, for a free ebook review copy. Please note that all opinions expressed in this review are my own and are honest.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shattered: A Book Review of a Suspenseful Novel

After having read the bestselling and fantastic book one in the Alaska Courage Series entitled "Submerged," I was eagerly awaiting the release of book two, "Shattered."  And I was definitely far from disappointed.

With enough twists and turns to satisfy the most die-hard suspense lover, plenty of Christian faith woven in without coming across as trying too hard, and just the right addition of real-life romance, "Shattered" is certain to become a fast favorite. It's the perfect blend!

To be entirely honest, I had started to grow disinterested in some of the Christian fiction genre, simply because it all started to seem redundant. Boy meets girl, boy cannot commit, girl wants to commit, something happens in the meantime to keep them apart, then suddenly they see the light and are ready to commit to being married and all ends well.  Not saying I don't love a good old-fashioned, simple, happy love story such as that. But on an ever greater level I like suspense, complications, mysteries, something more similar to the loop life can through most of us! And "Shattered" seems to fit that bill.

This book focuses in on Reef, a sibling of Cole, one of the main characters in the first book. Upon his return to Yancey, Alaska, the "prodigal" Reef finds himself arrested for murder and the evidence piling up against him makes his chances of gaining freedom slim to none. But his close-knit siblings are not about to let Reef spend the rest of his life behind bars, and thus the excitement begins as they do their best to investigate and question with the help of the local deputy (a long-time friend of the family), Landon Grainger.

The main characters in this book are Landon and one of the McKenna siblings, Piper, the girl who has always been like his little sister.  Except now, Landon and Piper are facing feelings for each other that have suddenly evolved into something more than friends . . . and this journey of new and uncertain feelings is where the romance in the story enters!  Right into the mix of trying to find out who really murdered the poor young woman who was visiting Yancey as part of a snow sport professional circuit.

What I loved about this book: I loved how the author seems to never run out of creative twists and turns in the plot that still seem realistic. Also appreciated is the depth and genuineness of all the characters, especially the couple she chooses to use as the main characters (in this novel, Landon and Piper).

What I didn't like so much: It is very difficult for me to find anything I don't like about the Alaskan Courage series thus far. So honestly, I'm going to leave this section blank.

My rating: I would definitely give this Christian "fictional romantic suspense" a 5/5 stars.  I would recommend it to anyone who would like a fresh type of Christian fiction, one that will keep you on the very edge of your seat even while leaving you feeling quite satisfied you read the whole book when done!

Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of this book in order to procure my honest review. Please note that all opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Day of Spring!

Hello Friends!

It seems like it's been a rather long time since I last made a post that was not a book review.  Looking back, it actually has been two months!  Crazy.

Life is rolling along in this neck of the woods.  Of course I began my graduate classes yet again for another semester on January 7th and since then, it's been even more busy. I also began nannying -- two infants simultaneously, one of which stays with me all day long 4 days a week and the other for a few hours or half days Mon-Fri!  Usually they are here at the same time, did I mention that? And they are young: they started with me when just 2.5 months old and 6 months old.  Nannying out of my home has kept me on my toes! Two infants at once is a challenge on more days than not. But there are rewards. I like the smiles and happy coos and giggles. I am not a fan of the screaming and crying too often sprinkled throughout my day, it can frazzle my nerves.....but hey, I deal with it! I do appreciate the chance to earn a little supplemental income, and the babies are really very sweet.  It's fun to have little ones around here.

Thus, it's been busy. Did I mention it's been busy?  Okay I guess I have. ;-)  Anyway, in between studying and reading and writing for graduate classes, and tending to two little babies and a still very young puppy, I try to get in some "fun" reading. That's how I have so many reviews on my blog recently!  Leisurely reading provides a good  means of "escape" for me, a type of R&R that is often needed.  I am a bookworm through and through, this much is true, and yes I planned to make that rhyme! ;-)  I have enjoyed my leisurely reading. Before too long I ought to have another couple reviews posted, so I hope you all are enjoying them and that they prove helpful.

Every day I find I pray more. Most of the time the prayers are centered on helping me to stay calm, to focus, to have the energy I need and most often don't have enough of to begin with.  Sometimes the prayers are for others, and I know that's good because I need to pray for others. It is satisfying and important to pray for others.  Sometimes I pray just because I'd like to acknowledge how good God is to me, and how I have faith He will provide for my needs.  Below you will see a scripture or two that have helped me a lot in re-focusing and also calming down in the recent weeks.

That's about all the news on my end right now. Happy First Day of Spring! Please stop in a say hello . . . . I feel as if my little blog has been lonely lately, there haven't been any comments left in some time!  And I love comments!  :-)

Have a pleasant day!

 “As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
32     And who is the Rock except our God?
 It is God who arms me with strength[h]
    and keeps my way secure.
 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights."

II Samuel 22:31-33

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Review of Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How Not to Get Blindsided by Your Child's Teen Years

The title of this book caught my eye. Although at this point I can assume that I'm relatively far from parenting a teenager, if we were to ever adopt a child I might be that much closer. And either way, our future children will eventually be teenagers!

Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston is a well-written, down to earth, sensible and practical book. Gregston works through Heartlight Ministries, a residential counseling center for teenagers, and his experience working with teenagers is extensive through this. One theme I noticed ran through the book was relationships: how important it is to fight to keep a healthy, strong relationship with your teenager. And how various parenting attempts -- even those done with good intentions -- can sabotage that precious relationship.  Ways to improve upon your relationship are given, even while helping you learn how to be the counter-culture that your teenager needs to successfully navigate the crazy world in which we live without coming out jaded on the other side.  Gregston acknowledges that teenagers are often overexposed in our culture to so many things they shouldn't be and as such, can end up quite confused without their parents influence to help them find their way. He also believes that parents can make the mistake of giving their teenagers everything rather than instilling a good sense of independence and self-sufficiency over time (through the teenage years, instead of all at once or never at all), and gives tips on how to avoid this common snare.

Some parenting practices to avoid include "Perfection is Impossible," and "Authority Cannot be Forced" (authoritarian parenting versus more of an authoritative parenting style with emphasis on relationship).  Some parenting practices that work include "Relating is More Important than Winning," "Stop Controlling and Start Trusting," "Add Clear Boundaries and Subtract Strictness" and more.

I would definitely recommend this book. Even if you decided you didn't agree on every single point, Gregston has made a strong argument for the parenting he promotes for teenagers. We all know teenagers are both wonderful and intimidating to raise . . . . the teen years are not quite childhood but not yet adulthood, either.  This book could help you navigate raising teens who will turn into well-adjusted, confident, responsible young adults!  I give the book 4/5 stars.

Thanks to Booksneeze for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. Please note that all opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dandelions on the Wind

"She knew what it was like to set off for the unknown, albeit on a ship rather than in a covered wagon, and the feeling was no doubt the same -- that of a dandelion on the wind." (Dandelions on the Wind)

Maren immigrated to America from Denmark with the promise to bring her family to America, and dreams of marrying a man she thought would love her for who she was and not for her quickly failing eyesight.  She finds a semblance of family and "home" with an old widow and the widow's very young granddaughter on a farm in rural Missouri. She works and in exchange, receives room and board and the chance to be a mother figure for the little girl whose mother died in childbirth and whose father disappeared with one of the Indian wars in Arizona shortly after the Civil War ended.

All the while, Maren misses her family back in Denmark almost more than she can bear and constantly thinks of how she might procure a paying job to save enough to move back to her home country. There is nothing for her in America when she feels guilty for having to leave her mother and siblings behind.  Then one day, a man named "Wooley" shows up at the rural Missouri homestead, and everything changes.

Will Maren find all she seeks? Will someone love her in spite of her rapidly encroaching blindness? Will she at last discover peace in a family life that she has always dreamed of having? How will the old widow, her granddaughter and the mysterious and intriguing Wooley factor in to Maren's future, or will they not?

This novella was well written and highly engaging, with characters that seemed both realistic and deep. I definitely sided with the protagonist, Maren and with bated breath read through the novella very quickly as I desperately wanted to see what would happen next!  I am anticipating the rest of the novellas in this series by Mona Hodgson. The first book I had read by Hodgson, and I'm far from disappointed!  I give this novella 5/5 stars!

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for providing me with a free ebook copy of this novella, in exchange for my honest review. Please note that my review is solely my opinion.  If you'd care to rate my review on this novella or on many other books I have reviewed, please click this link and search for my name, Rachel Rudin. Thank you!

Monday, March 4, 2013


"'Funny thing about hearts. They can be as big as the ocean.  But there's only room in them to either be open or to harbor secrets." (Secrets)

Jessica moves to Glenbrooke with a heart full of secrets. Her guard is up toward everyone, even the kindest people she makes acquaintance with and those who repeatedly choose to attempt to befriend her. None of them know she is even hiding anything at first. Then, things start to unravel for Jessica, even as some parts of her life start to become inexplicably better and better.  She finds herself receiving things she thought only she knew she wanted, and experiencing feelings that she would rather shove down deep inside and never work through.

I chose to review this book in ebook form from the Christian novelist, Robin Jones Gunn, entitled "Secrets," the first book in her Glenbrooke series.  I was intrigued by the description that mentioned the main character was moving to a small town to "start over" in her life, to run from a lifestyle or past she could not bear any longer.  I thought, haven't we all reached a point in our lives where we wanted to just run away from whatever burden we felt we could not bear any longer?

What will happen for Jessica? Will she finally choose to face the life she has run from? Will she decide to return love and trust toward the people of Glenbrooke who have tried so hard to befriend her?  Will this story have a truly happy ending?  Read "Secrets" to find out!!  I say you should, because you'll be glad you did!  I give this book 5/5 stars!

Thanks to the Blogging for Books program for a free ebook copy of this novel in return for my review!  Please note that all opinions expressed are my own.  If you'd like to take just a moment to rate my review of this novel or of any others I've reviewed, please click this link to visit the Blogging for Books site and look for my profile under Rachel Rudin! Thank you!