Books I Read This Quarter

I love to read. As I wrote a week or so ago, I didn’t have much time for reading the last part of 2016. I’m making up for that this year! A dozen books in ten weeks!

Only four were fiction…

“The Crown Duel” and “The Court Duel” by Sherwood Smith

I read these two books every couple of years. They are fun books about a kingdom at war. There is a bit of magic plus a lot of adventure in the story, making them fun reads. I’ve read many of Sherwood Smith’s books. Some of her later books are too edgy for me. 

“Twice Freed” by Patricia St.John

Patricia St. John writes lovely stories! I’ve loved every book I’ve read by her. Twice Freed tells the story of a slave in Ancient Rome. He escapes slavery only to constantly be faced by Jesus-followers. He spends time with Paul and…well, to tell you more would spoil the story. Read it. You’ll be glad you did. Oh, it’s written for young readers, I have been so overwhelmed with life that I needed a couple of easy reads. So I chose a few books geared towards 5-8 graders. 😏

“Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen  

Yes, it’s written for young readers, middle school and upper elementary. But I needed some easy reads. This book has been on our kids’ bookshelf for years. I knew I’d read it but couldn’t remember what it was about, so I picked itup one evening. I read it all that night. “Hatchet” is the survival story of a young man stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash. I liked it.

Note: there are some parts that may be scary/disturbing for younger readers.

Last year I didn’t complete many Bible studies due to spending so much time writing. I love Precept Upon Precept inductive studies, but I’ve been doing different kinds of studies since Christmas. Some I liked. Others not so much.

“Designed To Pray” by Kelly O’Dell Stanley
I’d wanted to do a study to help me get back I to the habit of praying. A gal posted about this eight-week daily devotional on social media. I ordered it. It looked great! I liked the first couple of weeks. Each day had a short reading then a creative prayer activity. I used lots of colors and tried new things. Each day also has a simple prayer prompt.

Honesty, the creative activities got old quickly. They might appeal more to a teen or more creative person. I skipped them after week two.  Most of the daily readings started with fluff. Quotes by famous folks, short excerpts from poems, and a few scriptures. The author shared her insights on the topic. I’d have preferred more scriptures and teaching on biblical prayer.

I do love the daily prayer prompts! They caused me to pray for people I hadn’t previously thought to pray for: someone who saves lives, someone who has talents different from you, a person who serves others, one who studies the Bible, etc. I’d like just a list of such prompts! But that wouldn’t make for a very exciting book.

“Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy” by Beth Moore

This study was not one of my favorites. Our ladies group at church did this study. In order to build relationships and honor my home church, I participated.

The book “Entrusted” seemed to meander all over the Bible. I had a hard time following how the cross references applied to 2 Timothy. Beth Moore included lots of Greek definitions and speculation, many of which I thought were not necessary or helpful.

We watched the videos in class. All 75 minutes each week. It was the third of six videos before she event mentioned 2 Timothy. 

“His Last Words” by Kim Erickson

I’ve written about this study before. I love it!

This study looks at the lasts words of Jesus. Each day the reader studies a few verses and writes what they learn about God. There is very little commentary and few stories, but what commentary and stories there are give insight to the scriptures I’d not thought of before. This study has made me want to look more closely at every word of Jesus!

I’ve led a group of a dozen women from seven different churches through the study. We met in my dining room. All enjoyed it. We had great conversations about what Jesus said to His disciples. There are no videos and no need for a leaders guide; the study was easy to lead. We simply read that week’s chapter from John and discussed each verse or section.

I highly recommend this study for seasoned Bible scholars and new believers.

I received a copy of “His Last Words” as part of a launch team.

“God’s Healing in Grief” and the companion journal by Ron and Kathleen Duncan
Yes, this is the study we wrote for Precept Ministries International last year. My husband and I have been leading a group of While We’re Waiting local support group facilitators through the study online. We cover two lessons each week. This Sunday is the last session.

As I prepared each week I learned new things! The Bible is alive and powerful. This study is full of scripture; readers study passages and write in the book what they learned. There are some stories of our grief journey, but the vast majority of the book is straight from scripture.

I read a few nonfiction books this quarter. Here are my thoughts on the nonfiction books I read.

 “The Simplest Way To Change the World: Biblical Hospitality As a Way Of Life” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

I was chosen by Moody Publishers to be a part of the launch team for this book. Being on a launch team means I got a copy before it was released. I agreed to read the book and review it on various sites.

The first half of the book tells why we should practice biblical hospitality. The writers use scripture as well as examples from their own lives of how practicing hospitality can change lives. The second part of the book gives ideas on how to implement the practice in your life. Ideas like moving your BBQ grill to the front porch and inviting neighbors over for dinner.

I enjoyed reading the book. The stories from the authors’ live were great. 

We have practiced biblical hospitality in our lives, as my long-time readers have seen. We’ve had strangers and family live with us, we often host people for Sunday lunch or an evening cookout. I was glad to read how others are learning to open their homes as a way to reach hurting people. This book reminded me why we started the practice.

I recommend this book for small group leaders, pastors, and folks who want to touch the lives of those around them.

“Tell Someone: A Story To Help Raise Awareness And Prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse” by Becky Cole

I met Becky a conference in February. She shared her desire to help others who have faced childhood sexual abuse and to prevent it. I admire her strength.

This book is written for children. It should be read with an adult. Becky tells story in a way that encourages children to protect themselves and to tell a safe adult if anyone touches them in inappropriate ways.

The book would be a great addition to church and school libraries.
“The Oregon Trail” by Rinker Buck 

Rinker and his brother undertook to drive a covered wagon across the Oregon Trail in the twenty-first century. They did not go all out primitive; they took modern convinces like sleeping bags and cell phones with them. But they did follow the original trails as often as possible. Some days they drove on modern blacktop, other days they followed one hundred year old wagon tracks. Along the way they made many friends to whom we are introduced in the book.

I enjoyed the book quite a bit, but I do need to warn readers there is some fowl language and the author waxes on a few time about his spiritual beliefs. These did not take away from from my enjoyment of the story; instead they made the two mule drivers more accessible. It  was a fun to read of their adventures.

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“The Finests Hours” by Michael J. Tougias

The true story of a harrowing sea rescue by a U.S. Coast Guard life boat on February 12, 1952. Two tankers broke apart off Cape Cod during a violent winter storm. A movie was made of the adventure in 2009.

I watched the movie and enjoyed it so much I downloaded the book that night. The books is a great read. If you are looking for a real-life adventure filled with very human heroes, this is good place to start.