Books to Consider: May 2013

Note:  This post contains affiliate links, which means (at no extra cost to you) I may receive a portion of any purchase you make via links within.

Today I am introducing what might actually be a regular thing here, or even *gasp* a once-a-month series!  We'll see; you may recall my complete lack of blogging consistency.
But anyway!  Friends who know me in real life know that I read a lot and I'm always good for a book recommendation.  This blog is pretty much a mash-up of all things running through my head, and, on any given day, there's a book or two in there as well.  So I give you:

books to consider
This seems a little bit of a non sequitur when you consider my last few posts, but I needed to change my focus for a little while.  Or at least try. . .

To avoid spoilers and make these reviews unique, I will include a short comment about each book, and one or seven of my favorite quotes from the book.  I am the kind of person who doesn't finish books that stink, so I'll be sure to let you know if the book was chucked returned to my library in excellent condition prior to completion.  Check your local library if you're stingy like me, or rather, if you've spent all your grocery money on books for your children instead.

Hardy Boys: What Happened at Midnight, by Frank Dixon
I get to include books I read to the kids right??  (At least a few chapter books.  Not enough space for all the picture books.)  This series does not have particularly amazing writing, but both my older kids love The Hardy Boys, and I can actually stand to read them, so it works for us as a fun read aloud.  Mystery, suspense, action, at least one or two "Golly Gee!" statements per chapter. . . what's not to love?

Originally written in 1931, this particular title ends with an oddly premonitory comment from the Hardys' father:
"Someday how would you boys like to own pocket radios that can pick up signals from outer space?"


Love to the Uttermost, by John Piper
This FREE ebook is a compilation of John Piper's works designed as an Easter devotional.  Beautiful, profound, not too long.  I even read some of it to Ava.  Many thanks to my new online friend Kara for recommending this.

"As we watch His arrest and trial and death unfold for eight days, we gaze on a Christ who begrudges no pain or reproach on His pathway to redeem lost sinners."

"Luke 12:32 is a verse about the nature of God. . .[about] what He delights to do, what He loves to do. . ."for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

"The physical pain of the cross did not become physical pleasure.  But Jesus was sustained through it all by joy. . .'Come to me, all you sinners who need a Savior.  And I will forgive you and accept you with all my heart forevermore." (happy sigh)

Abounding Hope Bible Study, by Lara Williams & Katie Orr
For three seasons now, I have participated in an online Bible study and accountability group called the Hello Mornings Challenge.  You'll see the HelloMornings button over in my side bar.  Every morning during the challenge, a small group of women check in with each other about progress in fitness and Bible study goals, and share prayer requests and get to know each other.  My first group was this past fall, and it unfortunately fell flat.  No one's fault, just life.  So I joined a different group for the spring challenge, and loved it so much I continued on for the summer challenge.  I've been surprised how much this online group has helped me stay regular in my study and prayer habits, and also how wonderfully we have been able to support each other.

Each challenge, the administrators provide an optional Bible study as a starting point for the small groups.  I have chosen to do the same study as everyone else because they are always great studies, and I also benefit from hearing other comments, questions, and opinions about the same text I'm reading.

Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo
Ok, I'll be honest.  I read this book sort of accidentally.  Someone recommend a book with a similar title and I wasn't paying attention when I reserved the book at the library.  By the time I realized my error I already had the book home, so I read it.  I did do some skimming, but, to be fair to the author, I read it right after Stacey died and I just wasn't able to focus that much on anything.

The book is an account of a little boy's experiences in heaven, and it was pretty convincing.  I noticed this book on my Amazon recommendation list before, but chose to ignore it because it seemed contrived.  I was rather skeptical, but aside from the book itself, I didn't see that the author was trying to sell you anything, or get you to do anything except listen.  The tone of the book was more like this: "Here's what my son remembers, and here's what I read in the Bible that matches up, and I hope that changes your heart, but you go make of it what you will."

The thing about this book is that it gets you thinking (or thinking more) about heaven as a real place, as an actual destination.  Even life-long Christians can fall into the trap of glossing over the whole "heaven thing" because there's so much we really don't know or understand.  At the end of the book, the author shares how his mom sums up the experience, and I love her quote:

"Ever since this happened," she told me, "I think more about what it might really be like in heaven.  I accepted the idea of heaven before, but now I visualize it.  Before, I'd heard, but now I know that someday I'm going to see."


First Light (A.D. Chronicles, Book 1)by Bodie and Brock Thoene
Historical fiction, set in "the perils of the first century," the characters of First Light live under the Roman Empire in a cruel and dark time.  This is also the time when Jesus walked the earth.  This book hooked me right from the beginning, and I have already started on the second book.  So good.  I'm sure the authors have taken some liberties that professional scholars might quibble with, but I don't care.  This series is on par with Francine Rivers' amazing Mark of the Lion series; although I would say A.D. Chronicles is lighter on historical detail, so perhaps an easier read.

"Most of the darkness in this world is due to truth being out of favor.  And folks being scared to death to stand up, hold up The Light, and speak the truth about the Lord for fear they'll be out of favor too. . .The Light shines again when someone brave - it only takes one - stands up and says, 'Here it is!  Here's the truth!'"
"And what's this body? A jug of plain clay that holds the Light of my soul."
(Zadok, Chief Shepherd)

Seasons of a Mother's Heart, Sally Clarkson

This book is a bonus, since I actually read it (for the second time) in March.  Like Desperate (which Sally co-authored), this book is balm and fresh energy for a mother's weary heart, and one I have underlined almost to pieces.  Seasons contains so much practical wisdom from a successful homeschooling mother of 4 grown children, and is applicable to all mothers - homeschooling or not.  I highly recommend it.

I loaned this book out, so I'm going to cheat and use a quote I love from Desperate instead, but it is true to the spirit of Seasons of a Mother's Heart.

"I have learned over the years that depression and bone-tired weariness are part of the battle. . .One of the marks of a godly qoman is that she takes responsibility for her soul's need for joy and delight. . .I am responsible to do what I need to do to last on this long road of motherhood."

So those are my book recommendations.  Have you read any must-read books lately?


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