Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Reading Review

I've read several books in the last six months that I feel a little indifferent about. Not passionate enough to write a full-length review, but still have a few thoughts on each. Here's my spring reading review.

The Treasure Box by Penelope J. Stokes
Grumpy introvert, Vita Kirk, discovers a unique box in an antique store and takes it home to find it has the capabilities to give Vita a look into another dimension. It's the perfect time-travel story for the ultimate introvert. She didn't even have to leave home!

I like the idea of this story...but wasn't totally blown away by the story telling. While I understood it was fantasy, I still wished for a better resolution that made sense. I never figured out how she came to have the adventure and heart turn-around that she did---and the author explained it all away with a simple, "Vita didn't know how this all happened...but that's ok 'cause everything's better now" sort of conclusion.

The Treasure Box fulfills the following Reading Challenges:
Full House Reading Challenge for "Would Make a Good Movie"
Women's Fiction Reading Challenge---Book 2

The Little Book for Girls by M.L. Stratton
This is a sweet little book my mom sent me for my birthday. It's filled with fairy tales, recipes, and ideas for fun with girls. I got a lot of great ideas from this one that I plan to implement with my daughters this spring and summer. I also learned some things too... I found it really interesting how much the original story of Snow White parallels the story of The Three Bears. Also, I was inspired to cut paper dolls with my girls---just like my mom and grandmas used to do with me.

The Little Book for Girls fulfills the following Reading Challenges:
Full House Reading Challenge for "Dominant Color on Cover"
Mount TBR Reading Challenge -- #6

The Relaxed Home School by Mary Pride
There wasn't a lot of new information here---just some good encouragement to keep moving on. She and I have a lot of the same philosophies so it was mostly like having a conversation with myself. Ha!

The Relaxed Home School fulfills the following Reading Challenges:
Full House Reading Challenge for "You'd Like to Change the Cover" (though I would like to add that her child designed the cover and it has special meaning to their family---so there's a lot of value in that!)

Encouraging Words for a Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
A sweet little book full of encouragement and kindness. Makes me want to be better. Short book with pretty watercolor illustrations.

Encouraging Words.... fulfills the following Reading Challenges:
Full House Reading Challenge for "Family Relationship Word in Title"

Two others I read this month were The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer (Full House challenge for "been on TBR forever) and A Wife's Purpose by Cindy Schaap (Full House challenge for "out of comfort zone". This woman's husband was recently sentenced to prison so it was hard to read something she wrote years earlier about keeping a husband happy). Both had several encouraging parts---but also a few things that made me wince.

Whew! Ok, now that I'm caught up, I'll return to my full-length reviews. Hoping life slows down a little!

Courageous Gentleness by Mary Ann Froehlich

Wow! I've got a big stack o' books here to review. Guess I've been too busy reading to write! The last six weeks or so have definitely been a growing time for me and I've read several books that have inspired me toward better character and better choices. It's been good!

After finishing Stepping Heavenward in February, I went hunting for some more encouraging books like it. I've not yet found anything exactly like it---but did manage to snag a big stack of inspirational titles at a local thrift shop. I purchased this at Helping Hands in Bentonville, Arkansas. It's one of those books that you have to be ready to read---otherwise it can get kind of dull and preachy. I didn't realize it---but I was definitely ready to read it. Courageous Gentleness has changed my life.

As a kid, I was pretty shy around most people but pretty creative and outgoing around close friends and family. Moving into my adult years, I hit a point at about 30 years old, when I stopped trying to be a people-pleaser, stopped caring so much about what others thought of me, and started discovering who I wanted to be. For the most part, it's been a good experience the last six years. However, there are times when the snarky mean girl comes out and my wittiness is often "shown off" at others' expense. I don't want to be that sarcastic, loud-mouthed witty girl---but I didn't think I could ever be the soft-spoken, listening-more-than-talking sort of person who is content to be still and quiet and keep to herself. I needed balance and this book helped provide that.

This is the crux of the whole deal---a quote from page 13:

"Gentleness is a conscious decision to temper one's knowledge, skills, authority, or power with kindness and compassion. Gentleness does not refer to what we do but how we do it. Gentleness does not refer to what we know but how we share that knowledge."

Several truths really hit home for me. For instance, the idea of having a humble and gentle spirit often makes girls like me feel weak, wimpy, passive. She says, "Scripture teaches us that those qualities are the most powerful, transformative way to mirror Jesus Christ to a hurting world." That's huge...and more mature than my old way. Ha!

I like that she pointed out that we should be developing the fruits of the spirit in increasing quantities throughout our lives because claiming knowledge of Jesus with no fruit makes us ineffective, blind, and unproductive. Gentleness is a fruit of the spirit that leads to kindness and self-control. We must make ourselves holy and keep ourselves holy through constant effort and paying attention to how we treat others.

This was the second book in a row to quote Thomas a' Kempis multiple times. Coupled with my discovery of an antique copy of The Imitation of Christ at the same time I discovered this book, I think he will be moving to my short list very soon.

I'm so glad I came across this little book and will be saving it in my permanent collection to read again later.

Courageous Gentleness fulfills the following Reading Challenges:
Full House Reading Challenge for "Self Challenge"

You can see all the Reading Challenges I've joined here.