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Tag Archives: Christianity

If you’re a following of my blog, you may remember prior to graduate school I was part of a book club at my church. We read quite a variety of books. Some were light “free-reading” books and others were more serious books. I decided to return to the book club this year. Last month’s book was a nice light book. This month, we tackled a more serious book. Here is my review of this month’s selection.


The IMAM’s Daughter: My Desperate Flight to Freedom by Hannah Shah

Shah tells her story of growing-up the daughter of a Muslim’s religious leader’s daughter. She tells her story of enduring her father’s physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She addresses the issues associated with the closeness of Muslim community. She decides to run-away at age 16 once she realizes she is being sent away to marry one of her cousins in Pakistan. After running away, Hannah converts to Christianity which forces her to live a life running away from her family who wishes to execute an “honor” killing.

Hannah’s story of her life is heartbreaking. Because of the closeness of the Muslim community, her tragic abuse which started at age 5, was never addressed by anyone. Its hard to believe that this occurs in today’s society. Its hard to believe its widespread. The abuse made parts of this book very difficult to read. However, Shah explains that many Muslim woman experience the arranged marriages and physical abuse. It breaks my heart knowing there are woman and children enduring this.

This book provides a firsthand telling of growing up Muslim in England. It sheds some light in how the family interacts with the non-Muslim world. I know its only 1 family and 1 person’s view, but it does provide some insight. It was eye-opening to realize that her family (especially her father) was polite to non-Muslims to their face but behind closed doors the hate was over-powering. The book provided insight on how Muslims learn about their religion. The memorizing of verses without any instruction on their meaning was the mainstay of her teaching. The dependence on those telling you what those passages mean is the mainstay of their teaching.

It also was surprising to read that abuse didn’t just happen at home. Shah’s Muslim instructors would beat her if she got an answer wrong. Her brother went to Pakistan to become a religious leader and was abused. Abuse was common place in Shah’s life.

The book does tell the story of her finding love, peace and Christianity. She was able to leave her family and abusive past. She found Christianity and converted. She found Hope and found a way to help other Muslims. This is a story of escaping a tragic past and finding hope. Despite the dark parts of the book, it ends uplifting and positive.

It is an easy read. I was able to finish it in just a few hours of dedicated reading time.  At times, I felt the book bounced around a bit. It is written conversationally. This is a style I like, but it also tends to allow for some bouncing around in the story.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Muslim to Christian conversion. I would caution that child abuse is discussed openly in this book. I would not recommend this for children or anyone under the age of 18 due to the topics discussed.

I would give this book a 4 out 5 bookends.


I’m taking a break from certification studying to review a couple of books. I graduated from Nurse Practitioner school two weeks ago. Since graduating, I’ve traveled every week and was able to get some reading done. Yaay! I also took some time off studying since one of the trips was to attend an intensive review for certification. I figured no reason focusing all my time studying until after that class. So, now, here I am studying since about 9 am this morning (its now almost 3PM) and I’m going get started on this review before leaving in to pick the kids up from school.


The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Miller tells the story of Hope and her father as they live out of a train car and ministering to a mining town. He is a preacher and she assists with the music and children’s ministries. Miller also tells the story of a coal miner, Luke, and the mine owner’s son, Kirby. Hope and her father settle into life in Finch, West Virginia. Hope uses many opportunities to spread God’s word throughout the West Virginia countryside. Her trusting disposition has her trusting Kirby despite Luke’s cautions.

This story is a great Christian read. It was an easy and quick read. I think it took me only a little over a day to read. I felt several of the characters were fleshed out well. The character Kirby was nicely done. I felt I had him pegged pretty quickly and my opinion didn’t change much. Hope was the typical preacher’s daughter in the sense she was kind, naive and loved children. Luke seemed to have swaying emotions and also seemed pretty realistic. I’ll address him below.  I enjoyed reading about life on a rail car and life during prohibition. I also quite enjoyed reading about the inner conflict Luke had regarding his thoughts and anger toward the mining company and Kirby. These feelings are ones many Christians deal with daily and I like when authors address them in their writing. Finally, I really love the history the author adds into her books. In this case the chapel car, mining history, and prohibition.

Downfalls to the book, the first is a bit into the characters. I feel like it would’ve been nice to learn more about the preacher. He played a pivotal role in the story, yet there was little fleshing out of his character. Luke’s sister plays a relatively large role in the frustrating ending, but very little fleshing out occurred with her as well. I think adding just a bit to those characters could’ve really added to the story. This, however, didn’t ruin the story for me. Its just worth noting there more depth could’ve been added to the story.

A second down fall is the ending. I was a bit frustrated with the ending. The conflict was picking-up nicely and I was envisioning a BIG ending. And then, it was wrapped up nicely with a little bow and then the ending romance drug out for another couple of chapters. It wasn’t bad, but such a big change in where the story was going and how the characters were acting. It was a bit of a distraction and I would’ve appreciated a more direct route to happily ever after.

Over all, this was a good read! It was quick and enjoyable. It had Christian components in the story with the Christian premise. Very little scripture was quoted through out the story, but it had very obvious Christian themes.

I would recommend this story to any adult or young adult who enjoys historical novels, Christian reading, or just looking for a quick and light read.

I would give this book a 4 out of 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

All my life I’ve had stains on my teeth. These stains were the point of many cruel comments both when I was a teenager and as an adult. Even though many people were curious or trying to be kind by suggesting ways to fix my teeth, it still hurt. I’ve had doctors examine my teeth like I was an animal up for auction. Sadly I’m not exaggerating. I’ve learn to be self-conscious of the stains.

I’ve always assumed the stains were the first and only thing people saw. I was careful to not show my teeth in pictures. I dreaded meeting new people. Every job interview had the normal nervousness but also had the an extra nervousness. I worried that people judged me when they saw my teeth. I assumed people thought I was uneducated. I was certain people judged me my by teeth.

I’d been thinking about stain removal for several years. I’d looked into so many options. I finally found one that would help the stains and maintain the tooth structure which was very important to me. I struggled emotionally with this decision. I wondered what I would be telling my kids if I did the procedure. Would it seem like I was being vain? And, two months ago, I had the procedure done. I was so excited with my results. I was certain everyone I knew would notice.

Now, two months out, no one’s commented. I’ll admit,  I was disappointed. This had been such a big decision for me. I spent years and many hours debating the pros and cons to stain removal. I realized tonight there was two possible reasons for this 1) I have really polite friends or 2) people really didn’t care as much as I cared about the stains. Don’t get me wrong, I do have wonderful and polite friends. However, I honestly believe, I cared about my stains more than anyone else.

I believe I was more self-conscious about my stains then anyone cared about it. Getting my stains removed was the right thing for me. I’m more confident and feel better about my smile with the stains gone. I wish someone told me or I realized before for my own emotional security  I was more obsessed about it than others. I don’t think knowing would’ve changed my mind about getting the treatment, but it would have helped me emotionally all those years.

I’m telling you, whatever your self-conscious about, people are not noticing nearly as often as you think. There may be people who notice and comment. But honestly, no one cares as much as you do. May that give you peace and may it help you to worry a little less about your imperfections. Please know you don’t have to fix the problem, you just need to accept that simple truth. It is hard, but its true. Embrace the insecurity and your self-consciousness. But remember, to not use the world as your definition of beauty or self-worth. Place your self-worth in the One who  placed the stars in the sky.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11


This book was one of our book club selections. Personally I was drawn to it because of its Iowa ties. I love reading about amazing things Iowans do! I learned so much from this book. I had not realized or given much thought to Japanese prison camps during WWII. Especially very little thought about the woman and children stuck in those camps.


Evidence Not Seen: A woman’s miraculous faith in the jungles of world war II by: Darlene Deibler Rose

Darlene was a newly wed young woman who arrived with her husband in the East Indies for her first mission trip. Her husband was a seasoned missionary and she was excited to join him. What happened the years that followed including her time in a Japanese prison camp will change her and her fellow captives forever.

This book was amazing! The book contains multiple examples of true miracles and God’s responding to prayers. Some of those direct answers were after years of eating rice and being at her lowest point, she prayed for bananas and received bananas. Another was a woman whose foot was severely infected with the tall tale signs of red streaking was healed. Her witnessing her faith to a mean and violent man who had a softened heart. And that’s just a few of the numerous examples.

This book not only provided an example of God’s power but it also helped me with increased knowledge of World War II. Personally I had very little knowledge of prison camps and, seriously, hadn’t realized woman and children were caught up in them. The book provides first hand knowledge to a war that many are now far enough removed they don’t have family members telling them about it.

The book is written in a lecture style.The language isn’t laid back enough for me to think of it as conversational. At first, it seemed bit cold and factual. However, as she continued to tell her story, the strength of her faith and emotional connection really came out. As I read more into the book, I became more connected to the story. I needed tissues in several chapters.

This book was a great read one that will  not only provide a brief history lesson but will also tug at your heart. I would recommend this to anyone interested in World War II, missionary work, faith, and miracles.

On a scale of 1-5 bookends, I give this one 4.5

Book club is back! I do enjoy my time  reading and discussing the books. We meet last month and read Left to Tell. That book is a great story of faith in the midst of crisis. It is a book that was hard to read in some parts and I had to take a break. It truly is an amazing story.IMG_20141029_205403y.


This review today is on Girl Meets God: A Memoir by Lauren F. Winner

This book tells the story of Lauren Winner and her conversion to Christianity from Judaism. She was born to a non-practicing Jewish father and a non-practicing southern Baptist mother. Lauren is a scholar with a book addiction. She found herself first as an Orthodox Jew and then moved into Christianity.

I was very excited to read this book. Unfortunately the book left me feeling confused and wanting more. The book bounces around in time. She mixed her Jewish and Christian time frames throughout the book. It made it confusing to know when she was referring or talking about. I found it hard to follow and frustrating.

I will say, I found discussing the book helped me appreciate it more and brought more meaning to the story.

I would recommend if you read the book, that you find someone to discuss the book with you.

I give this book a 2 out 5 bookends.

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall

9781601427113 (109×180)

When the Heart Cries tells the story of Hannah who has fallen in love outside of her old order Amish community. That act alone can cause rejection from her community. Unfortunately that is just the beginning of her heartache. Life is changing, crisis is coming. Her life is never going to be the same.

This book is wonderfully written. I’ve only read a couple of Amish books for fear that they’d be the same story wrapped-up a bit different. This book is not what I imagine as the traditional Amish novels. I enjoyed the writing style and the author’s talent with story telling. The book did a great job exploring the social issues with the Amish and the approach to medical care. This book is so much more than a tragic love story. It transports you into the Amish a way I’d not been yet.

This book is a Christian novel. However, the mention of gospel, Christianity themes are all indirect and presented solely in regards to the Amish order. That does make this book very light-handed and on a superficial note could seem less Christian. However, if you are new to Christian novels, this would be a good start or if you just like a good Amish book but don’t want to feel preached to, it’s a good book. When I read a Christian novel, I do prefer more direct Bible references.

I do think the book is excellent. I recommend it to any adult reader who has an interest in the Amish, Amish novels, or Christian themed books. Due to the themes, I would not recommend to immature readers.

This is the first book in a series and I’m hoping to read the future books.

I give this book a 4.5 out 5 Bookends.

If you’d like more information on this book check out this site. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review


Another book review for you! I’ll probably have a few more coming over the next couple of weeks as I’ve got a stack of books to read. I’m always content having a stack of books :), so don’t feel bad for me.


Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Tried and True tells the story of Kylie Wilde the youngest of the Wilde sisters. Kylie, unlike her sisters, is desperate to move back to civilization. Unfortunately, she must stay on her land for an additional two years before she’s able to sell it, possibly longer if her war exemption is revoked. Her and her sisters had enlisted in the civil war and had fought as men. Her sisters embrace acting and dressing as men. Kylie resents it and wears dresses and her hair long. Everything was going along well with her homestead until Aaron the local land agent discovers that Kylie is, in fact, a woman. Throw in a local rancher who wants Kylie’s land for grazing his cattle and you’ve got a wild west story complete with burning arrows and gunpowder!

This is the second book of Mary Connealy’s that I’ve read. This one was a nice quick read, I finished it in just a few day and if I didn’t have kids, I’d could’ve read it in a night. I really enjoyed this book. I do think the acting like men and serving in the Civil War may have been a stretch. I have no idea if that historically ever happened. The sisters are described as quite pretty, so I would imagine, even during war, someone would’ve have noticed. But none the less, this book was very good!

I found this book to be a new, fun way to look at the settlement of the West. This book is a Christian book as it does mention God and in several places there are conversations about God and forgiveness. However, it is not overdone, in fact, I feel there were other places the author could have added more Christian conversation. This would be a great book for someone wanted to try-out a Christian book for the first time.

I give this book a 4.5 out 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review.