Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Tag Archives: literature

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 am very excited to have finished the last book in the Amish of Summer Grove series. It is a well-written fantastic story. To be honest, I want to get to my review quickly, so I won’t delay!


Gathering the threads by Cindy Woodsmall

This is the third and final book of the series. Ariana has returned to the Old Order Amish that she grew-up and loving. She finds herself feeling confused and uncertain of where she belongs. Skylar is also found struggling a bit figuring out how she fits in with the Brenneman family.

This book ties the entire series together and pulls everything into a wonderful ending. Woodsmall’s characters continue to grow. I grew to love all of them. I loved where they ended and the path we took along the way.  The book is a coming age of sorts as both Skylar and Ariana must find thier path and define who they are.

This book is a Christian novel. There are multiple references to God. The story is so much more than a Christian Amish novel. It evaluates what it means to be a family and how to be true to yourself and honor God at the same time. There are many underlying Christian themes such as honesty, forgiveness, and love.

I honestly did not find anything negatives about this book. It was an absolute delite to read and a fitting conclusion to the series.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish or Christian novels. I also would recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories about family relationships. This book is an innocent story with no sexual contexts. There is the mention of past drug use and smoking. I would recommend this book to young adults.

On a scale of 1-5 book ends, I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

If you’d like to pre-order this book, click HERE. You can also pre-order it from Amazon.

What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share a link to one of your recent book review.

Wow, what a whirl-wind start to summer! We had vacation/APRN graduation which was followed by another quick trip for me and then one month of studying for my certification test. With much excitement this last week I passed my APRN certification test. So my time significantly opened up and I immediately started reading.

I started a book which I am going to review now. I don’t typically review prior to finishing a book. However, I am not planning to finish this book. I hardly ever start and NOT finish. I think there’s only a handful of books I’ve done this.


Still Here by Lara Vapnyar

Still Here tells the tale of Russian immigrants and their attempt to “make it” in America. One of the characters is trying to create an App which allows people to feel connected to dead loved ones through the preservation of online footprints. The four friends grew-up together in Russia and then moved to America for different reasons. Each trying to find their own American success story.

First, I want to say, I really wanted to like this book. I thought the idea was interesting and not something I’d read hundreds of times over. Unfortunately, the story fell flat and kind-of quickly at that. I don’t usually not finish a story, but I got to page 59 of the 310 pages and decided to not continue.

The writing style wasn’t bad at all. I believe the author has talent. And maybe that was part of my struggle with the book. It really made me feel sad and depressed reading the story. Vica and Sergey are married and seem incredibly unhappy. Vica especially seems depressed, angry and hugely jealous. These emotions are completely pouring out of the book and didn’t leave me feeling “good”.

The other downfall, I really hard time getting into this book. It has a very slow start and very slow build. I understand the author is building the back story, introducing us to the characters and (I think) trying to make things seem more realistic (no overnight success). Unfortunately, on my part, it seemed to slow. I just wasn’t being pulled into it and there was nothing keeping me up at night to see what happens next.

Overall, I’m not a fan of the book. However, those who I imagine would like this book would be the adult who is looking for an immigrant story and doesn’t need it to be fast paced. A book club may like to pick to up to read as a group, because I cold see how it could draw good conversation assuming they can make it through the book

I give this book a generous 2 of 5 book-ends for being well-written but boring.

I did receive this book free from the publishers through the blogging for books program for an honest review.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Are you reading a good book now? If so, share it below with a quick description.

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.

I was very lucky to be selected by Random House to prior to release review The Here and Now. This was my first time getting to read a book prior to its release. I must say, it’s awesome to have a first glimpse at a book! The only downfall is, I have no one to talk to about this amazing book!

With out further delay, I present to you:

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

This is the story of Prenna a girl from the future and her friend Ethan. The two work together in physics class and have as close of a relationship that’s allowed. Until one day, the two are thrown into quite the adventure to save the future. They have a chance to change the future, for life to be better without the heartache that filled Prenna’s life. Can two young teenagers save the future?

This is a wonderfully written young adult book. The author brings the characters to life and pulls the reader quickly into the world of The Here and Now. I truly enjoyed the information on the future and how it intertwined into the current time. The story was very well thought out and I loved how little details from the entire story are all pulled together at the end. It’s a quick read but has a lot of depth. It would be a great book for a book club or class to read and discuss. Ann Brashares is a talented writer and has given her readers a certain best seller.

I highly recommend this book to highschoolers, young adults, or anyone looking for a fun and enjoyable read.

I give it 5 out 5 bookends.

I received this book free from Random House publishing through

You can pre-order this book from Amazon here.


Book Review: True Honor by Dee Henderson

I mentioned several posts back that I joined a book club at my church. I really am liking it. It helps to force me to read. That may be a bit harsh since I love reading. What it more does is force me to make time for reading instead of watching TV or putting the dishes away or sleeping. The book choices are all Christian based novels. Its introduced me to new authors and I’m loving that!

Last month’s choice was True Honor by Dee Henderson. I really enjoyed it. Here is the review I wrote for Amazon.

This is the first book I’ve read from this author. It was well-written and a good read. I really enjoyed that the characters interactions seemed genuine especially when discussing their faith. I don’t typically read spy books or military based books because so often they seem very unrealistic. I feel this book did a good job representing that there isn’t always neat action-filled moments in the spy business. It demonstrated the paper trail and more boring parts of being a spy. That was nice. I do agree with some of the other reviewers it did seem to drag on in parts- especially towards the end. The romance exchange between Darcy and Sam were very Christian based, so if you’re looking for more spice, this wouldn’t be for you.

I really liked the author’s writing style and plan on reading another one of her novels.

This month we’re reading A Skeleton in God’s Closet by Paul Maier. I’m really looking forward to it. It sounds like it’s very similar to the DeVinci Code which I’ve not read but have watched and enjoyed the movie.

What have you been reading? Anything good?


The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury, read via the Kindle

My church started a book club and this is the first selection. I am very excited to join as I’ve been looking for a book club to join for quite some time. I’ll write more about my experience as the club gets going.

This story follows two main set of people. Molly and Ryan and Donna and Charlie. Donna and Charlie own a book store, the Bridge, where Molly and Ryan spent most afternoons while in college. Unfortunately a great flood has completely ruined the bookstore and Charlie and Donna are on the verge of losing everything. Molly and Ryan now living separate lives are brought back in the common goal of helping save the Bridge. This novel leaves you with the “It’s a Wonderful Life” feeling as everything gets tied-up nicely just in time for Christmas.

This book was a short book, probably bordering a novella versus a novel. This makes it an easy introduction to Christian novels. It’s nice for the beginner Christian novel reader since its not overwhelming with Bible verses and references. I personally felt it could’ve used more but its good to not have the reader feel “preached” at or overwhelmed. The characters are very connectable. I believe most people can connect to the “one that got away”. Its a very short, sweet novel which captures the Christmas season.

Unfortunately even the best novels have some downfalls. One for me was it could’ve been longer. I felt like I was just connecting with the characters and then it abruptly got tied up in a neat little bow and was over. I did miss how she in the other book read had one verse that was the focus of the book. I wish she would have done something like that in this book. I also felt this was slightly overpriced for the length of the book. I called one of the local Christian stores which was selling the hard cover for 19.99. I bought it from the Kindle for 7.99. Its short enough that this busy mom of 2 small children read it in 3 short settings…maybe a total of 4 hours. In fact approximately the last 15% of my Kindle addition is acknowledgements and group discussion questions.

I do think this one is worth a quick read, especially if you’re wanting to try out Christian novels. Its short and sweet and leaves you believing in love and miracles.

Rating out of 5 Bookends: 4.5 only docked down due to the almost too neat ending and was a bit overpriced