Tag Archives: blogger

Edition: On the Reading Radar

Wednesday Reads WideMy Kindle wish list is quite large and gets bigger each week. Since I follow many authors and book clubs on various social media outlets, there’s a new book recommendation almost daily. I could seriously go bankrupt purchasing books. I wish I was a library fanatic but I have a hard time borrowing a book.  What started out as a educational pursuit of taking notes and highlighting books has become a personal hobby. Therefore, I must own the book so I can deface it to my heart’s delight.

No matter if I check it out or purchase it, here are a few books that are on my radar right now.  More than likely you will see a review of one or five in the next few weeks.  By the way, Mother’s Day is around the corner and if you need to buy a book for your mom (hint hint to my kiddos), any one of these gems will do.

51-siNDoBeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Reservations for Two: A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons by Hillary Manton Lodge.

I adored Hillary’s first novel (check out my review here).  This novel is a sequel, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up. 

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life? 

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries? (Taken from  HIllary Manton Lodge’s book page. Click here to visit her site.)


Dog_Crazy2. Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue

Since Harvey (our basset hound) joined the Hall family, I’ve become a little partial to books with dogs, about dogs, or told by dogs, such as Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain.  This one by Meg Donohue sounds like a winner to me. Check out the publisher’s overview below:

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.  (Visit Meg’s author page here.)


Savor_FinalCoverOptions_rev233. Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist

Shauna is one of my absolute FAVORITE writers.  In fact, I want to be her.  She is so great at sharing everyday life in a way the reveals an extraordinary God. Her new book is a devotional format (365 days worth) which is slightly different from her other books which are essay format.  I have loved all three of her other books: Bittersweet, Cold Tangerines, and Bread and Wine.

Check out an excerpt here. 


516TXpkm6+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Many bloggers and writers that I follow on social media have discussed the book. Every quote I’ve read from the book has challenged me or hailed a hearty “Amen!”  Living in Ecuador forced me to re-evaluate what is truly important in my daily life – and it is not the busyness of work, school, or even church.  I’ve got a feeling this book will only reinforce my ideas.  Check out this intro from the McKeown’s book page.

  • Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
  • Do you sometimes feel overworked and underutilized?
  • Do you feel motion sickness instead of momentum?
  • Does your day sometimes get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?
  • Have you ever said “yes” simply to please and then resented it?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

I’m sure that several of those questions resounded with my readers.  If so, this might be the book for you.  I can’t wait to glean from its wisdom.

If you dive into one of these books on the radar, let me know what you think.  Come back and leave a comment so reader’s can get more info. 

Happy Reading,






Playing the What-If Game

what-if-700-X-4501-300x195I’ve always hated “what if” questions. My husband, however, loves the “what if” game. What if I had a mullet, would you still love me? What if –insert movie star or famous musician name here — walked through those doors, what would you do? What if cows could talk?

Now why these seem fairly non-threatening questions with obvious answers, I’ve still never liked this game, simply because it seemed like a waste of time asking questions that we already know the answer to. (It also might be due to the fact that when you teach middle schoolers you spend most of your day fielding questions that have obvious answers.) Today, however, I want to pose a “what if” that isn’t so easy to answer.

What if God asked you to do something that you know would cause pain and fear, and possibly even be life-threatening? I don’t know about you, but that’s a question that has no easy answer. It’s the kind of question that pushes our faith to the limit, makes us question everything we know about God, the Bible, and our Christian life. Unfortunately, although the question has no easy answer, if it’s asked by God then it has an obvious one – “here I am, send me.”

I realize that Jesus was faced with this exact question and his response was appropriate yet hard fought in prayer. But sometimes my human mind thinks of course Jesus would say yes to whatever, He was God after all. But in Acts 21, Paul is faced with this same type of question.

After several days of visiting, a prophet from Judea by the name of Agabus came down to see us. He went right up to Paul, took Paul’s belt, and in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet. He said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: The Jews in Jerusalem are going to tie up the man who owns this belt just like this and hand him over to godless unbelievers.”

Paul had a trip planned the Jerusalem, but now was faced with the idea that when he got there it would go completely awry. Don’t know about you but I think I’d be planning a trip somewhere else or maybe it would be a great time for a stay-cation. Even Paul’s friends suggested he “not be stubborn and persist in going” (verse 12). Paul’s response was just as it should be and one that we must learn to make ourselves.

Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You’re looking at this backwards. This issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether the arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?

Paul did go to Jerusalem. He was imprisoned for 2 years for something he did not do. Then he traveled on ship for a trial. The ship was wrecked. He went without food for two weeks. Then got bit by a snake. Sounds like the prophet had been right in his prediction of what would happen if Paul went to Jerusalem.

But Paul was also right in his response as well. Throughout all the pain and fear, hundreds of people, both prisoners and authorities, heard Paul’s testimony and the news that Jesus died for their sins. Not only that but after the shipwreck, when they reached the island of Malta, many people were healed. Paul kept right on speaking of his innocence and preaching the gospel to anyone who would hear.

What if that were me? (Back to the dreaded question) What if you were warned that the road ahead of you would be fraught with problems, pain, and life-threatening situations, would you still choose to walk the road? What if your pain and problems allowed others to come to know Christ, would you keep walking that road?  Oh, right now, I believe all of us would speak a resounding and very spiritual YES! But honestly, I’m not sure we would go willingly and our yes would be more of a whisper and a prayer of please God don’t make me do this.

Immediately, I can think of a road that God asked me to walk. I will say I didn’t get any warning that it was coming — in fact, I was blindsided by it. However, looking back I can honestly say that the road brought me exactly where I needed to be, but more than that I brought me to a place of joy.

I have shared this life-altering painful road experience with my friends as well. Several asked me to walk their road with them. I did, but what I’m always so astounded by is that as we look back, we  cannot believe the good that came out of the ugliest of situations. The marriage rocked by infidelity, drug abuse, and emotional wrenching. The forced career change accompanied by the forced income decrease. The sickness that threatens life and the future of a family. Some of these travelers had warnings, but others found themselves on their road unexpectedly.

While we can ponder for quite a while the “what if” of walking a difficult road, I think there’s a better question. What if we didn’t walk that road? Where would our lives be right now? How would our relationship with Christ be: stale, vibrant, indifferent? I don’t know about you, but those are the roads I don’t want to avoid, for those are the ones that brought me closer to Christ and enabled me to discover who I am a little bit more each time. So maybe as it relates to my spiritual life, the “what if” game isn’t one I mind playing at all. At least it gives me a chance to tell about what God has done in my life and that’s never wasted time.

What if you left a comment and told us how you felt about the what ifs in your life?
(Sorry I couldn’t resist.)