Book Review: Reading People by Anne Bogel

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I received a copy of Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel from Baker Books in exchange for a review.

I love this book and , even more, I love that this book has led me to Anne and the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. Reading People appeals to my interest in understanding personality and people on a deeper level. While it covers a lot of information I have already read (I’ve read numerous books about the Myers-Briggs personality typing), it gives a wonderful overview of various approaches. I recommend it as a place to start and as a resource for books to continue research. I agree with Anne that understanding these can help you understand yourself better and therefore know your strengths and tendencies and how to cater to those as you structure your life for success. Anne makes this information accessible and interesting for anyone, an accomplished feat considering the complexity of the subject. Her voice welcomes readers into this informative world in an enlightening way that truly highlights the wonderful aspects of understanding personalities and ourselves. I love how she does this.

Again, I love this book. From here, I plan to continue reading more in-depth books on each approach as I make my way through her resource list to add to my current collection of similar books. I recommend it as a refresher and as a place to start whether you want to explore all the approaches or just certain ones.

 

As a side note, this book led me to Anne’s Modern Mrs. Darcy website, What Should I Read Next podcast and Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. My book arrived the day I moved from Houston, Texas to Bowling Green, Kentucky. I read the author bio on the back and noticed she lived in Kentucky too. Then I saw the pages in the back that led to her websites. I ended up joining the book club and meeting some wonderful people and books as I got settled in my new city. Last night I even had the pleasure of meeting Anne and some of the book club members in the Nashville area, and we had great bookish conversation and a book swap. In short, I recommend checking out Anne’s resources and recommendations. She has a gifted eye for those.

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Two Movies and a Book: Fairy Tale Love

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This weekend marks the middle of prime wedding season. All sorts of friends, families and acquaintances will gather and mingle to honor love. As greetings and vows get exchanged, expectations of all involved parties mount. Everyone wants the fairy tale love, or they at least want to witness it. If you don’t have a wedding to attend this week, you can soak in the weirdness of love throughout history by dappling in stories and characters from Arabian Nights, Shrek 2 and Enchanted. 

Arabian Nights has an overarching story of a newlywed bride telling a series of intertwined vignettes to her king husband to ensure she survives another day since the wives before her lasted one day before he executed them due to his mistrust of women. Her tales involve travelers, jinn and other creatures and men of various occupancies. Throughout them all, the characters expect something from the others and retaliate when disappointed. Read some or all to see how the queen keeps herself and the other women in the kingdom alive through story.

When you need a break from the long Arabian Nights, you can enjoy a lighter side of ancient fairy tale creatures by watching Shrek 2. The second installment of the series picks up after Shrek and Princess Fiona’s honeymoon and follows them to Far Far Away, where meet Fiona’s king and queen parents. Their expectations of what they dreamed for their daughter clash with reality, and they all struggle to accept the new family dynamics. Though an animated family movie, it reminds those joining families this wedding season of the true difficulty, and oftentimes tension, of interacting with in-laws and extended family. Of course in this story we get the added comedy brought from classic characters from Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

To add to the fairy tale dream, watch Enchanted as your next movie feature. This live action film follows a storybook princess as she finds herself in New York City. Clearly, her expectations of love vary a bit from most of the people she meets in NYC, including the man who helps her survive the big city. The fairy tale world and real world clash to show the contrast and balance between dreams, expectations, hope, reality. Since it’s a Disney film and pays homage to its classic predecessors, you can rest assured they all find happy endings.

As we continue through prime wedding season, we can renew our hope in fairy tale love and also balance it out with reality. Summer time works great for a light story, and we all enjoy a happy ending sometimes. When we want to give ourselves a reality check we can revisit the roots of these fairy tale stories and be thankful the tensions with in-laws in our world typically don’t result in people getting changed into animals or run ins with jinn. Here’s to a weekend of real life happily ever afters.

Book Review: Living the Spirit-Formed Life

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I received a copy of Living the Spirit-Formed Life: Growing in the 10 Principles of Spirit-Filled Discipleship by Jack Hayford from Baker Publishing in exchange for a review.

Jack Hayford’s book offers a practical and sound way to approach habits to lead a spirit-filled life. Each chapter focuses on a specific discipline, outlining ways to follow it and providing evidence of its importance. I find it flows well and contains easily accessible information. Almost anyone can benefit from this as a way to tweak their habits or to develop new ones. Personally, I find a confidence boost in the reminder that some of my habits do serve a greater purpose and truly keep me closer to God and His way of life. Then I get encouragement to add greater depth to my disciplines, including adding more to continue on the proper path.

Overall, this book provides important insight and advice that we all need. It reminds me of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline except maybe a little more accessible. This can serve as a starting point for younger Christians or as a refresher and enhancer to all Christians.

Two Movies and a Book: High School Dreamers

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Ten years ago, I graduated high school. While I may not have a reunion to attend, I can spend a weekend basking in world of young adults. The movies She’s the Man and Hairspray as well as Sarah Dessen’s book The Truth About Forever came out during my high school years. The characters in these stories grapple with the cost of pursuing their dreams and the tensions that arise within themselves and from those around them as they take aim. Spend the weekend in the high school realm with Amanda Bynes on your screen and young ladies of various backgrounds reminding you to hold onto your dreams.

In She’s the Man Amanda Bynes’ character Viola follows the plotline of the Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night as she poses as her brother so she can play soccer. Laughs follow as she attempts the mannerisms of an adolescent boy and hones in skills. Though her mother wishes Viola to shine as a debutant, Viola proves she can wear a dress as well as a soccer jersey.

Hairspray, which stars Amanda Bynes in the best friend role, demonstrates not only the tensions that arise from pursuing a dream but also racial tensions as Tracy Turnblad auditions for a dance show and supports integration. Singing and dancing abound as people start to notice the talent surrounding them. In the face of rejection for her weight and her views, Tracy holds onto her desire to dance and to develop her friendships.

Sarah Dessen’s novel The Truth about Forever deals with loss and the discovery of new and old dreams as Macy recovers from her father’s death. She and her mother don’t discuss their situation, and at a new summer job Macy makes new friends who help her sort through her pain. Though her mom resists the friends at first, Macy evaluates her life and how she wants to progress. Rather than box herself in with rules, she starts to consider goals again as she opens up with herself, her mom and her friends.

As young adults, high schools start to really take hold of their dreams. Even as an adult ten years out of high school, I struggle to keep those dreams close and pursue them despite tension that may arise within myself or from those around me. As these characters show, our goals have a purpose that can benefit not only ourselves but those around us. We can join forces with friends and family to progress them and see positive results.

Book Review: The Proving

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I received a copy of The Proving by Beverly Lewis from Bethany House in exchange for a review.

I have enjoyed my second Beverly Lewis book. While the people may be plain and the storyline fairly simple, it carries a relatability to it. Amanda moves away from her family after a disappointment and lives among the Englishers but ends up moving back after her mother passes away and leaves the family Bed and Breakfast to her. Amanda goes back thinking she will fulfill her mother’s wishes to stay for a year then collect the money and return to her new life. However, she ends up finding out that the people she left behind may welcome her back.

It feels nice to imagine the setting of the Amish inn. I wish I could get away and spend a weekend there as well and meet Amanda and the other sweet characters from the story. Amanda’s internal struggle to forgive herself, forgive her twin sister and accept forgiveness from her sister holds a universal message of grace and the importance of family. It also shows that tensions exist in all kinds of all families but they can be overcome if the people involved demonstrate a willingness to show grace and communicate. As a young person, Amanda also grapples with choosing her path for her future as she decides where she wants to live, what career she wants to pursue and if she wants to have a marriage and family. These choices also remind readers that we all have decisions to make and paths to follow and that no one stands alone in moving forward. Amanda and her new friend who visits the inn show a lot of angles on progressing through life with hope.

I enjoy this book and Beverly Lewis. I recommend it as a fairly light read for a peaceful setting and hope for life’s common choices and struggles.

Book Review: The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin

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I received a copy of The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.

The Two of Us follows a modern, female centric story revolving around faith. While at times almost cliché, it does have a heart. Mia proves an admirable protagonist who struggles with finding direction in her life and trusting God to provide what she wants after she’s been burned a couple times. Yet, despite these troubles, she does hold to her faith as she honestly shares her disappointments, fears and doubts with God. She also stands on her faith and values even when doing so means losing a person or situation she wants. Specifically with sex outside marriage, this book shows multiple angles on how people struggle to uphold their value or who do fall but get back on track with grace. Mia and her sister Lucy show this balance in their lives; Mia starts off the story with a broken heart after her engagement breaks due to her standing her ground to maintain her virginity, and Mia’s younger sister Lucy starts out getting married because she got pregnant due to not waiting for marriage. Over the course of the story, the sisters support each other as each struggles to trust God for his provision and guidance as they choose careers and develop relationships.

I enjoyed this story that somehow felt lighthearted even though it held some weight in its content. I appreciated the characters and their authenticity in not only their struggles but their trust and hope to overcome them with faith and trust. The situations were realistic and relatable, making it easy to apply the sisters’ lessons to my own life, whether relating to choosing my next steps for career like Mia or trusting God to guide me in another area of my life. I liked that Bylin wrote imperfect characters who stood rooted in their faith, authentically shared their doubts and who gracefully failed yet continued on their paths.

Book Review: The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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I received a copy of The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher from Revell in exchange for a review.

The Return, Suzanne Woods Fisher’s third installment in her Amish Beginnings series, gives readers a glimpse into prerevolutionary life in Pennsylvania through a story inspired by true events. The female leads Betsy Zook and Tessa Bauer give a real sense of the tough situations of the time and a timeless rawness for difficult circumstances. They face loss of family, fear for their lives, relationship choices and more. As they endure their hardships, they become stronger women.

I enjoyed this story and its history. I learned a lot about the time period and people represented in this book and appreciated the new knowledge. Some of the relationship strains between groups of people resembled ones we see now, which gave the story an added layer for lessons learned from history.

Book Review: These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart

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I received a copy of These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart from Revell in exchange for a review.

This book with its Kentucky mountain fall picture on its cover arrived when I moved to Kentucky last autumn. Though the setting was more mountainous and backwoods than Bowling Green and further back in time, it provided a place and mood match. The story followed a city nurse midwife named Francine Howard as she finished her training to “catch babies” and Ben Locke, a man who returned from war unsure of what to do next.

Gabhart brought me into this mountain world and taught me about the midwife profession as well as the mountain lifestyle. The characters all held likable qualities, and I could relate to Francine’s internal struggle to determine where she belonged and where she wanted to live in the future. Francine also held admirable qualities to strive to do her best to complete the training as prescribed as well as to fully understand her patients. Overall, she showed strength in many ways as she handled birthing situations, a breakup with her fiancé and a new living and working environment. She held true to her values as she sought her direction for her next steps.

I enjoyed this book and also had the opportunity to meet Ann H. Gabhart at SOKY Book Fest this past weekend. She chatted with me for a while was really sweet. She signed my book, and I got one of her cozy mysteries to read next.

Book Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

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I received an Advance Readers’ Edition of The Breakdown by B.A. Paris through a Goodreads giveaway.

Though I don’t read a lot in the mystery/thriller genre, I have found myself more curious about this writer and the whole genre since reading the book. It starts off a little slow despite the opening death and mystery surrounding it, and it takes a while to develop that the central mystery does not solely revolve around Cass feeling guilty and paranoid about keeping what she saw a secret. Once her paranoia over the killer stalking and taunting her, a lot more details come into play. The setting and details take on a realistic vibe that pulls you into the mystery as though you were there too. I can picture Cass’s house and the restaurants and shops where she meets her friends.

Another aspect I appreciate about this book relates to its cleanness in details. It seems like a lot of stories in this genre include a lot of graphic sexual and violent scenes and details. While this book clearly has some of those aspects, considering it does revolve around the mystery of a murder, it doesn’t handle those details in a gratuitous or graphic way. The real details and the real thrills in the story come from the paranoia and taunting as it unfolds.

Overall I have enjoyed this book as a story outside my normal genres. I find myself appreciating mysteries a little more now.

 

Book Review: The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

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I received a copy of The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.

I enjoyed this story, especially for its London 1879 setting. It followed the intersecting lives of Rosalyn Bernay and Nate Moran as they worked at a theater company. They both sought to overcome struggled of their recent past, which they both hid from the other at the outset. Rosalyn hurriedly left her previous employer amid a scandal, and she wished to clear her name and prove her innocence; Nate grappled with the heartbreak of a broken engagement and the injury sustained in battle when he received the breakup letter. They both had to overcome their pride and worry of others’ perceptions while they sought to improve their economic status and stability. This they ended up doing together as Rosalyn rented a room from the Bernay family and they worked at the same theater.

The London setting, the class struggle and the theater details made for a fun atmosphere. The story itself fit into it like a classic from that time period. The characters also showed depth and relatability in their struggles. Most importantly, they had to stand their ground on their values and seek peace through forgiveness of themselves and others. Rosalyn showed a deep understanding and empathy of others as she encountered a variety of people with different backgrounds and intentions. Though Nate thought she might make easy prey for men with ill intentions, Rosalyn contemplated what people might think or want when they interacted with her. Instead of harboring bitterness when someone hurt her, she sought to understand their background and to let go of the situation so she could move forward. In contrast, Nate struggled with this, especially when it came to forgiving his fiancé for breaking the engagement and with forgiving himself for unintentionally putting a comrade in his regimen in danger. Throughout the story, these characters showed the effects of holding grudges and the peace that came with forgiveness.

Overall, this book offered a neat story with some more encouragement that took place in a familiar London class and setting in the town and theater. It demonstrated the power of forgiveness and the power of persistence. The characters stuck to their values and encountered good outcomes. After finishing the book, I felt like I too could move forward in my goals.