Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review: Shadow in Serenity by Terri Blackstock

Shadow in SerenityShadow in Serenity by Terri Blackstock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Carny Sullivan has seen plenty of cons, having been raised by parents who were carnival people and taught her all the tricks. When Logan Brisco blows into her small, close-knit town she knows his promises to the locals of making money in his investment opportunity are nothing but a scam. Carny does everything she can to convince her town that he's a con and refuses to tear down her personal walls of defense. But just when she believes she's got Brisco all figured out, he surprises her.

The book synopsis calls this a modern day "Music Man". It is that type of story, and I hadn't expected that when I planned to read it. I think I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first. Carny's constant nagging about Logan Brisco's con for the first half started getting on my nerves, but somewhere in the middle of the book I got over it.

I give the book 3 stars because it just didn't "wow" me. I was looking forward to suspense because it was Terri Blackstock, but the suspense just wasn't there. I would've enjoyed it more if it had been. Overall it's a fun read, and I found the background of the life of the con men and the "carnys" interesting.

*I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes from Shelton Interactive. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed here are my own. 

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Thursday, September 15, 2011


I'm uncertain as to how to sum up the last few months. I've basically written book reviews but nothing personal. The blog took a backseat to book reading, summer pursuits, and my physical problems.

I have been struggling since the first week of July with a motion feeling, akin to floating on a boat. It comes and goes, but it's mostly on all the time to one degree or another. Along with the floating sensation are constant headaches, which are an absolute puzzle to me. I have a headache all the time. Some of the time it's just a mild ache, and I hardly notice it's there. Other times it's a hard throbbing.

I've been getting adjustments at the chiropractor. I've seen my family doctor. Neither one knows exactly why I'm feeling this way. Oh, there are some medical test options I can choose from, but I don't love the options. I currently have an appointment with a specialist, but it's a month out and I'm not sure that it's the right direction for me. So I wait.

It's always been near impossible for me to proclaim God is good when I'm suffering. I believe in the sovereignty of God, but when it came down to saying those words while I'm grappling with feeling horrible and wanting my circumstance to change, I stop short of saying it.

I know the Lord is working something in me, though. He's changing me. He knows my great need to learn how to trust Him, to surrender to whatever He gives me. In my daily prayers I've been giving this physical problem over to Him, asking Him to help me be surrendered to His will. If I believe God's will is always for my good and His glory, then I should be able to say that having headaches and a floating-on-a-boat feeling is good for me. I don't want to bring shame to His name by responding with despair.

I've recently learned the song written by Laura Story called Blessings. It's currently my favorite song because it speaks of asking God to remove suffering or making circumstances better, but we don't realize that the hard things God brings are really His mercies toward us. Sometimes when I'm awake at 3:30 AM because my head is spinning, I will turn on this song and sing softly. And it's in those moments I know that God is changing me because I'm drawing nearer to Him.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Book Review: Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last.Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last. by Joshua Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading the testimony of Joshua Harris as he talked about his teenage years in a mega church youth group and his lack of being grounded in correct doctrine. The premise of his book is to help the reader understand that we need doctrine, and we need right doctrine in order to live in a way that's pleasing to God. If our doctrine is wrong, we'll live wrong.

Harris writes about some of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, but he does it in a simple way so the average reader can grasp it. He doesn't use big words, and if he does, he explains what they mean. He covers the doctrines of salvation, sanctification, scripture and more. My favorite chapters were on the doctrine of Jesus and the doctrine of the church.

When I requested the book for review I was anticipating it would be a very good resource for the teens at my church. I would recommend it for older teens, but there is one chapter that hits briefly on a subject that's of a sensitive nature, and I would recommend a parent read the book first to determine if it's appropriate for their teen.

I have already recommended the book to friends because it's excellent. I think if you read it with other people, it would generate some good discussion. It would especially help someone who is a new Christian or someone who needs to have a better understanding of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. It does include an in-depth study guide at the back of the book for small groups.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed here are my own.