Friday, February 19, 2016

The Sorcery Code - Review

I recently finished reading The Sorcery Code, by Dima Zales. This doesn’t really fit into my reading challenge list, but I was given the opportunity to review it so I thought I’d give it a shot.

This is a fantasy book about the land of Koldun where those who can practice magic are the upper crust of society and (almost) everyone else is basically a serf beneath them. The protagonist, Blaise, is a sorcerer who would like to change the status quo and see everyone with the ability to do magic. He tries to create an object that will do just that, however, his creation doesn’t turn out as planned, it’s a woman. Gala is born in the Spell Realm and finds everything in the Physical Realm fascinating. She manages to get herself into a lot of trouble as she wanders around, discovering her new world and her seemingly infinite new powers. In the meantime, Blaise works hard to try to keep Gala a secret from the Sorcerer Council, his ex-fiancĂ©e Augusta and her new love-interest Barson, a member of the Sorcerer Guard.

This book had many aspects of a typical fantasy novel with the presence of magic, but the way the magic is wielded is new. It’s only available to the mathematically minded and is sorcerers use spell cards and an Interpreter Stone to connect to the Spell Realm. While I thought the plot was pretty good, I unfortunately didn’t enjoy the characters very much. They weren’t given much depth and Gala was downright annoying. I get that she is literally a few days old but jeez, use that supposedly big brain and make some smart decisions. The overall story was interesting, but it was a little slow paced. I found myself skipping over some parts, mostly because I just didn’t care about the characters enough.

This is a clean read, although much is implied. If the price is right (which the eBook is free right now) it would be worth it. And perhaps the second book digs into these characters more. I’m not sure I’m going to try to find out.

I received this product for free in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cold Shot Review (Dani Pettrey)

I’ve finished another book as a part of my 2016 reading challenge. It’s another fiction book titled Cold Shot and is by Dani Pettrey. I really enjoyed Dani’s Alaskan Courage series so I was interested to check this one out. This is my “book published in 2016” from the challenge.

The book follows Chief Ranger Griffin McCray of the Gettysburg National Military Park after recent remains are discovered in the park. As a former cop and sniper, Griffin reluctantly uses his skills as well as those of two old friends and forensic anthropologist Finley Scott to try to find the killer. Both Griffin and Finley have to work through debilitating issues from their pasts to work together before a member of the team makes it to the killer’s hit list.

This book is fast paced and enjoyable, but I didn’t like it at much as the Alaskan Courage series. I needed better descriptions of the characters, and I felt like I was missing parts of the story. Griffin and his two former friends have a lot of history and a couple of big reasons as to why they aren’t close anymore. This history is slowly revealed, but I wish these relationships had been fleshed out more. I liked Finley as a character. She was smart, and strong and slowly overcoming past trauma, but I wish she’d had more opportunity to shine. The story was interesting and full of the twists and turns that I had hoped for. I could have just used a bit more detail.

I would recommend this book if you like Christian suspense books. I will most definitely read the next book when it comes out. This one ends with some lingering questions (although the main story ties up neatly). And hey, there's a chance to win a signed copy of the book and other prizes here.

Coming up this month is another fiction book and a book by Beth Moore. Also, I’ll probably be doing some audio books since I bought this 3 month Audible subscription for my long drives to and from work. What are you reading now?

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to review. All opinions, however, are my own.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Life in the Ministry

As part of the reading challenge I’m doing this year I just recently finished 10 Things Every Minister’s Wife Needs to Know (which I’m counting as my “book about Christian living”). But to be honest, I sometimes have a hard time seeing myself as a “minister’s wife.” I technically am one since Lee is the campus minister at the BCM here in Fort Smith. Maybe it’s because he’s not at a church (although strangely enough that doesn’t make me see him as not a minister, just me as not a minister’s wife). Maybe it’s because I don’t fit the stereotypical minister’s wife mold (but that’s silly because is there really such a thing). Whatever the reason, I thought that since I’d had this book on my Amazon wishlist for almost 6 years, regardless of if I felt like one or not, it was time to find out exactly what it is I should know.

This book was written by Jeana Floyd, which as many of you know, is the wife of Ronnie Floyd, a pastor in Northwest Arkansas and the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I figured she knew a thing or two about being a minister’s wife. Overall I liked the book and thought it gave some good advice. I also felt very convicted a time or two and Lee will hopefully see the fruits of that over the coming months. However, there were a few times that I didn’t really connect with what she said for two reasons. They’re the ones mentioned above.

First of all, Lee isn’t a minister at a church. I don’t have to deal with expectations and judgment (real or perceived) from church ministers or other minister’s wives. All-in-all, college students are a relatively judgment free bunch. As my fellow BCM wife friend Caroline has said before, they don’t really care if there’s toys all over the house and you’re in sweatpants and a ponytail. You can be very real with college students, and in fact, you have to be in order to be effective. And BCM ministry is somewhat isolated, especially at a smaller school like ours. There’s no other staff wives, for better or worse. Some of what Jeana said, however, is very applicable to me as a minister’s wife, and a lot of it is applicable to any wife. Some of the things I learned are:

  • If you’re being criticized, always pray to discern if it might actually be justified
  •   In order for ministry marriages (or all marriages) to work, wives need to love their husband, both as a deliberate choice and as a “I can’t help myself” kind of love
  • Pray that I “never get over the ‘awe’ of God’s call on [Lee’s] life, His work in my life, and His work in our church” or BCM

Another reason I didn’t really connect with everything the book said is because at the moment, I’m not a stay-at-home mom. While I do desire our home to be a place for Lee to come to after work and relax, three days a week I get home later than he does. We are blessed with the fact that sometimes Lee can be flexible in his schedule. This is wonderful because it allows us times to spend together and for him to spend with the kids. We’ve always worked to find a shared responsibility of household duties which we just have to continue to readjust as our situation changes. I don’t know that I’ll always work outside the home, but I trust God to lead Lee and our family as we continually re-evaluate our plan. Even though I’m not a stay-at-home mom, the book has some useful insights for me:

  • “God does not intend for us to sacrifice our families on the altar of ministry. But each ministry family must make decisions that will enable quality time to be experienced and enjoyed. And most of the time, it just takes effort – real effort – to balance time.” All ministers can deal with crazy hours, but college ministers are expected to sometimes keep college hours. I rarely kept college hours as a college student, so Lee and I have to continually work on finding quality time.
  • “When your husband comes home, stop what you’re doing, look at him, and listen to what he has to say – 58 percent of communication is facial expression, 42 percent is body language and voice inflection.”
  • And although it may be unpopular with some, Lee’s job/ministry supersedes mine. I’m adding my own insight here, but this is similar to submission in marriage. It doesn’t often come up, and it doesn’t mean my job isn’t important (or God won’t use it as a ministry). It means that when a situation arises and a compromise can’t be made, I sometimes will have to make sacrifices for the sake of Lee’s ministry. Honestly, we’re still figuring this out, so as hard as it was to read, it was something I needed to hear.

Overall I think this book is wonderful for minister’s wives. I even think wives outside of the ministry can benefit from a lot of her insights. And other than her insistence that men handle challenging situations better than women (I’m not convinced better is the right word, different for sure) it was very useful to me, especially where we are right now as a family. I couldn’t even get close to describing all that she covers in this book so you’d have to read it for yourself. A practical way to implement some of what I learned is this 28 Days of Blessing Your Spouse Challenge for February (I think it was created last year so I guess make the 29th a choose your own blessing day). Being transparent, I kind of forgot the first day (unless homemade chicken strips and fries is Lee’s favorite meal and he didn’t tell me), but I’m hoping to jump in today. Will you join me? [Oh and Lee, don’t look at the website because it will ruin the surprise J].

Hopefully all of you are finding great books to read this year too. If so, let me know what you’re reading. I could use some suggestions.