Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Club

I wanted to keep track of the number of books I've read. I have a personal goal of reading fifteen a year, which you'd think could easily be done, but with my schedule and lifestyle sometimes it's near impossible to read one book a month! Here's the start to a hopefully good turnout and maybe even a great review if you're interested in finding a new book! If you have any suggestions on similar books fill me in! Wanna trade books? If you're into the same ones as me let's do it! I'm into the Christian and Memoir type of books but I'm kinda game for something new once in awhile :)

#1- Running for Cover by Shirlee McCoy, this book was part of the Love Inspired Collection and it was actually a great book considering it was FREE!! I got it awhile back when I went to the Women of Faith Conference while down in Kansas City. The book was super hard to get into but I refuse to give up on anything so I kept trudging along and getting through the book, I got about 2/3 of the way through and finally found myself actually interested in the main character. To break the book down what happens is the main character finds herself being hunted by people that are after something her ex-husband had. He recently got murdered in prison and the police cannot pinpoint what the bad guys are after. A friend of her friends (whose also an investigator) insists on keeping guard of her while she is back home and the two slowly start falling in love over the series of events that happens. I don't want to spoil the ending but I felt like the writer just got tired of writing and made the story fall together in the end really quickly. Like you read ten chapters and the ending happens in two short chapters. I wouldn't recommend the book to others just because of the way the book was set-up but if you're looking for a book that keeps you guessing it might be for you. I think I didn't like this book because I'm not into the lovie dovie crap. It was a good read, but just not for me.

#2- A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, this book was an extremely hard book to read. The struggles this child went through were downright unfair and the man that did this to her deserves all the punishments and more than he has received. This is the real story of a little girl who was taken at the young age of just eleven. It recalls the sick man's abuse towards her and how he ended up raping her and getting her pregnant at fourteen. The book starts out super hard to read, after reading further it makes sense, she only had a reading level of up to fifth grade, she was taken and locked inside a shed in the backyard for eighteen years after that! She then becomes pregnant again soon after. That poor girl was abused and the nasty man's wife knows that he's holding her captive. She is forcefully against her will told to do things and sadly she is scared to death so she listens to him. The book is written by her and she explains her daily routines with two small children and talks about what her life was like being held captive for so long. Then towards the end of the book she talks about how the police finally uncovered the whole scheme and how they have helped to protect her now. The sad part about the whole book, the police have come and visited the place several times and you come to find out the scumbag was on probation the whole time!! The court system obviously should take note, I'm not trying to dog on them but I cannot believe that for eighteen years they couldn't crack the case or find him suspicious! I would recommend this book but I would also warn you that it is EXTREMELY graphic and hard to read. The things she says in the book are true but it's so emotionally hard to wrap your brain around how this story could ever happen in reality.

#3- I Just Want You To Know by Kate Gosselin, I know, I know, no one really cares about this book or wants to pay attention to all her drama in the media. But here's some news for ya, I don't care! I love Kate and although I do agree sometimes she gets a little over the top she's just like any other parent who is dealing with a divorce and trying to do what's best for her children. I have read and will read each and every book she has ever written. I did enjoy the book but felt like it should have maybe been published just to give to her children some day instead of for the general public. It was fun to read her input on how the kids were growing up but I felt like I was reading a personal diary instead of a book about her life and how she chooses to run her family. The chapters were kind of split up into little diary entries to each and every one of her eight children and I thought it was cute that she added personal messages to them. I do find her words of encouragement inspiring and the fact that she is trying to instill very powerful Christianity into them is great! She's extremely OCD like me so I totally related to this book! (maybe she's the reason for my obsession with twins?)

#4- Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo, another amazing read!! I read this book within a day from the time I picked it up. It is an inspiring read to know that someday I will hopefully get to Heaven and see how accurate this little boys testimony is! Colton is a young boy is became sick and was sent into emergency surgery where he "went to Heaven" and then later on told stories from his experiences to his parents. He recalled things that he would have never known had he not gone to Heaven. He talks about meeting his unborn sister who was lost in a miscarriage several years prior to him and other experience about how colorful Heaven was. It's hard to believe at the age of four he can explain in vivid details what all happened on his trip to Heaven. He at times gets frustrated and then instead draws pictures of what he saw. People claim that since his father is the preacher in town that he helped give Colton idea's of what Heaven was like but his father states in the book that he doesn't lead Colton on that instead he encourages Colton to fill him in instead. I found it interesting that he would always comment on pictures of Jesus that he would see, to his parents it was almost like a running joke of what's wrong with this picture. It's amazing that such a young boy can remember such details about what he saw. There is so many things that he describes and it really makes you wonder if time is the same as what we have or if there is even such a thing as time in Heaven. If you're interested in hearing a child's view of what Heaven was like or just interested in hearing a view from someone who has gone to Heaven for sure pick this book up. I am still kind of a skeptic on the book but I found it an amazing read and it really opens you up to think about your faith and what is beyond this earth.

#5- Harry Bentley's Second Chance by Dave Jackson, oh this book was so exciting to read! I'm addicted to anything by the Jackson's. He co-wrote this book to go along with the series his wife wrote featuring the same characters as her House Of Hope series books. It was so cool discovering the "man's side" of the story and it was neat to see how Harry's character was totally different than what was perceived by the other characters in House of Hope. Basically Harry is a retired police officer from Chicago who is trying to put a bad cop away. Fagan is stealing drugs and money from people off the streets and reselling it instead of prosecuting those involved in the busts. Harry's life turns upside down after his grandson is put into his custody and he has found himself in a tough spot, let his grandson live in a drug infested place with a prostitute mom or take him in and teach him the right way to become an adult. He runs into finding himself in Fagan's house with Fagan threatening to kill him among other tough situations and learns to lean on God to protect him. He surrounds himself with faith and finds new friends along the journey. I would re-read this book along with the whole House of Hope and Yada Yada series again and intend to once I finish up the last of this series (Yada Yada Brothers Series). I have a hate/love relationship with the series because there are times where I can't put the book down to rest and I want to keep reading it until I'm done. Deff should take a look at all of the series and especially this Brothers Series! If you'd like to borrow them I've got all thirteen books!!

#6- Harry Bentley's Second Sight by Dave Jackson, this book was equalling as thrilling as the first one! It was so neat to see all of the characters start to mingle into the books and see what another person's input is on that character. Here's a link to my original review of the Yada Yada Prayer Group series so this is what I'm basing most of my knowledge or opinions on. I was very fascinated with the concepts of how he dealt with the issues surrounding him losing his sight and how he learned to lean on God to give him strength throughout his recovery time. He also learned to trust God in the decisions and not lean on what he wanted with his life. The fact that he was an alcoholic did make an impact on his life and he does still deal with it daily in his life and has learned to not use it as a crutch but instead use God to help him deal with his daily struggles. I was excited when I finally got to the part (no I won't tell you sorry) about him making a decision in his life with his on-again off-again relationship partner and to see how his love story played out. I really liked the book but at times I felt like it dragged on and didn't get to the point, I can only pay attention for so long before I feel like the book is a sleeper book instead of a continuous reader book... What really got to me was seeing religion through someone who didn't have sight, he really learned to trust his instincts and trust that the Lord was doing what was really a good thing and not indeed taking something away from him.

#7- Stand By Me by Neta Jackson, I was kind of interested in the book just because I knew it was from Neta so I knew it'd be good. I found myself lost in the book until late hours because I just couldn't put it down. The book is surrounded by the character from the Yada Yada Prayer Group, her name is Avis Douglass. The book goes into detail about how her daughter who got HIV from her ex-husband and the relationship between the mother/daughter duo. It also has another main character, Kat, in the book who is a college student who quite med school to become a teacher. Her parents disapprove of her decision because they come from a family line of doctors and thinks she should follow suit. She finds new friends in Chicago and quickly realizes the big city has a lot to offer and learn from.The book goes on to talk about these two peoples lives and eventually how they co-mingle and learn about God together. Another great book by Neta, I've got the whole series now read up to the newest book, "Lucy Comes Home" which I'm currently waiting for someone else to finish. You can be promised that anything written by Dave or Neta Jackson is great and thus far none of the books have let me down.

#8- Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres, this book was an eye opener to me. I've found myself in love with memoir's for years and have came across some pretty touching stories but this book really amazed me. The book is about a Julia and her black adopted brother David and David's older brother. They move to a small town in Indiana where there was still a lot of racism. David and Julia are less than a year apart in age so they grow up together and go through many things together. Their father a doctor and their mother an avid Christian grow the children up to believe in Christianity but even inside their own house they abuse the children. David get's picked on throughout school and Julia faces sexual abuse from her older brother almost monthly. David gets sent to a reform school due to his "behavioral problems" and soon Julia gets caught up in a situation and finds herself planted in the Domican Republic in the same reform school with him. They once again fall to each other and lean on one another for support and family to help keep themselves alive in this concentration camp. The horrors they endure are unimaginable and I had to go online just to see if this so called "camp" really existed, and it did. This book was a quick easy read but the graphics and profanity at points were tough to get through. The fact that this avid Christian family abused and turned their head the other way to so many situations inside their family really amazed me and it a great lesson to learn about people who play the "perfect Christian" roll on the outside. The things that Julia has endured are life events that will be in her memory forever but the strength it took her to overcome the situations and keep a positive attitude is truly inspiring.

#9- A Man and His Maniac, The Bunkie Story (Second Edition) by Charles Franklin Emery III, this was a super cute story about the owner of Bunkie is lab dog. It goes into details about how he bought the puppy and how the dog soon grew into quite the little ornery puppy. He talks about how Bunkie peed on everything all the time and on several occasions the dog attempted suicide by jumping out of the truck because he sees small animals. The dog, like most dogs, ran away and was missing for nearly a month before they finally found him. He had three distinct sets of tire tracks on his head and they just laughed because they didn't think the dog was even alive let alone happy to see them. Since that incident he never left the yard again. He also had a knack for stealing food that was left laying around and also loved to lay landmines all over the back yard. The author was amazing at leaving the tiny details in the story that made you laugh because you could just imagine the whole situation and most of us can relate because our dogs do the same things! Another part of the story that sticks out is when Bunkie would go hunting. He was never trained to point birds but he had the instincts and they would take him out hunting and Bunkie would only point for his owner and not for other people that went with them. I wasn't sure I would like the book but since I got a new Nook and a friend had the book I figured I'd give the free book a try. It actually made me laugh and I could totally relate some of the stories to our dumb dog Red. It's a short easy read that brings a new light to raising a dog.

#10- Laughter is the Spice of Life by Patsy Clairmont, Barbara Johnson, Nicole Johnson, Marilyn Meberg, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh and Themlma Wells. It was super interesteing. Basically it was a ton of jumbled stories all shoved into the book. It kind of took awhile, and I got side tracked a lot. I've heard some of the authors as guest speakers before so I knew part of their stories but it was still fun to read some humorous stories. Recommend it? Eh, hold off, there's other books I've read and reviewed that I'd suggest before this one.

#11- One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I LOVED this book, I loved how Anne was constantly trying to give us an insight of the reasonings why things in her life provoked certain feelings and I like how she incorporated the deep focus of specific Bible stories. I will admit that it was hard at times to pay attention because of the in depth level of words she used (maybe I'm just too dumb) but it was such an emotional book to pick up and read. I have since been inspired to create my own "grateful" list of 1000 gifts in my life and I'm almost 90% done with my list. I highly reccomend picking this book up and reading it! It's something that will leave a mark on your heart and inspire you to look deeper into the world surrounding you. It makes you feel grateful for all of the small gifts in your life.

#12- Who Is My Shelter by Neta Jackson (House of Hope Series). I've already expressed my love for anything by Neta or Dave Jackson so you can guess that I was in love with this new series that she developed and released earlier this year. This book was a little different in that it had two characters in it that were the main characters and it took awhile to get used to jumping back and forth between the chapters. I loved that it included some of the original characters from the Yada Yada series but I liked how it gave a fresh insight on another character. Someone that was a younger person found by coincidence. The way the author makes the two worlds collide and tweak together makes it so special and unique in that you would have never saw it coming. 

#13- I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. I have heard her speak at a Women of Faith conference I went to earlier this year and I wanted to learn more about her journey of carrying a baby both her and her family knew would not survive. This amazing journey on the power of prayer and trust in the Lord left me in tears several nights as I couldn't put the book down. The faith she and her husband put into the Lord was an eye opener and the fact that she continued on the path against all odds of her tiny baby surviving birth was inspiring. I cannot even wrap my mind around how tough it would be to hear that your baby is not expected to survive and then to pray continuously that God gives you the right direction. The tiny little Aubrie had several medical conditions but against all of the specialist doctor's recommendations they choose not to terminate the pregnancy but instead to let God take control of the decision. Baby Aubrie was born and the family enjoyed her for several short hours before the Lord took her back with him. The way she explains this entire situation to her three young daughters is just amazing and I know the Lord helped them with the words when there was nothing they could do to keep from morning over the situation. Truly an inspiring book to read and I will more than likely read it again in the near future.

#13- Lucy Come Home by Neta Jackson. Again, loving my girl, Neta Jackson so much that anytime she comes out with a new book I'm all over it :) This was a focus on the "old bag lady" Lucy. She's been living on the streets and in homeless shelters for years and we never really knew why. This book takes us back in time to Lucy as a child and how she became homeless. About how she was put into a situation where she was forced to leave home in order to avoid a potential murder prosecution and how she ended up being single and homeless later in life. It's so hard to imagine all of the daily hardships homeless people deal with but I'm always a person who wants to learn the history of why or where things went wrong. Lucy Come home is an awesome example of how good people can be stuck in bad situations and sometimes it's just tough to pull yourself out of that situation. I cried (and got made fun of by Boy) because the ending is a really neat way to show that people never gave up on Lucy. She had family looking for several decades in hopes of finding a lost relative that everyone presumed was gone.

#14- Grounded (Windy City Neighbors) by Dave & Neta Jackson. Alright, so I feel a HUGE connection with these authors. It's obvious I've read every single book they've written in this series starting with the Yada Yada Prayer Group books I found by accident at a Goodwill. Since then, I cannot put them down, I am constantly checking their website to see if they're releasing a new book in the series or creating a new spin off series of the other books. I love them! This book wasn't a let down and quite frankly, I felt the biggest connection with this book out of all of them. The basic gist of the book is a contemporary Christian singer (Grace) is on tour and things are great. She's touring and giving her speech on why you should wait until marriage to become sexually active because you're worth the wait. Then, bam, her fiance breaks up with her and she ends the tour in a lump of feeling defeated. She feels as if she can't go on. She can't continue to tell everyone they're worth the wait because she obviously wasn't. The story continues to unfold and we learn about why she chooses to speak about waiting until marriage and eventually her biggest secret is unveiled. This girl is a strong willed individual who has held a secret to herself for a long time. She eventually learns that carrying the weight and burden of her secret isn't what God wanted from her, that by using her darkest moments in life is what she's supposed to be doing and that she needs to live up to her name, Grace. She starts off her next tour by showing others that grace is something the Lord blesses us all with. We're not born perfect nor will we ever be perfect but with grace we can do the best that we can with life. This book made a huge connection with me, I'm not quite ready to explain it to blogland (or the real world) quite yet but I know with time the Lord will show me I have the courage to use myself as a "teaching tool" to others as well. I cannot stress enough of much I think you should get this book!!!

#15- Letting Go of Perfect by Amy Spiegel. I really enjoyed this book. It was a hard one for me to get into, I hated the fact that each chapter was a different subject to me it just didn't flow very well. I loved that it gave examples of how hectic her life would be and how she found those situations to thank God for what he has given her. I envy people that can look at life and always try to stay positive. It's not a strong point for me but I'm working on it. This book broke down specific situations in life where you can choose to whine and gripe about all the terrible things going on or you can choose to look on the brighter side of things and just be grateful that you have the opportunity to share in them. I can remember one chapter was about how you dress and what you're telling others about yourself. I try to think I dress moderately but I do admit there are times where what I'm wearing does not give you a clear insight on the person I really am. It gave me great thinking points to really consider about my life. About how you shouldn't be afraid to do something based upon what others think about you. Just do it and then enjoy the fact that you tried something new!

#16- How Dolly Parton Saved My Life by Charlotte Connors. This book was hard for me to get into. I hate finding new books because unless they're exactly the same style of writing as the authors I already love then I just can't read them. This one was a struggle for the first three chapters if not more. The book followed four ladies and each chapter jumped to someone new. I hate trying to envision new characters let alone envision and remember four characters new stories but eventually I caught on and loved it. I love how much Dolly was mentioned and obviously love the whole story behind it, that although people come from different walks of life, all of us are going through a struggle. Some with their marriages, some with school or kids, some with financial issues, but we all need to learn to trust each other and encourage each other in order for things to work out in a business that we've started together.  It's fun to see how these four women decided to start up a business and how they all secretly thought of one another at times. Really makes you consider someone else's opinion on certain issues. Quite the book!!

#17- A Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. I honestly just bought this book based on it's cover. The butterfly was pretty and I'm loving on mason jars so it seemed fitting. Plus the title seemed interesting and fun. Well, I opened a book and finished it in less than 24 hours it was that good. I'm not even sure I can go into detail about the book because it was so intense but it was basically a love story turned bad. The couple were complete opposites and after losing a bet had to share a bedroom for a month. By the end of that month they were in love and they were the best/worst thing in each others lives. At one point they were so angry at each other that fights were the least of their worries. They find themselves in difficult situations on multiple occasions and end up with an insane twist towards the end that is leaving me hungry for a second book. I'm even more excited to hear that they're turning this book into a movie and have every intention to go and watch it!!

#18- Second Wind by Cami Ostman. Talk about inspirational! I was again skeptical of a new genre to read from but when I started reading about how the author's life went up in shambles after a mid-life crisis and a divorce I was intrigued. She decided at that point she wanted to run a marathon in every continent. The struggles she went through were amazing, I love the idea of saving up and getting to not only see each continent but also run a race! I enjoy how she points out her biggest struggles with trying to focus on training. About how she overcame her divorce and related problems in her past relationships to her running. I also laughed and even found myself talking to my "inner bitch" after reading about how she learned to use that voice to push her through some of her races. Inspiring! That got me wanting to learn more about not only how she trained but how she mentally focused on running those 26.2 miles with power. 

#19- When Zachary Beaver Came To Town by Kimberly Holt. This book was an easy and quick read! I seriously picked it up one morning after finishing a different book and had it read in less than two days. The book was geared more toward middle school kiddos but I got it for $1 at a Goodwill not knowing anything about it. Overall the story was great, it's about a boy and his friend enjoying their summer when a trailer pulls into town boasting that it has the world's largest kid. The entire town comes over to check it out only to discover that the boy, Zachary, is large and is truly over 600 pounds. They eventually make friends with him and soon learn some secrets about him all while having fun with the summer and getting ready to release the lady bugs into the cotton fields. I learned that this book was turned into a movie and now I'm slowly looking around so I can see if the book is as good as the movie!

#20Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. This book was awesome! I really didn't expect to love it, and I actually couldn't get into it the first time I picked it up but once I got through the first few chapters it became interesting. I'm not sure I've ever seen the movie but I remember it being really big and talked about at one point. The main summary of the book is that its about a college kid who had his parents die in a tragic accident and then him finding out his family has nothing that the bank took it all. He runs away by jumping onto a train which he later discovers to be a circus train and then kind of "joins the circus" unintentionally. The behind the scenes look at what goes on during the shows is fun and I love the twisted love story that slowly unfolds between the main character and one of the circus entertainers. This book was awesome and now I'm really excited to go see the movie to compare it to the book!!

#21The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. This book was ok, it was honestly just plain weird but ironically I loved that without even knowing it I read a book about WWII history. The book's main character starts out at fourteen and is sick so he misses a lot of school. He ends up over at a lady's house who was around thirty-five and eventually they start having a sexual relationship. (Major weird I tried warning you) After months of this happening things change and she just up and leaves him. He longs to see her and eventually gets over missing her but years down the road their paths cross again. He's already divorced and has a daughter but once he starts watching a trial for some Nazi workers he soon discovers her past. He realizes there is so much more to her and finally understands why she would never open up about her past when she was with him. The book itself was very hard to read but the general concept was great. I believe +Heather Ann sent me this book, but I can't say for sure because it might have been +Sarah C. Both ladies are awesome blog buddies and I just suck at remembering things! ;) 

#22Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I was honestly surprised I even liked this book! This wasn't something I would normally read and thankfully it was the only book that popped out while thumbing through this category. I struggled with it until about halfway through the book. I found myself not into the main character, she was about my age but her mother was dying of cancer and she was finding herself wanting to get a divorce. That's not even close to what's going on in my life. But the way I found us connecting is that she felt like nothing was in her control anymore. Like the only way to do something for herself was the hike the PCT trail and prove to herself that she can be in control of what's going on around her. I felt that was oober inspiring to prove that she can be a hiker, alone by herself, and show others that it's possible to do something! The book kind of drug out in parts but I found myself continuing to read because I wanted to find out how Cheryl did. I wanted to know how she over came each obstacle that came her way and lived off of a budget of literally nothing yet did something so incredible!

#22What Women Fear by Angie Smith. This was tough! It was truthfully not a true book like I was expecting but each chapter was broken down into a different "fear" and how God helps us through these fears and what we should try to do or expect from him in different situations. I took home a lot of new information and peace of mind from reading this book and often stopped to really digest what Angie was telling me. I found myself going to my Bible and opening it to finish reading up some quotes she referenced as well as pulling out my prayer journal to jot down some personal feelings I acquired from reading specific passages in her book. Overall, I loved the book. But, I wish there was some way to tie all the chapters together. I will for sure keep it and re-read it here in a year or so because I know there were plenty of things in the book that I kinda skipped over without letting the words sink in.

Currently Reading: Eat, Pray, Love by
Next Up: Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

I'm participating in a few fun book reading challenge! Read more about them here:

PS- Wanna see somethin cool? Well, I use GoodReads (be my friend) and here's just a snippet of the books I've read. Ya, I'm kinda a nerd, but I'm cool with it! Mostly because I love making lists and what-not. This fun little book collection below is a look into some of the books I've read! Watch it grow and wish me luck on continuing to read and expand my knowledge of the real and imaginary world!!

Kelsey's Bookshelf

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught
How Dolly Parton Saved My Life: A Novel of the Jelly Jar Sisterhood
2-In-1 Yada Yada: Yada Yada Prayer Group, Yada Yada Gets Down
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out
A Piece of Cake
A Man and His Maniac: The Bunkie Story
Where Do I Go?
Laughter Is the Spice of Life
Harry Bentley's Second Sight
Who Do I Lean On?
I Just Want You to Know: Letters to My Kids on Love, Faith, and Family
Jesus Land
A Stolen Life
Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets
Eight Little Faces: A Mom's Journey
The Yada Yada Prayer Group
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real

Kelsey Homolka's favorite books »


  1. Your in a book club too? WHEN DO YOU SLEEP?

  2. Haha I totally forgot that Kate had written a book!


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