Book Reviews and a Give Away!



Congrats to Melisa and Rose from Ohio!  Zip me your address, and I’ll get these books out to you!



Since the weather here in Indiana is getting chillier, I have been reading lots and lots.  I thought I’d share a few thoughts on some books I have been reading.  I am so excited to be able to give away two copies of Putting God Back in the Holidays to one of you fabulous people.  Normally when I get a book to review, I just get one copy, but Moody publishers were very kind and generous and sent three copies-one to keep and two to give away!  How fun is that?

If you’d like to get a copy, please leave me a comment and tell me your favorite family holiday tradition. It can be any holiday—not just Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I’ll pick a lucky winner next Monday morning-November 22.


Putting God Back In the Holidays is a book about doing just what it says.  So often we fly through holidays without fully connecting to the idea of why the holiday is there in the first place.  I love this book’s in-depth approach to each of the holidays we U.S. Americans celebrate.  It is written by a husband-wife team Bill and Penny Thatcher.  Bill is a professor at Moody Bible Institute.  He tackles the theology behind each holiday and Peggy takes the second half of each chapter and shares the clever ideas she and her family have come up with to celebrate in creative and unique ways.

What I especially loved about this book was the perception that holidays are really “Holy” days that we set aside for a purpose.  The authors point out that because of this, the enemy of our souls works extra hard at getting us to get worked-up, stressed-out, tired-out, and whittled down to nothing before the holiday actually happens.  When we are this worn down, we really can’t celebrate with the joy and whole hearted-ness we are meant to.

I took a few steps back and really thought about this.  It made me want to make my home a home of peace in the coming weeks as the holidays approach.  I am grateful that I read this book.


The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House takes place in the late 1700’s in the south in the era of slavery. Kathleen Grissom paints vivid word pictures of what slavery was like through their eyes. Lavinia, a 5 year old Irish girl gets separated from her family on a ship and ends up living and growing up with slaves. They embraced her as family, and over the years, they truly were her family.

I love this story because it explores humanity’s capacity toward depravity, yet also our deep ability to love one another as family despite our differences.
This book was seriously amazing. I loved every page, every character, and every twist and turn of the story. It definitely rates in my top 5 books I have read all year.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


My Thoughts:

Hunger Games– (Book 1) Fabulous, engaging– compelling and suspenseful book.  Suzanne Collins creates a futuristic world that is believable and haunting.  My two older girls, Rob, and I all whipped through this book, and loved every page.

Catching Fire (Book 2)  was my favorite of the trilogy. It is a beautiful telling of a world gone wrong, and a few young brave individuals who grasp on to hope and to each other to make it through while determined to make a change.

Mocking Jay (Book 3) Was pretty dark with themes of death, depravity, and suicide running throughout.  I was disturbed by some of the images, and I know my daughters would be too.  I think I will wait awhile to let them read this last book.  Mocking Jay really is a step further into the reality of war.  It shows what depths of evil man can go to while trying to gain power.  In my mind, it was just too real.  I still give this book 4 stars because it is brilliant, but it doesn’t have the same imaginary feel as the other two.

13 thoughts on “Book Reviews and a Give Away!

  1. Hmmmm. I guess my favorite family tradition is just making sure we’re all together at Christmas. My family is really spread out, so I love being together, hanging out, and doing nothing together.

    Also, Bill and Penny Thrasher go to my church! Such wonderful people. I’d love to win their book!

  2. Lori says:

    Hey Michelle.

    I know I’m supposed to be leaving tradition comments, but I wanted to say thanks for the book recommendation. I loved the Hunger Games books. Very engaging … total page turners. I’m working on the Help right now, but wasn’t sure what to read after that … so the Kitchen House is now on my list.


  3. Rose in Ohio says:

    Our favorite holiday tradition is attending the 11 pm Christmas Eve service at church as a family. It’s the most meaningful, perfect end to the Advent season and the beginning of the joyous Christmas season!

  4. Lucy Mills says:

    Firstly I should say I am in the UK so you may need to discount me, which I will understand!

    We have a Christmas Eve tradition in my family which I’ve always loved. We send out other Christmas cards as normal but for the immediate family we put them in the ‘post box’ to open on Christmas Eve, where the youngest family member gets to act as postman (or postwoman). The post box is basically a cardboard box with a slot in it, but gets redecorated every now and then with red crepe paper and white cotton wool (for added snow!)

    Sadly now we’re in ministry I don’t get to take part of this Christmas Eve tradition at my parents’ home, since we have church commitments and can’t travel down until after the Christmas day service. But I still send all the cards to my mum so she can put them in the ‘post box’ for me!

  5. cherryt7 says:

    Christmas Eve Service… hands down and ending with Silent Night. You can mess with a lot but do NOT mess with Silent Night. It goes at the end of the service period. (You think I’m kidding?!?)

  6. Amy says:

    This may sound silly, but a favorite holiday memory for me is the smell of coming into my parents’ home at the holidays and it smells like hot apple cider that mom makes in the crock pot to simmer all day in anticipation of our arrival. It alwways feels warm and inviting.

  7. Samantha Hartzell says:

    It’s important to my husband and me that our kids know the true meaning, not the commercialized, meaning of Christmas. Since it is Jesus’ birthday, and since for everyone else’s birthday’s we always have a cake and sing “Happy Birthday”, we do the same for Jesus. We love brownies. On Christmas eve, I will bake brownies and on Christmas morning we read the Christmas story from one of the gospels and we put a candle for each of us on top of the brownie cake and sing happy birthday and blow them out. One candle for each of our lives that Jesus came to save.

    We do this before we do anything else to put Him first!

  8. Ryan says:

    The big family holiday gatherings as a Kid. My Dad and Mom were both one of five children so the family parties when I was a child was 28 people on my Dad’s side then a few hours later another 28 people for my Mom’s side. It sure felt like there were 40 on each side.

  9. My favorite tradition starts off with the South Bend tree lighting, we go see the kids sing, watch Santa arrive on a firetruck, have hot coco. And after the tree is lit. We hit McDonalds on the way home and get dinner. Once we get home everyone get into nice warm cozy sweats or jams. gather under covers on the living room floor and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and eat dinner. Can I just say, Love it!

  10. Melissa Mack says:

    I love taking my kiddos to pick out a new ornament each year. It has to represent something that happened during the year. Each year when we decorate the tree we talk about those events as we hang up each ornament. It is always amazing to see the ornament that they think best represents what they did that year. We have a school bus for the first day of school, soccer players, dancers, etc. They all have great stories to tell!

  11. Melisa says:

    Favorite holiday family tradition, at least this week: banana splits for breakfast! 🙂

  12. Ruth says:

    Our traditions seem to have changed through the years. One of my favorites has always been baking a cake for Jesus’ birthday as part of the Christmas meal. Lately one of the women from the family will read a children’s story prior to gift giving that relates to the true meaning of Christmas.

  13. phill tran says:

    I enjoyed heading out with my borthers and sisters tot he local sledding hill during Christmas break. Fun times.

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