Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Book Review: They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz

In They Say We Are Infidels Mindy Beliz goes into an in-depth explanation of the politics and people of the Middle East, focusing on the persecution of Christians by ISIS. Beliz meets and becomes personally involved with different individuals in order to best tell their stories from their view. One such individual is Insaf Safou who Beliz helps smuggle money to her friends and realtives in Iraq sent by exiled Christian Iraqis living in Canada. Beliz tells this story and many like it, of people trying to liberate kidnapped Chrisitans, of people trying to build a "normal" life amidst the chaos and persecution.

Beliz does a wonderful job of providing a background and context for the events being covered in today's media. They Say We are Infidels  is thoroughly researched and well written. I find it a very necessary book to help those who want to go deeper than your standard news article about the middle east. That being said, I wish there were more personal stories or perhaps a more personable writing style. Beliz is a journalist at heart and the book is very journalistic. I feel like I would have retained more if the book read a little more like an novel than a term paper. Overall, I found Beliz's book to be very educational but not easy for the average Joe to understand,

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Book Review: A Lesson in Hope by Philip Gulley

A Lesson in Hope is the the story of Sam, the new pastor of Hope Friends Meeting. Sam must quickly put his pastor-ing skills to work when the oldest member of the church passes away and leaves her one million dollar estate to the church. The church is quickly divided over the best way to deal with the property and how to spend the money. But that's only the beginning of their problems as a "long lost" relative shows up with a lawsuit challenging the will. All of this on top of Sam trying to deal with various family dramas including: his son dating the daughter of a "rival" minister and his eccentric, retired, parents deciding to move nearby and have him help with the "fix" part of their new"fixer upper".

I really enjoyed the story and the premise of A Lesson in Hope but I felt hard to really be immersed in the story. I felt like the characters were hard to relate to- like they were paper dolls being moved across a scene. Overall, I felt that the story was sweet  but I didn't connect to it in the way that I thought I would.

*I was given a complimentary  copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Korea Eats

I may have mentioned that the hubster and I spent a little  time in South Korea. One of the things we miss is the food...especially the Korean barbecue.

So, when I was offered the chance* to check out Koreatown by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard I jumped at the chance. The hubster was pretty excited too as he liked Korean food a lot more than me because a lot of it was spicy!

I tried quite a few recipes out of this book. One the first night I made bulgogi, bok choy kimchi, sigeumchi muchim (soy and seasame spinach) and Kongnamul muchim (crunchy seasame bean sprouts).

The bulgogi was the best part of the meal that night. Although it didn't taste quite like bulgogi it was still very flavorful and delicious.

 I asked my husband what he thought and he gave me his verdict with his thumb-o-meter:

The bulgogi:

The bok choy kimchi:

The kimchi looked so good and he was sooo excited for it but it tasted like a long dead fish. I used less fish sauce than the recipe called for because I knew we both aren't fans of it and it still came out too fishy. He said the spiciness was dead on but he couldn't get past the fish flavor. Neither could I, so the whole jar went straight into the trash!

The second night I made bibimbap:

I thought the bibimbap was a good way to use up the spinach and bean sprouts that weren't especially good on their own and the bibimbap sauce turned out really well too. Mike enjoyed his but didn't agree with my verdict that it was better than any bibimbap I ate in Korea. I said that mainly because there are a few "veggies" thrown in that I usually didn't like and a lot of times bibimbap is served lukewarm and I really hate eating lukewarm food. Give it to me hot. Give it to me cold. Or don't give it to me! :)

The bibimbap verdict:

The overall Koreatown experience?

I think that this cookbook makes Korean food accessible to the masses. It tells you were to find items that aren't traditionally found in a Western grocery store. There are a lot of pictures, which I liked. I also liked all of the stories and side notes. I feel like I will make more recipes out of this book as I found a good many that I want to try. 

There's also a "fusion" section with recipes like Korean sloppy joes or a shrimp and grits style pajeon.

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, 23 May 2016

New ATM Favorite: Messenger by Moonlight by Stephanie Whitson

I just finished reading a great book by Stephanie Whitson.

Messenger by Moonlight tells the story of Annie, Frank and Emmet Paxton. Left penniless after the death of their father, they travel on to the big city searching for work and the blue-trimmed house of Annie's dreams. The brothers agree to put aside their wages to help buy a home for Annie before pursuing their own dreams of adventure and marriage.

But the changes in Annie's life don't stop there. Her two brothers spotted a sign hiring Pony Express riders and the two decide to give it a go. Annie and her brothers travel on to George Martin's station in  the middle of nowhere. The station serves as a "home base" for Frank and Emmet's Pony Express rides and Annie will earn her keep as the station's cook.

The book follow's the boys adventures as Pony Express riders as they discover their own dreams and learn who they truly are. However, the story centers around Annie as she adjusts to the harsh life of a cook for Mr. Martin. Annie is such a strong female character. I loved seeing a heroine who isn't there just to provide a counterweight for the hero. Annie doesn't expect her brother's or Mr. Martin to change their lives for her and fully expects to earn her own keep. This makes the moments when her brothers or Mr. Martin go out of their way to provide for Annie extra meaningful.

I highly recommend this historical fiction novel. It made me very interested in the women who contributed to the success of the Pony Express. I look forward to enjoying Whitson's other books.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Review: Letters to My Daughters by Barbara Rainey

What a beautiful book!

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Barbara Rainey's Letters to My Daughters. Rainey gives excellent, frank advice in an easy to follow format. Throughout a series of letters to her biological daughters, as well as other women seeking marriage advice,  she creates beautiful analogies to describes the joys and trials marriages face. I really enjoyed her fresh prescriptive and found her advice to be biblically sound which is very much needed in today's world.

In addition to beautiful writing, Letters to My Daughters is filled with examples beautiful calligraphy and delightful illustrations. They are so lovely that I wish the book came with detachable copies for me to display!

This book is definitely a keeper and will be re-read again and again. I also plan on giving every bride who invites me to her wedding a copy of this book! It's simply that wonderful.

*I was given a  copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

New ATM Fav: ASB Bible

A group of Christian leaders from across the African continent have gotten together and created a wonderful new study Bible. The Africa Study Bible was created to better help Africans relate to and understand God's word. Often, study Bibles are directed at believers with a background in Western culture and use Western references and proverbs in order to help the believer make the Bible applicable to their lives. So, the ASB was designed to help believers from various African cultures make sense of God's word.

Here's some information about the ASB project:

  • Over 2,200 features speak truth with a uniquely African perspective. Written by more than 300 contributors from over 50 countries in four major languages, the Africa Study Bible may be the most ethnically diverse, one volume biblical resource to date.
  • While our goal is to eventually publish the Africa Study Bible (ASB) in all of Africa's major languages, it will initially be published in English using the New Living Translation followed by French and Portuguese translations in the years to come. By printing in these three languages, the ASB will have its greatest impact, reaching up to 70% of literate African Christians.
  • We expect to launch this year in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. We have formed local African-led launch committees in each of these countries and are partnering with them to orchestrate all the details.
  • The ASB will feature:

  1. Application Notes inspire readers to reflect on issues and apply truth to everyday life. 
  2. Proverbs and Stories enlighten readers through the parallels of Scripture and cultural wisdom found in wise sayings and fables. 
  3. Learn Notes teach the foundations, values, and doctrine of the Christian faith. 
  4. Touch Points show where the culture of the Bible meets African cultures and how Africans shaped Christian belief.
  5. Book Introductions explain the history of each book and connect themes to issues close to African hearts.  
  6. Articles give practical advice on how to live out the Christian life focusing on critical concerns facing the African Church and its people. 
  7. Topical Index and Concordance lists the biblical texts and ASB features by topic and defines difficult to understand words connecting concepts from Genesis to Revelation.
  8. One-year Bible Reading Plan guides readers through an overview of the whole story of the Bible.  
  9. Maps, Graphical Timelines, and Other Features spread throughout the Bible help provide insight and understanding.
I believe this is a wonderful project as it is a study resource created by Africans, for Africans. Leaders, scholars, preachers and students have all come together to create this amazing resource, but they need your help to make their concept become a reality. Click here to visit their Kickstarter campaign page and donate. If you can't donate, please share this information with others! (Incentives for donating include a trip to Kenya, goat skin lined copies of the ASB and ASB inspired artwork.)

You can check out a video about the ASB here.

“The Africa Study Bible is unique because it contains study notes written by Africans for Africans. For the first time, the African church will have a Bible with application notes that address the real-life issues that Africans deal with every day. Combine those features with an easy-to-understand Bible translation that speaks directly to the heart... and you have the potential to transform the lives of multitudes of leaders, lay people, and seekers. I’m delighted that the Africa Study Bible will soon be available to my African brothers and sisters.” —Mark D. Taylor, Chairman/CEO of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

                  Monday, 25 April 2016

                  Book Review: One Dress. One Year. by: Bethany Winz with Susanna Aughtmon

                  One Dress. One Year. is the true story of a teenage girl who wore the same dress everyday for a year. Bethany made a black dress and wore it everyday in order to raise awareness about the fact that slavery and trafficking still exist in the modern world. The book chronicles her life and lessons learned throughout her project.

                  The book is basically her blog recycled and then extra thoughts explaining what was happening in her life that day. I would have preferred a more fluid story. I thought this book read more like a project summary than a memoir. Although Bethany was assisted with her writing you could tell that this was the work of a young author. At times it was nice because it is the story of a young girl starting to "grow up" at other times it affected the flow of the writing.

                  *I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.