Monday, March 21, 2011

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo

I'm a skeptic when it comes to these kinds of books.  I know there's a lot of folks out there that would disagree with me, but I just have a hard time believing that someone can experience heaven in such a detailed way and yet not even have clinically died.  However, I do believe when we worship, we can experience & even visualize the throne room of heaven where we enter the presence of God - BUT I do not think that that ACTUALLY means we've experienced THE throne room of heaven. 

I'm probably one of the only naysayers out there as far as this book goes, and though its an inspiring story and I feel deeply for the family who had to endure such a tragedy - I can't help but read this without a huge grain of salt.  I'm sure Colton experienced God in an intimate & real way while unconscious, but I don't believe he actually visited heaven itself. 

But again, I have friends who absolutely loved this book and ate it up! So if this story peaks your interest, I recommend reading it yourself and coming to your own conclusion.

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16

Description: Heaven is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Okay first of all - Do not read this book at night or when you're home alone! HOLY COW! I don't EVER read this type of book because it scares the crap out of me, and maybe had I known what I was getting myself into I would have never picked it up! But at the same time, the fact that I couldn't put it down must count for something, since it had my complete attention over just a few days! It was like a horrible car accident - you don't want to look, but you just can't turn away either. And to think that this is Chevy Stevens' first published book just completely blows my mind!

This story brings you into Annie's sick, tormented, twisted, abused world of spending an entire year with a psychopath who abducted her while she was showing a house. And the whole time I just kept thinking about Jaycee Dugard and all that she went through. As sick and twisted it was reading about Annie in this completely fictional story, this type of thing does happen to real women today!

What I truly did enjoy about the story is that the author so realistically dives into the pyschological aspects of how Annie had to get inside the head of her tormentor and figure out he thinks so she can best survive. It was intriguing and upsetting at the same time. Jaycee had to do the same thing - survive by whatever means. As humans we can be so much more resilient than we realize.

My friend Debbie at work dropped this one off at my desk saying that she couldn't put it down and I just had to read it. Though I had it on my to-be-read list, I'm not sure I would've really gotten to it without her persuasive nudging. I definitely couldn't handle these type of stories all the time, but every once in a while, during the middle of the day, WITH my husband in the house, then sure I'll tackle a psychological thriller like this one. Whew. Intense people, ridiculously intense!!! And then the ending - WOW, didn't see that one coming!

Description: On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two year old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever- patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

The truth doesn’t always set you free.

Still Missing is that rare debut find—a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

What a cute story! My friend Emily at Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking, recommended I pick up it up for a fun, light read and I'm so glad I did! It's completely YA, but I really needed something easy to tear through after Mary, Queen of Scots.

I love that this darling, little love story takes place at a boarding school in France. And Anna is just the sweetest thing who has this quirky movie obsession and goes around watching all the American films in different theatres writing out her reviews in a little notebook. I also think that Etienne is simply adorable and quite charming. Though I felt like I was too old to be reading this, it was so easy to get completely wrapped up and remember all the giddy feelings that I once possessed when I was back in high school secretly longing for the attention of the cutest boy in school.

I will say there were a couple of turnoffs for me in this book - and that was the occasional and random crudeness that showed up every now and then. I just felt like it was completely unnecessary and didn't really add anything to the story. The other thing I didn't like was the implication that Anna's father was Nicholas Sparks, and the negative light it shed on him. Sure maybe the author didn't outright say his name, but it was so clearly implied! Hey! I love Nicholas Sparks, please don't dog on him!

Overall, a fun, light read and for a chick-lit book, I very much enjoyed it!

Description: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Rating: ****

Recommend: If you enjoy chick-lit or YA - then yes, you'll really enjoy it!