Lola Goetz

What lola wants, lola goetz

The Last Christian by David Gregory

image001.jpgI don’t believe I’ve ever read Christian science fiction before this book. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even heard of Christian scifi before now. But after reading The Last Christian by David Gregory, I’m actually open to other attempts in this genre.

I’m not the typical scifi reader. I don’t read books about dragons or wizards (which is probably considered fantasy rather than scifi, but I lump it all together) and only occasionally high-tech stuff. I would put this book in the high-tech sector. If there is such a thing (there is in my mind). See? I don’t even know all of the sub-genres. Nor do I really care to. I like what I like whether it’s part of a specific subset or not.

So when I heard about this book, I admit I was intrigued. And a little worried that it could easily be horrible. It wasn’t. I was pleasantly surprised that it was quite readable. The action moved along quickly and I found myself wanting to find out what happens. Isn’t that the goal of any book – to keep us reading?

Of course, the plot may be a little out there. Artificial brains? “Eternal” human life? No Christians in America? Yet the way the author presents the details makes them believable within the story. And while the main female character (Abigail) is the daughter of missionaries, I didn’t feel hit over the head with proselytizing from the character or the author. Even she struggled a little with her beliefs and how to best share them with others.

This isn’t a deep novel or one that you need to read slowly. I think it’s a good summer book, especially if you like to escape and just enjoy a story with some action and suspense. I give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb about the book:

In the future, it’s possible to live forever—but at what cost?

A.D. 2088.

Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.

But a larger threat looms. The world’s leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether—but at what expense?

As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father’s unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance—the spiritual future of all humanity.

In this fast-paced thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking religious themes to create a spell-binding “what-if?” novel.

You can purchase the book directly from the publisher here, or from Amazon here (this is an affiliate link). This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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Coming up: More book reviews

Due to illness (first, oral surgery & then a really nasty cold), I’m behind on my book reviews. But here’s what’s coming soon…

The Golden Cross by Angela Elwell Hunt (great deal for Spring Break reads!)

Faithful Heart by Al Lacy (another Spring Break hopeful)

Mother-Daughter Duet by Cheri Fuller & Ali Plum (giveaway will accompany this one!) (PS- it’s also available as an eBook)

Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson (another giveaway) (also available as eBook)

Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings by Kelly Rae Roberts (affiliate link)

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Search the web and win prizes

If you regularly search the web, did you know you can earn points toward prizes while doing so? Check out Swagbucks if you haven’t already!

Search & Win

(If you sign up through my link, I get a few points for referring you. Thanks.)

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Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge

image001.jpg Marriage is hard. Ask anyone who is, or has been, married and you’ll most likely hear some variation on that sentiment. It’s true. It takes work. It’s not for the weak, nor the lazy. To make your marriage really work, to find joy in your companion, to do more than just co-exist, you have to be active.

In Love and War, John and Stasi Eldredge discuss their marriage and what they’ve learned through hard work and many years of actively seeking to understand each other. I do like that they presented both of their takes on situations, what they were thinking and how a misunderstanding affected each of them.

That said, the book is heavy on traditional gender roles based on the Bible and Christian traditions. While there’s not anything wrong with that, it’s not always in line with my own personal beliefs. But I still found plenty of things to take away from the book, mostly being in the form of pondering how I act (and react to things) in my marriage. Am I thinking about the best interests of our relationship in things I do and say? Am I really listening to what my partner wants, or do I just hear what I think he wants?

It earns a solid 3 stars from me. It was easy to read and understand and I think I learned a few things from it.

Book Summary:

What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic.   They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we’ll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.

This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

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Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris As the new year progresses, I’m trying to read more. One thing that has been encouraging me in that endeavor is participating in book tours. This week it’s Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris and I’m actually pretty glad that I went for this one.

As someone who was raised in church without really being sure I knew what I believed or why, I identified with Joshua Harris. I’ve questioned whether I believed because I’d been in church all my life, because it was all I knew, or because it was just expected of me.

And as an adult I’ve gone a long way from my church roots. So Harris’ book was a nice refresher for me. In it, he explains how orthodoxy and theology and doctrine aren’t just for scholars. They are for everyone who believes. If you don’t have a good foundation, where are you then?

Harris’ writing is very approachable – it’s a conversational style that’s easy to read and understand. His book is by no means a deep theological study, but he does give reference to many scholars he has read and learned from, which gives me many more things to add to my reading list.

This book gave me a lot to think about. If you’re returning to the church or want to delve deeper into what theology and doctrine mean to your spiritual journey, I think this is a good place to start.

This book was provided for review by the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah.

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The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn

The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn When I first heard about The Male Factor, I was a bit skeptical. It kinda bugged me to think that there’s something holding women back in business. We’re in 2010 and we should be past that, right? Well, we should be but we’re really not.

Feldhahn interviewed a large number of men and created a pretty comprehensive survey to find out how women are perceived in the workplace. The results may just surprise you.

A lot of men and women just have different ways of working. That’s not to say that every man does the same thing or every woman does. But over time you start to notice patterns. And those patterns are what Feldhahn addresses.

The author emphasizes that women should just be aware of how they are being perceived in the workplace — especially when you work with a large group of men. For instance, if you show any emotion, you will most likely be seen as irrational (unable to think clearly at that point). That was tough for me to read, because I sometimes have an emotional reaction whether I want to or not. As in, I have no control over it no matter how hard I try. I know it has hindered me a time or two.

The advice in the book is not telling women to change who they are or to try and act more like they think a man would. The bigger point is to be aware of your actions in the workplace and how they are perceived.

The version of the book I read also had advice for women of faith, with advice from other women who already have experience with these questions (especially if you work in a faith-based company, which can actually be a little more understanding of the work-style differences between men and women, according to the author).

If you’ve ever wondered why the workplace “rules” seem frustrating or are holding you back, I actually think you can learn a few things from this book. Again, the emphasis isn’t to change yourself, but to just be more aware of how others perceive you. I’ve learned myself how empowering it can be just to be “in the know.”

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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Jesus Lives by Sarah Young

Jesus Lives by Sarah Young I recently took a look at a new devotional book, Jesus Lives by Sarah Young. This devotional is written as if Jesus is talking directly to you. The author includes Bible verses that support each devotional and they do fit right in with each theme. I even think she does a good job with her writing – it’s intimate, easy-to-read, and understandable. That said, it does make me a wee bit uncomfortable to have things written as if God is speaking. It’s not that I feel God can’t inspire modern-day text. I think that’s entirely possible. It just seems to me that the author interjects a bit more of her personal thoughts and beliefs than I would like. Some people will probably really enjoy this style of writing. It makes you feel as if you are being spoken directly to, which can make you think a lot about the topics. And having the inspiring verses right there are quite helpful. In fact, I noticed that the pieces of verses that are quoted in the devotional are in italics – which makes it easier to cross-reference what she’s referring to. I give this 3 out of 5 stars. A good read, but not exactly what I personally want for a devotional. I received a copy of this book as part of the Thomas Nelson book review bloggers program. You can get a copy at Amazon or from Thomas Nelson publishers.

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Drumroll please!

Okay, here we go. It’s time to choose a winner of our holiday meal contest. I used random.org to generate a winning number. The first 3 comments on the post were just pingbacks, so I’m disregarding them and starting with the first post after that.

And our winner is….

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Comment # 1 was jboyd – Jennifer Boyd. Congrats!

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Golden SHARE Foods Holiday Meal Review and Giveaway

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of sharing a meal with family and friends. In years past, we’ve done a potluck-style dinner where we get together with friends and each of us take care of part of the meal. Up until now, I’ve never done the entire dinner. But this year, with a Thanksgiving package provided by Golden SHARE Foods, we decided to give hosting a whirl.

Golden SHARE Foods is the largest and oldest grocery cooperative in SoCal – and they have things down to a science. If you’re not familiar with a cooperative, it’s a buying organization that pools resources to to buy in large quantities — and in doing that they save money. Golden SHARE Foods is run by volunteers – another way they keep costs down.

What I found really great is there’s no membership fee or requirement to work in order to purchase food from the cooperative. All you need to do is volunteer in your community (it doesn’t have to be at GSF, but you could volunteer there).

We sampled the Thanksgiving meal box. It included a LOT of food:

  • Frozen turkey (ours was 17 pounds!)
  • Box of stuffing
  • 3# russet potatoes
  • 3# sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli bunch
  • Bag of apples (ours were little washington apples – perfect for our kiddo)
  • Bag of onions
  • Baby carrots (peeled)
  • Bunch of celery
  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 1 doz dinner rolls (ours were potato rolls & they were super fresh & soft)
  • 10 inch pumpkin pie

And if you had bought all of that food for Thanksgiving, you would have paid exactly $36 at GSF. Now we could have made our entire meal just from these items, but there are other things we like to make, too. So this was our family’s Thanksgiving menu, supplemented with some things we had on hand, and a few things from the grocery store:

  • Roasted turkey
  • Dressing (made in my crockpot with a couple other boxes, too – I really like dressing)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Candied sweet potatoes (yes, the ones with marshmallows on top. YUM.)
  • Glazed baby carrots
  • Green bean casserole
  • Organic yellow corn (we had this on hand in the freezer)
  • Homemade gravy
  • Dinner rolls (we did need more than 1 dozen for 6 adults & 1 kid – we really like our bread)
  • Pumpkin pie w/whipped topping

We used the broccoli as an appetizer & chopped it up for dipping in dressing, along with some grape tomatoes and more baby carrots we had on hand.

So how was the food quality? We got rave reviews on the turkey. I think this is the second time we’ve roasted a turkey (we’ve deep fried them in the past). We just watched the temp very closely and pulled it out as soon as it was near the temp we wanted (so it could rest while we made the gravy & finished things).

We did have one bad potato in the russets. But I recently bought a bag of reds at a big name warehouse store and it had a couple of bad ones in there, too. It just happens sometimes. The broccoli and celery were excellent. The baby carrots were the same ones you would buy at the grocery store.

When you buy a package from Golden SHARE Foods, you do have to pick it up at their central warehouse or a nearby distribution location. We had a pick-up point a few miles from us, so we went there. Pick up was to start at 9:30 am, but they were running a little bit late. Turns out they had a lot of orders the day we were there. It was a small delay and no big deal for us. As soon as the trucks arrived with the food, we just jumped in and helped unload. It was all unloaded and sorted in less than 10 minutes.

Getting our items took very little time as well. I swear it was easier than going to my local grocery store – everything is packed in boxes and ready to go. You can see the types of packages that you can buy on the Golden SHARE web site. And definitely check out the sell-off days (where they sell leftover items as even greater savings).

And now the fun part – we get to give away a Christmas meal package!

Here’s what the Holiday Meal package includes:

  • (1)7-9 lbs. Spiral Cut Honey Ham w/ Glaze Packet
  • 1 bag Fresh Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 3 lbs. Fresh Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 lbs. Fresh Apples
  • 2 lbs. Fresh Onions
  • 1 lbs. Fresh Green Beans
  • 1 ea. Fresh Celery Sleeved
  • 1 can Pineapple Chunks in Natural Juice
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 can Apple Sauce
  • 1 doz Dinner Rolls
  • 1 Whole Pumpkin Pie (10 inch/ 40 oz)

This package is valued at $36. How would you like to have your Christmas or Holiday meal paid for? Enter this contest to win by leaving a comment on this post.

To be eligible to win, you need to live near a pickup location in Southern California.

Contest ends on December 4th at 6 pm (PST). I will choose a winner via random drawing. You must be able to pick up your meal package at one of the Golden SHARE Foods pickup locations or at the main warehouse. One comment per person, please.

Disclosure: We received a Thanksgiving meal package so we could try GSF’s services and review it.

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Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado

It is so easy to be fearful these days. The news constantly reports the bad things. Fire, famine, earthquakes, flooding, tsunamis, volcanoes… it’s enough to make you fear walking outside your door. Add the human element of crime: robberies, shootings, terrorists, plane crashes, diseases and it’s a wonder any of us get out of bed. Throw in a little economic uncertainty and we could easily become recluses.

But we don’t IF we don’t let fear rule our lives. And that’s the message of Fearless by Max Lucado. Don’t let fear take control. Don’t let it paralyze you.

I tend to worry a lot. Not just a little, but a lot. Way more than any one person should. Reading this helps remind me that I can’t control everything. And that it’s okay if I don’t.

I really enjoy Lucado’s writing. I’ve read quite a few books of his over the years and they always have accessible language. He’s like a trusted friend, sitting and chatting with you instead of the well-known pastor and author that he is. I have yet to find a book of his that I didn’t enjoy or get something out of.

I like the study guide at the end. While I didn’t go through every exercise like you would in a group (by writing out my answers, etc.), I read it and like the discussion questions. I think it could be an interesting study for a church group.

When I mentioned to friends that I was reading the book, they asked me to let them know how it was. I will be recommending that they read it. We could all use a little more comfort – and a lot less fear – these days. 4 out of 5 stars.

You can buy Fearless from Amazon, or find out more information from the publisher by clicking here.

This review was not compensated beyond receiving a review copy of the book as part of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers program.

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