Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith

Name of book: Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith

Compiler: Margaret McSweeney

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart KnowsGo Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, Mother of Pearl and Aftermath.

With a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business, Margaret became a vice-president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there 1986–93.

As founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs.

Summary (from Litfuse): Like oysters, women often encounter unexpected grit during their everyday lives. In response, God’s love and grace covers this grit and transforms the pain into a precious pearl that leaves a layered, luminous lining within a shell: Mother of Pearl. This brilliant luster is strong, lasting, and purposeful—just like the love, lessons, and legacies left by the special women in our lives.

Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. Margaret McSweeney presents a collection of heartfelt vignettes from authors who communicate the importance of the unique relationships between mothers and their children, between granddaughters and grandmothers and between children and the mother-figures in their lives.

These stories tell of the power of faith, prayer, and values, exploring coming of age, the joy of becoming a mother, the importance of motherhood, the ways to heal from a bad relationship with a mother and weathering the death of a special loved one. Poignant and thought-provoking, the stories serve to inspire, encourage, instill hope, and strengthen faith.

The proceeds from the sale of Mother of Pearl will be donated to organizations helping struggling women and children. The charities include Wings (Women in Need Growing Stronger) to help fund the Safe House in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Zambia.

Rating: 5

Reason for rating: This book – wow, what can I say about it. It was absolutely fabulously written and put together. The stories ranged across the gamut and they both made me smile and brought tears to my eyes. Some of the short pieces were more story-telling style while others were more factual but they were all inspiring and some were even challenging. Not in a challenging hard kind of a way, but in a way where they challenged you to take a specific action. It made me long to be a mom like these mothers and to miss my mom all the more. As soon as I finished this book, I texted her “I love you and miss you mom.” I also really appreciate that the proceeds of this book go to helping people. All in all, it’s a great read paired with great causes. I also really appreciated that most of the pieces were short so I could read one or two in just five or ten minutes which would leave me thinking as I worked on other things.

Find Mother of Pearl on Inspiring Voices

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Disclosure: I was provided with a free e-book copy of this in exchange for my honest review. These thoughts and feelings are 100 percent mine and 100 percent real!


The Choice

Name of book: The Choice

Author: Robert Whitlow

Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.

For more about Robert and his other books, visit

Summary (from Litfuse): One young woman. Two very different roads. The choice will change everything.

Even as a pregnant, unwed teen in 1974, Sandy Lincoln wanted to do the right thing. But when an ageless woman approached her in a convenience store with a mysterious prophecy and a warning, doing the right thing became even more unclear. She made the best choice she could . . . and has lived with the consequences.

More than thirty years later, a pregnant teen has come into her life, and Sandy’s long-ago decision has come back to haunt her. The stakes rise quickly, leaving Sandy with split seconds to choose once more. But will her choice decision bring life . . . or death?

Rating: 4.5

Reason for rating: Well when I first started reading this book I wasn’t so sure about it. To me, the first part of the book seems rushed and some lines and parts feel a little cliche. I was like yeah, yeah, yeah same old same old, I’ve heard this story before, give me something new. But sticking with it, the second part improved greatly, I found myself getting to know and really relate to these characters. (I am trying so hard right now, by the way, to write this review without spoilers because there are so many things I could say in more specific details, but I don’t want to give away huge chunks of the plot). By the end of the book, I was reading as fast as I could, trying so hard to find out what would happen next.  When I finished, I had tears in my eyes and the story had moved me deeply. As someone who did mock trial in high school and Model UN in college, I appreciated the legal aspects of it as well. The only other thing is that I’m not so sure I liked was the whole prophecy thing. It was a little too mysticism feeling for my liking, but I could look past that to the overall story itself and I understand how it furthered the plot. I think this book reminded me a little of Jodi Piccoult’s work, one of my favorite authors. I say that because of the interwoven ethical/moral dilemma, interaction with the legal system, and strong relationship/family components. I appreciated also that it was a Christian book on the subject of unwanted pregnancy and the choice between adoption, abortion, or parenting without ever coming across as preachy or holier than thou. It was refreshing. I think if you have ever been involved in the pro-life movement (as I have) that you will find this book a mostly enjoyable read.

Oh! There’s a contest by the way, for a Nook color. For some reason my e-mail is having trouble with attachments (I tried opening it 5 times and it gave me “unknown error, we are unable to download this attachment.” So instead, I am going to direct you here where you can find all the details about the contest.

Find The Choice on Thomas Nelson

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Disclosure: I was provided with a free e-book copy of this in exchange for my honest review. These thoughts and feelings are 100 percent mine and 100 percent real!

Song of My Heart Review

Name of bookSong of My Heart

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Reviewer: Melissa

Summary: Sadie Wagner has always been devoted to her family. So when her stepfather is injured and can’t work, she decides to leave home and accept a position as a clerk at the mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas. Goldtree also offers the opportunity to use her God-given singing talent–though the promised opera house is far different from what she imagined. With her family needing every cent she can provide, Sadie will do anything to keep her job.

McKane comes to Goldtree at the request of the town council. The town has been plagued by bootlegging operations, and Thad believes he can find the culprit.
After he earns enough money doing sheriff work, he wants to use it to pay for his training to become a minister.
Thad is immediately attracted to the beautiful singer who performs in Asa Baxter’s unusual opera house, but when he hears her practicing bawdy tunes, he begins to wonder if she’s far less innocent than she seems. And when Sadie appears to be part of the very crimes he’s come to investigate, is there any hope the love blossoming between them will survive?
About the Author:  Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of nineteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women’s fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.
She invites you to visit her Web site at for more information.
Rating: 4

Reason for rating: I have to be honest. When I first started off this book and for about the first half off the book, I thought it was just okay. I was going to rate it three stars. Sid (Sadie’s cousin that first writes to her about the opportunity to move to Goldtree) annoyed me at first. I figured out who the bootlegger was on very early on. The love triangle aspect of the book bored me quickly. It felt a little predictable at first. But as I moved into the last third of the book, I found myself really enjoying it. Sid came around to be more likable. The plot thickens. Sadie was a really likable character from the beginning and she only became more likable to me as the book went on because of all the human emotions that Sadie experienced that felt so real and genuine to me. I was rooting for her. Plus, not only that, but I really liked the Christian themes in the book. Some of the verses and reminders that the characters brought to mind happened to also be verses and reminders that I needed to hear at this point in time. Overall it was a good light read and I enjoyed it when I finished it. If you’re unsure about it in the beginning, keep reading because it has a good ending.

Celebrate with Kim by entering to win a Nook Tablet and connecting with her at the Book Chat Party on 3/29!

One “songbird” winner will receive:

  • A Nook Tablet
  • Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/28/12. Winner will be announced at Kim’s Book Chat Facebook Party on 3/29. Kim will be hosting an evening of chat, fun trivia and more! She’ll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and much more!
So grab your copy of Song of My Heart and join Kim and friends on the evening of March 29th for an evening of fun.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

While I can’t make the Facebook party (we have child birth classes that night), I hope that you will be able to make it! Facebook parties are always a lot of fun and if you’ve never been to one before, don’t worry, there will be someone who can help you along.

Find Song of My Heart on Amazon

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You can find more on this book as well as links to read other reviewers’ thoughts on the book here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this for free to provide my honest thoughts about the book. I was under no obligation to review it positively.

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place Review

Name of book: Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Author: Terry Tempest Williams

Reviewer: Melissa

Summary (from Amazon): “In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry’s mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.”

Rating: 3

Reason for rating: I thought this book was just okay. I had high hopes for this book after I read select excerpts in my literature and environment class. And on some levels, it did deliver. There were parts of the book that were very touching and beautiful. Especially the parts concerning her family and the people side of things. But there were other parts that were quite boring. I mean, they were beautiful in a sense, her description of the birds and so on, but there was a little too much of that for my taste. I think it would be an excellent book for the right reader, but it wasn’t quite for me. That being said, I do like that she has a very distinctive and unique voice and I like the way that she blends narratives together and I did indeed find some of the environmental things very interesting. However, after a while it sort of felt like they were just lists of birds. Perhaps it would have helped if I had been familiar with the birds.

Find Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place on Amazon

Find Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place on Goodreads

Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I checked it out from the library and decided to review it. All opinions in this post are 100 percent mine.

XVI Review

Name of book: XVI

Author: Julia Karr

Reviewer: Melissa

Summary (from the author’s website): “In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina’s father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he’s been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad.”

Rating: 5

Reason for rating:I loved this book. I think what drew me to it initially was the fact that was dystopian (I liked dystopian in 1984 before it was even trendy) but what made me stay was so much more. First of all, strong female characters. Nina was a strong female character, as were her mother and her little sister. I loved the larger questions it made me think about teenagers and the pressure to have sex and the way a society is (like maybe it’s more formal in this society – more spoken about, but is it really that much different now?). I loved the relationship between Nina and her little sister – it reminded me of the relationship between me and my little sister, even if I don’t have the same family situation. I love the hidden secrets and the things left under the surface. I love that Nina is written like a real character – you can see her struggle and I felt her feelings and emotions were very real. I think this is a must read book for anyone who is interested in these larger questions about sex and teenage girls in society in particular.

Find XVI on Amazon

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Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I checked it out from the library and loved it. All opinions in this post are 100 percent mine.

Soaring Home Review

Name of book: Soaring Home

Author: Christine Johnson

Reviewer: Melissa

Summary: At the end of WWI, a small-town girl plans to make a big splash for women’s rights by being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.  All she needs is a plane, a co-pilot, and flight lessons.
Her prayers seem answered when a chauvinistic, though admittedly dashing, pilot lands in her hometown.  The man blocks her every effort to make the grand flight, but she perseveres, sure she’s following God’s plan.  God, however, has a way of turning the best-laid plans to his own surprising purposes.

Rating: 5

Reason for rating:I loved this book. I know I say that a lot, but I really do think there are a lot of great books out there right now. I think what drew me into this book is a strong female character and also the intriguing idea of flight. Being the first woman pilot to fly anything is fascinating to me – I loved reading about Amelia Earhart. I also loved that it was a Christian book but it never felt to me like it was preaching – it seemed to be a natural part of the story. I also liked the romance – I liked that it wasn’t an easy romance. Overall I thought this was an excellent book that I would recommend to many others. I also like how it included details about flight and planes and yet while I’m not particularly interested in the mechanics of planes, it became interesting to me in the way that the author has written it.

Find Soaring Home on Amazon

Find Soaring Home on Goodreads

Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I received a free copy of the book in order to provide my opinions about it. All opinions in this post are 100 percent mine.

Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History Review

Dear Readers (If I have any left) I have been a bad book blogger. I hope I can make it up to you. I will try to post reviews in a more timely manner, but it doesn’t always happen. Maybe after I’m finished with school it will. At any rate, here is your review. Enjoy!

Name of book: Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History

Author: Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Reviewer: Melissa


What new crisis will the federal government manufacture in order to acquire more power over individuals? What new lies will it tell?

Throughout our history, the federal government has lied to send our children off to war, lied to take our money, lied to steal our property, lied to gain our trust, and lied to enhance its power over us. Not only does the government lie to us, we lie to ourselves. We won’t admit that each time we let the government get away with misleading us, we are allowing it to increase in size and power and decrease our personal liberty.

In acquiescing to the government’s continuous fraudulent behavior, we bear partial responsibility for the erosion of our individual liberties and the ever-expanding federal regulation of private behavior. This book attacks the culture in government that facilitates lying, and it challenges readers to recognize that culture, to confront it, and to be rid of it.

Rating: 5

Reason for rating: I loved this book. It is a perfect book for a political science major like me. The book contains 17 lies – some that I knew or suspected already and some that were new. What I liked about it was that I felt it was really approachable but yet still interesting. Even among the sections that I knew something about already, I still found that I was learning new things. I feel like this will be approachable for people who haven’t studied this area. Also, I feel like if you were talking about or debating certain areas, it would be easy to photocopy just that chapter and use it to help you talk. I also love books like this because I feel that Americans do have the right to truth and books like this try and bring it closer. While some might say that this book has a slant (and I’m sure it does – most political books have slants) I felt that a lot of the facts that I already knew in reading it were consistent with what I had already learned. Even if you just checked out the book from the library and picked out only the sections that sounded interesting to you, you’d still learn a lot.

Find Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History on Amazon

Find Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History on Goodreads

Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I received a free copy of the book in order to provide my opinions about it. All opinions in this post are 100 percent mine.

I review for BookSneeze®

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