Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pastors' Wives by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

About the Book:

What’s it like when the man you married is already married to God? asks Pastors’ Wives, an often surprising yet always emotionally true first novel set in a world most of us know only from the outside.
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s debut novel Pastors’ Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith—in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf’s “First Lady,” a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace’s son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen’s reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine,Pastors’ Wives is a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors’ wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.

About the Author:
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen was a longtime staff writer for TIME magazine. She now develops TV pilots for production companies and recently sold her first pilot for "The Ordained" to CBS. Born in Japan, Cullen lives in New Jersey with family.

My Review:
My honest opinion is this -- I really disliked this book.  While it is true that pastors and pastors' wives are human and not sinless.... this book takes things too far.  As I am a pastors' wife, I feel this book makes us all look like hypocrites and liars... closet alcoholics or puppet masters.  I am offended by how she portrays these women... women that I know (meaning other pws) and love.  Sure, there are women out there who are unsure of themselves (either their place in life or their faith) or love the power that sometimes comes with being a PW, but that is not every woman.  I think she would have served us all better if she had thrown in some more realistic normal pastors' wives.  
I was also offended that by the end of the first chapter, there was either 2 or 3 curse words and that's just the beginning.  I'm not sure what is going on with Christian publishing and authors, but if I find it unnecessary in secular movies and books, then I definitely find it unnecessary in Christian movies and books.  
I have never been close and personal friends with any mega-church staff.  Maybe this is what they really are like.  Maybe not.  Either way, I say-- don't just a pastor/pastor's wife by this book!!  
Now, if I had read this book without the mind of a pastor's wife, I might could have not disliked it so much.  I don't that I would have loved it, but not disliked it so much.  The head pastor's wife, Candace,  reminded me of the politician mom on Sweet Home Alabama -- the movie with Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas.  As I read more and more about her, that's how I pictured her.  I did feel sorry for Ginger, but hated how she handled the her whole situation.  Ruthie and her crisis of faith was confusing to me.  I'm not sure if it was ever resolved!  This book was more like the Soap Opera of MegaChurches, rather than the truth of real church life, as the majority of churches in the US are NOT megachurches. The average size of a church in the US is 75 members.  
Otherwise, the writing was great, the transitions were great and honestly... there where things that PWs deal with:  crisis of faith, work-a-holic husbands, demanding churches, pastor's being "framed" for things they haven't done and there's a lot of things that go on "behind the scenes" that most church members never know about.  If you really want to know what's going-- get involved in your church, support your pastor and pastor's wife-- it's a lonely place to be!
I found this book to be a disappointment.  At most, I give it three stars and recommend it with caution.

More reviews of this book can be found here:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher  in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Litfuse Publicity.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Can't Wait Willow! by Christy Ziglar

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Can't Wait Willow! is a wonderful, engaging book about the importance of learning value. I received this book to review and waited until the time was right to read it to my 6 year old.  When the time was right, I pulled the book out and my daughter's eyes grew big and happy.  She was thrilled with the colorful illustrations and sparkly (glittery) parts on the front cover.  I opened the book and read it to her.  She is learning to read in her kindergarten class at school, so she kind of helped me read the book.  We read through and as I read, we talked occasionally about what was in the book.  I could really tell that she was paying attention and thinking about it all.  I know she probably didn't really understand it all completely, but I think reading it a couple more times will help her understand.  I loved the book!  It has a great message, beautiful pictures and is relate-able.  I think it will be a great addition to any children's library and a great educational tool.  Perfect for your home library, but also makes a great gift or addition to the church library or Sunday School library.  

About Shine Bright Kids:
The Shine Bright Kids series provides children and their families with a relevant framework to help instill solid values and teach the importance of making good choices. The principles that will be explored include: using good judgment, taking responsibility, having a positive attitude, and demonstrating perseverance.

The first book in the series:  Can't-Wait Willow!
Willow is so excited that the Over-the-Top Circus has finally come to town! The only problem is, that when left to her own devices, she can’t say “no” to some good things. On the way to the show, she is distracted by enticing treats and fun that she just can’t turn down. Willow arrives late and is sad to find that, not only has she has run out of time, but money, and she won’t be able to enjoy the pink cotton candy she’s been dreaming of. Willow is given valuable advice and a second chance and is ultimately taught the lesson that sometimes in life you have to say “no” to good things to end up with something great!

About the Author:  (Recognize the last name Ziglar?!?)
Christy Ziglar, financial planner, mother of twins and niece of legendary motivator and the world’s original optimist, Zig Ziglar, is bringing the same timeless wisdom and ageless advice to an entirely new, younger audience through her new Shine Bright Kids picture book series. 

About the Illustrator: Thanks to her first grade teacher, who recognized her superior skills in drawing a robin, Luanne Marten has been drawing, painting and sketching ever since.  She is a great experimenter and has a fresh, whimsical approach to bring her characters to life.
Website: The author's website has great resources to support the book, including a printable poster with 'Ways to Shine Bright,' as well as reward chart you can use at home with your children. 

The publisher site is: