Book Review: Mama Maggie


Mama Maggie: The Untold Story of One Woman’s Mission to Love the Forgotten Children of Egypt’s Garbage Slums by Marty Makary and Ellen Vaughn is the story about a Coptic Christian woman, Maggie Gobran aka “Mama Maggie”, and the ministry she began to reach the children in the garbage slums of Egypt.

While I really enjoyed reading about Mama Maggie and Stephen’s Children (her ministry), I had a bit of a hard time with the actual writing.

First off, I didn’t feel a lot of continuity in the story. It didn’t flow well, and seemed a little “choppy”. Now, the information for the book did come from multiple interviews (family and friends of Mama Maggie, workers at Stephen’s Children, etc…) so that could have contributed to the jumpiness of the story, but I felt it should have been handled a little better.

Also, the story felt very casual and first-draft like. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that style of writing, because I know that’s how I tend to write the blog, but to me a published book shouldn’t sound like it’s trying to be a spoken conversation. There were a number of sentences that began “So, today …..”

Finally, this book was more about Mama Maggie AND her organization. I went into the book expecting to come out knowing Mama Maggie, and I left only knowing about her… AND Stephen’s Children. Again, nothing wrong with that (see paragraph below), but the description didn’t quite match up to what the book was about.

However, on the flip side I DID enjoy getting to know about Mama Maggie and Stephen’s Children and the important work that they do on a daily basis. Before I read this book I didn’t know that either of them existed. I did feel like I got a real sense of the struggles these people go through on a daily basis, both with being Christian and living in poverty. It really did make me stop and think how well we have it here.

Overall, I know it didn’t sound like I cared for this book on account of the writing, but I really did enjoyed the content. It is truly amazing the work they are accomplishing. And at the beginning of each chapter they had a quote and those were simply amazing!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Book Review: Capture the Moment


Capture the Moment: The Modern Photographer’s Guide to Finding Beauty in Everyday and Family Life by Sarah Wilkerson is a great “little” book that is jammed packed with photography tips and info, specifically geared towards capturing life’s little everyday moments.

The book is divided into six chapters – natural light, fine art and black and white to name a few. Each chapter is filled with ideas on how to make the most of whichever type of photography you’re “going for”. For example in the “Natural Light” chapter one of the ideas is “seek out window light” and it goes on to describe in the space of a few lines what is meant by that.

While many of the ideas in the book I had heard of before (I like to read a lot of photography books and blogs 🙂 ), what I really enjoyed was the concise, thorough description of each of the ideas presented and that the accompanying photograph provided a beautiful visual for that specific idea.

This book was really less about the technical “how to take a photo” and more focused on the creative and design elements of photography. (There is an index of photographic terms in the back in case you get stuck – there was one specific term I hadn’t heard and that was pretty clearly described back there!). Overall this was a very pleasant book to read. Full of inspiration. And easy to pick up and put down, as is *always* a plus for an on-the-go mama like me.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
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Book Review: 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserable by Bob Welch


52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables by Bob Welch is about life lessons one is able to find in Victor Hugo’s massive piece of classic French literature. Lesson 6: “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit”; Lesson 26: “The Past Can Be a Springboard to the Future” and Lesson 40: “Self-Pity Morphs Into Selfishness” are just a small sampling of the lessons touched on in this book.
Generally each lesson begins with a short quote from the original. It then continues talking about a particular scene, moves on into a “real life” example and scriptural reference, and concludes with a thought provoking question or final thought.
There are several things I really liked about this book. One, the length of the chapters (most are only a few pages) make it totally manageable to pick up and read for a few minutes and set down. Although, to be noted: even though you *could* blow through the chapters one after the other, the homily-like lessons have so much excellent thought-provoking content that’s it well worth it to stop and reflect before moving on.

The other thing was the “real life” stories and parallels that are drawn continuously throughout the book. The makes the lessons so much more relatable to our own lives today and really underscores the lessons from the original

When I first picked up the book I hadn’t begun to read the original,  but this book gave me the push and excitement I needed to get going on that. It also helped to provide a framework for me to hang the story on.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”
Any other links may be Amazon Affiliates, thank you for supporting HFN

January 2015: What I read

jan2015When I started this post I didn’t realize the actual number of books I finished reading last month. So, now that I look at it, I realize why this blog has consisted mainly of a few photo posts and not much else. So glad you’ve stuck around. 🙂

From the 2014 Reading List:
Both these books I ultimately listened to on audiobook. Simplicity Parenting from the library using Overdrive (love, love, LOVE that service!) and S&S from (using the librivox recording by Elizabeth Klett) {total side note, but Audiobooks has an app for the phone (the Cross Forward one is the one I use), and once I found that it was much easier than streaming from the internet – sorry I can’t link to it, can’t seem to find it on the regular computer…}

simplicity parentingSimplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross.

I absolutely LOVE the ideas presented in this book. Especially the overall theme of simplifying your lifestyle (clutter, screen time, activities, etc…) so that your children have time and space to explore and *be* children. {And indirectly so that you have time and space to allow them to *be*.}

I really wish that I had a physical copy of this book so that I could re-read it, mark it up and let the words really sink in, but alas I don’t. I will definitely be purchasing this book at some point though.

I feel like I’ve already been working on doing some of the decluttering that he talks about, but it’s a slow process. I am still learning how to let things go…


sense and sensibility
Sense and Sensibility (Vintage Classics) by Jane Austen

I started this one a while back (maybe in November of last year), and just finished it up at the end of January. (I took a BIG break in December and most of January…)

Of all the Austen novels I’ve read so far (which is now all except for Northanger Abbey), this is the one where I felt I could relate to the characters the most.

Knocking Off of This Year’s List:

the fault in our stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

So, ummm, wow. Bring your tissues.
This story is about love and loss and more specifically about learning to love yourself through that loss.

Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.

bel canto
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

A novel which had been on hold forever at the library. A fascinating story. It doesn’t follow the continuous timeline (well, it does, but it jumps around a lot) and somehow it works!

Set in the “host country” a group of dignitaries is captured by a rebel group looking for the president. Upon not finding him amongst the captives they decide to keep the remaining captives indefinitely. The story covers that time. Ultimately its about relationships and shows people as being inherently good.

hands free

 Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! by Rachel Macy Stafford

I liked this book to an extent. It has some good stories on living less distractedly (i.e. less phone time, less computer time) and more intentional time spent with your children.

There were a few things that didn’t really “mesh well” with me. One was that intentional time with your children, in the book seems to happen every waking minute. Nothing wrong with making the time spent with your children intentional, but at some point the laundry does need to get done.

Another was that the author’s personality is very different than mine, so a lot of what she was saying was to me, really extreme. Don’t get me wrong, I spend my fair share of time on the computer, but I’m not one for volunteering for every single group that comes asking… I also have no problem heading out somewhere in yoga pants and unwashed hair… and I’m not really a perfectionist… But that’s just me.

Finally, I listened to this book on audiobook (from the library) and I was getting irritated with the reader by about half way through.

husbands secret
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Picked this one off the library shelf because of the author. This was a very well written novel. About a woman who’s husband has a deep dark secret from his past (it’s not what you’d think). And how that secret has the power to drastically change not only her and her husband’s life, but the lives of many others that they don’t even know personally.

This is a great story of “what-ifs”. I love how in the epilogue the author goes so far as to “be God” (if you will) and tell you what would have happened if this happened. Or what would have happened if that had happened.

This is not a Christian book (although the family is nominally Catholic now that I think of it), so there is the occasional sexual reference/escapade (they’re non-explicit). So, if you’re really bothered by that sort of thing, then keep this in mind before reading.

notes blue bike

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider

Where to start? This is, to me the best combination of the “Simplicity Parenting” book (less stuff, just *be*) combined with the few good points of the “Hands Free” book (minimal distracting devices, intentional time spent) all wrapped up with budgeting, living and cooking local and world traveling. Um, yup. That just about covers it.

I thought I had pretty successfully squashed my international-travel-bug, but then I read this book and it totally worked it’s way back into my thoughts…..

A few quick goals for February:
* finish Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage (The Crosswicks Journal, Book 4) by Madeline L’Engle
* finish (and review) 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables by Bob Welch
* finish Northanger Abbey (Vintage Classics) by Jane Austen (this one I’m listening to also, so it’s my doing laundry, washing dishes book)
* hope that nothing else becomes available from the library. If it does than I’ll work those into the schedule.
* get to page 371 (or pretty close) in Les Mis. (I got a little behind while catching up all my library books last month)

Linking with Jessica at HousewifeSpice for WWRW