Tag: Memoir

The Magnolia Story

Authors: Chip and Joanna Gaines
Published: October 18, 2016

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 5-8, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description from Amazon:

Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people? What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.

In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:

  • The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
  • Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
  • When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
  • Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
  • Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
  • Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
  • The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
  • The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way

And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”

Jessica’s Review:

I will admit I knew almost nothing about Chip and Joanna Gaines before I listened to the audiobook of The Magnolia Story. I had only seen the show once while my car was being serviced about two years ago.  All I knew is that they flipped houses and are Christians. I chose to listen to The Magnolia Story as I am waiting on another audiobook to arrive from the library. The Magnolia Story is a short narration of only five hours.

Both Chip and Joanna narrate, but Chip is the better narrator.  To me it sounded like Joanna was reading a report in school that she had to write for class.  If she had been the sole narrator I would not have finished the memoir.  I did enjoy The Magnolia Story as I liked hearing how they met and their life together.  Hearing about some of the financial difficulties they had and how God brought them through it helped me personally.  Even though some of the difficulties were through their choices it helped me to hear about them and their faith.  I am interested in watching their show. They could do wonders on my house. Hmmm…. Maybe Chip will buy it and Joanna will go along with it….  😉

Both Chip and Joanna are far from perfect people. In fact no one is perfect, but Chip does seem very impulsive, almost recklessly.  Buying houses without consulting Joanna and refusing to pay tickets to the point where your wife almost goes to jail after just having a baby!?!? They were fortunate that they were able to get the name on the tickets switched to Chip’s name. Then he says he had a pleasant experience in jail… What?!?

Chip definitely has some growing up to do.  He left his infant child home alone… twice!  Then he drove a four-wheeler with his infant.  What!?!? I’ve never been around babies much, but even I know you don’t do those kinds of things!

For me, it was a good introduction to Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I would like to see their show after listening to the audio book to see more of what they are about.  The Magnolia Story is recommended. I would suggest reading the book versus listening to the audio due to the narration issues I had.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Last Call: From Serving Drinks to Serving Jesus

Author: Jerry Herships
Published: October 20, 2015
192 pages in Kindle

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 2- 8, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description from Goodreads:

Jerry Herships, former altar boy who had dreamed of making it big in show biz, tended bar to make ends meet as he worked gigs in comedy and game shows, looking for his big break. After giving up the dream and leaving Los Angeles, he found his way back to the church and discovered God calling him to ministry-but not just any ministry. Now he leads AfterHours Denver, a bar church where people worship with a whiskey in their hand and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to serve Denver’s homeless. Last Call is a story of having and giving up on dreams, finding yourself, and finding how God can use you in unexpected ways.

Jessica’s Review:

Last Call is Jerry Herships’ autobiography of his life thus far.  He had a dream of being in show business and Last Call is his journey that led to him founding AfterHours, which is ‘church in a bar’.  He seems to know what people need in church and created an environment that reaches those that might not ever set foot in a church and also helping the homeless.

We go on this journey as he tells us about trying to ‘make it’ in the entertainment industry to becoming a UMC pastor (United Methodist Church). It is definitely a unique journey. He does eventually end up on late night television, just not in the way he intended!

Herships tells it like it is and Last Call is a short and easy to read memoir. It makes you think about church and what you want from it. And are you getting what you need?  What could you do to help with church?  What is your mission?  Besides having church in a bar he also feeds PB&J to the homeless and has communion in a park in Denver.  He reaches the people that may never feel like they can go to church, and these people all become family. He says some people say his is a ministry and not a church, but it is a church! Church is wherever two or more come together to worship Jesus and our Father, no matter the location! Some locations are more ‘open’ to others than other locations.

This is a memoir that those who work in a church should read, they may learn something.  The only thing that could interfere with his message is that he does use some foul language, which he does mention beforehand as a disclaimer, but that could deter some from reading Last Call. It is not ‘heavy use’ language, but something for readers to look out for.

Last Call is recommended.

I received a copy from NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review it!


Standalone Sunday: The Last Victim

Standalone Sunday was started by Megan over at Bookslayer Reads.

What is Standalone Sunday?

Each Sunday bloggers feature a standalone book (one that is not part of a series) that they loved or would recommend. The standalone can also be one you want to read. There is so much focus on books that are part of a series that standalone books seem to be forgotten. They can be just as great as book series!

Here is my selection for this week:

The Last Victim

Book Description:

Dear Mr. Manson…
It started with a college course assignment, then escalated into a dangerous obsession. Eighteen-year-old honor student Jason Moss wrote to men whose body counts had made criminal history: men named Dahmer, Manson, Ramirez, and Gacy.

Dear Mr. Dahmer…
Posing as their ideal victim, Jason seduced them with his words. One by one they wrote him back, showering him with their madness and violent fantasies. Then the game spun out of control. John Wayne Gacy revealed all to Jason — and invited his pen pal to visit him in prison…

Dear Mr. Gacy…
It was an offer Jason couldn’t turn down. Even if it made him…

The book that has riveted the attention of the national media, this may be the most revealing look at serial killers ever recorded and the most illuminating study of the dark places of the human mind ever attempted.

I read this memoir several times in college. This was when all I was reading was true-crime books; I could not get enough of them. And this one was fascinating though it is not for everyone as it is very graphic.  There is a movie called Dear Mr. Gacy that is based off this memoir.  Sadly, the author committed suicide in 2006.