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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews

No one does biblical fiction better than Mesu Andrews. Once again, this time in "Isaiah's Daughter,  she makes the biblical world come alive for the reader. The Hebrew nation is divided and Judah and Israel are at war. Caught in the midst of the warring, Ishma a young girl, becomes an orphan and is taken to Jerusalem and adopted into the family of the prophet Isaiah.

Once adopted, Ishma (which means desolation) is renamed Hephzibah (delight of the Lord). As a young girl she is tutored along side Hezekiah, the king's son who has seen the horrible sacrifice of his older brother to a pagan god. Their friendship blossoms into something more and Hephzibah serves as queen of Judah alongside her husband, King Hezekiah.

With threats from Assyria and the sometimes difficult prophecies of Isaiah, these are challenging times for the rulers of Judah. As Queen Hephzibah and King Hezekiah struggle to face these challenges, they learn a great deal about the God in whom they put their trust.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.   

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Whisper by Mark Batterson

Product DetailsMark Batterson has done a masterful job of describing how God speaks to His people today. Through Scripture and personal stories and illustrations, he explains seven love languages that God uses to speak to an individual. These include Scripture, Desires, Doors, Dreams, People, Prompting and Pain. He explains each of these languages in this very readable and informative book.

I would highly recommend this for anyone seeking to hear God’s voice and to understand His leading in their lives. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Immeasurable by Skye Jethani

So many times in church ministry, the thought is that bigger is better.  Whether it is a worship service or an outreach event, the more people involved or the more money that is raised determines whether the service or event has been a success. Instead of focusing on doing the work or ministry, Skye Jethani asks ministry leaders to take a step back and ask “Are we doing the right work?”

Although, the book is mainly for pastors, I found many of the questions raised in the book pertaining to anyone involved in leading within the church.  The book can be read  a chapter at a time with time used to reflect on the questions posed at the end of each chapter. Chapter titles included Ambition, Effectiveness, Wastefulness, Enemies, Brevity, Celebrity, Technology, Justice and Consumers to name a few.  Topics examined include how American consumerism has affected whether or not we commit to a local church; why reading is an essential discipline of ministry; and is effectiveness a measure of success or an idol.

This book is a valuable resource to anyone who in actively involved in ministry and provides much food for thought and reflection.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review. 

Long Before Luther by Nathan Busenitz

The author of this book poses the question,"Was the Reformation understanding of justification through faith alone an invention or a recovery?" Author Nathan Busenitz first takes a look at the church history in documents dating from before Augustine. He then examines what Augustine has to say about justification and finally takes a look at the church after Augustine.

This book is based on documents which are duly quoted and noted in this historical survey. The conclusion of the book is that the Reformation understanding of justification was not a theological innovation never before anticipated in church history. The doctrine of justification or sola fide is anchored in God's Word and it is also affirmed throughout church history. It was not a new concept created at the time of the Reformation.

This book is for those seriously interested in  theology, church history and/or the Reformation, I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

Product DetailsThis is a heartbreaking true story of a former captive of the Islamic State. Nadia and her family belonged to the Yazidi community in the village of Kocho, in northern Iraq. This peaceful community got along well with their Muslim neighbors until ISIS captured their town. Everyone in the small village was either captured or killed. Nadia was taken captive along with other female family members and all were sold as sex slaves within the ISIS network.

Although she was repeatedly raped and beaten, Nadia manages to escape. She is able to tell her story to the United Nations and to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her courage and strength are an inspiration. The story opens the reader's eyes to the brutality of ISIS and also gives an understanding of the Yadizi people and their religion.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Prairie Girl's Faith by Stephen W. Hines

Product DetailsLaura Ingalls Wilder is well known for her "Little House on the Prairie" series of books. What is not well known is what her spiritual life was like. The author attempts to cast some light on Laura's spiritual life as she was growing up in her pioneer family as well as in her later life.

While not going into a great deal of detail, examples of the hymns the Wilder family would have sung and a history of the churches they attended are described. There are also recollections of people who knew her personally during her later years.

It makes for interesting reading for those who are fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Nourished by Lia Huber

Product DetailsThis memoir is one of food, faith and enduring love. And it also includes recipes which adds an extra bonus to reading this book. Lia Huber's quest to be nourished takes many twists and turns along the way beginning in Corfu, winding through Mexico. Costa Rico, and other inviting places. Along the way she discovers new foods and tastes which she describes so well to the reader.

Not only is Lia looking for physical nourishment, but she finds she is also looking to fill a void she feels both spiritually and emotionally. Along the way she becomes a Christian and her spiritual journey is interwoven through her story. Faced with a number of physical challenges, she learns the art of enjoying simple food and finding hope and healing as a result.

Her journey is one in which she discovers her calling to be nourished and to nourish others.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, October 30, 2017

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

Product DetailsThe book of Proverbs is filled with wisdom. Author, Liz Curtis Higgs, takes selected verses from the book of Proverbs. Her intent is not to give you a list of do's and don't, but instead to show you how good God is.

The book is organized into 31 chapters, which makes it ideal to read one chapter a day on the given day of the month. At the end of each chapter is "One Minute, One Step" which is a short exercise for you to do to apply the spiritual truth found in that chapter. Also, there is a study guide in the back of the book which could be used to aid in the discussion of the book in a small group setting.

I have yet to read a book by Liz Curtis Higgs that I did not enjoy and gain some spiritual insight from. She is open in sharing her own struggles in life as she delves into the truth from the book of Proverbs. I would highly recommend this book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fire on the Track by Roseanne Montillo

Product DetailsReaders of "Unbroken" and "Boys in the Boat" will enjoy this book about the inclusion of women in the Olympic games in 1928. Betty Robinson was the first women to win a gold medal in the 100 meter race. Her life took an unexpected turn when preparing for the 1932 Olympics, she was injured in a plane crash. Her hopes were dashed to compete in those Olympics, but she made an amazing comeback to compete in the 1936 games in Berlin.

Along with Betty, other women in those early Olympics were featured. Some of those Olympians included Babe Didrikson, Stella Walsh, and Helen Stephens. All competed in the Track and Field events.

This was an interesting look at the 1920's and 1930's and the women who paved the way for women athletes to be included in the Olympic games.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Paul and His Team by Ryan Lokkesmoe

Paul and His Team: What the Early Church Can Teach Us About Leadership and InfluenceThis is an excellent resource for anyone involved in church leadership, but is not for only leaders. As the book demonstrates, one of the most important jobs of the leader is to develop a great group of people around him/her. This includes not only creating a team, but encouraging each member to grow and use their unique gifts and talents while building them up. This book looks at Paul and the unique circumstances in which he found himself along with the people around him. While this is not a guide with instructions, it helps leaders to examine who they are as a leader, take a look at the individuals on their team, analyze how the team works together and why they do the things they do. 
Each chapter has questions at the end of it to aid in individual or group study. Whether you are a leader or not, the principles discussed in the book applies to anyone. I especially appreciated the chapter on the quest for common ground. There is much to think about and  apply to our daily lives.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu

Product DetailsThe cover of this advent devotional is just beautiful and the content inside is a beautiful gift in itself. Many of us get lost in the busyness of the season and the reason for the season gets buried amidst all of the chaos. This book will give individuals and families a way to step back and worship Jesus. It will aid in recapturing the sense of awe and wonder of who Jesus is in anticipation of the celebration of His birth. The four weeks of Advent (Hope, Preparation, Joy and Love) feature a brief outline for a time of worship and the lighting of the candle for that particular week. There are daily readings focused on the names of Jesus.

An added bonus, is that you can go online to download other resources for activities and bonus materials. I would highly recommend this book for anyone including families with children looking to enrich their Advent season and preparation for Christmas.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Product DetailsThis is another in the Hogarth Shakespeare series. "Dunbar" is based on Shakespeare's "King Lear." Henry Dunbar is the powerful head of  a global media corporation. As he becomes more frail, he turns over the leading of the corporation to his two older daughters, Abby and Megan. He finds himself imprisoned in a psychiatric facility in rural England because of the actions of his devious and immoral daughters. His youngest daughter, Florence, is unaware of what her sister has done and makes the effort to find the whereabouts of her father. 

This was one book in the Hogarth series that I would have to say that I did not care for at all. Much of the content contained an excessive amount of profanity as well as some crude and explicit sexual content. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Daring to Hope - Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors

Product DetailsWhen Katie Davis Majors, founder or Amazima Ministries, moved to Uganda she did not know what challenges and heartaches she would encounter. After adopting 13 children, her life was busy and full. In spite of all of her responsibilities, that did not stop her from opening her home to those in need. She cared for people dying of AIDs, those, struggling with addiction, and those who were orphaned. She did not do this at a distance, but many times caring for individuals in her own home.

In the midst of  all this tragedy and heartache, she asked the questions, "Is  God really good? "Does He really love us?" In the pages of this book you will find how Katie struggled with her questions and the answers she discovered through the pages of Scripture. Above all she found that her hope in God will never leave her disappointed.

Her struggles and sorrows may be different from the average person, but the questions remain the same. Katie's story will encourage readers to be reminded of the gifts of joy in the midst of sorrow.
Her honesty and transparency is evident in the pages of this book and I highly recommend it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Calm, Cool and Connected by Arlene jPellicane

This is a great little book for anyone who feels overwhelmed with staying connected using technology. The author gives you 5 digital habits for a more balanced life. You don't need to throw away your smart phone, but instead set some common sense boundaries. These five habits are: Hold down the off button; Always put people first; Brush daily: live with a clean conscience; I will go online with a purpose; and Take a hike. This practical book will help anyone seeking to declutter their lives in using social media and technology.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.

The Yes Effect by Luis Bush with Darcy Wiley

This book is a collection of inspiring stories about people who said yes to God. Some involved taking big risks and being in uncomfortable situations to follow God's lead. The author, Luis Bush, is the originator of the 10/40 Window concept and reflects on his experiences in watching God move through the "Yes" of His people. This is an encouragement to all Christians to say "Yes" to God wherever they are and make a difference in the lives of those around them or in distant lands. It was be a great book to read in a small group setting to discuss how to live a life involved in making a difference in others' lives.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.   

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

The year is 1774 and the Ohio-Kentucky border is the location for this work of historical fiction. Despite rising tensions between the white settlers and the Indians, Philip Inglesby packs up his family including a four year old son, Jacob, and his pregnant wife, Clare, and heads west. When their wagon breaks down, Philip goes back for help leaving Clare and Jacob alone. When Philip doesn't return, Clare begins to go into labor and is off in the woods to avoid waking Jacob. When she returns, she finds Jacob missing and assumes he was kidnapped.

Jeremiah Ring comes along and assists Clare in delivering her baby and leads her to the Shawnee people to help her find Jacob. As she lives among the Shawnee people waiting for her son to be given back to her from the
 Indian widow to whom he was given, she learns a great deal about being still and trusting God in the midst of this situation.

I found this a very interesting book about this time period. The characters were well developed and I found myself sympathetic to both the Indians and white settlers as they each sought revenge for the wrongs the other side committed.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Great Quake by Henry Fountain

Natural disasters are greatly in the news today with the recent hurricanes wrecking havoc in Florida and Texas. However, my guess is not a lot of people were aware of the biggest earthquake which occurred in North America on March 27, 1964 in Alaska. This quake devastated the southern part of the state and more than 130 people were killed. The author not only describes the actual event from the perspective of witnesses to the quake, but details the investigations of geologists following the devastation.

As a result of these investigations following this magnitude 9.2 earthquake, geologist George Plafker confirmed the previously controversial theory of plate tectonics. This book is a thorough description of the work of geology and the aftermath of earthquakes It is well researched  and well written.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Women in Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky

This cleverly illustrated book looks at 50 female athletes and their claim to fame in each of their individual sport. The short descriptions of each athlete are on  one page accompanied by an illustration of them on the opposite page. The illustrations are well done and there are interesting facts framing each description.

The athletes are from the past and present.  They represent women from all over the world as well as every culture and ethnicity. The sports they represent vary from tennis to motor cross and roller skating to cricket. The variety of sports is fascinating as well as the description of each woman and what she had to overcome to excel in her sport.

This is a very entertaining book and was a fun read. I received this book from  Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Journey to Victorious Praying by Bill Thrasher

This is one of the best books I have read on prayer. It is concise and divided into nine sections: The help of your weakness; The help of the Holy Spirit; The help of companionship; The help of Scripture; The discipline of prayer; The importance of prayer; The help of fasting; The waiting of prayer; and the power of praise. These sections are further broken down into short chapters which makes it helpful to read as a daily devotional. In addition, the back of the book has personal journaling guidelines for each chapter. Also the back of the book contains sections on selected prayers from Scripture and ideas to stimulate prayer.

All in all this is a valuable resource on prayer and includes a wealth of practical information. I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for this honest review.

A Layman Looks At The Lord's Prayer by W. Phillip Keller

This short 156 page book is filled with insights into each phrase of the Lord's Prayer.  With the words taken from Matthew 6:9 - 13, the author examines each phrase beginning with "Our Father" and ending with "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory for Ever. Amen." Each chapter delves into the meaning of each phrase and gives the reader much to ponder. Too often the Lord's Prayer is repeated by rote. After reading this book you will not only have a new appreciation for The Lord's Prayer but a better understanding of its meaning. This book is a classic on prayer.

I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange  for this honest review.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Windfall by Diksha Basu

This is a delightful story about the Jha family who obtain a great deal of money and move from their cramped apartment to a housing development in East Delhl. Meanwhile their son is
in America struggling to get his MBA. Mr Jha is eager to fit into his new role of being a wealthy citizen while Mrs. Jha is not too comfortable with the move they are making. Will their new neighbors accept them and will they fit into their new social environment? As they all struggle to fit in and find their places, they find many bumps along the way.

There are many humorous moments in this book. However, on a deeper level it is about people trying to fit in without sacrificing who they really are.  Regardless of their change in social status, the Jhas and others associated with them learn much along the way.. I enjoyed the book and learned much about the Indian culture and life in Delhi.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Alexander Hamilton (graphic history) by Jonathan Hennessey

Since I had read a biography of Alexander Hamilton, I was curious to see how the graphic history of  this founding father of our country compared. I was not disappointed in that this account hits all of the high points of his life and does so in an entertaining fashion. The art work was great and I  enjoyed reading this. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about Alexander Hamilton and enjoys graphic books, but does not have the time to read a lengthy biography.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Monday, August 7, 2017

Convicted by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins

Product DetailsThis is a powerful story of forgiveness and friendship. Andrew Collins was a narcotics cop in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He cut corners, tampered with evidence and at times falsified information to get the arrests he was after. Unfortunately for Jameel Mc Gee, Andrew arrested him when he was totally innocent of the charges against him. Jameel happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Both eventually serve time in prison and after that they both return to Benton Harbor. After a chance meeting at a park and after they both have an encounter with God while in prison, Jameel is able to forgive Andrew.

This is a powerful story about when one truly experiences the love and forgiveness of God, it is possible to extend that love and forgiveness to others. These two men not only are reconciled but have a strong friendship and are able to minister to others about the healing power of forgiveness.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.      

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kingdom Disciples by Tony Evans

Anything written by Tony Evans is worth reading. "Kingdom Disciples" is not an exception. Dr. Evans states that there is something missing from Christianity today and it is discipleship. Most Christians lack the tools necessary to live fully as heaven's representatives on earth.

This book outlines the foundation of kingdom discipleship, the formation of kingdom discipleship, and the function of kingdom discipleship. Each topic is further discussed and insights into how to encourage leaders in the local church to develop disciples are outlined. There is also a guide at the end of the book to encourage people to take action steps in the areas of discipleship. More resources are available at the Urban Alternative as described in the appendix.

I would highly recommend this book for church leaders and anyone interested in fully living out the Christian faith, in
growing spiritually and serving others in the community.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.     

Jesus in the Courtroom by John W. Mauck, JD

Jesus functioned as a lawyer, advocate and judge is the premise that begins this book. The author goes on to say that the ultimate purpose of the law or the Torah is to lead humans to both love God and neighbor. These statements are backed up by Scripture and shows how the lawyers of Jesus's day lost sight of the real purpose of the law. Jesus  acted as a legal reformer to show that God is a God of justice and mercy who loves His world.

The book uses examples from the present day which illustrates this point. There are resources listed for pastors as well as a list of Christian legal organizations which help people in their area of need.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson

I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is a collection of thoughts on the beautiful outdoors, life and loss. Each chapter is illustrated by a map of the location described in the chapter. The detailed maps  add  a special touch to each chapter. Observations about the meaning of spending time in nature, relationships and the meaning and purpose of life and interwoven throughout. These essays inspire the reader to visit the places described as well as reflect on the spiritual truths contained within the writings.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

Eleanor and Rupert seemingly have a happy marriage amid the upper class of Manhattan. Six months after Rupert dies and leaves behind a grieving widow and five adult sons, a woman unknown to them claims Rupert had another family and had two other sons with her. As they all process this news, family secrets and lies become uncovered. This tangled tale of family dynamics and legacy reveals the inner most thoughts and actions of all of the family members and those caught up in the periphery of their lives. Whether family loyalty is enough to see them all through this difficult time is a question that needs to be answered.

The writing is good but some of the content may be offensive to some readers. I would not consider this literary fiction but more of a popular fiction genre. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

I felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished "Alexander Hamilton." This over 700 page book is a fascinating look at the life of Alexander Hamilton and the basis for the overwhelmingly popular musical, "Hamilton." Not only do you learn a lot about who Alexander Hamilton was, you also get a glimpse into the politics of the day. Not surprising to learn that things have not really changed when it comes to opposing parties lashing out at each other. Hamilton was guilty of that as was John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson to name a few.

It was a challenging read, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about not only Alexander Hamilton but also the founding of the country. Too often he is overlooked, but is credited for writings which formed the basis of the constitution as well as the establishment of the Department of the Treasury.  Alexander Hamilton was an imperfect person but a genius in many ways and we in the United States have a lot to thank him for.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

This is a delightful summer read that takes place in Mount Rainer National Park in 1927. Margaret Lane, daughter of a prominent senator and amateur naturalist, uses her father's influence to obtain a position at the park. Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is not enthralled with the idea of a female ranger, but Margaret's enthusiasm for the park and its natural beauty wins him over.

Margaret or Margie as she is known to her friends is also escaping a controlling ex-fiancĂ© whose desire to control her and her father leads to the possible commercialization of the park. Ford is still struggling with the climbing death of his father two years prior. Ford struggles with trusting God and Margie struggles with her growing attraction to Ford and his not sharing her faith in God.  The plot thickens as Margie and Ford try to work through their differences when it comes to faith as well as try to thwart the plans to destroy  the beauty of the park.

This is an entertaining read for those who especially enjoy nature and the great beauty of our national parks. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Included in Christ by Heather Holleman

I have read another book by this author which  I thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to see what this study has to offer. I was not disappointed. Her writing style is engaging and there is so much information in the introduction to peak the reader's interest. The book of Ephesians as a document is according to one theologian, "the most influential ever written." That alone got my attention. The study is divided into 8 weeks with homework to do 5 days of the week.

As the reader goes through the study, there are a number of words which create the focus for each week. These include the words chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled and proclaiming. There is also an emphasis on writing your our stories as you work through this study. The two kinds of stories described are the Savior story and the shadow narrative.

I would highly recommend this study for an individual or in a group. I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for this honest review.   

Worn Out By Obedience by Ron Moore

This book title really caught my attention. I understand what spiritual fatigue is and how I am prone to it. This was a very helpful book to aid in identifying the first signs of spiritual fatigue and how also to take steps to prevent it.

The author uses the example of David fleeing Saul and ending up in Ziklag, the enemy territory of the Philistines. The term Ziklag is used throughout the book to describe the stretches of the spiritual journey where a person has become stalled or has strayed off course. We are in danger of entering Ziklag when we are running too hard and/or are worn out by service, expectations, or disappointment. When we run away we are more likely to make poor choices and fall into temptation. There is hope though found in the grace of Christ. The author has many helpful insights to aid the reader in escaping Ziklag.

I would highly recommend this book for any lay person involved in ministry or members of a church staff. So many times we justify our tiredness or even self-righteousness  by thinking we are the only ones who can do a ministry or task. This book helps the reader to see the whole picture and to acknowledge that God is the one in control, not us.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.        

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

Product DetailsI am not usually a fan of Amish fiction but this final book in  "The Amish of Summer Grove" series is an exception. Skylar and Ariana were switched at birth after a fire in the home of an Amish midwife. 20 years later, the truth is found out and Skylar is forced to go and live with her Amish birth parents and Ariana is forced from the Old Order Amish home to go and live with her birth mother in the world of the "English."

This final book in the series deals with each of them as they come to terms with who they are and try to determine in what culture do they belong. Skylar and Ariana both search for meaning and purpose and healing in the relationships with family members. The characters are well developed and there are no easy answers for either of them as they struggle in the process of forgiveness and reconciliation.

It would be better to read the first two books before this one, but there is a synopsis of the story in the beginning of the book which is very helpful to understand the story line.     

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson, pastor and author, has compiled a collection of teachings he shared with his congregation over a period of years. He is probably best know for "The Message", a paraphrased translation of the Bible.

His collection of messages are organized in parts: Preaching in the company of Moses; Preaching in the company of David; Preaching in the company of Isaiah; Preaching in the company of Solomon; Preaching in the company of Peter; Preaching in the company of Paul; and Preaching in the company of John of Patmos. Scripture references are given at the beginning of each message and there are  49 messages in all.

The author's writing is beautiful and there are many instances where I paused and reflected on something he said. One thought in particular was, "Scripture is the Word of God understood, comprehended, honored. Prayer is the Word of God assimilated, absorbed, lived. Scripture without prayer has no soul; prayer without Scripture has no substance.....Scripture-prayer or prayer-Scripture. What is the use of knowing Scripture if you aren't living it? What is the use of praying if you don't know to whom you are praying? Worship is a fusion of Scripture and prayer." Thought provoking words indeed.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

Second chances abound in this story featuring Marianne, a German woman caught up in a loveless marriage for forty one years. On a tour in France, she decides to end it all. Her attempt at suicide is thwarted and she escapes to Brittany. There in a picturesque village along the sea she encounters a number of people who are trapped in their past or their fear of taking chances. She begins life anew and discovers freedom and joy. Her influence on those in the village helps them to take risks and to begin life anew as well. There is a lot of mystical features in the novel and some sexual content which may be offensive to some. It is a light summer read.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jews Don't Need Jesus and Other Misconceptions by Avi Snyder

Jewish believer, Avi Synder, a missionary with Jews for Jesus, explains common misconceptions which Jews and Christians both have about Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. In a easy to read book, the author outlines many misconceptions about this issue. Some of them include:   Jews are already saved because they're natural, elected and chosen; God's covenant with Abraham and Moses is good enough; All Israel will be saved eventually; Jesus is only for the Gentiles; Reconciliation must come first; Jewish evangelism is an attack on Jews and many others. All of the misconceptions are addressed by Scripture and personal examples by the author.

Also addressed is the real reasons some Christian may refuse to share Christ with their Jewish friends including the fear of offending, the fear of rejection, and the fear of man. The author tackles each one of these fears. This is a good book for any Christian who has a Jewish friend or has questions about sharing their faith with them.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.

Strange Days by Mark Sayers

Life is chaotic. From the politics of the day and culture wars raging, Mark Sayers attempts to make sense of the days we find ourselves in. The book is divided into three main sections: Biblical Pattern of Chaos; Historical Pattern of Chaos; and Life Re-Patterned in the Spirit. One point the author made stuck with me when he said, "Westerners affirm they value equality, diversity, and freedom, but we don't realize that these things do not necessarily act in concert. Equality of opportunity is different from equality of outcome. Communism drove toward equality or outcome and in the process freedom."

These times challenge Christians to live lives sharing the love of Christ to all we come in contact with and to remember that God is with us in the days ahead. There is peace and hope amid the chaos of our days.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

The setting is a suburban Washington D.C. neighborhood school in the 1970's. Ossei is the new 6th grade boy who also happens to be the son of a diplomat from Ghana. Being the only black boy in the school is a novelty that attracts the popular girl, Dee. As the new relationship between Ossei and Dee develop it creates a wave of feelings among other students which include jealousy and resentment.

Ian is the instigator behind the tragic events which unfold during this tale which takes place during one school day. It is a little hard to comprehend 11 year olds being capable of such cruelty and bigotry. Although I imagine it would not be impossible given the uncivil nature of social media today. It would seem that the story would have been better in a high school setting.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios

This book takes the reader through a person's day and explains the workings of everyday machines and electronics, from a toaster to a OLED flat panel television. The author's goal is to explain the basic physics underlying the technology a person uses on a daily basis.

If you already have a little knowledge of physics and general science or have a great interest in this area this book would be for you. Not having physics in high school or college, I felt I did not really understand a lot of the concepts and the terminology or maybe it was it didn't grab my interest.  For example, the author explains that to understand how a toaster converts electrical energy into heat and light requires an understanding of thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. He does explain those concepts but I had a hard time making sense of it all.  

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Product DetailsIn this contemporary re-telling of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest", Felix is the artistic director of a Theatre Festival. He finds himself out  of a job when his assistant Tony manages to undermine him and is appointed as director in his place. Unemployed and grieving the loss of his daughter, Felix finds work in teaching a theater course and directing a production of "The Tempest" in the unlikeliest of all places, a prison.

In this tale of loss, revenge and retribution, there are many surprises and beautiful moments along the way. There also is hope and some redemption as well. A host of interesting and outlandish characters makes this an enjoyable read. What is also helpful is a summary of the original "The Tempest" in the back of the book.

I received this book from "Blogging for Books" for this review.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung by Min Kym

This is a moving memoir of a young woman and her love affair with her violin. As a child prodigy, Min Kym becomes a world class violinist as an adult. She purchases a Stradivarius violin which becomes a part of herself. She describes the violin as her existence.

The unthinkable happens when her violin is stolen. Her grief that she experiences is heart wrenching and the effect it has on her art is devastating. This book is a glimpse into what it is like to grow up in a Korean family, the burdens and blessings of being a child prodigy and the devotion to music and her violin. This is a fascinating book and I would recommend it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple

This is a fascinating look at the White House Chiefs of Staff from the Nixon presidency through the Obama presidency. The author does a great job of describing the unique character traits and personality each chief of staff brought to the office and how each of them made an impact on the president they served. It was interesting that the presidents who thought they did not need a chief of staff suffered because of that and did not have a great deal of success during their time in office. It was eye opening to see how much power the chiefs of staff have and how their role impacts decisions made by the president which affect eventually all of us in this country.

This book is a behind the scenes look at what happens in the White House and makes for an enjoyable read. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paul The Apostle by Robert E. Picirilli

This well researched and informative book on Paul, the apostle is a valuable research aid for anyone studying Acts or the epistles of Paul. The author's purposes in writing this book was to put Paul's life, ministry, and letters in their historical context; to offer depth and detail but remain clear and accessible; to take advantage of recent research on Paul; and to create a book useful for college courses or individual study. I would say the author more than accomplishes what he set out to do.

Of particular interest to me was the insight into the culture that shaped Paul's early years living as a Dispersion Jew in Tarsus, a part of the Roman Empire. He was exposed to many different kinds of people and cultures as compared to Simon Peter, a former fisherman. He is described in his roles as a missionary (primarily to the Gentiles), a martyr, as well as a theologian. Helpful outlines of all of Paul's epistles are included in the book and the background of each is described as well.

This book books also includes a list of resources and a bibliography for those who want to continue to study the life and work of Paul.
I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for this honest review.

How to Overcome Worry by Dr. Winfred Neely

This little book packs in a lot of truth in how to overcome worry. The chapters include The Troubles Waters of Worry; A Bold Imperative; The Antidote to Worry; A Precious Promise for Hard Pressed People and Walking in Freedom From Worry. The content of the book focuses on the Paul's words found in Philippians 4:6 - 7;  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Most of us struggle with anxiety and worry at times. This book also contains helpful appendixes in the back which include a pattern for prayer; Scriptures to help one battle against worry and questions for individual reflection and group discussion. The book is small enough to carry with you when you need  reminders in overcoming worry and anxiety.

This is a helpful book which I believe I will refer to often. I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for this honest review.       

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

This powerful book is a riveting account of the injustices that exist in our present day court system. Bryan Stevenson founded Equal Justice Initiative to help poor, those wrongly condemned and otherwise trapped in the criminal justice system. The stories he shares are heart breaking but the work he does is encouraging as he offers hope to those who have been wrongly accused and are without resources to defend themselves.

The subtitle for this book is "A story of justice and redemption" which summarizes the thrust of his work. May his work continue to offer hope and help to those who are victims of prejudice and political maneuvering. Equal Justice Initiative is a worthwhile organization to support and I hope this book encourages many to do so.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

English Lessons by Andrea Lucado

I love the subtitle of this book, "The Crooked Little Grace-Filled Path of Growing Up." The author describes her year long graduate school experience at Oxford-Brookes University in England and what she learned during that time. The experience was a part of her growing up and was filled with glimpses of God's grace along the way.

She describes the cultural difference that she found in /England compared with growing up in Texas as the daughter of well known pastor Max Lucado. Her faith was challenged by encounters with atheist friends, those who were Christians and had lost their faith and other Christian believers.  It was a journey where she had to find what she believed in and not just what she was taught growing up. It was a journey where she began to discover and own her Christian faith amidst doubts and questions.

I enjoyed the description of life in Oxford as well as the relationships she made there. It is a beautifully written and thought provoking book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Is Justice Possible? by Dr. Paul Nyquist

When I picked up this book, I expected to read about social justice. Instead this is a book about legal justice. I did not realize that there was a difference. Dr. Nyquist does a good job introducing the difference between social justice (the way we treat each other in daily interactions and how we relate to each other) and legal justice (justice rendered by a judge or ruling authority). He explains why justice so elusive for the following reasons: we make unjust laws, we have limited knowledge, we have darkened understanding as human beings and we have implicit  bias. There are many examples of our imperfect legal system and those who have been victimized by it.

How we can do justice is described in the second section of the book. The topics of doing justice in the political arena, the public arena and in the personal arena are expounded on. And finally the topic of when we see justice in explained in the third section. The only time we will experience real justice in our world is when Christ returns.

The back of the book contains a resources section that featured both secular and faith based organizations that work with prisoners or in the area of legal justice.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

His Last Words by Kim Erickson

This study is a look at the last words of Jesus as found in John 13 - 17 and portions of John18 - 21. The study guide is set up for an individual to do five lessons each week with one lesson set aside for reflection and prayer. Most of the lessons list each verse that is studied for that day with a space beside it to write what you feel the verse tells you about God. The lesson on reflection and prayer asks you to look back to see what you have written in the previous four lessons and think about what God has revealed to you, if he has challenged you in any area and if there may be some changes you need to make. Each week includes discussion lessons for a small group. The entire study is 7 weeks in length.

This study is not an in depth study of Scripture but rather one is which you reflect and think about the meaning of the Scripture for you personally. There is a benefit in that process of applying the Scripture to your life which is what the study encourages. It would work well in a small group setting.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.

My Life to Live by Agnes Nixon

For four decades, "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" were aired Monday through Friday to a devoted group of fans. Agnes Nixon was the creator, writer and inspiration behind those very successful programs. This book is a memoir that begins in her early childhood and family life which had a big impact on her writing. She overcame many obstacles and tragedies in her life to become the queen of soaps in a world where men ruled the airwaves. Her life had its share of drama along with the characters she created. She also tackled many social issues of the times in her scripts for both soap operas..

This is a very engaging story of a woman who dared to combine a career and raising her children in an era where that was a rare thing to do. Agnes Nixon was a remarkable woman and the story of her life is a worthwhile read into the early days of television soap operas.

I received the book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Ink Blots by Damion Searls

The year was 1917 and a young Swiss psychiatrist named Dr. Hermann Rorschach developed a experiment of 10 designed ink blots designed to reveal the inner thoughts and feelings of the human mind. He was a contemporary with Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud and wrestled with their theories as well. He himself was an artist and his premise was that who we are is less a matter of what we say than what we see.

Dr. Rorschach died young of a ruptured appendix at the age of 37 so this book was less about his life and more about the history of the Rorschach test itself. After his death, psychiatrists in the United States began making use of this test and it reached the height of its popularity in the 1950's. Even though there is more scientific evidence of its value as a diagnostic tool and therapeutic method, it is being given less often.

This is a thoroughly researched and well documented book about the development and history of the Rorschach test over the years. I was looking for more of a biography and less about the test itself. Any serious student of psychology would appreciate this work.  

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Hum of Angels by Scot McKnight

Scripture is filled with references to angels, bur would you recognize one if you saw one? Scot McKnight writes about how to recognize these messengers of God all around us and helps the reader to understand how God might be using them to affect our lives.

The author discusses the following topics: In defense of angels; God's loving presence in angels; God's loving advocacy from angels; and God's loving transformation through angels. Angels are not sent to us for the thrill of the moment or to prove we are spiritual. Angels dwell in God's presence and are sent to us only if and when God's sends them on a mission for our redemption.

The core Bible teaching about angels is that: God is Love. All that God does is loving. God sends angels to us because God loves us. Love is a rugged commitment to be with, to be for us so that we can progress unto Christlikeness. Angels are sent to express God's love by being God's presence with us, by being God's presence for us in guarding us, and to lead us into the redemption of Christlikeness.

This book uses Scripture to help the reader understand the importance of angels in the Christian's life as well as illustrating the presence of angels with some personal examples. Makes for thought provoking reading in furthering the understanding of the role of angels and to listen for the hum of angels.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Simplest Way to Change the World by Dustin Willis & Brandon Clemens

Biblical hospitality as a way of life is the subtitle for this book. The authors challenge everyone who calls themselves a Christian to be a missionary. In other words, in following Jesus He challenges us to go out into the world, not meaning necessarily going to the other side of the world, but just reaching out to our neighbor next door.

Both of the authors share from their own experiences of meeting their neighbors and inviting them into their homes for a meal. In our culture of busyness and isolation, this is a much needed practice. Many of us do not even know our neighbors, much less invite them into our backyards or homes. What a difference it would make for a few Christians on each block to extend themselves and get to know their neighbors. Barriers would be broken down and people would have the opportunity to experience real Christian community outside of the walls of the church.

This book explains the biblical basis for hospitality and includes many practical ideas of how to practice the art of hospitality. I would highly recommend this for anyone who needs encouragement to meet their neighbors and to take the first step in inviting them into their home.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

It's 1940, in the village of Chilbury in England. World War II is just beginning and the town has lost most of its men who have gone off to war. The women of Chilbury decide to form their own Ladies' Choir. The bond that they form and the interweaving of their lives makes for enjoyable reading.

Through letters and journals of five choir members you encounter romance, intrigue, as well as matters of life and death. This is a heartwarming and inspiring story which demonstrates the strength of these women on the home front.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Adorned: Living Out The Beauty of the Gospel Together by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

This book is an in depth look at the second chapter of the book of Titus regarding older women mentoring younger women. As an older woman presently mentoring a younger woman, I was eager to read this book and I was not disappointed. The major thrust of the book is to address specifically how the beauty of the gospel is demonstrated in the lives of both older and younger women and how they live that out together.
The author encourages women to live out the Word of God, to live out our Christian faith so that others will not be able to accuse us of something we are not and to live in such a way that our lives reflect the inherent beauty of the message of the gospel.

The book is divided into three sections: A Woman under God; A Woman under Control and a Woman under Her Roof. At the end of each of the 14 chapters there are some questions for older women and some for younger women. This makes it a wonderful resource to use as a group study or to use in a one on one mentoring situation.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers for this review but also purchased another one to pass along to a friend who is mentoring younger women.