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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#REVIEW: When I pray, What Does God Do by David Wilkinson

Title: When I Pray, What does God Do
Series: none
Author:  David Wilkinson
Published Date: July 27, 2015
Publisher: Monarch
Format: paperback
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9780857216045
Genre: Christian living
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Scientist and theologian David Wilkinson shares his insights and struggles with the question of how God answers prayer
How does God answer prayer? This question has engaged Christians for centuries. It has been intellectually shaped by the rise of science, the problem of evil, and the nature of the biblical records. Scientist and theologian David Wilkinson engages with the question, sharing his insights and struggles.
What we believe affects how we pray. Science does not rule out God acting in the universe in surprising ways, and the Bible portrays a God who acts in the world in response to people s prayers. God is not a slot machine, an indulgent parent, a divine dictator, or a ruler in absentia. But how does He work in a world of science? Why doesn t He answer more often? How has God acted in history? How did Jesus pray and what can we learn from Him? How, in a world governed by law and grace, should we pray?
There is a mystery about the nature and outcome of prayer, particularly in the experience of unanswered prayer. David Wilkinson shares how he has wrestled with this while praying in the midst of his wife s long-term illness.


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You don’t see many people with two doctorates, each in such differing fields of study that it is almost laughable, but here we have an author who holds doctorates in theology and in astrophysics. Normally people pick one side of the fence to be on, either faith or science, however the author is probably one of the best equipped to truly straddle the fence and be able to say that science really does uphold faith.
This book was broken down into only a few chapters, which made each of the chapters rather lengthy, and almost cumbersome to read. I would have liked to see a few more chapters in it, just to make me feel like I’ve done more progress, instead of taking an hour or three to get through one chapter. That being said, the author does a very thorough job in explaining the theories behind how people currently think God works in their lives, old science theories about how God uses science to work in people’s lives, and current science theories that can show how God can move in people’s lives without being a flood and famine, overbearingly obvious type of God.
I found this book to be a very thorough book in presenting the evidence, and arguments. The author has a relatively easy, scientific form of writing that I found to be enjoyable. He broke up the almost textbook writing with a few personal anecdotes and humor. If you have a logical, scientific brain like mine and struggle with seeing how God could exist in this world, you will enjoy this book.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#REVIEW: NIV Zondervan Study Bible

Title: NIV Zondervan Study Bible
Series: none
Editor: D A Carson 
Published Date: Aug 25, 2015
Publisher: Zondervan
Format: hardback
Pages: 2912
ISBN: 9780310438335
Genre: bible
Purchase: Amazon - Zondervan

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D. A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. An ambitious and comprehensive undertaking, Dr. Carson, with committee members Dr. T. Desmond Alexander, Dr. Richard S. Hess, Dr. Douglas J. Moo, and Dr. Andrew David Naselli, along with a team of over 60 contributors from a wide range of evangelical denominations and perspectives, crafted all-new study notes and other study tools to present a biblical theology of God’s special revelation in the Scriptures. To further aid the readers’ understanding of the Bible, also included are full-color maps, charts, photos and diagrams. In addition, a single-column setting of the Bible text provides maximum readability.
The accessible and fresh interior design will capture your attention and enhance your study experience. Along with your purchase, you’ll also receive free electronic access to the NIV Zondervan Study Bible.



My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. First of all, this Bible is massive, almost 5 full pounds, which unless you’re planning on bashing people upside the head with it at church, you may want to consider leaving it at home. It does lie flat when open, which is a good thing when you are using it as your study bible. There isn’t much room for writing in it, in fact there’s not much room for anything. The top half of the page is the Scripture, while the bottom half is verse by verse notes. Each genre of books has a nice commentary and history behind it, with beautiful colored pictures. Each book has the same sort of introduction, with the main themes and history of the book before the actual Scripture stars. The contributing authors are mostly men, and mostly European, but they do span the spectrum when it comes to Christian denomination. This can give a broader view on the commentary than if it were just from a few denominations.  Overall, this Bible is beautifully put together, and a joy to use. My only drawback that I see is that it really is a Bible that stays at home. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

#REVIEW: The Cost of Our Silence by David Fiorazo




Title: The Cost of Our Silence
Series: none
Author:  David Fiorazo
Published Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Aneko Press
Format: paperback
Pages: 312
ISBN: 97816224527212
Genre: Christian thought
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 2 ½ stars

Synopsis: There are consequences when God’s people take the path of least resistance and back out of culture. One only needs to look at our society to see we are living with those consequences today. 

• Why do you think so many Christians pursue comfort over commitment to Christ? 
• Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the darkness and moral decline in society today and wonder what happened to the salt and light? 
• How have we reached a point where Christians who do preach the gospel and speak up about sin are called hateful, intolerant, or judgmental? 

Christian in name only, America has become an epicenter for the culture war as too many of us keep ducking the issue of sin. Due to decades of Christians being silent, failing to preach the gospel and speak the truth in love, we’ve reached a tipping point in which political correctness refuses to coexist with religious freedom. Why do you think Christians who defend God’s Word are often called hateful, intolerant, or judgmental? There are consequences in this life and for eternity, when Christians take the path of least resistance. We cannot reverse the moral decline, but we can choose to stand for righteousness as we pray for revival and be the salt and light Jesus called us to be while we’re still here. 


Hide the light of Christ and retreat, or let it shine and expose the darkness; live an inconsequential life, or bear fruit that will last. If most Christians remain silent, fewer people will be saved, society will collapse, and we will continue to be part of the problem. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best: 
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless...” 


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I knew there was a problem reading this book on the first page of the introduction, when the author writes, “Tolerance, grace and a “judge ye not” attitude are the norm in many churches, while repentance and holiness have practically become four letter words.” At that point, I knew I was going to be reading a book where the author and I were at massively differing theological thought processes. Despite this, and my natural need to shudder at nearly every word I read in this book, I will review it as impartially as I can. The author has put forth his thoughts on the state of America today with the very strong secularism, comparing that to Hitler and Nazism in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. As the book progresses, the chapters range from “Separation of Christianity and State” to “The Cult of Liberalism”, “The Rebellion against God Ordained Marriage”, “Witchcraft is Out of the (Broom) Closet”, and even, yes “Common Core and Eroding Education”, following it all up with “Storming the Gates of Hell” and a chapter named “Then The End Will Come”.  The author certainly takes his views on each of these subjects and presents very well-worded arguments as to why he is right. His arguments are easy to take at face value, and if you don’t research further, completely believable. He is certainly free to present his views on how America is backsliding into a moral sludge pot of sin and deception. I just don’t agree with his views. It doesn’t make it a bad book, but as a person who tends to try to find all facets of a situation before passing judgment, this is definitely a book I won’t be asking my friends to go out and buy.

About the Author, from author's websiteDavid Fiorazo is an author, writer, content contributor, public speaker, and radio personality who loves God and country. He has been involved in the broadcasting and entertainment industries for over thirty years and in Christian ministry for over twenty five years. David loves the Word of God, and strives to defend and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ without apology or compromise.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#REVIEW: Eve by William Paul Young

Title: Eve
Series: none
Author:  William Paul Young
Published Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Howard Books
Format: ebook
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781501101373
Genre: biblical science fiction
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: The Shack shattered our limited perceptions about God. Eve will destroy harmful misconceptions about ourselves.

From the author of the 25-million copy bestseller The Shack comes a captivating new novel destined to be one of the most important and talked-about books of the decade.

When a shipping container washes ashore on an island between our world and the next, John the Collector finds a young woman inside--broken, frozen, and barely alive. With the aid of Healers and Scholars, John oversees her recovery and soon discovers her genetic code connects her to every known human race. She is a girl of prophecy and no one can guess what her survival will mean...

No one but Eve, Mother of the Living, who calls her daughter and invites her to witness the truth about her story--indeed, the truth about us all.

Eve is a bold, unprecedented exploration of the Creation narrative, true to the original texts and centuries of scholarship, yet with breathtaking discoveries that challenge traditional misconceptions about who we are and how we're made. As The Shack awakened readers to a personal, non-religious understanding of God, Eve will free us from faulty interpretations that have corrupted human relationships since the Garden of Eden.

Eve opens a refreshing conversation about the equality of men and women within the context of our beginnings, helping us see each other as our Creator does--complete, unique, and not constrained to cultural rules or limitations.

Thoroughly researched and exquisitely written, Eve is a masterpiece that will inspire readers for generations to come.


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I read The Shack a few years ago and was blown away by it. It was the only book I didn’t want to finish because I truly didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay in the shack with the warm, loving God I met there. This book, Eve, was at first, extremely confusing. I couldn’t understand the culture of the new society the author wrote about. It wasn’t very well explained until further into the book. Eventually though, that story line was superseded by the actual storyline, that of the creation and fall of humankind. I’ve always thought Eve got the short end of the stick, and it led to the misogynistic culture that has colored our entire history, and continues to help men “rule over the weaker sex”. In this book, it doesn’t completely absolve Eve of all wrongdoing; however, it doesn’t whitewash Adam into an innocent bystander who happened to get pulled into sin by his evil, corrupted counterpart. It shows the Fall happened insidiously long before the Fall written about in the Bible. As the two storylines melded, the author made it easy to see how subtle the turning from God and to the world can be, how irrevocable it can seem once you find yourself within the quagmire of having turned away from a relationship with God, and yet, how possible it is to fully return back into a relationship with our Father.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

#REVIEW: Esther by Rebecca Kanner

Title: Esther
Series: none
Author:  Rebecca Kanner
Published Date: Expected November  3, 2015
Publisher: Howard Books
Format: ebook
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781501108662
Genre: biblical fiction
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: From the award-winning author of Sinners and the Sea comes a breathtaking new look into the timeless tale of Queen Esther.

A glittering Persian king has a vast empire that reaches farther than where the sun meets the horizon. He is bathed in riches and commands a frightening military force. He possesses power beyond any other mortal man and rules his kingdom as a god. Anything he desires, he has. Any woman he wants, he possesses. Thousands of them. Young virgins from all across his many lands.

A Jewish girl is ripped from her hut by the king’s brutish warriors and forced to march across blistering, scorched earth to the capitol city. Trapped for months in the splendid cage of the king’s palace, she must avoid the ire of the king’s concubines and eunuchs all while preparing for her one night with the king. Soon the fated night arrives, and she does everything in her power to captivate the king and become his queen.

But wearing the crown brings with it a new set of dangers. When a ruthless man plies the king’s ear with whispers of genocide, it is up to the young queen to prevent the extermination of the Jews. She must find the strength within to violate the king’s law, risk her life, and save her people.

This is a story of finding hidden depths of courage within one’s self. Of risking it all to stand up for what is right.

This is the story of Queen Esther.


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is the second book I have read on Queen Esther, in fact, I have yet to read the actual story in the Bible. The story is pretty much the same, which is to be expected, but this book was much longer. It had much more detail, and at times, it was those details that bogged down the story and made it difficult to continue to read. However, at the same time, it really lent an air of realism to the story that other stories may lack. In the Bible, the book of Esther is 10 chapters long, probably 10-15 pages in the Bible, give or take. This book is 400 pages, so 390ish pages of pure detail. If you want to really get into the scenes, and characters, and emotions, then this book is for you. The characters are all well-written. I believe the only one that isn’t truly fleshed out well is Mordecai. I would have liked to see more about him, as the uncle, then as much as I read. I really enjoyed Esther as a character, finding her to be empathetic and deeply written. She was easy to connect to, though some of the other characters were not so easily remembered. Overall, this will be a good rendering of the story of Queen Esther, but I don’t think it will be considered the absolute best.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#REVIEW and #GIVEAWAY: Sin and Honey: The Touch of Betrayal by Taryn Scarlett

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ToughofBetrayal For fans of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent comes the second novella in the scintillating SIN & HONEY series featuring the Bible's most powerful and seductive women... So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength.”—Judges 16:6 Delilah would do anything to escape her past. Falling for Samson only got in the way. Taryn Scarlett’s lush re-imagining of Samson and Delilah uncovers the hidden truth behind the girl who became the most infamous seductress in history. Delilah has come to the quiet valley of Sorek to start a new life, but when a man blackmails her with a devastating secret, she learns that not all sins can be buried in the past. In a dangerous bargain for her freedom, she agrees to seduce Samson, a notorious killer threatening the region—and if she can’t uncover the secret to his strength, she’ll forfeit her life. But Samson is different than any man she has ever met before: godlike in his strength but guarding a passionate vulnerability that draws Delilah to him. Will she betray the man she has begun to fall for—or will she betray her own heart for freedom?

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
There are so many things that could go wrong with Biblical fiction, for instance, it is so far back in the past, the author really needs to do an awful lot of historical research to truly get the feel of that time period into the book. At times while I was reading this novella, I felt like I was in that time period, other times it could have been any other early time period. I truly wish that the author was more descriptive with the Ark of the Covenant, and the Judges area above it. I would have loved to read more about the culture of the Judges' time period.
Beyond that, this was a lovely re-imagining of the story of Delilah and Sampson. I always thought Delilah get the short end of the stick in the Bible, of course, she was an outsider who may or may not have been criminalized by the storytellers of the original Bible. This novella truly give Delilah flesh and voice. It showed a human, feminine, and often loving side to the wily, materialistic, evil seductress we think we know. We see a reason behind Sampson's overwhelming hatred of the Philistines, not just that it was a God-given duty to destroy all Philistines. We see a humanity behind the hero of Sampson.
I love reading re-imaginings of Biblical stories, and this one is no different, though I would like to feel more that I was in that time period.
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Taryn ScarlettAbout the author:

Taryn Scarlett holds a B.A. in Theater and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Her weaknesses are chocolate, floral sundresses, soapy TV dramas, and anything purple. SIN AND HONEY is her first series. You can visit Taryn at www.TarynScarlett.com.
Find the author on:
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#REVIEW: NIV Faithgirlz' Bible


Title: NIV Faithgirlz’ Bible
Series: Faithgirlz
General Editor: Nancy N Rue
Published Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Zondervan
Format: hardback
Pages: 1504
ISBN: 9780310750079
Genre: pre-teen girl Bible
Purchase: Amazon | Zondervan

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Bestselling NIV Faithgirlz! Bible with a fun, new magnetic closure binding.
This special binding of the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible offers a trendy and unique magnetic closure. Packed with exciting features that help tween girls better understand themselves and Scripture, the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible teaches girls that the Bible is real, relevant, and, best of all, that the story of God and his people is also their story. With in-text features written by tween expert Nancy Rue, the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible uses the bestselling New International Version (NIV).
Features include:
Book introductions-Read about the who, when, where, and what of each book Dream Girl-Use your imagination to put yourself in the story Bring It On!-Take quizzes to really get to know yourself Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth, Isaiah) in You?-See for yourself what you have in common Words to Live By-Check out these Bible verses that are great for memorizing What Happens Next?-Create a list of events to tell a Bible story in your own words Oh, I Get It!-Find answers to Bible questions you've wondered about The complete New International Version (NIV) Features written by bestselling author and tween expert Nancy Rue


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t think I have gotten this excited over a Bible in awhile. The cover is a hardback with a magnetic flap that serves as a closure. Just look at the cover! It’s cute and sparkly, and feminine without being over the top, and let’s face it, these days, preteen girls need some bling to get them away from the phones, TV and internet. When I saw it, I couldn’t wait to show it to my soon to be tween. Even she got excited about it.

The Bible itself has some great features that are right in the language perfect for pre-teens to understand. My daughter loved taking one of the quizzes that are found throughout the Bible, where each answer corresponds to a Scripture passage to address that problem. She also loved reading the “Is There a Little (insert Bible character here) In You”? It was refreshing for her to think that these were characters in the Bible she could relate to, instead of boring, dry characters without a third dimension to them. Overall, this is a great Bible to get for your pre-teen girl.

#Blast and #GIVEAWAY: Love, Defined by Leila Tualla


Author: Leila Martinez

Book Title: Love, Defined
Paperback: 242 pages
ISBN-10: 1680582313
ISBN-13: 978-1680582314
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Christian YA Romance
About The Book:

Into their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends, Alex Makapulo, Lori Hanson, and Andy Taylor had each expected an uncomplicated transition to adulthood.
Alex had recently professed her love for Christ and is toying with the idea of leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a member of her best friend, Jack Page’s church. Jack wonders what is keeping Alex from being baptized and fully accepting a new life with Christ. Alex wonders the same thing and believes that she needs to be 100 % in her conviction before fully committing to a new Christian life. Like everyone she has doubts and wants to make sure she’s doing the right thing in her spiritual walk. Her new found beliefs disconnects her from her roommates and while they feel she is intentionally separating herself from them, to Alex, she is trying to figure out what is Christian and what isn’t.
For Lori’s twenty-second birthday, her grandfather Pete Hanson presented her with a summer vacation to England. While looking up various tourist spots, she meets and befriends Colin Watson, a British musician, online who then suggest they meet when she lands in London. They hit it off instantly but Pete is angry and believes that she only used him as a means to meet Colin. When he finds out that Lori met Colin online, he forbids Lori from seeing Colin entirely. Lori, who has fallen in love with Colin, is heartbroken. Pete threatens to leave England with Lori’s passport. Colin and Lori try to arrange meetups where they can see each other but Pete catches on. Lori takes this as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. She unhappily finishes her trip with Pete and goes home vowing not to forgive her grandfather.
Andy reconnects with her old crush, Miles Webber and decides she wants a more meaningful relationship with him. She tells Alex about the situation and Alex truthfully tells Andy that Miles only wanted her for sex. This angers Andy and she walks out of the apartment.
Andy ends up walking to the coffeehouse and comes up with an idea to throw a surprise birthday party for Alex. She believes that if Alex and Jack were to hook up, the focus would shift from Miles and her. Andy spikes all the drinks for Alex’s party and leaves her friend while she goes in search of Miles. He shows up at the bar with another girl. In an effort to soothe her wounded ego, she goes home with someone else. When she wakes up the next day, she realizes she’s in bed with Alex’s young boss from the coffeehouse, David Roberts, Jr.
They return home from their trip with Alex asking Jack to baptize her. Andy confronts David and Lori both forgives and asks for forgiveness from Pete.
About The Author
Leila Tualla is a Christian blogger and writer. She blogs at www.tuallaleila.blogspot.com and writes about her misadventures in faith, in motherhood, and whatever else inspires her. She holds a membership to the American Christian Fiction Writer. Her current project is a YA Christian Romance.
Social Links:
Website: http://tuallaleila.blogspot.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LeilaTuallaM
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LeilaTualla
Buy Links:


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Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Leila Tualla and is hosted and managed by Paulette from Write Now Literary Book Tours. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Paulette @ pharperjohnson@gmail.com