Monday, October 26, 2015

#REVIEW: 99 Prayers for Children by Juliet Davis and Elina Ellis

Title: 99 Prayers For Children
Author: Juliet David (compiler) and Elina Ellis (Illustrator)
Publisher: Candle Books
Published Date: September 2015
ISBN: 9781781281918
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My rating: 5 Stars


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
This book is comprised of 11 chapters, breaking the 99 prayers into groupings like "Thank You, God!", " Bedtime", and "Special Days". Each of the 99 prayers are easy enough for my beginner reader to read (with a little help!), and they are short enough to keep her attention.
The illustrations are whimsical and fun for 5-7 year olds who have grown out of the need for bright primary colors. They are expressive and inclusive in the age ranges, genders and skin colors.
Overall, this is a great book to have in your library for the little ones.

Friday, October 23, 2015

#REVIEW: What Would Jesus Post? By Brian D Wassom

Title: What Would Jesus Post? Seven Principles Christians Should Follow in Social Media
Author: Brian D Wassom
Series: none
Pages: 112
Publisher: WestBow Press
Published Date: November 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-49081-163-5
Add to: Goodreads
Buy it: West Bow Press

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Social media gives each of us enormous power to influence others for good or ill. But far too many Christians ignore the opportunities and undermine their own reputations through thoughtless words shared online. This book comes directly from the author’s experiences as an attorney and a church leader and offers seven simple guidelines for exercising Biblical wisdom in social media.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I seriously think anyone on any social media site should read this book and take every lesson to heart. Me included! I am awful when it comes to social media. The things I post, the things I like, retweet, re-pin, the comments I make. And oh, the distractions!
But how can we as Christians act appropriately when we are being slammed on every side and then some, with social media?
In the seven lessons the author puts forth, he backs them up with numerous related Bible quotes that really make each of these hit home.
It is so easy to get caught up in the idea that we are both in our insulated little worlds, and yet wanting to reach out to the greater world as the social creatures God has made us.  It is so easy to forget our words, likes, tweets, can do permanent damage to others, even in our most innocent of interactions.
I have found myself in the last few days trying to put these lessons into action on my social media accounts.
I think if everyone who read this book, would make a concerted effort to follow these lessons, perhaps we might reach out into social media land and make a positive influence.

#REVIEW: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado, Candace Lee and Eric Newman

Title: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe
Author: Max Lucado, Candace Lee and Eric Newman
Series: none
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published Date: October 6, 2015
ISBN: 9780718039776
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Buy it: Amazon

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would He answer?

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
From the beginning of the book, I couldn't help but be drawn into the world of Chelsea, a struggling single mom, separated from her NFL superstar husband. Chelsea is a person who not only tries to do what is best for her children, but tries to do it on her own without leaning on her husband's wealth.
The idea behind the God Blog is fascinating. Who wouldn't want the possiblity of being able to ask one question from God and get a real answer?
The surrounding characters, especially Manny and Chelsea's children, provide a comic relief, and heartbreak at the same time.
Overall, this is a short, sweet book that I absolutely loved.

Monday, October 12, 2015

#REVIEW: Unlikely Rebel by Kelli Gotthardt

Title: Unlikely Rebel: A Church Girl's Journey Out of Shoulds and Shame
Author: Kelli Gotthardt
Series: none
Publisher: Kregel
Published Date: September 27, 2025
ISBN 978-0825442285
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Buy it at Amazon

My rating: 3 Stars

No formulas, no pat answers. Just real life. Real questions. Real transformation.

Approach many women in the church and if they re being honest, they ll tell you they
try hard to keep it all together;
are frustrated that being good doesn t deliver the perfect life;
feel trapped in expectations;
make decisions based on shoulds ;
feel selfish when they say no; and
are uncertain of their place in God s kingdom.

Between the desire to please God, the need to feel valued, and the compulsion to make everyone around them happy, women often find themselves denying their desires. It s safer to stay in the life of shoulds even if it means being spiritually and emotionally disconnected.

Kelli Gotthardt knows their pain. Always considered a good girl, she threw herself into every ministry, saying yes to every request her church family made. On the outside, her life looked completely together but she was drowning in self-doubt and shame. Unlikely Rebel is the story of how Kelly slowly shed shoulds and shame, learning to love God and love who He created her to be.

The journey from the comfort of doing everything expected of a perfect pastor s wife to the uncertainty of living authentically and true to her unique calling is equal parts exhausting and exhilarating. Many Christians condemned her, responding with fear or anger to her greater intimacy with God s calling when it didn t match their own vision. For others, though, her journey inspired courage to embrace God s path for their own lives.
Now Kelli invites other women to discover God s leading in their lives, learning that if they throw off the despondency of underserved shame, abundant life awaits.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You know, the life of a pastor’s wife must be hard. I’m sure they must be held up to a higher level than the rest of us mortal Christian women who are just struggling along. I know at times I struggle with trying to seem like a good Christian, a church volunteer, a full time worker, mother and wife. The things that I have volunteered for, sometimes I admit, it is just me trying to be useful and needed, other times I volunteer and realize it was God pushing me to do it. There are things that I have backed away from and said no to, or not volunteered for. Yes, I am selfish, yes I admit it, and yes, I will admit it vocally and not feel guilty over it. 
Reading this book was not exactly what I expected. At times, the tone of writing felt whiny and pity-inspiring. At other times, I could totally relate and not wanting to be overburdened and over-scheduled. I felt like the author didn’t get enough support from her husband, especially when she dropped the bomb that she was bowing out of everything. He couldn’t see the stress she was under, or was he part of the problem?
I think the all or nothing approach the author took contributed to her problems. I know I have backed down from a few things I have volunteered for, or I have cut it back to times where there weren’t other things pressing on me.
Overall, it was an interesting book to see the pressures that the wife of a pastor from a very large evangelical church can be under.

Friday, October 9, 2015

#REVIEW: The Methusaleh Project by Rick Barry

Title: The Methuselah Project
Series: none
Author:  Rick Barry
Published Date: September 27, 2015
Publisher: Kregel Publishers
Format: paperback
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780825443879
Genre: historical fiction
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: In World War II, German scientists began many experiments. One never ended. 
Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed―until the day he's shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.
When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success―but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn't aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn't Captain America―just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger's sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there's no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It's 2015―and the world has become an unrecognizable place.
Katherine Mueller―crack shot, genius, and real
Southern Belle―offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he's trying to flee?
Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
From the outside in, I absolutely love the cover, it helped me to visualize the plane in the very beginning of the book, and helped me to visualize Roger as the storyline progressed. In the very beginning of the book, it’s a firefight between American pilots and German Nazi pilots. The very typical American hero, Roger Greene, is so crazy American, it becomes a great thread throughout the entire book. He’s patriotic to the core, he’s courageous, and smart alecky, and funny. He’s a tough pilot who gives the Nazis a run for their money, even if he is their prisoner of war.
But he’s a prisoner of war, and the subject of their scientific experiments. The scientific experiments left him stuck at age 24ish….even almost a century later. There were certain things about the book I didn’t like, it’s length is one thing. There were times where, though the book covers a long period of time, it just seemed to be far too long for me. I did like Roger’s character. I thought it was well-written and believable. 
The best part of the entire book was when Roger was in the modern world. Just the description of some very modern day people made me laugh out loud. Overall, this was a great book, with a small Christian bend towards it. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

GUEST POST: The Writing of You Are Woman, You Are Divine by Renee Starr

Renee StarrYou Are Woman, You Are Divine: The Modern Woman's Journey Back to The Goddess by Renee Starr:

Publisher: Over and Above Creative (September 23, 2015)
Category: Personal Transformation, Religion & Spirituality, Women’s Self-Help, Women’s Spirituality
Tour Date: Oct & Nov, 2015 ISBN: 978-0990792475
Available in: Print & ebook, 352 Pages

The modern woman often does not know herself as a goddess; her feminine energy is out of balance and her divine essence has yet to awaken. But the time has come, right now, for women to know that being female is special, sacred, and divine. This inspiring, poetic and magically potent book will entice women of all ages to explore and activate their relationship with the divine, feminine and most sacred part of themselves―the goddess within.
In You Are Woman, You Are Divine, Back to the Goddess founder Renée Starr takes women on an enchanting, empowering journey, offering ancient wisdom in a fresh, modern way to help woman reclaim all the beauty, grace, and strength that being female is.
 In Part 1 of the book, she leads readers back through history to revisit the reverence for women that every ancient culture possessed. From the dawn of pre-history, women were perceived as holy, sacred, and divine incarnations of the Great Mother Goddess. Powerful figures full of strength, wisdom, and leadership, women were the keepers of the human race, from which all life flowed.
 In Part 2, Starr retells in mesmerizing narrative seven of the greatest goddess myths from ancient cultures around the world: Ancient Egypt, Africa, India, Tibet, Ancient Greece, Lakota, and the Judeo-Christian Bible. Each myth presents a quality that modern women can restore back into their lives: Lilith (Power), Yemaya (Creativity), Tara (Stillness), Radha (Passion), Kassandra (Voice), White Buffalo Calf Woman (Wisdom), and Eve (Awakening). Accompanying each myth are anointing, bathing and lunar rituals, instructions for altars, invocations, meditations, and more to deepen their connection to their own inner goddess and inspire living as a goddess on earth.
 In Part 3, Starr shows women how to integrate the teachings of The Divine Feminine into everyday life, honoring the sacredness of their body and how to be in energetic, feminine balance. The book offers fresh, new ways for women to embrace their ancient and sacred traditions. It uplifts the spirit of any woman―from young womanhood to her elder, wise-woman years. It honors the Feminine spirit that all women can celebrate in themselves to rebalance the world. Readers will live more fulfilled lives and feel more confident, free and feminine…becoming the goddesses they were meant to be.

 Beautifully designed & illustrated; includes a foreword by Raquel Allegra, noted fashion designer.

GUEST POST: The Writing of You Are Woman, You Are Divine by Renee Starr

A woman’s journey ‘back to The Goddess’ is in essence, a journey back to her goddess self—a concept that is often foreign to many women today. But long ago, in ancient times, it was natural for a woman to know herself as special, to be recognized as the embodiment of The Divine Feminine. Long ago, we understood femaleness to be sacred, and we revered The Goddess as the supreme expression of this. 

My own journey to write this book has taken me my entire adult life, however the seeds of it were planted while I was still quite young. It is quite an undertaking to write of the Highest, most Supreme Feminine Essence there is, and I found myself so often humbled by Her wisdom, in awe of the Holiness of Her presence and tumbled around by the waves of my creative process over and over again, until— finally a book emerged. 

I have been asked many times, how is it that I came to write of The Goddess, The Divine Feminine Essence and of my journey with Her. I could speak of this for hours upon hours, for the journey back to The Goddess is rich, deep and so profoundly altering from the moment that you take your first step upon the path. It is a mythic journey, filled with our mythic, feminine history and the ancient, sacred stories of woman. 

I’d like to share with you a just bit of my journey, and the core experience of my inspiration both as a writer of ancient wisdom for the modern woman, and as a woman who has returned to her own goddess self. From the book:

I did not receive knowledge of the Divine Feminine from my mother. She did not receive it from her mother. Being a female was not special in the home of my childhood and I did not think of myself as sacred. 

I remember how, as a young girl, I loved reading the stories of women who were special in some way. Without yet realizing that I was searching for the Divine Feminine, I read goddess mythology, biblical stories and even fairy tales that depicted women as magical and intuitive, as having special powers of prophecy, healing, and knowing. I daydreamed that I, too, was special at my core—that as a woman, I am a special being. I have been in search of confirming this feeling my entire life. 

I eventually had a deeply transformational, personal experience with The Divine Feminine several years ago. On a crisp, California winter night in a meditation class with many other seekers, She came to me, touched my core and I was forever changed. Her visit was so intimate; her energy touched me so profoundly that it immediately moved me to tears. Shaking with excitement and awe, I shared my experience with the others in the class. 

The Divine Feminine came to me first as a profound stillness, so quiet that Her presence caused an unusually calm motionlessness to pass over me as if time had stopped, as if my heart and breath had stopped, too. 

As She made her way into and through me, I felt a soulful yearning for her, a keen desire that was saturated with a love unlike any I have ever known. She sent waves of insight and knowing coursing through me. It was as if I suddenly grasped the meaning of and understood the sacredness of my womanhood and the purpose of my being a woman here on earth. All sensation of the physical world around me slipped away except for one thing—the delicious and intoxicating taste of honey in my mouth. And then she left. 

It is said in Kabbalah that the Feminine aspect of God, The Shekhinah, will taste like honey in your mouth when She appears. I now know this to be true.

Once you have experienced this, even if it is for the briefest of moments or in the smallest of ways, you will be forever changed. For once you know of your own sacredness, your own divine purpose and design—you can never undo this knowing. You will look upon yourself in new ways; forever aware of who you truly are as a woman…and as a goddess. 

The essence of The Divine Feminine presented Herself to me on that day. She gave me the momentary experience of pure feminine energy that has left me entranced by the mystery of Her ever since. In my many meditations that have followed, I have learned that there is no end to this mystery. She is, much like life itself; unknowable, enigmatic and will never fully reveal Herself to me.

I have always been a writer, even before I could put down all of the thoughts, images and ideas that came to me down on paper. Even in my childhood, I was creating mythical stories, visioning magical realms and imagining that there is something more, something beyond this world. The Goddess has shown me that there is more—so much more, and I am so truly and profoundly grateful for every sweet word that She sends my way. 

I do not write of The Goddess because I want to, I write of Her because it is simply what I am designed to do, and confirms daily who I am. I am a goddess on earth. You are too.  

Praise for You Are Woman, You Are Divine by Renee Starr:
“You Are Woman, You Are Divine is inspired. You can’t read it without feeling the presence of The Divine Femi- nine, the ancient goddess energy, moving in your bones. It is so beautifully written and woven together; I’m enthralled and I can’t stop reading it even though I should be packing for a trip. My suitcase sits empty as I turn the pages . . . . filling my soul with much needed food. Open this book and unlock the door to important myths, mysteries, goddesses and rituals that were lovingly chosen by Renée Starr. Her deep connection with The Divine Feminine leaps off the pages and enters the psyche in rich and meaningful ways. This extraordinary work brings us close to The Beloved, to Freedom and ultimately to honor our own Sacred–Self. I will give this book to my friends.”—Terry Laszlo-Gopadze, Editor of The Spirit of a Woman: Stories to Empower and Inspire
 “We live in a modern world where women are expected to achieve greatness, look perfect and made to feel like they are never enough. You Are Woman You Are Divine is a great handbook that gracefully leads women into “beingness” and less into “doingness” and ultimately into their divine feminine self. Through her writing, Renée Starr strives to guide women to restore their inner feminine light, create an energetic shift to claim peace, harmony and well-being. Through transforming ourselves, we can transform the world.”—Mary Ann Halpin, photographer and author of Fearless Women and Visions of a New World
 “Divine Femininity is a mystery, and the experience of it is always mystical. We can only speak about it in metaphor—it cannot be directly defined, but instead must be evoked from within. Renée Starr in her amazing book You Are Woman You Are Divine uses myth, storytelling, concrete examples, and ceremonial instruction to give the reader a roadmap for what she calls the “journey back to The Goddess.” Every woman would benefit from reading it, no matter how old. In my opinion, it should be required reading for every female high school senior so that she will enter her journey into mature womanhood fully aware of her own power, facing her destiny well-informed and metaphorically girded!”—Connie Kaplan, author of The Woman’s Book of Dreams, Dreams are Letters from the Soul, and The Invisible Garment

Renée StarrAbout Renee Starr:

Renée Starr is a mythologist, sacred storyteller, life coach, and artist. A seeker of ancient Goddess and lunar wisdom for the modern woman, she offers classes, workshops, and Goddess Circles, as well as a variety of women’s retreats through her branded movement, Back to The Goddess. Her passion is to assist women everywhere to awaken to their sacredness, their inner goddess-self and rekindle a relationship with The Divine Feminine. She has her own line of herbal, ritual and Goddess products.


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