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Monday, November 30, 2015

#REVIEW: The Midnight Visitors by Juliet David

Title: The Midnight Visitors
Author: Juliet David, Jo Party (Illustrator)
Series: none
Published date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Candle Books
ISBN: 9781781282335
Genre: Children's Biblical Fiction
Pages: 32
Buy it: Amazon

Synopsis: Miriam was glad to be warm and cozy. There were so many people in the town but it was nice and peaceful inside her cowshed. Little did she know that she would soon be joined by Midnight Visitors . . . and not just any old visitors!
Snuggle up and enjoy the warm, soft feel the art and narrative bring to this delightful Christmas picture book with a difference.

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is an adorable book that revolves around a cow, on a cold night, right about to settle down for sleep. But, her rest keeps getting interrupted by visitors who need shelter from the cold. With some consideration for others' feelings, she graciously allows them to come in for the night.
But one leads to another, and another, and another, until finally a human couple show up to sleep in the barn with her. In the morning, what does she find in her feeding trough? A baby boy, just born, called Jesus, by his parents who have bedded down for the night with Miriam the cow.
The pictures are sweet and fuzzy, no harsh colors, lines, or feelings. My favorite illustration is that of the fox.
My daughters both loved it and it is just the right age range for my youngest to try to read herself.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#REVIEW: The Friends of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury


Title: The Friends of Jesus
Series: Life Changing Bible Study Series #2
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Howard Books
Publishing Date: July 7, 2015
ISBN: 9781476707396
Genre: Biblical Studies
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Synopsis: America’s favorite inspirational novelist and #1 New York Times bestselling author offers a richly told tale about six of Jesus’ closest friends and companions, bringing biblical truths to life in this captivating continuation of her Life-Changing Bible Study series.

In our everyday lives, friends are the people whom we spend the most time with, go through struggles with at times, and who know us best. Each of Jesus’ friends—Peter, John, Matthew, Judas, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus—traveled with Jesus and were part of His daily ministry, and each has a compelling story to tell. There were some who would question or doubt Him…and one would even betray Him. Kingsbury brings these fascinating personalities to life in ways that will not only help bring you closer to the truths found in Scripture, but also to Christ.

By combining valuable, instructive Bible study with compelling, insightful character sketches of Jesus’ companions, Kingsbury provides you with a deeper understanding of the scriptural teachings featuring these fascinating people. Emotionally powerful, thought-provoking, and soulful, The Friends of Jesus will help you to appreciate the Bible and understand how it applies to your relationships with the most important people in your life.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This author is one of the most amazing story tellers I have come across when it comes to Biblical fiction. I read her previous book in this series, but I am absolutely blown away by the sheer detail of each of these stories. I truly feel like I am in each of these stories. My favorite of these six, is the very first one, about Simon the leper. 
How emotional! How real! It made feel want to cry with frustration, grief and hope during his story. How amazing that the author has been able to reach down into each of story, and make them real enough for the reader to feel as if s/he is right there in the midst of the turmoil and hope.
Despite the excellent writing and storytelling, the author has also remained as true to Scripture as can be without being dry and boring.
Overall, this is a fantastic book to read and learn a new perspective from each of these characters.

#REVIEW: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson


Title: The Golden Braid
Series: Medieval Fairy Tale Romance #2
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Harper Collins Christian Publishing
Published Date: November 17, 2015
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Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.
Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.
Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.
The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?
As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?
My review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I have really enjoyed reading this series of Melanie Dickerson's. It is set in the medieval German city of Hagenheim, which if you have read some of the author's previous fairy tale retellings, will be very familiar to you. We meet an innocent and pure-hearted young woman by the name of Rapunzel, and her seemingly agoraphobic adopted mother, Gothel, as they are about to flee yet another small village, for unknown reasons only clear in Gothel's twisted mind.
Rapunzel struggles during the story to balance her love of learning and need for independence, with Gothel's erratic behavior and demands. As the story continues, Sir Garek is introduced, a landless knight who struggles with his past, and questions God. On the other hand, Rapunzel's faith is unwavering.
This is yet another wonderful retelling of a classic fairytale, with a faith based thread in it that is not overwhelming to the reader.

Friday, November 20, 2015

#REVIEW: Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler

Title: Wicked Women of the Bible
Series: none
Publisher: Zondervan
Published Date: September 22, 2015
ISBN: 978-0310341680
Genre: Biblical Studies
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My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: What can Jezebel, the Bible s wickedest queen, reveal about God s holiness and power and even about his sense of humor? What about the Woman at the Well the one with five husbands and a live-in lover? And what of the prostitute whose tears bathe the feet of Jesus in front of people who despise her?

There are also wicked good women like Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, Mary, and more. What do their lives tell us about God s invincible love and his determined plan to save us?

In Wicked Women of the Bible Ann Spangler tells the stories of twenty wicked and wicked good women in greater detail. At the end of each story, Ann provides a brief section including additional historical and cultural background as well as a brief Bible study in order to enhance the book s appeal to both individuals and groups.

The stories of these women of the Bible reveal a God who is not above it all but who stoops down to meet us where we are in order to extend his love and mercy."

My review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
This book lays out the stories of 20 different women in the Bible, not necessarily evil, though the title of the boom might lead you to believe such. The author is using the word "Wicked" in the Boston sense, meaning things such as "really" or "very", such as " Wicked Old" is the story of Sarah, mother of Isaac. 
I have always enjoyed books that focus on the women in the Bible, as they truly are a strong thread in the fabric of the Christo-Judean beliefs. This book is a good introduction to some of the more famous ones, if you are looking for a quick overview with some fiction wrapped around each of the women to make it a little easier to understand than the dry Scripture. this is a great way to learn how each of these women, no matter how horrible or wonderful, showed the power of God in their lives.
Each chapter also has a short part towards the end of it that is called "The Times", which is a great explanation of the culture at the time of the story. For me, this was the most interesting part to the chapter. At the conclusion of each chapter is a set of questions called " The Takeaway", questions that help you think and contemplate how we can take away lessons and draw closer to God through each woman's story.
I think this book is a good jump off point to find a woman of the Bible to study more about.

#SPOTLIGHT: Beyond Belief: Jesus Saved You...Now What? By Abby Kelly

BEYONDBELIEFNRCPHARPERBANNER 

Genre: Bible Study, Christian Non-fiction
 ISBN-10: 1632131145
 ISBN-13: 978-1632131140



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photo Abby Kelly is a nomadic, military spouse writing from wherever she momentarily finds herself with her husband, their wonderful dog, Brave, and two tolerable cats. Abby began writing in the process of recovering from a more-than-decade long eating disorder. She credits Jesus Christ for her full recovery and for filling her with a passion to encourage others to seek freedom from their own addictions and struggles. Now, Abby is the senior editor for two online Christian publications: www.tblfaithnews.com and www.mydailyarmor.org. She is a freelance editor, as well. Abby continues to write for numerous Christian publications as well as maintains her personal blog, www.predatory-lies.com. In her free time, she and Brave enjoy volunteering in hospitals and schools as a pet therapy team through Pet Partners.

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Does your life look the same as it did the day you put your faith in Jesus Christ? Or have you discovered the power of the Spirit within you enabling you to live a holy, righteous life? For that matter, is it even possible to be holy? Many Christians today are wading in the shallow end of the infinite relationship God desires to have with His children. They are strangled by addictions and idolatry, or distracted from the pursuit of spiritual maturity by a cheap imitation of moralism. Whatever the reason, their spiritual growth has been stunted; they’ve never gone beyond mere belief in Jesus Christ. Beyond Belief: Jesus Saved You ... Now What? explores what God has in store for you and what He wants from you. With a firm foundation on the centrality of Christ, this book will help you see exactly who you are and what you are called to, based on, and enabled by, His righteousness alone. Through intense study and humbling application of both the Old and New Testaments, Beyond Belief, will show you what a mature Christian life looks like and what it takes to get there.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

#REVIEW: Ishtar's Odyssey

Title: Ishtar's Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent
Author: Arnold Ytreeide
Publisher: Kregel
Published date: October 27, 2015
ISBN: 978-0825443930
Pages: 160
Genre: Children's Christian Fiction
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Buy it: Amazon

Synopsis: A new Advent family devotional from the author of Jotham’s Journey! Fourth in a set of Advent adventure books for families,Ishtar’s Odyssey follows the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man as their caravan follows a star across the desert. Ishtar would just as soon stay in the comfort of the palace, but slowly he learns that there’s much to see, do, and learn in this world that can’t be experienced in school. He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king.
Arnold Ytreeide’s family advent devotionals have become a much-loved Christmas tradition, enjoyed by multiple generations. With over 100,000 in print they include Jotham’s JourneyBartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels.


Rating: 4 Stars

 My review:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a story about a Persian prince, Ishtar, who is 10 years old, and sees a never-before seen star. His father and two uncles bring him along on a journey to follow the star that prophesies a Messiah for the Israelite people. Along the very long journey, Ishtar, a rather sheltered prince, is subjected to lessons that change him, arguably for the better.
This book's story is broken down into daily readings for Advent, and has questions at the end of each reading. At the end of the book is a calendar of sorts that tells what date is the first Sunday in Advent, and what day Christmas Eve falls on that year, all the way to the year 2081. I hope my children are reading this to their grandchildren in 2081.
The only negative that really bothered me in the story was that Ishtar (and everyone else) seemed to yell a lot, or at least the word yell was used to describe how they spoke. I think more descriptive words could have been used. Besides that, I can't wait till Advent starts this year to start this story with my girls.

Friday, November 13, 2015

#REVIEW: A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner

Title: A Cup of Dust
Author: Susie Finkbeiner
Series: none
Publisher: Kregel
Published date: October 27, 2015
ISBN:978-0825443886
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Buy it now: Amazon

Synopsis: Where you come from isn't who you are
Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma's Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff's family, they've got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They're who the town turns to when there's a crisis or a need―and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.
Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother's unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn't sure she likes.
Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he's really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won't be the only thing darkening Pearl's world.
While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl's voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavy-handed. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart.

My rating: 5 stars

My review: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The entire time I read this book, it kept reminding me of To Kill A Mockingbird.: the way the author was able to pull the reader into the pure simplicity of a 10 year old's mind as she experiences the Great Depression in the midst of the Dust Bowl of the United States. This book allows the reader to experience this time period and place in such vivid detail, without bogging the reader down. I was able to immerse myself and appreciate the strength and resilience of a people that struggled with day to day living in such harsh conditions of poverty and drought.
I really think this book could become a modern day classic in our schools.

Monday, November 2, 2015

#REVIEW: My First Hands-On Bible

Title: My First Hand-On Bible
Series: none
Author:  various
Published Date:  July 1, 2011
Publisher: Tyndale
Format: leatherbound
Pages: 416
ISBN: 978-1414348308
Genre: children’s bible
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: The Bible young children can really get their hands on!

Go from just reading the Bible with your kids to experiencing it! My First Hands-On Bible does what no other Bible can―it brings the Bible to life with fun activities and games that tie directly to the Bible stories.

My First Hands-On Bible features:
85 exciting Bible stories from the clear and easy-to-understand New Living Translation
“Jesus Connections” to help kids see Jesus throughout the Bible
Colorful, original illustrations
Exciting activities and top-notch games created by the people who brought you the award-winning Hands-On Bible curriculum
With My First Hands-On Bible, kids will get into the Bible, and the Bible will get into their hearts, giving them a priceless foundation of faith in God.



My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I got this book for my 6 year old, hoping that it would be easier for her to read, and that it would be engaging for her. I was not disappointed in any way. She absolutely loves her new Bible, and loves bringing it with her places where she may be required to wait quietly. The cover is really sturdy and durable as are the pages.
This is the perfect “Bible” for little ones aged 3-6 to really start going more in-depth with the Bible stories they may have already started hearing at home and at Sunday school. I allowed my little one to pick which color she wanted, either the blue or pink. Very surprised when she picked the blue, but I am not disappointed with her engagement in the Bible.

#REVIEW: Street God by Dimas Salaberrios and Angela Hunt

Title: Street God
Series: none
Author:  Dimas Salaberrios and Angela Elwell Hunt
Published Date: August 20,2015
Publisher: Tyndale
Format: paperback
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781496402783
Genre: Christian evangelical memoirs
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: His street name was Daylight. But he was a nightmare.

On the streets of
New York, darkness and violence reigned. Dimas “Daylight” Salaberrios began selling drugs when he was eleven years old, and by sixteen, he had served his first stint at the notorious Rikers Island prison. Dimas saw only one way to survive: by reigning over the streets. He would be the richest, most powerful ruler in the hood . . . or die trying.

Street God is the true story of one man’s dangerous journey through the underworld of crime, drugs, and almost certain death. It was an encounter with the real God that saved his life — and then made it even more dangerous. Because that God sent Dimas back down the darkest streets he’d ever known — with other lives depending on it. And Dimas had to ask the question: How far am I prepared to go?

A dramatic, compelling memoir full of twists and turns, Street God delves deep into a world from which few ever emerge — and shows how a single spark of light can illuminate even the darkest existence.
 


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was painful to read, the entire time, I only thought, where the heck are this kid’s parents? The book is real, and scary, and heartbreaking to read as a parent of two young children. I could only think about his mother, the hopes and dreams she had for him as a baby, a toddler, a child in kindergarten.
This book shows how insidious and terrifying the street life is. However, this book also shows you that no matter where you are in life, no matter how dark the road you walk, God will always have a reason. God always watches over you no matter where you are. God always has a plan, and He will always use whatever circumstances you find yourself in, to the greaster good, if only you let God into your life.
Once the book got to the part of Dima’s redemption and turning to God, it seemed to slow down and almost bog down in the details. Overall, though, it was a fascinating book to read, and allow me to glimpse into the darker aspects of street life I don’t see.

#REVIEW: Silent Cry by Dorothy Newton

Title: Silent Cry
Series: none
Author:  Dorothy Newton
Published Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Zondervan
Format: paperback
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0310344841
Genre: autobiographical
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 4 ½ stars

Synopsis: Raised near New Orleans as one of six children, Dorothy Newton was surrounded by abuse and poverty as she grew up. But she became the first in her family to graduate from college and moved out of poverty. She then began to live out her dreams in Dallas of a better home and life when she married celebrity superstar football player Nate Newton. She had gone from poverty to the pinnacle of success. She was married to a handsome, successful, famous professional athlete, who was a three time Super Bowl Champion and six time Pro-Bowler for the Dallas Cowboys.
But all that glittered was not gold.
Before long the relationship turned abusive. She found herself living in the world she thought she had escaped in her years growing up. The world did not see her suffering behind closed doors—she was betrayed, treated abusively, threatened continually. Dorothy was trapped with no one to talk to and nowhere to run. In this book Dorothy shares her experiences of pain, loss, survival, hope, recovery, and victory. A gripping story throughout, A Silent Cry is a testament to Dorothy’s will to live and the peace that comes with hope in the God who sees and hears your tears—even when no one else does.


My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book held onto me from the very beginning and wouldn’t let me go. It was the story of a woman who grows up in an abusive home in the backwoods of Louisiana. She struggles to break out of the cycle of poverty and abuse, only to find herself out of the cycle of poverty, but stuck in a relationship that eerily mimics her mother’s relationship with her abusive step-father.
This is a painful but necessary book to read, one that teaches that compromising your morals and good judgment can lead you down a road where it can be very difficult to return back from. It is possible, but it is a very difficult and painful road to come back. I myself was in an abusive relationship, I compromised my morals and judgment, and almost lost my life for it., very close to the author’s own story.
With God’s help, the author shows that no matter where you are in life, no matter how helpless you feel, and how hopeless the situation seems, you can get out of it.