Thursday, December 29, 2016

#REVIEW: Getaway With God by Letitia Suk

Title: Getaway With God
Author: Letitia Suk
Publisher: Kregel
Published Date: November 27, 2016
Genre: Christian Life
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis:What if a simple day away could transform your life?
Does spending time with God sound like just one more thing to check off an ever-increasing to-do list? How are you supposed to fit in anything that threatens to be more time-consuming? Too often there's simply no room to experience the intimacy, grace, and peace that God offers us.
Getaway with God does more than invite you to step away from life's pressures to take a personal retreat. It shows you exactly why you must--for your sake and for your family's.
With grace and warmth, Letitia Suk provides step-by-step guidance and the necessary tools to enable any woman on any budget to plan time away, whether it's a quick, half-day break or a weeklong time of restoration. You'll find detailed steps for preparation, including descriptions of different kinds of retreats and how to choose the best one for you, and you'll learn ways to bring the renewal you experience home with you. Practical appendixes identify retreat centers nationwide and provide exercises and prayers to kick-start your getaway with God.
"No matter what your season in life, the time for retreat is now!

My rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I think I was expecting something different, something I could do more day to day from this book. The book instead is how to make time in your life to go away to a retreat center (a few links are listed in the last appendix). The author lists the different types of retreats there are: one day, multiday, weekend, planning, restorative, or listening. Planning by far was probably the one more like me, however, I plan so much in my daily life as it is, I would truly need more listening, and learning type retreat. She also lists things to take for your retreat, whether to fast or not, silence or not.
The author provides so much as far as what is expected, what you can expect, this really is a book for a retreat beginner, a total newbie, or it could be for someone who is ready to step out on their own and do their own retreat instead of tagging along with the women's group at the church.
If you are ready to take that step and go on your own, this book is indispensable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

#REVIEW: Grace For The Moment by Max Lucado

Title: Grace For the Moment
Author: Max Lucado
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published Date: December 20, 2016
ISBN: 9780718089771
Pages: 416
Buy It Link: Thomas Nelson | Amazon

Synopsis: The devotional that has touched millions of lives with inspirational thoughts for every day is now available in a gorgeous new package, and large, easy-to-read type.
Grace for the Moment offers inspiring devotions to grow in your faith as you embrace the hope of the Lord every day. Each daily reading features devotional writings from Max’s numerous bestsellers as well as a Scripture verse selected especially for each day's reading.

This deluxe, large edition of the classic devotional makes a handsome gift to commemorate a special occasion. It offers a leather-flex cover, beautifully designed pages with large type, and a ribbon marker.

Whether you already know and love Grace for the Moment or you’re looking for a new way to draw near to the Lord, this gorgeous, deluxe version will inspire your heart.

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you've read any of my other reviews, you know I am a huge fan of Max Lucado, ever since I was introduced to him as a Christian author. He has such a fantastic way of making the reader feel good about themselves and know that God loves them just as and where they are in life.
The book itself is a faux leather in a beautiful chocolate brown with a matching ribbon placeholder. It is rather large in size, so you won't be able to carry it easily, however, I don't think it is a book you will be carrying with you 24/7. The daily devotions are short enough to read within a few minutes each day, and definitely enough room on the page to journal about your thoughts.
Overall, this is a beautiful daily devotional that is perfect to read while you are having your coffee and getting ready to face the day ahead of you. I am so happy that I chose this book to review, it is a wonderful addition to the new year's devotions for me.

Friday, December 16, 2016

#REVIEW: Lucifer's Harvest by Mel Starr

Title: Lucifer's Harvest
Author: Mel Starr
Series: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #9
Publisher: Lion Fiction (Kregel)
Published Date: November 27, 2016
ISBN: 978-1782641889
Synopsis: Lord Gilbert Talbot must provide soldiers for Prince Edward's battle in France. He wishes his surgeon--Hugh de Singleton--to travel with the war party to tend any injuries. Among those on the road is Sir Simon Trillowe, Hugh's old nemesis, who had once torched Hugh's house.Finding himself in the same war party, Hugh resolves to watch his back in the presence of the knight, who is still holding a grudge. But it is Sir Simon who should not have turned his back….
When Trillowe's body is found, many suspect Hugh has wreaked revenge on his adversary. To clear his name, Hugh must once again riddle a reason for murder.

Rating: 4 stars

Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Though I have started in on this series late, the author seems to have taken that into account. Though the book is not necessarily a stand-alone book, I felt like enough of the backstory was well-enough explained that I didn't feel like I was muddling through a storyline I couldn't understand. That very well could have been the case, as the premise of the murder in the book is the long-standing hatred between the two characters, Hugh and Sir Simon.
Though there were a lot of different characters in this book, the author kept to a small band of friends Hugh stuck with. This helped immensely in recognizing each name and who they were associated with. The only thing I feel the author could have expanded on is these band of characters themselves. They didn't feel too fleshed out, and pretty two dimensional.
This was a very quick read, easy to do in less than a week, even with working overtime and family time. It was enjoyable enough that I wanted to keep coming back to the medieval times and see how Hugh would prove his innocence.

Friday, December 2, 2016

#REVIEW: Candle Day By Day Walk With Jesus

Title: Candle Day by Day Walk With Jesus
Author: Juliet David
Publisher: Lion Hudson (Kregel)
Published Date: September 27, 2016
ISBN: 9781781282915
Pages: 48
Age Range: 5-7
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: This beautiful gift book makes a wonderful addition to the award-winning Candle Day by Day series. The story of Jesus’s life is told over 40 days, and presented in the elegant Day by Day styling with page borders and richly colored pictures. Includes an introductory note on the book, the questions that will be answered, and where the stories have come from.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a very small (6"x6") book, perfect for little hands. It retells the story of Jesus' life for 40 days, from Gabriel's visit to Mary all the way through Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven. I really like how each day has the Bible verse the story is connected to, as well as a thinking question to bring the child more deeply into the discussion and make them think about the story they just heard or read.
The illustrations are what is also seen in the Candle Day by Day Bible. I think pairing the author up with the illustrator, Jane Heyes, has been a beautiful form of teamwork. The illustrations are a great combination of realistic and whimsical, with not too bright colors.
Unfortunately, my little ones have gone past this age range, so she found it a little too simple.

#REVIEW: Candle Day By Day Bible by Juliet David

Title: Candle Day by Day Bible Desk Format
Author: Juliet David
Publisher: Lion Hudson (Kregel)
Publish Date: September 27, 2016
ISBN: 978-1781282816
Age Range: 5-7 years old
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: The award-winning Candle Day by Day Bible is now available in a spiral-bound desk calendar format. All of a child’s favorite stories and illustrations are easily accessible and on view all day long. One story per day.

My rating: 3 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in change for an honest review.
I'm not 100% sold on this desktop version of the Candle Day by Day Bible. It's nice to have something desk top for the little ones. The illustrations are colorful and not too whimsical. The readings are very short, just long enough for the super-short attention span of our young children. I am not going to make any comments on the theological accuracy of this Bible because at this point in children's understanding, I truly don't think they need very little nuance spelled out for them. Generalities are perfectly fine.
The one thing I didn't like about it was that it was double-sided. What if one of my kids accidentally tore it out, or wanted to put it up on their wall because it was their favorite illustration or story? Also, the paper seems to be a little fragile, especially with little kids around.

#REVIEW: All Is Bright, A Devotional Journey to color your way to Christmas

Title: All Is Bright
Author: Nancy Guthrie
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Published Date: October 1, 2016
ISBN: 978-1496418029
Pages: 96
Synopsis: The perfect gift for the creatives and coloring-book lovers in your life! Includes bonus activities and kid-friendly coloring pages for the whole family!

This Christmas season, celebrate the birth of our Savior through beautiful design and devotion. Grab your colored pencils, cozy up with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea, and settle in for a night of peace and wonder with All Is Bright. For lovers of the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest coloring books, All Is Bright is the perfect way to transform the Advent and Christmas seasons for your whole family, re-centering the holidays on the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Combining 31 days of rich content by the beloved and inspirational Nancy Guthrie with intricate designs that will reconnect you with the heart of Christ, this coloring book devotional journey reminds us all of what the season really calls us to: worship.

My Rating: 5 stars

My Reviews: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I remember when I started with coloring books as an adult. I had just had a really stressful day at work, and was eagerly awaiting the weekend long training for Godly Play at church. The training opened up, and we were all invited to take one of the coloring pages to color. I remember how my mind and body went from stressed to peaceful as it was forced to only concentrate on that one section, that one color, just that one. I used to joke that I needed color therapy to calm myself after having a stressful day. A year after that, adult coloring books started trickling into the market, and now you can find them anywhere and everywhere.
I loved getting this coloring book. Not only is the theme around Christmas, but each page has a different date attached to it, from December 1st to December 31st. The cover has gold foil and blue coloring, with a fun lettering, making it both modern and beautiful. The illustrations from Lizzie Preston are absolutely gorgeous throughout the book, and each day is intricate enough to last at least a few hours of coloring.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#REVIEW: NIV, Journal The Word Bible

Title: NIV, Journal The Word Bible
Publisher: Zondervan
Published Date: November 1, 2016
ISBN: 9780310445166
Pages: 1408
Buy it Link: Amazon | Zondervan

Synopsis: The NIV Journal the WordTM Bible allows you to creatively express yourself every day with plenty of room for notes or Bible art journaling next to your treasured verses. With unique and sophisticated covers, this single-column journaling edition features thick cream-colored paper with lightly ruled lines in the extra-wide margins.

My Rating: 4 1/2 ☆

My Review: I received a copy of his Bible in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say, I absolutely love his Journaling Bible. As a Bible Journaller, I don't draw. I can't draw a stick figure good enough to save my cat's stick figures look more realistic than mine! I am much more a writer than I am artist, and the faint lines help make  sure I am not writing at a slowly decreasing 10 degree angle. Yes, there are lines, but it helps me more than hinders me. I can't say that will be the same for visual artists. 
However, that being said, I love the beautiful pinkish floral cloth over paperboard. It is by far, my favorite cover, hour I can't see it holding up very well under spilled coffee, rain, or any other precipitation. This seems to be a strictly indoors, keep it away from food, type Bible.

As you can see in the pictures, there is ghosting. I was using an ultrafine black gel pen when writing. I am not sure how that may detract in the future from my usage.

Friday, November 11, 2016

#REVIEW: The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Title: The Silent Songbird
Series: none
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher:Thomas Nelson
Published Date: November 8, 2016
ISBN: 978-0718026318
Genre: Young Adult Christian Historical Fiction
Buy It Link: Amazon
Synopsis: Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.
Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.
More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy.Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book was a very sweet, clean, historical fiction book perfect for YA Christians. It has just the right amount of God in it, not so overbearing that it takes away from the story line, but just enough to see that faith is very vital part to the heroine's life.
I wanted to like Evangeline, I really did. At times she was strong-willed and believable, and other times she seemed to wilt back into this typical, medieval princess type. There were times where it was perfectly believable that she wanted to do whatever it took to escape this awful man her cousin willed her to marry, and then, when you sat back and thought about it....she didn't even whimper? Not a single whimper? Her hands were bleeding, open sores, and she wasn't complaining a single bit?Which then brings me to the whole word "septic"that was used several times in this book by the main characters. I guess it's because I'm in the medical field that this poked at me so much. The term sepsis didn't occur until much later in history than this story occurred, and I wouldn't have minded if the characters just used the words"rot" or "blood rot" or something a little more historically accurate.
And Westley.... there were times where he just didn't seem believable enough for me, some of his dialogue just seemed very forced to me.
I absolutely love the author's books, this one just didn't resonate very well with me.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

#REVIEW: Having a Martha Home the Mary Way by Sarah Mae

Title: Having a Martha Home the Mary Way
Author: Sarah Mae
Series: none
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Published Date: March 15, 2016
ISBN: 9781414372624
Pages: 256
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself―yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts.

Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart―and your home―at the same time?

Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
I will admit it right now...I'm a crappy homemaker. The idea of a Proverbs 31 scares me. I can tell you, I start out every year with the best of intentions, but by the end of week 2, I'm frazzled, exhausted and overworked. I don't want to come home after working 8-16 hours a day and then clean up after my family. I just want to put my feet up and read, or crochet, or sleep....sleep is so underappreciated.
However, this book helps bring everything into perspective, and breaks down everything into bite-sized pieces. Even after working 12 hours, surely I can spend 10 minutes in a room, right? Just put on the music and set a timer for 10 minutes. Not only does this book put everything into smaller, more manageable pieces, it also explains the how's and why's behind everything as well as centering it all around being a Godly wife, partner and mother.
I am so glad I chose this book to review.

#REVIEW: A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

Title: A Royal Christmas Wedding
Series: Royal Wedding #4
Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan
Published Date: October 18, 2016
ISBN: 9780310344537
Pages: 240
Genre: Christian Romantic Fiction
Buy It Link: Amazon | Zondervan

Synopsis: It’s been five years since Avery Truitt and Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom fell in love. But he broke her heart with no explanation.

Fast forward to present day, and Colin is Brighton’s most eligible bachelor now that cousin Stephen has married. When Avery’s father dies of a heart attack, she puts her life on hold and returns home to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to help Mama with the family restaurant. But Mama misses Avery’s sister Susanna, who lives four thousand miles away in Brighton Kingdom—and is expecting her first child. So Mama insists she and Avery spend the Christmas season in Brighton.

Colin and Avery are going to see each other a lot while she’s visiting. But she can’t forget the way he hurt her, and he didn’t expect his feelings to still be so strong.

Avery is torn between considering a future in Brighton and taking a coaching job in Georgia, and Colin is finally pushed to pursue what he really wants. Is it too late to convince Avery that she is his true love? And even if he does, will she make it to the chapel on Christmas Day to give him her heart?

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
This has been my favorite series to read in the past few years. After all, I grew up dreaming of being a princess. These books have been a great light read for me, not too emotional, not too heavy. Just the right mix of suspense, romance, fantasy....and the best part is that it is clean. I'm definitely not one to snub my nose at a hot and heavy erotica, but there are times when a reader needs to realize that sex doesn't equate romance and vice versa. You can still have an amazing book with characters that you invest yourself in emotionally without having heavy bedroom scenes, or bawling your eyes out scenes because there's too much angst between the characters.
Colin and Avery were great characters in this story. Avery was the strong, independent young woman who knew what love was, knew who she loved, experienced heartbreak, and yet was willing to put herself out there again for the man she loved. Colin however, I could have kicked a few times.  He and his fear of paternal rejection was killing me. There were times when I wanted to yell at him to grow a spine. Eventually though, love wins out, and all is alright in the kingdom of Brighton again.
I didn't like the complete ending of the series though. There aren't many series' endings I like, but this one seemed too hurried, too final. I will miss Brighton very much.

#REVIEW: Greek For Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application

Title: Greek For Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application
Author:A. Chadwick Thornhill
Series: none
Publisher: Baker Publishers
Published Date: September 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0801018916
Synopsis: Reading the New Testament in its original language is one of the most effective ways to gain a greater understanding of the message of the Bible. Even though Greek is important to preparation for preaching and teaching, many who are called to ministry will not be able to dedicate years of study to master the language. But a lack of mastery of Greek should not exclude us from gleaning important insight and inspiration from reading Scripture in its original language.

Now pastors, Bible study instructors, Sunday school teachers, and serious lay students of the Bible can learn the basics of biblical Greek at their own pace. Greek for Everyone explains how the Greek language works and introduces the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, equipping readers to understand the original meaning of the New Testament. By focusing on the takeaways that most impact interpretation, this accessible book provides a working knowledge of biblical Greek for the study of Scripture.

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I have been looking for a book on biblical Greek for awhile. I admit to a geeky fascination with learning languages, though I am horribly bad at it. The biggest problem I had with learning Greek (or Hebrew, or Arabic for that matter) is the lettering is so different from what I am used to. This book starts out at the very beginning, with each of the Greek alphabet, and what it equates to in the English language, as well as how it is pronounced.
After that, the author introduces phrases, noun cases, verbs, and then goes into more detail with the different types of verbs. For the beginner to the Greek language, this book is very helpful and so much cheaper than a textbook.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#REVIEW: A Day And A Life by Penelope Wilcock

Title: A Day And A Life
Author: Penelope Wilcock
Series: The Hawk and the Dove #9
Publisher: Kregel
Published Date: September 27, 2016
ISBN:  978-1782642008
Pages: 224
Buy It Link: Amazon
Synopsis: The monastic rhythm of life at St Alcuins means that all is peaceful on the surface, but beneath there are strong currents as each monk contends with his own hopes, fears, challenges, and temptations. Not every monk is settled and secure. Sadness permeates the monastery when it is discovered early one morning that one of the novices, Brother Cedd, has disappeared. It quickly becomes clear that disturbance in the life of one can impact many. As the day goes on, the question looms: will Brother Cedd return? And what will be the consequences if he doesn't? In this moving conclusion to The Hawk and the Dove series, Pen Wilcock describes a single day in the life of the community weaving a deeply touching, frank, and witty tapestry of monastic life. 

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The three books I have read from this series (the last three) have been so enjoyable, and I am so sad to find out that there will be no more. However, it means I also have six other books to read. The books I have read, especially this one, have opened my eyes to the reality of monastic life. This book has been an entire, detailed look into one day in the St. Alcuin's monastery, and each of the monks, as well as novitiates and postulants. It really brings out the humanity of each of the monks that we have been with as we have read the series.
Sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad, all times so human, each of these characters have been brought out past the robes they wear, while at the same time, the life inside the monastery is shown to not be as easy as people sometimes imagine. It can be just as frustrating and hard and stressful as life in the outside world, however, the way the monks have each brought their community together is inspiring.
I am truly sorry to see the end of this series.

#REVIEW: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Title: Toward A Secret Sky
Author: Heather Maclean
Series: none
Publisher: Blink
Published Date: April 4, 2017
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780310754749
Buy It Link: Amazon
Synopsis: Toward a Secret Sky by New York Times bestselling author Heather Maclean is a new breed of YA novel: an intelligent adventure-quest crossed with a sweeping, forbidden love story. A mix of reality and possibility, this fast-paced thriller will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown as it leads the reader on a breathless flight through the highlands of Scotland, the secret city under London, and history itself.
Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.
With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Scotland, angels, a secret paranormal society, a forbidden love...I loved it all. From the very beginning of the book, anyone who has lost a parent can completely relate to Maren, who is at her mother's funeral. Is this close to Dan Brown's writing? I didn't think so. I felt this was too YA to compete with Dan Brown's writing. However, it is a fantastic book that has all the great earmarks of a paranormal YA romance, almost like Lauren Kate's Fallen series.
The author did a wonderful job of recreating the gorgeous Scottish landscape in the reader's mind. The action had some highs and lows, at times some of the scenes started to lag behind. However, when it did, that was when the puzzles would come into the storyline and keep the reader engaged. The characters were quirky and empathetic. The insta-love is a little old but it is constantly a theme in today's YA books for the past few years or so.
Overall, it's a great read, and probably a book I would like to see continued, just to see how to relationship between Maren and Gavin ends up.

#REVIEW: NIrV The Beginner's Holy Bible

Title: NIrV The Beginner's Holy Bible
Author: n/a
Series: none
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Published Date: October 4, 2016
Pages: 2048
ISBN: 9780310757016
Buy It Link: Amazon | Zondervan 
Synopsis: The Beginner’s Bible, Holy Bible, NIrV is an easy-to-read, large-print Bible for kids that features 20 color illustrations and includes the complete New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) of the Bible translated especially for kids just learning to read. Features brand new vibrant, three-dimensional art.

My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

My Review: I received a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review. 
I asked my youngest daughter if she would be interested in having her own real Bible, and she enthusiastically said yes. And here we are. Before I could even flip through it, she had taken it to her room, and apparently wrote in the presentation page. She wrote....I received this book for: (her words now) "reading and learning about Jeuses".
The words are very easy for her to read and understand. The type is large, and the pictures are colorful and whimsical. Overall, these three things make for a Bible she can call her own and that she can enjoy.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#REVIEW: Girl Talk 52 Weekly Devotions by Lois Walfrid Johnson

Title: Girl Talk
Author: Lois Walfrid Johnson
Series: Faithgirlz
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Published Date: September 13, 2016
ISBN: 9780310755005
Pages: 432
Genre: devotional
Buy It Link: Amazon | Zondervan

Synopsis: As you grow up, a lot of new, sometimes strange, things start to happen, and it can be overwhelming. You have new responsibilities, new opportunities, and a whole new set of problems, and sometimes it can feel like no one but you can understand what it’s like to be you.
You’re not alone. This one-year devotional is filled with stories about girls who feel just like you. As you read their stories each week and fill in questions about how you think each girl should react, you’ll learn new ways to deal with the pressures around you, embrace the opportunities God has given you, and make choices that give you the opportunity to dream. Through prayer and journal exercises, you’ll also discover there is someone out there who knows exactly how you feel. And he’s more than ready to listen.

My rating: ☆☆☆☆

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

From facing your fears to how following Jesus can change your life for the better, to being accepted and accepting yourself just the way you are, this book has most situations that a young girl would face as she grows up in this world as well as ways the characters have resolved the situation in a loving, Christian way. After each situation, it gives response questions to be answered, thought about, contemplated, and space to write down their answers. Fifty two different scenarios, all with Godly examples of how to face scary situations, also showing how God works in different ways to bring us closer to Him. 

As long as this is a gift freely given and received, it can be such a blessing.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#REVIEW: He Knows Your Name by Linda Znachko

Title:  He Knows Your Name
Author: Linda Znachko
Series: none
Publisher: Kregel Publishing
Published Date: September 27, 2016
ISBN: 9780825444043
Pages: 192
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: When the evening news reported a dead baby abandoned in a local dumpster, Linda Znachko's comfortable life changed. She was suddenly convicted--God was asking her to provide a dignified burial for this tiny lost child. Linda said yes. She had no idea where that first small yes would lead. Linda found herself in places she never dreamed she would be: at the graveside of the child of an abused mother; by the side of a mother fighting for her lost child; and at the funeral of a Texas stripper who died two days before her baptism but left a legacy of love behind. When Linda stepped out of her comfort zone and into these implausible places with people she was unlikely to otherwise encounter, she discovered the life she never knew she wanted--a life of saying yes to God whenever He asks.
Today, Linda has a ministry that gives children a name in life, and dignity and honor in death. When she shares her stories of broken lives redeemed, other broken people respond, and so the ripple effects of that long-ago yes continue to spread, touching lives that yearn for healing, and underscoring the fact that every life matters to God. 

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was amazing in the easy, heartwarming and open way the author recounted the way in which God has brought about this ministry of hers and worked through her to bring such healing to so much grief and sadness.
It was inspiring to know your ministry doesn't have to start when you are in your teens or twenties, God always waits until the very right time for everyone. Just that message, as unintended as it was, brought such hope to me that eventually I will be able to find whatever my calling is, if I can just learn to listen to the still, small voice inside me. 
As inspiring as the author's story is, I think the most important one is that God always puts you where you are meant to be, and whether it is something big or small, God will always use you for good in the world.

Monday, October 3, 2016

#REVIEW: NKJV Word Study Bible

Title: NKJV Word Study Bible
Author/Editor: N/A
Series: none
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published Date: September 27, 2016
ISBN: 9780718076566
Genre: Study Bible
Buy It Link: Amazon | Thomas Nelson

Synopsis: The NKJV Word Study Bible includes in-text subheadings and 1,700 easy-to-use word studies with select Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words explained in every chapter from Genesis to Revelation, helping you dig deeper into your Bible study. By looking into these ancient texts we are able to read scripture as it was originally written and passed on from generation to generation, bringing these words to life and allowing you to almost hear Jesus teaching on the hillside or crying out to God on the cross. As you study you will discover the richness and significance of the original languages of the Word of God and experience scripture in a whole new way.
Features Include:
• NKJV paragraph-style text with in-text subheadings and translators' notes
• Book introductions
• Words of Christ in red
• Word studies
• Indexes
• Concordance

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review.
For someone just starting to delve deeper into their Bible, this is a good start. However, it is a frustrating start. Many of the words end up pointing to other parts of the Bible, so the student is stuck going back and forth between where they currently are in the Bible and some other passage. For instance, 1 Samuel 28:7 has the word medium underlined. At that point, it points you to 1 Chronicles 10:13. Once you flip to there, it does tell you 4 different places within Scripture where the same Hebrew word is located. It does give a decent description of the word and explains how it got that meaning within the culture. It uses both Strong's word number and Vine's definition in its definition.
Again, this Bible is a good start. For someone who has done other word studies, sometimes you want more meat to it. There's so much more to the words than just a definition, there's the cultural aspect to it, which could be misinterpreted.
Overall, it's a great Bible to start someone down on the path of great word studies within the Bible.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#REVIEW: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

Title: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible
Author/Editor: Craig S Keener, John Walton
Series: None
Publisher: Zondervan
Published Date: August 23, 2016
Pages: 2400
Genre: study bible
Bible Translation: New International Version

Buy it Link: Amazon | Zondervan

Synopsis: You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture.
That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.
Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world.
The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world.
The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers.

  • The full text of the NIV
  • Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written
  • Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages
  • Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features
  • Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics
  • 375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world
  • Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color
  • Words of Jesus in red
  • Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps

My rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review.
While I have done literal studies of the Bible, as well as word studies in the Bible, I have always thought that with the amount of translating and re-translating that the Bible has gone through that something is lost. And that something is so vital. Not only that but culture has changed so much in the past thousand years, how much more has it changed in three thousand or five thousand years? And because of those changes, how can I possibly understand what the original writers of the Bible really meant when they put words to scraps of sheep skin or parchment, or whatever they used?

I was really looking forward to this Bible to help shed some light on the questions I have had for so long. And immediately, I wasn't disappointed when I looked into the Hebrew to English translation chart that is found at the very beginning of the book. Perhaps the introductions to each book didn't give me all the information I craved, but it helped me to understand the context more. It is very interesting when the authors do introduce information about surrounding  religions around the same time, to be able to see the little things that were similar to our own religion and beliefs. Sometimes I wonder what helped us to succeed where other cultures and religions failed. 

Overall, I can't say much bad about this Bible, though I did want a little more meat sometimes in the descriptions of some of the contexts.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

#REVIEW: American Woman's Bible NKJV by Dr Richard G Lee

Title: American Woman's Bible NKJV Edition
Author/Editor: Dr Richard G Lee
Series: none
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published Date: June 7, 2016
ISBN: 9780718076313
Genre: Bible
Buy It Link: Thomas Nelson

Synopsis: Discover how biblical virtues in the powerful words and actions of extraordinary American women past and present have shaped our blessed American way of life. By their examples you can develop the same strength of biblical character in your own life. Whether you are a daughter, a mother or a grandmother, you will find this Bible an encouraging and powerful companion for daily living.

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review.
This Bible is written in the NKJV translation, making this a much easier to comprehend version of the Bible than the KJV. It contains stories of American's Women's history that are both inspiring and amazing in their courage and grace. These stories are chosen to complement the books of the Bible they immediately precede.
Other than the stories and quotes from each of these famous, and not so famous (at least to me) American women, the NKJV bible hasn't changed, and it offers nothing more to the reader. In fact, I'm not quite sure why I would buy this bible, or who I would buy it for. Perhaps it is a way to show how the Bible is not quite as old and crusty as some can believe it to be, how relatable it is to "modern" history (some may think that the 1960s is ancient history!). Other than being able to say, yes there is a Bible that also handles inspiring American women, it really does nothing for me.

Friday, July 29, 2016

#REVIEW: When There Are No Easy Answers by John S Feinberg

Title: When There Are No Easy Answers
Series: none
Author: John S Feinberg
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publishing Date: June 27, 2016
ISBN:  9780825444128
Pages: 160
Genre: Christian Living
Buy It Link: Kregel Publications

SynopsisHow can a God of love allow terrible things to happen in our lives? 
Christians often assume they're equipped to deal with tragedy if it enters their lives, but like most people, think it never really will. What happens, then, when we follow God's will to the best of our abilities and heartbreak strikes? Do we mean it when we implore "Have Thine own way, Lord" or does that only apply in times of blessings or small, manageable hurts?
John Feinberg knows that conundrum intimately. In 1987 his beloved wife was diagnosed with an incurable, genetically transmitted disease. They were immediately challenged in their faith and their approach to God's goodness in the face of the evil of suffering. More, they discovered just how little their Christian community understood about how to support people in crisis.
When There Are No Easy Answers considers the problem of grief from every angle, just as the Feinbergs walked through it in their journey. It confronts the question of justice, examines the nature of God, and argues for the reality of grace. Feinberg explores the biblical reasons against the use of traditional clich├ęs and platitudes, especially by those in ministry, and lays out alternatives that can actually comfort and encourage the person who is struggling or grieving.

My rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I am in a position of trying to help someone who is suffering, I'm frankly lost, baffled, and struggling to come up with the "right thing" to say. I know I am not alone in this. And most of the time, I end up putting my foot in my mouth, probably hurting the person more without intending to.
This book helps to show us what NOT to say, but at the same time, shows us what we CAN do as Christians, how we can support, help in a comforting way, and how to relate in a gentle way.
Trying to explain the why behind the suffering, pain and injustice of this world is near to impossible, if not impossible for us.
The author has a unique angle on this subject, as his wife has been chronically suffering for decades with no hope of healing, and no easy end in sight. The things that he and his family have experienced and the things people have been saying to him, give him a unique view on what actually needs to be said to people in our lives that are suffering in some way.
I believe this is a book that needs to be read by everyone, even if you only understand what *not* to say to those suffering.

Friday, June 10, 2016

#REVIEW: Misconceptions: A Look at God's Word Through First Century Hebraic Eyes by Steven Reider

Title: Misconceptions: A Look at God's Word Through First Century Hebraic Eyes
Author: Steven Reider
Series: none
Publisher: WestBow Press
Published Date: Feb 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-51272-897-2
Pages: 146
Genre: biblical history
Buy It Link: Westbow Publishers

Synopsis: There are far too many misconceptions in the Christian faith. Do you know the name of God? Or, do you know the story behind the ceremony of Holy Communion and the parallels to Jesus's life? How about the woman that was caught in adultery; do you know what Jesus wrote in the sand? What was the significance of the Bible mentioning the place where Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Do you know how to make your faith grow? This book examines these topics and much more.

My Rating: 1 star

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I did not like this book. From the very beginning, it felt like I was off-kilter reading this book, like I was reading some other history entirely, in a lens I didn't recognize. Maybe that was the point, but I don't feel like the author did a lot of in-depth research, or any research at all. The second chapter was probably the most intriguing to me, with the concept that the Israelite camps mirrored the throne of God. I'm still doing my own research on that. Then there was the whole "if someone forces you to walk one mile, walk two miles" which generally is accepted to mean what the author proposes, that you should "go the extra mile". On the other hand, historically, Romans could force someone to carry their stuff for one mile. Some preliminary research of my own suggests that a Roman could not force someone to carry it further than one mile, so if you carry it an extra mile, the soldier could get into trouble, and it could be a method of peaceful resistance.
Overall, I didn't enjoy this book, I think it could have been written so much better if enough research was put into it.

Friday, June 3, 2016

#REVIEW: The Beautiful Thread by Penelope Wilcock

Title: The Beautiful Thread
Author: Penelope Wilcock
Series: The Hawk and the Dove #8
Published Date: Feb 19, 2016
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Pages: 208
Genre: medieval fiction
ISBN: 9781782641452
Buy It Link: Amazon
Synopsis: William, the capable former cellarer (administrator), has returned to St Alcuins at Abbot John's request to help his replacement learn the ropes. But William's return coincides with a bishop's visitation, a regular event. The bishop, a zealous churchman with a large entourage, has heard rumours of St Alcuins having had in their community one William de Bulmer, who is said to have attempted suicide and left the order - attempted suicide is a felony, and breaking monastic vows is a grave sin. (For those unfamiliar with the series, the bishop is entirely correct). The bishop wants to know where this man is so he can be arraigned before an ecclesiastical court, and wishes to discover what happened and what part Abbot John played in those events. His suspicions are well founded. As the story unfolds, the beautiful thread of the Gospel weaves quietly through the contrasting colours of human frailty, religious zeal and social pretension.  

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is the second of this series that I have read right after Breath of Peace, and this author keeps impressing me! I wasn't quite sure if the author would be able to continue to keep my interest, but she makes reading this series absolutely realistic. I found myself (yes, reading during lunch at work), gasping and wincing at the absolute depravity of one of the characters we meet in this book.
The newly installed abbot, Abbot John, the very same brother of Madeleine, William's wife, that we met in previous books, is now in a pickle. A society wedding, and the bishop's inspection visit all at the time same. After having just finished an inspection of my work place myself, I can completely empathize with the stress that Abbot John is going through. On top of that a society wedding...I am truly surprised this poor abbot didn't keel over from the stress!
I can't help but love the realistic writing of the author, how much I felt I was in the whole book, how I cheered for characters, cursed others, and laughed at certain places.
This is a book that is well-driven by the character development and the personalities, rather than action and adventure.

#REVIEW: Breath of Peace by Penelope Wilcock

Title: Breath of Peace
Author: Penelope Wilcock
Series: The Hawk and the Dove #7
Published Date: Feb 27, 2016
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Pages: 208
Genre: medieval fiction
ISBN: 9781782641735
Buy It Link: Amazon
Synopsis: Madeleine Hazell and William de Bulmer have been married a year.
She is a healer, a wise woman, practical, intelligent and blunt. He is not only an ex-monk, but an ex-abbot, a man accustomed to authority, a gifted administrator, at home with figures – but perhaps less capable in such matters as shutting up chickens for the night. They are deeply, irrevocably in love. And every conversation may become a battlefield that leaves both wounded and resentful.
When the aged monk who served as cellarer dies, Father John, the Abbot of nearby St Alcuin’s Abbey, finds himself critically short-handed. Who will handle the rents? The provisions? He is a gifted infirmarian, a capable leader, but estate management is beyond his competence. With a sense of rising panic he turns to his friend, the man who renounced his vows for love, the former Father William – only to find that his own pastoral skills may be required in matters matrimonial …
This is the seventh novel in the St Alcuin’s Abbey series, which began with The Hawk and the Dove.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first of this series that I have read, and what an incredibly fun series it is to read! I wasn't quite sure how it would be jumping into the middle of the series, but I am so glad I took the chance on it.
Madeleine and William are married for a year, and now the honeymooning time is over, suddenly reality hits. Daily life is monotonous, William can't seem to do anything right, Madeleine is a bickering, cranky wife. Despite all this, and the very painful everyday life we see in the book, the love between the two main characters is deep and true. Reading them stumble through getting used to each other as people and not their romantic fantasies can be painful at times, but it is so very realistic, it's hard not to become empathically connected to the characters.
And then Father John, Madeleine's brother steps in for a replacement for the recent death of his cellarer at the abbey William just left.
This is a book that is well-driven by the character development and the personalities, rather than action and adventure.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#REVIEW: Swimming With Faith by Natalie Davis Miller

Title: Swimming With Faith: The Missy Franklin story
Author: Natalie Davis Miller
Series: Zonderkidz Biography
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Published Date: May 10, 2016
ISBN: 9780310747079
Genre: biography
Pages: 142
Age Range: 8-12 year olds
Buy It Link: Amazon
Missy Franklin is one of the most talented swimmers in the world. She is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and currently holds the world record in the 200-meter backstroke and American records in both the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke. She was Swimming World’s World Swimmer of the Year and was awarded the American Swimmer of the Year award in 2012. Swimming with Faith: The Missy Franklin Story details her rise in fame as a swimmer and humbleness in the sport and in her personal life.

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
For the past year or so, my two daughters have really been enjoying swimming. And because of that, when I saw this book, I thought it would be great for my oldest to read. It's right in her age range, it's about something she loves, and it's about an athlete's love and faith in God.
The book itself is written so it is easy to read, and understand. It includes many quotes from Missy Franklin, so when you're reading it, it is almost as if you're listening to Missy talk about her experiences.
It is wonderful to see a young athlete, of Olympic caliber, to not be overwhelmed by the publicity, the fame, or the money, and instead, focus on what she truly wants to do. Having a plan and going for it is so crucial to this story. Especially on the football field, you see a lot of athletes calling attention to their faith and it becoming a media circus. I love how Missy Franklin has quietly kept to her faith and not used it as a way to even more fame.

#REVIEW: There Will Be Stars by Billy Coffey

Title: There Will Be Stars
Author: Billy Coffey
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published Date: May 3, 2016
ISBN: 978-0718026820
Genre: Fiction
Buy It Link: Amazon
No one in Mattingly ever believed Bobby Barnes would live to see old age. Drink would either rot Bobby from the inside out or dull his senses just enough to send his truck off the mountain on one of his nightly rides. Although Bobby believes such an end possible—and even likely—it doesn’t stop him from taking his twin sons Matthew and Mark into the mountains one Saturday night. A sharp curve, blinding headlights, metal on metal, his sons’ screams. Bobby’s final thought as he sinks into blackness is a curious one—There will be stars.

Yet it is not death that greets him beyond the veil. Instead, he returns to the day he has just lived and finds he is not alone in this strange new world. Six others are trapped with him.
Bobby soon discovers that this supposed place of peace is actually a place of secrets and hidden dangers. Along with three others, he seeks to escape, even as the world around him begins to crumble. The escape will lead some to greater life, others to endless death . . . and Bobby Barnes to understand the deepest nature of love.

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This had to be one of the strangest books I have read. Bobby is a typical alcoholic, never thinking he really has a problem, just kind of stumbling through life without realizing how much he is hurting himself and others. How the heck an obvious alcoholic man with no visible means of income can possibly keep his kids with him, I'm still scratching my head over that one. Either way, driving drunk ends up killing him and his twin boys on a mountain, and that's just the first chapter. Now he finds himself "re-living" the day of his death over and over again with 6 other people stuck in the same day.
The story gets progressively darker and darker until I really wanted to put it down, and yet, I needed to know what would happen. It was like seeing a train wreck over and over again and yet hoping that it would turn out differently every single time.
It took until the very last chapter for the book to redeem itself, and that's the only reason why I am so glad I decided to slog through the darkness and violence to finish it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

#REVIEW: My Toddler Bible by Juliette David

Title: My Toddler Bible
Author: Juliette David 
Illustrations by Chris Embleton-Hall
Publisher: Candle Books
Published Date: April 27,2016
Pages: 224
Buy it Link: Amazon

Synopsis: Fans of Chris Embleton-Hall's cheerfully distinctive artwork will be eager to see this new Bible! Twenty stories―nine from the Old Testament and eleven from the New―are retold in a concise and friendly manner in a rounded, easy-to-read font. Very, very bright, and very, very fun!

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book is written for ages 3-5, and as such, is colorful and full of the favorite Bible stories we have all grown up with. The book is broken down into the Old Testament and he New Testament. There are 9 stories from the Old Testament and 11 stories from the New Testament. These stories are just short enough and colorful enough to keep the attention span of a toddler, which is about the span of a gnat's.
No, this book has nothing of sin or salvation or grace in it. It does talk about disobeying God and the consequences, in a very gentle way in the Garden of Eden story. I honestly don't think these are topics appropriate for this age range, so I see nothing wrong with keeping them out.
Overall, I hint this is a very age appropriate book for toddlers to introduce them to the Bible.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#REVIEW: NKJV: The Chronological Study Bible

Title: NKJV: The Chronological Study Bible
Series: Signature Series
Author: various
Published Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9780718076894
Buy it Link: Amazon | Thomas Nelson

Synopsis: The Bible that allows you to study Scripture in the order of events as they happened
The Chronological Study Bible presents the text of the New King James Version in chronological order - the order in which the events actually happened - with notes, articles, and full-color graphics that connect the reader to the history and culture of Bible times. It is the only NKJV study Bible arranged in chronological order.
Features include:
  • The entire NKJV text with translators’ notes, arranged in chronological order, provides absorbing and effective Bible study
  • Full-color illustrations of places, artifacts, and cultural phenomena give the reader a dramatic, “you are there” experience
  • Fascinating articles connect the Bible text to world history and culture
  • Daily Life Notes explain how people lived in Bible times
  • Time Panels and Charts show the flow of Bible history
  • In-text and full-page color maps of the biblical world assist study
My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
This is a fantastic study Bible to have. I have decided to read the Bible chronologically this year (yes, starting today), and have found this Bible to help me put all the pieces together, like archeology, historical knowledge as well as the Bible and get a full overview of the people in the Bible and what was going on in the world around them at the time. In Genesis, it's nice to read the commentary next to the creation stories about the surrounding cultures and their beliefs of creation, and how it is similar or different from our Bible.
For me, it's not too much of a stretch to think that what we have as our Bible, especially the beginning parts of it, is a cultural mishmash of beliefs from the peoples around the region of the Mesopotamian delta. Oral history was the primary source of cultural identity for thousands of years, and as cultures melded, died out and evolved, stories changed, perhaps not grossly re-editted, but details were probably added or changed as the generations progressed. I know my thoughts are not the most popular and there are those who see the Bible as written down word for word from God. However, this Bible helps me to see the larger picture of the cultures surrounding the events happening in the Bible. This is actually my favorite part of this Bible.
This Bible breaks down the timeline into 9 different "epochs" or time periods, with each having an introduction:

Epoch 1: Creation- 2000 B.C.;
Epoch 2: 2000-1500 B.C.;
Epoch 3: 1500-1200 B.C.;
Epoch 4: 1200-930 B.C.;
Epoch 5: 930-586 B.C.;
Epoch 6: 586-332 B.C.;
Epoch 7: 332-37 B.C.;
Epoch 8: 37 B.C.- A.D. 30;
Epoch 9: A.D. 30-100

There is also a concordance and reading plans as well at the end of the Bible for you to use as you would like that are very helpful.
This Bible is absolutely beautiful. It is a brown and blue imitation leather, very sturdy and well-made. There aren't any real margins for you to write a lot of notes in, so if you're going to use this as a primary study Bible, you will need to have a notebook handy to write in. It is full color but it's not distracting from reading. The only thing I do not like about this Bible is that the pages stick together very easily and they are hard to pull apart because of the gold on the edges. Most of my Bibles at home are NIV, but every time I read the NKJV edition, I am struck at how much this really is my favorite translation.

#BLAST: Reunited: A Gift From God by Madlyn E Marshall

Madlyn E. Marshall 
Madlyn Marshall is the Founder of G.R.A.C.E. Financial Ministry Inc. G.R.A C.E is an acronym for “God’s Resources Advancing Christian Evangelism” a biblically based financial management and budgeting ministry. Madlyn is also conducts workshops writing all the material used in the workshops as well as during one on one consulting sessions.
Madlyn has also written several short stories and poems. It is in this genre where Madlyn has the opportunity to share the creative side of her writing. Madlyn has a vivid imagination and a unique way of bringing the stories and characters she writes about to life with descriptive images.
The Window of the Heart series is a collection of small fictional stories that explore the depth of God’s love and His capacity to restore that which was lost, albeit relationships, a renewed sense of oneself, or joy that had been buried under the weight of life’s challenges. In these stories, you will laugh, cry, and paused to think about your own challenges and I hope come away with a renewed spirit and a stronger faith.
In the first of the three book series, ReUnited – A Gift from God; the characters struggle with their faith in God, and the pain from their past. Can they truly forgive? Can they trust God and allow Him to heal their brokenness? Tony and Elaine have the opportunity to answer these questions and more because they are thrown together in an unlikely place, on top of a mountain in Alberta, Canada. There is no place for either of them to go, so they are force to face their fears and their past lives together.