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.