Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Review: "Kids' NIV Visual Study Bible"

I know this is a kids' Bible, but I'm wanting to read through the whole thing myself! What a great reference work! Not only does it have the complete NIV text of the Bible, but every page has notes in the outside margins, bringing attention and explanation to particular verses. For example, on page 573, there is an explanation that the Azariah mentioned in 2 Kings 15:30 was another name for Uzziah mentioned in other places. This explanation offers suggestions for why one king had two names. This Bible also contains full-color pictures and maps and diagrams of family trees, infographics and introductions to the different books.

It's not a study Bible for little kids, but it would make a great reference for parents who include Bible teaching in their home school or for parents who want to study the Bible at home with their kids. It would also be great for older kids and teenagers (and maybe even some curious adults) who want to read the Bible for themselves.

Now that I think of it, perhaps ZonderKids should have called this the Family's NIV Visual Study Bible. In any case, I'm thankful for the copy they sent me, so I could share my thoughts about it here. I look forward to sharing this Bible with my family, and I recommend it for yours.

Book Review: "Crisis Shot"

In her newest police drama series, Line of Duty, Janice Cantore moves her stories from Long Beach, California to Rogue's Hollow, Oregon. In the first book, Crisis Shot, main character Tess O'Rourke doesn't want to make the move, but must due to circumstances beyond her control. She had hoped to become chief of police in a big city; now she finds herself adjusting to life in a small town.

A brutal murder, a missing person, a wounded dog, and a homeless drug addict keep her busy, though. With half the town supporting her efforts and the other half watching to see her fail, she must do her best just to do her job and to do what is best for her new town.

I always enjoy reading Cantore's books. I was partial to the Long Beach setting, having grown up near there, but I liked meeting the characters in this new town and watching Tess adapt to a new culture through tough circumstances. The story in Crisis Shot ended, but Tess's will go on. I'll look forward to reading what happens next in Rogue's Hollow, Oregon.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book, so I could share my thoughts with you.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: "To Wager Her Heart"

To Wager Her Heart is the third of Tamera Alexander's Belle Meade Plantation novels set in Nashville, TN just after the Civil War, a fictional story associated with the actual plantation and fictionalized versions of some of the people who lived there. Through this story, readers learn some of the history of Fisk University and its Jubilee Singers. They'll also learn about the development of the railroad in that area and across the U.S. They'll also meet a few other historical figures as brought to life through Alexander's imagination. This is how historical fiction is meant to be.

The main fictional characters are Alexandra Jamison and Sylas Rutledge. They meet when he visits her father for legal advice, but soon learn that the railroad accident in which her fiance' died is the one his father was blamed for causing. Though he's determined to prove his father's innocence, Alexandra wants nothing to do with Sy.

Thankfully for readers, circumstances throw the two together anyway. Each needs help from the other in order to pursue their dreams. That, along with the historical detail, made To Wager Her Heart a brilliant read. I thank Zondervan for sending a complimentary copy to me and am happy to tell you what I think.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: "The Promise of Dawn"

I really love that Lauraine Snelling has started a new series in a new place with new characters - who know the old characters and may encounter them someday. That's just too much fun! The Promise of Dawn is the story of how Rune and Signe Carlson immigrate from Norway to America with their three sons and one more child on the way. They don't follow the rest of the family to Blessing, though. Another branch of the family needs help with their logging business in Minnesota.

One of Snelling's greatest strengths, along with taking her readers right into whatever historical setting she chooses, is creating strong female characters who overcome whatever obstacles they face in order to create safe and nurturing homes and communities for their families. Her books inspire me to want to do the same. And though this is a historical novel, the themes of family, friendship, community, hard work, and trust in God are timeless. Like Ingeborg Bjorklund, Signe Carlson will be a mentor to everyone she meets - and to the readers who meet her through this new series.

I thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy, so I could tell you about this book. I recommend it along with all of Snelling's previous works.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Review: "Unraveling"

Book 2 of a suspense-packed trilogy for young adults, Unraveling offered one surprising plot twist after another while guiding readers through several new worlds. Author Sara Ella has used her imagination to create six new realities, all connected to Ella's fictional version of our own. As her main character, Eliyana Ember, discovers and explores these realities, called reflections in the book, readers get to do so, too.

In the first book, Eliyana discovered the truth about her identity. In Unraveling she takes her place only to suddenly have everything start going wrong. The Verity and the Void are out of balance and evil is taking over. To further complicate matter, the two young men who must help El are competing for her affections as well. To fix what's gone wrong, she must go on a quest to learn how it all began, avoid those who would stop her, and make a most difficult choice.

I'm enjoying this trilogy and plan to pass the books on to my daughter. I recommend this series to you. Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary copy, so I could share my opinion through this review.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: "Almost There"

In her new book, Almost There: Searching for Home in a Life on the Move, Bekah DiFelice gives her testimony through twelve stories of adjustments she and her husband made upon entering military life. She tells of getting married and moving away from home for the first time, of getting used to new homes and communities, of making friends, finding churches, parenting away from the support of extended family, and of trying to discern what's best for everyone involved. And as she tells her story, her testimony, she shares the lessons she learned along the way: lessons in trusting God through it all, lessons in letting Him be her heart's home.

DiFelice has a subtle sense of humor that makes her stories fun to read, yet her gift for words conveys deep truth as well. I found encouragement and gleaned useful insights from every chapter as I enjoyed reading this book, a gift from Tyndale House Publishers, so I could share my opinion with you. Whether or not you are part of a military family or find yourself moving every few years, DiFelice's stories will have something to teach you. I recommend this read!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: "Gathering the Threads"

The themes that Cindy Woodsmall explored through her latest series are relevant to all people, not unique to the Amish. That's part of what makes The Amish of Summer Grove series so fascinating. Readers will glean great insight as they learn along with Ariana Brenneman.

In the third and final book, Gathering the Threads, Ariana has returned to her home of origin, but her time living away has changed her. She's no longer willing to blindly obey - especially if doing so will hurt her or someone else. She's studying God's Word and clinging to it as the primary authority for her life. Needless to say, her father, fiance, and church leaders are not sure how to handle this. Ariana doesn't want to live in conflict with them, but she must stand up for what is right.

Her switched-at-birth sister of sorts, Skylar Nash, continues to struggle as well. Free to return to the family who raised her, she chooses to stay with her Amish family, living clean and working to discern who she really wants to be. Woodsmall ends each character's story perfectly. I recommend this read.

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers sent me a complimentary copy in exchange for this review.