Saturday, December 24, 2016

Book Review: "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day"

I first noticed Mark Batterson's book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day about ten years ago when it was first released. I wanted to read it then but never got around to it. So when Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers offered me a complimentary copy of its re-release for review, I gratefully accepted. Batterson says, "God is never early, and He is never late!" That was the case with this book. I'm facing several lions of my own right now, and God has added Batterson's voice to those encouraging me to keep facing them until the job is done.

Overall, I loved the book. It is a challenge to Christians to live a courageous life of obedience to God. Batterson says that righteous living is more than eliminating negative things from our lives; it's choosing to do what's right. Sometimes those right choices will mean doing hard things, taking huge risks, and living counter intuitively. But when God is leading us into it, we don't want to be doing anything else - even if we find ourselves fighting a lion in a pit on a snowy day.

If you're in need of motivation to try something new, something you suspect God is leading you to do, I recommend this book for you.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Book Review: "Where Two Hearts Meet"

Caden Holt of Where Two Hearts Meet is one of the best characters I've met this year. She's insecure and underappreciated, yet she loves everyone she meets - even those who treat her badly. She's a talented chef, a patient teacher, and a loyal friend. But few of the people in her small town recognize her for the treasure she is. They assume she'll spend her life working in obscurity, all alone, in the kitchen of Rose's Red Door Inn. Caden believes this, too.

When the inn begins to struggle financial, though, the owner, and Caden's good friend, Marie, seizes a hopeful opportunity for publicity. Learning that one of the guests is a writer and that a well-known travel magazine is secretly sending one of their employees to determine if the inn is worthy of a feature article, she asks Caden to be hospitable toward this writer, to help him fall in love with the inn, the community, the island it's on. Caden is reluctant, but she wants to help her friend. And since the writer, Adam Jacobs, won't stop raiding her kitchen for coffee and sweets anyway, she figures she doesn't have a choice anyway.

Where Two Hearts Meet is a sweet story chock full of great characters like Caden all living in the setting that anyone who has read Anne of Green Gables already adores. I enjoyed this second visit to Rose's Red Door Inn and recommend this series to you.

Revell sent me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Book Review: "A Portrait of Emily Price"

Reading Katherine Reay's books is like taking a leisurely stroll through lovely new territory and finding a treasure at the end. It's relaxing and pleasurable, a nice change from suspenseful and intense. Her newest, A Portrait of Emily Price, takes readers into the art world, the restaurant business, and the heart of Italy as art conservationist Emily discovers new ways to appreciate life.

Emily comes from a broken home. With an absent dad and an indifferent mom, she practically raised her sister and still has trouble letting go. When the insurance company she works for sends her to Atlanta to restore a mural and other items damaged by fire, she gains more than just a nice change of pace. Within two weeks, her whole life changes and she must find a way to make sense of it, to honor her commitments or turn back to the familiar, possibly losing herself and all she loves.

A Portrait of Emily Price was full of intriguing characters, gentle surprises, and subtle messages about people sharing life. I had my highlighter out several times near the end and continue to think on some of the thoughts I absorbed.

If you think of books as pleasant vacations that help you view life from fresh angles, I recommend this one to you. Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me my copy in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Review: "Prayers and Answered Prayers"

Prayers and Answered Prayers is a two-in-one prayer journal for kids. Contained in a tough plastic cover with a bright floral design are two booklets, one on top of the other. It's truly unique. The top booklet is the prayer journal, full of questions to help kids talk to God. There are fill-in-the-blanks, spaces to doodle, write, or color, answers to circle, and lists to make. The bottom booklet has more of the same with an emphasis on recognizing and thanking God for answered prayer.

Though the set of books is cute and full of fun, it doesn't always stay true to its prayer/answered prayer theme. Sometimes it asks random questions like which Bible woman's name would you like to have or what are your personal worsts. The activities are interesting but don't have anything to do with prayer. The Answered Prayers booklet in particular helps kids explore the concept of prayer a bit but spends little time on actually helping them consider their own answered prayers.

I would recommend this as an interesting, Christian-themed activity book for elementary-aged girls. I wouldn't include it in a curriculum on prayer.

I received a complimentary copy from Tommy Nelson Publishers in exchange for this honest review.