Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: "What Does God Really Promise?"

If you know someone who has questions about the basics of Christianity - a new Christian or a curious friend, this new book, What Does God Really Promise? 101 Questions and Answers about God's Promises, the Church, and the Future, would be a helpful gift.

It's a cute, little book - hardcover with sweet, doodle-style artwork throughout, but the answers to these 101 questions are accurate and easy to understand. Author Carolyn Larsen has taken the time to consider what beliefs of and terms used in the Christian faith might not make sense to someone just discovering the church. She has grouped them into three categories: God's Promises, The Church, and The Future, and has provided concise biblical answers to help readers understand.

I've enjoyed reading this book and plan to pass it on to someone I know who is seeking answers such as these. I thank Tyndale Momentum for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: "Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal"

"Living expressions invites you to explore God's Word and express your creativity in ways that are refreshing to the spirit and restorative to the soul."

I found this invitation at the top of the copyright page of the new prayer and praise coloring journal Tyndale Momentum sent in exchange for an honest review. The invitation expresses the purpose of this little hardcover book perfectly. Each page has drawings to color. Most have prayers adapted from Amie Carlson's 365 Pocket Prayers for Mothers. There are also plenty of lines for journaling and blank spaces with suggestions for personal artwork. This book is an invitation to read, write, color, draw, worship, praise, and pray.

I appreciate the solid, board-book type cover that makes the book sturdy to better protect the creative work I do inside. I also love the splashes of color throughout - readers don't have to color if they choose not to. The book is complete as it is if one prefers praying and journaling. I am enjoying this cute, little book and will continue to do so. I recommend it to anyone interested in exploring creative quiet time.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book Review: "Really Bad Girls of the Bible"

Nobody tells and brings out the truth of a Bible story quite like Liz Curtis Higgs, so I was really excited to get to read this updated version of one of her classic books. In Really Bad Girls of the Bible, Higgs brings eight biblical women to life with humor, creativity, and compassion (for those who deserved it--not all of these bad girls did. A few were rotten to the core; Higgs shows readers why.)

Higgs starts each chapter with a contemporary version of the featured Bible story, helping readers see how the woman might have behaved in today's society. (I enjoyed trying to see how quickly I could figure out which bad girl's story she was telling.) Higgs followed the contemporary story with a phrase by phrase commentary of the Bible text, sharing her own insights and experience along with other commentator's notes. She closed each chapter with a list of practical lessons for readers to apply from each bad girl's life. Higgs finished the book with a personal note, a fun poem, discussion questions, and a study guide.

I recommend this book for personal or group study. The content is fun, but the insights are deep. Higgs' gift with words makes both the story and the lessons of each chapter memorable.

I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Book Review: "I Wish He Had Come with Instructions"

Before I say anything else, let me make it clear that I found the information in this book both fascinating and useful. If you are a woman in need of a guide to the male brain, I recommend you read this book.

I had to laugh when I read Chapter 8, though, because, evidently, the author's wife had the same issue with the book that I did. She told him, "If I didn't know you, I'd feel like you were telling me that I had to do all the changing in my relationship with my man. Your female readers are going to think, 'How come I have to change? What about him? It sounds like it's all my responsibility and he's off the hook!'"

Poor Mike Bechtle. He must have explained himself at least a dozen times, yet I still had to fight the urge to agree with his wife that it seemed he was placing all the burden on me. I'm choosing to take his word - and hers - for it, though, because he does share some powerful and helpful insights. As Bechtle says, "I'm not letting the man off the hook. I'm just trying to help you understand him accurately."

The book's introduction makes this clear the first time: "There are plenty of books that debate gender roles and societal issues. This isn't one of them. It's simply a guide for women to understand, from a man, what goes on inside the male mind." The rest of the book is divided into five well-defined sections: The Care and Feeding of a Man, How He Thinks, How He Acts, How He Communicates, and How He Grows. Throughout each of these, Bechtle invites women to understand, appreciate, and celebrate the different ways that men and women think. Together we're better as we learn to combine our unique strengths.

I thank Revell for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Review: "When Death Draws Near"

Carrie Stuart Parks' Gwen Marcey novels are intense and full of suspense. The forensic artist for whom the books are named always finds herself fighting for the lives of potential victims which include her own and her daughter's. When Death Draws Near, the third in this series, was no exception. I had a hard time taking a break from reading this book for doing other things.

This time, Gwen Marcey is helping to solve two mysteries. Her primary reason for accepting work in Pikeville, KY (besides her need for funds) is to help the sheriff's department find a serial rapist. The victims, once rescued, keep leaving town with their families without a trace. Gwen soon learns, though, of a series of unusual accidental deaths happening around the town. She suspects there is a connection between the two mysteries.

My favorite part of this book was the personal lesson Gwen learned at the end of the book. Parks touched on the message so gently throughout this powerful story, then drove the point home beautifully. Readers who enjoy inspirational criminal investigation stories will like this series of books. I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review: "Without Warning"

I have been so impressed with Lynette Eason’s Elite Guardians series. I just finished the second book, Without Warning, and now I’m watching for the third, Moving Target, coming next Spring. Each of Eason’s characters is wounded emotionally in some way but chooses to fight through personal issues in order to protect others and make the world a safer place. They find strength in knowing each other’s weaknesses, so they can step up for each other and work together as an effective team. The four Elite Guardians (bodyguards) also have an extensive network of law enforcement officers who enhance their efforts (and add interesting characters to the story).

The focus of Without Warning is on Katie Singleton who inadvertently finds a case for the agency when she stops to see why police are surrounding a restaurant owned by one of her self-defense student’s uncle, Daniel Matthews. When evidence suggests that Daniel is being targeted by someone who wants to put him out of business and ruin his life, his niece hires Katie and her team.

Fans of romantic suspense mysteries will love this book. I received my copy from Revell in exchange for this honest review.