Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Book Review: "31 Verses to Write on Your Heart"

I'm loving this new devotional book written by Liz Curtis Higgs. She carefully probed into 31 well-known and, therefore, sometimes taken for granted Bible verses and brought out some healthy insights in order to help readers cherish them again while working to commit them to memory. Readers who are familiar with Higgs's style will recognize her unique phrase-by-phrase commentary disguised as compassion and fun.

Each short chapter starts with one verse followed by Higgs's in-depth study and gentle thoughts.Chapters end with a prayer, a Bible memory tip, the verse presented in the NIV version, and a place for readers to write the verse in a version of their choice. The book ends with a recap of the 31 Bible memory tips and a study guide for personal or group use.

I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review. Though I've known all of these verses for most of my life, Higgs has shown there's always something new to learn. God loves revealing richer, deeper meaning when we're willing to look for it.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: "Liked"

If you have a teenage daughter, Kari Kampakis has written a book that is well worth investing in. Throughout this book, Liked, Kampakis mentors young women in the art of making real friends while navigating the confusing world of social media with wisdom and integrity. Kampakis has four daughters, herself, so she has thought this through thoroughly. She writes as an experienced mentor who cares for and wants the best for young girls. (The book is full of great insights and reminders for women of all ages, though, so when you purchase this book for your daughter, you will want to read it, too!)

Throughout the book, Kampakis emphasizes the importance of in-person friendships and teaches her readers how to strengthen these. She also identifies the pros and cons of social media, offering warnings and suggesting limits regarding on-line activities. Overall, she teaches that a relationship with God is most important and that God is the One Who gives wisdom and guidance for all other relationships. She teaches her readers how to make Him Lord of their lives and to practice listening for His voice. Each chapter features one element for girls to develop in their lives: identity, confidence, kindness, character, commitment, connection, wisdom, humility, courage, and direction.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book. I'm going to share it with my daughter now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Review: "The Returning"

As a reader, I usually get frustrated when one installment of a series ends with a cliffhanger then picks up in the next installment, not right where it left off but several years later, skipping over all that happened from the moment of crisis to the beginning of the next book. So, I felt skeptical when I learned that Rachelle Dekker’s final book of the Seer Trilogy would start twenty years after the second book ended. Dekker handled the transition perfectly, though, giving just enough detail about events that happened in between and just enough reminders about all that had happened in the earlier books to help readers move easily from one point in time to another without feeling like they’d missed something significant. Through this trilogy, she’s shown her skill through an epic story that points readers to the message all people need to hear.

The Returning is Elise’s story. Daughter of Carrington and Remko Brant, Elise was stolen away as a baby and raised on lies about how she came to live separated from almost all other people in the middle of Authority City. Aaron and the Seers are ready to act, though, to awaken a sedated population to Truth. Elise has no idea who these people are, but her role among them will be one of the most significant of all.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book. I found it fascinating and am happy to recommend it to you. Just don’t forget to read the first two books of the trilogy first.
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The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair.
Q&A with Rachelle Dekker about her newest book, The Returning
What themes are explored in The Returning, the final book of the Seer Series?
Identity is something I am always exploring, so that’s no different in The Returning. But in this novel I took a really hard look at forgiveness and how that relates to our journey of discovering who we really are.
How have Carrington and Remko developed as characters throughout this series?
Well, we meet them as young adults, just out of their teen years, and we find them middle-aged in book three. So we’ve journeyed quite a bit of life with them. They have grown and changed, as people do, and even in this last novel they struggle with remembering their true identities. I believe life is always stretching us and showing us different ways to love, so their growth reflects that.
You talk about the power of belief in the book. What is the purpose of faith, and what makes faith so powerful in people’s lives?
Belief and faith are everything. We form our own realities. We make judgments based on the past and what we think the future will bring; then we shape our idea of what we are capable of around those beliefs. Imagine if we truly believed we were infinite sons and daughters of the creator. How different would the world look then? When we believe and have faith in who the Father calls us, then the world looks pretty different.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review: "The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill"

Until now, Julie Klassen has only written stand-alone novels. Her newest book, however, is the first in a series set in Ivy Hill in England in 1820. It's a regency romance with an emphasis on the regency, just the right touch of romance thrown in. I loved reading it.

Through this novel's pages, readers will meet most of the inhabitants of the village of Ivy Hill. They'll learn about inn keeping, the Royal Mail, and coaching. They'll see women making their entrance into the business world, helping each other, and earning respect. They'll also see how members of a community come to depend on each other and how relationships of all kinds can be restored and begin to thrive when people choose to give each other the benefit of the doubt, take chances, and forgive.

Klassen has filled her English village with interesting characters and helps her readers care for every one. She's also placed them in a beautiful story that ends nicely with a sweet promise of more. Bethany House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book. I'm happy to share my thoughts about it with you.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Book Review: "A Spectacle of Glory"

I've appreciated the encouragement and insight that I gain from Joni Eareckson Tada's devotionals since I read Diamond in the Dust several years ago. I've read that book more than once, but I watch for Tada's new books, too.

Her newest release is a little different but still full of wisdom and encouragement for those who need someone to tell them to hang in there; God is faithful and can be trusted in all situations, all the time.

A Spectacle of Glory focuses on helping readers to let God's light shine through their lives - like His light shone through the burning bush that caught Moses' attention. God shines through us as we handle circumstances His way, so others can see His work, His character, and come to know Him like we do.

Each of the 365 devotionals has a Scripture reference at the top. After reading the passage in their Bibles, readers will be ready for Tada's thoughts about it. She concludes every thought with a prayer. I received a complimentary copy of this devotional from a publicist, so I could share my impression with you. If you haven't yet found a daily devotional for 2017, I recommend this one to you.