Category Archives: Reviews

A fair and honest opinion about someone else’s work.

Book Review: God’s Easter Miracles

Author, Lee Ann Mancini and Illustrator, Dan Sharp have done it again, in creating adorable caricatures that are relatable and entertaining. In God’s Easter Miracles, sea creatures in vibrant colors tell a story in the saga of the Sea Kids.

Easter has come to the coralhood. The Sea Kids are looking forward to the egg hunt after church. One Sea Kid, Paul, is sad because he didn’t find an egg marked for the special prize. Jimmy has a dilemma when he is asked to share one of his eggs. All of the Sea Kids face a crisis when Brian’s brother is in a boating accident. How will they respond?

God’s Easter Miracles provides a story arc, problem solving for children, learning practical ways to care for others, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It even has a hidden symbol that adds a puzzle to solve. I am delighted to recommend this gem to parents, grands, and all who love children. It tackles tough topics like autism, trauma, and the way God answers prayers, with sensitivity and compassion. And it opens the door for conversations with the little ones in your life, as you read about Jimmy the seahorse, Lenny the manatee, and all of the Sea Kids at Beneath the Sea Play Park. This is a book that extends beyond a holiday, to year-round faith-building fun!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: A Wife’s Secret to Happiness #wifestylin

In A Wife’s Secret to Happiness, author Jen Weaver says God longs to give eleven specific blessings to your life and marriage. She explores those gifts by sometimes tackling controversial issues in our culture today… submission, respect, interdependence and busyness, among others. I guarantee this book will make you squirm. Even as I celebrate my 30th anniversary this year, I find multiple areas in A Wife’s Secret to Happiness that challenge me to keep growing as a wife.

Jen Weaver is a millennial who is reaching out to her generation with a genuine love for Jesus and His Word. She’s a wife and mom working to flesh out the principles of God’s love in the context of her marriage, and she does so with refreshing transparency.

All girls walk down the aisle toward marital bliss, but few find the happily ever after. Jen proposes that we are looking instead, for unity, provision, safety, intimacy and partnership.

“Submission is divine empowerment that culture has confused and the enemy has contorted to mean oppression.” Jen uses the story of Naaman to illustrate her point. Naaman had leprosy and was told by the man of God to go and wash in the waters of the River Jordan. But Naaman was a person of influence who felt he was above following orders. When he submitted to the directions, he received the healing. Jen uses Naaman’s story, and others like him, to help us understand the blessings we receive when we do things God’s way. And really, that is the whole point, that following God’s plan is the way we find self-worth and confidence, instead of expecting our husbands to define who we are.

“Your man is part of God’s generosity in your life- the human heart to love you like Christ loves the church. Even if he falters, he is still part of God’s provision. Your man is not the ultimate provider. God is.”  Do you see how this is a heart issue? We’ve been chasing happiness instead of chasing God. He wants to meet our needs. He wants a relationship with each of us!

Jen says we are warriors, “doing mighty things in our families and marriages.” Just as Queen Esther filled a unique position and function as King Xerxes’ wife. She didn’t “usurp her husband’s authority or throw his stupidity in his face. She seeks the Lord and proves her character is of great worth.”

Jen brings up hard issues, and they’re hard to implement. But she also raises an important question. What does it mean to honor my husband?

Buy this book and explore the nuances in your own relationship with your husband. Look at the quizzes and online bonus tools. You just may be inspired to get a renewed perspective on your marriage, too!

I am giving away a copy of A Wife’s Secret to Happiness, courtesy of Leafwood Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of the ways you honor your marriage, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Saturday morning, March 25.

Join the #wifestylin movement!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The BlogAbout Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

Liz Curtis Higgs brings a bouquet of verses to the table and delicately places them on a banquet of lace. Her words soothe and cajole. Her illustrations reaffirm. As she serves up 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, she also offers up sage wisdom: “When you spend time in God’s Word, life starts making sense. The broken places inside you begin to heal. Darkness and discouragement give way to hope.”

Beloved author and speaker Liz Curtis Higgs has learned the beauty of that advice. A seasoned student of the Bible, Liz has authored more than 30 books with 4.6 million copies in print.

When used as a daily devotional in collaboration with the Study Guide tucked into the back, this little treasure will unlock God’s Word in a new way and stimulate your thirst to dig further. Incorporating over 30 translations of the Bible, Liz dissects each verse in order to glean the rich fullness packed therein. She also references the Hebrew and Greek words, in order to mine out the original intent.

One example that shone for me, was the chapter based on Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Liz talks about the meticulous process a blacksmith follows to sharpen an iron blade. A metal file is drawn across the blade to create a sharp edge. The blade is rubbed against an oiled whetstone to smooth away the rough edge. Then heavy sandpaper blends the edge with the rest of the surface. What does that have to do with people? When we care about each other, we use words to open gently, polish and smooth over old wounds. We sharpen each other’s faith “with a timely word.”

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart is a delightful tool to put to work month after month. From 31 passages to 31 tips for absorbing them into your life, 31 Verses will equip you to carry God’s Word with you wherever you go!

Sally

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

 

Book Review: Teach Us to Want

Do you wonder if ambition is ungodly? Do you think you shouldn’t chase your dreams because they don’t feel “spiritual?” Jen Pollock Michel tackles questions of how to understand the desires that move us, in her book, Teach Us to Want.

Jen is gifted at unwrapping Scripture in understandable language. Her writings appear in Christianity Today, Beautiful Orthodoxy, The Gospel Coalition, Today in the Word and The American Bible Society. Jen asks, “Is it true that the hardest, least desirable choice is the most obviously holy? Is it true that personal desire must never be trusted?”

The process of finding answers to her own questions, leads us down a path of introspection and searching. She ponders the place of self-salvation and the one where we embrace God’s will.

How important is this topic? Life-changing. Because it is the difference between trusting God, or demanding control. Jen says, “Holy prayers of desire don’t simply aim to get something from God: they’re ambitious to get God in us.”

If you’re human, you can relate to this book. We’ve all experienced disappointment and dashed dreams. But Jen Pollock Michel offers something more: hope and the knowledge that the Lord has a good plan in store for us. She unpacks how the desires of our heart can impact the expression of our faith. And desire is a wanted characteristic, instead of taboo, because it unveils opportunities the Lord wants to use through our God-given gifts.

Read it and be blessed!

Sally

Book Review: In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Do you have a lion you’re facing, that project looming larger than life? What about a fear you just can’t tackle? In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day will help you stare down your obstacle with a bravery you just didn’t know was possible. And, yes, it is that good. Mark Batterson has lassoed a beast many of us face, as we seek the courage to dream big dreams with God.

Mark Batterson is the author of a dozen books, including The Circle Maker, and the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. His innovative look at the definition of success will cause you to rethink your view of God’s work in your life.
I promise this book will make you stop in your tracks. Batterson says when we fail to step out of our comfort zones, we rob God of the glory He wants to showcase in our lives. When there is no problem to be overcome, there will be no miracle experienced, because we’re not fully relying on the Lord to do the unexpected. He says we’re called to chase opportunities and take risks for God’s best.
Are there any irrational fears and misconceptions that keep you from God’s best for your life? It’s time to reframe them.
Are there difficult circumstances you’re asking God to get you out of? It’s time to ask Him what He wants you to get out of them.
Is uncertainty rocking your faith? It’s time for your faith to embrace uncertainty. Batterson contends risk taking is at the heart of righteousness.
I chose to read this book because of the tagline: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars. Are there times when you feel like me, an opportunity is scarier than the potential? This book helps with that! Batterson provides tips to develop the skills needed for the path. Get your own copy today and go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention!
Sally
FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Book Review & a Christmas Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat

Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World intrigued me right off. In the Table of Contents, Karen Ehman hit all of my favorite buttons… “Living a Life of Welcome,” “How to Care for your Clan,” Recipes, Gift Tags and many more ways to express affection for the people in your life.

Karen Ehman is an author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries who has earned the right to be heard. Other works include Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All and Let. It. Go. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World carries on her theme of making words count.

The principles Karen talks about are so counter-intuitive, they are a stark reminder in our selfie culture to put others first. Examples from the pages of history and the lives of those seeking to please God are peppered with stories from her own family and experiences. Here’s a sampling of thoughts:

Jesus lived on alert, noticing those “who needed a look, a word, or a touch from Him.” (pg 19)

Jesus “didn’t preach to everyone, heal everyone, comfort everyone, or even convert everyone. He simply showed up where God told Him to go and did what God told Him to do.” (pg 42)

“Kindness is contagious. Our loving actions might seem like they are only intended for one person. In truth, they are like a cannonball of kindness that splashes waves of love onto the hearts of all nearby.” (pg 63)

Hebrews 13:1 urges, ‘Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.’ The phrase keep on here in the original Greek is from the root word meneto, which means ‘to wait, stay, abide or remain.’ It is a verb – an action word. In a sense, it means to never stop showing up.” (pg 230)

Do you have some bristly people in your life? Get this book! Karen includes tips to help stay the course as you seek to sew goodwill into their lives!

Karen’s writing resonates with those who are tired of doing life “business as usual.” Her insights are a refreshing commentary on the way to find fulfillment in your day-to-day activities. I am so glad for her nudge to honor others by listening to their “heart drops” in an effort to encourage and lend a helping hand.

Are you curious yet? Get your own copy today (On sale right now for $2.99!). Or, you can enter the drawing! I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Zondervan Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of your favorite ways to “Scatter Kindness,” and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The BlogAbout Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: A Servant Like Jesus

A Servant Like Jesus is a delightful book, and a wonderful introduction to a series that “builds a strong, foundational relationship with Jesus.” It models friendship, servanthood and compassion through a story with endearing characters. Charlie is shy, Willie & Tina have to learn how to share, and Bernie needs a friend when he gets hurt. The Sea Kids all respond differently to their first day of school. Some eager, some fearful, but all enter the unknown together. They learn an important lesson about helping others and how it also helps them overcome their own fears.

It’s easy to see why A Servant Like Jesus is winner of The Mom’s Choice Award, Illumination Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite Illustration Award, International Book Awards Finalist, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award and President’s Book Awards Winner. The author, Lee Ann Mancini has found a way to help kids relate to Jesus. And illustrator, Dan Sharp brings images that leap off the page into your child’s imagination! The colors are welcoming. The illustrations are fun, playful, full of detail and include a treasure hunt in the sea.

Get your copy now at GLM Publishing, and save during the holiday season! Take 50% OFF when you use the code: SEAKIDS16. This is a book you’ll read again and again… I can’t wait to dive into it with my own grandchildren!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review & a Giveaway: Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer

bible-basics-cover

As a young mom, I was constantly on the lookout for books to read with my toddlers that would affirm faith. Now, as a gra’ma, it’s as important as ever, to bring Biblical truths to my grands. Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer fills that need! It introduces concepts that are fundamental to understanding who God is, while giving the child room to grow into that understanding.

hitchen-and-blanchard-bible-basics

Author Danielle Hitchen (left), a mother and talk radio producer, and the illustrator, Jessica Blanchard (right), a mother and an award-winning graphic artist have created a visually appealing, mentally stimulating work that will act as a springboard for questions, conversations and prayer time.

Many of my fondest memories of my children’s nursery days are those surrounding reading time together. It started with pointing at objects in pictures, moved to counting and number recognition and then to their own successes at efforts to read. Some of the words in Bible Basics will be a mouthful to start with, like “Commandments” and “Beatitudes,” but all communication is learned with repetition, and the model of a loving adult who presents it.

In this season of giving, Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer is the perfect gift for every little reader on your list!

bible-basics-board-book

I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Catechesis Books, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog about the little readers in your family, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, December 5.

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog About Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer

saffire

The year was 1909, and “I was living in the prime of human advancement… There had been Kitty Hawk only six years earlier, and the Model T… there was not much left for humans to achieve.”

James Holt is standing at the precipice of all time, the digging of the Panama Canal. As events unfold involving the mysterious girl Saffire, Holt finds himself torn between his assignment from President Teddy Roosevelt and his desire to protect the young woman.

Sigmund Brouwer has taken a history lesson and turned it into a compelling story of people and the times in which they lived. The plot twists are a testament to his ability to create a page turner; Brouwer even saves a mystery for the last page of the author’s notes!

Brouwer contrasts the backdrop of Holt’s ranch in the Dakotas with the humid landscape of Panama. In his description of each, the reader gets a view of two worlds and a look at the cultures that shape them. Brouwer also throws in gems such as these:

“Each person travels his own journey to or away from God. My own belief came at a price that I was still not sure I would have paid if given a choice: the death of my wife, who in leaving this world had shown me the joy that comes with faith and how it strengthens us to endure all circumstances.” p. 258

“I smiled sadly, thinking of the woman I had loved and now mourned. Or maybe the sadness came because for the first time since her death, there was a woman that I wanted to love. I could not escape a sense that love for someone else might lead to the death of my memory of the woman I mourned.” p. 281

“’Saffire.’ I softened my tone. ‘You can’t be responsible for the bad things other people choose to do.’” p. 303

Some things we learn from personal experience, and sometimes we’re spared, and learn from others. That’s the bonus of reading a seasoned author like Sigmund Brouwer. Gain a new appreciation for the marvels of manmade wonders, like the building of the Panama Canal, and the people who masterminded the advance of the modern world!

Sally

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Book Review: The Romance of Redemption

the-romance-of-redemption

Do you struggle with knowing your identity? Take a turn in the pages of Warren Austin Gage’s insightful book, The Romance of Redemption, and you will come away with confidence in who the Lord created you to be.

Warren Austin Gage’s other works include The Story of Joseph and Judah, The Gospel of Genesis, Milestones to Emmaus and There is No Greater Love. His storytelling draws you into the culture and background, enabling you to walk the dusty roads alongside the principal characters.

The tagline for The Romance of Redemption is, “Your Story as the Bride of Christ.” Maybe you would wonder at the assumption that he would know your story, but Gage masterfully weaves that proposition throughout. He uses narratives of women from the Bible who were virtuous examples, and ones who weren’t, to explain the significance of events in Scripture and to create a visual of the redemptive work of Christ.

One of my favorite chapters is the one surrounding Rahab’s escape and the door of safety. The scarlet rope hanging on her door was symbolic of the Passover blood that saved the homes of the Israelites in Egypt. And that blood is symbolic of the One who is the door to eternal life.

Isn’t God’s Word amazing? The themes of redemption began in the Garden of Eden and continued to the garden in Revelation. As Gage says, “The first Adam made a grave of his garden, but the last Adam has made a garden of his grave…”

Like me, have you ever doubted your faith and your standing before a holy God? This book brings reassurance in comparing the accounts of women in the Bible to our Savior, as He seeks His Bride; for He is the One who represents true love. The Romance of Redemption carries a needed message in tumultuous times, of the depth of His love for us and the length He went in order to show us that love. It’s a must-have for your reading list!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”