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Showing posts from December, 2016

Of Stillness And Storm

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I was lucky enough to receive an Advance Reader's Copy of Michele Phoenix's new novel, Of Stillness And Storm. The premise of the novel sounded fresh and new - I read a LOT of books, and often times it's the same plots recycled over and over. I still enjoy them, but when I see something that looks especially out of the ordinary, it makes me even more excited to read it. Of Stillness And Storm takes place in Nepal and focuses on missionaries Lauren and Sam, along with their son Ryan. It's told in the first person view of Lauren, who's struggling with the realities of their life and mission in Nepal. The back cover reads:

"“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose i…

Falling Free

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I selected Falling Free: Rescued From The Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin mainly because the foreword was written by Jen Hatmaker, whose books I have enjoyed. I kind of figured it would be a story similar to Jen's, and many other Christian's stories lately: leaving behind a cushy, comfortable life to move into "the scary city" to serve God in a new and different way. It seems to be the new trendy thing to do in Christianity today. The back cover reads:

"“Shannan’s story feels at once familiar and spectacular, ordinary and exceptional. You will discover that at the same time her words make you squirm, you will wish you lived next door to her. You will want her wisdom and you will want her pickles.” —Jen Hatmaker (from the foreword)

Shannan Martin had the perfect life: a cute farmhouse on six rambling acres, a loving husband, three adorable kids, money, friends, a close-knit church—a safe, happy existence.

But when the bottom dropped out through a series o…

Nothing To Prove

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Nothing To Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard is Jennie Allen's bold manifesto against pretending, performing, and fighting to prove yourself. This is the first book I've read by Jennie Allen, although I've certainly heard of her and her previous books, Anything and Restless. As soon as I opened the book and started reading the introduction, I was hooked. I especially loved this quote from the introduction: "I was free of the expectations, the roles I play, the pressures of real life. Nothing about my circumstances changed in that moment. But everything on the inside shifted. I didn't realize until then that, accidentally, I'd let me life subtly turn into a performance. On that dirt floor, I forgot all of my lines, abandoned all of my roles, dropped all of the costumes ... I had nothing to prove. I drank in grace. I hadn't known that was what I'd been so thirsty for." This kicks off Nothing To Prove. The back cover reads:

"No More Pretend…

A Sister's Wish/An Amish Family Christmas

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For something a little new and different, I recently had the opportunity to read and review books three and four of Shelley Shepard Gray's The Charmed Amish Life series, so this post is a double header. Both books are set in the charming (hehe) Amish community of Charm, Ohio. Book 3, A Sister's Wish, focuses on Amelia Kisinger and her secret love for Amish bad boy Simon Hochstetler:

"New York Times Bestselling Author

In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simo…

ScriptureDoodle

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Anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with coloring! Long before "adult coloring books" were a hot trend, I would still color my kids' coloring books alongside them. Coloring is fun, relaxing, and relieves stress, at least for me. I get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to color a beautiful picture without the stress of trying to draw something by hand (because, let's face it, I have absolutely no skills in that area!). ScriptureDoodle: God's Promises - A Six-Week Devotional Experience by April Knight combines my love of coloring with my love of Bible study. The book description says:

"ScriptureDoodle God’s Promises refreshes believers who are feeling burned out or stuck in a rut in their relationship with God. Each of the creative worship prompts in this interactive guide includes biblical encouragement and ideas for worship through art. Artist April Knight includes creative lettering tips, color ideas, and completed examples to inspire readers to…

Pray A to Z

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I was interested in reading Amelia Rhodes' book Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community because I live in a rather difficult community. Crime and poverty are high, employment is low, and Christians and non-Christians alike are suffering with so many needs, I can't even count them all. Sometimes when I start to pray, I don't even know where to start or what to say. Pray A to Z is a specific plan for praying for personal needs, church needs, community needs, and so much more. The back cover says:

"Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Praying for Your Community will help you topically organize your prayer requests and lay the burdens of your community at the feet of our Heavenly Father. Whether you are praying for a friend's adoption journey, a neighbor's bankruptcy, or a family member's cancer, this book will give you Bible verses, prayer prompts, and prayer starts to guide you through praying for even the most difficult issues that affect th…

Trust My Heart

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If you're looking for a fun and sweet Christian read, Trust My Heart by Carol J. Post fits the bill. Set in an idyllic small town in North Carolina, the story brings together the two main characters - Grant McAllister and Jami Carlisle - as they are both facing challenges and heartbreaks. The back cover reads:

"Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible. The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history …

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

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Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year! Therefore, I was so excited to have the chance to review The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Ace Collins. The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year is a daily devotional that will lead you on a journey from December 1st through December 31st and keep your mind focused on Jesus, with some fun along the way. The back cover reads:

"For Christians worldwide, the month of December is filled with joy and wonder as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth. There is no other time of the year that can compare to the Christmas season for both the young and young at heart.

From December to New Year’s Eve, reawaken the wonder, joy, and magic that is Christmas with daily scripture and inspirational readings of stories behind popular Christmas traditions, carols and movies. Enjoy a wealth of fun activities to help make the most of the season, including heartwarming holiday recipes and homemade gift ideas.

W…

The Radical Book For Kids

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The Radical Book For Kids: Exploring The Roots And Shoots Of Faith by Champ Thornton is a unique and wonderful book for kids. It's a hefty hardcover with an engaging cover, and once you open it up you find it's an extremely engaging, full-color book with thick, glossy pages. The book description reads:

"The Radical Book for Kids is a fun-filled explorer’s guide to the Bible, church history, and life for boys and girls age 8 and up. Along with examining some of the most exciting realities in the universe, the handbook is vibrantly illustrated and chock-full of fun facts and ideas. Deep truths are communicated to elementary and middle-school aged kids while stimulating their curiosity and sense of adventure within a gospel-centered framework.

This power-packed book is “radical” in more ways than you might think! It is “radical” in the sense of the original meaning of the word, “going to the root or origin.” The Radical Book for Kids will take children on a fascinating jour…

Miscarried Joy

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I have suffered a miscarriage before, so I was interested in reading Tanika Fitzgerald's new book, Miscarried Joy: Moving Behond Incredible Pain to Extraordinary Faith. I have several go-to books about miscarriage that really helped me a lot when I was going through my miscarriage, and I'm always looking for good new resources to share with friends and church members who are going through the same thing. The back cover reads:

"Faith over Fear. Patience over Frustration. Pain with a Purpose.

In Miscarried Joy, Tanika transparently shares her deeply personal and disappointing experiences of losing her babies due to miscarriage. There were times when she felt God was the cause of her pain. However, her journey through the lives of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and Naomi, revealed quite the opposite - God had allowed her pain for a much greater purpose. Each of these women had something in common: they learned to surrender their will and trust God's plan beyo…

The Remnant

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The Remnant by Monte Wolverton appealed to me because I enjoy dystopian novels, and it reminded me of the Left Behind novels, which I absolutely love (albeit this book is a twist on the Left Behind model). The book description reads:

"In the year 2069 the Apocalypse came and went, but Jesus didn’t show up, as some expected. Instead, a cataclysmic war, natural disasters and pandemics eradicated 90 percent of earth’s population. Now, in 2131, a totalitarian government rules the world from the majestic, opulent capitol of Carthage, Tunisia. Blamed for igniting the war, religion and religious books are banned. Citizens who will not renounce their religion are sent to work camps. Grant Cochrin, imprisoned in a bleak petroleum camp in what was once North Dakota, leads his family and friends to escape and embark on a long, dangerous quest for a Christian community. Their resource in this journey? A cherished page torn from the now banished Bible—a remnant of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount …

Pursuing Gold

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Pursuing Gold: A Novel of the Civil War by Cynthia L. Simmons is set, as the title suggests, during the Civil War. The story kicks off in 1862 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This books offers a unique historically accurate glimpse into the time period while providing a compelling fictional storyline. The back cover reads:

"With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pur…

Getaway With God

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Getaway with God: The Everywoman's Guide to Personal Retreat by Letitia Suk is a no-nonsense guide to do just that: go away on a personal retreat with just yourself and God. When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be a more esoteric guide to "getting away" with God; ie, carving time into your daily schedule to relax and experience God. However, this is an action plan to go on an outside retreat with God. The back cover reads:

"What if a simple day away could transform your life?

Does spending time with God sound like just one more thing to check off an ever-increasing to-do list? How are you supposed to fit in anything that threatens to be more time-consuming? Too often there's simply no room to experience the intimacy, grace, and peace that God offers us.

Getaway with God does more than invite you to step away from life's pressures to take a personal retreat. It shows you exactly why you must--for your sake and for your family's.

Wi…

Under The Tuscan Sun

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What can I say about Frances Mayes' classic cult favorite, Under The Tuscan Sun? Broadway Books have just released a special 20th anniversary edition of this #1 New York Times Bestseller, which includes a new afterward by the author. If you're not already familiar with the book (and subsequent movie) the back cover reads:

"20th Anniversary Edition with a New Afterword

Twenty years ago, Frances Mayes--widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer--introduced readers to a wondrous new world when she bought and restored an abandoned villa called Bramasole in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Under the Tuscan inspired generations to embark on their own journeys--whether that be flying to a foreign country in search of themselves, savoring one of the book's dozens of delicious seasonal recipes, or simply being transported by Mayes's signature evocative, sensory language. Now, with a new afterword from the Bard of Tuscany herself, the 20th anniversary editi…

A Mile Wide

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A Mile Wide is the latest offering from popular author Jen Hatmaker's (For The Love, Seven, Interrupted) husband, Brandon Hatmaker. I've read Jen's books Interrupted and For The Love and really enjoyed them, so I was interested in reading a book written by her husband since I've never read anything written by him. I was also interested in the subject matter - I often struggle with having a deeper faith and feeling like my faith is too shallow or not impacting my life enough. The description reads:

"What if we’re just skimming the surface?

Christianity holds out the promise of a better way and a better day. So we’ve studied, joined more small groups, and checked all the boxes—yet, we’re still hungry for more. What if the gospel we’ve come to know is even deeper than we ever imagined? What if the same gospel that works in us to change us continues to work through us to change everything else?

Speaking from more than twenty years of experience working in the local c…

Catching Heat

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Catching Heat is book three (the conclusion) of Janice Cantore's Cold Case Justice series. Catching Heat continues and wraps up the story of Abby and Luke. The book description reads:

"Twenty-seven years after the deaths of Detective Abby Hart’s parents, she’s desperate to find the proof that will put the mastermind―the governor’s wife―behind bars. When she joins a newly formed task force and teams up with PI Luke Murphy, Abby is sent to San Luis Obispo to work the cold case of a murdered college student. Realizing their investigation will bring them near the town where Alyssa Rollins grew up, Abby decides to do a little digging of her own into the Triple Seven fire.

Luke is eager to help Abby close the books on a case they both have personal stakes in. But as she uncovers long-held secrets, Abby stumbles into an explosive situation, and Luke fears that her obsession may prove deadly."

I really enjoyed Catching Heat and the entire Cold Case Justice series. Janice Cantor…

The Occupied

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I selected The Occupied by Craig Parshall because I love thrillers, and I especially love Christian thrillers. The premise of this book (which appears to be the first in a series) looked especially exciting and intriguing. The book description reads:

"From New York Times bestselling author Craig Parshall comes a riveting story of supernatural suspense.

As a youth, Trevor Black unleashed spiritual forces he couldn’t comprehend. Years later, Trevor is a high-flying criminal defense lawyer in New York City, with a six-figure Aston Martin and a trophy wife. But in an extraordinary turn of events, he receives a burdensome gift: the ability to perceive the invisible. And the dark forces he now sees are all gunning for him.

When one of Trevor’s hometown friends is murdered, the MO is eerily similar to a shocking trail of murders that have already crossed the lawyer’s path. So Trevor must return home to find the killer. . . and face not only his own personal demons, but supernatural one…

The Great Good Thing

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I was interested in reading The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan because I've always had a keen interest in Jewish people and culture and especially Jewish people who convert to Christianity. After all, the Bible tells us that the message of salvation should be brought "...to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16). I also love reading thrillers, and Andrew Klavan is a popular thriller writer. The book description reads:

"Edgar Award-winner and internationally bestselling novelist tells of his improbable conversion from agnostic Jewish-intellectual to baptized Christian and of the books that led him there.

“Had I stumbled on the hallelujah truth, or just gone mad—or, that is, had I gone mad again?”

No one was more surprised than Andrew Klavan when, at the age of fifty, he found himself about to be baptized. Best known for his hard-boiled, white-knuckle thrillers and for the movies made from them—among them True Crime (directed by Clint Eastwood) and Don’t Say a Word (starrin…

Finding God In The Waves

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I originally chose to read Finding God In The Waves by Mike McHargue (aka "Science Mike") because I thought it was going to be more about proving the Christian faith via discoveries in science, and how those discoveries help hold up Biblical accounts. I'd never heard of "Science Mike" before or listened to his podcasts, so I didn't realize he's still quite far away from Christian orthodoxy, as he puts it in his book. The book description reads:

"From the host of the popular podcasts, The Liturgists Podcast and Ask Science Mike, a story of having faith, losing it, and finding it again through science—revealing how the latest in neuroscience, physics, and biology help us understand God, faith, and ourselves.

What do you do when God dies? It's a question facing millions today, as science reveals a Universe that's self-creating, as American culture departs from Christian social norms, and the idea of God begins to seem implausible at best and …