Category: Reviews

Book Review: “Habits of the Heart” by Katherine J. Butler

Habits of the Heart by Katherine J. Butler is a collection of short, daily devotions. The idea behind this book is that we should be training and building Bible study habits with daily discipline that will help us to grow in our Christian walk. As someone who has trained for a physical race, I can easily relate to the idea of training to walk a better spiritual walk. Each week concentrates on a particular aspect of training our heart to better follow Jesus. Each day within that week features a Bible verse, a short devotion, and some sort of action item where the reader is prompted to consider the lesson for that day. Although the book doesn’t use the Bible version that I use, it does contain the Bible reference so that I can easily look it up. The book itself is compact and would easily fit in a purse. The pretty woodgrain look of the book, with it’s shiny copper lettering and gorgeous artwork inside the covers, is simply stunning. Each day is not only labeled with the month and day, but also is numerically labeled by week and day in case you were to get behind on the daily devotions. It also contains handy ribbon bookmark. I enjoyed this book. The short devotions can help even the busiest among us to focus on training our hearts to follow Jesus closer each day.

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers, I’d like to share the first chapter of Habits of the Heart with you here.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Look & Find Bible Storybook” by Charlotte Thoroe and B.A. Jones; Illustrated by Gill Guile

The Look & Find Bible Storybook contains eight stories from the Old and New Testament. These stories span creation, Noah and the ark, the parting of the Red Sea, David and Goliath, Jonah, Jesus’ birth, the feeding of the five thousand, and Jesus’ ascension to Heaven. Each story contains a summary of the storyline, a Bible reference, and a fold out look and find. The look and find portion can be completed by finding selected, featured pictures or by a more detailed, worded checklist. The book is durable, colorful, and wonderfully illustrated. My favorite feature is that the pages are dry erase marker safe so that the look and find portion can be completed more than once. The reusable look and find feature reinforces the story, especially for smaller children with shorter attention spans. However, it still appeals to older children as well because it makes learning fun. My only complaint is that there are many paraphrased quotes from the Bible. I would have preferred that they quoted the actual verse from the Bible or just paraphrased what was said without actually using quotation marks. I understand the casual tone of the paraphrased quotes is intended to make it more child-friendly, but I didn’t care for it. Otherwise, this is a quality product that is sure to loved by kids.

I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review as part of their Lifeway Bloggers Program. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Home on the Range” by Ruth Logan Herne

Home on the Range was the first novel I’ve read by Ruth Logan Herne. I enjoyed this book with its’ mix of romance, ever-changing family dynamics, tragedy, and surprises. The story centers around Nick Stafford, a rugged cowboy grounded by family ties, but yet scarred by abandonment issues from his mom and wife. Nick’s two girls, Cheyenne and Dakota, also struggle to adjust to their new normal since their mother left them. Their mother’s absence affects not only their school life, but also their relationship with their father. Enter Dr. Elsa Andreas, a therapist haunted by tragedy and has a hard time with trust, whose life becomes complicated by her conflicting roles as the girl’s therapist and developing love interest of Nick’s. This story follows each of these characters as they deal with past heartache and tragedy and how their struggle to cope with the past helps them to move on to a better future. I should note that this is book two in the Double S. Ranch series. I haven’t read the first book, so I can say that this book was easy to pick up in the middle of the series. I enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next installment in the series and see how Ms. Herne resolves several storylines.

I received this book for free from BloggingforBooks.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. 

Book Review: “In the Shadow of Denali” by Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse

I am a fan of Tracie Peterson, and she did not disappoint with this beginning book in the “The Heart of Alaska” series. It was a good mix of romance, mystery, adventure, action, danger, and history. The authors do an excellent job of taking the reader on a vivid trip to the early 1900s in the wide open expanses of Alaska. It is the story of heroine Cassidy Ivanoff as she faces an uncertain future that hinges on solving mysteries of the past. Ivanoff crosses paths with Allan Brennan who arrives for work at the Curry Hotel where she and her father work. Brennan is plagued by questions surrounding the suspicious death of his father. The story unravels this mystery while weaving the relationships of everyone at the hotel together to arrive at the book’s climatic ending. I especially enjoyed the interactions of Ivanoff with her kitchen boss, Mrs. Johnson. Ivanoff draws on her relationship with God to try to help her through secrets in her past as well. This is good story of how letting go of bitterness from past can unlock the key to happiness in the future.

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Love Unending” by Becky Thompson

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Last year, I throughly enjoyed reading Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson where she encouraged moms to be reminded of God’s truth and grace even in the midst of the struggles of motherhood. When I saw the full title of Love Unending – Rediscovering Your Marriage in the Midst of Motherhood, I knew I wanted to read this book. After all, it’s easy to become wrapped up in being a mom to the detriment of being a wife. This book leads moms through a daily exercise to a closer relationship with their husband. Each day contains a Bible verse, discussion, and challenge surrounding a specific topic such as forgiveness, prayer, and discovery. It is also interactive in that it has a space for reflection on the daily subject and related challenge.

I’d recommend this book to all mothers. It guides moms through twenty-one days of concentrated efforts on improving their marriages. It’s another great book from Mrs. Thompson.

I received this book for free from BloggingforBooks.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. 

Book Review: Growing Up Social” by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pelican

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As a parent raising children in a world that is quickly becoming obsessed with screens, I was highly interested in reading Growing Up Social by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane. I have come to respect the opinions and viewpoints of Mr. Chapman and Mrs. Pellicane though listening to various podcasts and blog posts and was interested to read their ideas on this matter. I especially was interested to see the tie-in with Mr. Chapman’s Five Love Languages concept from other books I’ve read by him.

The first half of the book discusses what are called A+ Skills. These are skills that I’m sure all parents would want their child to be proficient at. These skills include the ability to show affection, appreciate others, deal with anger, learn to apologize, and pay attention. The second half of the book explores how screen time affects children. Most chapters include passages with practical application tips in easy to read formats. It is also based on Biblical principles.

The overarching point of this book is to encourage parents to limit screen time in order to strengthen relationships. I think this was best said in chapter three: “It’s ironic that an electronic device that connects us to people around the world can also work simultaneously to separate us from the people at hand.” While screens are entertaining and sometimes educational for children, parents have to ensure that they are properly monitored and limited. Therefore, I would highly recommend this book to any parent.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Fear and Faith” by Trillia J. Newbell

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Fear and Faith is an encouraging book that takes a look at fear as covered in the Bible. Mrs. Newbell separates her discussion into chapters focusing on a specific fear that women might face. She spends time defining the fear and how it may manifest itself in the reader’s life. This book urges the reader to recognize the presence of fear in their lives, but then to replace those feelings of fear with faith. I love that the author uses lots of specific Bible references to support her position. I also appreciate that she doesn’t use a condemning tone for those who struggle with fear as seen in the introduction where she compares a baby learning to walk to a Christian learning to walk in faith. Those first steps are often wobbly, but yet the triumph in both situations is that they took the step in the first place. The book also uses the basket of leftovers in the passage from John 6 (that details the feeding of the five thousand) to illustrate an important truth about Jesus:

“Jesus is the bread. He is the eternal sustenance for the hungry soul. In Him our should no longer go hungry or thirsty. The leftovers in the story are a picture for us, reminding us every time we read it that He is more than enough for you and more than enough for every need in my life.”

This reminds the reader that He is enough to conquer every fear and that they should trust Him in faith. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is prone to struggle with fear, especially women.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Catching Heat” by Janice Cantore

978-1-4143-9670-5This is the third installment of the Cold Case Justice series. It follows Drawing Fire and Burning Proof. This series follows the lives of Abby Hart, a detective whose parents were murdered when she was a child. This tragic event still haunts her and causes her to desperately search for answers and seek justice. Her life is further complicated by her love interest, PI Luke Murphy, who has also had his share of tragedy in his life. This book finds Hart and Murphy in pursuit of closure in several cold case files.

As with the others in the series, this book is full of twists and turns that keep the reader on a fast-paced journey that I have come to expect and love from Ms. Cantore. Also, I appreciate yet another clean book with Christian themes woven in the plot from this author. Because of her carefully crafted storylines and great character development, I love this series. Although this book provides resolution of most of the storylines, I would love to see this series continue. I would definitely recommend this as a great read.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Redeemed – Grace to Live Every Day Better Than Before” by Angela Thomas-Pharr

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Redeemed is a Bible study by Angela Thomas-Pharr divided into seven sessions. Each session consists of Bible study material (discussion and interactive questions), a read and meditate section, and a place to write a response in prayer for all seven days of the week. A 40 day prayer challenge and plan to read through Psalms are also a part of this book.

After an introductory section, each session is broken into the following topics:
Redeemed for a Life with God
Redeemed for the Praise of His Glory
Redeemed for Grace
Redeemed for Freedom
Redeemed for Joy
Redeemed for Love

Quotes and Bible verse references are visually separated by the use of bold red type, and the study has associated videos that are sold separately, but their purchase isn’t necessary to the book. Finally, a concise leader’s guide is included in the back of the book that list discussion questions.

As you can see here’s a lot packed into this study. A study on redemption is good for new Christians and seasoned Christians alike. I think this study is especially good for one with an overwhelmed heart. In fact, the author starts off by challenging us to stick with this study and make the time to do it, even if it seems impractical at this stage in their life. The author challenges the reader to continue to let God’s power change them.

I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review as part of their Lifeway Bloggers Program. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “What Does God Really Promise?” by Carolyn Larsen

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What Does God Really Promise? is similar to another title I’ve recently read by Ms. Larsen, but this one covers 101 questions regarding the promises of God. This hardback book is beautifully illustrated with cheery colors and drawings. It provides a high level overview of questions that a new believer or skeptic might have regarding God’s promises, the church, and the future. It is also written to generalize many different denominations of the Christian faith instead of just one. So, you might often see a range of answers in this book based upon those varying beliefs.

Each question is supported by a Bible verse (usually NLT, but can be easily cross-referenced to another version). It is written in a manner that is easy to read and generally avoids the use of complicated theological terms. The sewn-in bookmark also lends itself to reading on the go. Overall, this is a good overview book for new believers.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.