Friday, March 31, 2017

Full by Asheritah Ciuciu ~ book review

Full: Food, Jesus, And The Battle For Satisfaction by Asheritah Ciuciu is a close look at Asheritah's own struggle with food fixation, and the long journey she's been on to replace her out-of-control desire for food with a deeper desire for Jesus. This is not a recipe book or a "how to eat well" manual. Instead, Asheritah shares practical, personal, and Biblical wisdom to help us learn why we have trouble stopping ourselves after "just one more bite", what the real enemy is (it's not the food), and how we can strengthen our personal relationship with Jesus in order to truly rely on God to satisfy us.

Each chapter has study questions and a link to online bonus material, which includes videos, bookmarks, journal pages, and more. Asheritah combines her radiant sense of humor with her passion for God in a way that leaves you feeling refreshed and eager to dig deeper into Jesus to seek the fullness that you long for. She discusses diet fads, fasting, calorie counting, fixation triggers, how to enjoy food according to God's plan, and important notes about how our church communities can help ease food fixation issues within their ministries.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone dealing with food fixation on a first-hand or second hand level. So if you're sitting there thinking "I don't have a problem with food fixation, but my daughter/co-worker/friend does", then this book will provide you with invaluable tools to help your loved ones overcome the grip food has on them, while strengthening their bond to Christ. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Asheritah Ciuciu is an author, speaker, and blogger. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women's Ministry at Cedarville University in Ohio. Her passion is helping women find joy in Jesus through a deeper walk with God, and she shares personal stories and practical tips on OneThingAlone.com. She's also a regular contributor to FortheFamily.org and Ungrind.com. Asheritah is married to Flaviu and together they raise their spunky children in northeast Ohio.
Helpful Links:

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Woman's Guide To Spiritual Warfare by Quinn Sherrer & Ruthanne Garlock ~ book review

The revised and updated edition of A Woman's Guide To Spiritual Warfare: How To Protect Your Home, Family And Friends From Spiritual Darkness by Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock is a practical book outlining the need for Christian women to be well-versed in Scripture for the purpose of spiritual warfare against the devil and evil forces determined to undermine our relationship with God.

First, they explain what spiritual warfare is, what our armor and weapons consist of, and why it's so important that we, as women, take a stand and intercede for those we love (spouses, children, co-workers, prayer partners, etc.). Then, Quin and Ruthanne break it down and cover common expressions of spiritual warfare and examples of how to face each one. They are quick to point out that there is no one specific method that works for every situation, and you need to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on how best to approach your specific problems.

The stories related are comforting in that they help you realize that others have been through similar problems, and that there is hope is you persevere and commit to praying to God with absolute faith in His power and strength over darkness.

While I had a hard time relating to parts of the book (I'm not the type to be able to point straight at my daughter and vocally tell Satan that she is off limits and plead the blood of Jesus in public), I did find the prayers (which can be done in private or quietly) to be helpful in dealing with negative energies. I also do not personally agree with some of the examples of the Devil's work presented by Quin and Ruthanne (anything considered new age, homosexuality, and generational curses were the biggest ones), so parts of this book were a little extreme for my personal beliefs at this point in my life. That being said, I still found enough that I could relate to to consider the book helpful.

I do appreciate the prayers at the end of each chapter, and the section of topical prayers at the end of the book. For me, they resonate better than the ones in other similar books I've read. I'm rating this book as 3/5 stars. I would consider it helpful to women trying to find a way to fight back the evil or negativity that is trying to get a foothold on the lives of those they love, particularly if you are the sort that openly binds and rebukes evil spirits. If you're not so much the binding and rebuking type (quietly raising my hand here), then the prayers will still be very helpful, but there may be other books that you might have an easier time relating to.

*Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from Chosen books for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

About the authors (copied from back cover):
Quin Sherrer has written or co-authored 29 books, with sales exceeding one million copies. She has spoken to audiences in 48 states and 12 nations and on more than 350 radio and TV shows. For several years Quin also served on the Aglow International board of directors. She lives in Florida.
Ruthanne Garlock is an author and Bible teacher who, with Quin Sherrer, has co-authored 19 books and written two missions biographies. With a broad background of ministry in 35 nations, she travels and teaches for churches, seminars and women's groups. Ruthanne lives in Texas.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBook

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Grace Is Greater by Kyle Idleman ~ book review

Grace Is Greater: God's Plan to Overcome Your Past, Redeem Your Pain, and Rewrite Your Story is an experiential journey through the truth of God's grace, written by Kyle Idleman. This is not a theological study or a workbook to help you work out the lessons of God's grace in your own life. Instead, this is a book full of stories and lessons designed to help you experience God's grace as it has played out in other people's lives, so you may be more open to receiving and recognizing His grace in your own life.

Kyle uses his witty sense of humor to keep us in check on this path, making sure we don't take God's grace for granted or overlook it. In the prologue, Kyle directs us to Hebrews 12:15, which says, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God. And that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (NIV 1984). That is the premise of this book; to make sure that no one "misses" or "fails to receive" or "fails to obtain" or "fails to experience" the grace of God.

Through a series of personal stories, including some from his own life, Kyle guides us through examples that illustrate Grace Is Greater than your mistakes (guilt, brokenness, and regrets), your hurts (wounds, bitterness, vengeance, and resentment), and your circumstances (disappointments, weakness, and despair). He reminds us that the amount of grace we may receive is always just the right amount for the present moment; meaning that the greater our need for grace, the more grace we can receive. He is also quick to point out that our ability to receive God's grace is directly linked to our ability to share and show grace to others while we're here on earth.

This is one of the few books I've read lately that I believe would be a good choice for anyone to read, regardless of your circumstances or where you're at in your personal journey with God. We all need God's grace, and we could all use reminders of why it's so important to seek it out. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from Baker Books for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

About the author (copied from back cover):
Kyle Idleman is teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, the fifth largest church in America, where he speaks to more than twenty thousand people each weekend. He is the bestselling and award-winning author of Not a Fan, as well as Gods at War and The End of Me. He is a frequent speaker for national conventions and influential churches across the country. Kyle and his wife, DesiRae, have four children and live on a farm.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBooks

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

31 Verses To Write On Your Heart ~ book review

In 31 Verses To Write On Your Heart, Liz Curtis Higgs presents us with not only a word-by-word study of 31 Scripture verses to memorize, but also companion prayers, memorization tips, and study guide questions for each verse.

She starts each lesson by explaining why this verse is important and relevant to our lives today; why we need to write in on our hearts. Then Liz uses 2-3 pages to break the verse down into individual words or phrases. Each segment of the verse is explained, anecdotes are shared, and we decipher what this verse means to us personally. She then closes each lesson with a prayer and a memorization tip. All of the memorization tips are listed together at the back of the book for easy reference, along with a study guide containing two questions for each verse.

I love that you could use this book for personal study, daily devotions, or a group setting. It would also make a beautiful gift for anyone in your life who could use a little encouragement (can't everyone?). While I've always found verse memorization to be a daunting task, Liz makes it easier for me to be able to think of scriptures to get me through rough times during the day. I wouldn't dare say I've successfully memorized any of them, but thanks to her word study and stories, I can at least remember the gist of it enough to help me feel closer to God and less alone. That makes a huge difference to me. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from Blogging For Books for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

About the author (copied from book):
Liz Curtis Higgs has one goal: to help women embrace the grace of God with joy and abandon. She is the author of more than thirty books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her nonfiction bestsellers It's Good to Be Queen, Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl's Still Got It, and The Women of Christmas; her award-winning Parable Treasury for children; and several Scottish historical novels, including her New York Times bestseller, Mine Is the Night.
A seasoned professional speaker and Bible study teacher, Liz has toured with Women of Faith, Extraordinary Women, and Women of Joy, and has spoken at more than 1,700 conferences in all fifty states of the United States and fifteen foreign countries.
Liz is happily married to author Bill Higgs. They share their life together in a nineteenth-century farmhouse in Louisville, Kentucky, with their twin tabby cats, Boaz and Samson.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBook

Monday, March 20, 2017

Heaven Bound ~ Coming Soon

Heaven Bound is a new Christian family comedy starring Michael Joiner, Nancy Stafford, and Danny Vinson. Starting with an upper-class picture-perfect marriage, Ted and Josie Talbott soon find themselves strapped for cash and willing to risk anything in order to get back to life in the rich lane. They hatch the perfect plan to steal some jewelry from a wealthy doctor, who just happens to be on a newfound quest to save a soul or two before he dies. Their plan goes awry when the doctor catches them and locks him in his house, intent on making sure they have the right answer to the ultimate question - "If you die today, do you know where you would spend eternity?"

This movie is an outrageously funny story about trying to save people from their own bad choices, while reminding us that sometimes it takes something extreme to show us who we really are. Heaven Bound is noted as being "family approved - ages 12+". It does contain off-scene animal abuse, as well as gunshot scenes; both are not graphic or violent and are part of the comedy. My kids (9-12) were laughing just as hard as my husband and I were during the entire movie. My only complaints about this movie were having to remind it to catch things we missed because of the ongoing laughter and the fact that now nose "boops" have become a random family occurrence when we're trying to have serious conversations!

Definitely 5/5 stars, great for the whole family, and worth watching more than once because of all the things you'll miss on the first time through. Oh, and don't forget to watch the bloopers and deleted scenes. They're just as great as the movie.

Heaven Bound DVD won't be released until March 27th, but you can pre-order it now from FishFlix - Christian Movies.

For more information or to watch the preview, visit the movie's official website.

*Disclaimer: I received a free DVD copy of this movie from FishFlix for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Do All Lives Matter ~ book review

Do All Lives Matter? The Issues We Can No Longer Ignore and the Solutions We All Long For by Wayne Gordon & John M. Perkins is a rather short (85 pages) exploration of the quest to discover if all lives really matter. Based on the concepts behind to Black Lives Matter movement, this book identifies the roots of the movement and reveals whether those claiming that "All Lives Matter" are truly helping their own cause or missing the mark.

While I did find the statistics and back history of the ideas behind Black Lives Matter to be interesting, I did not find myself swayed to the authors' viewpoint that Black Lives Matter is a critical stepping stone before we can seek the notion that All Lives Matter. Why? Because the book doesn't address all of the negative actions that have been done in the name of the movement itself. Any time you have a movement or a cause, there will be people on both sides of the extremes. So while I found the authors' points to be interesting and partially relevant to today's issues, I did not feel as though it was enough to make me rally my support toward the cause with all of its current implications.

All of that being said, I do feel that this was well worth reading and would be time well spent for anyone interesting in our current racial dilemmas that would like to better understand where the Black Lives Matter movement and concept are coming from. My only concern is that it doesn't really address where the concept is going as the younger generations step forward to take claim of it. 4/5 stars. In the end, while I understood why the authors say that the quest to prove that All Lives Matter must start by demonstrating that Black Lives Matter, I feel as though demonstrating that All Lives Matter is just as valid of a starting spot for those of us that have been down similar paths.

*I received a free print copy of this book from Baker Books for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Thursday, March 16, 2017

King's Blood by Jill Williamson ~ book review

King's Blood is the second book in The Kinsman Chronicles by Jill Williamson, and contains parts 4-6 (Kingdom at Sea, Maelstrom, and Voices of Blood), which were originally released as e-books.

This book begins aboard the Seffynaw, one of the many ships to flee in search of a new land after the destruction of The Five Realms. Here we find three princes, each preparing in his own way for the imminent death of the ailing King of Armania. Soon we meet the rulers of other nations, each intent on becoming the sole proprietor of the remnants of The Five Realms.

Having not read the first book in The Kinsman Chronicles, King's Folly, I found myself utterly confused for the first several chapters of King's Blood, while Jill wastes no time on explaining backstory and presumes the reader is already familiar with the storyline. Although frustrating at first, I quickly found myself enthralled by the world that she had created - full of magic, false Gods, and champions seeking peace in a time of chaos. While I would highly suggest reading King's Folly first, if you have a little patience then King's Blood is a worthwhile read regardless.

While this book is very long (being that it collects three e-books into one volume), Jill does an excellent job at keeping the story flowing and full of vivid imagery and, at times, intense dialogue. This fantasy novel would be an excellent read for anyone intrigued by stories of magic and other-worlds, while wanting to be left feeling invigorated with a thirst for the one True God. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from Bethany House for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

About The Author (copied from inside the book):
Jill Williamson writes fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. She grew up in Alaska, staying up and reading by the summer daylight that wouldn't go away. This led to a love of books and writing, and her debut novel, By Darkness Hid, won several awards and was named a Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. She loves giving writing workshops and blogs for teen writers at www.GoTeenWriters.com. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer. Visit her online at www.JillWilliamson.com.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     Christian Book

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie ~ book review

Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage To Overcome Your Fears by Kelly Balarie is a heavy dose of encouragement for women who are working hard to move past their fears with God's help.

First, Kelly walks with us, hand in hand, as she unveils various circumstances that push us over the edge and falling to our knees screaming for help. God's help. And she gently reminds us that He's always there, just waiting for us to call on Him and come begging and crying to Him when life gets overwhelming and our fear factors start to cave in on us.

What fears? The fears we all deal with almost every day, some just to a greater extent than another. Kelly doesn't directly address the fears, per se. Instead, she walks us through the eight "fear-inducers". Feelings and conditions that keep us chained to and drowning in our fear...

1) The Devil
2) Control
3) People Pleasing
4) Worry
5) Comparison and Competition
6) Waiting
7) Rejection and Opposition
8) The Past

Kelly weaves anecdotes in with scripture, Bible stories, and other insights to share with us the common trials engaged by each of the fear-inducers, as well as ways to move past them and get on with our lives - for the better. Helpful Bible verses and affirmations are in bold print throughout each chapter, encouraging you to take note and memorize or post these thoughts somewhere where you'll see and read them everyday.

Each chapter ends with "something to chew on", which gives you a thought or idea to focus on. The end of the book contains a group study guide, which thoughts, focal points, and questions to go along with each chapter. This study guide would work for individual study as well.

This book is not an intense workbook or Bible study. Instead it is an easy-to-read, close-to-the-heart dose of encouragement and renewal to keep you focused on God and moving forward, letting God turn all of your fears into blessings for you, His precious daughter. 4/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from Baker Books for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.*

About the book's author (copied from back cover):
KELLY BALARIE has lived her subject matter. Her faith was built as she battled through an eating disorder, depression, serious health concerns, company failures, family tragedies, job losses, and times without income. Throughout it all, Kelly has looked past the pain to pursue God's always-unfolding plan. Kelly is a featured blogger at Crosswalk.com and iBelieve.com. Her work has been featured on Relevant, (in)courage.me, and Today's Christian Woman. She lives with her husband and two toddlers near the sun-soaked shores of the East Coast.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBook