Monday, June 26, 2017

Joyful Inspirations Coloring Book by Robin Mead ~ book review

Robin Mead's Joyful Inspirations Coloring Book is sure to have something for everyone, with over 85 pictures to color. These range from puppies and flowers to buildings, geometric designs, and people. While the pages are all double-sided, I was very impressed that they are thick enough for me to color the pictures using my Crayola adult fine tip markers (non-washable) with zero bleed-through or shadowing at all.

While the pictures themselves cover a wide range of subjects, the format of the pictures also vary. Some are simply an illustration, others contain Scripture or inspirational quotes, and still others serve as a frame along the outer edges of the page with Scripture or inspirational quotes being held within their boundaries.

Overall, I do like this book. Not all of the pictures appeal to me, because they cover such a wide spectrum of art. But this is also part of makes this book suitable for anyone, and it would be a nice project to share with others to fill in the pictures that don't quite fit your personality. That being said, my one complaint about this book is that the pages are not perforated, and some of the pictures continue all the way into the binding making removal (and even coloring) very difficult. This is something to be aware of, depending on your preferred method of coloring pages. 4/5 stars.

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

About The Artist (copied from back cover):
Robin Mead is an artist who combines her background in social work, studies in fine art, and love of expression to create joyful depictions of life. Using insight and intuition, she translates positive emotions onto paper, canvas, and the digital screen. A native of New York, Robin and her husband of twenty-seven years now reside near Athens, Georgia.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     Christian Book

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Layman Looks At The Lord's Prayer by W. Phillip Keller ~ book review

A Layman Looks At The Lord's Prayer by W. Phillip Keller is a line-by-line study of the Lord's Prayer. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I requested this book for review. A Bible study on the implications within the Lord's Prayer, perhaps. Or maybe a deeper understanding of how it relates to Christ and the rest of the Bible story as a whole; insight into how this piece of Scripture fits into the big picture.

Yes, both of those descriptions fit this book. However it is also so much more. Phillip has taken the Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13 and turned it into a roadmap for the ideal Christian lifestyle. He combines personal experiences, Biblical examples, and brief historical references to bring us a thorough in-depth study and review of what exactly it means to be a Christian and to pray to God in the manner in which Jesus Christ showed us.

Phillip reminds us that most people rush through the Lord's Prayer as though it is simply one more checkbox they need to check off before continuing their day. And yet, he gently rebukes us into admitting that we know it is supposed to be so much more. As with everything else in the Bible, there is a very distinct purpose and meaning behind every word. Once we embrace this purpose, it opens the pathway for our daily prayer to be so much more than just a quick plea for God's graces.

The Lord's Prayer becomes an opportunity to embrace God as our loving father, learn to honor and respect Him, follow His will so that we may lead others to His kingdom, admit out sins and faults, and so much more. This becomes the very backbone of what it means to seek God and follow Him.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of the significance behind this piece of Scripture, as well as to anyone seeking a closer relationship with God on a daily basis. I did find that portions of this book may be a bit difficult for the "layman" as the title implies is the targeted audience. However, Phillip provides enough repetition during each chapter in the form of various stories, examples, and re-wordings that even if parts of the book are hard for the reader to understand, as long as they keep reading, he will quickly light a simpler path to keep them going in the right direction. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary 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):
W. Phillip Keller (1920-1997) was born in East Africa and always loved wildlife and the outdoors. Having spent many years in agriculture research, land management, and ranch development in British Columbia, he later pursued careers in conservation, wildlife photography, and journalism. His experiences as a shepherd equipped him with the insights that are the basis for A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. His other titles include Splendor from the Sea, Lessons from a Sheepdog, and A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit.

Monday, June 19, 2017

You Can Do This by Tricia Lott Williford ~ book review

You Can Do This: Seizing The Confidence God Offers by Tricia Lott Williford is a compilation of insights focusing on various character traits and qualities of a confident girl. This is not a traditional "self-help" book. In the introduction, Tricia tells us "I didn't write this book to help you. I have definitely written it to you and certainly for you to read, but I did not write it to help you." Instead, Tricia proposes that we view this book as a conversation between friends, having been invited into her kitchen for a chat over scones and a cup of coffee.

Within these pages, Tricia shares with us those things which make a woman confident while relying on God to guide her through life's many challenges, trials, and pitfalls. She uses her witty sense of humor and candid honesty to share her personal stories of times when her confidence blossomed, and times when it dwindled. She also reminds us of Biblical characters and Scripture verses which show that the battle with confidence is a timeless one. She finishes each chapter with insights, questions, and opportunities for you to share your side of this little chat.

So what exactly are these traits of a confident woman and how do we uncover and perfect them within our own lives? Tricia starts the first chapter by informing us that "The confident girl knows her story", which takes us to the root of our battles with confidence. After reading her story, it becomes your job to share your story about when your confidence was stolen from you so that the wounds can be exposed to sunlight and the pain can be faced. She wastes no time in dealing with the heart of the problem, because only then can the healing begin.

Once you've shared your story (even if it remains locked tight within the pages of a journal of scribbled in the margins of this book), you'll move on to other important steps to regaining (and maintaining) your confidence, such as: the confident girl appreciates her beauty, the confident girl enjoys her own company, the confident girl sets boundaries, and the confident girl chooses vulnerability...

I'd recommend this book for any woman who could use reminders and suggestions to come out of hiding and boost her confidence in herself, her place in this world, and her purpose in God's magnificent plan. Due to some mildly explicit sexual material, I would not suggest this book for girls on their way to becoming women, but rather to women who already in the throes of adulthood. 4/5 stars.

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

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Tricia Lott Williford is a remarried widow, an author of three books, a writer, a teacher, a reader, and a thinker. Thousands of people daily enjoy Tricia's funny, poignant stories as she captures the fleeting moments of life on her blog at tricialottwilliford.com. She lives near Denver, Colorado, with her husband and two sons, and right at this moment, she is probably doodling in the margins of an overdue library book.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Most Misused Stories In The Bible by Eric J Bargerhuff ~ book reviews

The Most Misused Stories In The Bible: Surprising Ways Popular Bible Stories Are Misunderstood by Eric J. Bargerhuff is an informative glance at 14 popular Bible stories and ways they are frequently misunderstood or misrepresented to serve a purpose other then their intended meaning. While a lot of what Eric states as the true moral of the story could be considered mere speculation, he does do a pretty thorough job of walking the reader through his deductive chain of reasoning to reach his conclusions, using a combination of related Bible references, commentary notes, original Greek wording.

Some of the misused stories and their errant interpretations are ones I was familiar with, such as David and Goliath telling us to face our fears (when, as Eric shows us, it is very obvious that David was not afraid at all). However, about half of the stories in this volume are ones that include interpretations I'd never heard. Once Eric explained the popular usage for these alternative meanings, I could see how some people (and ministries) would use these stories for their benefit instead of God's.

A few of the stories covered are Gideon and his fleece, Cain and Abel, the woman caught in adultery, Zacchaeus the tax collector, the three wise men, and the rich fool.

While Eric lays out these stories in order to share his deductions with us, this book is more than just a set of essays comparing different views of the same stories. Eric has chosen to use it as his personal platform for reminding us how sacred the Bible is, how careful we must be in our interpretation, representation, and retelling of it, and common mistakes that people and churches make when referring to portions of the Bible.

I think The Most Misused Stories in the Bible would be a good book for anyone looking for a deeper understanding and appreciation of classic Bible stories. It would also be a good fit for anyone lost in the depths of trying to sort out one interpretation versus another, while trying to discern which truth to believe. 4/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary 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 back of book):
Eric J. Bargerhuff, PhD, teaches in the Bible and Theology department and directs the Honors Program at Trinity College of Florida. Author of the acclaimed book The Most Misused Verses in the Bible, he served in pastoral ministry for more than twenty years. Eric received his doctorate in biblical and systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wings Of The Wind by Connilyn Cossette ~ book review

Wings Of The Wind is the third book in the Out From Egypt trilogy by Connilyn Cossette. For those of you who have read the previous books, you'll meet a few familiar characters and be happily greeted by Connilyn's rich and vivid story-telling. For those of you who have not read the previous book in this series, you can easily jump in and read this as a stand-alone novel. Although, be warned that you may find yourself hunting down the first two books after you read this one - just so you can read more of Connilyn's intriguing sketches of the Hebrews' journey out of Egypt and into the promised land.

Wings Of The Wind starts in 1407 BC with a bloody battle between the Canaanites and the Hebrews. Having lost her only family to the Hebrews in a previous battle, Alanah dresses as a male to join the Canaanite soldiers. Her quest is one of revenge set to end in certain death. However, she finds herself having to make new plans when she is injured and rescued from the blood-stained battlefield by a Hebrew soldier, Tobiah.

Tobiah's only interest in saving Alanah is to spare a woman from the ravages of this war. But he soon realizes that in order to save her, he must sacrifice a deep part of himself by marrying this foreign woman whom he knows nothing about.

Wings Of The Wind is an epic journey of self-sacrifice and self-discovery. Connilyn reminds us just how far we should be willing to go for those we love, and how drastically our lives change once we realize our true identity as children of God and accept that His plans for us are far greater than we will ever know.

I strongly recommend this novel to anyone seeking a fresh reminder of how God's plan is constantly working in the background of our own lives, and why we must be prepared to listen to His voice - no matter how strange His instructions may seem at the moment. 5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary 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 back cover):
When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     ChristianBook

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Overcoming Adversity by Carl Garrigus ~ book review

Overcoming Adversity: Life Lessons From The Book Of James by Carl Garrigus is a study of the book of James designed to help you incorporate its lessons into your life in order to gain a closer relationship with God.

Carl breaks the book of James into 7 sections, with each section relating to a specific portion of the Christian life - life's circumstances, God's help, life's trials, faith vs works, godly heart, humility, and prayer. Each chapter has personal stories, Biblical examples, and questions for exploration. Overall, I like the format, and Carl does a good job at explaining his view and inviting you to use these insights to get closer to God.

Now for the not-so-great part... At first, I was surprised by the short length of this book (just over 50 pages), but I was still hopeful that Carl would pack enough into the pages that the length wouldn't be an issue. I can easily say that this book is not a quick read, despite its length. However, that comes at a cost. Most of the book is complex and from a theological view, rather than having a gentle "chatting over a cup of coffee" feel that I typically relate better with. For longtime Christians and frequent Bible readers, this probably wouldn't be an issue, But It's not something I'd recommend to anyone still searching for their newcomer footing in the Christian faith.

Also, Carl has a tendency to jump around and go from one idea to the next without a definite break in the writing. There are several 1 - 1 1/2 page long paragraphs where I could easily find enough separate topics to have made 4-5 paragraphs instead of one. Again, this probably is not an issue for most people. But for someone who likes easy break spot while dealing with the kids, and finds it confusing when topics jump suddenly, it might be a problem. I found myself having to go back and re-read frequently just to keep track of what he was talking about.

All in all, it's a good read for someone looking for a bit more guidance and insight from the book of James, as long as the above issues won't bug you. 3/5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary print copy from the publisher via BookCrash for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Dr. Carl Garrigus is a Professor of History at Brewton-Parker College. He holds a PhD in History from Georgia State University and a doctorate in Theology from Andersonville Theological Seminary. He has written Finding My Knees Again, The Reading Habits of Maryland's Planter Gentry, and Profit and the Press.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Whispers Of Rest by Bonnie Gray~ book review

Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God's Love to Revitalize Your Soul by Bonnie Gray is more than just another collection of devotionals to lift your spirit. Here, Bonnie has compiled full quiet time lessons and exercises to help you reconnect with the little girl inside that found it so easy to be carefree and confide in God, before life's hectic schedules and responsibilities started inching their way into your world and squandering what little freedom you had left.

Each day's entire lesson revolves around a different focus word / phrase, and follows the same easy-to-use format:
   1) focus word / phrase - yes, choose joy, gather, remember, play, light, etc
   2) inspirational scripture / quote
   3) personal story / lesson
   4) re-telling and explaining of a Bible story
   5) God's whispers to you - thoughts to reflect on
   6) daily prayer
   7) things to give yourself permission to do - prioritize your well-being, take a break, open up, etc.
   8) reflection questions
   9) one word prayer
   10) soul care challenge & trail notes - music therapy, taking a bath, looking at trees, girls' night out, etc.

Whispers of Rest is written in such a way that each day's lesson could easily take 45 minutes or so to complete, or you could break it down and turn each day into a 2-3 day adventure, if you don't have time. But honestly, the point of the book is to make time. It's to help you relearn how to slow down, breathe, and take life in one glorious moment at a time, while praising God for all that He has provided for you.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to any Christian woman who feels as though she's wandered some or gotten caught up in the daily grind enough that she's not feeling God's whispers of love as strongly as she once did. However, for those who have deep-rooted pain and a feeling that their relationship with God is more than just a little weak or off course, this book may leave them wanting. 3/5 stars.

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

About The Author (copied from back cover):
Bonnie Gray is the author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace, An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer, and meditation. Bonnie's writing is featured in Relevant Magazine, DaySpring (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons. Visit her at TheBonnieGray.com.
Purchase Links:
     Amazon
     Christian Book