Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Powerful Moments in the Presence of God

This beautiful book, Powerful Moments in the Presence of God, just came in the mail.  Lorraine Varela has combined her love of photography with her love for scripture in this new devotional book.  It would be a lovely gift book for Christmas or birthdays.  I like that Varela has gone beyond traditional devotional scriptures to some scriptures that are often overlooked.  Each devotion has a 1-2 page photo with a title, scripture, and 1-2 paragraphs.  I would recommend this book to any woman interested in spiritual things - it will encourage a nonbeliever to ponder God's love, and it will inspire a more seasoned believer to revisit scripture in a new light.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Historical Fiction - Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

I've just "met" a new historical fiction author, Kate Breslin, author of Not by Sight.

Here's how the publisher describes the book:  "With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover. Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack. And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope."

It was a very good read.  A very creative storyline, and it gave me a good glimpse into this slice of history.  I liked getting to know the characters - and I "felt" their joys and pains as I was reading.  I especially liked the two main characters and watching their struggle to know one another well and get beyond past fears.  There are great lessons in the book about not judging a book by it's cover!  The landscape descriptions were beautifully written - I could easily picture the lovely sights.

It was a light-hearted easy read that I would recommend this book to any female reader age 14+.  I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

What Color is Your Parachute?

I read an earlier edition of this book in 1995 when I graduated from college, as I was searching for my first job.  It was an incredibly valuable tool that greatly shaped my understanding of my strengths and desires.  I’ve been recommending it to career seekers ever since.  What I didn’t realize is how much the book has evolved over the last two decades.  It’s rich with improvements, focusing on how the internet and social media has changed the whole job seeking process. 

The most practical and inspiring piece of the book, to me, is chapter 7 - the process of building your flower – that one piece of paper that highlights your mission, your preferred colleagues, your skills, your interests, your preferred living location, your preferred responsibilities, your working conditions and your salary range.  It’s 90 pages of self-discovery – and I still refer back to the flower I created 20 years ago!  Other chapter highlights include tips and tricks for building a resume, interviewing, negotiating salaries, changing careers, starting your own business, and overcoming personal obstacles in your field of work. 

I would highly recommend this book to college seniors, to people changing careers, and to people searching for a job.  Take time to reflect on who YOU want to be instead of letting the pressure to find a job define who you are.  I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  

Teaching children to know Jesus

Teaching my children to know Jesus and have a friendship with Jesus is very important to me, so I was very excited to discover Sarah Young’s new book, “Jesus Calling for Little Ones”.  Just like the original “Jesus Calling” (which I love!), it builds very personal conversations with Jesus from scriptures.  For example, she takes James 1:17, “Every good action and every perfect gift is from God.”   She adds more to the conversation:  “Every good gift in your life is from Me – your family and friends, the bright sun and tall trees, playful puppies and sleepy kittens.  Look around at all the wonderful things I have for you!”  And each conversation is surrounded by bright child-friendly illustrations.  This is a wonderful tool to teach young children to see God’s love and to teach them to converse with the God who loves them more than they could possibly imagine.  And I bet the parents reading the book will be challenged too!

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Prayers for Young Readers

My kids are avid readers, so our family does a lot selecting books to read.  If your school pushes reading like ours does, your children probably read a lot too.  But the content of young adult books is not always wise for even adult Christians to read because of the sensual and sexual story lines and images.  I hate that - because in SO many cases, a book would be just as good without the sinful content!!

I've talked many times with teenage son about being smart about reading choices, but honestly never thought to ask him to pray about it.  Duh!  So here's a prayer to teach your children and a protective prayer to pray over your them...  

Joel Beeke:  “Before I read anything, I pray that the Lord would give to me the grace to discern whether or not I should spend time reading this particular book.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Becoming Your Kids' Go-To Person About Sex

Jonathan McKee has a new book out called "Becoming Your Kids' Go-To Person About Sex More Than Just the Talk".  I know - a scary and daunting thought!  But this is a great book.  McKee has done a fantastic job tackling a tough subject with humor and practical tips for parents.

From the publisher:  "In a sex-saturated culture where kids are exposed to nearly 14,000 sexual references per year on television, and 70 percent of teenagers have encountered pornography on the Internet, parents can't rely on the traditional one-time "sex talk" that their own parents muddled through. Kids need to know that it's natural to be curious about sex and that their parents are the most reliable source of information. Otherwise, their friends and smartphones will be more than willing to give answers that are likely to lead them down the path to sin and heartache. Jonathan McKee shows parents how to move beyond the initial awkwardness of this subject into an ongoing conversation with their kids about God's amazing gift of sex. He equips them to engage in open conversations about dating, temptation, porn, and purity. Parents will find answers to the tough questions most people avoid and relevant Scripture regarding sexual issues. When parents provide the honest answers their kids are longing for, they can become the ones their kids turn to with their questions about this critical topic."

This book is relevant and important for parents to read.  It will empower and equip parents to start dealing with issues their children are facing.  It will inspire parents to take action and initiate conversations.  It will help remove some of the awkwardness and fear that parents are bound to fear when the sex subject comes up.

I recommend this book to any parent with children ages 10+, and any youth worker/educator that has the opportunity to speak into the lives of children and teens.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Taken by Dee Henderson

Dee Henderson is a great author, and she has written yet another great book - "Taken"!  I love the way she crafts her mysteries and the way she develops her characters.  The books are always intriguing, always clean, and always easy to read.  This storyline is very emotional - I can't begin to imagine being in the shoes of the main character who was abducted from her home at 16 and missing for 11 years.  It's the story of how Shannon Bliss returns safely to society while seeking justice from wrongs done.  As always, I had trouble putting the book down to go to sleep, because I wanted to keep reading!

I would recommend this book to any reader age 15+.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Family Fun - Spades

With the Hearts card game being such a big hit in our house, I'm going to try to teach the older kids to play Spades.  It's a little more complex with the bidding element and the partner play, but it's worth a shot.  I spent hours playing Spades in high school and college.  I'm hoping this will be one more option for entertainment when the kids get older - a way to keep older kids happily engaged on bus trips with sports teams, hanging out with friends, or at the pool.  A good positive alternative instead of getting into trouble!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Family Fun - Uno Attack

We picked up this Uno Attack game at a thrift store a few summers ago.  The kids go in spurts with playing it, but it's a big hit this week.  Personally, I prefer classic Uno (easier to store and a faster paced game), but the kids love the card-spitter-outer gadget!  I love Uno and Uno Attack, because it's fun for such a wide age range.

Happy playing!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Family Fun - Hearts

We've been having fun playing the card game Hearts this week.  I taught my 13 and 10 year old how to play, and my 8 year old has watched us play a few hands.  The boys love it!  I have so many great memories of playing hearts with friends, so it's very fun to share the tradition with my family.  Best of all - there's hardly any storage required for a deck of cards on the bookshelf or in the car!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nashville's Belmont Mansion - in fiction!

I just finished reading one of Tamera Alexander's Belmont Mansion novels, A Beauty so Rare.  It was another historical fiction novel that I wanted to read in every spare moment.  I loved the glimpses into Nashville history, since I've lived in the Nashville area for almost 20 years.  I enjoyed meeting the characters and practically seeing their strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed the quiet messages of God's love and grace scattered throughout the book.  But what I loved most was the tale of mercy, leadership, courage and social activism related to the main character's efforts to care for the city's widows and children.  Eleanor's sacrificial love will surely inspire readers to be more aware of people's needs and how they might use their talents, time and money for the betterment of others.  I could easily imagine a book club adopting a service project together after reading the book.

I recommend this book to female readers age 14+, and book clubs would enjoy discussion stemming from the book.  Fun side story - my grandmother also enjoys reading this series, so I'll enjoy talking about it with her.  And I look forward to reading other books in the Belmont series.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, June 26, 2015

hearts made whole

The publisher describes the book this way:  "After her father's death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren't supposed to have such roles, so it's only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper--even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her. Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He's secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation--the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He's not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who's angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he's in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope...and possibly love?"

Set in 1865 at a lighthouse in Michigan, this fictional tale is very well told.  As with many good novels, you can practically feel yourself living life alongside the main characters.  You feel their struggles with loss, shame, fear, love, and faith.  There are also several historical contexts highighted in the book, so readers will get a glimpse of community struggles with gender roles, prohibition, and even rooster fighting.  Hedlund quietly weaves scriptures and hymns throughout the story to highlight messages of faith in times of fear and struggle - a great message for us all to remember!  I really liked the tale of self-discovery, overcoming challenges, family loyalty and love.

The story  is part of the "Beacons of Hope" series, so I look forward to reading more!  I would recommend this book to any reader age 17+.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.