Friday, December 27, 2013

Samson by Shawn Hoffman

How does one review a book that was so emotionally exhausting and give the experience of reading it the justice it deserves?   How do you "recommend" a book that is so frighteningly riveting because of the horrors told that you know aren't truly a work of fiction?

I chose to read this book because I believe that we must remember historical events, such as the Holocaust, or we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.  This is not a fun, feel-good read.  But the story of Samson Abrams, his family, Dr. Mengele, and others is one of a Jewish Olympic boxer's fight with what he truly believes and how he tries to use his gift to better the lives of his family while in Auschwitz.

I really appreciated the level of Shawn Hoffman's research he did for this book and was morbidly mesmerized by the tale.  I read the book in one day, partly because I couldn't put the book down and partly because I really wanted to finish the book so the heaviness in my heart to go away.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald J. Johnson

If you feel uncomfortable talking with someone who is skeptical about your faith, "How to Talk to a Skeptic" by Donald J. Johnson may be a good place to start.

The author gives some sound advice about how to approach someone who doesn't believe the same way you do and to do it in a way that is informative and non-confrontational.  We are not supposed to be pushy sales-people when it comes to our faith, but instead to listen and find out the real reason the other person doesn't either accept our faith as valid or has questions.  How we handle those discussions can alienate or positively influence that other person.

Although I personally do not enjoy debating, I do feel this book gave practical instructions how to address another's concerns.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sex and the Single Christian Girl by Marian Jordan Ellis

I wish books like this were available when I was a young woman, but I am so glad they are now.

What makes "Sex and the Single Christian Girl" by Marian Jordan Ellis different from the other books like this that I have read are:
  1.  Mrs. Ellis regularly affirms the reader with terms of endearment.  While reading the book I felt special.  She reminds us that we are cherished daughters of the King, a priceless treasure, and that we are worth waiting for.
  2. She gives you a game plan.  Most books don't really discuss a way to remain pure until marriage other than to "hang tough".  I think her perspective is unique because she was in her 30's when she met and married her husband.  She gives practical suggestions, like"laying ground rules" at the beginning of the relationship.  During a make-out session is not the time to do that.
  3. She puts it into perspective.  If he isn't willing to wait and ends up leaving, thank the good Lord that he protected you from such a creep!
  4. She puts blame where it belongs.  No temptation becomes sin without permission.  Don't allow yourself to be in situations where those temptations can lead to what you wish to wait for.
I am adding this book to the list that I will encourage my daughter to read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mansfield's Book of Manly Men by Stephen Mansfield

What is a manly man?  Stephen Mansfield give you his thoughts in his book, "Mansfield's Book of Manly Men".

After reading the thought-provoking forward by retired Lt. General William G. Boykin, I was faced with the author's words that this book is "Not for girls!" 

Being the compliant that I am, I immediately put the book down.  But, I had promised to review this book, so here it is.

Ladies, this book is not for us.  It is definitely for our men.  I appreciated the author's thoughts about what a manly man "looks like", and I believe that we need to be encouraging help-meets and let our men be just that.  Mr. Mansfield does not point the blame at anything or anyone that may be causing this era of weak men (my opinion... and mind you that is certainly not all men).  Instead I found this book to be a call to action for guys to look to the manly, noble role models in the Bible and elsewhere, and to take personal responsibility for their actions and decisions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Frame 232 by Wil Mara

Any of us who have been around any length of time have wondered who really was behind the
Kennedy assassination.  Did Lee Harvey Oswald truly act alone? 50 years later, there are still so many questions.

Wil Mara's new book titled "Frame 232" dives into that topic in a fictional story about how the film taken that awful day in Dallas by the "Babushka Lady" surfaces, exposing that Oswald was not the only gunman.

Truth-seeker and millionaire, Jason Hammond, is contacted by the Babushka Lady's daughter (Sheila Baker) after finding the carefully stored film in her mother's safe deposit box.  Sheila's mother, Margaret Baker, was too afraid to turn the film over to the authorities while she was still alive, leaving Sheila the burden of deciding what to do with it.

And Margaret had good cause to be afraid.

Although the author truly believes Oswald was the only gunman that day (as he states in the Author's Notes and Afterward), he tells a fascinating story about "What if...?"  The level of corruption and accountability in the assassination plot is beyond scary as almost "everyone" was part of the conspiracy.  And that level of power has access to those who can keep their secrets.

Will we ever find out the complete truth about JFK's assassination?  I personally don't think so.  Do I think Wil Mara's book is worth reading?  Absolutely.

Download Wil Mara's special Q & A here.

Watch the book trailer here:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis

As newly divorced Adam Colby is sorting through estate sale items, he finds an unusual treasure in "Forever Friday" by Timothy Lewis.

A photo album containing 60 years worth of weekly postcards, some dating even back to the late 20's, catch his attention.  On each postcard is written a romantic poem and signed, "Forever, Gabe".   As Adam reads these postcards, his wounded heart wonders if there can ever be such a thing as an enduring, romantic, married-love.  This spurs his quest to find out more about the writer and recipient of this weekly ritual.

As the story of Gabe and Huck unfolds, Adam realizes that there are no perfect relationships, but that the secret to true love is the art of "unselfishness".  As the story ends, Adam has the opportunity to try at love again.

I found this book to be a reminder that our marriages are what we make them.  Yes, it does take two and people are not perfect, but if we all put our own selfish desires on the back-burner and thought about our life's mate first, even just some of the time, what a difference that could make.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest opinion.    

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl by Paula Hendricks

Being of the mother of a soon-to-be teenage daughter, books like this are really on my radar.  I want to help my daughter navigate through this time in her life, allowing her to make her own mistakes, yet teaching, encouraging, and guiding her to rely on the Lord and His perfect timing. 

As a teenager, "waiting on God" and trusting Him with my life just wasn't in my thought process.  My desire to be affirmed by boys and to feel special was very consuming.  So I can relate to Paula Hendricks book, "Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl".  Maybe you can, too?

Paula honestly shares her stories of challenging relationships, trying to take control and make things happen. Although many in our current culture would find Paula's advice (really God's advice) of allowing men to pursue and women to be pursued as antiquated, I find it refreshing and can honestly say that my husband was attracted to that choice I made to allow him to do just that during the time prior to our wedding over 20 years ago.

The ending of the book came as a bit of a surprise to me.  It doesn't end like a beautifully wrapped present with a big bow on top... but since when is life really like that?  Paula's story is still unfolding and I know that the Lord will provide her with the right man for her, in His perfect timing.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

His Treasure: Gems of Love from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

 What a touching devotional!  As I read the words in "His Treasure: Gems of Love from Your King" by Sheri Rose Shepherd, I could "feel" God's words bringing comfort, strength, understanding, love.  Each devotion is short but impactful. My very first thought was that I wanted to get this book into the hands of a friend who recently lost her husband.  I am going to purchase a few copies to have on hand for just such occasions when I find that a woman I know has experienced a loss (death, divorce, job loss, etc.)and needs encouragement.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Unspoken by Dee Henderson

"Unspoken" by Dee Henderson is a great example that you can have a good mystery without foul language, gratuitous sex, and gore.

Bryce Bishop, owner of a prestigious rare coin shop in Chicago, meets a mysterious woman with a troubled past that he can't get out of is mind.  She has a business proposition that he can't refuse.  As he gets to know her, he finds that she has some disturbing secrets and he wants to help her through them, all while sharing his faith in a God that she believes turned her back on her.

My take?  Bryce Bishop is an incredibly chivalrous man with a "golden" code of ethics.  He is sweet, kind, and thoughtful.  Charlotte is understandably cautious, generous, and loyal to her dear friends, John and Ellie.  The pair of them make a great team as they set out to give away more money than I could ever imagine having.

With some books, it's easy to skim the pages maybe because the book is too wordy or the storyline too week.  "Unspoken", although over 400 pages, is so well written that you don't want to hurry the story.  I really enjoyed the book although I hate to admit that I thought the story itself was pretty unbelievable and the end a bit anti-climactic.

I'm passing this one on to my soon-to-be 13 year older daughter and look forward to reading other books Dee Henderson has written.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Hope Is Found by Joanne Bischof

"My Hope is Found" by Joanne Bischof is the third book in her Cadence of Grace series.  Although I have not yet read the first book,  "My Hope is Found" is equally as riveting as her second book, "Though My Heart is Torn".

The story begins with Gideon returning to Lonnie, hoping to win her back now that he has been "released" from his first wife, Cassie.  What happens when he arrives is nothing less than awkward as Lonnie has just been proposed to by the new young preacher, Toby McKee.  Throughout the book, all three of them must deal with their feelings about each other.  Each grow in their personal faiths during the process and I was awed by how the characters were so authentically open about their feelings.  It was refreshing that there were no hidden agendas or manipulating going on!

Again, I really enjoyed this book and could hardly put it down.  I really have enjoyed Mrs. Bischof's writing and look forward to her next book...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar

"Harvest of Gold" by Tessa Afshar picks up where "Harvest of Rubies" left off.   At the beginning of the book, Sarah and Darius discover and foil a plot to assassinate King Artaxerxes.  Although their relationship is strained, Sarah finds herself pregnant just before she, Darius, and her Uncle Nehemiah set off toward Jerusalem to orchestrate the rebuilding of the wall surrounding the city.  Tensions increase when it appears Sarah has miscarried while on the journey to Jerusalem...before telling her husband that she was pregnant to begin with.  Amazingly, the Lord works through Nehemiah to help Darius deal with a hurtful time during his childhood which allows him to come to grips with his true feelings for his wife.

I enjoyed getting to know the main characters better in this book and think to get the most of the story, reading "Harvest of Rubies" is a must.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar

"Harvest of Rubies" by Tessa Afshar is the story of Sarah, a young Jewish woman, who becomes an accomplished scribe to gain the approval of her father.  The tale is set during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia where it is highly unusual for women to be able to read, lest write and keep accounting records.

Sarah becomes the senior scribe for Queen Damaspia, where she is able to foil a plot designed to completely erode the already strained relationship between the Queen and Amestris, the Queen Mother.  As her "reward", Sarah is given in marriage to a young lord, Darius, who has no desire to be with his new bride as a result how she "presents" herself at the wedding ceremony.

Of course, Darius does not remain indifferent to his bride, but if I told you more about this story, you wouldn't have to read it yourself!

I thought this was a truly enjoyable story.  There were so many times that I could really "feel" Sarah's gut-wrenching embarrassment and her pain of feeling unworthy and unloved.  The beauty of the book is Sarah's growing relationship with God, and how He was able to fill the void in her heart which allowed her to love and to be lovable.

This book was great and I could hardly put it down.  If you enjoy historical fiction, I would highly encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself.  I myself can hardly wait to read more from Ms. Afshar.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

10 Great Dates by Larson & Arp

How well do you know your spouse?  How satisfied are you with your relationship?

"10 Great Dates" by couples Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp explore the concept of how rewarding a marriage is with the relationship between spiritual closeness and emotional closeness in marriages.  These two couples come from different places in their life journeys to help couples gain a new level of intimacy in their marriages through "10 great dates".

Before the dates, you and your spouse each would read a chapter in the book that focuses on these topics:
  1. Connecting faith an love;
  2. Appreciating your differences;
  3. Experiencing God together;
  4. Getting into the Word;
  5. Loving your closest neighbor (not those that live next door...);
  6. Talking together with God;
  7. Building your marriage on a strong foundation;
  8. Facing the storms of life together;
  9. Guarding your hearts under God's canopy;
  10. Making your marriage a lighthouse.
During the "date", you each have an opportunity to answer questions on conveniently provided questionnaires that stimulate a deeper level of conversation than what most of us share unless we are truly being purposeful.

Although my husband and I have not yet gone on our first "date", I will say that it does take a commitment from both parties.  One cannot cram this idea down the other's throat and there must be a mutual willingness.  I do believe that this book has some very worthwhile ideas and think that even if you aren't able to do all 10 dates, there is value in any that you can do.

My nephew and his fiance are getting married next week.  I'll be getting a copy of this book to include in their gift.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Mama & Me: Rhyming Devotions for You & Your Child by Crystal Bowman & Teri McKinley

Although I don't have small children anymore, I really wanted to review the newest book by Crystal Bowman & Teri McKinley called "My Mama & Me: Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Child".

This book is beyond delightful.  It is a simple way to share God with your little one(s).  Each devotion includes a Bible verse, a creative and fun rhyming devotion, a simple prayer that relates to the devotion as well as a fun idea that mama and child can do together.  Together with the sweet illustrations, this book makes me wish my children were little again!

So, even though I don't have small children, both of them thought the book was adorable.  In addition, my daughter (who is 12) has put this book in with her baby-sitting "gear" to share with children (with parental approval) she watches.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hitler's Cross by Erwin W. Lutzer

Have you ever wondered where the Church was during Hitler's Jewish Holocaust?  I have.  Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer explores that very topic in his book "Hitler's Cross: How the Cross was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda".

"Hitler's Cross" begins with the history of Germany's pride that led to a patriotic spirit that surpassed love of God.  Dr. Lutzer explains how Germans were "ripe" to be led by someone who could give them better lives, personally, and restore Germany's greatness especially after the humiliating defeat of World War I and the stifling and impossible demands of the Treaty of Versailles. 

Dr. Lutzer also explains why so many were easily misled by Hitler and the satanic/Eastern/occultic influence in the elite SS.  I was horrified to learn that there were even Nazi "baptisms" and other normally Christian ceremonies that were paganized.  Even Christian holidays, like Christmas and Easter, were changed to non-religious names.  Sound familiar?

I appreciated Dr. Lutzer's view, though, that during this horrendous time, God's Hand was still present.  Yes, innocent people were victimized, yet many people also received a saving faith and much "chaff" was sifted from the Church.  People... Christians... stood up for what was right during that time.  Some paid the ultimate price of unspeakable torture and death. 

At the end of the book, the author warns Americans that in many ways we are headed in the same direction.  We are embracing humanistic ideals and pushing aside the Bible's teachings in order to be "politically correct".

I would highly recommend this book.  I believe that if we don't learn from History, we are doomed to repeat it. It is comforting to know, though, that God will be the Victor at the end of our word's story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof

"Though My Heart is Torn" by Joanne Bischof is the second book in the Cadence of Grace series.

This heart-wrenching story is about Gideon O'Riley and his wife Lonnie... and his other wife Cassie.

Gideon thought Cassie had taken the papers they both signed to have their secret marriage annulled.  But she didn't.  When Cassie's father and brothers found out about the marriage and that her reputation was ruined, they were determined that Gideon make it right.

One problem, though.  Gideon is married Lonnie.  And to make it even more interesting, they have a son, Jacob.  Neither wants to split their family apart, but unfortunately the law is not on their side.

I have not read the first book in the series, "Be Still My Soul", and I think it would have been easier for me to get into the story if I had.  That said, once I was engaged, I found the story to be riveting, maddening, and hard to put down.  As I read, I couldn't help but feel for the loss of Gideon's and Lonnie's family all while being challenged by the selfishness of Cassie and her family to not care about the future of little Jacob.  Interestingly, in telling my husband about the story, he agreed with the law...

I really enjoyed the story and plan to read the first book as well as the last one.  I have to know what happens to Lonnie and Gideon!  On a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate this book a solid 4.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I am Ruth by Brenda Duff & Kenneth Berg

After reading "I am Ruth, A Story of Loss, Love & Redemption" by Brenda Duff, I believe this book
will find a permanent place on my coffee table.

Already after finishing it, I have picked it up several times to read and to enjoy Kenneth Berg's incredible photographic portrayal of this story.  As a matter of fact, it is almost like a movie in book form, yet more. 

The narrative portion of the book not only includes information about Ruth, Naomi, Boaz and their contemporaries, it also includes other biblical stories that have similarities in them, such as Joseph (Jesus' earthly father) leading his family to  Egypt to save their lives and Lot (Abraham's nephew) and his family fleeing the burning cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

What I enjoyed most was being able to vicariously "live" the story through the stunning photographs that were taken in the Holy Land, close to where Ruth actually lived.

Ruth's life is a classic example of loyalty, courage, obedience, love, and God's provision.  This beautiful book is a fabulous representation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by New Leaf Press in exchange for my honest opinion.

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

A "Christian" murder mystery?  Well, when I saw this book, "Rules of Murder" by Julianna Deering had to read it!
and offered by Bethany House, I just

The story, set in the 1930's English countryside, introduces Drew Farthering as the gentleman "detective" trying to solve the murders of his mother, step-father, and a cad named "Lincoln".   Drew and his buddy, Nick, are both charming, well-mannered, chivalrous, and quite funny.  Drew's love interest, the spunky Madeline Parker, also happens to be his step-father's niece from America whom he meets at the beginning of the book.

Although I had an idea at start of the story that one of the victims was not actually a victim at all, the book really took some twists and turns and was not the predictable story I had first feared it to be.  Instead, I was pleasantly everything. 

After reading many secular mysteries, I must say that I truly enjoyed a great story that didn't get caught up in gore, sex, and/or vulgar language, and would highly recommend this to any mystery-lover who is ready for an entertaining tale.

I for one am looking forward to the next Drew Farthering escapade!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

So Long, Insecurity - Teen Edition by Beth Moore

My Review:
When I had another opportunity to review a book with my soon-to-be teenage daughter, I was really excited and jumped at the chance.  We both had a very positive experience reading Tindell Baldwin's "Popular", and I have heard so many wonderful things about Beth Moore, that I was looking forward to reading "So Long Insecurity, Teen Edition".

First of all, this book is more like a magazine.  It has a lot of short articles and features topics like fashion, media, boys, popularity, etc.  With tons of pictures, it is fabulous for even girls that don't really enjoy reading.

As a homeschooling mom of a very mature twelve-year-old, I felt really out of touch with what is going on in the "teen" world.  I know I've seen teen girls around... but they certainly don't dress like the girls in the book.  These girls, who were supposed to be portraying "average" teen-aged girls, looked more like models or girls who have an unlimited clothing allowance from well-to-do-parents.  As a matter of fact, my daughter, who is normally her own person and truly happy in her own skin, went through a period of feeling insecure(!!!) after looking at the pictures and feeling that she was coming up short in the fashion department.

That aside, I really thought the written words and quizzes were really valuable.  So, I realize that this book is trying to reach a certain audience, but I'm not so sure we were it.

Reilly's Review:
When I first saw this book, I thought, " Hey, look at this book!  It seems fun!"  But when I read it, I was extremely discouraged. Beth Moore went on saying how models and girls you see in magazines are so fake, but if you look at the pictures, the girls have flawless skin, the newest clothes, perfect hair, etc.  It made me think, "If real girls look like that, then I am so ugly.".

Beth Moore had a lot of good things to say. The thing is that I am very secure, but when I read the the book it made me feel anything but.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Billy Graham in Quotes by Franklin Graham

Billy Graham's son, Franklin, has shared wonderful, insightful, encouraging, and in some cases, convicting quotes from a myriad of resources in his latest book "Billy Graham in Quotes".

This extraordinary book includes quotes on 107 topics from, I believe, the most well-known evangelist of our era.  Nothing is off-limits.  The book begins with quotes on abortion and covers other topics including creation, Satan, grief, lust, marriage, and success.

This is a wonderful resource for pastors, teachers, public speakers and more.  I just recently shared a quote on marriage that was in this book with a newly married couple in the greeting card we gave them.

Sometimes we get a little foggy on what God really says about a subject because of world views.  Other than the Bible itself, this is another source of direction from a man I believe to be a man after God's own heart.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Unlocking your Family Patterns by Cloud, Townsend, Carder, & Henslin

Newsflash:  We all  have varying degrees of dysfunctionality in our families.  And most of the time,

I know that we would love to have perfect little families, so if you didn't know or were in denial about that little fact, it becomes very clear when you read "Unlocking Your Family Patterns" by Dr. Henry Cloud, Dave Carder, Dr. John Townsend, and Dr. Earl Henslin.

The authors, who are experts in their field, helped me to not only understand why I do what I do within my family of origin, my current family and other relationships, but to also identify the behaviors that are harmful.  For those undesirable or downright harmful behaviors, because they have now been brought to the light, I can now make a choice to change and/or heal.  And so can you.  The authors really encourage support from others, whether that is in the form of a group (i.e. a 12 step group) or individual professional counseling.

For me personally, this book was enlightening, thought-provoking, and encouraging. At the same time, I spent a lot of time on the "Questions for Reflection" at the end of each chapter considering my family of origin's patterns and the changes I need to make to break negative cycles.  This book was something I really needed to read, but was pretty painful in places, too.

Knowledge is power.  If we continue doing what we have done, we will continue getting what we have gotten.  Maybe, like me, you have some learning to do.  This book is a great place to start.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. 
the way we handle our relationships with others was learned while living with our family of origin.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax is a fictional story of a young man named Chris, who begins to question his Christian faith largely due to the influence of one of his college professors.  As the story begins, Chris is engaged to be married to a nice Christian gal and is working with a group to start a new church.  All of this comes to a halt as Chris grapples with what he really believes.  Over the New Year holiday, Chris spends a few days with his grandfather, Gil, who is a retired Baptist minister.  Gil and Chris have some great debates over current issues such as homosexuality, Chris' father's infidelity, and the like.

This was an interesting read.  At first I was not overly engaged in the book but as the story progressed, I found that I was really learning something from each conversation Chris and Gil had.  It is a great tool for learning how to lovingly respond to questions about hot/heated topics.

I would recommend this book to anyone.  It is a great witness tool as well as a wonderful teaching tool for followers of Jesus sharing their faith with others.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bible Savvy 4-Book Set by James L. Nicodem

I had the opportunity to review the 4-book Bible Savvy set by James L. Nicodem.  These books are titled Epic, Foundation, Context, and Walk.

Epic:  This book is an easy-to-understand synopsis of the Bible and how this is really a "rescue story" of God's people from sin.  I loved his explanation of the God-sanctioned violence and how that differs from, for example, jihad; how Jesus' unique qualities made Him the perfect candidate to pay the price for our sin; and the story of the end times in the Book of Revelations.

Foundations:  This book dives into why we can trust the Bible's accuracy and authority in our lives, as well as the purpose of the Bible.  Pastor Nicodem also gives some helpful tips on memorizing Scripture and gives some great reasons why we should not only read the Bible, but commit it to memory, too.

Context:  This book discusses the importance of the context in which the Bible is written and how to interpret it.  Key factors the author encourages us to take into consideration are the historical, literary, theological, and immediate (interpreting words how they are used in sentences, paragraphs, etc.) settings.

Walk:  This last book discusses how we can apply what we have learned while reading the Bible in our own lives.  What good is reading the Bible if it doesn't impact how we live and relate to others?    Pastor Nicodem again encourages reading the Bible daily and gives a four-year reading plan on  I am excited about that!

The author's writing style made me feel like he was a friend who was sitting down and explaining a few things to me.  The personal study/small group questions included along the way were helpful, too, and can also be downloaded at  This is a great resource for especially those new to the Christian faith, but as a life-long, totally imperfect follower of Jesus, I learned a lot of great stuff, too.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity by Colin Gunn & Joaquin Fernandez

Today is the 4th of July.  America's day to celebrate its independence... its freedom.

What does that mean to you?  Freedom?  Independence?  Being able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness?

I had the opportunity to read IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity by Colin Gunn & Joaquin Fernandez.  This book, a companion to a movie of the same title, is a compilation of interviews from various people who believe our public school system is not only flawed, but has an agenda to dumb down our children and teach them ideals that may not follow with our Christian faith.  The testimony given by 20+ individuals who are teachers, parents, and/or experts in the field of education, is absolutely chilling.  I am sure that this book and movie will create some heated arguments from differing opinions on the validity of their claims. 

If you have children or grandchildren, this book is a must-read.  No, it won't make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but ignorance is not bliss.  You may not agree with everything in the book, but isn't educating yourself a good thing?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by New Leaf Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Popular: Boys, Booze & Jesus by Tindell Baldwin

My daughter and I had a unique opportunity to be asked to review the book titled "Popular: Boys, Booze and Jesus" by Tindell Baldwin.

My review:
So many times we read books written by Jesus-loving men and women who seem to have never "fallen".  They have lived the seemingly perfect life of faith and service, which most of us really cannot relate to.  But Tindell Baldwin's book, "Popular", is truly an exception.  This young woman grew up in a Christian home, yet lived a life very apart from Christ.  During her teens, her desire to be accepted, popular, and loved drove her to make decisions about boys and booze that she regretted (during and after).  She writes about these "dark" times with such honesty and openness that make her story not only believable, but you realize she could be talking about any girl.

Tindell Baldwin
But this isn't just a tell-all book about "look at all the bad stuff I did".  It is Tindell's testimony of how a loving and forgiving God can heal the deep hurts and fill the longings with His undeserved grace and mercy.  It is her encouragement that no matter what you have done in the past, our amazing God still loves you and wants a relationship with you.

I was really moved by this book.  I would highly recommend this book for teenage girls, young women, and mothers of either.

Reilly's review:
What a book. When I first started reading it, I was excited about the idea for a mom-daughter study book. This book is certainly not an easy read. She is brutally honest. I really felt like I got taught a lesson. A lot of Christian books will tell you about what will happen if you drink, do drugs, have premarital sex, etc. They do not know from experience. But Tindell has made the mistakes, lived through the consequences, and ended up with a husband, a family, and a loving God.

I strongly recommend this book. There were some parts that were funny and I enjoyed the book. Two thumbs up!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Rite of Passage by Jim McBride

I have two children who are currently 12 and 10.  They are the absolute joy of our lives and the biggest and most important challenge my husband and I have ever faced.

Recently I was having a discussion with my mother about a choice I made when I was 17 that was challenging for me and my family.  Her response was that I was just a "kid".  She said that several times... "You were just a kid!"  But at 17, I felt like an adult... I was capable of caring for myself... I was able to make important decisions... I drove a car, had a job, cooked, cleaned...  At 17, normally a young woman is even physically mature enough to conceive and give birth to a child of her own.

So when is a person really an adult and not "just a kid" anymore?

I have personally read more than a dozen books on the very subject of bar/bat barakah ceremonies and guiding my children into adulthood within the past six months.  This subject is very much on my radar so when I got the opportunity to review "Rite of Passage" by Jim McBride, I did not hesitate.

Even though I have read several books about this topic, it was a very worthwhile read.  Pastor McBride offers some insight that I hadn't read or thought of before including the need for adult mentors/prayer warriors in the young person's life.  I also saw the value of the unique gifts given and the examples of the rites of passage he did with his two sons and two daughters.  I especially loved the symbolism of when he told his children that today was they day when his little boy/girl would sit down and a man/woman would stand. Also, the author encourages more than one rite of passage, making this a stepping stone on your young person's life journey.

In all, I would highly recommend this book as a part of your own research of meaningful milestone celebrations in your child's life.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Perfecting Kate by Tamara Leigh

Even though I've been married over 20 years, I can still remember the dating "scene".  And anything I'd forgotten over time, I was reminded of in "Perfecting Kate" by Tamara Leigh.

Kate is a successful artist who is looking for love.  Although she has "sworn off" men, the book is about her relationship with two men.  The first, Michael, is a professional make-up artist that encourages her to fix her physical flaws through surgery, etc.  Because he is always pointing out what he sees as flaws and wanting her to make sure she makes time for her Pilates class, it becomes obvious to Kate that Michael couldn't possibly love her for who she really is.

The second man, Dr. Clive Alexander, who looks similar to Brad Pitt, is a widower whose heart is understandably guarded.  While Kate is working on the mural at the burn center where the good doctor works, the two become closer even though they had a very rocky start.

Although I enjoyed the humor and could relate a little to Kate's character when I was single, working, and praying for the man God had chosen for me, I was left feeling uneasy throughout the book.  I was bothered by the "missionary dating" mentality Kate has and am concerned that younger, unmarried Christian women reading this book may lower their standards to this level because of a funny book.

I really enjoyed the book with reservations...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

When Sorry Isn't Enough by Gary Chapman & Jennifer Thomas

I just finished reading "When Sorry Isn't Enough" by Gary Chapman (of The 5 Love Languages fame) and Jennifer Thomas.  Wow.  What an insightful book.

This book discusses some very important issues about apologies and forgiveness, like:
  • Why we hunger for a real apology when we have been hurt;
  • The components of a complete apology;
  • Why forgiveness isn't the same thing as trust;
  • What forgiveness really is and what it can and cannot do;
  • Why some people will not apologize and what to do when they won't;
  • The danger of forgiving too easily;
  • Forgiving yourself;
  • What our forgiveness "language" is (meaning, what kinds of words do we need to hear in order to feel that we've been given a sincere and complete apology).
The only thing this book doesn't do is something that it can't, and that's take away the hurt of a fractured relationship.  But, it does help one to understand this whole messy process better and hopefully begin the healing process quicker.

This will definitely be a book I use with my kids at some point during their high school/home school career.  As a matter of fact, this book should be mandatory reading for everyone on the planet.  And there should be a test, too. 

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Welcome to Mrs. Sutton Reads

I am an avid reader.

There is something so incredible about holding a book... a real book with a real cover and with real pages... in my hands.  I love the feel of the pages, the colors of the book cover, and how they look stacked on my night stand, on my bookshelves, on top of my desk, on the living room end table(s)...

I am a book junkie.  It's true.  Please tell me there aren't 12 step programs for people like me that have piles of books...everywhere.  I don't want to get help for my addiction!

I must say, that I'm not a fan of e-reading, although my hubby wishes I was.  Yes, I suppose that book did cost a tree but did anyone ever consider all the Kindles, Nooks, and other gadgets that are already in landfills across America?  Not to mention the batteries!  Oh, don't get me started!

Well, whichever way you prefer to read your books, I thought I'd start a new blog that dealt solely with the books I have read.  My other blog, Victory Homemaking, is an eclectic collection of recipes, homeschooling and family ideas, menus, health concerns, and whatever sparkly thing that happens to catch my eye at the time...including lots of book reviews.

I hope we'll have a good time together.  And while you are waiting for the next book review, just in case you are interested, click on over to Victory Homemaking for book reviews I've given in the past.