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.