Friday, October 25, 2013

Review of "Still Lolo" by Lauren Scruggs

I recently heard someone say that to really grow as a person, you must read biographies. After reading "Still Lolo" by Lauren Scruggs, I know exactly what that person meant. Reading biographies helps you to develop empathy, love for others, and helps you to grow spiritually.

Before reading this book, I am sad to say that I had never heard of Lauren Scruggs. I don't watch the news, and I'm not up to date with the news online or on facebook.

In December 2011, Lauren got into her friend's airplane to see the Christmas lights. It was nice weather out, and Lauren was never one to shy away from anything. She was usually very bold and adventurous. But for some reason, that night Lauren was unusually nervous. She remembers sitting in the airplane thinking that the airplane was going to crash, or just this surreal feeling that something bad was going to happen. The plane landed and everything was fine. She couldn't believe how crazy she had been for worrying. But the instant she stepped off the airplane, everything changed. It was very dark that night, and instead of heading towards the house she walked straight into the plane's propeller. After that, everything went black.

The book goes through her recovery, and how she felt after losing her left eye and hand. She describes all of the emotions she went through and how her faith in Jesus got her through the toughest times.

I loved the fact that this book was not mainly just about the accident. It went back and forth between dealing with the aftermath of the accident, and her life growing up. Although she had been a Christian for most of her life, her life was far from easy. Her parents split up when her and her twin sister were just small children. Her parents did the best they could and actually co-parented very well spending lots of time with the girls together. The girls prayed everyday that their parents would get back together no matter what the odds were against them. When they were around 11 years old, their parents got back together! The girls knew that they truly experienced a miracle.

I loved this book. I loved that I was glued to it from the very first pages. (I read the book in only two days!) "Still Lolo" is actually written by Lauren's whole family. Many of the chapters will say they are written by either Jeff (dad), Cheryl (mom) or Brittany (sister). Needless to say, I will highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I absolutely think that this is a book that can reach a multitude of people and really make a difference. I rate this book as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers to give my honest unbiased opinion.

To see some of the beautiful work by Lauren Scruggs, check out her online magazine called Lolo Magazine.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition by Catherine DeVries

This weekend, I had the privilege of reading and reviewing "Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition" by Catherine DeVries! Not only does the Deluxe Edition have an adorable Bible perfect for little ones, but also a cd which tells each of the stories.

The Bible is full of beautiful illustrations and pictures that drew my children in from the first page. The stories are easy to understand and are an appropriate length for a small child to be able to sit through.

I was also extremely impressed with the cd that came with the Bible! The stories are told with different voices to highlight each character in the story. The audio clips are also relatively short with most of them ranging from two to four minutes.

We took the cd in the car with us one night on the way to church, and our girls (ages 7 and almost 2) were fascinated. They loved the stories with all of the different characters. After we got to church, my almost 2 year old kept talking about the "baby crying!" from the Moses story. I think this is an amazing product that appeals to children in a variety of ages. I definitely rate it as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Saturday, October 12, 2013

"He Wins, She Wins" by Willard Harley Jr.

I have always felt that "His Needs, Her Needs" by Willard Harley Jr. should be required reading for marriage. I now feel the same way about his newest book, "He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation."

At some point after your wedding, the honeymoon phase will end. And there will inevitably be fights between you and your spouse. But learning how to end up with a win/win agreement can be tough. When a couple is dating, it is normal for one of the individuals to give sacrificially when it comes to agreeing on something. They may give up what they want because they are still in the romantic stages of their relationship. But eventually this phase will end. And when it does, spouses tend to be more selfish with what they want. Suddenly the win/lose agreements they have been making this whole time seem much less appealing and the spouse begins to seek out their own desires versus making their spouse happy.

Willard Harley Jr. explains how to negotiate with your spouse and end up with a win/win agreement every time. He also points out the types of negotiating that are harmful to your relationship. In addition, we also read about the importance of the Love Bank and how important it is to have 1,000+ deposits in your spouse's love bank.

I would highly recommend this book as well as his previous book, "His Needs, Her Needs."

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.

**He Wins, She Wins will be available October 2013 through Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review of "His Treasure" by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Imagine receiving a love letter from your heavenly Father. Imagine God telling you that you are worthy to Him, you are His treasure, and that He loves you more than you could possibly imagine. That's exactly what you'll find in these pages. 

Sheri Rose Shepherd has written us beautiful love letters from God based on what God has told us in His Word. These letters range from Encouragement, Comfort when we're discouraged, and Faith to conquer our fears. 

First of all, the first thing I noticed about this book was the beautiful illustrations! The pages are filled with photos of beautiful flowers, antique keys, strings of pearls and breathtaking gems. Many of the pages are made to look like old parchment paper...something fit for a King. 

Second, the words Sheri has written are just beautiful. She has paraphrased Bible verses of what our Heavenly Father has said in His Word. She makes it easy to understand. I think so many of us look at God as a Father who is stern and ready to punish us for our sins. But this is not the case! God shows us this in his Word. He shows us that He is a loving, merciful and forgiving God. He weeps when we weep and cares so very much for us. 

Also, and this is somewhat off topic, but I love the dedications in the beginning of this book. Sheri dedicates this book to Mother, her Step-Mother, Spiritual Mother and her Mother-in-Love. I just love the way she says Mother-In-Love. I think it gives an insight into the character of this author. That she can recognize that she has another mother, not just by law, but by Love. I have always wanted this type of relationship. I just think it is beautiful and says a lot about her as a Christian woman. 

I absolutely love this book! I love that it is small and compact despite the fact that it holds so much content. I would love to see girls of all ages reading this book. Teenagers, young mothers, middle age women and elderly women. These words are beautiful truths and they come from God Himself. 

I rate this book as 5 stars.

*I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers to give my honest unbiased opinion.*

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review of "A Man Called Blessed" by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

Ok, anyone who knows me knows that I will jump at the opportunity to read a Ted Dekker book! Like many others of his books, this book did not disappoint!

"A Man Called Blessed" is the sequel to "Blessed Child", but it is also a stand alone book. You do not need to read "Blessed Child" first, but it will definitely help you with the background of the story.

In "A Man Called Blessed" we again meet Caleb, a grown man now instead of the orphan child he was years ago. He is back at the rebuilt monastery in Ethiopia that he knew so well while growing up. But Caleb has been struggling to connect with God. He can't seem to grasp the same child-like faith he once did long ago.

In the midst of this, turmoil is occurring all around him. Caleb meets an Israeli soldier named Rebecca who is searching for the Ark of the Covenant, and he finds himself embarking on an incredible adventure.

Just like many of the other Ted Dekker books I have read, I loved this story! The only thing I disliked about this book is that we really don't find out what happened to Caleb's adoptive parents, Jason and Leiah except for a few tidbits about them. I would have liked there to be more references to them. But it is still a great read and a book that I will definitely recommend!

I rate it as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Born from the Heart by Berta Serrano Review

This week I had the privilege of reading and reviewing a lovely children's book called "Born from the Heart" by Berta Serrano! Considering that my husband adopted my oldest child, and the fact that we would love to adopt in the future, I love children's books based on adoption!

Charlie and Rose want so desperately to have a baby. They go visit their doctor, and he gives them the special recipe to create a baby. And so begins the long process of Charlie and Rose's baby growing in Rose's heart.

In "Born from the Heart", Berta Serrano paints a beautiful picture to children of what adoption is, and how family is not just the people who are biologically related to you. The book was clear to understand and fascinating for my 7 year old and almost 2 year old. They loved the adorable illustrations to go along with the story! Once I finished the book, I was amazed to find that the illustrator was also Berta's brother! I think it's wonderful when families can get together and create a beautiful masterpiece such as this book!

I think adoption is always a hard subject to speak to children about. Children may not always understand the family dynamics or even why they were adopted in the first place. This book shows the perfect love that a parent has for her child, even if that child did not grow in her womb, but in her heart.

I highly recommend this book to anyone considering adoption, or who has completed an adoption in the past. I rate it as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Sterling Publishing Company to give my honest unbiased opinion.

 
Born From The Heart, book trailer from Sterling Publishing on Vimeo.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Return to Me by Lynn Austin

"Return to Me" by Lynn Austin follows the biblical story of Iddo, his wife Dinah, and their descendants. As a young child, Iddo was forced out of Jerusalem after watching his family suffer horrific deaths. Throughout most of Iddo's life he has lived in Babylon under pagan rulers. Now after 50+ years, King Cyrus has decided to let God's chosen people return to Jerusalem. Iddo couldn't be happier!

But this decision brings turmoil to Iddo and Dinah's family. Their sons and daughters have established lives in Babylon. They have strayed from God these last few years. Dinah is heartbroken when she faces the thought of leaving her loved ones behind.

Iddo and Dinah's oldest grandchild, Zechariah is just on the brink of becoming a man as he is turning 13 years old. Iddo suggests that Zechariah make his own decisions regarding whether he should stay in Babylon or go to Jerusalem. Zechariah is torn between what God wants and what his father wants, but ultimately listens to God in the end.

I absolutely loved this book! I loved the way Lynn Austen researched the Bible verses and gave her best interpretation of the story! This is only the first book in the Restoration series, but now I am eager to read the rest of the books!

I think the author did a fantastic job in piecing this story together based on what information we have in the Bible. I loved it and rate it as 5 stars!

I received this book for free through Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First Date by Melody Carlson

I love reviewing young adult fiction, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to read First Date by Melody Carlson! Most of the young adult fiction I read is aimed at ages 13-18 and I would say that this book definitely fits that category. 

The story centers around 5 teenage girls who have formed their own clique at their school despite the fact that they are not especially fond of all of the members. The girls: Devon, Abby, Brynn, Cassidy and Emma all come from unique backgrounds and family styles. 

Devon's parents separated when she was young and she has a track record of being wild and irresponsible. Abby is the only daughter of a racist African American family who is very vocal about the fact that they disagree with an African American dating or marrying a White person. Brynn has a great family life, but since her older siblings have all moved away to college or have gotten married, her life feels empty and lonely. Cassidy has grown up in a Christian home her whole life, but lately has been feeling far away from her faith. She doesn't really know where she stands with "religion" or how she feels about sharing her Christian faith with her non-Christian friends. Emma's parents just recently divorced, and she lives with her mother while she struggles to make ends meet. 

Devon and Emma used to be close friends, but after Devon moved away a few years ago, Emma grew closer to Cassidy. When Devon moved back to town, she was eager to share her dating advice and created a dating game/club called "The Dating Games". The goal of the game was for each girl to help another girl find a date for the homecoming dance which was only 3 weeks away. They had 10 rules for the club which varied between "Helping other DG members find "good" guys" to "Not being jealous of a fellow DG member's boyfriend." The girls all agreed to the rules and began "working" on guys for their friends. 

Despite the fact that all of these girls go to a Christian school, throughout most of the book, none of these girls are living a Christian lifestyle. All of their decisions are made primarily based on social status, good looks and their ability to "snag a guy". All of the girls in this book were fairly shallow, excluding Cassidy. The characters were quick to point out the other girl's flaws regarding their appearances, and even gave 2 of the girls makeovers because they felt that no guy would ever take a second glance at them without highlights in their hair or brand new clothes. 

The girls all end up with dates for homecoming, and have a great time. All except for Devon, who finds herself in a bit of a problem because of the type of guy she has chosen. At the end of the book, the girls discuss shutting down the DG club or whether they should continue. All of the girls decide they should continue in the club, and even announce that they should start looking for different dates for the Halloween party. 

It seems The Dating Games is exactly that. A big game. I don't mean to sound harsh to the author. As a writer myself, I know how difficult it is to write a good story. But this would not be a book I would allow my daughters to read. The story was just so superficial and shallow. The girls were so self centered and dating was just a big game to them. This is not how I want my girls (or sons if I ever have one) to think about dating. I want them to focus on the personal qualities of their future mate. Not how expensive their clothes are or whether or not they have colored hair and wear makeup. 

There was little or no spiritual content at all in this book except to say that Cassidy was a Christian, and that Devon "used to be a Christian." I would expect a Christian young adult book to have quite a bit more spiritual content. 

I am sorry to say that I was not a fan of this book. I rate it as 1 star.

**This book will be available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.** 

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.