Friday, February 9, 2018

The 365-Day Storybook Bible

The 365-Day Storybook Bible from B&H Publishing is a padded hardcover Bible story book of substantial length. It does not adhere to any particular version of the Bible (KJV, NIV, etc...) Rather, it is written to summarize the Bible story in words easily understood by children. Many Bible stories are covered in this book, including much of the book of Acts. However, Revelation is not included.

So, as soon as I opened the package containing The 365-Day Storybook Bible, my five year old grabbed it and proceeded to look through it for an extended time. She was able to identify certain Bible stories simply by the illustrations and asked about others. Over the past week, she's picked it up almost every day to look at the pictures. She likes it a lot, probably more than I do.

And speaking of the illustrations, The 365-Day Storybook Bible is good at engaging through colorful, mostly well-done illustrations. However, some of the illustrations are unpleasant – particularily page 206 where it shows Saul committing suicide by stabbing himself with his sword.... I kinda wish they had left that particular story out. Granted, I know it is part of the Bible, but not necessarily appropriate for young children... Also, I never pictured King David with blonde hair...

My daughter and I have enjoyed reading these stories so far. The story and illustrations are interesting to her. If you want the storytime to last the five minutes that the cover advertises, you'll have to come up with some questions and discussion topics on your own because the narrative provided takes two minutes or less to read. The “parent connection” is one page in the back of the book, not something integrated with each story.

I recommend The 365-Day Storybook Bible to parents of children between 5-9 years of age. Its' a sturdy, colorful book that teaches stories from the Bible. However, I don't think it's appropriate for younger children. The illustrations can be bit graphic and some of the more gritty Bible stories are included: Joseph & Potiphar's Wife, David & Bathsheba, Saul's suicide, (Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael are noticeable absent.) My two year would listen and not ask questions about how Bathsheba had David's baby, but my five year old is inquisitive and these stories have enough detail to prompt further questions. If you aren't comfortable with that, you'd have to somehow skip the pages.

Overall, this is not the best book of Bible stories I've seen, nor is it the worst. Seems to fall somewhere in the middle, but my five year old does really like it and that counts for something.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My Francine Rivers Shelf...

.


Yes, one entire shelf of my bookcase is dedicated to Francine Rivers' books.  See the one in the middle, The Masterpiece?  It releases today and I highly recommend it to anyone!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Grace Moore is a single mother, desperate to be independent again. When she takes a temp job as Roman Velasco's personal assistant, she almost quits on the first day. But the desire to support herself financially and care for her young son keeps her coming back daily to work for the temperamental artist. Grace quickly learns how alone Roman is, despite his career successes. As their working relationship improves, Grace and Roman are drawn to each other, but their beliefs and traumas of the past keep them far apart. Will they ever be more to each other than boss and assistant? Can God create a beautful masterpiece from two broken lives? Read more in The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers.

I read The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers twice before writing this review and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times. Francine Rivers is a master storyteller and has been my favorite author since I first read her Mark of the Lion series about ten years ago. Rivers uses romantic tension, mysterious histories, and authentic characters with questions and issues to weave a story that captivates the reader's attention.

Throughout The Masterpiece, Grace and Roman's pasts are slowly revealed and circumstances force them to deal with the separate traumas they experienced in childhood. Rivers' characters are throroughly developed, with the reader seeing exactly what makes these characters the way they are. Even as temperamental and rude as Roman was, I had no problem liking him as well as every other primary character in the book.

I recommend The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers to everyone – man, woman, adult, or teenager. It's gripping, gritty, and full of God's grace.

Read an excerpt from The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers on the publisher's website.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions That Meet You in Your Everyday Mess

A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions That Meet You in Your Everyday Mess by the (in)courage community aims to nurture, strengthen, and encourage women. I almost cried when I started reading the introduction because it just felt so welcoming. There are no assumptions or pretense that my life is at a certain level of cohesiveness. This book doesn't expect me to have it all together. It isn't trying to tell me how to do it just right so I can be the perfect wife, perfect mom, perfect girl, perfect Christian. This devotional about acceptance, starting where you are, and focusing on what matters most in your own life.

I have really, really liked A Moment to Breathe so far. Since the publisher probably doesn't want me waiting a full year to write my review, I'm going to admit that I haven't finished reading the book. Therefore, here is what I have found so far. The devotions are written by eighty different writers and cover many topics. The devotions invite you to come as you are, to think about what the writer is saying, and give a small call to action that is sometimes as simple as smiling at stranger and saying hello. The devotions cover a range of topics. I liked that the writers are all about meeting you where you are and not wearing a mask of perfection, but they also don't encourage wallowing in mediocrity and feeling constantly sorry for yourself. The devotions take only a few minutes to read, though reflecting on the topic or call to action adds a little time. I recommend A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions That Meet You in Your Everyday Mess by the (in)courage community to any woman looking for a daily devotional book.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

January 2018 - The 5 Star Book Month!

So, as far as books are concerned, January has been an outstanding month! I've read three amazing books by three different authors:

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz
Troubled Waters by Susan  May Warren

... and The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers (my absolute favorite author) blew me away!








Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson, daughter of the lieutenant governor of Virginia, is Williamsburg's bride. Her planned future includes marriage to Miles Roth, master of Roth Hall, and a life as its mistress. Love is not necessary. However, Williamsburg turns perilous for Elizabeth as tensions rise daily between the British Loyalists and American Patriots. When tragedy strikes in her own home, Elisabeth finds herself on a new life path that involves intrigue, independence and the handsome Noble Rynallt, cousin to her fiance and a leader of the independence men. Torn between family and the future, Elisabeth must decide which side to stand with. Read more in The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz.

I'm not sure how many of Laura Frantz's books I've read, but The Lacemaker is my favorite. This stand-alone novel is permeated with history, courage, faith, and romance. Being set on the eve of the American Revolution, plenty of action keeps the story moving and the reader devouring its beautiful narrative. Liberty and Noble's relationship grows and matures throughout the book and it was a pleasure to observe. Laura Frantz's writing is amazingly beautiful and practically effortless to read. She makes writing a book look easy, though I'm sure it's not. I recommend The Lacemaker to fans of historical romances. If you've read and like Laura Frantz's other books, you'll probably like The Lacemaker as well.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren

For years, Ian Shaw and Sierra Rose have danced around the invisible, but very real obstacles, that prevent them from having a relationship. However, when both find themselves in crisis, they are pushed together. Ian's received a massive fine that has crippled his finances. Sierra may lose her job if PEAK Rescue is shut down due to damages the team's chopper has incurred. With no chopper, PEAK is no longer. Ian offers Sierra the use of his yacht to raise money from his very wealthy friends. However, a rogue wave sinks the ship, sending its passengers to fight for their lives. When Ian and Sierra are stranded on a island together, the obstacles between them shrink and they begin to honestly engage each other. Still secrets, lies, and danger threaten their tenuous relationship. Read more in Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren.

Troubled Waters stands as the fourth novel in Susan May Warren's Montana Rescue series. I think it could be read alone, but the entire series is amazing and I recommend reading them in order, beginning with the free prequel, If Ever I Would Leave You. The prequel is where Sierra and Ian's story starts and they feature prominently in Wild Montana Skies.

I read Troubled Waters in two long sittings. It was so, so good. It seems that Susan May Warren likes to commence a story by dropping the reader right into a tense situation. It's a pretty effective hook and the tension continues throughout the story both externally and internally for the characters. I stayed engaged, wanting more, turning pages late into the night. I enjoyed the development of Sierra and Ian individually as well as a couple. There were twists that I didn't see coming and secondary characters that added more to the story. Overall, Troubled Waters is a great read.

I recommend Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren to fans of contemporary Christian romance. The Montana Rescue series is permeated with themes of redemption and plenty of romance. They occupy precious space on my bookshelf and will be read again.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."