Friday, September 2, 2016

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal is part of the Living Expressions Collection by Tyndale Publishers. The introduction invites you to “connect with God in a fresh, new way” through creative expression (drawing, coloring, journaling, etc.) that supplements prayer and meditation on Scripture.

The journal's cover is eye-catching and the inside pages are tastefully illustrated. Each entry is two pages long and most coordinate a prayer, a Scripture, illustrations to color, and a lined space for writing thoughts and prayers. The lined space is limited and easily filled up, but there is usually blank space that can be used for overflow. Lest the journal be too uniform, the topics vary and sometimes there is simply blank space instead of lined space or a Scripture thought with no pre-written prayer. While coloring and journaling comprise most of the encouraged artistic activities, some suggest making a collage or drawing.

A few other things I liked about this journal:

It's challenging: The prayers often express thankfulness and then ask God for personal growth (which we all know can be difficult).

It's flexible: On days that you have plenty of time, there are pages with space for a lot of intricate coloring. For busy days, there are some that don't require coloring or very little coloring. The pages and thoughts don't compile, so you can skip around as needed.

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal would make a lovely gift for a woman of any age.


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, July 30, 2016

Spiritual Warfare for Your Family by Leighann McCoy

In Christian circles, spiritual warfare ranges from being unheard of, to being ignored, to being embraced in a mystic sort of way, and everywhere in between. In Spiritual Warfare for Your Family, Leighann McCoy aims to educate the reader regarding what spiritual warfare is, the importance of spiritual warfare, and how to successfully fight to protect yourself, your family and other loved ones.

There are several chapters that explain the basics of spiritual warfare – what it is, why it happens, where it happens, etc. She addresses some hard questions like, “Why did God create the devil?” and “Why do we still struggle with sin if Jesus has already won victory and empowered our lives?” I felt most of the information was Scripturally sound, though at few things might have been a bit edgy.

After the basics are laid down, McCoy moves into tactics to fight the enemy. Although these lessons are framed as tactics within the concept of spiritual warfare, most of them are basic Christian living principles that people just need to put into practice. Forgiveness, love, prayer, resisting fear, surrender to God, etc.

Lastly, McCoy offers several chapters that address particular life stages and common issues in homes. These down-to-earth principles offer suggestions on how to try to prevent situations from happening as well as what to do if they have already happened. I appreciated her honesty as she shared her own failings and what, in hindsight, she believes she should/could have done differently.

Some of the lessons I gleaned from this book included: 1.) Confess your worst fear. Then focus on God, not you. 2.) Give up your own will completely. 3.) Tear down the “High Places” in your life.

McCoy points out that she isn't a prosperity preacher advocating health and wealth if you serve Jesus. Living the Christian life is often more about surrender and sacrifice than pleasant desires and luxuries. Even the basic principle of forgiveness can be terribly difficult if the wrong has been severe enough. I think that most Christians would find parts of this book challenging to put into practice, but the application of difficult principles can lead to spiritual growth and victory in the spiritual realm.

Overall, I think Spiritual Warfare for Your Family: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Children by Leighann McCoy is worth the time to read. I plan to keep it and read it again in the future.


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."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Courageous by Dina L. Sleiman

Guilt-ridden by the mistakes of her past, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a crusade to free captives from enemy prisons. She's determined to serve, train, and protect the children traveling with the crusaders even if it means sacrificing her life. Sir Randel Penigree feels much the same as he's haunted by past battle experiences. As Rosalind and Randel join together to lead the children, they are drawn to each other in spite of the fact that neither of them intends to ever marry. Will Rosalind and Randel find atonement for their past mistakes or will the shadows of the past lead them to lifetime isolation?

Courageous is the third novel in Dina L. Sleiman's Valiant Hearts series and features Rosalind and Randel, supporting characters from Chivalrous. The beauty of their love story lies in the divine redemption that overcomes the past, purifies the present, and lights their future path. It was a pleasure to observe the individual character development at each stage and how it later led to relationship development and romance. That part of the story was excellent. However, I was uncomfortable with the crusade setting. My knowledge of the Middle Age Crusades is limited, but I've always viewed them as misguided and unethical. The author did not glorify the crusades and created a worthy cause for fighting. Yet, the fact it was a crusade and that there were children involved just didn't sit well with me.

Courageous is my least favorite in this series by Dina L. Sleiman, but I'll keep it because I enjoyed its love story and its predecessors. If you've read Dauntless and Chivalrous, you'll probably be interested in Courageous.

Read an excerpt from Courageous by Dina L. Sleiman on the publisher's website.

Or read my reviews of Dauntless and Chivalrous on this blog.

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, June 25, 2016

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Monsieur Perdu is good at reading people. Observant and insightful, he's not afraid to tell a customer exactly which book to read, even if it's not what the customer is looking for. His book “prescriptions” bring healing, strength, comfort, tears, or whatever the person needs at that stage of life. It would seem the only person he cannot mend is himself. The love of his life left him twenty years ago and he's never gotten over the deep loss.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is an international bestseller and I expected to be impressed. I wasn't blown away by the first few chapters, but I noted and liked the character development of Monsieur Perdu. The quirky supporting characters and charming setting promised humor and entertainment.

Unfortunately, I only read the first few chapters and a chapter or two towards the end. I was uncomfortable with the sexual innuendos/content, but I also didn't care for the profanity and the lifestyle/culture where having more than one lover seems to be completely acceptable. I know such things will seem thoroughly outdated to some, but it's my preference. Had I known the novel would contain such content, I wouldn't have requested it for review. Normally with such a book, I wouldn't even post a review as I feel it's unfair to the novel/author to criticize such things when the author is writing for a mainstream audience of which I am not a member. However, I am required to write a review and so I have given my thoughts on the novel.

I give three stars because what I read seemed to be well-written and it's probably an entertaining book, just not for me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Blogging for Books. 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, May 28, 2016

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Having grown up with three older brothers, Dru knows how to hold her own in the midst of conflict. After serving as a Marine, earning a black belt, and honing her shooting skills, she excels as an executive protection agent until one case goes very wrong. Now she's been assigned to protect NFL tight end Gray Fowler and she needs to do it well to recoup her professional standing. Determined to find his stalker, end the danger, and restore her reputation, she refuses to be drawn into any sort of romantic relationship, though Gray seems intent on dissuading her. The more time Gray and Dru spend together, the more they are drawn to each other. Can Dru discover Gray's stalker in time to preserve his life... and her heart? Read more in Her One and Only.

Her One and Only by Becky Wade is the fourth and final novel in the Porter Family series. This novel probably could stand alone, but Meg and Bo (from Book One, Undeniably Yours) feature prominently and I think it might feel a bit disconnected if I hadn't read the previous books. My favorite part of Dru and Gray's story was the tension and sizzle of their personalities. The obvious attraction and issues between them held my attention. The plot was nicely paced and the climax was not what I expected, making it even better. I'll definitely keep this novel and likely reread the entire series in the future. Readers who've enjoyed any of the Porter family series, thus far, will likely enjoy Her One and Only 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."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

Avelina's position as lady's maid to Lady Dorothea, daughter of the Earl of Plimmwald, shifts precariously when she assists Dorothea in running away with a knight she is desperately in love with. The earl insists that Avelina stand in Dorothea's place and attend a two-week visit to Thornbeck Castle. During her visit, Avelina must remain under cover and make sure she is not chosen as Margrave Thornbeck's desired bride, as the Margrave has invited ten ladies in an attempt to procure a bride. Unfortunately, the Margrave notes Avelina's sensitivity and candor quickly. Avelina diverts his attentions to her friend with a hidden bit of dismay as her own feelings for Margrave Thornbeck have grown beyond platonic friendsip. Will Avelina's secret keep her from true love or is there a chance that love can survive the deception, intrigue and danger permeating Thornbeck Castle? Read more in The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson.

I enjoyed The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson. Among the medieval fairy tales by Dickerson that I've read, this one falls somewhere in the middle. It wasn't my favorite or least favorite. Although, the story hooked me early on, I enjoyed the second half of the book a bit more than the first. The plot felt a bit stilted when the bride candidates were going through the “tests” and some of the “twists” were predictable. However, in the second half of the story, things seemed to flow better and the story felt more original. I enjoyed the budding romances and the refreshing forthrightness that Lady Dorothea / Avelina speaks with.

I recommend The Beautiful Pretender to readers looking for a fairy tale romance with plenty of intrigue and themes of faith.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook 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."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tessa Afshar talks about Land of Silence

I so enjoyed this book. Got an email the other day drawing my attention to this video and thought I'd share.