Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NIV Essentials Study Bible

Publisher: Zondervan
November 2013
ISBN: 978-0310442417
Genre: NIV Bible/study guide

The NIV Essentials Study Bible helps you quickly and easily understand, interpret, and apply God’s Word to your life. The variety of features in this Bible presents a multifaceted, exciting format for studying Scripture.

There are many different ways to explore God’s Word: question-and-answer studies; detailed in-text study notes; timelines, photos and charts; helpful devotional insights; and profiles of Bible characters. Now you don’t have to choose, because the NIV Essentials Study Bible provides you the chance to explore the Bible using all these study methods and more. With each of these lenses included in one Bible, you will discover how to best understand the essentials of Scripture.

This edition includes the entire NIV Bible text with the world’s best notes for learning. It incorporates the finest content, images, and study tools from the most popular Bibles that are loved and used by Bible readers just like you. It features:
* Flyover Lens: Start each book of the Bible with the right perspective from easy-to-read introductions from the popular Essential Bible Companion.
* Unpack Lens: Easily understand and interpret Bible passages with bottom-of-the page study notes and in-text charts from the best-in-class NIV Study Bible.
* Dig Deep, Look Close Lens: Understand the fascinating historical significance of the Bible with articles and photos from the bestselling NIV Archaeological Study Bible.
* Q and A Lens: Get concise, easy-to-grasp answers to your most perplexing questions about the Bible with questions and answers from the beloved NIV Quest Study Bible.
* People Lens: View Scripture from the perspective of the 100 most important people in the Bible with notes for the student of any age excerpted from the timeless NIV Student Bible.
* Guided Tour Lens: Get a bird’s eyes view of Scripture with a Guided Tour, also excerpted from the category-leading NIV Student Bible.
* Insight Lens: Find meaning in the Bible by reading these magazine-style call-outs from the NIV Student Bible.
* R and R Lens: Reflect and Respond with this quick inspirational focus time, which unveils the sweeping narrative of the Bible as seen in the award-winning The Great Rescue, NIV.

When I was offered the NIV ESSENTIALS STUDY BIBLE to review, I jumped at the chance. My oldest son is considering going into the ministry, and he asked for a good study Bible so I wanted to see what this one is like.

This one appears similar to every other NIV study Bible on the market and has pretty standard layout, with maps in the back. I did like the archaeology information that are scattered through out, but mostly, some of the lenses are distracting. Sometimes there are so many lenses, over such a short period of time, it feels overwhelming. There is a wealth of information, but not all of it is helpful or of the same quality.

Strengths - it's very well layed out; it uses the NIV which is a "dynamic thought-for-thought equivalent" version; i.e. it's modern-day language communicating the intended thoughts of the scripture passage. It takes into account the poetic passages, and marks them out as such; the Psalms, for instance - the first line is regularly printed, the second line that corresponds to it is slightly indented, showing a faithfulness to Hebrew Poetry. It's got a ton of references, explanations, and insights for application.

The negative - There is no room for the reader to interact with the scriptures; he's basically told what the passage is intended to communicate. In other words, there is no room for the Holy Spirit to freely work on the passage. For a beginner, this could be a good thing.

I would recommend you going to an actual brick and mortar store, and doing an in person comparison with the different ones out there before you decide for yourself.  $35.63 hardcover. $33.85 kindle. 1763 pages.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Blast! Lottie

About the Author

Award-winning author, Jeanetta Britt, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Fisk University and Top Ten from The University of Michigan. She completed a successful executive career that spanned over three decades in Dallas, Texas, before returning to her native Alabama. "But," she says, "my faith in Jesus Christ means more than anything, and it has proven to be the most valuable asset in my life." She also says, "That's why I write Christian Fiction novels and Gospel poetry . . . to share the love!"

About The Book

Oh, no! Rose is back! If Lottie isn’t having enough trouble being a newlywed and taking on her duties as the first female African American Senator in her native state of Alabama, her sister Rose is trying to make the moves on her husband, Chaney. Rose has had a crush on Chaney since high school, and it looks like she’s not done yet. And in spite of her love for her community and her political pursuits, Lottie has to learn to open her heart and fight for her family.
Family, however, is not always what it seems—family is the people who love us.
Lottie, the third book in the Lottie Series, follows the murder mystery in Pickin' Ground, and the story of personal and community redemption in In Due Season. Lottie explores the fulfillment of marital love that overcomes selfish ambition, political corruption, and family pain. “There is no love like married love!”

    One winner will receive: an autographed copy of all three books in the Lottie series: Pickin' Ground (The Lottie Series Book 1) In Due Season (The Lottie Series Book 2)  Lottie (The Lottie Series Book 3)
    Publication Date: May 31, 2014
    Book Title: Lottie
    Genre: Christian Fiction
    Print Length: 235 pages
    Publisher: Twelve Stones Publishing LLC (May 31, 2014)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Penny Wise

Book info and Review
About the book: Penny Wiseintroduces us to yet another family in "the neighborhood"---the Jaspers, busy with demanding jobs, busy with church, busy volunteering, parents of three active teenagers, juggling sometimes crazy schedules. All good things. Until all those "good things" feed into a series of crises that affects the whole family. Something's gotta change!

The third in the Windy City Neighbors series, Penny Wise is a contemporary peek at an urban family wrestling with the spiritual and practical challenges of real life. The series employs the innovating storytelling technique of "parallel novels," each with its own drama and story arc, but whose characters' lives become intertwined with their neighbors and affect one another. Welcome to Beecham Street---a typical, isolated American neighborhood that is beginning to come out of its shell . . . for better or worse.

My thoughts: PENNY WISE might be the third book in the Windy City Neighbors series, but it easily stands alone. I have the first two books in the series but didn't have time to read them before this one and I wasn't lost at all. It also uses some characters from previous books in the books the Jacksons wrote. 

PENNY WISE wasn't as engaging as the others I read. I didn't fall in love with Michelle, the main character, like I did with some of the characters in the other series. I did feel bad for her with her busy life, busy family, concerns about the sad situations she worked with and with her own children entering the dangerous teenage years... I wasn't surprised by one event, and some of the things brought tears to my eyes. I loved the penny theme. Fantastic message on God's provisions and care. 

If you loved the Yada Yada Prayer Group or any of Neta Jackson or Dave and Neta Jackson's other books theen you won't want to miss PENNY WISE.  I give it 4 stars, since it is well-written with a great message. I just didn't fall in love with the characters.

Purchase a copy: 

About the authors: Dave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set. As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books.

Find Neta and Dave online: website

 Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Death Takes A Ride

Author: Lorena McCourtney
Publisher: Revell
July 2014
ISBN: 978-0800721602
Genre: Cozy Mystery

It's official. This case is above her pay grade--and Cate's in over her head.

Cate Kinkaid arrives at H & B Vintage Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there--this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense.

Despite having been merely an unfortunate bystander, Cate finds herself sucked into the case. And the deeper she gets, the more she begins to suspect that the shooting in the H&B office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared.

DEATH TAKES A RIDE is book three in Ms. McCourtney's The Cate Kincaid Series. It easily stands alone, but readers will want to read the first two, Dying to Read and Dolled Up to Die to find out how Cate got into investigation and the story of the cat.

I have mixed feelings about DEATH TAKES A RIDE. I didn't find it as engaging as the first two books in the series and it didn't hold my interest as well. I also figured out "who-dun-it" early on in the book, so the only real reason to keep reading was to find out why and that seemed obvious.

I did like the unexpected investigation skills of the dog that ends up in Cate's life. That was fun. I will keep reading Ms. McCourtney's books since I loved all her previous ones, but this one didn't quite cut it for me. It may be one you love though. It was good, just not great. 4 stars. $14.99. 336 pages. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House
April 2014
ISBN: 978-0764211959
Genre: Romantic suspense

Jake Knew Something Was Wrong.
But He Never Guessed How Wrong.

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna's route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake's past now revealed, he's ready to use his talent for investigation again--but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.

Kayden's climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine. 

SILENCED is the fourth book in Ms. Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series, but it easily stands alone. Fans will want to read the first four books to get the romances/suspenses in the first books Submerged, Shattered, and Stranded.

I thoroughly enjoy Ms. Pettrey’s writing. She had me hooked from the first page and while I had part of the story figured out in advance, she kept the reader guessing from multiple twists. I never guessed who did it for the original crime they were investigating. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give away a spoiler, but there are two different crimes solved in this book.

I am looking forward to the fifth book in this series, Kirra and Reed’s story, if I guess right. This is a series not to be missed if you like romantic suspense. $14.99. 336 pages. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Spotlight: Desired

Author: Ginger Garrett
Publisher: David C. Cook
October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6800-1
Genre: Historical/Biblical fiction
$9.99 Kindle
$21.22 Audio
368 pages. 

Meet the legendary Samson as you've never known him before … through the eyes of the three women who loved him.

Before Samson was an Old Testament legend, he was a prodigal son, an inexperienced suitor, a vengeful husband, and a lost soul driven by his own weakness. This is his story as told by three strong women who loved him—the nagging, manipulative mother who pushed him toward greatness, the hapless Philistine bride whose betrayal propelled him into notoriety, and the emotionally damaged seductress—the famous Delilah—who engineered his downfall and propelled him to his destiny. Desired celebrates the God of Israel's to work powerfully in the midst of hopes, fears, desires, and sorrows.

About the author:

Hi friends,
I'm a novelist who occasionally turns my research into a nonfiction book for my readers. I have a special passion for history, with a love of women's history and biblical stories.

I began writing after a devastating car accident which plunged me into darkness, depression and fear. I was told I could never have children and began a journey through infertility and miscarriages. During this time, I could find nothing to comfort me on the bookshelves. I decided to write what I needed to read. One year later, I had an agent and a deal. (The book, Moments for Couples Who Long for Children, is out of print now and available only on my website,

Since then, I have written novels about women in history that have forever touched our modern lives: Ane Boleyn, who fought to give us the right to read(Shadow of Lions), Queen Esther of Persia (Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther), and the women who survived the terror of the Black Death (In the Arms of Immortals) plus the fascinating and powerful ancient beauty secrets of biblical lands (Beauty Secrets of the Bible).

My hope is that when you turn the last page of one of my books, you feel strengthened for the journey ahead and that I have found more than a reader: I hope I've found a friend.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Spotlight: Widow of Gettysburg

Author: Jocelyn Green
Publisher: Moody Publishers
May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8024-0577-7
Genre: Historical
320 pages

For all who have suffered great loss of heart, home, health or family; true home and genuine lasting love can be found.

When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering-and a Confederate scout who awakens her long dormant heart.

While Liberty's future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty's hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed.

In the wake of shattered homes and bodies, Liberty and Bella struggle to pick up the pieces the battle has left behind. Will Liberty be defined by the tragedy in her life, or will she find a way to triumph over it?

Inspired by first-person accounts from women who lived in Gettysburg during the battle and its aftermath, Widow of Gettysburg is Book 2 in the Heroines Behind the Lines
series. These books do not need to be read in succession.  For more information
& resources about the Heroines Behind the Lines series, visit

From the Author
Twenty-four hundred residents inhabited the borough of Gettysburg in 1863 when 163,000 men and 15,000 animals converged upon it for the three-day battle in July. Some fled to protect themselves and their property, while many--most of them women and children--were caught in the crossfire. Surviving the battle was only the beginning. While most history books follow the armies on their journeys away from Gettysburg when the battle receded, Widow of Gettysburg keeps the focus on the aftermath being played out in the town. When the armies withdrew, 21,000 wounded were left in their wake, with only 106 Union medical officers and far fewer Confederate doctors. Women and children were drafted into hospital service, whether they felt confident in their ability or not. Days after the battle's end, thousands more invaded the already overtaxed town in the form of relief workers, sightseers, and those looking for their loved ones. The quiet life they had known was gone.

Women of Gettysburg did not ask for the distinction, but many became heroines behind the lines just the same. Widow of Gettysburg is the story of their resilience. In the words of Gettysburg housewife Sarah Broadhead, "We do not know until tried what we are capable of."

About the author:

Award-winning author Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage in her readers through both fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she offers encouragement and hope to military wives worldwide through her Faith Deployed ministry. Her novels, inspired by real heroines on America's home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration.

Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She is an active member of the Evangelical Press Association, Christian Authors Network, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Military Writers Society of America.

She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.