Monday, October 31, 2016

The Christmas Project


Editorial Reviews

Even with Christmas around the corner, for the Buckley boys, payback almost always wins out over brotherly love. That is until the four brothers join forces against a common adversary--The Hagbarts-- the meanest bullies at their middle school. But now Mom has decided that the Buckley family is going to Elve the Hagbarts this year for Christmas. Eleven-year-old Matthew can hardly stand it. By day the Hagbarts torture the Buckley brothers into submission, and by night the Buckleys secretly deliver Christmas treats and gifts to their sworn enemies. Soon the war of wits escalates to an incredible scheme designed to get the ultimate revenge on the Hagbarts. But now that Matthew has been learning that he's supposed to do good to those who hate him, what will he do when a little push becomes a great big shove?
My thoughts:  I was given a link to preview this movie for review.  Our computer system and the link weren't friendly and we had to pause the movie and refresh it every five seconds, so our viewing was interrupted frequently. 

There is a lot of sibling rivalry in this film, which may or may not bother some viewers. The mother kept praying for a daughter and gave the one son a girly middle name. So the opinion among my daughters (who watched it with me on my computer) was that the mom didn't like boys--or was tired of them. 

Their older brother was irresponsible and blamed everything on his younger brothers. However, there are some lessons learned, there were sad parts, and the movie ended well. 4 stars. 

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sins of the Past

Sins of the Past

A Romantic Suspense Novella Collection 

Paperback, hardcover, ebook

May 3, 2016

by Dee Henderson (Author), 

Dani Pettrey (Author),

Lynette Eason (Author)


  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Reprint edition 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764217975


Secrets and Lies. Danger That Will Never Go Away.
Join Three Beloved Masters of Romantic Suspense for Novellas Where the Past Will Not Stay Buried.
  

Dee Henderson - "Missing" A Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing from her retirement community. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two soon launch into a race against the clock when they realize something dark may lie at the heart of the disappearance. 

My thoughts:  I probably cut my teeth on Dee Henderson's romantic suspense, and with good reason. Her O'Malley series was the best. I haven't cared for her more recent books, and honestly quit reading her stories. I wanted this collection due to Dani Pettrey's and Lynette Eason's inclusion, two of my three very favorite romantic suspense writers. I did greatly enjoy "Missing" and getting to know John and Sharon. A very slow romance, a mystery about an abducted senior citizen, and yes, I did figure out "who-dun-it" before the end of the book, but not the why. I was definitely engaged enough to keep reading to find out why. Good to read this novella by an old favorite. 

Dani Pettrey - "Shadowed" Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young Alaskan fisherman nets the body of a Russian open water swimming competitor. Another swimmer, who'd been the dead woman's roommate years ago, is pulled into the search for answers as it grows more and more clear that something sinister is at play.

My thoughts: Dani Pettrey once again knocks the story out of the book. Larger than life, with realistic characters that I fell in love with. It was neat to meet the beginnings of the McKenna family with this not exactly modern story that happened in 1979. Contemporary enough that most readers would remember that era, but wow, what a difference 30+ years make in the world.  I loved Libby and John and enjoyed getting to know them as well as some other characters that appeared in Ms. Pettrey's Alaskan books. Loved the Coast Guard appearances!

Lynette Eason - "Blackout" A young woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong finds herself at risk years later when the real culprit is up for parole. The loot taken that night has never been found and he believes she knows where it's hidden--only her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety?

My thoughts: Lynette Eason's Blackout has scary moments. I think it was the scariest of the three stories, and kept me riveted, I had to stay up until I finished it.  I did figure out "Who-dun-it" with this book early, so that didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was the why.  

Overall thoughts: If you love romantic suspense, absolutely don't miss this collection by three top authors. LOVED it. 5 stars.  "I was provided a free paperback copy of this book. All opinions are my own." 

"These entertaining, fast-paced mysteries will keep readers guessing and engaged throughout. The chilling stories work well together and also easily stand alone."--RT Book Reviews

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion

The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion 

Hardcover, ebook, audio CD

October 15, 2016

by Priscilla Shirer

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: The Prince Warriors
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Kids; Har/Pstr edition 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433690204


In this second book in The Prince Warriors trilogy, the Prince Warriors face new challenges on earth and in the unseen realm of Ahoratos. The enemy, angry about his last defeat, is targeting them with weapons and tactics they had never imagined, including the flaming Olethron. The kids must turn to Ruwach and the Source, who can give them more pieces of armor to help them stand strong against this deadly threat.


My thoughts: (reviewed by Jenna) First, the disclaimer.  "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, THE PRINCE WARRIORS AND THE UNSEEN INVASION is a very action packed book right from the beginning. It begins with Rook rescueing a prisoner who tried to escape and it was hard because when a prisoner is captured they slowly become a big metal robot. It was action packed all the way through. One of the characters picked up a dragon fly type thing and it was slowly poisoning her being. This is not a book to read at night. It is scary at times!

THE PRINCE WARRIORS is the second book in the series, but it stands alone. I didn't have a chance to read the first book, but I really want to get it . Even though I didn't read the first book I wasn't lost at all in this book. 

This is a sci fi/fantasy book for tweens and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes action/adventure or sci fi/fantasy stories. Make sure this is in your favorite tweens personal library. 5 stars. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Closer Than Close

CLOSER THAN CLOSE
Dave Hickman
ISBN 978-1-63146-408-9
Religion / Christian Life / Spiritual Growth
NavPress
177 pages, softcover
$14.99 U.S.

First, the disclaimer.  "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done,

We are told in John 15:9,
“As the father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9 (kjv)

Jesus promised in John 13:34 – 35,
34  A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:34-35

And in John 14:23, we are given hope that such a transformation is even possible:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
John 14:23

Like Abby (p. 130), all I want is a real, vibrant, closer than close relationship with my Heavenly Father (who  created me), my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (who redeemed me), and the Holy Spirit (who leads, guides, comforts, corrects, and empowers me.) 

Is that too much to ask?  Author Dave Hickman doesn’t seem to think so.  That’s why he wrote this book.

While the book could be considered short (only 177 pages), the ground it covers is extensive.  First Dave addresses the problem (the gap between creator and creation).  He then outlines what happened, and why.  And finally, he offers a workable solution to the dilemma at hand. and / or our Heavenly father.

The last section of the book contains an overview and brief explanation of the spiritual disciplines which were an integral part of the early church, and have been re-discovered by such authors as Dallas Willard (“The Spirit Of The Disciplines”) and Stephen Foster (“Celebrating The Disciplines.)  Far from being an end in and of themselves, the disciplines are given their proper place, and their proper emphasis.  The disciplines serve to “position” the believer in their relationship with God, so that he can do his best work in our lives.  The discussion of each discipline, while brief, is nonetheless thorough and amply illustrated through the experiences of the saints throughout the ages, on up to Dave Hickman’s personal testimonies.

5 stars for a short book that’s deep enough to drown in



Thursday, October 27, 2016

NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

Hardcover, Turquoise, Elastic Closure

Hardcover 

October 18, 2016


  • Age Range: 8 and up 
  • Hardcover: 1408 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Csm Jou edition
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310758969

The NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition is the perfect way to apply Scripture to your everyday life. Designed with the thoughtful writer in mind, a whimsical cover and journaling lines inspire reflection in God’s Word. This Bible contains the full text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV) translation. 

Features include:
  • Lines on each page for journaling and notes
  • Thick paper perfect for any writing utensil
  • A presentation page for gift giving
  • A “How to Use This Bible” page to get started on the right foot
  • Ribbon marker
  • The complete text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV)

My thoughts:  First, the disclaimer.  "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, This NIV HOLY BIBLE FOR GIRLS, JOURNAL EDITION also comes in pink and a white/mint version. All three colors are lovely and all three of my daughters wanted it. A good friend of mine also said she was looking for a journaling Bible and she loved this one when she saw it.  So perfect for girls, teens, tweens, and adults who want a journaling Bible. My husband, a pastor, also expressed interest in a journaling Bible so he is looking to see what is available for men. 

The includes the complete text in the NIV. The journaling part is in the margins, and my teen daughter has declared it "Genius!" and 'So cool!" and says she will be taking it to camp and church to take notes. It would save taking a notebook.  Judging by my family's reaction, this Bible is a MUST HAVE. 


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Can I Really Know Jesus? / Has Anyone Ever Seen God?

CAN I REALLY KNOW JESUS:  101 QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS, SALVATION, AND PRAYER
Carolyn Larsen
Amylee Weeks, Illustrator
ISBN 978-1-4964-1175-4
Religion / Christian Life / Inspirational
Tyndale Momentum
106 pages, hardcover w/ ribbon marker
$9.99 U.S.

First, the disclaimer.  "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done: Written in short, warm devotional style, CAN I REALLY KNOW JESUS (the title I will use throughout this review for the sake of brevity!) poses a question that may be on the mind of a skeptic, a brand-new believer, or perhaps an older saint who may need to re-visit a few “wells” along the way.  We are never going to get to the place where we “know it all.”  Why do you think heaven is for all eternity?

This hard-cover book is also delightfully illustrated throughout, has a ribbon marker to keep your place, and is small enough to fit into a purse or journal keeper, making it readily accessible. 

But don’t let the appearances fool you.  The questions have a way of sticking in your mind.  You might find yourself digging more into the Bible, and (gasp!) possibly growing in your faith because of the seed-thoughts that have been planted by this wonderful little book.  I know this from first-hand experience, and these books are in my “primary collection” of sermon resources, for that very reason.


5 stars for a fresh jump-start to a stalled faith 

************************************************


HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD?  101 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT GOD, THE WORLD, AND THE BIBLE
Carolyn Larsen
Amylee Weeks, illustrator
ISBN 978-1-4964-1174-7
Religion / Christian Life / Inspirational
Tyndale Momentum
106 pages, hardcover w/ ribbon marker
$9.99 U.S.

First, the disclaimer.  "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done: Written in short, warm devotional style, HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD (the title I will use throughout this review for the sake of brevity!) poses a question that may be on the mind of a skeptic, a brand-new believer, or perhaps an older saint who may need to re-visit a few “wells” along the way.  The author then provides a teaser.  It’s not a complete answer, because we are never going to get to the place where we “know it all,” anyhow.  Why do you think heaven is for all eternity?  Then there is a Bible passage for further consideration, tied to the discussion.

For that’s where it’s supposed to lead . . . a discussion.  I can readily see random strangers commenting on “that cute book” that you’re reading in the doctor’s office waiting room, in the park as your kids enjoy the playground, on that red-eye flight where no one seems to be sleeping anyhow.  And when that remark from the complete stranger lands on your side of the court . . . duh!  That’s God kicking doors in for you to tell others about him!  Go for it!

This hard-cover book is also delightfully illustrated throughout, has a ribbon marker to keep your place, and is small enough to fit into a purse or journal keeper, making it readily accessible. 

But don’t let the appearances fool you.  The questions have a way of sticking in your mind.  You might find yourself digging more into the Bible, and (gasp!) possibly growing in your faith because of the seed-thoughts that have been planted by this wonderful little book.  I know this from first-hand experience, and these books are in my “primary collection” of sermon resources, for that very reason.

5 stars for a fresh jump-start to a stalled faith



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood


by Sarah Humphrey   

Devotional/Mother
Abingdon Press

Wouldn't it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions
---an easy recipe we could follow?

Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children.

In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:

* Self-acceptance
* Self-care
* Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations
* Generosity
* Presence
* Forgiveness

In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

My thoughts: First, the disclaimer.  "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, 40 DAYS TO A JOYFUL MOTHERHOOD is a coloring book devotional. To be honest, I'm not sure how you are supposed to be able to work with these. I can't color and read at the same time, but maybe you color while you pray, or color while you think about the short devotion you read. 

This includes a verse, a short devotion relating to motherhood, childbirth, expectations, healing, and more, then a short prayer. There are also a few pages for you to write on, recording your blessings, etc, and a few random "articles" related to motherhood, taking time for oneself, etc. that are not tied into devotions or days. 

This might be good for a new mom or as a shower gift for a mom-to-be. 


Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dPEdIC

 Meet the Author

Often considered a dreamer and silly heart, Sarah Humphrey uses inspiration from her most beloved career, motherhood, to fuel her passion for writing, creative movement and teaching. She has and is authoring several books and children's books. Sarah currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and three beautiful, bouncy kids.




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Monday, October 24, 2016

A Sister's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas




to enter the giveaway: https://promosimple.com/ps/a725


Book info
About the book: 

A Sister's Wish (Avon Inspire, September 2016)

In Shelley Shepard Gray's third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman---at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she's also harboring a secret: She's been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he's about as far from "perfect" as an Amish man could get . . . but that's exactly why she's so drawn to him.

Life hasn't been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he's determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past . . . unless it pertains to Amelia.

He's loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas---who just happens to be Simon's best friend---has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he's the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together---and face their past mistakes. There's a chance for love . . . but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2e2XBTQ

My thoughts: First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, A SISTER'S WISH is the third book in The Charmed Amish Life series, but it easily stands alone. Fans will want to read the first two books (A Son's Vow and A Daughter's Dream) to catch up on the first two romances in the series.

There are some inconsistencies in this book where things were contradicted, but I know sometimes authors and editors don't get everything right and sometimes things are changed by the editor and the author doesn't catch it, so I tried not to let the inconsistencies draw me out of the story. 

I enjoyed getting to know Amelia and Simon, but Lukas and Rebecca made me dislike them through much of this book. They were unkind to both Amelia and Simon, and if I were Simon I wouldn't call Lukas my best friend after the way he treated him. 

This was a quick read, easily read in an evening and hard to put down.  I enjoy Ms. Gray's books greatly and am looking forward to reading the one below (next so it will be in this blog post.) Recommended for fans of Amish fiction or sweet romances. This is next to no faith message, but Ms. Gray states why in her author letter at the end so those who shy away from Christian romances should have no issues with this book. 


About the book: 

An Amish Family Christmas (Avon Inspire, October 2016)

In Shelley Shepard Gray's fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles---and love.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can't help having doubts. There's something about Julia that doesn't ring quite true . . .

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships---but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she's hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually . . . perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together . . . in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

My thoughts: First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, I'm not even really sure what to say about this one. Levi is about the sweetest male character, and Lukas and Rebecca were much nicer in this book. There are also other characters from the previous book (Tess and the police officer, among others) who make appearances. 

Julia was an abused girlfriend, I'm tempted to write wife, because she lied about being a widow in the book, so that is cemented in my mind. She had a child out of wedlock and in an effort to protect her child, she ran. Understandable. She was hesitant to trust anybody, also understandable, and as a result, kept me distant as a reader. Also as a result, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I have the others in this series. There really wasn't much in it Christmassy either, that was kind of tossed in there as an after thought. 

Not Ms. Gray's best book, but not bad either. This was the 4th book in The Charmed Amish Life series, but it does stand alone.  The other books are: A Son's Vow, A Daughter's Dream, A Daughter's Wish, and this one AN AMISH  FAMILY CHRISTMAS. 

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dYRwqr

About the author:



Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.


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Landing page:
note: this is the landing page for both books.

The Source of Confidence by Heidi Dru Kortman

Text: Philippians 3:3ff. “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who...