Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Believe Storybook

Believe Storybook: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus
Edited by Randy Frazee, with Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton. Illustrated by Steve Adams
Zonderkidz, 2015
English, 256 pgs

Presented by bestselling author and pastor Randy Frazee, the Believe Storybook shows children how they can think, act, and be more like Jesus. With 60 old and new testament stories from the Bible that showcase the themes, combined with captivating and dramatic illustrations by Steve Adams, children and adults alike will be inspired to become more like their savior and the person they were meant to be.

The Believe Storybook is part of the national church-wide program led by bestselling author Randy Frazee that shows children how they can think, act, and be more like Jesus.

About the Authors
Randy Frazee is the senior minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. Oak Hills is one of the largest churches in America, where Randy teaches and leads in partnership with pastor and author Max Lucado. An emerging leader and innovator in spiritual formation and biblical community, Randy is the architect of The Story church engagement campaign. He is the author of The Heart of The Story, The Connecting Church 2.0, The Christian Life Profile Assessment, and coauthored Real Simplicity with his wife Rozanne.

This is a very well written story book for children. There are 30 chapters. We read one per day. Each chapter has an Old Testament story, a "Jump to Jesus", a New Testament story and questions/thoughts about the story.

The stories range from Adam and Eve to Zaccheus. Each chapter has a theme that ties the stories together. The include God, Salvation, Humanity, Eternity, Joy, Love and Sharing My Faith. The stories are short and very kid friendly. There isn't anything in it that needed extra explanation for my 5 year old, but it wasn't too easy for my 8 year old either. It's very well done.

Each chapter starts with a Key Question which is answered through the stories. I looked at the question earlier in the day (we read the stories at bedtime) and would ask them throughout the day either the key question or one very similar. That got them thinking about the question more than just as we read the stories. I also tried to ask them what the previous story was about. Most of the time they could remember but they weren't always able to remember the wording of the key ideas.

It's a good book. I don't have any other Believe books from the series but this is so well done I'm considering looking for more.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this site and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review: Bedtime Devotions with Jesus

Bedtime Devotions with Jesus
Thomas Nelson, 2015
English, 336 pgs

Trustworthy devotional moms and dads can use to make bedtime family time, faith time.

After the busyness of the day is done, before your child nods off to sleep, snuggle up to read God's Word and daily reminders about how much He loves and takes care of us. Bedtime Devotions with Jesus is a collection of prayers and devotions written by pastors, pastor's wives, children's ministers, and other church leaders. In this book are valuable lessons on such topics as thankfulness, obedience, trusting God, being kind, loving others, and many more. God's Word comes alive using simple language, and the devotions are featured with delightful illustrations of teddy bears. This book will teach children ages 4-8 the value and joy of spending time with God every day.

Each devotional includes a scripture, a brief devotional reading, a prayer, and a meaningful takeaway that helps children build a strong foundation of faith. This is the first children's book in the hugely popular MyDaily™ Devotional line. Devotionals for adults in the MyDaily series have sold more than 173,000 copies.

About the Author
Dr. Johnny Hunt is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia. He is a sought after speaker who holds conferences each year for men, senior adults, and youth. He is the president of Timothy Barnabas Ministry designed to encourage pastors and their wives. Devotionals by Johnny Hunt include The One Year Devotional Prayer Book, The One Year Devotional Prayer Book Vol. 2, Pathway to Discipleship, and Walk Through the Word.

This is a super sweet, easy to read and easy to understand devotional book for children. It covers one year of nightly readings. The chapters are each written by a different person, but they're edited well so as to be a cohesive grouping.

The chapters cover things like forgiveness, being part of God's family and the gift we have in Jesus. Each day is only one page, with just a few paragraphs. It begins with a scripture and always has a short saying for the child to remember and take away from the reading.

There are cute teddy bear drawings throughout the book and the included ribbon helps the parent to find their spot each night.

I can see this as a gift for either a new believer and their family or a baby.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review on this blog and a commercial book selling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Women Are Scary

Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends

By Melanie Dale
Zondervan, 2015
English, 240 pgs

A popular blogger offers solid advice to forming mom relationships, leading readers from acquaintances to lifelong friends.

Too many women are frazzled and lonely, isolated in their minivans while schlepping bags, strollers, and munchkins to and fro across town. It doesn’t have to be this way.

In this hilarious yet thought-provoking guide to “momlationships,” blogger Melanie Dale uses a dating analogy to help women get more intentional about bonding with each other.

“We are better together,” she writes. “We make each other better moms, better humans. We need each other, because mothering is just too darn hard.”

Using humor and stories from the trenches of motherhood, Women are Scary leads readers from acquaintances to lifelong friends.

“This is our journey to each other,” Melanie continues, “to finding our people and being other people’s people, learning how to bless each other and not destroy each other.”

I cannot tell you how much I have needed this book! I'm a pastor's wife and sometimes it's really hard to make good friends. There are women who want to get close to the pastor's family just to get "dirt" on them. There are women who only want to tell me how to run my family and raise my kids. It's really hard to find women who just want to be my friend. Who just want to get to know me and go clothes shopping. Who want to laugh with me instead of at me.

I love this book. I love the humor in it. I think the author and I could be wonderful friends! One quote from Doctor Who and I knew she was "my kind of person". 

This book has been particularly useful to me as we've just moved to a new church and a new city. I'm meeting new people. I get to decide who I am and present myself, with no apologies, and they can either accept me or not. I'm learning not to get myself too tied up in others opinions and expectations.

But more than that, I'm learning how to enjoy being around other women. No kid stories necessary.  There are some awkward moments, but I'm learning how to minimize that and how to move into meaningful relationships.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Book Review: After a Fashion

After a Fashion
By Jen Turano
Bethany House, 2015
English, 352 pgs

Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can't make her fashionable. She'll never truly fit into Oliver's world, but just as she's ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

 I greatly enjoy Jen Turano's books. I have read many of them over the past few years and have enjoyed them all. Like most romance-y novels out there, there isn't anything surprising with the main characters. I like the reveals that occur regarding their pasts and their insecurities. I like the supporting characters and am looking forward to the next novels in the series which I'm certain will be as entertaining as this one.

 Harriet has a very interesting past and it has helped shape her into a strong woman who knows what she wants and what she believes. It was hard to read that a Christian character would lie and concoct a story to the magnitude that she does with Oliver, but I can also see that she did it with a pure heart and a real desire to make things better for her future. Doesn't make lying right, but it doesn't make the character evil, either.

I received a copy of the book from Bethany House for the purpose of this review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: Berenstain Bears Country Cookbook

The Berenstain Bears Country Cookbook
By Mike Berenstain
Zonderkidz, 2015
English, 96 pgs

It’s The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook! Bear lovers everywhere are sure to find favorite recipes for fun food in this new kid-friendly, cookbook—ranging from Bear favorites that use honey and berries to delicious main meals and breakfasts, and even Berenstain favorites like Jan Berenstain’s famous Green Lasagna.

Featuring breakfast, lunch, main meal, and dessert recipes as well as kid-friendly cooking tips such as food and measurement conversions, this is sure to become a go-to cookbook for delicious and fun recipes kids can cook with an adult.

About the Author
Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents, Stan and Jan, working together to write and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too.

I love the bears and Bear Country and all the cute stories that the Berenstain family has produced over the years. I really love this cookbook too. My kids are at the age where they're wanting not only more say in what we eat, but more responsibility in the kitchen. From the moment we started looking at this book when it came in, they've been excited about the recipes in it!

Each section starts with a cute little story and the recipes are really kid-friendly and adaptable for those with dietary concerns. The recipes are easy to follow and most don't have a huge ingredient list. They're not extremely complex and there isn't really anything new and ground breaking, but presenting them as something the Bears eat has my kids interested in at least trying something different.

I received a copy of the book from Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of this review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review: Motivate Your Child

Motivate Your Child
By Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN
Thomas Nelson, 2015
English, 288 pgs

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN, teach parents how to help children form the internal strength they'll need every day as they grow older.

Parents have the greatest influence on their children's character. Mom or Dad's words, choices, actions, and reactions mold a child's view of almost everything. It can be a terrifying thought. But there is hope.

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanna Miller have spent years helping parents cultivate a healthy conscience and a vibrant faith in their kids. Motivate Your Child is a straightforward guide to doing this at home.

Every chapter includes practical examples of families applying the Bible to their current issues, such as backtalking or being mean to siblings. From the "Integrity Package" to the "The Family Challenge," they offer words to say, plans to implement, and ideas for working it out day by day.
With God's help, it is possible to train and direct a child's internal motivation-motivation that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

About the Authors:
Scott Turansky has been a pastor and missionary for more than 33 years and is an author of several books. In addition to pastoring full time, Scott also conducts parenting seminars on Saturdays around the United States (http://www.effectiveparenting.org/). He is the cofounder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting (www.biblicalparenting.org) and has co-authored four books.

Joanne Miller is a pediatric nurse with 26 years of experience and the cofounder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting. She is the coauthor of seven parenting books.

The concept of this book is amazing. I spent a long time working through the book, looking for ways to help our family end our craziness. Some things worked immediately and some are still in process. Some fell completely flat and seemed to make the craziness worse.

I wish there was more in the book about how to implement tactics and theories. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence and while that can give clues about how to make these practices work, there isn't really a lot about day to day choices and actions.

I find no fault with anything they're saying in the book. It emphasizes that it's necessary to cultivate a conscience in your children to get them internally motivated to do the things they need to do every day. Through moral and spiritual development, your child can be a productive member of society. It's just hard to figure out how to do this. My husband and I are re-reading it to see if I missed something in the practical application and to have a united front for the strategies.

 I received a free copy of the book in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Daniel Cure: The Daniel Fast Way to Vibrant Health
By Susan Gregory and Richard J. Bloomer 
Zondervan, 2013
English, 336 pgs

One of the most popular fasts in recent years has been the Daniel Fast, a 21-day period of prayer and fasting based on the Old Testament prophet's fasts recorded in Daniel 1 and Daniel 10.

The Daniel Fast is a partial fast, in which certain foods are restricted and others are consumed. This fast is similar to a 'purified' vegan diet; in addition to the exclusion of all animal products, no additives, preservatives, sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, white flour, or processed foods are allowed.

With the Daniel Fast people can eat as much Daniel-Fast-friendly food as they would like. Though most people begin the Daniel Fast for a spiritual purpose, many are amazed by the physical transformation that takes place. Many with high cholesterol experience a drop to healthy levels; people who have wrestled with weight issues are suddenly able to lose the pounds. The vast majority of participants following the Daniel Fast report a general sense of well-being and increased energy.

Recent published scientific studies of the Daniel Fast have confirmed these findings, with additional benefits, such as a reduction in systemic inflammation, a reduction in blood pressure, and an improvement in antioxidant defenses.

The Daniel Cure will help readers take the next step by focusing on the health benefits of the Daniel Fast. By following the advice in this book, readers will convert the Daniel Fast from a once-a-year spiritual discipline into a new way of life that can begin any time of the year. In a nation suffering an epidemic of obesity and its resulting ills, The Daniel Cure may be just what the Great Physician ordered.

The Daniel Cure includes a 21-Day Daniel Cure Devotional, four chapters detailing the lifestyle diseases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation, eleven chapters of recipes and meal planning advice, a recipe index, complete nutritional guidance, and an appendix detailing 'The Science behind the Daniel Fast.'

This is a very descriptive book. It tells you a lot about the science behind the diet/fast. It is by no means an easy diet or lifestyle to adopt. It is something that should be undertaken after careful study, consideration and a discussion with your doctor about whether or not you can do this.

There are chapters and chapters about the science that is described in the book description. I appreciate that the authors make every effort to inform your decision. 

 The 21 day devotional and the recipes are the part that I really was interested in with this book. They're excellent. You get more than just a basic salad, shake or soup with these recipes. Of course, the authors also give a lot of help with meal planning and that will really help you stay on the diet. 

This is something that my husband and I have been interested in for a while and we're working toward being able to do the fast. We're weaning ourselves off caffeine and processed foods. The author is very careful to tell you not to just start this on one day. You have to rid yourself of the toxins from the junk in our foods and it is not an easy process. 

If you're looking for a good solid reference about the diet this is your book. You can always find more recipes online if you're not interested in the ones in the book.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review: Stealing From God

Stealing From God
By Frank Turek
NavPress, 2014
English, 304 pgs

If you think atheists have reason, evidence, and science on their side, think again! Award-winning author Dr. Frank Turek (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist) will show you how atheists steal reason, evidence, science, and other arguments from God in trying to make their case for atheism. If that sounds contradictory, it’s because it is! Atheists can’t make their case without appealing to realities only theism can explain. In an engaging and memorable way, Stealing from God exposes these intellectual crimes atheists are committing and then provides four powerful reasons for why Christianity is true.

Frank Turek makes a salient case in Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God To Make Their Case that the atheist worldview unintentionally relies on theistic foundations from which it derives its order. Turek cleverly alliterates the theme of theft by assigning each of the six major chapters as C.R.I.M.E.S. – C-Causality, R-Reason, I-Information & Intentionality, M-Morality, E-Evil, and S-Science.

Each of these chapters takes apart the prevailing atheistic positions on the listed subjects and displays a clear logic that undermines the positions. The logic and discussion in each chapter is clear and presented in an easy-to-understand language. Turek’s obvious intention is to make his conclusion that God exists readily understood by virtually any reader. There is no slight-of-hand or logical obfuscation occurring here.

In particular, the fifth and sixth chapter’s tackling the subjects of “evil” and “science” are timely responses to “new” positions promoted by the most famous authors from the “New Atheist” movement, such as Dr. Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. Specifically, the discussion of perspective on understanding evil and the possibility of good coming from it are important. The recognition of the limit of human understanding in deference to God is clearly written and logically defended. As Turek surmises, “…evil turns out to be an even bigger problem for atheism. Christianity has a reasonable explanation for evil and a solution to it. Atheism has neither.”

The audience for this book is wide – individual readers will find a solidly presented apologetic on a number of current topics, groups will find ample fodder for discussion and learning. Likewise, pastors and other leaders who are regularly confronted with opposing viewpoints will find this book an excellent primer on Christian apologetics.

Turek holds an earned doctorate in Christian Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary and has authored or co-authored three other books: I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, Correct, Not Politically Correct and Legislating Morality.  He hosts the weekly television programs I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist and CrossExamined With Frank Turek.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of a review on this site and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: Esther: Royal Beauty

Esther: Royal Beauty
By Angela Hunt
Bethany House, 2015
English, 352 pgs

When an ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews, an inexperienced young queen must take a stand for her people.

When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king's heart and a queen's crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king's permission to exterminate all Jews--young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people...and bind her husband's heart.

I really enjoyed this novelization of the story of Esther. The story is told from a rotating point of view, between Esther and Harbonah (the king's eunich), which is unique to any other stories I've read about Esther. The eunich's point of view serves to help us understand the king and his motivation better and to tell a lot of the historical background of the story.

I was extremely impressed with how well researched the book is. I can't recall another fiction book lately that has had footnotes at the end. There are parts that the author admits she had to "fill in" and fictionalize but they are consistent with the story and the Biblical account of Esther.

I love how personal it got with her and the king's children and how she was torn about her love for the king, since he was of a different faith.  I found it really hard to put down and have already recommended it to other women I know in the church!

I received a copy of the book from Bethany House for the purpose of a review on this blog and a commercial bookselling website. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: The Daniel Fast

The Ultimate Guide to The Daniel Fast
By Kristen Feola
Zondervan, 2010
English, 224 pages

The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast is an inspiring resource for Christians who want to pursue a more intimate relationship with God through the 21-day commitment to prayer and fasting known as the Daniel Fast. As you deny yourself certain foods - such as sugars, processed ingredients, and solid fats - you will not only embrace healthier eating habits, you’ll also discover a greater awareness of God’s presence. Author Kristen Feola explains the Daniel Fast in easy-to-understand language, provides 21 thought-provoking devotionals for each day of the fast, and shares more than 100 tasty, easy-to-make recipes that follow fasting guidelines. In a conversational style, Feola helps you structure the fast so you can spend less time thinking about what to eat and more time focusing on God.

You will also discover that “to fast” means “to feast” on the only thing that truly nourishes? God’s powerful Word. For more info, please visit www.ultimatedanielfast.com.

This is a simple to read and use quick start for a Daniel Fast. It's based on the book of Daniel in the Bible where Daniel refuses to eat the rich food at the Babylonian court. He asks to be tested on a simple diet and ends up healthier than the others who were eating all the delicacies and rich foods.

The book describes fasting and why it's important and how to prepare before the fast begins. It also gives you 21 days of devotions and a lot of recipes to get through the three week fast. The fast is intended to be a start to a healthier diet and lifestyle. It gives you a nice list of foods to eat and foods to avoid. (It's going to be hard to give up caffeine/coffee...) Really though, the list isn't bad. It's getting all the junk out of our diets that I'm not entirely sure we're supposed to be eating anyway. Sugars, refined carbs, dairy, meat, bread and artificial sweeteners...it's a heavy list but the point is well made that it's 21 days to make your body healthier.

The recipes and meal plans are really easy and I'm looking forward to trying them as we start our 21 day fast. We're still in the planning and preparing phase but we're looking forward to the changes it will make in our bodies and diets.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on my blog and a commercial bookselling website. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. This is not intended in ANY WAY as medical advice.