Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review: Can You Believe It?

Can You Believe It: 31 More Stories and Devotions to Start Your Day
By Joseph Akins
Self Published, 2014
English, 108 pgs
Available online at:

Can You Believe It? is the second in a series of books containing short stories and devotions that have a definite homespun flavor. If you enjoyed Joy Comes In The Morning, make sure to order the next installment, Can You Believe It?.

About the Author:
Born and raised in South Georgia, Joseph has never strayed far from his southern roots.  More importantly, raised in a Christian home, he has also clung to the spiritual roots which are the foundation of his Christian faith.  The child of a WWII veteran and his Italian "war bride", Joseph draws many of his stories from an eclectic cultural background and happy childhood on the family farm.  Having worked in conventional ministry, lay ministry, and numerous sales positions, he has developed a wide base of  experiences which give him his "unusual" viewpoints on everyday life. 
Joseph is a husband, father, writer, teacher, and poor man's comedian.  He and his wife, Wendy, have a blended family of four children and one dog.  They reside in Statesboro, GA.

This is a 31 day devotion book. Each chapter is fairly short and easy to read in one sitting. The topics covered include "pet" sins, why we should believe the things God tells us, storms in our path and missing the mark in our life.

The devotions are written with a lot of heart and humor. I particularly enjoyed the stories from the author's life. From flea ridden puppies to refinishing a table, I can only imagine what kind of trouble he gets himself into on occasion. (Don't we all though?)

But beyond the humor, the application and use of the Bible is spot on. I did not find anything that I did not understand nor did I find anything that I disagreed with in interpretation.

This would be a good book for gifting as well as reading during your morning/evening prayer time.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. This reviewer has personal connection to a member of the author's family, but that connection did not affect the review in any way. All opinions, as stated, are my own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: NIV Zondervan Study Bible

NIV Zondervan Study Bible Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
By General Editor D.A. Carson
Published by Zondervan, 2015

English, 2912 pgs

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is a founding member of the Gospel Coalition.


The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. An ambitious and comprehensive undertaking, Dr. Carson, with committee members Dr. T. Desmond Alexander, Dr. Richard S. Hess, Dr. Douglas J. Moo, and Dr. Andrew David Naselli, along with a team of over 60 contributors from a wide range of evangelical denominations and perspectives, crafted all-new study notes and other study tools to present a biblical theology of God's special revelation in the Scriptures. To further aid the readers' understanding of the Bible, also included are full-color maps, charts, photos and diagrams. In addition, a single-column setting of the Bible text provides maximum readability.

The accessible and fresh interior design will capture your attention and enhance your study experience. Along with your purchase, you'll also receive free electronic access to the NIV Zondervan Study Bible.

Features include:
  • Over 60 scholarly contributors 
  • Over 1.2 million words of new content 
  • Over 3,000 pages packed with in-depth study tools 
  • Nearly 20,000 all-new, comprehensive verse-by-verse study notes 
  • Customized, theologically rich, illustrated book introductions 
  • 6 section introductions to literary genres ("The Pentateuch," "The Historical Books," etc.) 
  • Full-color interior with extensive use of over 60 colorful charts, over 90 maps, and hundreds of photos 
  • Comprehensive library of over 30 articles by award-winning scholars on topics such as "The Bible and Theology," "The Glory of God," "Covenant," "Love and Grace," and more 
  • Cross-reference system 
  • Complete text of the New International Version 
  • Concordance with over 35,000 Scripture references 
  • Free electronic access to the study Bible

This is not a small Bible. This is a heavy, massive, well done Bible. The editor has clearly worked hard compiling the information, pictures and then putting it together in a very usable format. I don't think I've ever seen this many maps in a Bible. There is one in almost every book. If there isn't a map, there is probably a chart or illustration. Seriously, there is nothing left to wonder about in this Bible. It has notes at the bottom of the page to help explain the verses. Every book has introduction pages which help the reader to know things like author, date, audience and structure of the book. The section introductions help put the related books into context with each other.

At the back are articles that are not long but will help you in your understanding of the scriptures. Bear in mind though, while these are well researched and written and the authors are "award-winning scholars" they are not God and their words are not part of the canon of the Bible. They are opinions based on their experience and research.

The best part about the Word of God is that it's alive. It will speak to you when you spend time in reading and study. It will comfort you, encourage you, teach you. If you listen to the Holy Spirit while you're reading and really spend the time to get into the words you'll find that you can understand more of it than you might think you can.

The access to the free digital version is quite handy as well for portability reasons. An iPad is much lighter than this huge book.

The only criticism I have is with parts of the translation itself. The "new" NIV translation changes a few things from the 1984 version that really make a difference in the translation. For instance, the difference in Hebrews 12:2, which now says "the the pioneer and perfecter of faith" instead of "the author and perfecter of our faith" makes a difference. Author and pioneer are very different in meaning. Even the Holman translation of "source and perfecter" is much better. Basically the difference, in my very humble and not award-winning opinion, is that author or source tell me that the faith originates there, with Jesus. A pioneer is someone who goes out and explores or charts new territory. And while Jesus has charted a new territory for our faith, it began with Him. There was nothing He had to go out and find.

Anyway, if you're looking for a deeper study Bible, this is a great one. If you're needing a portable Bible for going to church or something, the digital version of this is great, but the paper one will build your biceps.

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. All opinions, as stated, are my own.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review: Believe, Kids Edition

Believe, Kids' Edition
Randy Frazee, General Editor
Zonderkidz, 2015
English, 224 pgs

Written for kids 8-12, Believe: Kid’s Edition is part of the national church-wide campaign led by bestselling author Randy Frazee that takes kids on a journey to become more like Jesus in their beliefs, actions, and character.

They know the story of the Bible, but do they know what it means? Adapted from the ground-breaking new Believe campaign from bestselling author and pastor Randy Frazee, the Believe: Kids’ Edition takes kids on a thematic tour through the Bible and shows them how to think, act, and be more like Jesus.

As children ages 8-12 walk through the three big categories of Christian life—beliefs, practices, and virtues—they’ll begin a journey that will take them closer to the heart of Jesus and deeper into the words of Scripture. They’ll learn what the Bible has to say about everything from the nature of God and the identity of Jesus, to prayer, worship, and the fruit of the Spirit. Foundational and faith-building, this book can be used by individuals or in conjunction with the all-church campaign.



Oh, I need to say more? Well, this is an excellent book. It is written in a meaningful and understandable way for this age group. It is arranged into three sections: think, act and be. It tells stories from the Bible and uses scripture memorization as well as asking questions for reflection and comprehension.

I have an 8 year old who has already made a profession of faith but who has had a hard time understanding "what now?" He is a proficient reader so I got this for him to work through. He has been reading it and asking us questions as he has them. The majority of the chapter is scripture but they have thoughts and ideas for kids to learn what the scripture means.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Everything I've seen from the Believe line of books has been outstanding.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest 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.

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 ( He is the cofounder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting ( 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.