Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn

"I don't think I had ever felt I had been shown grace before.  Now I knew grace was being extended to me.  What made it different this time was that I was ready to reach out and take hold of the grace being offered."-Jenna in Sisterchicks in Gondolas

This is my second time reading this book.  I am not sure if I have ever read one of the books in the Sisterchicks series more than once, but I am so glad I chose to do it with this one.  Sisterchicks in Gondolas is another in the Sisterchicks series by author Robin Jones Gunn.  This particular novel is set in Venice, Italy and is the story of Jenna and her sister-in-law Sue and the adventures of God's grace they experience while on a trip to Italy.  Given the opportunity to work as chefs for a men's retreat, the ladies experience the riches of Venice while experiences some of the riches God has in Him.

I alway love reading the Sisterchicks novels.  I have read them all but one, and they always bless me.  I come away feeling refreshed, just like I had been on the adventure with them.  The novels feel like the breath of God warming the soul.  Author Robin Jones Gunn is one of those writers that God has so blessed with the ability to be able to convey His presence, love, and empowering grace in the form of fiction. 

I recommend Sisterchicks in Gondolas to all women who want to be refreshed by the presence of God and go on an adventure.  This book reinforces the importance of the bonds between women and the beauty of how God works in friendships.  You will be blessed each time you pick up a novel in the Sisterchicks series. 

Many blesses to you as you read!


"He restores my soul."-Psalm 23:3

To read an excerpt from the novel, please go here.

To learn more about Robin Jones Gunn, please go here.

Disclosure Statement:  I received this book free of charge as part of a free books for bloggers program from Waterbrook Multnomah.  I was not required to give a favorable review.  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Monday, December 24, 2012

When Your Parent Becomes Your Child by Ken Abraham

"Each evening, as the music moved from upbeat, joyful jubilation to a slower, more deliberate worshipful mood, I watched Mom out of the corner of my eye.  Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, she tilted her head back, closed her eyes, and raised her hands above her head as expressions of praise and adoration of the Lord.  She often did something similar during our Sunday services.  As I observed my mom worshipping God so unabashedly, I thought, It's worth moving her here just to see that."
-Excerpt from Chapter 12, "The Spiritual Matters," in When Your Parent Becomes Your Child

When Your Parent Becomes Your Child is a memoir written by Ken Abraham about the last years of his mother's life.  His mom, Minnie, developed dementia later on in her life.  This book is the story of how he spent the last years with his mom.  Readers who choose this book will learn about a very spiritual woman and how the dementia affected every area of her life.  There is a lot of information about the disease and wisdom from a very caring son on how to address situations when caring for a parent who is suffering from dementia.

It only took me two days to read this book.  I couldn't put it down.  It is very well written, albeit sad.  As a daughter of aging parents, this book provided some answers I had questions to about how to handle possible situations with mine and my husband's parents.  I admire the family's love for their aging mother and the efforts they made to make sure the last years of her life were full of joy and comfort.

I would recommend this book to people with aging parents.  Even if you don't have a parent who is experiencing dementia, your parents will age and this book might offer some insight on how to approach and handle certain situations.  If you have a parent with dementia, this book can also bring some comfort and wisdom to you.

One of the best things about the book was the fact that Mrs. Abraham's relationship with Jesus was at the very core of who she was.  It radiated out into everything she did.  I love that and that she passed that love of the Lord onto her children.  What a testimony!

To read an excerpt from the book, please go here.

Disclosure statement:  This book was provided to me free as part of a free books for Bloggers program at Booksneeze.  I was not required to give a favorable review.  The thoughts and opinions here are entirely my own.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life by Bob Welch

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"
-Clarence in "It's a Wonderful Life"
As I began writing my review, I kept finding myself reviewing the movie.  That is kind of what 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life does.  It takes the richest parts of the movie and expounds on them.  Author Bob Welch has taken 52 messages that can be found in the movie, "It's A Wonderful Life," and written a book that reads kind of like a devotional.

Each chapter of the book begins with the "lesson" the author is going to discuss, followed by a quote from the movie.  Each lesson is something that can be learned by watching the movie.  Examples of chapter titles are, "God Honors Our 'Childlike Faith',"  "You Matter to the World, "  "All That Glitters Is Not Gold," and "It Takes Time for Some Flowers to Bloom."  The author expounds on each of the messages interjecting more information from the movie, occasionally adding scripture to demonstrate the importance and applicability of the message he is trying to convey.

I really liked the book.  It is an easy read.  It will make more sense and mean more to someone who has already seen the movie, and is a fan.  There are many lessons that would be especially impactful to people who are Believers in Jesus.  The movie itself is about the impact that one life has on so many, a sentiment thoroughly personified in the Bible. 

The author has also included a lot of trivia about the movie.  I learned many things I didn't know before about "It's a Wonderful Life."  I am a huge fan of the movie.  I have a tradition of watching it on Thanksgiving every year as part of the holiday celebration and to transition between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  One thing in the book I think could be revised was that the author was under the impression that Zuzu's petals were from a paper flower.  I am still researching this but from the way it looks in the movie, and the fact the flower was put in water, I believe it was real.  That is a part I would recommend for edit. 

If you are a fan of this movie, you will enjoy this book.  I would recommend the book to anybody who likes the movie and would like to learn more about it or delve further into the richness of the story.  It would also make a nice Christmas gift. 

My prayer for you today is that you realize the importance of your life and that God has many good plans for you.  God Bless you as we move into this season of celebrating the birth of Jesus!  Merry Christmas!!
*Disclosure statement:  I received this book from Booksneeze as part of a free books for bloggers program.  I was not required to give a favorable review.  The thoughts and opinions found here are entirely my own.

Friday, July 27, 2012

This Scarlet Cord

"I think He has a plan for you, Rahab.  He put you into the hands of the slavers and He put you into the hands of someone who could teach you the truth about Him.  Now He has saved you from the dissolute rites of a false god.  You are important to Him, Rahab.  You must just wait and see what it is He wants you to do.  Wait and listen."
-excerpt from This Scarlet Cord

I think we all have images in our minds of what the Biblical accounts we have read are supposed to look like.  This one was no exception for me.  The story of Rahab is not one that I have read a lot, but I am familiar with it and where she fits into God’s story.  This Scarlet Cord is the fictional account of the story of Rahab by author Joan Wolf.

In her notes to the reader at the end  of the book, Joan Wolf states that she has take the story of a Rahab which, in the Bible, equals about 5 paragraphs, and lengthened it into a book of about 85,000 words.  That is not an easy thing to do, I am sure.  After reading Wolf’s last novel about Queen Esther, A Reluctant Queen, I was very eager to read this one.

The story begins with Rahab as a young girl and ends shortly after the fall of Jericho.  Both the beginning and ending are plausible because the Bible doesn’t really include that information.  There are some areas in the middle that I would consider more fiction than Biblical.   That being said, I am simply going to share some things I liked about the novel, and a few that I didn’t.

I am not a Bible expert.  I am supposed to write a review, so these are my feelings toward the parts of the book I didn’t like.  The story doesn’t follow 100% of the Biblical account of the story of Rahab.  The Bible mentions in several places that she is a harlot, and the author changes that fact, which kind of skews the way  she helps the Israelite spies.  Also, Wolf places Israelites in other cities and not with the rest of the Israelites coming out of Egypt during the Exodus, which is where Sala comes from, and is how he comes to know Rahab before the siege on Jericho.  I find this extremely hard to believe.  I realize this is fiction, but this is one point I had issue with.  It has however pushed me to my Bible to do some further research. 

Another portion of the book that was difficult me to read, was when Rahab’s family comes to Jericho and there is A LOT of explicit discussion about Baal worship and the sexual connotations surrounding their religious rituals.  It is not severe, but I really would rather not read about these things and skimmed over a large portion of this section of the book. 

That being said, there were some things I did like, and I thought the author did a wonderful job weaving into the story.  I liked the love story between Rahab and Sala.  What girl doesn’t like a love story?  It was very sweet and pure and I enjoy reading about how it grew.  I really loved how Wolf revealed the conversion of Rahab to Yahweh as a process in the story.  The Bible doesn’t say anything about that either, but we know it must have happened at some point because she became a part of the Israelite family and her name is in the lineage of Jesus.  That part of the story was a beautiful thing.  The last thing I really liked was how the author rehearsed the Battle of Jericho and how the walls fell down.  I thought she was very creative and descriptive in the development of how the Israelites took the city of Jericho.  It appeared to stick to the Biblical account but was developed in areas where we have no information. 

The last parts of the story was redeeming for the book.  If you enjoy Biblical fiction, this will be an interesting read for you.  I would recommend it for 18+ though because of some of the sexuality found in the book. 

Many blessings as you read and I hope you find Jesus and His story in whatever you read.

*Disclaimer-I received this book free from Booksneeze as part of a free books for bloggers program.  I was not required to give a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions found here are entirely my own.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr

"The king had told Kate, upon her marriage, to choose whichever women she liked to pass the time with her in amusing manners or otherwise accompany her for her leisure.  The queen certainly did so; we played cards and dice and she love to hunt with her greyhounds.  But His Majesty did not realize, I was sure, the extent to which Kate was about more serious business.  Her chambers were oft filled with women who held spirited debates upon philosophy and religion."
-thoughts from Juliana St. John in The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr

Before I began reading The Ladies in Waiting series by author Sandra Byrd, I didn't know much about the Tudors or the Protestant Reformation.  But now, after reading The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr, I am feeling much more informed and educated.

The Secret Keeper-A Novel of Kateryn Parr, rehearses the life of Kateryn (Katherine) Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, during her reign as queen.   Told from the point of view of Juliana St. John, a fictitious character within the realm, we peer into the life of one of England's very influential queens during the time of the Protestant Reformation.

Byrd has done extensive research in the life of this queen and those who were friends and enemies during her time in the royal court.  After reading this novel, I was prompted to do some further research for myself, as I was after reading the first novel in the series, To Die For-A Novel of AnneBoleyn.

As I read the novel and then researched I found out what an integral part the women of the royal family played during the Protestant Reformation.  There were also some divisions within, which created a lot of bloodshed, literally, but it was a real time of growth for the Church.  I imagine this fact and her interest in the Tudor family are what prompted Sandra Byrd to write this book.  I know that there are many other novels out there on the royal family during this time period, but none quite possibly as inspired as this.

Spiritual elements the reader will find within the novel are the gift of the Spirit revealed as by prophecy.  Prophecy, the Word of Knowledge, and the Word of Wisdom are all speaking gifts within the church, given by the Holy Spirit to further God's purposes and plans, as listed in 1 Corinthians 12.  Byrd does a lovely job revealing this in the character of Juliana St. John through dreams given to her, and as the reader will find, to help carry out the plan of God during this time. 

FYI- There are a couple of passages in the novel including a rape scene, and a few passages in reference to risqué teasing of a physical nature with Elizabeth I when she was 14.  They are written in a discreet manner, but you are not left to wonder what happened, and did cause me a pause in my reading for just a bit. 

I enjoyed reading this novel for many reasons.  I like historical fiction.  But The Secret Keeper is a combination of Chick lit (yes girls, there is a lovely romance within the pages), Historical fiction, and Christian fiction, which made it all the more appealing to me. 

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  You will learn about a pivotal time period in Christian history while learning about an amazing queen, who was also a student of the scriptures and a writer herself.  Maybe you will be prompted to do a little further research of your own. Many blessings to you as you travel back in time with The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr.

To learn more about the Tudors and the author of the Ladies in Waiting series, Sandra Byrd, please visit

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher.  I was not required to give a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions here are entirely my own.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey by James Stuart Bell with Anthony P. Dawson

"Let us then according to the Gospel consider this visible world chiefly in this view, as an emblem of things invisible, and a means to lead us by reason and faith to the sight of God our great, our chief good."-from Samuel Johnson in the section "The Gleaming of Divine Brightness"-Heaven, Death, and Immortality

C.S. Lewis.  When I hear that name, immediately my mind goes to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I don't remember reading the novel when I was younger, but I do remember watching the cartoon based on the book as a child.  I remember always crying when Aslan died, no matter how many times I had seen it. As a middle school teacher, I read the book to my students.  You can tell so much about a writer by what he writes about, and by the spirit behind it.  When you read C.S. Lewis' writings, especially the aforementioned book, you see into the heart of a man who seeks to promote Christ. 

From the Library of C.S. Lewis is a  look into the life of the writer.  What did he read?  Who influenced him?  James Bell has put together a list and samples of the writers that influenced  C.S. Lewis.  The book is divided into sections based on different themes in Christianity, with each section containing samples of writing from historical figures that influenced Lewis such as Martin Luther, William Cowper, Samuel Johnson, Andrew Murray, Saint Augustine, and many others.  At the end of the passages there is a little bio about the writer, so you get to know them a little better too.

I like the book because it gives insight into one of the world's most well known writers.  There is information in the book on Christians that I have never heard of before which is very interesting to me.  The reader will also come away with a greater depth of understanding of Christianity in a different time period than their own. 

I recommend the book to anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of the history of Christianity.  I believe fans of C.S. Lewis will be inspired with a greater glimpse into who the man was and what influenced him as a writer and a Christian.  One thing I have taken away from this book, due to some of what I would consider controversial writers in the book, or maybe those considered in Contemporary Christianity to be avoided, is that because you cannot agree with some people on certain subjects or topics, doesn't mean you cannot agree with them on anything.  I think that is really important in the body of Christ right now.
My one criticism about this book, and I realize that this is not the purpose of the book, is that I would have liked to have seen samples of Lewis' as well under each of the sections.  "How Dearly You Have Paid for Me"-The Life and Sacrifice of Christ section as well as many others would have been enhanced by seeing a sample of Lewis' thoughts on the subject alongside those who influenced him.
One final little tidbit of info.  This is not a book to whisk right through.  The writing contained within is through provoking and the language is not contemporary so it requires focus to grasp all the writers are trying to communicate.

Blessings to you as you seek to learn more about one of Christianity's most influential writers!

Disclosure:  I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of a free books for bloggers program.  I was not required to give a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions here are my own.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Reading List Summer 2012

Listed below is my reading list for the summer of 2012.  I am looking forward to spending a lot of time reading (Lord willing on the beach...) Hope you get some ideas from my list.  Check back later because I will be posting a reviews for several of the books on this list! 

 Reading List Summer 2012

The Message//Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language

Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage The War in Iraq & Afghanistan by Jane Hampton Cook, Jocelyn Green & John Croushorn

Circle of Quiet by Madeline L'Engle

Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places by Leeana Tankersley

From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey  by James Stuart Bell

The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Katern Parr  by Sandra Byrd

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn

Stories of Faith & Courage From the Home Front (Battlefields & Blessings) by Karen Whiting & Jocelyn Green 

This Scarlet Cord by Joan Wolf

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

What are you planning to read?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fresh Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson

“And his love pouring over the grounds of our lives wakes us up to a more flavorful, meaningful, rewarding life than we ever could have imagined.”
(excerpt from Chapter 1, Fresh Brewed Life)

This is not a book you can read quickly.  It is meant to be read slowly and on purpose, which is what I did and what I didn’t do.  It took me a while to finish this book.  I began reading it about six months or so ago.  It traveled with me through many transitions.  I would pick it up become very interested, and then have to ponder the contents, so it got put back down again. 

Fantastic book.  Life changing.  Author Nicole Johnson entitled her book Fresh Brewed Life, and that is the goal of the book.  To help you recognize that your life can be full and fresh. To assist you in a transformation from something that might not seem as lovely, to something beautiful, fresh, and full of body.
You will look at yourself inside and out while reading this book.  Literally.  If you don’t want to examine who you are, don’t pick it up.  I know I may sound a little dramatic, but I am serious.  I think that is why I put it down so many times.  It is hard to make changes sometimes.  But when you have the courage to do so, you can be better on the other side.

So what is in the book?  Well, the author shares a lot about her own experiences, which enables her to share with us, better how to have this Fresh Brewed Life.  The fresh brewed part is an analogy reference to coffee, of which you will learn more when you read.  A few different areas you get to examine are your beauty, your anger, your sexuality, and your friendships.  There are lots of great opportunities for journaling also.  One question in the chapter 2 is “What keeps you from living your life?  The author also gives you the reader assignments of “Fresh Brewed Adventures.”  One such assignment is in the chapter about friendships-

Plan an extravagant, expensive, special day with a close friend.  Think of as many fun things as possible to squeeze into one day.  Give your friend a copy of the expensive day you planned; then do something inexpensive and spontaneous together.

I really enjoyed this book. I will admit it was a little painful at times.  It forced me to take a closer look at myself.  It wasn’t about sin.  It was about areas that needed change, or needed to be loved, or just needed to come out into the light, and get some attention.  I will revisit the book and spend some more time with a journal this time around.  I don’t think anybody can read it just once.

I recommend it to any woman who feels like she wants a braver, bolder, fuller life.  If you often ask yourself, “Is this all there is?”, then maybe you are missing something that Fresh Brewed Life can help you discover. 

Many blessings to you as you discover how “Fresh” and beautiful your life in Christ can be!

To learn more about the author you can visit her at Nicole's Fresh Brewed Life.

Disclaimer-I received this book from Booksneeze as part of a free books for bloggers program.  I was not required to give a favorable review.  The thoughts and opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Monday, April 23, 2012

God Gave Us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren

"God gave us love so we could see goodness in others, even when they make us grumpy."
"I know, I know," Little Cub said with a sigh.

When I read a children’s book to review, I usually read it many times.  It helps to get a clear understanding of what the author is trying to communicate and I always see something new I might have missed in reading the time before.  I did the same with this book, God Gave Us Love, by Lisa Tawn Bergren, but this time I decided to include one of my children in my review process.  You may be thinking, “Well, duh!” Me too!

Immediately as I began reading it to my child, he was amazed that I was talking about the otters at the beginning of the story.  He didn’t sit all the way through the story.  He is little, but he did listen for a few moments to hear about the amazing power of love.

God Gave Us Love is another book in a series of God Gave Us books by Lisa Tawn Bergren.  The sweet little book covers many different facets of love, such as love between family, love between friends, and the love that came from God when He sent His son JESUS to us.

I like these books in this series more and more all the time.  I love that they communicate something wonderful about God to my children.  The truths about God are wonderfully woven in a sweet setting in the arctic between the sweet polar bear Little Cub and her family.  I received this book in board book form which makes it even better for little ones to carefully turn the pages. 

The illustrations by Laura J. Bryant are beautiful.  They bring the story of Little Cub to life as she learns from her grandfather about love and how it demonstrates forgiveness and kindness to those it reaches.

I recommend this book to any parent of small children who want to share the concept of God’s love.  Mrs. Bergren does a wonderful job of weaving an often complex subject into this story and teaching it in a way an inquisitive child can understand.  This would be an especially nice book to buy for a grandparent to share with their grandchild.

Many blessings to you as you read with your child and learn how God Gave Us Love.

To learn more about the author, please visit her at

*Disclaimer-I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of a free books for bloggers program.  I was not required to give a favorable review.  All the opinions and thoughts here are my own.

Monday, February 6, 2012

God Gave Us Two

God Gave Us Two is a super-sweet book containing a dialogue between mother and child about the upcoming birth of a sibling. Young children are often curious and have many questions when their mommy is going to have another baby. God Gave Us Two is a book that would be a helpful tool for parents when addressing some of those questions.

In the book, a polar bear mom answers questions for “Little Cub” such a “Why do you need a new baby?” and “if we don’t like the new baby, can we send it back?” It also emphasizes what a wonderful privilege and task it will be to be a big sister. The strength of the book is it emphasis on God being the author of life and the One who gives this great gift of babies.

I am a huge fan of Lisa Bergren. I started buying her book when I started having babies. This book is actually one in a series of God Gave Us books. You can read my review of God Gave Us Christmas here.

I recommend this book for moms who are pregnant, and have older children who are curious about what is happening. The older sibling in the book is a girl, so it might be more appropriate for them. I also think this would be a great book to share about God being the one who gives us babies. If your child has questions like these about God, this is a perfect book to use as a teaching tool. *SPOILER WARNING* My highest recommendation for this book goes however to moms who might be carrying multiples. It has a nice little plot twist at the end and the mama polar bear gives birth to twins!!!

Many blessings to you on your journey through motherhood!

In Him,

To visit the author's website, please go to

To learn more about God Gave Us Two, please visit Waterbrook Multnomah here.

To read more titles by Lisa T. Bergren visit the Author Spotlight at Waterbrook Multnomah.

Disclosure Statement-I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.