Thursday, January 19, 2017

Essential Worship By Greg Scheer






This book came in the mail before Christmas an I was wowed by the amount of content in it.  It is jam packed with resources to teach and inspire the worship leader who wants to grow.  It is not, however, a book for the faint of heart or the quick scanner.  It's not a book for the casual christian who just enjoys worship - it's more like a textbook for a worship leader.  If you are willing to sit with it, you will be blessed.

I asked our worship pastor to read it, and he gave a lovely synopsis:  "A must read for any worship leader and their teams. One  of the most comprehensive and thorough resources I've ever read. It's both educational and engaging, exhaustive and approachable, challenging and encouraging, practical and contemplative. What truly sets it apart is that from beginning to end it is informed by scripture. A meticulous exploration of the who, the why, the what, and the how of worship; presented from a refreshingly God-centered and gospel-saturated perspective. It's format makes it easy for discussion amongst worship teams and challenges the reader with questions that will help them apply what they've read in their individual context. this resource has the ability to make you a more effective worship leader; but, more importantly, it could transform you as a worshipper, as your heart is stirred by the"surpassing worth" of Jesus Christ."

From the publisher: "Essential Worship is an easy-to-read primer on the basics of worship theology and practice that is perfect for pastors and worship leaders of all levels of experience. Each concept is introduced and unpacked with useful diagrams, charts, and lists, plus preparation and reflection questions to help you apply the material to your unique church context. Whether you're beginning a new service or hoping to deepen existing worship, this indispensable resource is your solid foundation for future success."

I received this book as a  gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

nostalgia and a beautiful Bible

Product Details
Nostalgia. I still remember how excited I was to get my first beautiful Bible in high school. It was a teal soft leather and NIV Bible and I loved it! It sounds trite, but having a Bible that felt beautiful made it so much easier for me to start reading.


I was so excited to get this new journal Bible in the mail to review last month. My Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition.has a gorgeous turquoise blue cover with swirly flowers and little tiny butterflies. It's beautiful! It's a very sturdy hardcover Bible. Open it up and the cover pages are also turquoise prints with polka dots. It has a beautiful inscription page with space to write presentation information. It also has a one page instruction guide on how to use the Bible. It includes challenges to set Christian goals, to consider Bible characters, to ponder ways to show God's love, and to choose vs to memorize. Like most Bibles, is it includes a table of contents, but this Bible also includes and alphabetical order of the books of the Bible with corresponding page numbers. I love that for new believers trying to find Bible verses quickly. The Bible includes two bookmarks. The Bible text is plain and simple text. No notes other than the headings for different passages. But what sets this Bible apart is the space on every single page to journal or doodle. At the end of the Bible, it has a table of weights and measures, but it does not have a dictionary or concordance. Honestly the Bible would probably be too thick if it added those things.

In conclusion, the Bible is gorgeous and lovely for any girl or a woman. My daughter latched onto it immediately and didn't want to give it up. If readers will take the reflection opportunities to heart, this Bible could be a wonderful way to encourage someone in their faith.

I received this Bible as a gift and exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Family Dynamics + Politics

A Primary Decision (The Worthington Destiny Book #3): A Novel by [Leman, Dr. Kevin, Nesbit, Jeff]

Before the holidays, I finished reading a political suspense novel, A Primary Decision (The Worthington Destiny Book #3) by Kevin Lehman and Jeff Nesbit.


Kevin Lehman's family dynamics plus Jeff Nesbit's politics = a good duo for political suspense. But woven among the political suspense is the story of a complex family's victories, struggles, secrets, and daily life.  And the thoughtful reflection of how the birth order of a person impacts some of their characteristics, insecurities, tendencies, and life patterns.

This book is the third in the series, and I haven't read the first two books, so there were some pieces that seemed to be missing in the story.  I was, however, still able to enjoy it as a stand alone book.  

The pros: good storyline, well-developed characters, twists and turns. The con: the story seemed to be drawn out a bit too long.

From the publisher:  Sarah Worthington never expected to become the US attorney general--at least not this early in her career. Plunged into the vicious vetting process, with all sides digging for secrets in her family closet, she steels herself for the path forward. Nothing will deter her from making her mark on the world in the biggest way possible--even if that means prosecuting the current president of the United States. Yet powerful forces conspire behind the scenes to take the Worthington family down, and the president orders her to close the investigation. Will she comply? Or turn the tables to pursue her ultimate dream--the US presidency? This exciting conclusion to The Worthington Destiny series will have readers on the edge of their seats--just in time for the 2016 presidential race.

I read the book in December. with America still tense with the 2016 election. I probably would've enjoyed reading it more before the mess of the 2016 election process.  I do hope our newly elected president will lead with the character of the book's main character.

Audience: male and female readers ages 16+

Good for a book club, as there are many good discussion points to delve into with a friend.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Life in the Country!

Home on the Range

I love the country, so I enjoy a well-written fiction book with rolling hills, creeks, horses, and big families enjoying farm life together.  Home on the range is this second book in Ruth Logan Hernes' Double S Ranch series. I enjoyed it as much as the first in the series,  though a reader doesn't need to start with book one in order to understand and enjoy the book. It's the story of farmers on a large ranch and how they deal with change, trauma, haunting pasts, and family relationships. It's a story of forgiveness, hope, healing, and the power of relationships to make us stronger. The characters are delightful and easy to love. 

From the publisher: Nick Stafford stayed in central Washington, working his family’s large ranch after his brothers left to pursue other passions—but his toughest job is being a single dad. As a child he watched his father fail at marriage and parenting, so Nick was determined to show him up. He’d be a better husband, father, and ranch manager than Sam Stafford ever was. Despite that commitment, three years after Nick’s wife left him, he has a daughter in trouble at school and both of his girls are facing issues that force him to rethink his stubborn plans. For Dr. Elsa Andreas, life fell apart when tragedy caused her to abandon her family therapy practice and retreat to the backwoods of Gray’s Glen. Her school principal sister believes Elsa can guide the Stafford girls and that working with kids will draw Elsa out of her protective bubble. Summer on the Double S teems with life and adventure. Amid the bounty of God and land, will Nick and Elsa find the courage to build futures based on faith rather than fear?

I would recommend this book for readers ages 15 and older. I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Flip Bible Book - great for dining room table!

Candle Day by Day Walk with Jesus: The Story of Jesus Retold in 40 Days
Candle has a new Bible storybook out for children called Day by Day, Walk With Jesus. The subtitle is "Read the story of Jesus in 40 days". There is a table of contents that outlines all 40 stories and the pages where they start. Each day has a key verse, a one-page story, and illustration, and a reflection question or statement. The stories are well told. The graphics are simple, but cute. They offer a wonderful way to let your children meet our savior through stories from  the Bible.

Product Details

Candle also has a New Day by Day Bible. It's actually a flip stand book that could sit on your counter top or table to remind you to read your Bible story each day. There are 365 stories from a combination of the Old Testament and New Testament. Each daily reading is numbered, so you can keep on track if you want to. Each day is titled with a short story that is anywhere from 1 to 4 short paragraphs. A bright picture usually encompasses about half of the page , so the reading in total for each day is probably 2-4 minutes. The words are also somewhat simple, so a 2nd or 3rd grader could probably read the text out loud.

Candle sent me both of these Publications in exchange for my honest review. I think both publications are great. I especially like the flip stand Bible storybook - my 10-year old daughter read it cover to cover in a few days, and my 12-year old son is halfway through it. I would recommend this product for families with children ages 4 to 10.

Glacier National Park in Fiction

Product Details
I’ve never been to Glacier National Park, but I feel like I’ve seen some of it after reading Susan May Warren’s new book, Wild Montana Skies. Wow, what a beautiful place!  I enjoyed the light-hearted story and the way she developed characters and relationships over long spans of time. A little bit of mystery, a little bit of challenges, and a little bit of love – all woven together in a nice package. The storyline is very creative and full of small unexpected twists.  I appreciate the themes of love, forgiveness, hope, healing, faithfulness, and standing up for yourself.  

I would recommend this book to readers age 15+.  It would be a good book to read with a friend or as a mother/daughter, as an opportunity to talk about decisions made throughout the book.

I received the book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

If I had judged the stuff by its cover, I probably would not have read it, but now I have discovered that Michael Phillips can really write.  In The Cottage, Phillips paints a wonderful description of the Shetland islands in this new release, and leaves readers wanting to see the beauty of the islands in person. She develops her characters well, she tells a tail full of twists, and she gives readers I wonderful journey to another world via the pages of her books.  

This was actually the second book in the Secrets of Shetlands series, but I didn't feel lost, even though I hadn't read the first book.

I actually shared this book with a friend, and her comments echoed mine.  She said, "I didn't think it was going to be very good, but I actually enjoyed it."

I would recommend this book to female readers age 14 plus and some males will enjoy the book as well. I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Tangled Webs by by Irene Hannon

I love finding new authors that can tell a captivating story without giving me sensuality and gore that isn't good for my heart.  I'm excited to say that Irene Hannon appears to be another author for my 'to read' list!

Her book, Tangled Webs, started with a bang, and didn't keep changing until the very end.  It's a light-hearted easy read with well-developed relationships, character struggles, and sweetness.  It's a love story wrapped in suspense. 


From the publisher:
After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not. Bestselling author and three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon draws readers into a web of psychological suspense where danger lurks in dark corners . . . and keeps them captive until the very last page.

I would recommend this for readers age 15+. Because of the love story, I think this will lean more towards a female audience.  I received the book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The book is part of Hannon's Men of Valor series, so I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Mammoth Cave from a different perspective

Guide Me Home

I loved visiting Mammoth Cave with my hubby just before we had baby #3, so I was thrilled to stumble upon a novel about the Mammoth Cave area.  Guide Me Home, written by Kim Vogel Sawyer, is a delightful novel set in the early 1900s.  It's a great look at the culture of the times, from family ties to family responsibilities, to the dichotomy between rich/poor and educated/uneducated, to gender roles. It delves into the issues of guilt, forgiveness,  independence, rebellion, faith, hope and salvation.  I judged the book by it's cover, which wasn't very appealing, and almost set it aside. But I was immediately drawn into the story when I started reading. Very well-developed characters, beautiful descriptions of the cave/grounds, well thought-out plot, just enjoyable all the way around.  I also appreciate Sawyer's well-researched descriptions of the cave and it's surroundings - it makes me want to visit again and learn more about the cave!

From the publisher:  "Working as a guide in Mammoth Cave might allow Rebekah the chance to bring joy back to her family. But will the cave claim more than it gives? After tragedy leaves its mark on Rebekah Hardin’s family, she plans to help her parents and six siblings honor her beloved brother’s memory and alleviate their poverty by working as a guide in the dangerous cave system. Kentucky’s renowned Mammoth Cave presents profitable opportunities for hardworking, capable men. But Rebekah is determined and if it means presenting herself as a himself, then she’s up to the job.  Under the wing of experienced guide Tolly Sanford, “Reb” begins to learn the complexities of the cave. The two are joined by an aspiring young cartographer, Devlin Bale. The university student has traveled to the hill country to map tunnels—not to fall for a girl in disguise. Can the God who designed miles of underground astonishment shape Devlin’s ambitious plans and free Reb from the weight of her past?"    

This is the first book of Sawyer's that I have read, and I look forward to reading more!

Thanks to the publisher for inviting me to be a reviewer of this book.  I appreciate sharing my honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2016

From Mike Nappa - The Raven

My read during our trip to Arizona this week was The Raven, a new release from Mike Nappa. This book was slow to start, but eventually intriguing.  It’s an interesting look at business and politics explored through the lens of a magician and 2 detectives.  It’s also a long and deep look at bitterness and revenge.  One of the main characters, The Raven, is pretty quirky.  I almost put the book down because he drove me a little crazy at the beginning of the book.  But there is development of the character as well as redemption, as the story unfolds.

It's written in a time lapse format, starting in the present, then backtracking before going forward in the book again.  It's narrated by several different characters.  Parts are violent, but not too graphic.  The story does have elements of suspense and several good twists.

From the publisher:  "As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience's pockets while they watch. It's harmless fun--until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn't seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his "personal assistants," The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, "Nevermore."  Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues--and their complicated feelings for each other--to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge."

I would recommend this book to male and female readers age 15+.  I received this book as a gift from the publisher, so I am sharing my honest review.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

New author to enjoy - Johnnie Alexander



When Love Arrives

by Johnnie Alexander

Enjoyable novel - fresh ideas, well-written and easy to read.  It's an easy novel to fall into - the characters are well-developed and the plot is very unique.  Readers will enjoy the story line, the glimpses into time's past, and the redeeming story of twisted characters.

From the publisher:  "Dani had planned to spy on Brett--so how did she end up on a date with him? Dani Prescott can't believe the lie Brett Somers is trying to sell to the media. During an interview about the plane crash that killed his parents, he blamed Dani's mother. But the crash killed her as well. Vowing to restore her mother's reputation, Dani has been following Brett and taking photos, hoping to find something she can use to discredit him. But when she catches his eye instead, she quickly finds herself agreeing to a date. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something--but he's got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is?"

The book presents a good opportunity for readers to reflect on family, fame, fortune, relationships, forgiveness, and values.  I would recommend this book to ladies age 18+.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

365 pocket prayers

Product Details

365 pocket morning prayers is subtitled strength and joy to begin each day. It is just that. 365 short but powerful reflections on scripture.

​  You'll find topics ranging from accountability, to forgiveness, to competition, to contentment to loneliness, to God's care, to motives.  I laughed when I saw multiplication in the concordance, because my daughter has been spending so much time learning her multiplication tables.  But I think they mean a different kind of multiplication.   :)  
  

​Each of the daily entries contains a title and an action, such as "A prayer about God's leading: Remembering the Past" or "A prayer about restraint: controlling my temper." Then there is a prayer to read, reflect upon and pray. Then there is a related scripture that you an meditate on or memorize.


The opening reflection of the prayer book talks about prayer as a privilege, the personal relationship that is nurtured by prayer, and the power of prayer.​
​I would recommend this to any believer that wants to grow his faith, especially his prayer life.  Youth or adults, male or female.

​Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.​


Monday, September 12, 2016

new ice cream to try!

Mom filled the freezer with Mayfield ice cream when we went home for the weekend.  The first one I tried was a total score!


It's my new favorite ice cream to get from the grocery store.  I can't wait to try it again!