My Big Book of Bible Heroes Devotional by Glenn Hascall ~ Review

My Big Book of Bible Heroes Devotional pic

My Big Book of Bible Heroes Devotional by Glenn Hascall

What a wonderfully designed devotional book this is for children around the pre-teen ages. The pages are thick and every devotional has a full page of colorful paintings of each hero mentioned in this 159-page book. The pages are thick and glossy and well able to be handled by children. The binding is strong and sturdy. The illustrations are eye catching.

Each of the 50 devotionals has a title and a Bible reference where the story may be found. Below that is a Bible verse that emphasizes the theme of that day’s story. The devotional itself is only one page long. It is written in simple enough terms that I feel confident a third grade or fourth grade child could easily use the study book on their own. The emphasis on each person is a character trait that the hero depicts. The lesson is followed by a simple, honest prayer and a list of questions to help the child ponder God’s truths.

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What I love about this book is that the message is exactly what I would want my children to learn about trusting in God, following Biblical heroes, and about life in general. There are clear messages of salvation, growth in character, and development of your emotional being geared especially for the young child who wants to know more than just Bible stories. This book helps a young reader think how to apply the principles talked about. And the reader hears enough of the actual story in the first few paragraphs that they don’t have to have prior knowledge of the story before they use this book.

If a child is too young to handle devotionals on their own, this would also make a great read-aloud/picture book for a parent or guardian to do with the child. Both my own children would have loved this book when they were young. I highly recommend the book for your children, for the church library, for gifts for grandchildren and so on.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Shiloh Kidz, an imprint of Barbour Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or negative. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Coldwater by Samuel Parker ~ Review

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Coldwater by Samuel Parker

Have you ever read a book where you are not sure where it is going? Where there seems to be no certain protagonist or antagonist? Where the plot is undetermined except to move forward in a perpetual chase? Have you ever read a book where the driving question seems to be, “What is going on?” That is what reading this book by Samuel Parker made me feel.

I’m not saying this in a negative sense. Some authors make their plots and characters easy to figure out and predict to varying degrees. That is not true with this story. There’s a looming question mark hovering over the events as you read on. Yet the action drives the reader to continue if for no other reason than to try to make sense of what the characters were doing. The author is determined to show rather than tell what is occurring.

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Dotted throughout the tale were rare “Ah ha!” moments of insight, motive or reasons. But for the most part, the action moves forward relentlessly without explanation or narrative. It caused me to pause once in awhile and reflect back to a writing style used in the ’50’s and ’60’s in programs where they used only words and the unknown to develop expectations without special effects. The Twilight Zone and possibly Outer Limits were examples of this. Alfred Hitchcock, writer/producer of thrillers and melodramas, could produce the same effects. The results were often unpredictable and sometimes left the viewer pondering.

I’ll be the first to admit this would not be a book I would have chosen to read for myself. That is the consequences of entering a review program and trusting someone else’s choices. But ultimately, it worked out well. This book stretched my tolerance for suspense since suspense is the main driving force in this story. The events are strange, creepy and dark. And there is a message, but it’s subtle. And even though the book is dark, it is not a horror story, nor gruesome or filled with blood lust. There is definitely some kind of spiritual warfare going on, but the author does not comment on it.

There is a resolution of a sorts for this story. The events do come to an end. This is not a happy book, so you can’t really call the ending a happily ever after (HEA). Rather, it is a serious book with suspenseful momentum. Eventually it resolves but leaves the reader in a pondering state where we are allowed to come to our own conclusions. I’d like to offer kudos to the superb writing talent of author Samuel Parker.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Librarything.com on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst~ Review

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Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

At some point in our life, we are going to feel left out, left behind, or lonely. It is an inevitable part of being a human being and of human nature. We are inherently social creatures for the most part. Of course, it fluctuates throughout our lives in stages, as if it is a pendulum swinging back and forth. And some people naturally seem to need more social contact than others. But that normalcy is not what the author addresses in this book. Instead, she delves into the deep end of the pool when life hits us with a hammer blow and we find ourselves rejected, left out or even turned out deliberately. How do we survive such a blow?

The author tells some of her own story. She’s done research on rejection in humans and found two core fears that feed a person’s sensitivity to rejection: the fear of being abandoned and the fear of losing one’s identity. Her story confirms that she understands these fears well. She had once been abandoned, and with her father went her identity. She knows how it feels to lose in this deliberate way and writes from this knowledge one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Her core beliefs led her to feel unwanted, even by God. How do you overcome that?

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For me this book was so powerful that I would read sections of it over and over to get all I could out of it. I couldn’t just sit down and read the book as a fiction novel. I had to read it piece by piece and leave plenty of time between the reading to contemplate what I learned. I’m also a book underliner. When I find something especially meaningful to me, I underline or highlight or circle or bracket it in some way to bring my attention back to that part. Judging from those markings in my copy of the book, the entire volume spoke to me in a very personal way. Every few pages were marked in some way. Lysa TerKeurst’s words touched me. They confirmed that I was not alone in this struggle. They affirmed that someone else had floundered around feeling lost on the inside while trying to look normal on the outside.

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Several months ago I happened to read about this book on a Bible Study website. I knew immediately that this book would be able to help get me out of the funk I had fallen into. So I ordered the Bible Study material to go along with the book and the online group sessions. For me, the most valuable resource was the book itself. The study material was nice, and the online videos were uplifting, but it was the book that I needed the most. It helped pave the way for my inner healing.

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My opinion is that Lysa TerKeurst’s book is an effective tool that God can use to bring healing to the parts of us that have been ripped apart and torn to shreds by people and circumstances determined to stomp us into the ground. What she writes is much more than an affirming pat on the head and empty promises of a kinder future. We don’t need that. There are already plenty of books that do that. The author goes way beyond mere platitudes and gets down to our core beliefs and builds on them. She clarifies them and helps us understand them so they can provide a stable foundation where God teaches us to do life in spite of setbacks and heartbreak. This book has my enthusiastic endorsement. Get the book and share it. You’ll never regret that decision.

 

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Mac’s Way by Reg Quist ~ Review

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Mac’s Way by Reg Quist

Like many of the other books I reviewed for this author, this is a historical fiction Western. Because of the author’s background and family history, and the family lore he grew up with, much of what he writes is authentic and true to history. His books are a great read for their historical content. They are clean but realistic in their form. His stories do not focus on sensational events, crooked people or gore.

In this story we meet Mac. His actual name is Walker Samuel McTavish, born and raised on a small Missouri farm before the War Between the States. He was the eldest son of a hard-working family. Frustrated with his life and seeing nothing profitable in his future he set out to make something of himself. He experienced the life of a mule driver for a freight company which took him all over the country. He was involved in the Civil War. After the war, he worked with other men in Texas to drive cattle to northern markets for cash. This book is filled with his adventures on some of those drives.

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What I liked best in this particular book is the character development of Mac, as he was called during the war. His character was forged through tough times, making him a man I would be proud to call my ancestor. Through these rough times, he gained leadership abilities, gathered around him lifetime friendships and loyalty, and lead them straight on to success.

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In the end, it was fitting that he found not only a piece of land to call his own, but had collected his own herd, a large group of friends, including his family members and leads them to a fertile valley out West with enough land for them to spread out and begin their own lives over. Of this author’s books, this one is my favorite so far.

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Jabez by Joy Ohagwu ~ Review

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Jabez by Joy Ohagwu

The book Jabez fits into the AFTER series written by Joy Ohagwu. Book 1 tells the story of Candace and JB Patrickson. That book is an inspirational romance. Once Candace and JB are married, he then feels confident enough to tell his life story to her. So this book is the story he tells Candace on the way to their honeymoon. That would make this book 2, although I think of it more as book 1.5. It could be easily incorporated into book 1 as part of JB’s back story.

When Jabez was ten, he was well used to the drunken rages his father would get into. He had a hiding place, and his mother had a hiding place. It was not enough to keep them safe, however, and eventually Jabez was beaten senseless and woke up in the hospital. Things only got worse from there when his father returned to their home. No one else knew the situation they were in. His father owned a reputable construction company and seemed like a straight up guy to everyone else. But JB and his mother often went entire days without a meal. His father had to control everything. When JB was old enough to work for his father, he was expected to work in construction and live at home.

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One day, he and his mother found a safe place across the street to hide. They slept in the pews at night in the church to avoid getting beaten. Then he met Pastor Yohanna who began to help them in subtle ways. He encouraged Jabez to find his own path and became a role model for him. For the first time in his life, Jabez saw a father figure the way it was supposed to be. He began to attend church and special meetings the pastor set up for a few other young people who had challenges in their lives that blocked their successful entry into the world. His transformation was not an overnight success. It was a huge struggle far into JB’s adult life.

This author writes in an understanding manner about the impact of abuse this type of experience has on a growing child and on an emerging adult. When a person has heard their entire young life they will not amount to anything good, they tend to believe what they hear, even though their minds can tell them otherwise. Parents are the first authority figure a child experiences, and what they are told is often taken for the truth. It’s extremely difficult to shake off that first voice in spite of good influences in their lives afterward. The author does a great job showing us what this type of struggle to overcome abusive programming is like.

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It was the faith of the Pastor that leads him to step out of his comfortable place to lend an understanding ear and a shoulder to lean on for the young people in JB’s group. And it was faith in Jesus Christ that finally brought JB over the edge from abusive thinking to victorious thinking. This could be so many peoples’ stories. I pray that this short novella helps many people to understand how difficult it is to shake abusive influences, but that it is possible.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

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After 3 by Joy Ohagwu ~ Review

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After 3 by Joy Ohagwu

The After series includes loosely related books that center around a theme of transformation. In every book I’ve read so far, the focus has been how the person rises out of the ashes of an identity crisis, a severe illness that has changed the characters’ lives, or regaining your bearing after a crippling loss. The themes are about things we experience in our own lives–occurrences we face ourselves at one time or another. Like these characters, we need answers to our pressing questions. We need to figure how to do life AFTER–all relevant needs for today’s readers. The author then helps us step into another’s shoes and imagine how their lives could possibly help us in our own AFTER.

Albert Dove was a writer. But recently he fell into a slump when his wife died. His friend is concerned about Al’s lack of motivation to even live and take care of himself. His publisher dumped him when his popularity slumped and now he doesn’t know what to do with his life. His friend makes a last ditch effort to revive Al’s writing career. To do that, he tries to find a way to inspire his friend to pick up his pen again. They find just that in the form of a cover model for the next book in Al’s series. And his friend is going to show him how to self publish the book.

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Rachel Song is a waitress. Worse yet, she is a former model who she believes is past her prime. She’s just gliding along in life without much purpose when her friend Candace shows her an ad for an audition. She decides to give her old career one more try before moving on. But then she is chosen as the model for Al Dove’s next novel, something about a feisty female sheriff who has disappeared in the last book and is now making a surprise come back. She and Al hit it off right away, and he is certain he can write not only one more novel but a whole new series. His muse is back and he decides to make this a faith based series.

Like the other books in the series, this one is filled with hope and life. Faith plays an important role in how these characters recover from losses and setbacks. The author’s intent is clear. She wants us to be encouraged rather than discouraged by the tests and trials we face so often. Her desire is to show us how God can lift us out of the pain and into peace right in the middle of even baffling circumstances. I think she does this well without becoming wordy or preachy. Her message is that there is always hope. That hope is in a close relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And He has a plan for our lives.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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The Crossroads: a Midtown Blue series book 2 by F.P. Lione ~ Review

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The Crossroads: a Midtown Blue series book 2 by F.P. Lione

This is the second book in the Midtown Blue series by the writing team of Frank and Pam Lione. The Crossroads follows The Deuce which is focused on Tony and Joe, partners with the NYPD. The events pick up right after the first book where Tony Cavalucci finds the Lord and begins to grow in his faith.

Because of the authors’ experiences in New York City with the NYPD and downtown missions, this book is filled with meticulous detail on the daily life of the New York City cops. We get a good sense of what it takes to do this job from day to day. In the first book we also discover that Tony’s family is dysfunctional and that his life is wrapped up in the drama they cause for him. Tony used to lean heavily on drinking to deal with this mess. But now, he is determined not to depend on drink to escape and must face his trials head on, with the help of his partner Joe Fiore, who is also a genuine believer in Christ.

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The first time Tony brings his new girlfriend to a family dinner, she and her little 4-year-old son are nearly roasted in family judgmentalism and disapproval. This causes a rift between Tony and Michele and leaves Tony wondering how he is supposed to handle his family in a way that reflect his newfound belief. This is a frequent topic between Tony and Joe as they work their beat day after day. When Tony feels all is hopeless, Joe assures him that God is working in his family. Sure enough, Tony is later astonished when his alcoholic mother contacts him and wants to make amends. At first he doesn’t believe she is changed, so he cautiously holds her at arm’s length and watches to see what happens next.

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The part of this story I like best was the detail describing how the city banded together to prepare for New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. I was never aware of how much preparation it took to host this event and make it safe for everyone. Just that part of the book was worth the read.

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Another part I like about both the books in this series is the details of all the action the police officers carried out in a typical day. It reminded me of the very old police shows on TV with a little droll humor, some unremarkable events, some food for thought and a touch of strangeness. I found it fascinating. If you enjoy this type of book, then I highly recommend this for your reading.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from CKN Christian Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

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