Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

Bittersweet. Shauna Niequist. Zondervan.
July 2010. Hardcover. 256 pages.

Book Description:
In her follow-up book to Cold Tangerines, author Shauna Niequist shifts her gaze to the challenges and blessings of change in Bittersweet. Drawing from her own experiences in a recent season of pain and chaos, she explores the bits of wisdom and growth we earn the hard way, through change, loss, and transition, and offers her own reflections on what brought her hope along the way.

My Review:
Shauna Niequist is a very talented, down to earth author. She's honest, funny, and has a great way of making you feel like you're having a conversation with one of your girlfriends. In Bittersweet, she shares about some really great moments in her life, along with dark and painful ones. She's gone through a lot, but her faith has grown and remained strong because of it all. To be completely honest, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected I would. Some parts were really great and I felt glued to the pages, but other times I couldn't even remember what I had just read. I kept wandering off and had to re-read a lot of times.

This book reads more like a journal or blog and the chapters are really short. A chapter titled, "Grace is a new math," was the most memorable and something she said really stuck with me.. "Grace isn't about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty... It's the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home."pg. 83 One thing I can say is that this book offers a bit of hope to other women that might be going through similar situations she found herself in. Even though I didn't get much out of this book, it just might be the one for you. I'd suggest you read a little more on it and who knows, you might end up loving it.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Zondervan.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

An unexpected move...

I was supposed to post 2 more reviews and details about the next book giveaway on Friday, but I was super busy. I found out that we're definitely moving and we already found a place, so all the chaos is going to start very soon. By December 1st we should be completely moved out of our current house that we've lived in for 9 years. I'm going to miss it very much and I'm so sad to leave. A lot is going to be happening and I might not be able to post all my reviews as soon as I wanted, but I promise they will be up... sooner or later.

For now, have a wonderful night and God Bless!

-Crystal

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Topical Memory System: Hide God's Word In Your Heart

Topical Memory System. The Navigators. Navpress.
June 2006. Paperback. 60 verse cards.

The Topical Memory System is a Scripture memorization tool developed by The Navigators. This system includes a 30 week workbook, 60 verse cards in 8 different translations, and a vinyl card holder. The workbook is divided into 5 different series. Each series has 12 verses and the verses are arranged according to topic. The topics included are: Live the New Life, Proclaim Christ, Rely on God's Resources, Be Christ's Disciple, and Grow in Christlikeness. 

For each week, you are given two verses to study and meditate on. With the verses being available in these translations: KJV, NKJV, NLT, NIV, MSG, ESV, NASB, and NRSV, there's pretty much a version for everyone. I actually prefer the NKJV, but sometimes I go from one version to another, so I really like that I have a variety of translations to choose from. I have been using this for a little over two weeks now and I've enjoyed it so far. This system is a very effective and convenient way to learn and memorize scripture. The last chapter in the workbook is titled, How to keep learning and reviewing, and it gives you helpful tips on how you can continue memorizing and hiding God's Word in your heart. 

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This was provided for review by Navpress Publishers.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Really Woolly Bible Stories

Really Woolly® Bible Stories. Bonnie Rickner. Julie Sawyer Phillips. Tommy Nelson. November 2010. Padded Cover. 36 pages.

Really Woolly Bible Stories is a cute storybook that makes for a fun way to introduce bible stories to even the youngest children. Sixteen of the most well known stories from the Old and New Testament are written in a simple rhyming format that's both enjoyable and understandable for little ones. The poems are short enough to keep their attention and the illustrations are sweet, colorful, and super adorable. Under each illustration, there is also a Scripture reference where you can find the full story in the Bible. With an easy to wipe padded cover and board pages, this book can tolerate all the wear it's sure to see when in the hands of little kids. I'd say the appropriate age for this book is 5 and younger.

I read this to my niece before she went to bed and she fell in love with it immediately. You know what? So did I! I just can't get enough of the lamb, bunny, and duckling. Cutest things ever! Her favorite story was Noah's Ark. She liked all the other stories too, but Noah and all the animals stood out to her the most. She kept going back to it and just looked at the pictures for long periods of time. I can tell this will be her most requested bed time storybook. The little closing prayer at the end is another thing I really liked and it'd be great for parents to recite it with their kids when they're finished with their bed time stories. This book is an awesome start for little ones that are being introduced to stories in the bible. It's a must have!

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Short Update

A lot has been going on lately so I haven't had a chance to post new reviews. I will hopefully have 3 up by the end of this week. Look out for the next book giveaway I'll be doing soon. You'll have a chance to win a copy of, In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Details will be posted at the end of my review. I also found some great giveaways going on right now at these blogs that you might want to check out ---> i blog 4 booksBlack 'N Gold Girl's Book Spot, and itsJUSTme.

Another thing I wanted to share with you is the new idea I have for a monthly post. Earlier today I found a draft in my email that was titled "Month in Review Memo." I completely forgot the blog where I saw the Month in Review posts, so I'm sorry I can't give the proper credit to whoever came up with it. Thanks for the idea though! Anyway, the post will consist of a list of the books I read in the whole month, my favorite and least favorite of the bunch, as well as the books I posted reviews for. So far this month I've read about 5 and I posted 4 reviews. I think my Month in Review posts will be a fun addition to my blog and I hope you think so too.

Happy Reading!
~Crystal

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway! - Ends 10/27

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of The Waiting, book two in The Lancaster Secrets Collection. In The Waiting Jorie finds herself caught be two loves and two lives in this compelling page turner about complex people living the simple life.

The Waiting is the next stand alone story in The Lancaster Secrets Collection and follows in the footsteps of the best-selling, The Choice. The Waiting is in stores now and to celebrate Suzanne is hosting The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway.



One Grand Prize winner will receive a Kindle preloaded with Suzanne Woods Fisher titles and a Amazon.com gift certificate! The Prize Pack (valued at over $185.00) includes:

* A brand new KINDLE, Free 3G, 6", Latest Generation

* The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* A $15 dollar Amazon.com Gift Certificate

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on October 28th at Suzanne's Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party.

Join Suzanne for the Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party on October 28th! She’ll be announcing the winner of the The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway, hosting a book club discussion of The Waiting and The Choice, and giving away copies of both books and HEAPs of readerly prizes! Be sure to join us on Thursday, October 28th at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST & 8 EST) at Suzanne’s Author Page. 

The Movies & Memories Giveaway! - Ends 10/17

Sarah Sundin presents The Movies and Memories Giveaway in honor of
book 2 in the Wings of Glory series. A Memory Between Us is available for purchase wherever fine books are sold. From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

AMBU_button

To celebrate Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Movie and Memory Prize
Package! One grand prize winner will receive:


* Make-your-own-photo book from Mypublisher.com (Capture your own
Memories)


* Netflix Subscription (New or Nostalgic Movies delivered right to your house)

* Starbucks gift card (To keep your engine revvin’)

*Gourmet chocolate (A favorite in the 1940’s and now)

* British specialty teas in carved wooden box (Timeless tradition)

* Miniature model of a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber & C-47 cargo plane
(Everyone needs a few toy planes)

*Big Band music CD (Break out your dancing shoes)

* WWII authentic poster playing cards (Cards – a perfect game for two)

* Keep Calm and Carry On (Uplifting sayings WWII, a boost for troubled times)

To enter simply click on the icons below (contest runs 9/27 - 10/17!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Right Call (Sophie Trace Trilogy - Book 3)

The Right Call. Kathy Herman. David C. Cook.
March 2010. Paperback. 400 pages.

Ethan Langely is back in Sophie Trace for the summer where he'll be splitting his time between working for his uncle to save money for college and seeing where his relationship with Vanessa goes. Before he has a chance to be reunited with Vanessa and her baby, Carter, a series of random shootings leaves four people dead. Ethan's cousin, Drew, just happened to be a friend and roommate to one of the victims, Tal Davison. Police Chief Brill Jessup and her detectives begin their investigation, but nothing comes up that could lead them to a possible suspect. Not too long after, Drew is shot and killed while Vanessa and baby Carter were visiting him, leaving her traumatized over seeing the whole thing play out.

Ethan tries to deal with his grief over losing his only cousin, who was more like a brother, by spending as much time as he can with Vanessa and Carter, and working with his uncle. When his co-worker, Stedman Reeves, seems to be sympathetic towards Ethan's loss and a little too interested in the details of the shootings, Ethan begins to wonder how much Stedman really knows. Soon Brill begins to find clues and evidence that point to Stedman as the killer. Panicked and scared for his life, Stedman makes a late night call to Ethan and tells him everything he knows about the shootings and how he is connected to them. Knowing that Ethan is dating the Police Chief's daughter, he's hoping that he'll go and convince her that he isn't responsible for the killings.

Now that Ethan knows all the details, his life is in danger as well as the lives of the two people he's come to love so much, Vanessa and baby Carter. What should he do? If he goes to the Police Chief with the truth it could save Stedman from life in jail, but it could also be the last of him, Vanessa, and Carter. The hand he's been dealt is impossible, life threatening and down right terrible. Will he trust that God will guide and guard him and show him what to do?

Suspenseful, fast paced, engaging, and awesome! That's what The Right Call was for me. The characters all come off as real people and the struggles within the Jessup family are realistic. Ethan and Vanessa's relationship was gradually growing throughout the whole book and the ending was so sweet. Not only does this book have an amazing mystery, but it also addresses addictions and how it can easily take over your life and affect the lives of others around you. The Sophie Trace Trilogy has something for everyone. There's suspense, mystery, action, drama, and a bit of romance. I love how the author weaves in the Gospel throughout each of the 3 books. Some people might feel like it's a little too preachy at times, but it didn't seem that way to me. I think older teens and adults would enjoy this series as much as I did. When I think about this Trilogy, these three words come to mind -- Faith, Restoration, and Forgiveness. LOVE it!

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(I'd like to thank Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Last Word (Sophie Trace Trilogy - Book 2)

The Last Word. Kathy Herman. David C. Cook.
October 2009. Paperback. 400 pages.

Police Chief Brill Jessup and her family are anxiously waiting for her daughter, Vanessa, to return home from college. When she arrives the excitement quickly turns into shock when they see her bulging belly. Brill and husband, Kurt, are not only devastated that Vanessa would just throw away the Christian morals and values they instilled in her, but also that she didn't tell them about her pregnancy for the past seven months. Her friend from college, Ethan Langely, joined her on her trip back home to help break the news to her parents. She reluctantly told them about the baby's father, her college professor, abandoning her and their unborn baby. Now with only two months left in her pregnancy, she needs to make the tough decision to either keep the baby or give him up for adoption.

As if Brill didn't have enough on her mind, she gets a call and finds out that a criminal she helped put behind bars was just released from prison. He's already stabbed and wounded her old partner, Zach, and is now threatening to get revenge on everyone who took part in sending him to jail. When he kills one of her detectives, Sean O'Toole, she clearly sees that he will not stop until he gets to her. Knowing that she's his next victim and he could possibly target her family, she makes sure they are protected round the clock. Will Brill catch the murderer before he can get to her or her family? Will she be able to get past her anger and disappointment toward Vanessa and help her make one of the most important decisions of her life?

The first thing I want to say is that although it is not necessary to read Book 1, I would recommend that you do. The references made of The Real Enemy are explained, but I think it would just add to your enjoyment if you read them in order. After reading the previous book, I had very high expectations for The Last Word. Even though it didn't quit live up to them, I still liked it and thought it was good. Here are the two main reasons why I didn't enjoy it as much. 1: You know who the killer is practically the entire time, so there is really no mystery(I probably shouldn't have expected too much mystery, especially because the book is listed under Suspense.) 2: During the middle parts of the book, I felt like it wasn't going anywhere and it dragged on and on. I became a little impatient while in the middle of it and I was tempted to skim through to the ending. But I didn't!

The suspense, action and drama was mostly in the beginning and end and there were few twists to the story and unpredictable moments. Those moments are what kept me reading and turning the pages. I also liked the new characters introduced and enjoyed getting to know them all a little more. The message I got out of the book is that God can restore lives and bring us closer to Him, no matter where you are in life. This book was still very much worth my time and I do recommend it. The next book in the Trilogy is, The Right Call. I'll be reviewing that one next.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(Special Thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Kiss Him Good-Bye (London Confidential - Book 3)

Don't Kiss Him Good-Bye. Sandra Byrd. Tyndale House Publishers.
September 2010. Paperback. 256 pages.

Fifteen year old, Savannah Smith, has been living in London with her family for almost a year. Now that she's getting used to her new church, school, and surroundings, she feels a little more at home. She's also showcasing her journalistic abilities by secretly writing for her school newspapers advice column, Asking for Trouble. When her best friend, Penny, tells her about the annual May Day Ball that most people plan for months ahead of time, Savvy feels the pressure to find a date, and fast! She has her eye on a few cute guys, but they're already taken and have dates for the dance. The last thing she expected was to meet Rhys, the guy every girl had an eye on. She couldn't quite pin point what drew her to him, but she wanted to find out. When he asks her to the dance, she happily accepts to go "as friends". Soon she begins to question her decision and wonder what his real motives are.

This is a very cute, fun, entertaining teen novel that wont disappoint. Savvy is just like any other REAL teen girl that has tough decisions to make, concerns, and doubts. Her struggles with trying to fit in and getting used to a new school and friends are things that are so relatable. The biblically based advice Savvy got from her youth group leader can also be applied to the readers lives if they ever find themselves in a similar situation. That's something I really liked. The authors writing style is fun, refreshing, and easy to read. I'd recommend this for ages 12 and up. There is absolutely nothing in this book for parents to be concerned about, so you can be sure that you're providing your teen with clean reading fun! Oh and moms might even enjoy reading it too. I had a fun time reading this and will definitely look out for the others in the series.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

(This book was provided for review by Tyndale House Publishers.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adventures in Booga Booga Land DVD - Volume 1

Adventures in Booga Booga Land. Richard Milner.
Tommy Nelson. September 2010.

Adventures in Booga Booga Land is a fun 45 minute animated children's DVD, based on the parables of Jesus. Marty the monkey and Gerard the giraffe are the two main characters that live in Booga Booga. They make a lot of mistakes and get themselves into some trouble, but they learn from those mistakes and the lessons they learn are what Jesus taught long ago. The stories illustrated in this volume are: the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard from (Matthew 20:1-16), the Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders from (Luke 06:47-49), and the Parable of the Lamp Under the Bowl from (Matthew 5:14-16).

I watched this DVD with my 4 year old niece almost immediately after getting it in the mail. We had a fun time watching it and it kept her attention almost throughout the entire video. She seemed to like the music and Marty's clumsiness the most. The retelling of the parables probably wasn't the best or as clearly linked as it could have been, but this is still a clean, entertaining DVD that my niece enjoyed a lot. When she's older I might be able to explain the meaning of the stories and fill in the blanks that the video left out. It was really the upbeat music, colorful animations, and funny characters that got her attention. So, keep in mind that if you're looking for bible based cartoons for your kids that will clearly teach them valuable lessons and the meaning of the stories, this isn't the one. But if you're OK with just having a clean, entertaining, colorful cartoon, then you might want to give this one a try.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This DVD was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Come Away With Me


Come Away With Me. Cynthia Hyle Bezek. Navpress.
January 2008. Paperback. 92 pages.

Come Away With Me is a guide full of examples, suggestions, and ideas on how you can plan and organize an effective prayer retreat. Cynthia shares her experience on her first prayer retreat and how much she realized the importance of setting aside hours or even a day to spend with God in prayer. We are reminded many times in this book of how Jesus regularly took time to be alone with His Father in prayer. I now see know how much I need to set aside time in my day, week, and month to be with the Lord. I, like so many other believers, am praying constantly throughout the day, but is that enough to keep us spiritually refreshed and rejuvenated? I think it's very important for us to have extended hours of prayer, not only for us to lay down our requests before the Lord and pray for friends and family, but also to just listen and see what He has to say to us. The author also adds other personal experiences and stories of other people who have benefited from these prayer retreats. I think doing this not only shows how much we love Him, but it also shows our devotion and desire to spend time with Him.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Navpress Publishers.)
 
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Loving You and Lavender Sweeties kits by Vera Lim