Devos for the Rest of Us: A Tyndale Blogger Review

Devo for the Rest of Us is a new Devotional written by a pastor from Las Vegas. It is very down to earth and light to read. I appreciated the personal stories as they often brought biblical ideas into the perspective of present day.

I’m always interested in reading new devotionals. I also admit that I’m very cautious when reading them. I think authors have a great responsibility when it comes to guiding others in what God is saying to us through Scripture. I was unfortunately very disappointed with this particular book. for several reasons.

The first is the seemingly light treatment of sin. While I appreciate those who are willing to admit they are not perfect, I do not think very highly of individuals who relish or even seem to take pride in actions which are dishonoring to God. There were a handful of incidents of this used as examples in this devotional. The seriousness of sin should never be diminished and anyone who does so makes me very nervous about the rest of their perspective on Scripture.

I see the trend in many of the popular speakers and books becoming a flaunting of sin and a lack of reverence. I see many of the most sought after teachers parading their trespasses as badges of honor and it breaks my heart. While we should never resort to an attitude that becomes holier-than-thou, holiness is our aim. Scripture teaches us this, and any action which draws us away from the holiness of God should be mourned, not applauded.

Another reason I was disappointed in this devotional was the abrupt writing style. Now this is just a personal preference, but I like to read devotionals which encourage me to think and with thoughtful writing. The simplistic style of this devotional did not really appeal to me.

The latter complaint is really just my preference in devotionals. My first issue, however, is serious enough I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

Disclaimer: I received a e-book copy of Devos for he Rest of Us from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation.

More for Girls Only! Devotions: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

One of my favorite things as a pre-teen and teenager was my Brio magazine. Did any of you read that? This sweet devotional reminds me a lot of that magazine and all the reasons I loved it. Within the pages of this 60-day devotional is encouragement which feels relevant for girls of this generation.

Each devotional in More for Girls Only! Devotions by Carolyn Larsen from Tyndale Publishers has a story and Scripture to engage young girls. I am having both my 8-year-old (Beth) and 10-year-old (Rose) use this book. While Beth does like it, I think she may be a little on the young end. There is nothing inappropriate at all but my girls are still very much little girls and not growing up as quickly as some of their peers are. I love that about my girls. Either way the content would be appropriate for all little girls considered preteens.

Carolyn Larsen is a new author for me and I appreciate her easy style of writing. As I read through some of the stories and devotionals I felt as if this was the kind of woman I would love to have in the girl’s life as a mentor. My daughters are so very blessed to have many women in their life who care about their spiritual growth. While I’ll probably never meet the author in person I have a feeling she is the kind who looks for opportunities to mentor young girls with whom she is in contact. Her stories and Scriptural application are both relevant and engaging.

Both of my daughters really like the layout of this devotional. In addition to the opening story and Scripture there is a quiz, extra verses, biblical application, and challenges. All of the topics are age appropriate. Even the topic on purity does not delve into the sexual aspects of purity but rather what it means to have a pure heart.

This is an excellent devotional that a young girl desiring to grow in her faith will enjoy!

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of More for Girls Only! Devotions from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

The Big Pig Stampede: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

My kids love when packages show up in the mail, especially when I open it and it is a new book to read! Rose snatched this one up before I even had a chance to crack the cover. I was actually intending Beth to read it first, but since Rose was three chapters in before I realized she had it, I changed my plans!

The Big Pig Stampede by Bob Hartman from Tyndale Publishers is a retelling of the life an miracles of Jesus from the perspective of a young boy, Gideon, known as Goat Boy. This new perspective is a great way for kids to relive the biblical accounts of Christ’s life.

Rose loved the humor. Since she read this as part of her school assignment I gave her one or two chapters to read  a day. While I intended for her to take two weeks to finish it, she was done in only one because she kept reading ahead. I certainly don’t mind when my girls get captivated with a book! I often heard her laughing as she read. She would also read me passages that she really enjoyed.

What I appreciated was even though it was from a different perspective, the author remained true to Scriptural and historical facts. I love when they get a new perspective, but not at the expense of Scriptural accuracy. This author is new to me, but I was very pleased with his storytelling because it was accurate as well as captivating.

Rose has already asked me to get the next book which isn’t even published yet! I’m sure this is a series which will remain a household favorite for years to come.

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of The Big Pig Sampede from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Maggie Bright: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

The shatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; gird your loins; collect all your strength. 
Nahum 2:1
There are times when a novel is entertaining and pleasurable. It allows an escape from reality into a world of happy endings. Other times a novel moves you deeply, speaks into your soul, and drives you. Maggie Bright is the latter. This novel of the evacuation of troops at Dunkirk is more than just historical fiction. It is a deeply moving encounter with characters endearing. I can’t remember the last time a story moved me to tears the way this one did. 
Tracy Groot is a new author to me and I am very excited to read more from her. The setting is 1940, England. Hitler’s campaign to control all of Europe is in full swing and the English troops are in trouble, attempting to evacuate back to England. Back on the homefront rumors of retreat and disaster circulate although no formal announcement has been made. As these larger picture events unfold, a young woman is suddenly caught in the middle of a spy mission aimed at revealing the true horrors Hitler and his Nazi regime are spreading with the growth of their evil empire. America has yet to enter the war and hope is beginning to fade. If only the horrible truth can reach the shores of the United States there is hope that England will not be left alone as one-by-one the countries of Europe fall. 
This beautifully written story of Dunkirk pulled me in with the first chapter. The dual story-line showing the embattled front-line action and the home-front of England gives a very unique picture of the all encompassing nature of World War II. This war was more than just the soldiers going away to a foreign land to keep them at bay from their own country. All of England was affected as Hitler’s troops edged closer and closer to the United Kingdom. 
It did take some time for me to sort out who all the characters were within the first few chapters, but it was worth it. Each one progressed the story along in a different way. I love the 3rd Person point of view which allows us insights into a variety of characters’ thoughts. While spiritual themes run throughout this book, it never feels preachy and explores the way those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ react to God at times of crisis. Many of the characters began to seek God for the first time and I appreciated that this was not a fast journey, but genuine and realistic seeking. 
Although I was left wanting to know more at the end, I was also left with an urgency towards prayer. Running throughout the book is the theme of searching to understand what prayer is, how prayer works, and why we do it. I loved the way this was handled as several characters sought to express their perspective on prayer. God’s answer to a nation who stopped to pray corporately is seen in the success of the Dunkirk evacuation. Though many lives were lost, thousands upon thousands more than were expected were saved. Many civilians showed unprecedented courage as they sought to bring their soldiers home. The verse quoted above expresses how those in England viewed this time during the war. They sought God and realized they needed divine intervention in order to overcome the evil one who sought to destroy. 
I’m fascinated by this era in history as my own grandfather served in the army during World War II. I knew very little of what was happening prior to the entrance of the United States into the war and I am intrigued to study more about this now. 
I highly recommend this book and I will personally am anxious to read more novels by Tracy Groot.

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Maggie Bright from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Beneath the Forsaken City: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

Beneath the Forsaken City by C. E. Laureno is a young adult fiction novel, set in an ancient time with magic and intrigue. This Celtic fantasy is like no other book I’ve read and it has been an interesting trip away from my usual choice in fiction.

C. E. Laureno is an award winning author with an unending imagination. The world she has created in her series The Song of Seare is beautiful and inspiring. I struggled to really get into the book from the beginning, and so I did a little research. What I discovered is this is the second book in a trilogy. My main reason for having a hard time fully understanding what was going on was I have not yet read the first book in the series.

Beneath the Forsaken City begins with a newlywed couple escaping danger created by the evil Druids who rule Seare. The groom, Conor,  leaves knowing that he will have to return in order to free Seare from the reign of the Druids. Just when the couple feel a small breath of safety the tragedy of a storm at sea separates them, neither knowing if the other is alive. Aine, the bride, is washed ashore in one place and Conor in another, resulting in the fight to survive and find one another.

Throughout the novel both Conor and Aine must learn to follow the leading of Comdiu, the One we would call the God of heaven. Each takes a different path and must struggle to lean on Comdiu alone, a journey they struggle through.

As I said before, this is a great departure from the genre of literature I usually gravitate towards. While the story-line itself was engaging, I found myself bogged down by the unfamiliar names of people and places, having a hard time keeping it all straight. I think this may have been a bit easier had I read the first novel in this the trilogy. The other struggle I had as I read was the amount of description for the violence. I know I am personally more affected by both reading and watching violent things, even when they aren’t very graphic. I have to say as far as that is concerned, the author did a good job keeping the amount of blood minimal compared to most popular novels, but it was still too much for me to comfortably read.

If you have an interest in reading Celtic fantasy, this is an excellent read for you. While it isn’t one which particularly delighted me, the story is well written and in my opinion would be incredibly engaging for anyone who loves this genre. I have a strong feeling my oldest daughter will particularly enjoy this book when she is a bit older.

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Beneath the Forsaken City from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Buttermilk Sky: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

One of my favorite past times which I unfortunately neglected after my kids were born was reading for me. I read a lot…a lot. It was typically about child-rearing or motherhood or something else which was incredibly beneficial, but not for my personal enjoyment. Blogging and reviewing has pushed me back to something I loved and the only downside is I have a hard time putting my most recent novels down!

The basic plot centers around Mazy Pelfry, a young, life-loving lady who is seeking to branch out on her own. Mazy decides to make a drastic change, leaving her Kentucky hill-life and swapping it for bustling Lexington as she attends secretarial school. While this is a huge change, Mazy does her best to fit in and play the part of a city girl. Along the way her integrity and loyalty are tested by several housemates as she navigates the balance of relationships and school. 
Waiting back home is the young sheriff, Chanis Clay, who must himself grow into his own. He has big shoes to fill after his father’s death and wants nothing more than to be taken seriously and take care of his town. Chanis is also working hard to win the heart of Mazy whom he has always assumed would return to him. 
Buttermilk Sky was a light read and enjoyable to pick up for a few minutes when I had time throughout the day. Sometimes I felt like there were missing pieces to background information which made sense once I found out this is part of a larger series, Troublesome Creek. I am intrigued to read the other books by Jan Watson as they are placed in Kentucky, which is where my mother’s family is from.  
While there were moments when I felt a little distant from the characters, I did thoroughly enjoy my journey through this book. There were many people who popped into the story whom I would have loved to learn more about. Perhaps there will be follow-ups to this coming soon!

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Buttermilk Sky from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

From the time I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a young girl I loved C.S. Lewis. Lewis inspired my imagination and like so many other children Narnia has become real to me. I have read a few of his other works, including The Screwtape Letters with my middle school students in class and A Grief Observed right after we lost our first baby to miscarriage. Again and again Lewis’ works inspire and speak to me. 
I had never read Mere Christianity, but did so along with a study guide I reviewed a few months ago. At the time I didn’t realize this was actually a series of radio broadcasts completed for the BBC during the terrifying period of World War II. I have been fascinated with this period in our world’s history for many reasons, the biggest being my grandfather served during the war. I was all the more intrigued to learn about this radio series which was intended to give hope and meaning to life for all of England. 
I was very excited for the opportunity to review C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity by Paul McCusker. We are long-time Adventures in Odyssey fans and I was very familiar with his name because of that. He also wrote the script for C.S. Lewis at War which dramatizes much of what I read in the book.

This historical account of what was going on behind this classic is simply fascinating. C.S. Lewis did not recognize at the time how full of impact this was or would continue to be decades later. This wonderful biographical and historical work will provide the story behind the classic.

I love how the many different players of this time in history are all given time. We not only find out about C. S. Lewis during this time, but many others such as James Welch, the director of religious broadcasting for the BBC, not to mention the historical details. All of these are strung together seamlessly so the reader can get the full picture behind this classic. I very much appreciated the use of breaks within chapters. This keeps the reader clear on the change of subject or individual creating diverse continuity.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was the perfect blend of history and biography written by an incredible story-teller. If you are a fan of C. S. Lewis’ works you will truly appreciate this historical account.

101 Color & Sing Bible Stories: Review

Grace is my youngest and as the youngest she often gets hand-me-downs for just about everything, especially toys and books. She has a few things that are her own, but just by the course of life almost all her books were once her sisters. She was over-the-moon excited to have a new Bible story book all her own! Grace has grown up knowing all about God and the Bible and enjoys reading the same stories over and over.

101 Color & Sing Bible Stories by Stephen Elkins is a great addition to our library! We have well over 10 Bible story books and that doesn’t even include individual storybooks with Biblical themes. I wondered if this would capture Grace’s interest, but I should have known she would love it!This is much, much more than your average Bible for kids!

 

For each story there is a child-friendly reading which has the Scripture reference clearly shown, a song to help retain what they learned, and a coloring page which matches the illustration provided. This is one of the most interactive Bible books I’ve seen for kids, and I’ve seen a lot. While the content may be predictable as it is laid out in chronological order this makes it all the more loved by kids. My daughter already knew what the next story would be because she knows the basic order of creation.

Her favorite part so far has been the CDs. She loves listening to the music during her rest time and alternates between the two CDs. Some songs were new, but most were the traditional Sunday School songs my husband and I grew up with. She loved this as well because she immediately was singing along with them all!




This is a great Bible Story book for toddlers and preschoolers whether you have many on hand or this is your first one. The teaching is solidly biblical, yet not too deep for them to understand and the music and coloring pages are the icing on the cake! 

Disclaimer: I received 101 Color & Sing Bible Stories from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Claiming Mariah: Book Review

Sometimes I get the opportunity to escape with a good book, but it has really been a while. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book when it arrived in the mail! I had the chance last Tuesday when our electricity went out unexpectedly. It wasn’t what I had planned, but it left me with some free time on my hands. Once I started I could hardly put it down!

Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman (Tyndale House Publishers) is one the best works of fiction I’ve read in a long time. I love historical Christian fiction and this had all the elements I like most. The storyline was intriguing and for the most part kept me guessing throughout. Although it became clear early on the heroine and main male character would come together in the end, the journey to get there was anything but expected. Mariah encounters a stranger connected to the past of her father who springs life-changing proof that all she held dear was no longer hers.

I appreciated the spiritual journey each of the main characters traveled throughout the course of the novel. While the heroine was already a believer, her need to forgive and trust in God’s provision and guidance. The hero had no intention of ever following God because of the hurt from his past. I loved how the full gospel was presented without sounding preachy. God’s gracious love and sacrifice was artfully woven throughout and clearly explained leaving both the character and the reader with a clear understanding of salvation.

This is the first title I’ve read by this author. Pam Hillman is an artful writer with excellent dialogue and insight into the human heart. This believable story will transport you to a more rugged time. I am very much looking forward to reading more from this author!

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Claiming Mariah  from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Devotions for Women: Review

We all know the way to grow closer to God is to spend more time with Him, yet it continues to be a battle of the flesh, the problem of choosing what is best. God desires relationship with us, yet we allow so much of the mundane to inhibit. At other times it isn’t the mundane as much as the tyranny of the ordinary, those every day must-dos which often distract us from what is excellent. 
So what do we do? We take a first step. We stop as soon as we realize we have not moved forward in our walk with the Lord in a while and we open the Word of God. The next step? Do it again the following day, and the day after that and the day after that. We keep on stepping until spending time with God daily is a habitual blessing we feel as if we can not survive our day without it. 
The One Year Devotions for Women: Becoming a Woman At Peace by Ann Spangler is one you’ll want to add to your bookshelf whether as a beginning first step or an addition to your established quiet-time routine. I have enjoyed reading other books by Ann Spangler and was so excited for the opportunity to review this! I knew this would be a wonderful addition to my day already being familiar with the author’s ability to take deep theology and make in understandable. 
I know from my own experiences and talking with other women that peace is hard to come by in our society. This one intangible desire is elusive to some to the point of seeking medical help. Others deny they are even missing peace in their life and yet their actions and words exhibit anxiety and distress. This is more than merely another year-long devotional. This is a spring to be refreshed with daily. 
I really like the personable way this is written. Ann Spangler takes moments from her own life to help explain a short verse of Scripture presented at the top of each day’s reading. I would have liked if there was an option for further reading, but the is an easy way for me to begin my days, especially when the days don’t begin in the way I wish they would!

As a homeschooling mother of three girls ages 8, 6, and 4 my mornings are unpredictable more often than not. I know how I would like my mornings to go, but I can count on one hand how many times it has actually gone this way! This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to center myself on Christ first thing while being able to meet my girls’ needs as they come up first thing in the morning.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light devotional to give a moment of quiet at any time of the day whether morning, afternoon or evening. 
Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of The One Year Devotions for Women from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation.