Thursday, September 22, 2016

All is Bright written by Nancy Guthrie and Illus. by Lizzie Preston

All is Bright combines beautiful coloring pages with Christmas devotions for every day of the advent season. This beautiful coloring book is designed to help families take time every day to read and reflect on the Christ of the season. It is "a devotional journey to color your way to Christmas."

All is Bright contains a devotional reading and an intricate coloring page for each day of December. At the back of the book, All is Bright includes family activities including kid-friendly coloring pages and conversation starters to add meaning to the season. I found the reading to be short and easy to focus on. I plan to put on Instrumental Christmas music to relax while coloring and focusing on God. I thought the pictures were just beautiful all through the book. My only concern is that there were some ornaments to color and cut out in the family pages, but there is a design on the back of the page so I would hate to cut through that design to cut those out. I wish the page were blank behind them. Otherwise, everything about this book is great. I can't wait to use it through December.

I colored one of the family coloring pages at the back of All is Bright for my sample. The pages are a thick paper and color beautifully.

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book. Tyndale has a whole line of beautiful art journaling and coloring books:
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Recovering Spender by Lauren Greutman

Are you deep in credit card debt? Do you hide purchases from your spouse? Do you have more bills than income? If so, then you are probably a spender who needs some help to get back on track financially. Lauren Greutman shares her story of living life as a reckless spender and how she changed her habits and improved her family's life in The Recovering Spender.

Greutman offers a lot of helpful advice on spending, financial inequality, learning to work together financially in marriage and how to budget, among other topics in this book. The first half of the book shares her personal story along with some great information on spending relating to class/status, family history and money personalities. The second half of this book offers a complete set of twelve steps for recovering spenders.Greutman shares how spenders can be addicted to spending like alcoholics are addicted to alcohol.

I am not a big spender. I have never been in thousands of dollars of credit card debt. Actually, neither my husband nor I are big spenders. However, we do need to get on track with some of our financial goals. The Recovering Spender has some excellent tips even if you aren't over-spenders. I did learn several extra ways to earn money that I wasn't familiar with and other tips to improve our finances so that we can complete our goal of paying off our house early. We had a good budget and plan, but then moved 4 times in 3 years so we got off track. With Greutman's tips, I think we can soon be back on track to accomplishing our financial goals.

I would highly recommend The Recovering Spender to anyone, not just those with a huge spending struggle. Greutman's book is full of helpful tips and advice that I think could be of help to anyone wanting to improve their financial situation.  Greutman's information is easy to read and understand without being overly technical. Her plan and tips are straightforward and easy to follow. The Recovering Spender offers more than enough advice to pay for itself. However, I would mention that there are a few places where she plugs her on-line class and financial website, which is where she derives her income. For anyone wanting more of a support system, I think her class could be quite helpful though.

I received The Recovering Spender from Hachette Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Seize the Day by Joyce Meyer with a review of the Seize the Day StudyGuide

It seems like every day I add more items to my calendar and my to-do lists. At the same time, I feel like I have to keep up with all of my "friends" on social media. After awhile, I feel worn down and overwhelmed. Maybe you feel the same way? Joyce Meyer's new book, Seize the Day: Living on Purpose and Making every Day Count offers practical helps and Scriptural encouragement to commit to living each day for God and leaving that overwhelmed feeling behind.

I especially appreciate how down to earth Meyers is when she writes. In Seize the Day, Meyer acknowledges ways she has failed and grown, lessons she has learned and how God has shown her she can improve daily life by doing life with Him. I just appreciate how "real" she is. I can relate to much of what she shares in the book. I also found the study guide to be so helpful with this book. Each Study Guide section has personal questions along with Bible study questions to help you absorb and grow using what you have learned from each chapter in the book. I found this all to be so helpful to sue along with my Bible reading to get my day started with a better focus. This past week as I used both the Seize the Day book and study guide, I made some changes in my life that will help me honor both God and my use of time each day. Meyers stresses the importance of regularly being in the Bible so that you can learn and grow spiritually every day of your life.

Seize the Day would be a good book to use for either a personal study or a women's group study. I think if I had a group of ladies to do this with, it could be even more helpful as we mutually encourage each other to use our days to honor God. I highly recommend both the book along with the study guide.

I received Seize the Day and the Seize the Day Study Guide from Faith Words/Hachette Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the books.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Gathering in Hope by Philip Gulley

A Gathering of Hope is the Third book in the Hope series by Philip Gulley. I am a big fan of his Harmony series and have read them all. I enjoy his stories and humor focused on small town life in America.

Sam Gardner, pastor of the Quaker Church in Hope, is encouraged by the unexpected windfall inheritance left to his congregation by member Olive Charles who recently passed away. Several in the congregation want to use the money to expand their meetinghouse by building a new addition. However, before they can begin, the County Environmental Board and the Department of Natural Resources stops the plan due to a colony of endangered Indiana bats living in the attic and the trees on the property. Mayhem results as some of the members take matters into their own hands to further the Quakers' agenda. I will stop there as to not reveal too much of the plot.

I enjoyed book 2 in this series, A Lesson in Hope, very much. It often had me laughing in my reading chair as I turned page after page. However, this third book in the series wasn't my favorite one. The story seemed a bit farfetched to me. I also felt like Gulley was pushing a political agenda of promoting gay marriage in this book, poking fun of his conservative Christian readers, and portraying animal activists as deranged and militant.  I didn't see that in his humor in previous books and was disappointed in that aspect of the book. I also wish Gulley had shared more about Sam's brother, Roger, and his future wife in this book since Roger had just proposed to her near the end of book 2. Maybe that will be the main story-line in the next book? I have to admit I somehow missed reading book 1, but if the Hope series continues like this book, I personally don't think it shows Gulley's usual small town humor.

I received this book from Center Street/Hachette Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

In a Pit with  Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson is celebrating 10 years from it's original publication date. This newly released copy has some added bonus material along with the original book material. I have read several of Mark Batterson's books and found them to be just what I needed at the time. I didn't read this book the first time around for some unknown reason except that it is just what I needed to read now. As Batterson says of another reader,"God is never early, and He is never late! He's always right on time, His time!"

What lion is God calling you to chase? This book shares 7 different skills you will need if you want to be a lion chaser, that is if you want to be someone who boldly goes after what God is calling you to do even if it sounds like too big of a dream to chase. Batterson starts out the book by offering Biblical advice centered around the story of Benaiah chasing a lion in 2 Samuel 23:24-25. Throughout the rest of In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, Batterson shares Biblical wisdom, stories from his life and stories from the lives of other Christians to encourage readers to not let their fears get in the way and to follow dreams and paths that God has designed for them.

I found In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day to be an interesting and easy book to read. I am not sure it will be so easy to catch my own lion in a pit, but I do know that I feel inspired to ask God what it is that He wants me to do next and to spend time close to Him listening for the answer. I would encourage you to read this book, if you haven't already, and do the same.

While I have read the Bible through more than once, this story didn't really stick with me until reading Batterson's book.

 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

About Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church, one church with eight campuses in Washington, DC. Mark’s newest book is, Chase the Lion, which releases September 6th, 2016. He is the New York Times best-selling author of The Circle Maker, and has also written a dozen other popular titles including If, Wild Goose Chase, and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Mark has a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lora, and their three children. Learn more at

Thursday, September 8, 2016

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd is part autobiography and part a study of religion and the Christian Faith. 

As I read One of the Few, I found Ladd's military story to be quite interesting. While I don't have a military background, I do have a lot of respect for the men and women who serve our country. Ladd also shares how he met his wife, including how their relationship began both from the world's standpoint and where they both stood spiritually. I found it interesting to follow his path to faith. I have a minor in religious studies that I earned while I was doing my own spiritual searching in college. I could understand much of what he was saying about other religions and how they compared to Christianity. I have been a Christian Believer for many years now but I think I would have found this book to be even more interesting when I was spiritually searching.

Overall, I think there is an interesting story of a man coming to faith in One of the Few. At the same time, I struggled with some of his transitions between his autobiographical story and the Christian worldview. I sometimes struggled to follow him from one element to the next. For me I think this book would almost be better as two books instead of going back and forth between his life and analysis of the Christian faith. Also, there is a lot to think about in the book so it was not a quick read for me. That being said, I still think this is a book worth reading and would especially be of interest to those with a military background and those who are spiritually searching.

I received this book as a gift from the author. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Everything is Possible by Jen Bricker with Sheryl Berk

Jen Bricker was born without legs. On top of that, her biological parents were uncertain they could care for her and gave her up for adoption. You might think with those challenges that Jen would give up on big dreams in life. However, God was on top of all of that and put Jen in just the right home and family to nurture her gifts and help her grow into some big dreams that came true. Bricker shares her incredible story in Everything is Possible.

Before reading this book, I honestly wasn't familiar with Bricker. However, I enjoyed reading her autobiographical story. She is honest and forthright in sharing her amazing life. It is encouraging to see how much she has accomplished with her "Never say can't" attitude. She has accomplished so much in her life so far. Bricker is an author, aerielist, and motivational speaker. Along with her accomplishments, I came away from Everything is Possible feeling that her positive and "can do" approach to life was rubbing off on me leaving me feeling more of those uplifting emotions towards my own life.

Everything is Possible was well-written and a quick read. I enjoyed reading about Bricker's accomplishments in both her every day life and her public life. I also enjoyed hearing how she came to faith and how her faith has shaped her life. It is a book I could easily recommend, especially to someone who may be a bit down about their own life. After reading Bricker's book, I would think they would feel uplifted and upbeat about their own life.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Baker Books. I was not required to write a positive review.