Monday, August 22, 2016

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

I don't know about you but I often feel like I am the only one. The only one that has been left out, rejected, lonely or less than. Not so says Lysa TerKeurst in her latest book, Uninvited.

TerKeurst shares her own experiences of feeling left out in life, along with some Bible characters that have also faced feelings of rejection. Uninvited is another one of those books where you feel like you are sitting in the coffee shop leaning towards Lysa and hearing her share her heart with you. In Uninvited, she shares a lot of ways we can learn to change our thinking about ourselves, about situations and about facing a room full of strangers at the next large gathering. There is a lot of good advice in this book. At the same time, that advice doesn't feel all preachy instead it feels up close and personal, like it is coming from someone who really cares to help you make life changes.

At the end of Uninvited there is a Bonus Chapter called, What's It Like to Do Life with Me? followed by an assessment to use with that chapter. In my opinion this part alone would be worth the price of the book. TerKeurst also shares Scriptures that relate to each chapter that are written out in the back. She follows that section with highlights from each chapter that she doesn't want you to forget. I would recommend this book to anyone trying to come to grips with rejection and loneliness.

To coincide with the book, Proverbs 31 is offering an online Bible study that starts September 6 and ends October 14. I have done the on-line Bible studies before and they have been very helpful to me. This is the link:
Proverbs 31 Uninvited on-line Bible Study

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Monday, August 15, 2016

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Lisa Tawn Bergren with art by David Hohn

Little Pup is bummed out. . .Hibernating season is coming soon in the Great North Woods and he isn't looking forward to it. As someone who has lived all her life in the Midwest and whose least favorite season is winter, I can relate to Little Pup. However, Little Pup's Mama reminds Little Pup to be grateful for the autumn season and for all the other good things in his life. . .She even helps him turn the negative things he mentions into something to be grateful for. "The trick to having a thankful heart is thinking about the things that make us happy, rather than the things that don't," Mama says in God Gave Us Thankful Hearts.

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts is part of the God Gave us series by Lisa Tawn Bergren: God Gave us You, God Gave us Christmas, God Gave Us Love, God Gave Us Easter, and God Gave Us Sleep. My family has enjoyed other books in the series. . .and we especially like this one. Honestly, it is a simple, but good message that the whole family can relate to. The illustrations by David Hohn are a beautiful rendition of the storyline. I am thinking it would be a nice tradition to read Bergren's book during Thanksgiving week every year. This book is specifically recommended for ages 3 to 8, but since it is a nice book to read in a family setting, I  would recommend it to anyone for that purpose besides children in the appropriate age group.

I received this book from Waterbrook publishers at Blogging for Books for this review.

Lisa T. Bergren is the author of over forty books, with nearly two million copies sold. Her work includes children’s books, historical and contemporary fiction, women’s nonfiction, and gift books. A freelance writer and editor, Lisa lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She and her husband, Tim, are the parents of three children.

DAVID HOHN is an award-winning illustrator whose art has graced many popular children's books, including God Gave Us Christmas. He graduated with honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is finishing an MFA in Illustration program from the University of Hartford. David lives in Portland, Oregon with his family.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How Big Is Love? by Amy Parker with illus by Breezy Brookshire

How Big is Love by Amy Parker is a delightful children's book. We really enjoyed both the beautiful illustrations by Breezy Brookshire and the words to this book.

How Big is Love? is a nice sized board book measuring eight inches square. It is a sweet tale about a young hedgehog who is trying to understand how love works. Throughout the book, Little One asks his mama questions and and she answers them by continuing to point him towards the One who made us all and showing him a gentle caring love in the process. 

How Big Is Love? is based on 1 Corinthians 13:13 and is part of the Faith, Hope and lOve series. There are 2 more board books similar to this one: How High Is Hope and How Far is Faith? in the series along with a Faith, Hope and Love Devotional to use with your little ones. I like many aspects of this book: size, quality illustrations, a nice wording and the Bible verse in the end that seems to be geared well to the age group without seeming to overwhelm them with any Bible knowledge. It gets the concept across quite well. I highly recommend it to families with little ones and it would be a great gift for families with young ones.

I received this book from Broadman and Holman. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Modern Potluck by Kristen Donnelly

My husband's family gets together a few times a year for special occasions with a potluck meal together. Occasionally we go to a church or neighborhood potluck or the yearly potluck family reunion with my family. While I usually bring an old favorite, I thought Modern Potluck by Kristin Donnelly might offer some new ideas for a traveling dish.

I especially enjoyed reading the introduction and cook's notes in Modern Potluck as I wasn't familiar with this author's background. She also offers some great advice and ideas here and throughout the book. She shares her tips on making perfect hard-boiled eggs, on choosing the right salt, cooking beans, tips on making a great fruit salad, and various other helpful hints.

Recipe chapters in Modern Potluck include: Snacks, Dips and Drinks; Main Course Salads & Other Room Temperature Main Dishes; Slow-Cooked and Served Hot; The 9 X 13 inch Pan: Casserole and the Like; Supporting-Role salads & Sides; Baked and Savory; Sweets; and Condiments and Other Things in Jars. The recipes that really caught my eye were: several types of deviled eggs, Chinese Chicken Salad, Cornmeal-Crusted Oven-Fried Chicken to serve cold (gluten free optional), Healthy Root Vegetable Gratin, Many Bean Salad,  Roasted and Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad, Vegetarian Borscht Salad, Mollys Scallion Pull-apart Bread, and Applesauce Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake. I wanted to make the Bundt Cake for my review but my Bundt pan is smaller than the 12-cup Pan required for the recipe.

I liked that Modern Potluck has so many helpful tips and hints for potluck. I also like the full color pictures throughout the book that accompany nearly all of the recipes. One thing that I didn't like in this book was that some recipes require you to weigh the food called for in ounces, instead of giving the amount needed in cups. I know that can be a good thing but it isn't as handy for me in my kitchen. Otherwise, I think Modern Potluck would be a good addition to any cookbook library.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for this book.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Me Too by Jon Weece

You know that you have found a special friend when you share some of your life's stories and they respond with, "Yeah, me too." Author Jon Weece tells us in his new book, Me Too, that God is a God who understands our difficulties and our pain, our thoughts and feelings. Weece says that He is the God of Me too.

Me Too is divided into three sections. Part 1:The Cross--What Jesus Did, Part 2: The Church--What Jesus is doing, and Part 3: The City--What Jesus will do. In each section of the book, Jon shares stories from his church and his life, relates them to the God of the Bible and ends with teaching you can relate to your life. In the first section we read about the Jesus who lived, walked among us and died for us--and how that can change our life if we will let it. The second section shares how God lives in His people and they are the church wherever they go. In the last section, Weece tells us how we have a heavenly city to look forward to even in the midst of suffering and pain now.

Weece had me from the introduction when he shared this:
"Too many people suffer alone. And most people who suffer alone aren't looking for answers. Most people who suffer alone are looking for a friend--a friend who understands.

Me too friends don't need to talk. There is power in presence. There is power in just being there."

Weece goes on to share how listening may be the greatest form of love and how people need us to notice them and love them. Wow. It sounds so simple and yet I totally agree. Everyone wants to feel loved and understood. I need to ask myself how I can do this for the people I come in contact with daily. I realize then that I am one ordinary person who can make a difference to someone else.

I found Me Too to be easy to relate to. I also enjoyed Weece's stories.  I especially appreciate that this book is not a book of pat answers and trite Christian sayings that don't really seem to touch your heart and leave you feeling emotionally untouched. Instead, Weece had me smiling, laughing and shedding a few tears.   I would recommend it to anyone searching to find the God who says, "me too."

I received this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The HCSB Illustrator's Notetaking Bible for Teens from HolmanBiblePublishers

The HCSB Illustrator's Notetaking Bible is geared for Teens and is geared for teens. . .but I like it too. I especially like the beautiful gray, silver, gold and white cover. This beautiful Bible has over 600 illustrations to trace and color along with blank wide margin areas to create your own Bible art pictures, take notes, or doodle draw. It is a place where I believe tweens and teens can read the Bible and dig into it in their own way.

Along with the illustrations, there are study helps in the HCSB Notetaking Bible for Teens that include: God's Plan of Salvation, a daily reading plan, a section on How to Share Your Faith, a glossary and maps. My teenage son found those all to be helpful. The print is nice and dark although not real big. I found it easy enough to read. I would not want the Bible much heavier to carry around, especially to make ease of use for this age group. My teenage son liked it well enough. For him, it was okay but he is not a big drawer. (He really likes the Apologetics Study Bible for Students reviewed previously). However, he thought his artistic tweenage cousin would love it. I think artistic adults would also like this Bible if they enjoy art journaling as the "teen" aspect is relatively understated with the beautiful cover. I highly recommend this beautiful Bible to anyone with artistic interests and those who want extra space for note taking.

I only used colored pencils for my sample page. The pages are fairly thin but nothing showed through with the pencils.
My pencil choices that I used.

I received this Bible from Holman Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for it.

About the Illustrator:
The interior scripture illustrations and Hand-lettering were down by Kristi Smith. Smith is an award-winning illustrator and hand-letterer at Juicebox Designs, a graphic design firm in Nashville, TN. Her work can also be seen in their on-line portfolio and retail store, the Juice Bar, located at

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Come to the Family Table by Ted and Amy Cunningham

Do your family meals feel rushed and stale? Do you have a fear of cooking for guests at your house? Come to the Family Table by Ted and Amy Cunningham, inspired by the slow food movement, offers ideas for providing your family with mealtimes that they will long remember for creating special memories. It also offers encouragement and advice to offer guests friendly hospitality that doesn't have to be perfect to be fun for all.

Come to the Family Table is divided into two sections: The Family Table Is For Us and The Family Table is For Others. Each of the five chapters within these two sections offers advice on how to enhance your mealtimes with the people you are with, a Cunningham family recipe, an idea for a relational game you can play, and a Christian devotional/prayer to go with the meal.

I enjoyed Come to the Family Table so much that I could have read it in one sitting if my schedule had allowed for the luxury. I found the writing to be easy to read and relate to. Recently an old school friend of mine came back to the area for a visit and we had a delicious meal out at our favorite restaurant. It gave me a taste of how much I enjoy those precious times eating together and reminded me of how much I want to do more of that. Come to the Family Table shares so many good ideas on how to do hospitality and how to share meals anywhere, ideas for good conversation and other entertaining ideas that all sound so easy to implement. I think sometimes I just make it too hard in my head and the ideas in this book could help me get past that if I will just implement them. It is naturally easier for me to make special meals for my family but this book also gave me some good ideas to open up new conversations with them, as well as to share and support each other to have the best overall family experience we can have as we do life together. In addition, the 10 recipes that are included sound good. A few of the recipes that are offered include: Blueberry-Lemon Muffins, Jill's Chicken Soup, and Sarah's One-Pot Pumpkin Salsa Soup.  I highly recommend this book to every one.

I received Come To the Family Table from the publisher, NavPress/Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Authors:
Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church. He enjoys being married to his wife of 18 years, Amy. They live in Branson, MO with their two children, Corynn and Carson. He is the author of The Power of Home, Fun Loving You, Trophy Child, and Young and In Love and coauthor of four books with Dr. Gary Smalley including The Language of Sex and From Anger to Intimacy. He is a regular guest on Focus on the Family, Life Today, and Moody Radio. He is a graduate of Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary.