Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory

In Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory, Jeremiah Burroughs seeks to make the reader aware of the snares of worldly riches but not in the traditional sense.  He makes a case that the "riches of this world compete for our affections and challenge our contentment in Christ."  

His premise is not that riches in themselves are evil but the inability of contentment for the owner is where the evil resides.  Whereas most men are interested in increasing their wealth and amassing it for their own fleshly pleasures, the Christian should learn to abound in their fullness.

Burroughs presents the view a Christian should take in regards to prosperity as a means to serve and thus glorify God rather than for temporal pleasures.  A man of lesser means is supposedly looked down upon but it is the rich man that should be pitied because his responsibility is greater and thus his judgement weightier as well.  Burroughs advises the man who is full to make it a practice to examine himself through the Word of God and prayer (keep your books even every day with God).  It is commendable to a man to make best use of God's mercies daily and not concern himself with acquiring more wealth.  A man who is full must learn that fullness is only found in Jesus not in his material fullness, thus truly abounding.

Whereas, I could not agree with Burroughs's theology and doctrine one hundred precent, I did appreciate his insights into a timely subject matter.  Most our concerned with acquiring wealth and not concerned about the toll it will take on his relationship with God.  This book is a worthwhile read to take an introspective looks at one's views and actions concerning material fullness.

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Seaside Harmony & Sunflower Summer

Evangeline Kelley's Seaside Harmony & Sunflower Summer are the first two in the series Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn.  In a nutshell, It is about "Three sisters.  A charming inn. Hints of mystery and romance.  And a gorgeous seaside setting."

There are aspects I can appreciate about the book like the vivid details surrounding Nantucket's landscape and the depictions of Misty Harbor Inn itself.  But it seems that is where the charm ends.  

The characters never really seemed to come to life.  Their portrayals seemed superficial never really delving into the root of their relationship as sisters, wives, and mothers.  I left the books feeling like I did not get to know Caroline, Gracie, and Sam.  Even their relationship with God seemed a bit elusive and the lack of thereof for Sam was never really explored in depth.  

The mystery surrounding Hannah Montague intriguing at first seemed to fall flat at the end.  Seeing their mystery case evolve to come an incomplete resolution left one thinking that maybe it will be further explored in upcoming titles seeing that they have an entire house to further explore for clues.  

Caroline's relationship with George became a bit much to bare as well as Gracie's indecisiveness.  Whereas, the growth of the sisters was evident in small amounts especially with Caroline becoming more focused and Gracie seemingly loosening up, the ending did not seem to consistent leaving the future of the inn and the sisters a little in the air.  

I definitely appreciated that romance was not the focal point of these books and a look at usually overlooked topics such as empty-nesters, widowhood, and retirement were explored.  The historical mystery involved was exciting with its clues and leads.  Overall, the books seemed to drag on a bit and did not develop the characters enough.  

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Litfuse  in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Guideposts Books is celebrating the release of their new Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn series with a fun giveaway and a Facebook party on May 9th.


One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A Nook HD

  • Seaside Harmony and Sunflower Summer by Evangeline Kelley

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 8th. Winner will be announced at the Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/9. Connect with Patti Berg, Pam Andrews, Barbara Hanson, and Camy Tang (who collaborated together under the pen name, Evangeline Kelley) for an evening of book chat, trivia, and fun! There will also be great giveaways (gift certificates, books, and more) as well as a sneak peek at the next book in the series!

So grab your copies of Seaside Harmony and Sunflower Summer and join readers just like you on the evening of May 9th for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the books - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: Darkness Before Dawn

Ace Collins' Darkness Before Dawn is a riveting page turning thriller and yet so heartfelt and touching.

Meg Richards life is shattered with the death of her husband. Not only does her husband die, but so does the faith in God she once shared with him. The only thing that keeps Meg going is her all consuming desire of revenge on her husbands killer, a drunk driver. Her husbands killer is a teenager, high school hero, and member of an affluent family. Once face to face with the killer at trial, will the verdict satisfy Meg or drive her overboard?

Within the first 100 pages, my jaw had dropped and I could not put the book down.  Meg's pain regarding the loss of her husband's death was so raw because to her the loss was unnecessary.  It was not a casual death but a murder.  With the loss of her husband, came the loss of her faith in God.  This loss of conviction enables her to vow to avenge her husband's death at all costs making her heartless and at times downright cruel.  Her obsession with retribution and fantasizing about the killer's death sent chills while reading.

Her ruthless attitude alienated her from those she once loved including the patients she attends as a nurse.  But there is a patient she can not seem to shake because this patient's faith is unshakable.  Nancy's firm faith and patient love serve as a reminder that God is indeed in control something Meg does not want to hear or believe.

"She wants to experience life, even if it's painful, " Meg explained.  The comparison between Nancy's situation and her own suddenly hit Meg full force.  She didn't want to feel anything, but Nancy did.  p.156

Dissatisfied with the justice system and even her own vigilante attempts at revenge, Meg realizes that there is indeed darkness before dawn.  Meg's story left one grieving with this young widow and desiring her to find comfort in God all the while shocked at who she had become and what she was capable of.  This story highlights the effects of one's sin on a person, the ability not to become a prisoner of bitterness by the possibility of finding hope, peace, and forgiveness in Jesus.   

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Litfuse  in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

In his latest novel, Darkness Before Dawn (Abingdon Press), Ace Collins leads readers on an emotionally charged ride from revenge to forgiveness.

fb-rafflecopter iconAce is celebrating the release of Darkness Before Dawn with a Retribution v. Redemption 12-Day Giveaway!

Go {HERE} or click the button for all the details. Follow along for a new giveaway each day. (Moleskin journal, books, Starbucks gift cards and so much more!)

Book Review: Sweet Sanctuary

Kim Vogel Sawyer's Sweet Sanctuary is a story of letting go of man made security and living in safety because of God.

Lydia's sanctuary is her father's home.  Although with the best of intentions to protect Nicky, the web of lies surrounding his life has created her sanctuary into a prison when Nicky's drug-addicted father threatens to destroy their lives for his selfish gain.  Will she be able to escape and find her sanctuary in trusting God's will for Nicky's life even if it means loosing him?

Micah strives to live his life with God's purpose as his central focus and while commendable, has he closed himself off to the possiblity of God expanding His purpose to include a family?  Will Micah be able to find sanctuary in knowing that following God's plan also includes changes?

From the onset the reader is pulled into the story with the suspense surrounding a mysterious parental claim.  As the story continues, the characters are revealed to have depth and emotion that make them real.  You are drawn into their struggles and just when you think a solution is reached a menancing presence makes an unexpected appearence to throw things into disorder or does Nicolai Pankin's appearance actually start putting things into God's order?

The story is riveting from onset.  The depth of emotion encountered and the spiritual growth of the characters enthralled the reader whereas the redemption of others left the reader stunned by the awesome power of God.  This multi-dimensional story helped one to look at the loss of a child from the domestic and international point of view.  Its look on addiction aroused sympathy and understanding.  

This was a fantastic read from start to finish and a highly recommended read.  

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Litfuse  in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

To celebrate the release of  Sweet Sanctuary Kim Vogel Sawyer is giving away a Cupcake Club membership (monthly cupcake delivery!) from the amazing Magnolia Bakery in New York and hosting a Facebook Author Chat party {4/30}!


One "sweet" winner will receive:

    • Cupcakes from NYC’s Magnolia Bakery delivered to your door every month. (Eat them all yourself or share!)

    • Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer for you and four of your friends. (Start a book group — cupcakes and a "sweet" read!)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th. Winner will be announced at the "Sweet Sanctuary" Author Chat Party on 4/30. Connect with Kim, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be fun giveaways - gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Sweet Sanctuary and join Kim on the evening of April 30th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 30th!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Review: John Newton

John Crotts' John Newton provides a synopsis of the life, conversion, and ministry of a man so touched by the grace of God, he lived to show it to others. 

Most biographies of John Newton focus on his participation in the slave trade.  This rendition of his life focused more on Jesus who saved this man despite his many failings rather than glorifying his sinful life.  The focus is on the God who saves to the uttermost and Newton's response to such amazing grace.

The author took great pains to illustrate sin through the Scriptures allowing the reader to identify with Newton rather than criticize and judge him.  The various examples of grace extended to Newton throughout his life sowed into the reader a wonderful picture of the Amazing God who gives such amazing grace.  Because of this amazing grace shown throughout Newton's life is that the reader can fully understand why Newton was so passionate about receiving this grace and extending it to others.  Newton's acts of reciprocating this grace is poignant in his willingness to transcend denominational barriers.

The last two chapter focus on the essence of his hymns and letters.  His hymns were brought about through his his own spiritual experiences and gratitude toward his Savior.  They were also used to connect God's Word to the hearer and therefore to Jesus.  His letters served to encourage, educate, comfort, and preach the Word of God.  This, just as the hymns, were a vital part of his ministry.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and think it a great asset to spark the interest for further study.

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review--A Noble Groom

In A Noble Groom, author, Jody Hedlund sets out to tell Annalisa Werner's story, one marked by a life of hardships and disappointments.  Yet, things unseemingly take a turn after the death of her husband with the promise of new husband and the unexpected arrival of an interim helper, Carl Richards.  Will this new husband be the solution to her problems or will his arrival prove disastrous?

From the onset, the characters and plot captivate you.  Who is this forlorn woman who has had to face tragedy and adversity all the while still determined to fight to remain on her land?  Who is this noble man accused of murder and sentenced to execution?  And how will their lives intertwine?

Annalisa's character is credible.  She is a wife, a daughter, a mother.  She is a woman.  In her eyes, her value consists of the work she can provide on the farm and the sons she can bear.  Nothing more.  Her world does not consist of the love she recounts in her story-telling to her young daughter.  Yet, her heart yearns for it.  

But she still couldn't keep from wishing somehow things could be different--that she could be more important to the men in her life, that she could make them love her, that she could find a way to earn God's attention. p. 23

With the arrival of the mysterious Carl Richards, a supposed helper for Annalisa, the story takes on another demension.  Their survival story  becomes more than just one for survival's sake.  It becomes a story of surviving one's past and even one's present to become who God wants.  This becomes evident in Carl's life just as much as Annalisa's.

He was a nobleman, not a peasant farmer.  He wasn't born for a life of hard labor.  He was far above such menial work.  God had gifted him a a scholar and a learned man.  And he should be somewhere else putting his talents to good effort, rather than languishing in a farm field.  p. 91

Although the author had a great opportunity to develop these characters, it did not seem to happen.    The focus became in finding whether a passionate marriage was possible rather than finding their worth in Jesus.  Waiting to see when the characters were going to develop strong convictions and yet not having it happen made the story seem to drag on a bit.  

The story and characters were interesting  Seizing the opportunity to demonstrate their growth and the realization of God as more than just a vague personage was missed.  

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Litfuse  in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Jody Hedlund is celebrating the release of A Noble Groom by giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting a Facebook Author Chat Party {5/8}! 


One "noble" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire

  • A copy of A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 7th. Winner will be announced at the "A Noble Groom" Author Chat Party on May 8th. Connect with Jody, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of A Noble Groom and join Jody on the evening of May 8th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 8th!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review--Take a Chance on Me

In Take a Chance on Me, Susan May Warren presents a love story between Darek Christansen and Ivy Madison.  More than just another love story however,  it is a story of redemption filled with suspense and action.

Darek Christansen's past includes rivalries, mistakes, and the eventual death of his wife, Felicity, leaving him a single parent of his son, Theo.  Ivy Madison looks the part of the successful attorney but her past entails  secrets of abandonment that leave her aching to belong and she thinks she can find it in Deep Haven.  Little do they both know that new beginnings are not as easy as new locations or even new relationships.  

Felicity's death not only affected Darek but the entire community, including once best friend, Jensen Atwood.  This once close-knit community is shattered and everyone takes a side.  The wounds have lingered, severing relationships, breaking trusts, and yet, raising the question, "Can one forgive?"  

This beautiful story narrates the importance of taking chances on oneself, each other, and most importantly, God. Riddled with regrets, bitterness, and anger, the characters finally come to the realization that taking chances to forgive and love again are indeed worth it.  

Susan MayWarren has done an excellent job in creating characters that one not only liked but shared in their hurt and eventual joy.  The Gospel's presentation was done in such a clear manner that one found themselves cheering on as the characters received God's forgiveness, asked for forgiveness, and forgave others.  

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Goals Update

1.  Work on Proverbs with girls on weekdays
2.  Memorize 2 Bible Verses
3.  Pray for SIC for the entire month
4.  4 Meatless Meals (good recipe to try)
5.  Freezer cooking 2x
7.  Mail out package and letters for Nthati & Abdi
8.  Finish 6 weeks of Project Life 2011
9.  Finish workout weeks
10.  Date night with husband

March came with a lot of unexpected events which led to a productive month but just in a different way.  I praise the Lord that what He wanted us to do got done.  Everything else was put on hold and I am rejoicing to see how God works.  One desire in our hearts is to always remain flexible in the Lord.  We don't want to establish and adhere to strict schedules not giving us the opportunity to hear His guidance and direction.  Open ears, open eyes, and open hearts.

Whereas, I did not make progress in some areas, I gained a lot of lead way in others.  For example, my work outs weren't stellar this month.  This is usually the first one to go when it comes to schedules because I value other things more.  So I took a whole week off and glad because my body needed it.  

On the other hand, I made such progress in my PL2011.  I have ordered over 150 prints and am already  on October, so I am way ahead of my goal here.  I even got to order one of Sara's baby albums when they had it for free (just pay shipping) from Shutterfly.  AND, I ordered and received our Project Life for the girls.  We plan to use it for all those pictures we have of them floating around.  

I finally mailed out the package and am relieved because I know the Lord is dealing with this soul to receive His Word.  

Although I didn't make much head way in the cooking department, I am thankful that because I had the previous month, ordering out was minimal.  

April promises to be an exciting month as we plan for next year's homeschool curriculum and see what the Lord has in store for us.