Thursday, December 26, 2019

Fascinating! ' God's Hostage' - by Andrew Brunson with Craig Borlase

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About the book:

When God called, he answered

In 1993, Andrew Brunson was asked to move to Turkey, the largest unevangelized country in the world, to serve as a missionary. Though reluctant at first because of the daunting task that lay ahead, Andrew and his wife, Norine, became convinced this was God's plan for them.

What followed was a string of difficulties and threats, but there were also successes in starting new churches in a place where many people had never met a Christian. As their work with refugees from Syria, including Kurds, gained attention and suspicion, Andrew and Norine acknowledged the threat but accepted the risk, confident that this work was part of their assignment.

In 2016, they were arrested. Though the state quickly released Norine, who remained in Turkey, Andrew was imprisoned. Accused of being a spy and being among the plotters of an attempted coup, he became a political pawn whose name was soon known around the world.

God's Hostage is the incredible true story of his imprisonment, his brokenness, his faithfulness . . . and his freedom.

My review:

This was a fascinating and extremely honest look at what Pastor Andrew Brunson went through as he was held for two years in Turkish prisons.  Almost immediately Pastor Brunson seemed to be breaking down, even when his wife was still with him.  He had trouble sleeping and overwhelming anxiety.  He admitted that while he admired many missionaries who had been imprisoned for their faith and who said they had such joy or peace while in prison, that was not the case for him.  He struggled daily with questions about why this was happening and if God was even there and then came to a place where he praised God and asked for his help to get through.  He went through this cycle almost daily.  It was frustrating to read about the corrupt court system and how it was ruled by higher-ups.  It really makes me grateful for the system and the freedoms we still enjoy for the most part in the United States.  I was amazed, too, at how much President Trump and other politicians worked on his behalf.  There were also people all over the world praying for him throughout his ordeal.  If not for those two groups, he'd still be there to this day.  I highly recommend this book if you want to read about one man's honest struggle with faith!

I received this book from Baker Books.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

           The Authors

  1. Andrew Brunson

    Andrew Brunson

    Andrew Brunson is an American pastor. He holds a PhD in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Andrew and his wife, Norine, were involved in starting churches, training believers, aiding refugees, and a house of prayer in Turkey for...
    Continue reading about Andrew Brunson
  2. Craig Borlase

    Craig Borlase

    Craig Borlase is an author based in Reading, England. His books include God's Gravity, The Naked Christian, William Seymour: A Biography, and The Art of Compassion.
    Continue reading about Craig Borlase 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Wonderful Resource! 'Living Beyond Pain; A Holistic Approach to Manage Pain and Get Your Life Back' - by Linda S. Mintle, PhD & James W. Kribs, DO

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About the book:

If you are one of the 100 million Americans living with chronic pain, there is hope.
In Living beyond Pain, a physician and a therapist offer a whole-person approach to pain management, addressing the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of pain and providing alternative strategies that don't rely on opioids. Through education, pain triumph stories, daily guided cognitive activity, and as-needed pain rescue techniques, you can reprogram your neurologic pathways, increase functioning, and experience improvement in your symptoms. If you suffer from pain, this book offers real, research-based hope that there are better days ahead.

My review:

This book had such wonderful information!  The authors started out with a section on understanding pain, from explaining how pain works to the toll it can take to the types of pain.  They talk about the impact our thoughts can have on our pain and how connected our mind and body are.  They're incredibly encouraging and point out that improvement can be made, even if you might not be able to get rid of the pain completely.  The next section gives tools to improve your pain.  They talk about traditional and nontraditional methods to pain management, such as medication and retraining your brain.  They also point out it could be a structural issue that needs addressing and that the underlying issue needs to be addressed, if at at all possible, rather than just treating the symptoms.  It was especially interesting to read how much our thinking and beliefs affect our bodies.  We need to understand what our beliefs are about pain, the negative thoughts running through our heads about it and learn to reframe those thoughts in a positive way.  They talk about stress and ways to minimize it and point out lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact as well, such as losing weight, eating well and getting enough sleep.  Making sure we exercise or get some movement in is also helpful.  I especially liked the chapter where they pointed out it's helpful to find meaning in our suffering with a wonderful real-life example, which they had many of throughout the book.  In the end, they encourage us to make a plan, set realistic goals and never give up.  There were a lot of great tips in this book that I'm going to implement as this is an issue I've struggled with for years.  I'm also going to recommend it to a lot of people I know.  I highly recommend this book if you struggle with pain or know someone who does!

I received this book from Baker Books.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

About the authors:

Linda S. Mintle, PhD, is a national speaker, blogger, radio host, and bestselling author of twenty books. With nearly thirty years of clinical practice as a therapist and coach, her current clinical and academic efforts are being directed toward the development of an interprofessional approach to pain management given the present opioid crisis and the need for nonpharmacological approaches to deal with people in chronic pain. She lives in Virginia.

James W. Kribs, DO, is a practicing physician. Board-certified in neuromusculoskeletal medicine with a subspecialty in pain medicine, his clinical practice focus includes osteopathic manipulative medicine, manual sports medicine, medical orthopedics, and interventional pain management. Additionally, Dr. Kribs has served on the academic faculty of two medical schools, and is involved nationally in advancing osteopathic medicine curriculum initiatives. He lives in Virginia.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Narrative Apologetics - by Alister E. McGrath

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About the book:

The Bible is a narrative--the story of God's creation, humankind's fall, and God's plan of redemption. And it is filled with countless smaller stories that teach us about people, history, and the nature of God. This comes as no surprise. After all, we are hardwired to tell stories because we are created in the image of God. Despite this, we often attempt to share our faith with others not through story but through systems, arguments, and talking points--methods that appeal to the mind but neglect the imagination.

In this groundbreaking book, scholar and author Alister McGrath lays a foundation for narrative apologetics before considering the many ways in which it can be used. Exploring four major biblical narratives, enduring stories such as Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, and personal narratives from figures such as St. Augustine and Chuck Colson, McGrath shows how we can both understand and share our faith through the use of stories.

My review:

This was an interesting book but I didn't realize it was more of an academic work than a how-to on using stories to discuss your faith.  McGrath explained some of the history of narrative apologetics, its importance and the different ways we can use it.  He also pointed out that something is lost when certain aspects of faith are explained factually instead.  Jesus used parables and there was a very good reason He did!  There's a reason we were given an imagination and there's an important place for it.  I loved all of the quotes from C. S. Lewis and also Dorothy L. Sayers and J. R. R. Tolkien.  He also pointed out how some of the core questions we have as human beings can be best answered through the Christian narrative and how that might come about.  Finally, he talked about the different narratives we can use, Biblical, personal and cultural.  I think Bible teachers, pastors or anyone who wonders at the validity of using narratives when discussing their faith would find this book interesting.

I received this book from Baker Books.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

           The Author

  1. Alister E. McGrath

    Alister E. McGrath

    Alister E. McGrath (DPhil and DD, University of Oxford; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts) is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University and director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. He is the author of many...
    Continue reading about Alister E. McGrath 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Cute Story! 'Love Me Darling' - Love Me #4 - by Laura Burton

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About the book:

A short Christmas romance to warm your heart this winter.

Lottie: I hate Christmas.

The LED lights give me a headache.

I can't sing. And I get sick. Every. Single. Year.

This year is the worst. My Nan is practically on her deathbed and has planned for the biggest Christmas party this world has ever seen. Everyone will be there. Lucas Green is invited. My childhood crush. The guy I've been stuck in the friend zone for years. This is my last chance to get him to notice me. But how do I stop looking like an idiot with all the Christmas cheese at every turn?

Lucas: It's the best time of year.

Business is booming.

Ada's about to give birth any day now.

The town is full of cheer. And Lottie is coming home for the holidays.

This is it. The year I finally make a move. Otherwise, I think Ada will kill me. Problem is, every time I see her, my legs turn to jelly and I act like a total idiot. I need to woo her with lots of Christmas surprises. I mean, who doesn't love Christmas? Nothing can go wrong.

An adorable Christmas story including all of the couples from the 'Love Me' series. Laughter, tear-jerking moments and swoon-worthy romance all wrapped up in Christmas gift wrap. 

My review:

This was a really cute story perfect for Christmas!  I loved Lottie and Lucas.  She was introverted, quirky and fun while he was a sweet guy who put his family first and worked hard.  I loved the banter and funny one-liners!  He did do something really stupid that I couldn't believe but did apologize later.  It was cute to watch Lucas try to tell Lottie how he felt while Lottie felt like it couldn't be real.  The romance was really sweet and this was a clean story.  There was one point where living together was mentioned. There's no mention of faith.  I liked the British setting and there were a few crazy situations happening.  I did feel a little lost about who the couples were as I've never read the first three stories in the series.  Meeting them intrigued me, though, and I'd like to read about them, too.  I would recommend this story if you're looking for a cute Christmas romance!

I received this ebook from StoryOrigin.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

To Marry a Morgan - Romantic Pathways 1 - by Cinnamon Worth

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About the book:

A secret, an unseen witness, and a misunderstanding threaten to keep apart two people who have loved each other their entire lives. When these barriers to love are finally lifted, can she overcome her own insecurities and finally see the truth? 
Racked with guilt and blaming himself for his brother’s death, Phillip Heartford left his ancestral home five years ago.
After losing the love of her life, the beautiful Allison Morgan is resentful and angry. She has rejected countless suitors, and now, in the middle of her third season, she may be out of options.
Allison’s younger sister Julia is an ugly duckling. At least that is how she sees it. Although a happy marriage seems out of her reach, she hopes to one day live a quiet life as a spinster. If she cannot have her own fairytale ending, she is determined to do anything to help her sister and her dear friend, Phillip, find their happiness.
Little does Julia know that Phillip has always loved her. Unfortunately, he believes that it was this love that caused his brother’s death and destroyed Julia’s chance for happiness. He must now take a bride. Having convinced himself that his brother would want him to protect Julia, Phillip intends to become her brother by marrying Allison.
Returning home to fulfill his duty, will Phillip be able to follow his conscience or will his heart interfere?

To Marry a Morgan can be read as a stand-alone romance, though it is part of a sweet Regency series. It is a childhood-friends and second-chance romance.

My review:

I enjoyed this story set in the Regency time period.  I liked Julia and felt for her in her insecurity, especially since she had such a gorgeous sister.  It was nice to have a heroine who's not a size 2, though she was self-conscious about her weight.  I loved that Phillip encouraged her to eat sweets; that was a cute scene.  Phillip, too, was a wonderful character, honorable and caring, though a bit misguided in what he thought was best.  I loved that he rescued a kitten and kept it; that was so sweet!  There were a few cute moments between Phillip and Julia but I did wish for a bit more to show how they felt.  I had to listen to the book at 1.5 speed as normal speed felt way too slow.  The narrator was okay; I've listened to others with British accents I've liked better.  This was a clean read.  There was mention of God but it's not meant to be a Christian story.  If you like Regency stories, you'll probably like this one.

I received an Audible copy of this story from StoryOrigin.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

The Moon is Always Round - by Jonathan Gibson


About the book:

Even young children want answers to the hard questions about God and suffering. In The Moon Is Always Round, seminary professor and author Jonathan Gibson uses the vivid imagery of the moon to explain to children how God’s goodness is always present, even when it might appear to be obscured by upsetting or difficult circumstances.

In this beautiful, two-color illustrated book, he allows readers to eavesdrop on the conversations he had with his young son in response to his sister’s death. Father and son share a simple liturgy together that reminds them that, just as the moon is always round despite its different phases, so also the goodness of God is always present throughout the different phases of life.

A section in the back of the book offers further biblical help for parents and caregivers in explaining God’s goodness to children. Jonathan Gibson reminds children of all ages that God’s goodness is present in the most difficult of times, even if we can’t always see it.

My review:

While this was obviously a sad story I think it would be helpful to a child struggling to understand that God is good even when bad things happen.  It's a simple yet profound analogy.  I liked the colorful illustrations and that that there's a section in the back where we're told how this story came about.  The two lessons in the back explaining more about the moon analogy and Good Friday were helpful, also.  I would recommend this book for parents trying to figure out how to explain difficult circumstances while believing in a good God.

I received this book from New Growth Press.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 6, 2019

She Did It Again! ' Misleading Miss Verity' - Regency Brides Daughters of Aynsley 3 - by Carolyn Miller

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About the book:

Verity Hatherleigh has a mind of her own—but her actions do not impress her viscount papa. When she gets into one scrape too many, he sends her off to the wilds of Scotland to rethink her headstrong ways.

Anthony Jardine relished his role as curate, but his new duties as laird of Dungally aren’t always to his liking. Though he thought his new inheritance would be a blessing, somehow he’s finding nothing but trouble on these estates. And the intelligent, compassionate, feisty lass who was sent to rusticate in his territory is one of the biggest problems. He’s falling in love with her, but she doesn’t share the faith that’s his foundation—not to mention he’s been lying to her about who he really is. For the truth-loving Verity, that may be unforgivable.

The tangled web these two have woven may spell disaster for their happiness—and for the tenants of Dungally.

My review:

This was another wonderful story by Carolyn Miller!  I loved this whole series and I've been looking forward to Verity's story since being introduced to her in the first book and it did not disappoint!  She's such a wonderful character, so bright and witty, straightforward and honest but also cared so much about people.  I really enjoyed the banter between her and Anthony, with their funny play on words.  My heart broke for her and the pain she felt from how her parents viewed her and treated her instead of loving her for who she was.  She had a hard time believing anyone, including God, would find her lovable.  Anthony was also a great character, honorable, witty, self-sacrificing and a strong Christian.  I admired his determination to keep God first and not become unequally yoked.  He did want to be judged for himself, not being the laird, so he didn't tell everyone who he was at first and that lie of omission got out of hand.  I also thought the scene at the end was a bit odd but I'm not sure how else it could have been resolved at that point.  The romance was wonderful; I loved that we got both of their points of view.  There was also some excitement with a horse race and an almost kidnapping!  This book worked well as a stand-alone but I highly recommend the first two in the series about her sisters.  This is definitely a must-read!

I received this book from Kregel Publications.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

My Bedtime Bible Prayers - by Karoline Pahus Pedersen


About the book:

My Bedtime Bible Prayers is creatively designed to encourage Bible reading and prayer as a natural part of any nighttime routine.

Inside are 44 prayers, each based on a Bible verse and Bible story, along with a takeaway question. The whimsical illustrations featured throughout depict both Bible scenes and contemporary life. With this caring guidance, children ages 6-8 will learn to share their hearts and thoughts with God--while also discovering how much He loves them!

My review:

I loved the colorful pages and it almost had the look of a scrapbook inside.  The prayers were straightforward and I liked that they were addressed to "God" or "Dad."  I also liked that a Bible verse was included and that there was a question to think about, sometimes a really easy one, sometimes a little harder.  There were a lot of great topics addressed, from forgiveness to loving each other.  I highly recommend this book!

I received this book from Kregel Publications.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Amazing! 'My God Loves Me Bible' - by Cecile Fodor

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About the book:

This colorful book unpacks the wonderful truth that each child is loved by God

God speaks His love through every single story of the Bible. What a beautiful message for little hearts to hear!

With eighteen Bible stories from creation through the life and resurrection of Jesus, My God Loves Me Bible shows children that they are precious beyond measure in God's sight.

Each Bible story is supported by Scripture to bring out the truth it reveals. The stories are told both through words and colorful scenes and visual details young children will love.

With this Bible in their hands, they will say with joy, "God loves me!"

My review:

I loved the uniqueness of this board book in that at the beginning of each Bible story it tells the theme of the story, such as "He gives me courage when I am scared," tells the Bible story, then brings it back to the child by saying that God is with you and you don't have to be afraid.  Each theme and story shows a way that God loves you and me.  The stories are told in a very basic way but the passages are given if you want to find it in the Bible.  The illustrations are bright and cheerful.  There's a wonderful handle so the child can carry it easily.  I highly recommend this comforting book full of God's truth!

I received this book from Kregel Publications.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much - by David Powlison

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About the book:

Gus, a raccoon who loves all things sweet, learns what happens when you want something too much. After Gus gets caught taking candy from the store, Papa reminds him that temptation might be strong for us, but it’s not too strong for Jesus. Both Gus and Papa can ask Jesus for help when they want something too much.

The last page contains information for parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are tempted. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life.

Also included is a tear-out page of “Back Pocket Bible Verses” that will give children a practical way to remember God’s words when they want something too much.

A new series of hardback, illustrated children’s books for three-to eight-year-olds—each centered on an animal family—bring gospel help and biblical counsel to families. The animal characters, colorful illustrations, and the real-life issues each animal family face will captivate children. The first three books address anxiety, anger, and failure, bringing biblical help and hope to issues every child faces.

My review:

This was an excellent story about temptation and how even good things can become too important to us if we want them more than Jesus.  I liked how the dad realized he was doing this, too, with his fishing lures just as Gus was with candy, though the dad didn't steal any!  This was a good reminder for me and probably for everyone, young and old alike!  There were fun illustrations of different animals dressed in clothes, at a market, etc., behaving as humans do.  I liked how Gus asked forgiveness for stealing and the shop owner forgave him rather than just glossing over it.  The gospel and sin is explained in a relatable way and there's an excellent resource in the back for helping your child with the "I Wantsies" as they call it.  I highly recommend it!

I received this book from New Growth Press. I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Why Do We Say Good Night - by Champ Thornton

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About the book:

Why Do We Say Good Night?

Going to bed and turning out the light can be a hard time for many children. Award-winning author Champ Thornton wrote this beautifully designed and illustrated book to help parents comfort their children with three truths about God. As a mother and her little daughter talk, they remember together that God made the night, he sees in the dark, and he watches over them just like a shepherd protects his sheep. Children and parents will want to start a new nighttime tradition of reading together about why we can say that the night is good.

In this important, engaging children's book, parents can bring comfort and encouragement to their children, reminding them Jesus is near.

My review:

I loved the bright colors and creative illustrations in this hardcover that explains that God is watching over and protecting us as we sleep.  The girl keeps imagining scary creatures in the dark and wondering what that sound was but her mom tells her God made the night and He can see in the dark just as if it's light.  At first, the girl was seeing creatures in her room but at the end everything looks normal again.  This book is a great reminder in a fun rhyming style that God is always with them.  It's recommended for 3-5 year olds.

I received this book from New Growth Press.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

God Made Me Unique: Helping Children See Value in Every Person - by Joni & Friends

This was a sweet story about a new girl coming to Sunday School who has special needs.  The teacher is explaining to the class in a fun rhyming style how God makes each one of us different and unique.  Each person also has a different part to play for the church body, with different talents and abilities.  She talks about different types of disabilities, seen and unseen and reminds the children to treat each other kindly and that they're just like us.  There's a section at the back for parents to go deeper in teaching their child about what the Bible says about disabilities, how Jesus responded to those with disabilities and how to be a friend to someone with a disability.  There were fun, colorful illustrations in a nice hardcover.  This is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers or caregivers to show children how to treat others and understand them better.

I received this book from New Growth Press.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

About Joni and Friends
Joni and Friends is an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Founded in 1979, their mission is to communicate the gospel and equip Christ-honoring churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disability.

The organization authors numerous books including the new releases The Gospel in Hard Times and The Gospel in Hard Times for Students (study guides about suffering in which participants are guided to look to Jesus to understand who God is in the midst of their own suffering and the suffering of others), God Made Me Unique (a children’s book helping parents and caregivers teach children that God creates every person in the image of God), and a series of minibooks providing personal insight & encouragement for tough circumstances.

You can learn more about Joni and Friends at