Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Street Smarts From Proverbs by Mitch Kruse & D.J. Williams

STREET SMARTS FROM PROVERBS reveals Solomon's steps to divine wisdom while providing tools to navigate out of conflict into community.
Mitch Kruse learned the hard way that going to church three times a week while growing up did not answer the question:

Have you ever thought about changing the scorecard of your life from money to wisdom?

His pursuit to find the answer sparked a lifelong journey through the ultimate wisdom book, Proverbs, one that connects God's heart with street smarts.

STREET SMARTS FROM PROVERBS introduces Solomon's twelve words to the wise:

righteousness, equity, and justice
wise behavior, understanding, and wise communication
prudence, discretion, and wise counsel
discipline, knowledge, and learning

Each is paired with a real-life story of someone who experienced God's miraculous restoration after humbling their heart to Him. It explains, illustrates, and applies one of the twelve words, providing an easy-to-understand, yet life-transforming step-by-step process to assimilate each respective trait of wisdom.

STREET SMARTS FROM PROVERBS gives memorable prompts for the reader to recall every point with the purpose of applying it to conflict at work, with family, among friends, and in ministry. It provides tangible tools to be shrewd, yet harmless, in business dealings; to separate wisdom from foolishness through discretion; and to seek wise counsel for life's decisions.

My review:

 I ran across an ad for this book before I got a review opportunity, and thought it sounded like an interesting book to read. Then I got a review opportunity for it, and was happy to review it.

 The book is split up into two parts. The first three chapters address the cycle of conflict, the fool defined, and the key to unlocking wisdom. The second part of the book has a chapter dedicated to each of the 12 words mentioned in the book description: righteousness, prudence, wise counsel, etc.

 The author uses a lot of anecdotes from his own life throughout the book to help get his points across. I found the book an interesting and helpful read. I have always liked the book of Proverbs, but the author does a great job of really applying it to our lives today.

 The subtitle of this book is "How to Navigate Through Conflict to Community." The author addresses conflict all through the book, and does an excellent job of pulling truths out of Proverbs to better deal with conflict.... which we all experience at times in our lives.

 I enjoyed reading this book. It was a great read, and I would recommend it.

About the authors: 

MITCH KRUSE is known for his contribution to the collector car and real estate auction arenas. For seventeen years, he was owner, CEO, and auctioneer of the world's largest collector car sales organization. Kruse and his father developed the world's first auction park, home to the annual Auburn, Indiana, collector car auction that attracted three hundred thousand collectors each year. Mitch and his wife, Susan, live in Auburn, Indiana, on their family farm, first homesteaded by Kruse's great-great-great grandfather in 1854. They have four daughters.

D.J. WILLIAMS has been in the entertainment industry and nonprofit sector for twenty years. His writing credits include Restoration Road with Mitch Kruse, The Disillusioned, Waking Lazarus, and contributing writer for Holy Bible: Mosaic. Currently based in Los Angeles, Williams continues to add to his producing and directing credits by continuously developing new projects for television, film, and print.

Street Smarts From Proverbs is available from Faith Words, part of the Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to Faith Words for the review copy.

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional by Laura James & Katara Washington Patton

Worship with art as you color-in 46 stunning illustrations based on the parables of Jesus, each with a corresponding devotion and prompts for spiritual reflection and artistic exercise.

God's creativity is everywhere. It's mirrored by His creation--even evident in the illustrative teachings of His Son. This stunning book of 46 soulful, colorable pictures is based on the parables of Jesus. Color the parables, be immersed in their valuable lessons in a unique way, engaging your own creativity, and strengthen your faith.

Also included are 46 uplifting devotions, one related to each parable, and 46 thought-provoking prompts for meaningful reflection and artistic expression. These pages provide worshipful exercises to inspire the artist in you, with space for illustrated prayer and journaling.

My review:

  I am not a big coloring person, but this is a very neat book. It is a combination of a coloring book and devotional book. Each devotional is based on one of Jesus' parables, and is followed by a picture to color about that parable. This is a big book with a lot of content in it.

 The devotionals are very well written, and I enjoyed having a whole book of devotionals based on Jesus' parables. The pages to color are very well done, and anyone into coloring books will enjoy it. Each coloring page is blank on the reverse side to avoid any bleeding through onto that page.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the authors:

Laura James is an author and journalist and the owner of a
communications agency. Her writing has appeared in many national and
international newspapers and magazines. She is the mother of four adult
children and lives with her husband, their dogs, and a cat in North Norfolk.
Since her diagnosis, she has campaigned for autism awareness and

KATARA WASHINGTON PATTON has written and edited Christian books for children, teens, and adults and created supplemental materials for books by T.D. Jakes, Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. She served as general editor and writer of Aspire: The New Women of Color Study Bible. She holds a M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional is available from Faith Words, part of the Hachette Book Group. Thanks to Faith Words for the review copy.

Paul The Apostle: Missionary, Martyr, Theologian by Robert E Picirilli

Book description:

If you want to understand Christianity, you need to understand Paul. But with so many books on the apostle, where do you start?

Paul the Apostle is the ideal choice if you want a solid understanding of Paul’s life, ministry, and writings without getting weighed down with minutia. Author Robert E. Picirilli, who taught college courses on Paul for over twenty-five years, found that most books on the apostle were either too technical or too basic, so he wrote a book that strikes a happy medium. It offers:

A profile of Paul in his historical and cultural context
Outlines and explanations of his missionary journeys
Introductions and brief analyses of each of his epistles
Useful for individual study or as a textbook (as it is in many universities today), Paul the Apostle is a great one-stop study of the man who wrote half the New Testament, spread the gospel to the heart of the known world, and gave his life for the Kingdom.

My review:

  Other than Jesus Christ, there is probably no one else who has helped shape Christianity than the Apostle Paul. This book intrigued me, as I have never read a book about him, only the books of the Bible that he has written.

 I was surprised to find out this book has been around for a while. It was originally published in 1986, and Moody Publishing has just come up with a new edition of it, which is the one I am reviewing.

 The book starts out with the earliest mention of Paul in the Bible and goes up through his last years. Packed in between those pages is a lot of information about him, his writing, and his missionary journeys. I did learn a little by reading it, and got a refresher course on a lot also. The book is well written, interesting, and the author does a great job of covering the life of Paul and his writings. Of special interest to me was the page listing the letters of Paul in chronological order. This was a very interesting read.

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author: 

ROBERT E. PICIRILLI is the former Academic Dean of the Graduate School at Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville. He began teaching in 1955. He is a member of the Research Commission of the American Association of Bible Colleges and served twice as chairman of the southeastern section of the Evangelical Theological Society. Dr. Picirilli is the author of a number of books including Paul The Apostle, The Book of Romans, and Time and Order in the Circumstantial Participles of Mark and Luke. Dr. Picirilli and his wife, Clara, have five daughters, all married.

Paul The Apostle: Missionary, Martyr, Theologian is available from Moody Publishing. Thanks to Moody for the review copy.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Over Maya Dead Body, Serena Jones Mystery #3 by Sandra Orchard

Book description:

FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha's Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn't take a vacation, and she's soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.

When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications--and even a secret or two?

My review:

  I reviewed the first two books in this series, but somehow missed out on reviewing this one. Even though I had to purchase my own copy, I decided to review it since I did the other two books.

  This has been an awesome series, and I am sad to see it end. Over Maya Dead Body may be the best book in this trilogy. It takes place far from home, and has quite the intricate plot with plenty of suspects to pick from. I was at a total loss at figuring out who was guilty and of what, and was very entertained as I read the exploits of those trying to solve the murders.

 All through this series, the main character has had two guys vying for her attention: Tanner, her FBI partner, and Nate, her apartment supervisor. Both are in this book a lot, as they both help Serena solve the crimes in the book. I was pretty sure this was the last book and it would be decided which guy she would pick by the end of the book, and I was correct. Even though I am a guy, I was caught up in hoping which guy she would end up with.  I won't say which guy did up marrying her, but I will say that the one I was rooting for all along was not the lucky guy..... so I was disappointed, if you're reading this Mrs Orchard. Though granted, both guys were very likable characters.

 This was a very awesome and enjoyable book and series that I very much recommend. If you read it, you definitely need to read the books in order.

About the author:

Sandra Orchard is the award-winning author of many inspirational romantic suspense and mysteries, including Deadly Devotion, Blind Trust, and Desperate Measures. Her writing has garnered several Canadian Christian Writing Awards, a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, a National Readers' Choice Award, a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, and a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. In addition to her busy writing schedule, Sandra enjoys speaking at events and teaching writing workshops. She lives in Ontario, Canada. Learn more about Sandra's books and check out the special bonus features, such as deleted scenes and location pics, at http://sandraorchard.com.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Cover Story by Deb Rihcardson Moore

Book description:

A fatal crash involving two college students heading home for the holidays seems like an unfortunate accident. But when the surviving girl wakens, she tells a curious story of the vehicle that forced them off the road--an old-fashioned, 1950s-style hearse.

Reporter Branigan Powers delves into the mystery that takes her to the college campus, and leads her into dangerous fraternity and sorority pledge parties.

Reunited with the homeless Malachi Martin, who is so adept at seeing what isn't there rather than what is, Branigan must uncover what is really going on at the college before other students are put in danger.

This second installment in the author's first cozy mystery series delves into the world of newspapers and life on the streets--both of which the author knows well.

My review:

 This was a new author to me, and is actually the second book in a series. I don't remember a review opportunity for the first book, but this one sounded like a good read, so I requested it.

 First the bad: This book is from Lion Publishing, distributed by Kregel. Kregel is a Christian publisher, but Lion does a lot of books that are not Christian, such as this one. There are a lot of instances of "damn" and "hell" throughout the book, even by a pastor. I dislike cursing in books and admire authors who can write a good novel without resorting to cursing, so that bothered me..... but then it isn't what you'd call a Christian book.

The good: Cursing aside, this was an awesome read. The plot was very intricate and suspects abounded. I enjoyed the detective work as the main character and others tried to figure out who the guilty part or parties was, and I was kept guessing as to who it was. The author created some great and likable characters, and some not so likable. When the book started, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get into it, but I got pulled into the story and had a hard time putting it down when I needed to do so.

 The book came to a satisfying end, and it was great to find out who the guilty party was and what  the motive was. I really enjoyed the author's style of writing (minus the curse words), and very much enjoyed the book.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

For 27 years, Deb Richardson-Moore was a reporter for "The Greenville (SC) News," winning three national writing awards and routine recognition from the South Carolina Press Association. She was a wife, mother of three, and that suburban cliche, a minivan-driving soccer mom.

She then took over the religion beat at "The News" and enrolled in a nearby seminary to learn more about it. Her life was never the same. She left the newspaper and earned a master of divinity degree. Because jobs for clergywomen were scarce in her own Baptist denomination, she accepted a job as pastor of the non-denominational Triune Mercy Center, a crumbling, inner-city mission church to the homeless.

"The Weight of Mercy" chronicles her first three turbulent years among her homeless congregants. Here's what novelist Davis Bunn, writer-in-residence at Oxford University, has to say about it:

"This is an amazingly well written work, a genuine testimony of hope in the dark recesses of our times. The words are laid out with an artist's precision, and their smoothness makes this not just a powerful read, but a genuine entry into a world we all need to know better. Perhaps the most important thing I can say about this is, I found Jesus in these pages. Highly recommended."

Deb is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Erskine Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Vince, have three grown children.

The Cover Story is available from Lion Publishing, part of Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

A Day At the Beach by Jedd and Todd Hafer

Book description:

Do you yearn for a day at the beach where your mind and soul can wander away from life's troubles? Do you gaze up at the sun or the nighttime stars and wonder if God is really on your side? Do you long to hear his quiet voice in the roll of a gentle wave? In A Day at the Beach, brothers Todd and Jedd Hafer don't have the answers to all of life's troubles, but they'll help you see that the God who built the universe also wants to help you build a great life. Let these encouraging words bring a ray of warm sunshine to your doorstep as Todd and Jedd offer their joy-filled perspectives on life and faith. So take a deep breath, unplug from life's daily grind, and follow the call of your heart to Jesus, the ultimate source of life.

My review:

   I recently took a vacation to the Outer Banks, so I actually was reading this devotional while I was at the beach.

  I have read a lot of devotionals, and have reviewed several of them. This one is unique since it focuses so much on the beach. I admit I wondered how the authors could write even a small devotional this size about the beach, but they managed to do it.

 Each devotional ends with a Bible verse, and though this isn't a big book and the devotionals in it are not very long, they are very well done, encouraging, and worth reading. Maybe I am biased a bit since I love the beach so much, but this is an excellent little devotional, and one does not have to be at the beach to enjoy the book and be helped spiritually by it.

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the authors:

Jedd Hafer is an expert on teens, having worked with troubled kids for more than twenty years. He has trained teachers and other professionals in crisis intervention and the Love and Logic approach in more than forty states and internationally. Jedd has cowritten eleven books with his brother Todd, and he can be heard on many Love and Logic audio recordings and broadcasts.

Todd Haferis an award-winning writer whose fifty-plus books (many written with Jedd) have sold more than two million copies. His teen/young adult novel Bad Idea was a Christy Awards finalist, and its sequel, From Bad to Worse, was named one of the top ten books of the year by Christian Fiction Reviews. Bad Idea is currently being made into a feature-length film. Todd was a contributor on the ECPA Book of the Year finalist Life Saver: The Ultimate Devotional Handbook for Teens. Todd lives on the plains of eastern Kansas with his children, a wayward rescue dog, and his very patient wife.

A Day At the Beach is available from Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Book description:

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

My review:

   I have never read a book by Denise Hunter before. Nothing against her, but I just rarely read a book that is just romance. If there is mystery and suspense thrown in, I can handle some romance, but a book that is only romance isn't on my usual reading list. However, I had a friend suggest her books to me, so I decided to review this one when it came up.

  In a day when so many marriages are falling apart, even among Christians, it is refreshing to read a book where the couple gets back together. Yeah, that is a spoiler, but one would assume that happens by reading the back cover. This book was also a bit unusual in the fact that it was the woman who cheated and caused the breakup of the marriage, instead of the man. The man in this story was a Christian who remained faithful.

 Onto the review: I liked the author's writing style, and the main characters she came up with. She did a great job on the chemistry between them, and the awkwardness that would exist when two people are stuck together who are no longer together as a couple.

 The book went back and forth between the past and the present, and I am pretty sure they messed up on the time frame a couple of times, so I was bit confused a couple of times. Even though I assumed Noah and Josephine were going to patch up their differences, it was still enjoyable seeing them get to that point.

 All in all, this confirmed bachelor enjoyed this romance book a lot, and plan on reading more from this author.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of 30 novels, including The Convenient Groom and A December Bride, which have been made into Hallmark movies.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town romances. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Check out her website at DeniseHunterbooks.com.

Sweetbriar Cottage is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy.