Megan's Ponderings

Contemplations from a Blessed Life

Archive for the category “Book Reviews”

Book Review: Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas – Colossians 3

I’m always looking for a Bible study that’s a little more than a devotional, but not as time consuming as other Bible studies. Pam Forster has written a book with busy moms in mind. This book, Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas – Colossians 3, allows any mom to study the Bible in any short time period she has throughout the day. Ms. Forster starts off slowly, explaining how to study the Bible in a meaningful way. Then, she guides the reader through Colossians 3 while including topics like the importance of context, memorizing Scripture, and different versions of the Bible throughout the study. At the end of the book, Ms. Forster includes extra material including Materials for Your Study, Ideas for marking in Your Bible, How to Make Time When You Have Small Children, and How to Study on Your Own.

I really enjoyed this book. First, I like to be able to interact with the text through answering questions, writing lists, or making marks in my Bible. I also appreciated the “Catch Up Days” she incorporated throughout the month. I know, as a mom, I get behind in my Bible study, and I felt like there were built in days to get back on track. Finally, Ms. Forster encouraged readers to include their kids in the study. She included applicable activities to do with kids, no matte what age.

Overall, I would recommend this book to any mom who only has a few minutes to spend in God’s Word, but wants more than a devotional. Pam Forster understands the demands placed on a mom, and she’s written a Bible study that fits into a busy mom’s schedule.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from the Bookcrash Book Review Program. For more information, visit http://www.bookcrash.com/.

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Book Review: Take a Chance on Me

TakeaChanceonMe

I recently finished Susan May Warren’s book, Take a Chance on Me. This story, like You Don’t Know Me, is set in Deep Haven, MN. This small, waterfront town isn’t just know for it’s scenic views. Ivy Madison, Deep Haven’s new assistant county attorney, soon finds out that Deep Haven holds secrets behind it’s put-together exterior. Everyone knows everything about everyone else…or so they think. Ivy finds herself caught in a web between Jensen Atwood, Darek Christiansen, and Claire Gibson, and the link that brings them all together: Felicity Christiansen’s death. Ivy, Jensen, Darek, and Claire all have past hurts that command their lives, until their lives are put on hold by a huge forest fire. Through this and many other events, these four will learn forgiveness, unyielding trust, and most of all, God’s grace.

As a foster mom, I appreciated Ivy’s personal story. Warren introduced her as a child of the foster system, exceeding the sterotypically low expectations placed on foster kids. However, Ivy never had that forever family that is crucial to a child’s well-being. She found that unconditional love and acceptance in Ingrid Christiansen, Darek’s mom, after a horrific experience between Child Protection Services and the Christiansen family. Ivy certainly found the acceptance and love she desired, but she also found God’s grace and love in the midst of it.

I enjoyed this book, but it took more time to understand the story’s background. By the middle, I finally saw the relationship between all the characters. If you read this book, stick with it! Don’t be too quick to put it down.

For more information about Susan May Warren, visit http://www.susanmaywarren.com.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House Publishers.

 

Book Review: The One Year Devos for Teen Girls

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Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel have written a fantastic book geared towards today’s teen girl. The One Year Devos for Teen Girls is a collection of 365 short devotionals focusing on the issues facing these young ladies. Topics include: prayer, being an ambassador for Christ, boundaries, spiritual gifts, and relationships, just to name a few. Each devotional begins with a verse, followed by a relevant story, ending with an “Action Step.” These “Action Steps” are a way for each girl to practically use what she learned in the day’s devotion.

The devotionals offer truth that girls can ponder throughout the day. Some are dedicated to raising awareness about a specific topic. For example, one day (Oct. 3) is dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking (and finding creative ways to get involved to stop this horrific act). Another day (Oct. 4), Ms. Gresh and Ms. Weibel introduce an organization, Clean the World. This organization, co-founded by Shawn Seipler, creates recycled soap and distributes it in Third World countries where basic sanitation is a must to fight diseases.  Throughout the book, readers are introduced to individuals and causes that carry out the mission of being a Christ-follower.

When I read this book, I was thrilled that each day was filled with Scripture. Not only does each day begin with a verse, but there are many references sprinkled throughout the devotional as well. Ms. Gresh and Ms. Weibel convey the importance of Scripture in a way that is relevant to today’s teen girl.

This book also grabbed my attention from the beginning. I couldn’t read just one devotional at a time. The variety catches the reader’s attention quickly and holds it until the end. As I read, I was encouraged to grow in my walk with the Lord. This book may be geared towards teen girls, but I was blessed by it as well.

Overall, The One Year Devos for Teen Girls was a wonderful read. It’s relativity to today’s teen girl, yet strong emphasis on Biblical truth, was a pleasant change to many devotionals written when I was a teen. Thank you, Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel, for creating a devotional geared toward teen girls that emphasizes who they are in Christ and the impact they can make on the world for Christ’s sake.

For more information about Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel, visit http://purefreedom.org/.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House Publishers.

Book Review: You Don’t Know Me

You Don't Know Me

This is the first book I’ve read by Susan May Warren, and I wasn’t disappointed! You Don’t Know Me captures the “perfect life” of the Decker Family and their response when things go awry. After a peculiar stranger comes to town, pasts and presents come to the surface and life as the Deckers know it turns upside down. Each member of the Decker family must decide whether the perceptions they believe about themselves are reality, or whether they’re above the lies and other people’s opinions of them.

This book captivated me from the beginning. It’s not everyday a book is written about hidden identities and the lies being told for the sake of someone’s safety. Themes like “truth always prevails” and “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” were continuously intertwined throughout the story. One concept that stood out most of all was never giving up on someone else, even if they’re not who you expected. Some characters, like Annelise and Frank, held deep secrets so closely that if they surfaced, the character’s reputation would be jeopardized. Others, like Nathan and Helen, felt so guilty for past family experiences that they worked past the perception created by others.

This book is a great read for anyone looking for a little suspense, but not too much. I’d also recommend it for anyone who hasn’t read much Christian fiction, but is willing to expand their repertoire.

For more information about Susan May Warren, visit http://www.susanmaywarren.com.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House Publishers.

Book Review: Healing Hearts

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Have you ever gone through a situation where you long for support and it comes in the most unlikely place? This book, Healing Hearts by Dr. Hisashi Nikaidoh, illustrates a special bond between 8 moms and their unlikely relationship with a compassionate doctor. Dr. Nikaidoh, a pediatric heart surgeon, collected stories from mothers who lost children during his time at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Not all these children were his patients, but Dr. Nikaidoh had a major impact on each mother’s healing process. Even through Dr. Nikaidoh’s personal experiences, he relates to each mother’s struggle to see beyond the devastation of losing a child and continue living in light of their child’s legacy.

As a mom, Healing Hearts was a difficult read. For these mothers to put their thoughts and feelings onto paper was truly courageous and inspiring. I appreciated their willingness to be transparent in communicating their experiences. However, when I read the summary of the book, I was expecting more of Dr. Nikaidoh’s perspective on how these experiences helped him through his tragedy rather than how he supported these mothers. What inspired Dr. Nikaidoh to include these particular experiences rather than countless other patient experiences?

Overall, I would recommend this book to any parent who’s lost a child, especially to a heart condition. Gaining perspective from another parent who’s been through a similar situation may be the encouragement one needs to go on after a tragic loss.

For more information about this book, visit http://ambassador-international.com/books/healing-hearts.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Ambassador International.

Book Review: The World of Jesus

The World of Jesus, written by Dr. William H. Marty, is an insightful look into the intertestamental period between the Old and New Testament. Dr. Marty uncovers the events of this silent period in a way that is easy to read yet intellectually stimulating for any Bible scholar. He discusses each of the following periods: Persian, Greek, Maccabean, Hasmonean, Roman, and the Early Church and Herodians. Dr. Marty also includes the impact each period had on the Jewish people and the struggles they encountered. For a deeper individual study or study with a group, discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter, and a helpful glossary can be found at the back of the book.

I found this book fascinating. Although I went to a Christian college and participate in Bible studies on a regular basis, I haven’t learned much about the intertestamental period. As I was reading, I discovered the reasoning behind many events found in the New Testament. For example, I was very interested in the hierarchy of leadership between foreign leaders and the Jewish people, especially the role of high priest. Many rulers tried to use the position of high priest in their quest for political gain, using their allies to assume that role.

One word that came to mind as I read was seeking. The Jewish people had been under so many foreign rulers that their hearts were starting to doubt God’s promise to send a Messiah. They were searching for anyone who would relieve them from the oppression they had experienced under foreign rulers. Unfortunately, they weren’t looking for the right person. Dr. Marty says, “Instead of looking for a Savior who would save them from their sins, they longed for a king who would lead them into triumphant vengeance over the Romans and establish a political kingdom.” (pg. 160)

If you enjoy Bible history, this book is for you. It’s also a great read for any individual or small group wanting to understand what happened between the Old and New Testaments and how those events impacted the life and times of Christ and beyond.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Bethany House. For more information about this book or any other book written by Dr. William H. Marty, visit http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/authors/dr-william-h-marty/1590.

Book Review: The Guardian

“Truly, God’s love is the greatest miracle of all.” – The Guardian, Beverly Lewis

The Guardian

Beverly Lewis does it again! The Guardian, the third book in the Home to Hickory Hollow series, draws readers back into the simpler, yet thought provoking lifestyle of the Amish. The author introduces 2 new main characters in this book: Maryanna Esh and Jodi Winfield. Through tragedy, they meet and are surprised in the quick, yet guarded, friendship that blossoms. Both discover that healing comes in the most unlikely places – an empathy between an Amish widow and an Englischer. In the end, Maryanna and Jodi learn valuable lessons from each other and create a bond that can’t be broken.

For me, this was my favorite book in the series. First, the author does a fantastic job describing Amish life. While reading the book, I recalled the Amish lifestyle throughout the normal tasks of my day. Amish life isn’t complicated by technology or focused heavily on self-image. Beverly Lewis created a climate of simplicity that was a welcomed diversion to the everyday busyness that crowds out daily life.

I also appreciated the author’s focus on unlikely friendships. Maryanna Esh was not fond of Englischers because of past circumstances. However, Jodi Winfield proved Maryanna’s perception wrong. Of course, Maryanna and Jodi weren’t transparent with each other until their friendship developed beyond surface material. But, what a treasure their friendship became to each other! Sometimes, the best friendships occurs in the most inconceivable places.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of life or anyone looking to heal wounds from hurtful circumstances. This book was a blessing to me, and I know you will be blessed also.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Bethany House. For more information about books written by Beverly Lewis, visit http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse.

Book Review: Road Trip To Redemption

Roadtrip To Redemption

Road Trip to Redemption is an amazing story about the Mathias family. Brad, the author of this book and the father, chronicles his family’s journey on a family road trip. However, this isn’t a normal road trip. This one is fueled by a tragic event that happened to one of Brad’s children. Through various events throughout the trip, God revealed Himself to the author’s family in ways only He could.

Even though I have 2 young children, I was reminded of the importance of focusing on heart issues rather than behavioral issues. No matter what the behavior, a child’s heart is directing that behavior. My prayer is that I can remember this nugget of truth and put it in to practice as my boys grow up.

Another area that intrigued me was a parent’s authenticity with a child, especially in their walk with the Lord. My boys look up to me, and I want them to see that my faith is real and not just a “Sunday only” faith. That means letting down my “perfect parent persona” around them and my friends (especially other moms).

I would highly recommend this book for any parent, no matter how young or old your kids are, as well as those who work with young adults. The insights found in this book are profound, and definitely worth taking to heart.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.

Book Review: Waking The World

Waking the World

Most books I review are chapter books for adults, mostly non-fiction but a few fiction thrown in for variety. Well, I’m reviewing my first children’s book, and I’m super excited. I just read Waking the World by Doug Routledge, not only to myself, but to the boys. This story is about a cricket, Rickety Bitick Cricket (or Rick, as his friends called him), who has a big dream to “wake the world.”  However, his plan isn’t quite carried out the way he thinks and because of Rick’s failed plan, another character is able to dream big and accomplish his goals.

As I read this book to the boys, we were very interested in the colorful illustrations. These caught our attention right away. I appreciated the realistic manner in which he portrayed the story in pictures.

Unfortunately, the story line wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped. I had to read the book a few times before I figured out the author’s intent for the story. I wasn’t sure how the restless events around the world fit into the story but I did enjoy how Rick’s dream jump-started the changes another character made in his own life. Overall, I would cautiously recommend this book to other readers.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Ambassador International.

Book Review: These Are The Days Of Elijah

These Are The Days Of Elijah, by R.T. Kendall, is a verse by verse study on the life of Elijah. Using 1 Kings 17-19, 21 and 2 Kings 1 and 2, Kendall examines the life of Elijah and relates his life to many situations we encounter today: mountaintop experiences with the Lord, not hearing from the Lord, and God’s provision in difficult situations, to name a few. Most importantly, Kendall explains how God uses ordinary people, like Elijah, for extraordinary purposes. This book is filled with Scripture that supports Dr. Kendall’s viewpoint, and many references are repeated numerous times so the reader has a clear understanding of the direction of the author’s writing.

However, this book was edited from the final sermon series Dr. Kendall preached as minister of Westminster Chapel in London, England. It did not have the flow of a work written solely for the purpose of being a book. As I read it, I kept visualizing a setting where the message of this book was preached rather than written. Also, because it was a sermon series first, many factual statements needed added support by valid evidences in the writing.

I would cautiously recommend this book to anyone who wanted an overview of Elijah, as well as mature Christians seeking lessons that could be learned from his life.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Chosen Books.

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