Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: NIV Journal the Word Bible by Zondervan

I didn't really need another Bible, but I couldn't resist the beautiful botanical print on this cloth-covered hardcover Bible. It's so pretty and well-made. If botanical print isn't your preference, it is also available in other covers. Mostly, I am extremely thankful for the lightly-lined margins which give me so much room for taking notes in church or adding my own thoughts on Bible passages.

The NIV Journal the Word Bible doesn't have any other special features. There are no maps, no commentary, no glossary or concordance. It's simply the Scripture and some small footnotes at the bottom of each page. This allows the Bible to remain reasonably sized, despite the extra space allotted for note-taking. The hardcover Bible measures approximately 8 inches by 6.5 inches, and is 1.5 inches thick. It's still perfectly sized for carrying with you to church.

The Scripture text is printed in a single column rather than the usual double-columns per page. I know the purpose was actually to make room for the note-taking section, but I like this format much better.  It reads more like a normal book this way, rather than going down each page twice before switching pages.

Although I enjoy art, I have found it hard to try to create art in my Bible. Personally, I want the ability to erase and try again that this paper quality doesn't really allow. I also never want my artwork to make the Scripture itself unreadable. So, I can't really attest to how well this particular Bible would work for the art-journaling trend.

I can however tell you that if you always find yourself taking prolific notes on the pastor's sermon or writing notes, dates, thoughts in the margins of your Bible, the NIV Journal The Word Bible is perfect! There is plenty of room for word definitions, sermon notes, and more. You'll be able to look back on lessons learned over the years, and leave a legacy for your children in this beautiful Bible filled with your handwritten notes. A beautiful legacy!

April E.

Book Review: The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith

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Who can resist a book that mixes a female reporter sleuth, the roaring twenties, and the Russian Revolution? Not me.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Kill Fee. Not knowing the identity of the man in the bear skin coat, but following his actions, kept me intrigued. As the mystery unfolded, I found myself not too surprised by his identity, but definitely surprised by twists the story took with other characters. I stayed up late three different nights reading this book. By the third night, I was completely drawn into the mystery and finished more than half the book in one night. One very late night.

Although I enjoy Poppy Denby as a character, I'm not as invested in her romance with Daniel as I thought I would be. Throughout The Kill Fee, she is worrying that Daniel might expect her to give up her career to care for his children. That actually kind of bothered me, and almost made me feel like the story would be better without any potential romance for her. The romance felt like an add-on to this story, anyway. The book could have rolled along satisfactorily without it.

The Kill Fee is a good read; an intriguing, cozy mystery for reading under a warm blanket in these long winter months!

April E.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review: Pray A To Z by Amelia Rhodes

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I requested Pray A to Z from Litfuse Publicity Group to read and review. I was pleasantly surprised. This small paperback book is full of prayers listed alphabetically, but it isn't just 26 prayers. There is more than one prayer for each letter of the of the alphabet, and the topics are listed clearly at the beginning of the book.

Each topical prayer fills one page of the book. It begins with a Scripture, a note of who you are praying for, and closes with a written prayer. You can pray the provided prayer word-for-word or use it as a launching pad for your own prayer.

The prayers are written broadly, so you could make it a blanket prayer for strangers within your community, but they also can be easily personalized to pray for specific individuals. I did this with the prayer for pregnancy, praying specifically for my daughter and another woman in my church.

There are topics in this book that I would never have thought to pray for. I think this works best when prayed through from start to finish, in order, as a systematic approach to changing your community. But, when God lays a specific need on your heart, you can also flip right to that prayer and lift it up to God.

I mostly see this book as a training tool. I can't imagine anyone not being changed as they pray through this book, and not being inspired to personalize these prayers. So let the book be used as a starting point, an inspiration, a checklist of needs ... and then let the Holy Spirit work through you as you become a prayer warrior for your community.

April E.


Are you ready to change your community, one prayer at a time? Learn how to organize your prayer requests topically and lay the burdens of your community at the feet of our Heavenly Father with the help of Amelia Rhodes' new book, Pray A to Z. Whether you are praying for a friend’s adoption journey, a neighbor’s bankruptcy, or a family member’s cancer, this book will give you Bible verses, prayer prompts, and prayer starts to guide you through praying for even the most difficult issues that affect the people you know and love. Perfect for either individual or group prayer, Pray A to Z will help you experience the peace that comes from communicating with God.

Learn more about Pray A to Z and how to pray for your community, and enter to win Amelia's Guide to Prayer Prize Pack to get you started.

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 20. The winner will be announced December 21 on Amelia's blog.


April E.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: The Low-Pressure Guide to Parenting Your Preschooler by Tim Sanford, M.A.

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I've been a mother for over 21 years. I have two adult children out of the home, and seven still at home. I just became a grandma. I still live with the idea that it's my job to make sure my kids turn out right, make the right choices, and grow up to be responsible adults who don't need too much therapy. I've lived my parenting life full of shoulds, oughts, and internal pressure to do everything right. I wish I'd read The Low-Pressure Guide to Parenting Your Preschooler  years ago.

It doesn't just apply to preschoolers. As I read the book, I could see how children at all their different ages needed the same things, and how I fall into the same parenting traps even after all these years. (Why do I suddenly feel so old writing this review?)

This book really does offer good parenting tips, excellent communication skills, as well as help reduce the pressure we put on ourselves as parents. It won't make your life instantly easier, because kids are still kids, and they will make bad choices. But, it can help you walk through the parenting journey without taking on problems that aren't really yours in the first place.

I did learn a lot about communication with children and I am working to make changes in how I parent ... even after 21 years of experience. It would make a great gift for a young mom in your life! I'm going to read it a second time, then pass it to my daughter so she can avoid some of the mistakes I've made.

April E.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: Amy Grant's New Tennessee Christmas CD

We love Christmas music at our house. We start listening to it long before Thanksgiving, and Amy Grant's Christmas albums have always been family favorites. So, I was excited to have the chance to review her new Christmas album: Tennessee Christmas. After all, it's been nearly 20 years since her last Christmas album was released.

Yes, the title song on the new album is a remake of her 1983 song, from A Christmas Album. Along with that familiar song, Amy sings some old familiar songs, as well as some original Christmas music. Some of the songs are co-written by Amy herself, and her friends and family join in the recording. The album includes some spoken thoughts from Amy between song, and it has an air of coziness, warmth, love, and friendship.

The new songs on the album are To Be Together, Melancholy Christmas, Still Can't Sleep, Another Merry Christmas, Christmas For You and Me, and December. These are all warm, mellow songs.

The old, familiar songs include Tennessee Christmas, White Christmas, Joy To The World, I've Got My Love To Keep You Warm, Baby It's Cold Outside, Christmas Don't Be Late, and O Come All Ye Faithful. This mix of carols and fun Christmas standards just sounds and feels like Christmas to me. 

My husband and I have this CD playing on repeat in our bedroom. It's perfect for bedtime, reading, and resting in general.

If you're a fan of Amy Grant's, or if you are just looking for some new Christmas music, listen to the videos. Tennessee Christmas would make a great stocking stuffer for someone you love, or yourself!

April E.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Review: Everything Beautiful Coloring Book for Inspiration and Reflection

I love the variety of photos and quotes in Everything Beautiful! The 45 coloring pages range from birds in a nest, to a whale's tail in the ocean, blowing dandelions, and complex all-over floral patterns. Each page has a quote from a book, Scripture, or a person. The quote is explained with attribution and often with a longer excerpt from the book or Scripture.

The 9.75 inch square pages are printed on thick paper and perforated. You can remove them before coloring, frame them, give them as gifts. The perforation also makes it easier to share, so you can color with a friend or a family member.

One feature I haven't seen in other coloring books is the spotify playlist that Waterbrook  Multnomah creates and shares. The link to the encouraging playlist is in the back cover of the book so you can color while listening to uplifting music.

This really is a beautiful collection of uplifting quotes and coloring pages. Gather your friends, some colored pencils or gel pens, turn on the music, and relax!

April E.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: Moments & Days by Michelle Van Loon

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I have to admit I didn't grow up with any familiarity with church holidays (holy days) other than Good Friday, Easter, Advent, and Christmas. As an adult, I've learned more about Pascha, Epiphany, Passover, and All Saints Day, though we still primarily celebrate those that my husband and I grew up celebrating.

Michelle Van Loon doesn't just present a factual list of holy days and how to celebrate them in Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith. She explains the spiritual significance of each holy day in the past, and the present. The book is divided into two sections: Jewish Biblical and Historical Feasts, and The Christian Calendar. Each chapter covers the Bible background for the holiday, a historical explanation of changes in celebration, how Jesus is the fulfillment of the holiday's emphasis, and practical suggestions for celebrating the holy day in your family.

The greater emphasis of the book is to let the rhythm of the holy days mark our life, to consider it a yearly cycle of personal worship and growth. Michelle explains how focusing on the meaning behind each holy day can help us to grow closer to Christ and point our children to God. Moments & Days isn't just about decorations and the physical trappings of a holiday. Van Loon takes us deeper into the spiritual focus of each holiday and meaningful ways to celebrate them.

If you're looking for more depth in your spiritual walk, guidance in helping your children understand holidays, and a Christ-centric rhythm to your daily life, you really should read Moments & Days. This book is for every Christian - Messianic Christian, Arab Christian, Catholic Christian, Protestant Christian, Non-Denominational Christians. Everyone who wants to understand and celebrate the deeper spiritual focus of the holy days.

April E.