Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Devotions For Christmas

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year, and I was so excited to receive Devotions For Christmas: A Celebration To Bring You Joy And Peace by Zondervan Publishing. Just in time for the season, and a great gift to give out this holiday, Devotions For Christmas guides you through the entire month of December to add a holiday touch for your devotions. The book description reads:

"In the swirling busyness of December, take a moment to relax and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas

We all know that Christmas is a time to celebrate Christ the King born to us, to enjoy our family and friends, and to indulge in those annual traditions we look forward to every year. But even though we may understand the true reason for the season, far too few of us know how to celebrate Christmas as the time of peace that it is meant to be.

With a rich, daily devotion for every day of December, Devotions for Christmas offers you a way to unplug and spend some time reconnecting with a childlike sense of wonder and joy at the mystery and blessings of Christmas. Settle in and enjoy peaceful and hope-inspired Devotions for Christmas."

This small hardcover is absolutely gorgeous, inside and out. It has full color glossy pages and a beautiful gold foil accented cover. Each day of December has a 2-3 page devotion focusing on one specific aspect of the season and pointing the reader toward the true meaning of the season, Jesus Christ. There is a Scripture verse, a devotion, and a prayer included for each day. A sampling of the topics included are Focusing On Jesus, Surprise Packaging, Family Traditions, Home For The Holidays, Holy Anticipation, and Cradle To Cross. I absolutely loved these devotions and I know you will, too. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book in time for December 1st!

I received a copy of this book in order to provide an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The 10 Myths Of Teen Dating

I was interested in reading The 10 Myths Of Teen Dating: Truths your daughter needs to know to date smart, avoid disaster, and protect her future by father-and-daughter team Daniel and Jacquelyn Anderson because I have two daughters. They're not quite dating age yet (they're nearly 11 and 8, respectively), but I want to prepare early so I will be ready when the time comes. The back cover says:

"There's no greater moment of panic in a parent's life than when their daughter begins to date. Due to their lack of knowledge about the world their teens face coupled with the scant dating information they received as teens, many parents feel ill-equipped to guide their daughters through the minefield that is teen dating.
And by the same token, teenage girls crave information about dating and relationships. And left to their own devices, many will develop their own assumptions about dating by talking to their friends or watching the latest TV shows and movies. But that will only lead them down a path toward heartbreak.
So how do you engage your daughter in discussions about dating, relationships, and her future happiness? Expert educator Daniel Anderson and his twentysomething daughter, Jacquelyn, help you navigate the biggest dating myths, including: the myth that a boyfriend will make your daughter happy, that she should trust her feelings, or that sex will enhance her relationship. Combining the latest scientific research with poignant personal stories, as well as proven truths and practical application, "The 10 Myths of Teen Dating" will equip you to teach your daughter how to date smart for today and tomorrow."

The ten myths covered in this book about teen girls dating are: If I Had a Boyfriend I Would Be Happy, I Should Trust My Feelings, I'm in Love, Sex Will Enhance My Relationship, Love and Sex Are the Same, Sex Comes without Consequences, It's Okay to Break Up and Get Back Together, He Will Never Hit Me Again, A Rebound Relationship Is Just What I Need, and Serial Dating and Living Together Will Help Me Stay Married. This book is unique because it's written together by a father and daughter. I was a little put off after reading the introduction because he immediately stated that this was not a Christian book or a book that is necessarily just for Christians, and that "in a perfect world, the teachings of the Bible would be all we need". Well, I do believe that the Holy Scriptures provide every principle and answer we need for life and any successful application will be drawn from the Scriptures. However, I do appreciate the fact that he wrote this book to reach a very wide audience so hopefully many people will read it and the scene of teenage dating will change in the wider world as well, not just the Christian world. With that said, this is a great and extremely realistic look at teenage dating and the smart way to deal with your children during their dating years. It encourages open conversation and honesty and draws on a lot of recent and great research. I recommend this book to any parent with pre-teen or teenage daughters.

I received a copy of this book in order to provide an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Fatal Gift Of Beauty

The Fatal Gift Of Beauty: The Trials Of Amanda Knox is the New York Times Bestseller by Nina Burleigh. Elle calls it "A compelling true-crime tale... about two women who were on dream trips abroad that went disastrously wrong." I was so excited to have a chance to read and review this book. I love true crime in general, and have recently become more interested in the Amanda Knox case. The book description says:

"Award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher, the controversial prosecution, the conviction and twenty-six-year sentence of Amanda Knox, the machinations of Italian justice, and the underground depravity and clash of cultures in one of central Italy’s most beloved cities.

The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murder. When Perugia authorities concluded that the murder was part of a dark, twisted rite—a “sex game”—led by the American with an uncanny resemblance to Perugia’s Madonna, they unleashed a media frenzy from Rome to London to New York and Seattle. The story drew an international cult obsessed with “Foxy Knoxy,” a pretty honor student on a junior year abroad, who either woke up one morning into a nightmare of superstition and misogyny—the dark side of Italy—or participated in something unspeakable.

The investigation begins in the old stone cottage overlooking bucolic olive groves where Kercher’s body was found in her locked bedroom. It winds through the shadowy, arched alleys of Perugia, a city of art that is also a magnet for tens of thousands of students who frequent its bars, clubs, and drug bazaar on the steps of the Duomo. It climaxes in an up-close account of Italy’s dysfunctional legal system, as the trial slowly unfolds at the town’s Tribunale, and the prosecution’s thunderous final appeal to God before the quivering girl defendant resembles a scene from the Inquisition.

To reveal what actually happened on that terrible night after Halloween, Nina Burleigh lived in Perugia, attended the trial, and corresponded with the incarcerated defendants. She also delved deeply into the history, secrets, and customs of Perugia, renowned equally for its Etruscan tunnels, early Christian art, medieval sorcerers, and pagan roots.

A New York Times bestseller, The Fatal Gift of Beauty is the thoughtful, compelling examination of an enduring mystery, an ancient, storied place, and a disquieting facet of Italian culture: an obsession with female eroticism. By including the real story of Rudy Guede, it is also an acute window into the minds and personalities of the accused killers and of the conservative Italian magistrate striving to make sense of an inexplicable act of evil. But at its core is an indelible portrait of Amanda Knox, the strangely childlike, enigmatic beauty, whose photogenic face became the focal point of international speculation about the shadow side of youth and freedom."

Nina Burleigh has compiled an absolutely exhaustive account of Meredith Kercher's death and Amanda Knox's trials. It opens with maps of Perugia and the house the girls lived in, a list of and description of the people involved, and a comprehensive timeline. I feel like this book is an unprecedented look at Amanda Knox and the murder of Meredith Kercher. I've seen all the TV shows, read all the information online, but this is a stunningly accurate and well researched view of the entire scope of the case. It lays aside opinions, gossip, and hearsay, and goes straight to the sources and facts. If you're at all interested in Amanda Knox, I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book in order to provide an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Experiencing God Through His Names

Experiencing God Through His Names by Sheryl Giesbrecht is a new, dynamic 31-day devotional that focuses on the various names that God is referred to throughout the Scriptures. The book description says:

"What's in a name? Names are more than groups of letters that represent a person or identify objects. Names are powerful. A person's character and destiny can be influenced by his or her name. God's attributes and personality support His unique and distinct names. If we comprehend the meanings of His titles, we can know God more intimately. In Experiencing God Through His Names, Sheryl Giesbrecht walks with you on an exciting journey to discover and absorb the truth about God's character. In the next 31 days, God wants you to get to know Him. Are you ready?"

Experiencing God Through His Names is a small book that packs a big punch. When I first opened it, I was surprised by the small size of the book. However, once I opened it and began reading it, I realized that Sheryl had packed this small book chock full of truth and wisdom. This is a 31 day Bible study that guides us through 31 of the names that God is referred to in the Scriptures. Each day focuses one one name and expounding on what the name means, why God is referred to in this way, and what it means for us as Christians. Each devotion is short, just two to three pages, but it the perfect size to read every morning along with your daily Scripture reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about God's names and what they mean.

I received a copy of this book in order to write an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

Jesus Always

Jesus Always is Sarah Young's latest book. She's previously written quite a few other books, including the popular Jesus Calling devotional, but this was the first book of hers that I have had the pleasure of reading. The book description reads:

"Sarah Young’s first 365-day devotional since Jesus Calling.

With scripture and new personal reflections, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah Young, brings Jesus’ message of joy—for today and every day. Experience true joy—now and always.

Life today is full of difficulties—loss, sadness, fear. In the midst of these challenges, joy often feels impossible or out of reach. But Jesus has more for His followers than a life of striving, pain, and discontent. He offers life abundant, life to the fullest, life brimming with joy! Jesus Always, the new 365-day devotional from bestselling author Sarah Young, was written as part of Sarah Young’s exploration of the promises of joy in scripture. Written as if Jesus Himself is speaking directly to the reader, Jesus Always invites you into a new way of living—a life of joy.

Reaching out with joy-filled reminders from the Word of God, these devotions will intimately and gently connect you with Jesus—the One who meets you where you are. Draw near to Him in Jesus Always."

I read a lot of devotionals, but this one was definitely special. It's a small, attractive hardcover book that perfect for slipping in your purse to read on the go. It's a 365 day devotional, with one page for each day. The devotions are short but full of meat and very in depth for their length. Several Scriptures are included at the end of each day for further reading on the theme for the day. This is a wonderful, uplifting way to start your day. I highly recommend this devotional to anyone who wants to deepen their walk with the Lord.

I received a copy of this book in order to provide my honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Union With Christ

Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne pulls from the rich history and tradition of the Christian faith and provides a contemporary, easy to understand exposition of union with Christ - what it is, what it means for us as Christians, and how to attain it. The book description says:

"To experience why the gospel is good news and answer life’s most foundational questions about identity, destiny, and purpose, we must understand what it means to be united to Christ.

If you are a Christian, the Bible says that Christ has united his life to yours, that you are now in Christ and Christ is in you. This almost unfathomable truth is the central theme of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Yet few Christians today experience or enjoy this reality. Union with Christ reveals the transformational power of this ancient doctrine while addressing the basic questions of the human heart:
Who Am I?
Why Am I Here?
Where Am I Headed?
How Will I Get There?
Nothing is more practical for living the Christian life than union with Christ. The recovery of this reality provides the anchor and engine for your life with God—for your destiny is not only to see Christ, but to actually become like him."

I was a little worried that Union With Christ would be over my head - too esoteric, impractical, or theologically minded. However, as soon as I read the introduction I knew that this would be a very accessible book. Wilbourne manages to package the sometimes difficult concepts into easy to understand language with practical examples and real world applications for a book that is easily readable and highly practical, yet very firmly grounded in the truth of God's Word. This is the perfect book for anyone who has trouble transferring the head knowledge they receive from God's Word, sermons, and church to their everyday practical life. I know that I have personally experienced frustration in this area as well. Union With Christ is a great tool to turn that head knowledge into an active, vibrant relationship with Christ that will transform your whole life. Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Candidate

I couldn't wait to read the second book in The Newsmakers series by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart. I loved the first book, The Newsmakers, which introduced us to the dynamic and exciting character of Erica Sparks. I loved Erica's story and was super excited that it was continued in The Candidate. The book description reads:

"How far will a candidate go to become president? Erica Sparks—America’s top-rated cable-news host—is about to find out.

Mike Ortiz is a dynamic war hero favored to win the White House. Standing by his side is his glamorous and adoring wife, Celeste. But something about this seemingly perfect couple troubles Erica. Is Celeste really who she seems? And most importantly, what really happened in that squalid Al-Qaeda prison where Mike Ortiz spent nine months?

But more than the nation’s future is at stake. Erica’s relentless search for the truth puts the life of her preteen daughter Jenny in danger, even as Erica’s own dark past threatens to overtake her.

In her latest Newsmakers thriller, New York Times bestselling author and Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl weaves a taut and chilling story. The Candidate is packed with political intrigue and media manipulation as the lust for power turns deadly indeed."

In our second adventure with Erica Sparks, we get an inside look at a presidential campaign. This story seems like it could be ripped from today's headlines, and is very timely considering the current ongoing presidential election. I loved this story just as much as the first one and couldn't put it down. Erica and Jenny just captured my heart and the suspense and timing in these novels are perfect. I highly recommend The Candidate to anyone who enjoys suspense, especially with a political bent.

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.