Thursday, January 30, 2014

Breathe: A Devotional Review

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Breathe: 31 Moments with God (for Moms) by Jaimie Bowman
Visit the Author's Blog HERE
Book Blurb from info page:
How does a mother create space in her day for time with the Lord when she is needed every moment?  How does she focus on reading the Word or praying when she might be frequently interrupted?
Breathe: 31 Moments with God {for Moms} will help mothers to reconnect with the Lord and hear His voice more clearly. With short Scripture passages to read, along with relatable anecdotes and illustrations, mothers in any stage of life will find encouragement and hope.
Breathe: 31 Moments with God {for Moms} includes:
-       31 easy to understand Scripture passages and devotionals
-       Stories from other mothers you can relate to
-       Daily prayers for when you cannot find the words to say
-       Reflection questions at the end of each devotion
-       Space to jot down your thoughts or prayers to the Lord
Join with Jaimie and other mothers like you, who are on a journey to grow closer to God through motherhood.  Breathe: 31 Moments with God {For Moms} can be your encouraging companion.
I received a copy of this ebook for review. I was not expected to give a positive review. All opinions are my own. Buy the Kindle edition for $4.99 and a softcover devo journal for $8.99 (1/28/13).

 My Thoughts:
"Breathe" is a brand new devotional, and first publication from Jaimie Bowman. Right from the introduction you get clear sense of her heart and voice. As a mom, time to spend with the Lord becomes much more difficult to carve out, but still so important! Bowman challenges us to find any time during the day and use this devotional as a tool to keep connected with God.

It may add an extra 'step', but Bowman doesn't provide the Bible verses for us each day. Rather, she stresses the importance of opening our Bibles to get the real Word of God and not just filtered through her voice. I am so glad she did this, for myself, but it also shows how much she values the Word and the Lord. From that instance, I knew I could trust her to lead me in devotions.

Be encouraged today that God knows you intimately, He is with you, and He has not left you alone. (pg 33)

Each day opens by indicating which passage to look up in the Bible, then includes Bowman's devotion, which will either expound on the verse or include an encouraging personal story, or both! She then wraps up with a pray and reflection questions. This is what helps set "Breathe" apart from a few other mommy devotionals I have checked out. Too often I feel like I've been left hanging after reading the message. Bowman's questions really strike home, leaving me feeling convicted on several occasions.

To be honest, I feel like a lot of moms may miss this gem. Because of the busy nature of motherhood, women often look for a short devo that doesn't really challenge just so that they can mark 'quiet time' off their to-do lists. This is not one of those devotionals. This is one that requires you to pull out your Bible, to ask questions, to challenge yourself, and to apply the verses. It is completely do-able, may involve more thinking, perhaps more time, but then you get so much more out of it.

I am giving "Breathe" 4.5 stars. I could recommend it to any mom, whether a mom of littles or bigs, a working mom, a SAHM, a homeschooling mom. The book launches February 3rd! Please remember to stop by Jaimie Bowman's blog for giveaways and goodness the whole week!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Visit the author's Facebook page
Goodreads Summary:
Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairy tale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.
I received this e-arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The book is released 1/28/14. The Kindle price is $7.99 (1/28/14).

My Thoughts:
Yikes I didn't like this one as much. Which, if I may boldly say, is slightly refreshing. I have read some spectacular books so far in 2014, some of which you can check my Goodreads page for, and some you will have to stay tuned here on the blog to see!

I really wanted to like this one, I did. It was fairy tale-esque and featured a quiet girl, Ophelia, discovering her heart and courage. It also featured quests, mythical monsters, swords, and a Snow Queen! All the makings of a fantastic fantasy!

However, that's where my 'likes' end. This isn't a story I would want my child to read. It was scary, plain and simple. Dark corridors, ghosts, coffins sucking life out of little girls, birds that eat people, owls that eat fingers... And on top if it all, dealing with the aftermath of the death of Ophelia's mom. Ophelia's family is pretty bland. Her sister gets wooed away by the evil Snow Queen and forgets her family, her story is just background noise. Their dad buries himself in work and won't talk about their mom. Ophelia can't even turn to him for help and comfort which angers me.

Even the Marvelous Boy is only depressing with his tales of boring wizards, getting his finger eaten off, failing his quest, and being held captive for hundreds of years. In the end, well I will say only this: sad. 
The author leaves it open for the possibility of a second book, and sadly, I know I won't be reading it.

As a middle grade book, "Ophelia.." felt extremely easy to read. Too easy for me, as my eyes glazed over several short, repetitive sentences. But for a middle grade reader it should be fairly easy, and teach several new vocab words along the way as well. 

I gave "Ophelia.." 2 stars. I would recommend this book to fairy tale lovers, or think Jason the Greek Hero, and very mature middle grade readers. I strongly recommend reading it with a parent to discuss some of the darker, sadder themes.

God in Slow Motion Review

God in Slow Motion by Mike Nappa
God in Slow Motion by Mike Nappa
Visit the author's Amazon page
Amazon Blurb:
Jesus was not in a hurry.

He had only three years of public ministry—three years to heal and
teach and change the world—but the Bible never tells us he was rushing through

We are the ones who rush through them. Catching the gist of this
parable. Smiling at the punch line in that dialogue. We can race through the
Gospels in hours, fully briefed on Christ’s life, but hardly changed.

Until we sit down with Mike Nappa’s God in Slow Motion. Nappa hasn’t carved up the Gospels for quick review or sliced them into tiny pieces for academic study. He has taken ten important moments from the life of Christ and reveled in them, chewing on their words, relating them to life, comparing them with modern culture, allowing the
Spirit to work, and letting Christ change him.
The result is a rich, personal, and biblical narrative about Jesus and
how His purposes unfold, then and now. See how God is sneaky about his glory.
How he presents evidence for belief. How he can be comforting and terrifying at
once. This is the “good news” in all its many-splendored wonder: the life of
Christ, frame by frame.

And it is worth every minute because it will change you too.
I received a copy from the publisher via Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review. The Kindle edition is $9.99 (1/29/14)

My Thoughts:
There was a lot I enjoyed about Nappa's book. "God in Slow Motion" focuses on 10 different moments in Christ's three year ministry. Nappa takes each moment and slows them down, zeroing in words, feelings, thoughts to draw the reader in to not just read the story, but experience it. It very much reminded me of the way Pastor Andy Stanley preaches; basically re-telling the story in his own words but also teaching and bringing understanding along the way. 

I felt the best chapters were the beginning few. The afterword also did a fantastic job of driving the point of the overall book home. It was short and sweet, but brought all the different stories and points made together beautifully. Nappa challenges us to pass this book along after finishing, and while I would love to keep this one for my collection, I just might have too. This book seems to be going under the radar. Heck, I seem to be the 6th person to review on Goodreads. It is a book I would recommend to more mature Christians, who feel the need to return their gaze back to Jesus after living a busy, hectic period. Since each chapter focuses on a different story and aspect of the life of Christ, it can be read devotional style as well, as long as you don't mind longer devotions! And it is definitely a book you can pick up time and time again for a fresh reminder of how great God is. 

I can't think of many negatives. I feel my one complaint is that, I feel like the book isn't sticking with me. It had fantastic points, dove deep into characteristics of God in fresh ways, and the writing was brutally honest. But somehow those points are sticking with me. I stated earlier I would give it to more mature Christians, or Christians who are further along on their walk with God. Newer Christians might struggle with some of the heady topics and Nappa makes assumptions that we've heard this story or know that verse. Even still "God in Slow Motion" is a great reminder to all Christians how amazingly wonderful our Savior truly is.

On my Goodreads review, I first rated it as a 4. But I struggle with finding a reason to not rate it higher, and so, officially now folks, I will bump it up to 4.5 Stars.  I really encourage others to pick this one up, read it, and let me know your thoughts!

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler

The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your Child's Terrible Twos (Christian Mama's Guide Series)
Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler by Erin MacPherson
Visit the Author's Blog HERE
Amazon Summary:
What's a mom to do when her sweet baby's smiles and snuggles turn to tears and tantrums?
This take on everything toddler—from throwing food to potty training to massive toddler fits—is filled with sanity-saving advice every mom wants to hear. Helpful tips include how to:
  • stop a tantrum in its tracks (or at least survive the tantrum without breaking into tears of your own)
  • discipline your child in a way that demonstrates Christ's redeeming love
  • make your marriage a priority when your kid is a squeaky wheel that always seems to need your time and attention
  • introduce your child to Jesus in a way that leads to authentic faith
  • convince a one-and-a-half year old that broccoli really is better than cookies—even if you don't believe it yourself
Moms will be entertained and encouraged by the amusing anecdotes and godly advice of this comprehensive, topical approach to parenting one and two year olds.

I received this book in a contest from the author. The Kindle price is $9.99 today (1/27/13)

My Thoughts:
I was blessed enough to have been on the launch team of the Christian Mama's Guide series. I choose to review the The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year, but also won a copy of "Toddler". Baby Girl was 5 months at the time so I shelved "Toddler" for later. Baby Girl is now 15 months (!!), and seeing as we are entering full tantrum mode, I thought it was prudent to finally read "Toddler".

One of the things I loved about "Baby" was Erin MacPherson's ability to pull humor out of every situation. I felt it was less prevalent here, rather it felt like a slow build up, a warming to the subject. And when dealing with a toddler.....well, we could all use some "LOL" moments. This was the first of my two downsides to the book.

The second: MacPherson is not an official expert, not a doctor, not a dietician, or a licensed nanny. She is a mommy of three young children and has lived in the trenches. This book doesn't cover any one topic in depth, but grazes the surface of several. I think it fair then to warn that this book more is like a toddler primer than a textbook on methods. So if you are looking for sleeping methods or discipline tactics in detail, this will not be the book for you.

All that being said, "Toddler" is still light and humorous. It is also insanely practical for the first time mom. MacPherson provides list after list! Examples include "Making the Most of Your Mom Time", "10 Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler about God's Creation", and "10 Pretty Healthy Toddler Snacks". I like to keep this book out and peruse the lists often for meal and playtime inspiration.

I also love the way MacPherson writes. She writes to the reader and not about the reader, like you might find in some of those other toddler methods textbooks. Instead, it is like visiting with a fun mommy mentor who can't wait to take you under her wing. I'm sad she only has one more book in the Christian Mama's Guide series, Grade School, but glad that I have a few years to savor it :)

I rated Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler as 4.5 Stars. I love to recommend it to new mommies who are approaching toddlerhood, mommies who love lists, or completely clueless mommies such as myself! :D

Thanks for stopping by amigos! Do you have a favorite toddlerhood book? Let me know in the comments! I could use all the help I can get :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Books to Re-Read in 2014

This year I am in the mood to RE-READ! Gasp! I said it! In the world of book blogging, you don't see many re-reads. Everyone else is trying to read the up and coming, but the Re-Read Bug has bit me. Here is what I would like to visit again this year:

1.Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul
Anything by Jennie Allen. I did a guest review on The Reading List. There was a lot to take in here, another read through would infuse life in my Christian walk.

.7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Like whoa. This book is super inspirational and Jen Hatmaker is hilarious! Hoping to get the Hubby on board for round 2.

3.Pride and Prejudice (Modern Library Classics)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This should just happen.

4. Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. Sally's words were perfect for the soul. I want to re-visit them, and then be encouraged to read more from her!

5. Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home
Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph. I just read this delicious delight this past fall, and when I saw that Courtney was doing a book club on her blog, I didn't hesitate. Yes, I am already re-reading this one!

6. A Woman After God's Own Heart®
A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. I read this one while pregnant, I believe. Seeing as I can't remember much due to pregnancy brain...and than infant brain...and then toddler brain....I just might pick this up again.

7. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I LOVED this so much I read the giant tome on my tiny Android screen because I was desperate to finish. Seeing as Rothfuss apparently refuses to finish book three :/// , I might as well re-read this gem. Book 2 suffered from book two syndrome though...

8. Oppression (Children of the Gods, #1)
Oppression by Jessica Therrien. Thinking of flipping through this one again. I read it in the Spring of 2012 and gave it 4 stars. Therrien came out with the second book last year and I would like to finally read it....but need to refresh myself on the storyline and characters first :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Made to Crave

Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food
Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst
Visit the author's website HERE
Goodreads Summary:
In this six-session small group Bible study DVD, Made to Crave, New York Times bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst helps women understand how cravings for lasting spiritual satisfaction are often mistaken for cravings for food. According to Lysa, craving isn't a bad thing. But the challenge is to realize God created us to crave so we'd ultimately desire more of Him in our lives, not more food. Many of us have misplaced that craving, overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction. If you or someone you know is struggling with unhealthy eating habits, Made to Crave will help: * Break the 'I'll start again Monday cycle' and start feeling good about yourself today * Stop beating yourself up over the numbers on the scale and make peace with the body you've been given * Discover how weight loss struggles aren't a curse but, rather, a blessing in the making * Replace justifications that lead to diet failure with empowering go-to scripts that lead to victory * Eat healthy without feeling deprived * Reach a healthy weight goal while growing closer to God through the process This Made to Crave DVD is designed for use with the Made to Crave Participant Guide (sold separately). When used in together, they provide you with practical tools that can strengthen your faith. Made to Crave session titles include: 1: From Deprivation to Empowerment 2: From Desperation to Determination 3: From Guilt to Peace 4: From Triggers to Truth 5: From Permissible to Beneficial 6: From Consumed to Courageous Bonus Session: Moving the Mountain
I received a copy from my mom! :D  However, the Kindle price on Amazon are $4.66 today! (1/17/14)

My Thoughts:
Made to Crave is a best-selling 'non' diet book. Frankly, it is quite easy to see how millions enjoyed it. Lysa TerKeurst writes in a raw, down-to-earth, honest way that is easy to relate too. And she is normal, for, as she states often, she doesn't crave carrot sticks like the rock hard super trainers you usually see writing diet books. Yes, seeing trainers like that can be inspiring, but far too often it just puts too much pressure that can easily lead to burnout and failure.

However Made to Crave isn't much of  a diet book at all. As Lysa demonstrates, diets rarely work over the long haul. Why? Because we diet for the wrong reasons! Simply wanting to lose weight and look good won't stand when facing a giant chocolate cake square in the face. Rather, we should evaluate more than our 'how-tos' but also our 'want-tos'.

This is a Christian book so we tackle some big issues. Unknowingly, we can turn to food as an idol. TerKeurst reminds us that in times of stress, sadness, anger, happiness, we should always turn to GOD first, not food. And while examining my own life, I realized this is very true. I frequently eat at night out of boredom or turn to chocolate when I am angry. Each chapter brought to life another excuse or issue we can make out of food. I could instantly see how I used each one every day.

You must use caution when reading this book. For those who aren't Christians, they may not understand the true importance or reasonings behind TerKeurst's words. Using our bodies to glorify God is something a non-Christian will struggle with. And Christian or not, you have to have wisdom to see the fine line TerKeurst walks between restricting her diet for the good of her body and her spiritual walk and the other side, legalism. TerKeurst isn't adding more rules or telling you what you can or cannot eat, she very clearly states what she is doing is for her body and her personal problems with food. After reading through a few reviews, some people seem to have missed this difference. I however found it quite obvious, but feel like I should put this disclaimer here anyways.

Other than this small hiccup, Made to Crave has a lot going for it. We work through our perspective on food and weight with an author who knows and understands our struggle. At the end of each chapter are personal reflection questions that helps to internalize the information and decide what to do with it. TerKeurst does talk in theory and experience but provides the practical in 'go-to scripts' when we hit tough moments and Bible verses to memorize.

I am rating this book 4.5 stars and could easily recommend it to anyone who is struggling with weight loss who may know all the how-tos but needs help with their want-tos. It certainly changed my view on food and how I eat in a way that I know will be more long lasting than any diet plan out there.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

TBR Pile 2014 Reading Challenge!

I'm doing it! I am joining a year long reading challenge! I love the idea of reading challenges, yet feel like I struggle to find ones that would fit me and my reading personality. Knocking out the pile of books on my bookshelf is a personal goal for 2014 already, so might as well join an awesome challenge along the way!

Hosted by Bookish

This challenge will be loads of fun with monthly link ups on the 20th, read-a-longs with prizes, and to keep track of it all an email list solely for this challenge! 

11-20 A Friendly Hug.

Yeah...I know. But I don't want to overestimate my abilities. This already takes a good bulk of my 2014 Goal of reading 60 books. I also want to make sure I only count books that are already on my TBR list and not books that I will continue to add throughout 2014.

I will try to keep a running list here on this post...but no promises :) Always check my Goodreads profile to see what I am up too.

1. Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst:: review
2. I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model by Kylie Bisutti
3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor:: review

Destined for Love Book Blast!

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You met Rex Braden in Lovers at Heart, Book One of the The Bradens (Love in Bloom Series). Jade Johnson is about to turn his comfortable rancher's life upside down. Don't miss this powerful love story.

DESTINED FOR LOVE is a hot contemporary romance with alpha male heroes and sexy, empowered women. They're flawed, funny, passionate, and very relatable for readers who enjoy adult romance, contemporary romance, and women's fiction.

Rex Braden is wealthy, hard working, and fiercely loyal. Sweat at his brow, he works the family ranch by day, then kicks back at night with part time lovers who require nothing more than his physical presence a few times each week. But that was before. Before Jade Johnson, the daughter of the man his father has been feuding with for over forty years, moves back into town.

After ditching a horrific relationship—and her veterinary practice in the process—Jade Johnson returns to the safety of her small hometown and finally finds her footing. That is...until her horse is injured and Rex Braden comes to her rescue. The last thing she needs is a bull-headed, too-handsome-for-his-own-good Braden complicating her life.

Despite the angry family history, sparks fly between Rex and Jade, and attitudes follow. Fifteen years of stifled, forbidden love stirs a surge of passion too strong for either to deny—and the rebel in each of them rears its powerful head. Loyalties are tested, and relationships are strained. Rex and Jade are about to find out if true love really can conquer all.
Watch for the full LOVE IN BLOOM series:
Sisters in Love
Sisters in Bloom
Sisters in White
Lovers at Heart
Destined for Love
Friendship on Fire
Sea of Love
Bursting with Love
Hearts at Play

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Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Caf├ę. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on The Women’s NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Join Melissa and the YaYa Writer Girls at their annual in-person event. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

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