Friday, August 22, 2014


I was looking for a different type of book to read, and I certainly found it when I read Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia.

Tom Kizzia is an Alaskan writer who became acquainted with this strange family.  Because he had a cabin near theirs, he was given greater access to the inner workings of this family than any other person.  Even then, there was much that Mr. Kizzia didn't know about the man called Papa Pilgrim.

On the surface, they looked like an old fashioned hillbilly type family.  However, Papa had many dark secrets, and beneath his exterior was a vicious man. 

This was an interesting story, fascinating, yet a very troubling and sad story.  There was almost too much detail about the family, but it was still interesting.  This family was controlled by Papa Pilgrim who used his Christianity to control and scare his family.  They moved to Alaska in a sense to hide out from the world, but they found trouble because of the father.

There was nothing really Christian about Papa Pilgrim in the way he abused his family and tried to strong arm anyone who would disagree with him. 

This was a well written book.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Blogging for Books

Excellent BIble with Devotion

This is a wonderful devotional and Bible in one.  The NIV Streams in the Desert Bible is packed with powerful words from God and from author L.B. Cowman.  I have read through the deovtional Streams in the Desert many years ago, and will do so again as I read through the Bible.

About the author of the devotion, it is written ~ L. B. Cowman worked as a pioneer missionary with her husband in Japan and China from 1901 to 1917, during which time they helped found the Oriental Missionary Society.  When Mr. Cowman's poor health forced the couple to return to the United States, Mrs. Cowman turned her attention to caring for her husband until his death six years later.  Out of Mrs. Cowman's experiences and heartbreak came her first book, Streams in the Desert, followed by its companion Springs in the Valley.  During the next twenty-five years, Mrs. Cowman inspired several nationwide Scripture distribution campaigns and wrote seven more books.

There are 365 devotions scattered throughout the Bible.  Each devotion has a “go to” line at the bottom of the page, so you can easily locate the next day’s reading. In addition, in the back of the Bible is a listing of devotion by subject.  This way you can find a certain topic you would like to read about.
Overall, this is an excellent devotion, which is in the NIV Bible.

Zondervan Publishers, through Harper Collins had provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, in exchange for an unbiased review through BookLook Bloggers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Powerful True Story

Echoes of an Angel: The Miraculous True Story was written by Aquanetta Gordon, the mother of the subject of this book.  This is powerful, true story about a young boy named Ben Underwood, who lost both of his eyes when he was two years old to a rare disease called bilateral retinoblastoma.  This is the story of his journey of living life despite his blindness and other physical issues, until his death. 

It is a story about a mother’s will to help her son never lose the will to live, to embrace life, even when it was not easy.  It’s also the story of a mother who struggled with faith in God, but ultimately grew in her faith.  While the mother did some things I did not agree with the basis of the story, which is true, is powerful and inspiring. 

To picture Ben riding his bike and jumping over ramps and so cool!  Ben didn’t live like a person who was blind; that is where I give so much credit to his mother and to Ben’s will to live a normal life.  He played with friends and even played video games.

Echoes of an Angel was a wonderful reminder of putting our faith in God and watching what He can do! The book contains pictures and a Discussion Guide.

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stand in the Gap

Reading  In the Gap: What Happens When God's People Stand Strong, by Wilfredo De Jesus was a challenging book.  The purpose of this book was to identify the ordinary people who do extraordinary things to make a difference in the world.  De Jesus defines a gap, as ‘something which represents a place of weakness, vulnerability and danger.’

We often times see this when looking around the world.  De Jesus shares many stories about these ordinary men and women who saw ‘a gap’ and sought to transform the gap into something which would be strong and powerful. 

This is an encouraging, yet challenging book to read.  As we read the book we should be reading with our eyes open to our own communities and where the ‘gaps’ are so we can get ready to make a difference.

De Jesus includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which can be used for personal reflection or group discussion.  It has a self-evaluation tool at the back of the book to help you determine “where God is already at work in your life … and where He may need to do a little more to sharpen and shape you.  Finally, it includes useful suggestions for how to use the book in small groups and classes.  There is also a Bible Study series to go along with the book.

I recommend this book to people who are not comfortable and want to learn more about how they can make a difference in the world.

I received this book at no cost as a digital download through Net Galley.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Thanks also to Assemblies of God and Influence Resources publishers.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Inspiring Story

This was a very easy to read book, with great nuggets of spiritual truth to guide the reader along their journey.  Laurie Short’s book, Finding Faith in the Dark: When the Story of Your Life Takes a Turn You Didn't Plan weaves stories about her life and those around her; along with stories from the Bible.

She takes a look at what happens when life does not go as we planned it to go.  This is an encouraging book.  A great book to give to someone who is going through a difficult time in their lives.  Ms. Short encourages the reader to never give up, because we do not know what the next chapter is in our story.  Often times God is more at work in our difficult seasons than we realize and understand. 

Once again, this would be a great gift book.  It’s easy to read and you will identify with the author and the stories.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Powerful Story to Faith

In her book, Good God, Lousy World, and Me: The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist from Unbelief to Faith, Holly Burkhalter gives a very open and honest autobiographical account of her journey to faith.

As the title suggests, this is in Holly’s opinion, an improbable journey from someone who was borderline agnostic / atheist to someone who found faith.  Working in the world of human rights in many countries, Ms. Burkhalter witnessed so many atrocities to humans.  It became difficult for her to believe there was a God, let alone a good God, who would allow all of this to occur to God’s creation. 

It was not a one time crusade where Holly got it.  It was watching and witnessing people at work who were followers of Christ.  She saw them in action, helping people who were hurting and yet at the same time extolling the goodness of God.  This led to the changes in her personal life and ultimately faith in the living God. 

While Holly does not have all of the answers, in raw honesty, she leads us on her journey, an improbable one.  A journey with so many lows, yet she discovered faith in Jesus.  This is a powerful story about one woman’s journey to faith in Jesus, in spite of the tragedies she experienced. 

This book is worth the reading!

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books for the purpose of reviewing.  All opinions are mine. 

Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

Stepping Into the World

I greatly appreciated reading Church in the Middle: Stepping Outside the Building to Reach the World of Tomorrow by Rolland Daniels.  I was in total agreement with his view of the church.  As the title states, and it’s his premise, that in order to reach the world of people who are not part of the church, we need to leave the church and engage people where they are at. 

For many years the church has simply assumed if we open our doors people should want to come in and have their lives transformed.  We no longer live in that world.  Daniels offers many practical suggestions / tools to help pastors and churches make the jump from inwardly focused to outwardly focused.  He offers assessments and more to help the people gain a better understanding of the call of Jesus to go into the world and make disciples of all people. 

Overall, this was an excellent book.  It was easy to read and should help churches wishing to become more engaged in their community.

I received this book at no charge from Net Galley, published by Warner Press, as a digital download, in exchange for an honest review of this book.

How We Learn! Read All About It

As a parent of two teen boys, I was really interested to read this book and gain insight on ways to help them.  I was not disappointed.  Although it will take time to help them gain new study habits, I greatly appreciated reading  How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, by Benedict Carey. 

There were times I felt the book slowed down as Benedict wrote about the methodology and the different aspects of the brain and how it functions.  I was able to overlook that, but it could be of interest to others.  I was fascinated with the way he described studying in a more chaotic situation can be more helpful than harmful.  While my children do not cram for tests, the way our brain remembers words, etc. was interesting.

His discussion about sleep and its impact on memory and studying was so helpful.  I am not a morning person, and this cemented it as well.  Some schools start ridiculously early, and it does not help the students learn.

This book would be great in a synopsis view for teachers to read.  I would love for some teachers to test his theories and see if they work.  That’s the hard part now.  Do I trust what Carey his written to try these out with my children?

Overall, there were those dry moments, but this is an excellent read for those wanting to better understand how our brain works and how we learn.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Random House Publishers.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Very Good Devotional

The Jesus Code ~ 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer, by O.S. Hawkins has an interesting premise to it.  Hawkins began to wonder about all of the questions Jesus asked, and then went on a search throughout the Bible to examine the questions he felt we need to answer.

This book, which is not related to the God Code is broken down into 52 chapters.  A chapter per week, and the chapters are only 5 pages or so long.  The goal is to read and meditate on the question and discussion questions from each chapter.

This can be used as a family devotion or individually.  The book has a beautiful imitation leather cover which makes it look really great! 

Overall, while I have not finished the book, as I am trying to take it slowly, is a good book, which asks leading questions causing the reader to dig into his / her spiritual journey.  I didn't find Hawkins overly preachy, just trying to help me see where God is in my life, which is a good thing.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Fascinating Story

Neil Swidey has written and excellent nonfiction book, entitled, Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness.  By the time I was finished reading the Prologue, I was hooked.  The build up to the book was great.  Then Swidey takes us on a journey to move throughout the history and build up to this expedition. 

The book was well written with a great deal of care and precision on a delicate matter in which he had to talk to families who lost loved ones.  There is a great deal of documentation and footnotes at the end of the book to help some readers look beyond the book and read more articles about the issues with the Boston Harbor. 

This book could easily be made into a movie.  It was definitely be worth watching, especially after reading this book.  At times, the book moved very slowly, in part because Swidley took such care to talk about the backgrounds of the various divers and individuals in the book.  I believe he could have left some of these details out.  As the story stands on it’s own and was interesting to learn about the dynamics of working 10 miles out to sea in a tunnel.

For those interested in history and drama, this is a very good book.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

An Excellent Book for Dads

In his book, First Team Dad: Your Playbook for a Winning Family, J. Drew Pittman has written a wonderful and powerful book about what it means to be a dad.  He mostly uses stories about athletes and coaches to help bring home his point for each chapter.

He starts the chapter by talking about the particular person, then he segues into what we can learn from that person.  He ends each chapter with a section called "Game Plan" in which Pittman offers questions and thoughts for reflection.

At the end of the book, he has a few different appendices to help the reader move a little further in their faith journey as a father.

This is a very easy to read book, with 5-6 page chapters.  I would highly recommend this book, as a Father's Day book, for birthdays or even as a Christmas present.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Heartwarming Story

Susan May Warren has written a very heartwarming story in her newest book, Evergreen.  This is a story about a couple, John and Ingrid Christiansen.  Over the years and especially this past year, they've witnessed their family go through turmoil and loss.  They've were forced to say too many good-byes.  Now the stress is taking a toll on their married life. 

John has his dreams and Ingrid has hers, and at this time in their lives the dreams are pulling them in different directions.  The reader is brought into the struggle of their home life as both, John and Ingrid are pulled to look at life in new and different ways as the book takes a few twists and turns along the way. 

The book is about living and embracing a new reality of life.  It should hit home with many readers who want a feel good story, yet one which is based on real life.  This is one of those books which could easily be converted into a Hallmark movie.  It's also an easy to read book, which was nice.  Susan included some discussion questions at the end of the book as well, if you wanted this book to be on the book of the month reading list.

According to guidelines from Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Fun Kids Devotional

God Gave Us the Bible: 45 Favorite Stories for Little Ones is a very well done, hardcover introductory Bible for parents to read with thei...