Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Infographic Bible | Review

I really liked the idea behind this Bible resource. There are infographics on a variety of topics and a mix of art work, charts, etc. It’s not a book you can go through in one setting, since there’s such an abundance of information. If you tried to in one setting, you’d get overwhelmed rather quickly, but I kinda like that there’s a ton of info to dive into. My one qualm with it is that the font is sometimes really small, making it hard to read.

It’s definitely worth looking into though.

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
It doesn’t just tell you the story—it shows you the story.

Powerful infographics reveal new beauty and depth of understanding as you engage with Scripture’s story in a fresh, visual way. Taking inspiration from the imagery Jesus evoked with His picturesque parables, The Infographic Bible reveals the character of God, his Word, and his redemptive plan in 84 stunning infographics.

Features:

  • 84 stunning infographics explain the character of God, his Word, and his redemptive plan
  • Scripture excerpts throughout the book taken from the New Revised Standard Version, the New King James Version, and the Good News Translation.
  • Durable cover with generous foil accents
  • Heavy, bright white paper
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Book Reviews, Nonfiction

Ancient-Modern Bible | Review

Alright, my interest was immediately piqued as soon as I saw this cover and title. Ancient-Modern Bible? What exactly was this all about? So obviously, I I immediately snagged one. Here’s a bit from the intro I thought worth sharing:

“The fellowship stretches across the globe, encompassing charismatic Anglicans in Singapore, non-denominational Baptists in Long, and Orthodox believers in Rio de Janeiro. And it’s a fellowship that reaches back through time, from the very earliest disciples of Jesus living in Jerusalem, through the second-century converts in Roman-ruled Africa and Europe, to medieval monastics, and onward to reformers, pietists, missionaries, revivalists, and more.”

“Our prayer is that the Ancient-Modern Bible will encourage and strengthen you, and that your own study of this incomparable book will be enriched by the reflections and insights of faithful men and women from across the centuries who, just like you, came to Scripture to learn from the Author of life.”

I love the goal behind this Bible. By providing commentary from an array of voices throughout history, it shows the value of various thoughts and theologies and reminding Bible readers about our ultimate goal. The commentary on one page ranged from: Bonhoeffer, John Calvin, Jack Hayford and Jerome. Another section had Eugene Peterson, Spurgeon, Calvin, Henry Halley, and Augustine. Other voices ranged from C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, and Dallas Willard.

Other helpful features I appreciated were the brief timeline and discussion before every book, the different historical Creeds of the Church, and the essays on different doctrines and teachings of the church. One of my favorite features are the various biographies of Christian voices (including lists of important works to dive further).

Outside of the ancient voices, I didn’t see any modern voices of color (Like something from Martin Luther King Jr.). I went through a majority of the commentary and I think this was a missed opportunity, as this Bible, in its other aspects, focuses on bringing different voices together.

I would also love to see different translations. I don’t read (outside of specific research) from NKJV, so maybe that’s something we’ll see in the future.

Oh! And I loved the historical artwork in the back. I found one of my favorite paintings (Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son”). A great way to honor the different ways we are drawn to God.

Overall, I think it’s a worthy addition to your library.

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Many things have changed in the last two-thousand years. The good news of Jesus Christ isn’t one of them. The NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible features all-new book introductions, articles, and commentary from voices both ancient and modern to help you experience the Word of God as never before. Read the Bible alongside Augustine, Luther, Graham, and others—and discover the rich wisdom of ages past and present, which is the rightful inheritance of every follower of Christ. The NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible is an opportunity for readers to experience the Word of God with fresh eyes, as members of the global and historical community of faith. This is a Bible two thousand years in the making.

Features include:

  • Full-color design that uniquely blends cutting edge modern typography and layout with traditional, sacred elements
  • Bible commentary from church thinkers past and present, from Huss to Keller, from Chrysostom to Spurgeon, from Aquinas to Wright
  • Biographies of church leaders & thinkers
  • Doctrine and history articles on significant councils, creeds, and controversies
  • Sacred art from throughout church history
  • Easy-to-read 8.5-point font

More Details:

  • Thousands of verse-by-verse and passage-by-passage comments from the church’s greatest teachers and thinkers, including John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Augustine, John Wesley, Timothy Keller, Matthew Henry, Billy Graham, A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, Henry Halley, Martin Luther, N.T. Wright, Jack Hayford, John Bunyan, Eugene Peterson, Jerome, Warren Wiersbe, R.C. Sproul, Ulrich Zwingli, D.L Moody, William Tyndale, D.A. Carson, John Knox, Scot McKnight, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Soren Kierkegaard, and John Chrysostom
  • Full page biography articles sharing the inspiring life stories of men and women who were transformed by the gospel, from the early church, through the Reformation, and beyond.
  • Sacred art as inspired by the Bible through the centuries, including Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Gustave Dore, Christian Rohlfs, and Makoto Fujimura.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction

Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd | Book Review

I’m all about trying out new authors and expanding my reading horizons, BUT I also love having my go-to authors, where I know each book I read will be (and is!) simply fabulous, entertaining, and always added to the bookshelf. Sandra Byrd is one such author and her latest, once again, did not disappoint.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures brings about a fascinating piece of history – the wealthy and their love and obsession with artifacts. I found it fascinating that so much of history was stored in houses and mansions of the rich. I loved how Byrd brought that to life and how that played out in society.

Plus Byrd knows how to write a romantic thread – never over the top, but always oh so fabulous. I definitely recommend adding this to your list, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Who is one of your go-to authors?

(Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction

Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin | Book Review

I can’t remember the last time I wanted a sequel more, than after reading Lynn Austin’s Waves of Mercy. I’m so glad so many people requested more to Anna’s story and even more so that Lynn wrote one!

I thought the sequel went along well with the original story line and characters’ personalities and actions. I enjoyed what Lynn did with the story and the historical lane she took readers through. I loved getting to connect again with Geesje and Holland, Michigan. Austin also touches on different themes that are just as important today. If you’re a fan of Lynn Austin and historical fiction, don’t miss out on this one!

(Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can’t seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she’s learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth. But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.

At the same time, unflattering stories about Anna are leaked by someone who would love to see her disgraced and her engagement broken. And as Anna tries to share her faith with her society friends, she understands that her choice to seek God’s purpose for her life isn’t as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje’s been helping new Dutch immigrants, including a teen with a haunted past, adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction

What Blooms From Dust by James Markert | Book Review

With a hints of magical mysteries, James Markert’s What Blooms From Dust brings the Dust Bowl alive in a unique and intriguing way. The characters, the small town of Nowhere, the mysterious happenings, and the redemption of a city all make for a story that kept me hook and connected to each of the characters.

I admit, every book I read on the Dust Bowl makes we want to drink 10 gallons of water and shower 57 times, but that’s the sign of a good book. The vivid details bring to life a part of history that affected so many. Plus there were a few more facts I learned about the Dust Bowl that I didn’t know before (like the fact that it was caused by people not understanding how to farm the land).

If you enjoy historical fiction, be sure to grab this book. If that’s not your go-to genre, I think it still might be worth a shot.

What books do you enjoy about this piece of history?

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“The closer he got, the brighter that red became. It was a rose—a rose that had no earthly business growing there, right in the middle of all that dust.”

Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, he is given a second chance at life. With the flip of a coin, he decides to return to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, to settle the score with his twin brother Josiah. But upon his escape, he enters a world he doesn’t recognize—one that has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl. And the gift he once relied on to guide him is as unrecognizable as the path back to Nowhere.

On his journey home, he accidentally rescues a young boy, and the pair arrive at their destination where they are greeted by darkened skies and fearful townspeople who have finally begun to let the past few years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust. Unlikely heroes, Jeremiah and his new companion, Peter Cotton, try to protect the residents of Nowhere from themselves, but Jeremiah must face his nightmares and free himself from the guilt of his past and the secrets that destroyed his family.

Filled with mystery and magic, this exquisite novel from award-winning author James Markert is a story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction

My Hands Came Away Red Re-Release!

I’m so excited to share about this re-release from author Lisa McKay! She recently found out that Justin Baldoni and Wayfarer Entertainment have optioned the film rights (You can read more about that from Lisa here). That is so very awesome for any author! If you haven’t had the chance to read it, Lisa has it available with a striking new cover.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Right up until the day they burned the church, I thought I understood things. You know… God, people, myself. Life. Then, suddenly, I understood nothing except that we had to run. And that we might never make it home.

When eighteen-year-old Cori signed up for a mission trip to Indonesia she was mostly thinking about escaping her complicated love life, making new friends, and having fun on the beach.

She never expected a civil war to flare up on the nearby island of Ambon.

She never expected violence to find them.

And she never expected that seven teenagers would be forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the mountains on their own.

Now, haunted by blood and fire, Cori and her teammates must rely on each other to survive.

Praised by Publishers Weekly as “fast-paced,” “thought-provoking,” and one of the “best novels of the year,” My Hands Came Away Red will take you deep into the jungle with Cori as she desperately searches for answers and a safe way home.

Find out more about Lisa McKay at her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Buy the Book

Book Reviews, Fiction

Shadow Sister by Katherine Scott Jones | Book Review

I’m so excited to share this book with y’all! I’ve been a fan of Katherine for quite some time now and am thrilled her second book is out for the world to read! It’s a beautiful story and one worth sharing. I had the opportunity to endorse it and I mean these words just as much as I did when I wrote them:

“A beautiful story of family, love, and hope, Shadow Sister is a refreshing tale of one woman’s journey through loss and heartache to redemption. Jones’ ability to create real characters and places will leave you wishing you could roam the streets of Bolivia. It will also open your heart to the marginalized and those serving them. I was left inspired and encouraged. I definitely recommend this book!”

(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK: When a vintner’s daughter travels to Bolivia to scatter her estranged sister’s ashes, she unravels secrets that test her devotion to home and make her question whether truth is worth the cost of forgiveness. Bittersweet and bold, Shadow Sister explores the mysteries of the human heart and the bond of unquenchable love.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction

Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks | Book Review

Oh book reviews – sometimes you’re hard to write!

This one wasn’t a hit for me. After thinking on this for a while, I figured out what missed the mark: The book had too many lines cast out. There was the personal drama Murphy was going through, the mysterious prologue, the current crimes she was helping to investigate, and more as the truth was ultimately revealed. While there were some intriguing bits, it started to lose its credibility towards the end. I also thought some developments were rushed and that always makes it hard for me to connect with characters.

I admit, I often compared this to Gwen Marcey’s stories (the main character in Parks’ previous novels), and it didn’t match those reading experiences (which is a hard thing to do because I LOVE those novels and Gwen is hilarious).

So, while the history was interesting, this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK: An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden. After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions. As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano | Book Review

“You can tell the quality of a man’s soul with one look at what he creates, for what he’s poured into his creation has come from within.” Notebook of a viticulturist

If you’re a fan of Inspirational historical romance, then you need to have Joanna Davidson Politano on your radar. I absolutely adored her debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, and in her sophomore novel, Politano once again brings an intriguing plot to readers.

There were plenty of plot twists throughout and to the very end. With reminders of the way God will work in any situation, readers who relish strong faith themes and romance, will enjoy seeing Tressa’s journey and faith grow throughout the novel.

Who is an author you’ve recently become a fan of?

(Thank you to Revell for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK: Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they’ll not soon forget.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction, Nonfiction

Some Recent Book Recommendations

While it might take me a minute or two to get to these books, I thought it would be fun to pass along some recent books recommendations sent my way to you guys as well, especially since I sometimes take a while to read them. It happens no?

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker
It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.

After his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life–the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?
Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid. With this powerful debut, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L’Engle and Lois Lowry.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading. When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, the Queen is transformed as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word.

The author of the Tony Award winner The History Boys, Alan Bennett is one of Britain’s best-loved literary voices. With The Uncommon Reader, he brings us a playful homage to the written word, imagining a world in which literature becomes a subversive bridge between powerbrokers and commoners. By turns cheeky and charming, the novella features the Queen herself as its protagonist. When her yapping corgis lead her to a mobile library, Her Majesty develops a new obsession with reading. She finds herself devouring works by a tantalizing range of authors, from the Brontë sisters to Jean Genet. With a young member of the palace kitchen staff guiding her choices, it’s not long before the Queen begins to develop a new perspective on the world – one that alarms her closest advisers and tempts her to make bold new decisions. Brimming with the mischievous wit that has garnered acclaim for Bennett on both sides of the Atlantic, The Uncommon Reader is a delightful celebration of books and writers, and the readers who sustain them.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
“What does it mean to manage well?”
From Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, comes an incisive book about creativity in business—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.” For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.

As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:

• Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
• If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
• It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
• The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
• A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
• Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all are on board.

What’s a book you recommend?