Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading | Spring 2019 Edition

Books. Books. All the Books! Even though I don’t do book reviews anymore, I still want to keep y’all in the loop of what I’m reading! Here’s the most recent reads – some for the INSPYs, some for the different book clubs I’m in, and some for fun! Have you read any?

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano: An INSPY nominee.

The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright: Another INSPY nominee.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Y’all know how I feel about this book. I think everyone in America should be required to read this. We read it for one of my book clubs and it was a great discussion. I also did a quote series on Instagram, be sure to check it out!

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar: And another INSPY nominee.

The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong: I wrote about this a few weeks back here.

Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse: It’s a series, and I’m not so patiently waiting for the conclusion next year!

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay: I love everything she writes and this was no different! Well worth your time.

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim: Always love the creativity and her unique take on a story. This is definitely one of my favorites from Petersheim.

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan: Can murder mysteries be fun to read? I think so! I’m a big fan of Rachel and how she brings important characters and topics to the world. Be sure to check her out if you haven’t yet!

Broken Harbor by Tana French: This is my second book by French and I’m trying really hard to like her books. I like her writing, but the two I’ve read, the endings (and murder mystery reveals) have left me wanting. Usually I give an author two books before accepting we aren’t meant to be, but I’m willing to give her one more shot.

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon: Another INSPY nominee.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon: I read this for book club and it was such a great discussion. If you’re looking for a good discussion book, I definitely recommend this one. It’s also just a great book, but extra bonus getting to discuss it with friends.

What are you reading?

Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading

I’m about to dive a bit more into INSPYs reading, but wanted to share some of my recents reads!

  1. Stuart Little by E.B. White – I blame the puzzle.
  2. Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn – One of the fun books I get to work on. Robin is fabulous, so be sure to check it out!
  3. A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner – Confession, I’m not 100% done, but am loving this one and have really enjoyed this series, and she’s the best, so buy them all! And maybe follow Susie.
  4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – Loved! More about it here.
  5. My Happy Life by Lagercrantz & Eriksson – Again, the puzzle.
  6. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – Lived up to the hype. So enjoyed this one for book club.
  7. Dangerous Prayers: 50 Powerful Prayers that Changes The World – Read more of my thoughts here!

Have you read any? What are you reading right now?

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible by Joanna Rivard & Tim Penner | Review

What a great story book for children! With a variety of Old Testament and New Testament, this is great for story time with any child. I appreciated that it covered a variety of stories, but with age appropriate details.

Accurate to the stories and the people of Bible times, I am so glad more and more books like this are becoming available.

Here’s a few more photos:

BOOK DESCRIPTION

With whimsical illustrations and engaging storytelling, The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible presents all your favorite stories and diversely represented characters from the Old and New Testaments. It starts at the very beginning with the magnificence of creation and includes Moses parting the Red Sea, Jonah being swallowed by a giant fish, and ultimately the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the rescuing King.

Uniquely presented in a way that connects each individual story to the next, this book introduces children to the most important ideas and characters of the Bible while also making clear how everything fits together to tell one big story––the story of God’s love for his children.

Kids will want to return to these joyful, memorable stories again and again, building their understanding of God’s Word. And the practical lessons, reminders, and truths found throughout the stories make this an invaluable resource for parents and teachers.

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible will help your children discover:

Who God is––the one who made everything and everyone Who we are––his children, whom he loves unconditionally What we were made for––to love God and everyone else

Introduce your children to the incredible story of God’s enormous love for them with The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible! This book’s bright and engaging cover has a unique feel and pops off the page with debossing.

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

Dangerous Prayers by Thomas Nelson Gift

World-changers. Rebels. Rejecters of the status quo. Throughout history, Christians were never meant to have a safe faith.

Learn from the brave ones who have gone before you with Dangerous Prayers, an inspiring collection of prayers from people who have changed the world. Exploring historical figures, cultural icons, political leaders, saints, and martyrs, this book offers you a rich visual experience to explore the power of dynamic prayers.

From St. Francis of Assisi to Harriett Tubman to Billy Graham, God can use ordinary people who pray courageous prayers to do extraordinary things for Him. No matter your age, position, or status, praying dangerous prayers will change your life—and likely the world around you as well.

Gain wisdom from the prayer lives of spiritual giants and invigorate your faith as you consider those who came before you with Dangerous Prayers.

I love history and I love reading about those who came before us in the faith. Reading bits and pieces about these people is always encouraging because you see so clearly how God works. I love the idea behind this book. Sharing the dangerous prayers of those who have changed the world is inspiring in so many ways.

There is one thing I need to say though. As you know, if you’ve been around the blog for a minute or two, race and America are important topics to me. We can’t heal if we don’t acknowledge the sins of those before us, so I must ask, why do we keep including certain people in our heroes of faith? Two examples in this book are George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. Whitefield was pro slavery. He actively taught that slavery was good and justified it. He believed Africans and African Americans were subordinate. Edwards himself owned slaves.

As Christians, we need to stop praising people who played a hand in keeping one of America’s darkest sins alive and running. I don’t expect our past leaders to have been perfect, but they never realized their sin nor repented. The church then and now is made up of millions of people they helped to keep enslaved. The ripples of their actions continue today.

I’m also not saying we remove them from our church history – all the more reason to actually keep them, as it shows how racism was in the church for centuries – but we also don’t need to include them in every hall of faith type of book Christians publish. We can only move forward when we acknowledge the past.

Outside of that, I really liked this collection. From voices in ministry, to activists, to artists, this shows how God will use you where you are at. They also featured men and women of different backgrounds and cultures.

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby | Book Review

Given the centuries of Christian compromise with bigotry, believers today must be prepared to tear down old structures and build up new ones.

In August of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, calling on all Americans to view others not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Yet King included another powerful word, one that is often overlooked. Warning against the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” King emphasized the fierce urgency of now, the need to resist the status quo and take immediate action.

King’s call to action, first issued over fifty years ago, is relevant for the church in America today. Churches remain racially segregated and are largely ineffective in addressing complex racial challenges. In The Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby takes us back to the root of this injustice in the American church, highlighting the cultural and institutional tables we have to flip in order to bring about progress between black and white people.

Tisby provides a unique survey of American Christianity’s racial past, revealing the concrete and chilling ways people of faith have worked against racial justice. Understanding our racial history sets the stage for solutions, but until we understand the depth of the malady we won’t fully embrace the aggressive treatment it requires. Given the centuries of Christian compromise with bigotry, believers today must be prepared to tear down old structures and build up new ones. This book provides an in-depth diagnosis for a racially divided American church and suggests ways to foster a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people.

I thought about writing a few paragraph of a review, but honestly, I don’t think I need to add much more. The church needs to read this book. Will it be hard for some? Will some want to jump to the defensive? Absolutely. But it’s too important of a topic to not read it, work through it, ask questions, pray, and work to bring healing.

This book is needed. This book is important. Please, read it.

Book Reviews

If You Need A Couple More Book Ideas For Christmas…

I was going through some books this morning (deciding which books to take on vacation is no easy task ;), and thought I would share a few books for those looking for some last minute ideas. They’re different genres and styles, so if you were stuck, hopefully this will help you!

  • For the person who wants to dive deeper in history (and wants to create change): The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
  • For the person who loves stories of friendship (and wants to learn about people different from them): Once We Were Strangers by Shawn Smucker
  • For the thinker and writer (and journal collector 😉: Burning Ships (A Guided Journal) by Douglas Mann
  • For the person who likes to laugh (or teaches English!): P is for Pterodactyl by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter
  • For the person who loves literature and story (because Jack is awesome): On Stories by C.S. Lewis

Merry Christmas everyone!!

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
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