Book Reviews, Nonfiction

Everyday Holy by Melanie Shankle | Book Review

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If y’all have been around the blog for a while, then you know I’m a Melanie Shankle fan. Her humor and writing always have me laughing and leaving encouraged. Her latest devotional is no different. Sharing every day stories from her life, Shankle’s daily devotions encourage, remind and teach about God’s truth in the everyday. How much I need this! There’s been quite a few daily devos that were just what I needed and when I did. It’s something I’m so thankful for during this season.

I also have to say, this book looks and feels so fancy…I’m a fan! Beyond the hardcover, there’s really nice paper (I know that’s a terrible description, but my brain cannot come up with the right name, weight or style of said paper, but trust me, its legit) and I love the cover. Honestly, this would make a great gift for yourself #treatyoself or a woman in your life!

What devotional or book is ministering to your heart right now?

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

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

It seems to be a rite of passage for every woman: you wake up one day and think, “Wait. THIS is the life I signed up for?”
We’ve all been there. Melanie Shankle, New York Times bestselling author and writer at The Big Mama Blog, is just brave enough to say it out loud. And Everyday Holy is your invitation to reexamine your life and find the little pieces that create a beautiful picture of a big God.

On any given day, you may be asking yourself:

  • Is Instagram making me crazy, or am I actually supposed to have a perfectly curated cup of coffee on my artfully rumpled throw blanket every morning?
  • Doubts about my faith are normal, right?
  • Is eating cookie dough straight from the fridge fine as long as it’s organic?
  • Could it be that loving my family well is my spiritual gift?

It’s a common theme: Am I okay? Is my life significant? And how do we measure significance, anyway? Melanie’s hilarious and poignant insight offers you the deep breath of relief that God is working in all the moments, no matter how big or how small. In 100 devotions, Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments invites you to see your life as God intended: rich with opportunity, significance, and beauty, even on days that feel overwhelmingly ordinary.

If you’re looking for the line that connects the dots, Everyday Holy is for you. If you wonder where God is in this mess or how exactly He’s working behind the scenes, this book is for you. Whether you feel overwhelmed or disillusioned or frustrated by how your life feels, there’s room for you at this table. And here’s the best news: We’re all in this together.

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Book Reviews, Fiction

ColorFULL by Dorena Williamson | Book Review

“Celebrating Colors God Gave Us.”

One thing I hear often is “I’m colorblind, I don’t see color.” While I understand the intent and desire, it shouldn’t be our response. Why do I say this? Because God made color and He made people look different. And He did because He is creative and loves diversity. I’m so thankful to follow a God who creates that way. If everyone were the same, the world would be so boring.

I love finding books for children that show them this beautiful truth. The truth that, though they may look different from each other, they are all God’s children. This book is fun, the illustrations adorable and I love that it celebrates this.

Finally, not only is this a cute and important story, there’s also “Parent Connection” in the back, which comes with a verse, short discussion and questions that will help parents talk more with their kids. I love that idea and that it’s rooted in Scripture!

I highly recommend reading this to the littles in your life! Any recent children’s books you’re loving?

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

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

Why be colorblind when we can be colorFULL instead?

Imani and Kayla are the best of friends who are learning to celebrate their different skin colors. As they look around them at the amazing colors in nature, they can see that their skin is another example of God’s creativity! This joyful story takes a new approach to discussing race: instead of being colorblind, we can choose to celebrate each color God gave us and be colorFULL instead.

Fiction

World-Building: The Promise of Something Greater | Guest Post by David Wiley

Today I’m welcoming my friend David Wiley on his newest release! Hope you enjoy!

When I sat down to write Monster Huntress, I didn’t know much about the world in which it was taking place. I knew the type of world I wanted, but it transformed and evolved over the course of revisions, always growing either in size or in the details. While the story of Monster Huntress visits only a small portion of the world I’ve created, there are some lessons I’ve learned from J.R.R. Tolkien that have had a ripple effect toward my approach to worldbuilding. The biggest of those lessons was to provide the promise of something greater.

What I mean by that is there is something more out there beyond what the reader is experiencing. There is a larger world, other events going on. There is a rich history, filled with named heroes and battles and events that can be referred to over the course of the book. The reader doesn’t need to know what the Wizard Wars were, for instance, but knowing that there was some massive war hundreds of years ago is important to provide the experience of an aged world. After all, we still refer back to events and wars that waged hundreds, and thousands, of years ago. The same will hold true in a fantasy book, unless it is a newly-formed world. Even new civilizations likely stemmed from somewhere with a history on that world.

Some writers might take the “cut it” approach to those things, and my own editor prodded at some of those. I took a few out but kept others, because I wanted to provide depth to the world – it has a history, after all, even if I haven’t written it yet. It opens the door for significant events to be explored later in shorter forms of fiction, or even a spin-off book that covers some of those things.

There is a scene in the book where Ava comes across a statue of four famous, yet nameless, heroes from the past. Here is the small scene:

The landmark of her journey, a tall statue made from an aquamarine granite, loomed just ahead. Its features were smooth and worn from the weather, their individual faces indistinguishable, but she could still make out the original image carved by the sculptor. It was depicting a trio of men and one woman, a party of unnamed individuals that performed heroic deeds long ago during the Wizard Wars. When Ava was close enough she could read the short inscription at the base of the statue which read: “These four warriors fought to maintain the balance in the world. They fought bravely and their sacrifice for the side of the Light will forever be remembered.” The rest of the words had been worn down to the point where they were no longer legible.

Ava sat in her saddle and contemplated the deeds of these bold warriors from the past. Had they not acted perhaps the world would be radically different than the world she was living in now. It was clear, from the inscription that remained, that these four were important in shaping history.

This scene was much longer, originally, giving some physical descriptions and some speculations on their individual roles. Yet I like the concise nature here. It gives you enough to emphasize their importance in making the world like it is, yet doesn’t steal the scene away from the main character. Look for more worldbuilding scenes like this to appear as the world I’ve built continues to grow. After all, Monster Huntress is set in a world with 13 kingdoms. By the end of book one, she’s only set foot into two of them, so the possibility for growth is quite large as she goes on more adventures in the Young Huntress Series.

Want to get started on Monster Huntress? Grab a copy today!

Want to learn more about the world I’ve built? Check out the earlier stops on the tour and meet some of the characters!

Book Reviews, Fiction

The Weaver’s Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd | Book Review

I remember when Sarah E. Ladd released her debut novel and I’ve been a fan ever since then. Her latest release takes you again back to England, with a story of family, changing times and of course, love.

I really appreciated the tension of change and community Ladd looked at. Was there one right answer? How did these communities deal with industrial change that took jobs away from people, but also sought to move industries forward and make them more efficient? I think of the ways life has changed during my lifetime, growing up in such a technological world, and that while it has changed in very different ways, we can see some of the same effect changes have made on industries today. What an interesting and scary time that was for England.

I also really appreciated that the ending was fitting and accurate. A satisfying ending to an entertaining read. If you enjoy historical romances with family and loyalties tested, be sure to snag a copy of The Weaver’s Daughter.

Do you have a recent favorite historical read?

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

Kate’s loyalties bind her to the past. Henry’s loyalties compel him to strive for a better future. In a landscape torn between tradition and vision, can two souls find the strength to overcome their preconceptions? Loyalty has been at the heart of the Dearborne family for as long as Kate can remember, but a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder — including her own. As misguided actions are brought to light, she learns how deep her father’s pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed. Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war hoping to find a refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he embraces his grandfather’s goals to modernize his family’s wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers. When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort out the truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family’s livelihood and legacy.Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry’s side, blurring the jagged lines between loyalty, justice, and truth. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village’s future. As unlikely adversaries, Henry and Kate must come together to find a way to create peace for their families, and their village, and their souls – even if it means risking their hearts in the process.

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

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

ICB Prayer Bible for Children by Thomas Nelson | Book Review

Help your children develop a heart for prayer with the new Prayer Bible for Children. This colorful Bible in the ICB version, the simple translation children can read and understand, highlights the most famous and beloved prayers featured in the Bible throughout the text. To put prayer life into practice, the Bible comes with a free prayer journal and a handy pocket on the back flap to carry it!

Prayer can be challenging and fearful for children to grasp sometimes, and the new ICB Prayer Bible will help show children that God loves to hear from His children and loves answering prayers.

With 160 pages about prayer and special features that show how God answers prayers throughout the Bible, you and your family will love to study this special Bible together! Featured throughout the text are the most famous and beloved prayers featured in the Bible. From Abraham’s prayers to the Lord . . . to Jesus praying before his crucifixion . . . to the way Paul prayed for the churches he planted, this Bible will teach young readers about a God who loves to hear from His children and loves answering prayers.

Special features include 160 full page prayer articles throughout the Bible. These special pages help children learn how to pray, to not fear prayer, and to see within the Word how and when God’s people prayed. The 64 colorful decorative pages will feature kid-friendly scripture prayers, topical poem prayers and fun questions and answers kids have about prayer. To put prayer life into practice, the Bible comes with a free prayer journal and a handy pocket on the back flap with to carry the prayer journal.

I love coming across books that are meant for children, but after looking through, know the adults reading with the child will be just as encouraged and engaged. This Prayer Bible for Children by Thomas Nelson is one of those!

I really loved the prayers throughout this Bible. While they are for children, so many of the words ring true for adults. Part of one of the prayers from the book of Zephaniah reads:

“Lord, I don’t need to be afraid. You, my God, are always with me…You sing over me with delight. My heart is peaceful and happy.”

It also comes with a 64 page prayer journal. It’s a fun extra for the young journaler in your life. It’s lined and matches the Bible design. This is right in the age range of my oldest niece, so I look forward to giving this to her!

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

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

Book Reviews, Fiction

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers | Book Review

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.

While I really did want to love Francine River’s latest, like I have so many of her other books, this one fell flat for me. I was intrigued by the idea and the characters, but there were a few other things that made it hard for me to love this one.

I thought there were some unnecessary stereotypes with some of the characters and I also wanted her friends to be a bit more than they were. Some were one dimensional and with others, their actions were a bit confusing. Not that characters need to be the perfect person, but their actions didn’t bring anything to the storyline, so their actions felt out of place. Also, there were some events in Grace’s life early on that were glossed over, but I thought needed more.

I also thought it was longer than necessary. I’m all about redemption with characters, but this was a lot more forced-preachy than her previous books and for me, that took away from the story.

I appreciated having a character you don’t often see and the role different art plays within communities, but overall I didn’t connect with this novel like I have with other reads.

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

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

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Dream of You by Jo Saxton | Book Review

Let’s be honest, the life you lead isn’t what you’ve always dreamt. And maybe the person you’ve become isn’t who you’ve always imagined. Sure, you can clean it up. You can work longer, love harder, and eat better. You can scrub the surface of your life until it gleams and still never address the fact that somehow you lost sight of who you really are and what you’re living for.

Is this the life you were meant to live?

As the child of Nigerian immigrants in the UK, author and speaker Jo Saxton knows firsthand how quickly the world can cause us to doubt our dreams and question who we are. She understands how easily we can exchange our true child-of-God selves for an identity built on lies, guilt, and brokenness.

In this powerful book, Jo examines Biblical figures and shares her personal story as she invites you to turn to the One who knows you intimately and loves you deeply. He sees all you’ve struggled to hide. He hears the voice inside you that others have silenced. He knows the potential and purpose that no one valued. He longs to redeem the story of your life and set you on the path to reclaim The Dream of You. Are you ready?


There were many things I enjoyed about this book. I love the humor, the vulnerability, the hope and the truth in this entire message. I know it’s needed for so many people, myself included. I also really loved how she weaved both biblical stories and her own. It was a double packed punch of the truths in each chapter.

And since this is just that kind of book, here’s a few quotes. Quotes. All the Quotes:

“If you read his story in the Bible, you’ll see that insecurity and other issues buried Saul’s potential. He lived for the approval of others, even at the expense of obeying God…it’s human to experience insecurity.”

“He doesn’t shame or condemn you for your past. He breaks the chains of all the controlled you and limited your identity. He redeems your true identity, which was interrupted by your life experiences and crushed by the mixed messages of the world. He even redeems the dreams you had of the person you hoped to become. He redeems the Dream of You.”

“Sister, you need to know this: The “ordinary” you, the person you were before all the achievement and recognition, was already extraordinary.”

“When we trade our identity for a perfectionistic alternative, even when it’s for survival, it comes at a heavy cost. We lose our true selves and we lose our voice. We lose our spiritual authority, because perfectionism relies on our skills rather than God’s power. It costs us our purpose because perfectionism has a different purpose to the one God has given us. We lose our courage, because at the root of perfectionism is fear.”

“God redeems our voice. He gives us a new song.”

“Would I settle for a life that kept me small, or would I allow myself to dream and explore what God could do if I put my life in His hands? I had to slay the giant.”

“God had set the Israelites free and given them a new identity and purpose. Yet the wilderness experience revealed they were still captive to the wounds of the world and the ways of Egypt.”

(This book was published by WaterBrook an Imprint of Penguin Random House)

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

Book Reviews, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

CSB Apologetics Study Bible | Review

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible helps today’s Christians better understand, defend, and proclaim their beliefs in an age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. This revised and updated edition includes new articles and extensive apologetics study material from today’s leading apologists to reflect and provide deeper understanding of the relevant apologetics issues and questions being discussed today.

Includes commentary from over 90 leading apologists, including: Ted Cabal, Lee Strobel, Chuck Colson, Paul Copan, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, J.P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, and many more — plus a lead article by Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ).

Features include: Presentation page, Book Introductions, Study Notes, Apologetics articles from leading apologists, “Twisted Scripture” explanations for commonly misunderstood passages, Profiles of Christian apologists, Two-color interior, Two-column text, 9.75-point type size, Smyth-sewn binding, Ribbon marker, Full-color maps, and more.

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture’s life-transforming message and to share it with others.

I was really impressed with this Bible. Full disclosure, I didn’t review every single article, but I didn’t read several and thought they were helpful pieces to the conversations many of us have with unbelievers. It helped that one of the random profiles I came across was on C.S. Lewis :).

I also thought the “twisted scripture” bits throughout were really helpful. How do other religions use scripture to fit their theology? Explaining the reasons and other scriptures helped my understanding of other religions. I think information like this is not only important to engage in intelligent conversations, but also strengthens my beliefs in Scripture.

What’s one of your favorite apologetics resources?

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

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