Category Archives: Book Reviews

Unlocking the Bible

If you’ve ever wanted to read through the bible and found yourself confused, dizzy from a myriad of numbers, bogged down with a litany of laws, lost in a sea of strange places and names, this book is for you. Like a jigsaw puzzle, Unlocking the Bible snaps together one piece at at a time to reveal the big picture of something extraordinary.

unlocking-the-bible-cover
Written in a warm, conversational style with fascinating facts, anecdotes, quotes, stories, and a touch of humour, it captures a panoramic snapshot of ancient Biblical times from the viewpoint of present-day relevance. In the background and foreground is evidence of how each page of the Bible carries a unified theme and the presence of Christ throughout.

Jeff Lasseigne’s “keys” to unlocking the Bible are simple, easy to understand yet filled with lots of rich detail and practical application. Keys that include answers to common questions like: where did Old Testament people go when they died? Why is the Bible important? What happened in the 400 years between the Old Testament and New Testament? What’s with all the translations? Keys to treasures like the ten reasons you can trust the Bible, Seven takeaway thoughts for when we don’t feel as if God is speaking to us, times when He is silent; helpful geography and historical facts, how to study and teach the Bible and an overall view of the Bible as a whole followed by gems from each of the 66 books.

The author’s hope and prayer for this book is “as you read through it you will fall more in love with Jesus and receive and understand His Word.” Definitely worked for me. Over and over again I couldn’t wait to open my Bible because of what I read or learned.
Disclaimer:  Many thanks to Baker Publishing for the complimentary copy of Unlocking the Bible in exchange to this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

For such a time as this

img_0979You may want to lock the door, put up the Do Not Disturb sign, and fill up on rations when you start reading The Domino Effect. Because you won’t want to leave until you finish the whole entire book. Yes, it’s that good!

Davis Bunn does a masterful job of spinning a financial thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat while intricately entwining an enchanting storyline built around endearing, believable characters you’ll immediately get attached to. The novel is an unfolding of a heart-warming, hope-based narrative. The uncovering of a sinister scheme aimed at global plunging into economy collapse. And the unwavering commitment to save the world from financial meltdown and ruin.

Esther Larsen lost both parents within nine months of each other while she was still in grade school. Now, her only brother is confined in a rehab centre since his pregnant wife died in an automobile accident. No wonder she was pretty well comfortable married to safety on the sidelines, alone and detached. That was about to change. Fast.

Her job as a risk analyst for one of the largest banks in the US, placed her in a spot where remaining silent was a risk she just wouldn’t take. Too many lives were at stake. The time to help people survive the economic crisis looming on the horizon is now. There was no time to waste. Esther opened up her heart and life for the greater good, to keep people secure “even when that means doing what comes hardest for me.”

What was remarkable about The Domino Effect is how the author brought to life a modern take on the Book of Esther. Mirroring her biblical namesake, Esther courageously stepped out into her purpose in history “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) As we follow her surge from obscurity to international spotlight, we grasp financial terminology, market conditions, and how global economies are interconnected. We are drawn into what it’s like to be orphaned at a young age, effects of trauma on the brain, and the painful reality of a family separated by divorce.

Like Esther, the novel invites us to take a stand when it’s not convenient, speak up to defend justice and protect people from impending danger; do what’s right even in the face of uncertainty. Take a risk, reach out and love with all your heart. For such a time as this.

Many thanks to Bethany House for the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

Depression Invades. Hope Prevails.

hope-prevails-cover-dr-michelle-bengstonWho better to walk alongside you than someone who’s travelled that road? That’s what makes Hope Prevails a powerful, effective resource and trustworthy companion. Certified neuropychologist Dr. Michelle Bengston shares her personal journey through the dark tunnel of depression to where light beams again and hope prevails. Her candid transparency breathes compassion as her words dissolve the crippling shackles of loneliness often snapped tight around the heart of someone suffering from “the blues”. And confirms you are not alone in this. Someone who’s been there understands what you’re going through and can help pull you out of the dark valley too. Like a friend in this battle guiding you step by step.

Her words expose the truths that get shrouded under depression’s thick, heavy veil while equipping you with tools and knowledge to kick depression and prevent it from knocking on your door in the future. She starts you off with an inspiring hope-full “A Letter to My Depressed Self” with Scripture to back up what she’s saying. Then lays the groundwork for the healing by clarifying the definition and symptoms of depression in addition to explaining the underlying causes and questions to ask yourself to determine if you have depression. Each chapter ends with Your Rx (doctor’s prescription) with tools, questions to ask yourself, or steps to take, My Prayer for You, and Recommended Playlist of encouraging and comforting music.

While not dismissing other treatments and therapy as part of the recovery process, Hope Prevails targets the spiritual root cause of depression. Weeding depression at its source is preventative as well as restorative. Even for those who don’t suffer from it, her advice and relevant, applicable, uplifting Bible verses she includes are useful to stay healthy and shield against the arrows and lies the enemy aims to make us vulnerable to depression. Regardless of what predisposes us to it.

Everyone can gain from reading Hope Prevails because it affects us all in some way or another. The book puts us in a strong position to defeat depression, prevent depression or support someone else who’s suffering from it. Because it may be hard for someone in the midst of the suffering to find motivation or energy to read, an audio-book version, video series, or have a friend read it aloud could strengthen its impact and expand its reach.

Dr. Bengston steers the way out of depression with clear directions to recover our joy, reclaim our peace, and re-establish our identity (the things the enemy seeks to steal and destroy). From beginning to end, it is laced in hope, the unfailing truth that no matter what depression does or takes away, happiness and brighter days await on the other side. In the end Hope Prevails!

Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the opportunity to participate in the Hope Prevails Blog Tour and the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.
I am a hope writer

 

Sea Rose Lane

Sea Rose Lane CoverSometimes life gets punctured by loss. Dreams evaporate. Love life disappears in a mist of deception. Aging body ransacked of usefulness and energy. Precious loved ones taken, leaving a gaping void.

The characters Irene Hannon brought to life in Sea Rose Lane know all about that kind of pain and loneliness; heartbreak and disappointment. Yet, the shattered pieces of their lives, like multifaceted rare and radiant gems, come together to become a mosaic resplendent of something beautiful, strong, and resilient. In Hope Harbor. The place where “hearts heal…and love blooms.”

Book Two of the Hope Harbor series was enchanting as it was inspiring and thought-provoking. It’s the perfect beach read where you can easily lose yourself in the storyline unraveled by characters I immediately fell in love with and had compassion for.

The first people we meet are the recently relationship-scorched architect BJ, the new face in Hope Habour, and Eric, the lawyer knocked off the fast-track to the partnership he longed for with the wave of a pink slip. Sparks fly as they literally run into each other on the road…by accident.

Transforming the house Eric grew up into the bed and breakfast his widowed father dreamed of shaped the framework for a restorative romance with BJ. It also introduced Luis, the Cuban refugee struggling with the death of his wife and career as a physician swept to the wayside by bureaucracy and impossible hurdles.

BJ’s desire to help others, combined with her gift for home repair, draws the window into the life and heart of elderly Eleanor whose ailing health makes her question “Why I’m still here God?” Serving no useful purpose – no worthwhile role to play.

Then there’s Charley, the professional artist who sporadically opens up his fish taco stand on the side. He stole the show for me with his loveable, quirky personality that doubles as Hope Harbor’s resident sage with uncanny sixth sense.

Sea Rose Lane is a heart-warming story laced with faith, hope, and wisdom. The people and setting captured my heart and imagination and left me refreshed, inspired and happy. I loved and appreciated Charley’s reminder that brightening someone’s day, adding a touch of joy when they might need it most, has great merit and is something anyone can do. Also these encouraging words from Eric’s father, “No one ever said life was easy. Besides, taking the easy route doesn’t always lead to the best views.” I also liked how he pointed out when things don’t go as hoped it may be an opportunity, not a disaster at all.

Turning the last page was bittersweet.The ending brought tears of joy to my eyes for the way things worked out. But was sad to leave Hope Harbor, the town and the people that were true-to-life and unforgettable.

Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the opportunity to be part of the Sea Rose Lane Blog Tour and the complimentary copy of the  book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

 

Did you know you’re already amazing?

You're Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide Cover - Holley Gerth.jpgDid you know you’re already amazing? Any doubt will swiftly vanish after going through You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide by Holley Gerth. Step by step, in six practical, doable sessions, she accompanies you on the journey where you come to behold your wonderful, amazing self while discovering the purpose meant for that unique masterpiece God created you to be.

In her warm, “best friend” style that makes you feel like you were having coffee together, Holley expands on her best selling You’re Already Amazing with clarity and compassion. The tools and format are simple, yet powerfully effective and useful. The guide is brilliantly pieced together to perfectly suit individuals, study groups, or on-line communities and matches everyone’s pace and lifestyle.

You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide is a wildly valuable, interactive resource that offers Get Creative ideas, Go Deeper Guide for more in-depth individual reflection or group discussion, and Your Life Coach components for each session. It also includes a generous measure of blank pages for notes, journaling and Get Creative activities in addition to a detailed resource, with everything you can possibly imagine, for group facilitators.

And, oh yes, my very favourite part!  Holley comes on board in the companion video for each session (available free on-line and conveniently as a DVD) that ties everything together. This is what really made it for me. With encouragement and relevant stories she presents a meaningful, personal dimension to the table, making the experience a shared adventure. A lot like having a supportive cheering section with you all the way.

What’s ultimately indispensable about this workbook is how it’s designed to have an everlasting shelf-life, serving as a starting point and launching pad. Holley helps you find your “sweet spot” where you best love and serve, drawing the blueprints you can go back to review regularly. And thrive. For a lifetime.

As a bonus, the book is enhanced with lovely printables as beautiful reminders that you’re already amazing. No doubt about it.

Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the invitation to take part in the You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide Blog Tour and the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

Oh, and speaking of Holley, we get to link-up with her today for more inspiration and encouraging Coffee for Your Heart. 

                                              

 

Lullaby for the Soul

and Sky Cover - Christie Purifoy

It’s a lullaby for the soul. Soft and soothing, Roots and Sky is a memoir that washes in tranquility through sunshine-draped celebrations and turbulent, sometimes unsettling storms. In lyrical, poetic style, Christie Purifoy shares the riches of her experience through the first year in their new home. Maplehurst, the farmhouse situated in the hills of Pennsylvania, served as the vantage point for unearthing grounds of joys and sadness, hope and fears, laughter and tears, refuge and daunting challenge. The perfect quiet landing that beckons to slow down, relax and take in the sacredness of ordinary moments in our everyday lives.

It’s a book about “roots and sky” – solidly down earth; dipped in a taste of heaven. It brings to life “pie in the sky” dreams that nourish a burning desire to plant something and appreciate, in a huge way, the gifts and beauty that come up from the earth. And those that sprout roots in our heart and soul.

“We must plant our dreams in real earth. We must dirty our hands. It’s the only way. Whether we dream of planting flower gardens or churches, every dream needs a place in which to take root and grow. Ever dream needs a home.”

Ultimately, it’s about making a home on earth built by love and care and hearing the whispers of our eternal home. Like a mother bird, Christine’s words intertwined into the nest that cradled her vision of “growing roots, cultivating beauty and opening up doors to neighbours, wanderers and pilgrims – near and far. It was a vision of home.”

As you walk alongside the author through the seasonal transitions of life on the farm and the liturgical calendar, be prepared to see life differently as she ties ribbons of faith from page to page. You may even be swept away with a passion to raise livestock or tend to a garden of earthly delights. With God as the source of every good thing that grows. Good things with roots in the earth and eternal blessings that scrape the sky and lift us heavenward to our Maker. That happens when a book like this wraps itself around your heart.

Thank you to Revell Publishing for the invitation to take part in the Roots and Sky Blog Tour and the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

God Will Fight for Us

The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith - Cover

Woohoo! Double blessing. A book about one of my favourite bible characters and by a new writer for me to discover and tell you about. The Prophetess delivered an inspiring story crowned with biblical truth accentuated with brilliant jewels sparkling of contemporary relevance.

Deborah was a judge, prophetess, and warrior. A courageous heroine for her time. Wise and strong. A woman used mightily by God to bring victory to her nation. A captivating icon larger than life beckoning to know more about who she was and what it must have been like to be a female leader through troubled times.

Yet the Bible provides few details about the life and times of this influential woman who changed the course of history. Questions like how did she become a judge? What made her stand out as a prophetess? Did she become a mom at some point? What circumstances brought together the supporting actors, like Jael, the woman who cleverly dealt the final fatal blow, into the drama that would restore peace and holy reverence to God’s chosen people? Questions this book rises up to address.

At first, I wrestled with how much the novel leaned towards the author’s imagination. By the time I turned the last page I felt satisfied and came out with a richer understanding of that period in history and the God who never gave up on the very people who turned away from Him.

Main characters, such as Deborah’s children, were completely fictitious, yet purely believable. They may not have truly existed but were fleshed out true to life. Their lives embodied the hopes and dreams, challenges and fears typical of their generation. In fact, Deborah’s made-up daughter, Talya, was my favouite character.

Maybe things didn’t play out exactly as penned by Jill Eilleen Smith but no doubt she painted an accurate, colourful portrayal of the situation under Canaanite oppression and idolatry. I found she did her homeowork and presented a credible storyline that evoked faith and compassion.

When I went back to the biblical text to compare, I got so much more out of it. What happened became real and alive in powerful ways. Jill’s persuasive narrative in sync with the bible account unveiled a clearer vision of Deborah’s role, of what being a judge in those days entailed, the horror of terrorism, and the jealous God who commands our allegiance and is forever faithful.

Ultimately, this book pointed to the God who forgives, redeems and restores. Back then and now. It spoke to my heart reminding me that victory came to Israel after 20 long years of oppression. It may take years for God to work things out for you and me too. In the meantime, He goes before us preparing the way, equipping us with everything we need for success according to His will.

Like the people in Deborah’s time, even in our darkest hour, we can recall how God has never let us down in the past. We can trust Him to keep His word today. No matter what we are up against or the challenges we face, God will fight for us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Never.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the invitation to be part of The Prophetess Blog Tour and the complimentary book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer