Monday, March 28, 2016

Book review of: 20 Things We'd Tell Our Twentysomething Selves by Kelli & Peter Worrall

20 Things We'd Tell Our Twentysomething Selves

20 Things We'd Tell Our Twentysomething Selves

When I saw the title of this book, I just knew I had to read it! For one thing, I totally qualify because I am personally ''twenty-something''! It was refreshing and interesting to read a book directed specifically towards me and my peers! I want to begin with a large ''thank you'' to the authors for thinking of us and this crucial time in our lives. 
I absolutely loved reading this book; it was the kind that you enjoy reading every week and really pondering each chapter. Some books I find a bore, and many I just whiz through but this one I really enjoyed taking my time over. Each chapter was different and full of important lessons and thoughts. I really hope to even go back and do a an even deeper study of the book, using the questions and discussion points at the end of each chapter as guidelines! 
I was really able to relate to the authors, understanding their struggles and hopes and dreams. And I loved how they were open and humble and shared what God had done in each of their lives before and during marriage! 
I was also pleased that although I might not agree doctrinally with everything this couple may believe in real life, in their book no specific doctrinal issues came up. The book was deep without being controversial. In short, this is a book for all 'twenty-something'' Christians no matter your denomination. Read it and be strengthened and encouraged! 
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book review: The Last Ride by Susan K Marlow

The Last Ride (Circle C Milestones #3)The Last Ride 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cookbook review: Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season by Yossy Arefi

Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season

Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season

I knew I would love this book as soon as I held it in my hands. It always amazes me just how many cookbooks I can fall in love with and add to my collection; I own so many yet every new beautiful one is welcomed into my library! This cookbook is not only lovely, it looks very useful and practical as well. With this cookbook, you can prepare and amaze loved ones with pies, cakes, tarts, ice cream, preserves and more! The delectable creations within the pages of this newly published book include raspberry pink peppercorn sorbet, blood orange donuts, and tangerine cream pie!
I especially loved how the author used her Iranian heritage and its wonderful array of flavours and spices to add to and perfect these dishes. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind cookbook which will please a variety of cooks and non-cooks alike!
And as a final note, although I would love to keep it I have actually made the sacrificial decision to give it as a wedding gift this spring! I know it will look beautiful in a basket of baking supplies! 
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Many FREE ebooks from ANEKO press!

ANEKO Press free ebooks!

I just wanted to share with any readers that ANEKO press is offering free ebook downloads of their books! I don't know how long this lasts. 

I particularly recommend:
Pilgrim's Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.Pilgrim's Progress
Precious Children of India: Giving Voice to Destitute Children of the World
Precious Children of India


Monday, March 21, 2016

Book review: Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain by Matt Bays

Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain

Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain

I love reading books about suffering because they help me grasp an idea of what life should be. They make my problems shrink to insignificant shadows and give me a bigger heart for others. I have been blessed to read (and review) several which I learned from and recommend: And It Was Beautiful, The Hardest Peace, Another Valley Another VictoryBronner, and Soaring Above the Circumstances. I expected this book to be similar but not too far into the book I sensed that the author has a very different theology than the Bible teaches. By the time I got to the following quote I was extremely alarmed! 
''God's own story was full of disorder, his past every bit messed up as mine. And when God saw how out of control things had gotten, he sent his son to clean things up.'' 
No true Christian can ever say this of God! I'm sorry, but there is no excuse for such a statement.
Early on in the book, the author kind of laughs about the fact that he went forward at his church to ''be saved'' on a dare and honestly states that he was not saved then. Unfortunately, Matt Bays never again mentions his salvation and never gives the reader any assurance that he indeed found redemption later on! In fact, he is quite honest about his sinful life growing up (following the response to the altar call at age 8 or so) and he is also honest that while he was a pastor and song leader he had major doubts. It's as if he is boasting of his doubt and confusion. What kind of Christianity would that be? Sorry, but when God saves, He saves completely. We are not made perfect, but we are regenerated and with the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Before we were dead and now we are made alive and there is no way a true believer can say such things as the following quotes from ''Finding God in the Ruins'': 
''God's own story was full of disorder, his past every bit messed up as mine. And when God saw how out of control things had gotten, he sent his son to clean things up.'' 
''Sometimes when I've said all I've need to say, God says back to me, ''I'm sorry for all you've gone through, Matthew.'' And then when I've accused him and spoken the kind of words that would make your blood run cold, he's simply said, ''Are you finished?'' This natural back-and-forth is our relationship...''

''...I wonder if God's basement is also crowded with those of us he doesn't trust- you know, the fringy sort who pretend things are good, who never trust the relationship enough to speak up and tell him the truth. Maybe God liked Job and David best because they were honest with him. Afraid? Probably. But not too afraid to tell him exactly what they thought or write songs that accused him and put him on trial. .....maybe he longs to hear our hearts speak out in pain, even if in the end we blame him. ''

''God's own story was full of disorder, his past every bit messed up as mine. And when God saw how out of control things had gotten, he sent his son to clean things up.''
Another reviewer of this book also noted the following which likewise upset me as I read the book: there are parts of his story that bother me. He was in pastoral work, leading worship, during many of the years of his doubt. He says he would lead songs for the congregation yet not believe what he was singing. He performed a wedding for his cancer ridden sister and her live-in boyfriend when the divorce from her previous husband had not been finalized. Bays says he felt they were already married in God's eyes so performed the ceremony.
Bays quotes Psalm 44, saying David calls God a liar and a cheat. There was no reference in my galley so I did some research and found the reference of Psalm 44:11-12. I cannot find any translation that is even close to what Bays says it says. Not The Message, not the NLT.

Immediately upon reading this book, I put up some quick comments and direct quotes from the book while I pondered how to write my review. 


Matt Bays, the author of ''Finding God in the Ruins'' responded to my thoughts as following:

I'm sorry you didn't like the book, Mazzou. I sincerely am. My hope is to come alongside the broken of this world - those who are hurting so deeply, so they will know they are not alone. Many people (and you may not know this yet) are so angry with God and feel they cannot express it. They have been through unspoken cruelties and walked away from their faith because they were afraid to be honest with God about their pain. Who will reach out to them? They are not responding to the sanitized and easy answers so many of our churches are providing. If you read the Psalms you will find David calling God a cheat and a liar. "You've deceived us," he says to God. Yet he WASN'T considered blasphemous...but instead called "a man after God's own heart." I do respect your opinion, and I know it's not an easy book...but if Finding God in the Ruins is blasphemous, you'd have to call the book of Psalms and the book of Job blasphemous as well. God restored a murdering, broken King David, who hurled insults his way more than once. He can (and has) restored me as well. Peace and love, and so many good things.

In response to these comments; I don't really see David hurling insults at God. Many of the Psalms begin with a desperate tone because David was human and also, as he lived before Christ, he did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit. However- David usually ends such Psalms with turning to God as His source of strength, hope and joy! And let me emphasize: David did NOT call God a ''cheat and a liar''. That may be a crazy misunderstanding from reading ''The Message''; when I find out I will update this review! In fact, David DID say the following...
Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalm 69:9)

As for people who are hurting- they NEED a perfect, sovereign God! If God is made human-like and if we can simply treat him like our younger brother what strength can we find in Him? We need an infallible, unchanging, eternal God WHO MAKES NO MISTAKES to serve and worship and rely on. I'm sorry if people are offended by that- there are churches which are mistaken on various things; there are people who call themselves Christians yet who aren't and therefore cause more harm than good to unbelievers; there are Christians who have not learned to love like Christ loved. But that is no excuse for these broken people. They are responsible before God and if they turn away, they simply weren't His! I can only hope that those broken people would find true Christians who can help them.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pitchin' A Fit!: Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting by Israel Wayne, Brook Wayne

Pitchin' A Fit!: Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting

Pitchin' A Fit!: Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting

Perhaps you think you have control over your emotions...perhaps you have life organized....but then you become a parent and everything changes. Emotions surface which you never knew you had, or which had been dormant for most of your adult years! You may find yourself stressed out as you try to create the perfect family atmosphere and fail daily. The only solution is found in Christ. He is the only One who can give strength, direction and peace. Through him, order can be made of even the most disfunctional family schedules and patterns. In Pitchin' a Fit, Israel and Brook Wayne share Biblical wisdom and advice to other parents on how to parent according to God's plan. Of course even non-Christians would benefit from this book as it has practical examples of how to instill responsibility in children, how to apologize to your children, etc. I recommend this book for everyone! 
This book: 

- Provides practical and biblical solutions to get to the other side of the issue 
- Gives hope and freedom from the tyranny of stressed-out and angry parenting 
- Offers solutions that are ideal for any family. 
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage by Rob Green

Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage


This book was easy to read yet deep and full of excellent Biblical advice!
I have read several books of this nature so didn't know how much I would benefit from this book. This one has basic essentials as well as fresh wisdom which will help any young- or older- person before marriage.
As an unmarried person, I loved reading this book and hope it will help me if I ever marry. As and after reading this book I was inspired to have a better idea and Biblical understanding of the reason and joy of marriage. I do recommend this book for dating/courting, and/or engaged couples. Go through this book carefully and prayerfully, discussing every chapter and you will definitely benefit from it!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A REVIEW OF THE BOOK Beautiful Uncertainty by Mandy Hale

Beautiful Uncertainty

By Mandy Hale

   This book is my introduction to inspirational author Mandy Hale and her works. As a single woman in my twenties, I am always eager to read encouragement and wisdom from other single women. I long to get a bigger picture of God's purpose and plan for my life. I think Mandy Hale did a beautiful job presenting the joy and zest for life a single woman of any age can experience. There was definitely a balanced and content look at life which I appreciated. The author wasn't touting singleness or marriage as the best thing in life. Rather, she focused on Christ and the contentment and joy found in Him. In short, if you have Jesus, you have everything you need! This is such an important message and I hope more girls and women will read this book and learn that for themselves. I am glad I read this book! It was such an easy read, by the way. Once I picked up the book, I couldn't put it down and finished it one Sunday afternoon! However, I would recommend going back and reading it more slowly in order to really ponder the truths and lessons within the pages.  Since this is my introduction to Mandy Hale's books and indeed her story, I found certain biographical information lacking which will encourage me to look into her other books, but this book is of course great on its own because of the important content.

As a side-note to friends reading this review: I think the author and I would have differing opinions doctrinally and there were a couple of moments were I felt Jesus could have been revered more, but it was still a great book.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.    

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye by Kara Tippetts

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye


This book is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I had never read more than a couple of posts on Kara's rich blog so the content of this book was entirely new and wonderful to me.
I had previously read and reviewed Kara's book The Hardest Peace as well as Just Show Up, written by both Kara Tippetts and friend Jill Lynn Buteyn. These books touched my heart deeply and left me wanting to learn more from this strong Christian woman.
Inspiring and enriching, this small paperback book compiles in chronological order many of the best and most impactful posts and thoughts from Kara's blog, Mundane Faithfulness.  Reading it was like getting a glimpse into the heart of a true Christ-follower. Kara found her joy and strength in Jesus and wasn't afraid to show it. This small book left me desiring to embrace each day and live it more fully, for the Lord!
For those who are wondering, this book is wonderful to read on its own or along with Kara Tippet's previous books and/or blog.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Love Kindness: Discover the Power of a Forgotten Christian Virtue (Paperback)

Love Kindness: Discover the Power of a Forgotten Christian VirtueLove Kindness: Discover the Power of a Forgotten Christian Virtue

I wasn't inspired by the simple cover, but from the first chapter I was drawn into this book because of the author's engaging style of writing. Each chapter flew by and I was able to read this book in a couple Sunday afternoons. Of course, I recommend a re-read to really take in the Biblical wisdom found in this book! I agree with the author that we need more love and kindness in this world! Don't get me wrong; I didn't say more tolerance to sin but more love: Christ-like love! There were many good truths in this book. At one point I thought I would have to disagree with the author concerning how to treat LGBT people. For a bit, I was frightened that the author was saying that we just have to love them and accept them as who they are. But I believe after all the author has a good perspective on this issue. Although I am disgusted with what is happening around us and embarrassed for children having to grow up surrounded by such blatant and disastrous sin, I put myself in a scenario with a LGBT person and realized I wouldn't treat them like dirt- I would indeed try to firmly and kindly bring them to an understanding of their sin in light of God's perfection just as I would with every unbeliever!
With author Barry Corey I may differ on the subject of whether or not LGBT people can be Christians simultaneously or not. I say ''may differ'' because it was hard to tell what the author believed on that topic.
Nevertheless, the subject of this book is true love and kindness to fellow man. And I certainly pray I would have more of that. People are so selfish and we need to die to self more!
Christians, with their new heart and the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, should have Christ-like love and should be cultivating love and kindness.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Apply the Word Study Bible: Live in His Steps

In this new study Bible from Thomas Nelson publishers, you will find the trusted text of the New King James Version, unaltered and true to the original translation. You will also find helpful and interesting notes throughout the Bible which will enhance your daily reading or study! I thought it was especially interesting how each book of the Bible had notes at the bottom featuring key characters and the meaning behind their name as well as other important information about them! This will help the reader stay focused and understand the context and meaning behind all the accounts in the Bible. There are also color maps at crucial spots in the text which will greatly help the reader comprehend what is going on in both the Old and New Testament! Although there aren't a lot of deep and amazing truths brought forth in this version, it is a very helpful Bible which will bring the accounts and truths in Scripture to life in your mind!
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Apply the Word Study Bible brings you to an intimate understanding of the Bible's message, helps you think about it and apply it to your lives. People of all ages and walks of life will enjoy the fresh style of the feature articles, which are directed at helping you approach life with the mind of Christ. You will discover that the Bible is a very practical book, just what is needed to guide you through every day. Featuring the New King James Version, the best translation for Bible study, abundant sidebar articles and vibrant full-color design, the Apply the Word Study Bible is the perfect companion for everyday living.
Features include:

  • New King James Version, the best translation for study
  • Hundreds of sidebar articles for seeing the relevance of Scripture for everyday living
  • Insightful introductions to the books of the Bible
  • Informative notes about people and places of Bible times
  • Full-color page design provides a helpful and interesting visual encounter with Scripture
  • Charts, tables and maps provide abundant Bible information
  • Subject index as a helpful tool for Bible study
  • Concordance for helpful reference
  • Full-color maps to illustrate the Bible lands

Book review of Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money

Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money


   When I saw this book, I knew I needed to read it! Ever since I was young- about 12 or younger- I have been worried about money. Despite the fact that I had a comfortable and happy childhood and continue to live in relative comfort I worried and continue to worry about finances. Will I have enough for an emergency? How long will this ease last? Why are others able to do so much more without concern while I am constantly hoarding and pinching my pennies? Surprisingly, I've never read any books on finances. This book excited me and I was ready to learn much from it. Many of the spiritual aspects I already knew from good teaching and books on the topic of selfishness, anxiety and the like. I also have a decent understanding of why God wants us to manage our money wisely and the basic steps to implement that(my Scottish self errs more on the side of stingy frugality than the other extreme). I think that this book's best quality is the Biblically-sound basis for wise stewardship of finances. Those who have no idea about such matters would do well to read this book! Even if you think you have no need of such a book, read it!
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

"Your New Money Mindset" is a new way of thinking about the role money plays in our lives. Many of us live with ongoing, and often unexamined, tension related to money. Few of us have really escaped the credit-card trap or freed ourselves from worries about having enough for the future. Co-authors Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent Financial, and James Moline, licensed psychologist, believe we haven't spent enough time examining our fundamental attitudes toward money and aligning those attitudes to our core values. Before you can remake your money habits, you need to start with your heart. In "Your New Money Mindset, " Brad and Jim guide you through the Money Mindset Assessment, which will help pinpoint what attitudes about money you could work on in order to develop an openhearted attitude to life. The goal is to cultivate a surplus mindset that allows you to enjoy what you already have and be generous toward others. Discover today how to free yourself from the money trap and create a healthy relationship with money