Sunday, February 28, 2016

Room For Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Room For Hope is a stand alone novel from best selling author Kim Vogel Sawyer. Neva Shilling is a devoted wife and mother of 14 year old twins who willingly devotes her time to taking care of their family business during her husband's trips to other communities to sell items from his wagon and get supplies to replenish their store, Shilling Mercantile. Despite the hardships brought on by the Depression, he is able to bring luxuries home for the family and is always home in time to take care of the paperwork, place orders, and spend time with his family.

As she and the twins are preparing supper for Warren's return from his latest business trip, they hear a wagon pulling up. She is stunned when a deputy explains to her that Warren and his wife have both passed away, and that Warren's final instructions were for their 3 young children to be raised by "Aunt Neva." An orphan herself, she can't make them go to an orphanage, but can she daily face the evidence of her husband's deceit...and protect her family from the shame of Warren's betrayal? 
Based on true events from Sawyer’s family history, Room for Hope is a beautiful story of God’s powerful redemptive work in the midst of struggle, betrayal, and heartbreak.
My Review: I always enjoy Kim's books, but there was just something special about this one that drew me in from the beginning and held my interest captive. Times and attitudes have changed over the past 80 years, and I appreciated that she was not presenting a story through modern eyes, but kept in character with reactions that would be typical of the 1930s. Neva was also a strong woman of great character who wanted to do the "right" thing, but did some more out of obedience rather than genuine love. A great reminder that obeying God, even when you don't feel like it, can and will create a change of heart when you allow Him to mold it despite your own stubbornness and pride. Her twins reflected more extreme attitudes with Belle being accepting and willing to love and Bud being angry and resentful about the changes in their life.

The characters evolved along the way and not everyone changed along a predictable pattern. Several times throughout the book, I would think, "No, that's not the direction you should be heading!", but the added layers and changing attitudes were exactly what the book needed. A wise reminder that people can change and that things are not always what they seem. The characters also became people I cared about and I hated to come to the end of the book. The end was satisfying, but I was still left thinking, "What happened next? Tell me more!"

I highly recommend this book to lovers of both historical fiction and those who love to see lives transformed when surrendered to God.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my participation in the blog tour by WaterBrook-Multnomah.

GIVEAWAY: Two readers (USA & Canada only) can win copies of Room For Hope by leaving a comment. Deadline to enter is Midnight, Sunday, March 6, 2016.

Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington

Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington:

Alli Worthington tackles the big questions about finding happiness and one’s God-given purpose in a fun, no-nonsense way.

Sharing how society’s message of be more, do more, achieve more is keeping us from hearing God’s message to us, that doesn’t say ‘more’, but simply says ‘enough’. You are enough.

Breaking Busy marries research with biblical principles, instilling confidence that you, too, can move from crazy busy to confident calm. Full of refreshing color and uproarious true stories, you’ll unpack truths that dismantle common happiness myths.

You’ll learn real-life guidance on boundaries, relationships, and self-care, as Alli examines her own mistakes and walks through how she learned from her missteps and found peace in a world of busyness.

My Review: I didn't love this one, nor did I hate it. She wrote in a conversational style that was both humorous and easy to read, but it did not keep my attention either. Ironically, that is partly because I was too busy during the time I was trying to read it and sometimes just really wanted her to get to the point. Don't get me wrong: there was some very sage advice, especially for those who still have children at home. Prioritizing what can and can't be done is critical and it's not necessary for your kids to have all and do all that is available. Worthington does offer tips for those who need to simplify and manage their time better.

I don't know if it's because of the season of life I am in or simply because her lifestyle is so foreign to me, but I simply could not relate to some of the things she was going through and there were also areas that were skimmed over as though they were not relevant. I don't want to give any spoilers, so won't go into details, but there were a couple of times I wish she had been a little more detailed. It's like peaks were hit, but I believe the struggle for many is while in the valley and the climb to get out. I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

I was given a copy of this book by Icon Media Group in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


"Risen" is the story of the Resurrection from the experience of Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a member of the Roman Military Tribune. Due to the rumors that Jesus will return to life 3 days after his death, Clavius is assigned the task of overseeing the crucifixion and monitoring the guards responsible for making sure the tomb is left untouched. When the body of Jesus disappears, Clavius and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton) must discover what happened and how. In the weeks that follow, Clavius encounters events and people that challenge everything he holds true. When he finds the man whose crucifixion he had witnessed, Clavius is more determined than ever to find the answers...and his life will never be the same.

My Review: The acting, story line and production values are top-notch, and “Risen” followed the Biblical accounts closely enough that I had no issue with the creative licensing that must take place when telling a story from the point of view of a fictional character. The story brought a fresh look at people we are familiar with and “humanized” a few with both flaws and unexpected humor. Did I agree with every interpretation? No. But there was nothing that was outlandish or too far from actual events.

There are violent moments and graphic scenes as they search for Jesus among the dead, but not as intense as “Passion of the Christ.” Two younger teens were with me, and the movie was suitable for them, but I believe that parents should keep in mind that the film is PG-13. “Risen” is also one you can invite your unbelieving friends to see with you because it is a well told story about a seeker of truth (I love "Christian Pep Rally" films for my own encouragement, but some can be a tad antagonistic). Hopefully, it will open the door to many conversations and people will be more willing to explore the authenticity of Christianity. I confess that I am not a huge fan of several epic Biblical movies that people watch every year, but “Risen” will become a perennial favorite of mine.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Women of Faith Cinematic Event

Spanning nearly 20 years,  Women of Faith has grown to become the largest, most well-known, non-denominational Christian's women's conference in North America. Created by Steven Arterburn, Women of Faith began with a group of friends, Lucy Swindoll, Patsy Clairmont, Thelma Wells, Sheila Walsh and Marilyn Meberg, sitting on a stage candidly chatting about their personal stories. The tears and laughter invoked also brought about an intimacy between the speakers and the audience that has impacted the lives of millions.

The tour, which has expanded to include speakers like Korie Robertson, Mary Graham, Sandi Patty, Jen Hatmaker, and many others over the years, is now on its final tour. However, a cinema event is scheduled for limited engagement for several nights. "An Amazing Joyful Journey" is a historical, and hysterical, look at the Women of Faith over the past two decades. Some of the most popular pieces from the speakers and musicians, plus never-before-seen interviews, outtakes, and behind the scenes footage will bring back memories for all those who have attended a Women of Faith weekend as well as create new memories for those experiencing it for the first time. 

Since I never had the chance to attend a Woman of Faith weekend, I am very excited that I am going to be able to attend one of the screenings of this film. This is a limited event to be held at select theaters only on February 18th, February 20th, March 3rd, and March 5th. To see where the nearest theater and date for you location, type in your city here. This is an end of an era for many as "THE" women's conference that has impacted millions of women and changed the course of how conferences are done.

Whether you are a veteran of one or more of the WOF weekends, or have never experienced one, this would be an amazing final opportunity to be a part of it. Thanks to the generosity of FlyBy Promotions and Fathom Events, I will be attending a screening at Carmike 12 - Decatur Mall with three family members. This would also be a fun event to attend with your Women's Ministry at church. Gather all the ladies for a fun night at the movies with a meal before or perhaps, a dessert party afterward (or both!). Depending on whether you attend a Thursday or a Saturday screening, there are any number of activities you can incorporate with a Girl's Night Out! If you have any ideas, please leave them as a comment. Just make sure you don't miss this marvelous movie filled with memories and special moments.

Find a Cinema Event
Official Website:
Facebook: Women of Faith
Twitter: @womenoffaith
Instagram: @WomenofFaith

Monday, February 1, 2016

Jesus Helps Me - Graham Blanchard

"Jesus Helps Me" offers four levels of exploration: a quoted Bible passage (John 12:44-47), supporting captions that relate the passage to a child’s life, thinking questions to personalize the experience and colorful, full page photographs. Also included is a tip section for parents on how to use the book with a baby, toddler, and child.

The book is a Learn book in the well-received Learn, Absorb and Praise™ Collection, which makes personal Bible studies accessible to young children. Alongside adults, the series helps kids build a foundation for faith and a lifelong friendship with Jesus. 

My Review:This board book is sturdily built to be suitable for a preschooler, and has words to help build a strong faith. The concept of what is written may be difficult for a young child who takes things literally to completely comprehend, yet they build a basic foundation for faith to grow. There are simple words that a young reader can help share the story. And a longer paragraph that an adult can use to lead a discussion that ties in with both words and the photos of various birds that beautifully illustrate the book. Once again author Callie Grant & illustrator Missi Jay have created a wonderful book I can hardly wait to share with my great-grandkids.

I received this book free of charge from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

Graham Blanchard: Christian Children's Books
Callie Grant
Shelton Interactive

Missi Jay