Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is a comedy about faith and forgiveness. Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton) had international fame as a child star, but his career faded as his party life style got out of control. When his latest escapade, while visiting his hometown, lands him before a judge who demands he does community service at a local mega- church, Gavin must also stay with his estranged father (Neil Flynn). 

Discovering that the church is planning their annual Passion Play, he thinks he is a shoo-in for the starring role of Jesus. Assuring Pastor Allan Richardson (D.B. Sweeney) that he only stumbled, but is definitely a Christian---a requirement for all castmembers. Convincing the director---the pastor's daughter (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes) is more difficult, but she agrees to give him a chance. As Gavin struggles to make sense of the play, he discovers that the most important role of his life is far from Hollywood.





My Review: I confess that "fish out of water" stories almost always appeal to me, and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone certainly lives up to my hopes. The relationships with Gavin's dad and with Kelly are powerful as trust builds hesitantly, but Gavin's new trio of friends (Shawn Michaels, Tim Frank, and Patrick Gagnon) are hysterical as they help each other in unfamiliar territory. And, the scene with Torry Martin as a radio host is very funny. I have watched the movie several times and still laugh at the same things each time...and am impacted with a fresh look at familiar scripture. The scene with the "rich, young ruler" (Liam Matthews) is particularly poignant. Director Dallas Jenkins and writer Andrea Gyertson Nasfell, along with an excellent cast and crew produced a film that has roots in truth, great comedic timing, heart-tugging moments, and appealing to a wide audience.

Important Links:
ResurrectionofGavinStonemovie.com

Resurrection of Gavin Stone on IMDb
Resurrection of Gavin Stone on Facebook
Twitter: @GavinStoneMovie
Hashtag: #GavinStoneMovie

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is already available on Digital HD and will be on
 Blu-Ray™ and DVD on May 2, 2017! I highly recommend it!

GIVEAWAY: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Icon Media Group is offering one of my readers a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack! Enter on my blog by May 4, 2017 to have your name placed in a random drawing. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Seven-Mile Miracle by Steven Furtick

The final words of Jesus as He was dying on the Cross are a spiritual journey for us to explore. In Seven-Mile Miracle, Pastor Steven Furtick uses the words of Forgiveness, Salvation, Relationship, Abandonment, Distress, Triumph, and Reunion as 7 mile markers we can use in our relationship with God. Furtick says that we are more than Believers - people with faith in Jesus, more than Disciples - pupils who learn from Jesus, but also Followers of Christ. These words are an opportunity to follow Jesus closer than ever as we move forward.
Pastor Furtick has a writing style that is very captivating. Scripture, personal anecdotes, and other stories are used to bolster what he is trying to convey, and it is laid out simply so that anyone, no matter if they are on the first steps of their spiritual journey or have traveled the path for decades, can understand what he is explaining. The story that stood out the most for me in this book was the 2 followers who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It's just one of those I have read numerous times, but became more vivid to me as I read the book.

As with any book concerning spiritual growth, you will want to compare it with God Word. When doing a quick turn-around for a review, there is not as much time. But I did get a lot out of it and found it a good reminder of the significance of the words spoken on Good Friday. There is much to be learned as we travel a spiritual path and we should all pause to remember what we have learned along the journey. Seven-Mile Miracle is a good companion book to read as you reflect on the final words of Jesus and dig deeper into your Bible.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book at no cost to myself from Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Steven Furtick is the bestselling author of Sun Stand Still, Greater, Crash the Chatterbox, and (Un)Qualified. He is also the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church, based in Charlotte NC, which since its founding in 2006 has grown to multiple locations across several states. He preaches around the world and holds the Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Steven and his wife, Holly, have three children and live near Charlotte, North Carolina.


SKID

Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney (Dustin McKamie)focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain (Cindy Hanska), a co-pilot (Brett Bower) with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant (Laurie Cummings) with an out-sized  attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage. On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled in-flight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier (Sean Gutteridge), and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith (Torey Byrne), whose personal mantra of "What Would Oprah Do?" will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard (Will Crown, whose unusually polite but constant requests-prompted by his covert role as a spy for the airline-test the limits of the crew's customer service. But as Lucy and the rest of the crew discover, Hank's odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler (Rob Gallavan) sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies. 



My Review: More than just the obvious setting similarities, Skid, directed by (Ryan Staples Scott, is reminiscent of "Airplane." The cast of quirky characters means a movie whose sole intent was to have fun and make the audience laugh. I was a bit disappointed that there was not more of the faith element I was expecting, but that was not how it was presented. The writer, Rene Gutteridge, is one of my favorite Christian authors and I love the characters she creates; she definitely kept me equally amused in the movie. I thought all of the actors were very good in their roles. Of course, I am always delighted to see Torry Martin in anything! I also enjoyed Tarah Sparks as potbellied pig owner, Anna Sue Givens. Bottom line, this movie is more in the slapstick comedy genre, so grab the popcorn, settle down on the couch, and enjoy the laughter. Sometimes you just need to suspend reality, relax, and have fun! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Champion

In the supercharged world of dirt track racing, a single mistake causes the lives of two men to change forever. One must fight for his family, the other must fight to forgive.

Dirt track racer Sean Weathers was at the top of his game...an unstoppable career, scores of fans, and an adoring daughter. When a rivalry with another racer turns personal, the ego that propelled him to success causes a tragedy, sending his life into a tailspin.

Jack Reed was attempting to make up for past mistakes. He had prospered as a businessman but failed as a family man. In a sudden turn of events, his chances for reconciliation are ripped from his grasp.
Sean and Jack's lives collide, and an unexpected bond forms between them. Working through a painful journey of healing together, they each learn about second chances and the true freedom only forgiveness can offer. 
(from the website)

Champion will be opening in select theaters May 19th. You have a great opportunity to plan ahead and take your group, organization, or community by bringing Champion to your local theater. Perhaps your church or school could buy out a show time to see as a group or as part of an outreach. Get information on how to do this at moviegrouptickets.com/champion.




My Review: I must confess that I was very pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed this movie. I agreed to watch it in advance since many family members love racing and I thought it may be a movie several of them would enjoy. Fantastic performances by the actors! Andrew Cheney (Beyond the Mask) as Sean Weathers and Gary Graham (Renegades, Star Trek: Enterprise) as Jack Reed are amazing in their roles of two flawed men who have made mistakes, but need each other as they each deal with grief and guilt. Faith Renee Kennedy is phenomenal is her role as Gracie and I expect to see much more of her. Who doesn't love Robert Amaya? This is not one of his more comical roles, but his trademark humor is a part of the film. Cameron ArnettIsaiah StrattonPortia Cue....and, honestly, all of the actors were wonderful. This is the first film that Judd Brannon has directed, and he did very well. Writers Missy Reedy and Sarah Inabnit put together a fascinating film that centered on forgiveness, but used fatherhood, friendship, and foster care as elements in a richly developed story.

There were a few moments where things seemed a bit rushed or I would think, "But what about....?" as I watched, but it kept my attention and I don't remember rolling my eyes or deeply sighing in frustration either. Those are good signs for me. By all means, bring this film to your nearest theater if it is not scheduled already. It has a powerful message in an interesting story and there are several aspects that will lead to a good discussion. I definitely recommend Champion!


LINKS:


ChampionTheMovie.com


Champion the movie on Facebook


Follow @ChampionMovie on Twitter


Follow championthemovie on Instagram


Champion on IMDb


THANK YOU to Icon Media Group for giving me the opportunity to review CHAMPION. An honest review was all required and all opinions in this review are my own.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

No Easy Jesus - Jason Mitchell

No Easy Jesus by Jason Mitchell speaks on something that many Christians keep secret. That is the fact that believing in Jesus has left us feeling disappointed or disillusioned. Basically, it is because we tend to become lukewarm and take the path of least resistance. It's not because Jesus has failed any of us, but because we have failed to honestly follow Him...especially when it is uncomfortable to do so. Making the tough choices, rather than the popular ones, brings us out of our comfort zone but it will also bring us right in the center of God's will. 

Some of us stop at belief and are content with the knowledge that our salvation is secure. But there is more available! To continue growing in faith, actively follow Jesus...and become more like Him. This is not by doing things on your own, but by becoming more deeply rooted in Him and following His example. This is the basic concept of No Easy Jesus. Mitchell expounds upon the idea of doing more than just filling ourselves with more of Jesus, but of actually living a more abundant life by pouring our lives into others.

Through a series of personal stories from his own life, and others, Mitchell encourages the reader to step out in faith and obedience. It gave me much to think about and I believe it will touch the lives of many others who have become stagnant or superficial in their faith. This is a book I will read more than once and encourage others to read.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Blogging Network. All opinions are my own. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Is Genesis History? DVD

IS GENESIS HISTORY? is a documentary that explores the Biblical creation story, as well as a global flood, Adam and Eve, and a myriad of other stories to be found in book of Genesis. features over a dozen scientists and scholars explaining how the world intersects with Genesis. From rock layers to fossils to lions to stars, the film shines new light on our origins, Dr. Del Tackett, creator of “The Truth Project,” serves as your guide—hiking through canyons, climbing up mountains, and diving below the sea— as he interviews several scients in an exploration of two competing views … one compelling truth.

Go to the official website: IsGenesisHistory.com for much more:


  • Educational resources
  • Scientists interviewed
  • Film location sites
  • Videos and photos
  • Downloads
  • YouVersion companion study available online or via YouVersion (The Bible) app
My Review: I have seen the film and found it to be quite interesting. Keep in mind that documentaries are not my favorite and many topics in science fail to keep my interest. My [adult] children, on the other hand, have always loved that format and I have no doubt they would find this fascinating. The scenery was gorgeous and the scientists who were interviewed gave reasonable explanations for their beliefs. And, I did love that it covered a wide variety of topics. I lack the knowledge to argue with anyone who disagrees, but I found their examples to be logical. I do believe in the Biblical version of creation and have never been convinced otherwise. No doubt this would be an excellent resource for churches, homeschoolers, or for personal interest. 
The film had several Special Events screenings in theaters but is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray! You can also purchase it on the website.

GIVEAWAY: Thanks to LEV3L Digital, I can offer 1 DVD copy to the winner of a random drawing. Contact me, preferably in a blog comment, by April 30, 2017. 

video





Thursday, March 30, 2017

SMURFS: The Lost Village

SMURFS: The Lost Village is opening in theaters April 7, 2017, to the delight of the young, and the young at heart. In this all new animated feature, Smurfette discovers a mysterious map! She, along with her BFFs Brainy, Clumsy, and Hefty, set off on an action-packed, rollercoaster journey through the Forbidden Forest. Their goal is to find a hidden lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. The Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history! A whole new world awaits the Smurfs in 2017...and you don't want to miss this exciting adventure. Bring the kids or simply come to reminisce and revisit your childhood favorites!

To learn more, visit the official movie site at www.smurfsmovie.com where you can find


  • Downloadable content
  • Family discussion guide
  • Coloring/ activity pages
  • And more...
GIVEAWAY!! I CAN OFFER 1 WINNER TWO (2) TICKETS TO SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE THANKS TO SONY PICTURES!
Deadline to Enter is April 4, 2017. 





You can follow all the links for updates, theaters, and fun at the links listed below:


    SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:



    Friday, March 10, 2017

    Nothing To Prove - Jennie Allen

    Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen speaks to those who are struggling to measure up to a set of standards of their own making. Explaining that many go through this struggle, she invites the reader to find freedom in the knowledge that we will never be enough---but JESUS is more than enough! Our goal is to get to know Jesus and open ourselves to being used by Him and not focusing on our own sense of self-worth. 


    We tend to chase after things that are superficially important to us, but leave us unsatisfied. Frustration and fear over not measuring up to your definition of self-worth simply leads to constant yearning to prove we are worthy and in control, but that simply cannot be found on our own if we constantly compare ourselves to others.

    Jennie brings you to a point of understanding that Jesus provides what we need. You are loved. You can relax. You can rest in Him and not have to do everything on your own. You have Nothing to Prove! 


    Jennie has a refreshing style that lets the reader know that she knows the struggle from personal experience and has the capacity to help others reach a level of knowing that know that we battle a real enemy who wants to destroy us and interfere in our relationship with God. I love the excerpt below:

    IF I WERE YOUR ENEMY…
    If I were your enemy, this is what I would do:
    Make you believe you need permission to lead.
    Make you believe you are helpless.
    Make you believe you are insignificant.
    Make you believe that God wants your decorum and behavior.Make you believe you have something to prove.

    She explains how we can get so overwhelmed by other things we can lose focus on what is most important---our relationship with God and the knowledge that He loves us. We don't have to prove anything to Him, but just be willing to follow His lead. When we follow, He can make the changes we are unable to do on our own. Stop trying so hard. You have nothing to prove before stepping into His plans for you. 


    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book at no cost to myself from Watterbrook-Multnomah blogging program. All opinions are my own. 



    How's Your Soul? - Judah Smith

    How's Your Soul? by Judah Smith, is about looking past outward appearances and exploring the essential inner essence of where we find our true selves. Are you experiencing inner turmoil as you struggle to find the peace and joy that comes from your relationship with fully trusting and resting in the presence of God?

    Judah, pastor of The City Church in Seattle, wants the reader to move beyond simply surviving each day to a concentrated effort to live each day with significance that has an eternal impact. In his typical manner of laid-back and humorous anecdotes, he also brings out points that strike the heart of the matter. There are stories that caused me to laugh, and others that have stayed with me and caused me to question myself and my attitude...and to discussions with friends for their input. 


    Interview with Today Show's Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb:
      Pastor Judah Smith-How's Your Soul?


    His sense of humor and way of telling a story made this an enjoyable book to read, but there were also times when I found myself skimming more than reading. However, there were points made that I keep going back to over and over in my own soul-searching. I actually have the book set aside to read again soon since there were a few areas where a nerve was struck that I was not quite ready to deal with at the time I was reading it. This is a book that is certainly worth reading and it may give the reader a fresh perspective. 

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. 


    Sunday, February 19, 2017

    Presidents Day 2017

    February 20, 2017 is Presidents Day. As usual, I typed it in a search engine to pull up quotes, stories, etc. that might be appropriate. Mostly I have pulled up stories of how it really is about celebrating George Washington's birthday. The following in the International Business Times sums it as well as any: "The holiday was originally established to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, but now it always takes place on the third Monday in February, so it acts as a combo celebration for Washington, Abraham Lincoln and any other presidents you like."

    I am tired of the #notmypresident and the idea of celebrating the "presidents you like." We have ONE president. Did I like the vision that President Obama had for America? Absolutely not! But I respected the office of The President of the United States and I prayed for him regularly. I am sure I probably said & posted things from time to time, but blasting him and being disrespectful was not the focal part of my day. Nor did I blindly believe every negative (or positive) thing I read without more research from a variety of sources. When he made a huge error in judgement, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt...unless, of course, it became a pattern.

    Donald Trump was not even in my top 10 choices of the original pack of Republicans who were running. But it came down to a choice between a man whom I felt would take wise counsel and a power-hungry person who had a casual disregard for national security and not much more regard for human life, particularly the unborn. I voted for the only one my conscience would allow, and not voting was a choice I could not make as opposed as I am to H. Clinton.

    However, if she had won, she would have been my President. I would have prayed for her leadership decisions---and hoped she would not destroy our country. We have survived other presidents who were unfit for office.

    Our nation is currently in a state of turmoil like I have never seen. Journalist integrity has been replaced by those who wish to sway the nation rather than inform. People are rioting, demolishing property, marching for/against causes they don't seem to understand themselves with protesters who are often vulgar and profane, spreading lies, and letting hatred rule their lives. Even some of those who are in tentative agreement with opposing views are being openly mocked if they don't agree 100%. I confess that early Trump supporters were one of the main reasons I continued to think poorly of him.

    Despite what many in the press and on social media would have you believe, Donald Trump IS The President of the United States. He fairly won the election and has set out to fulfill the promises he made. Am I going to be happy with every decision he makes? I seriously doubt it. But, despite my initial doubts, I am going to support him. My prayer is that I can find a way not to let my bitterness toward rioters, protesters, and marchers get out of hand. I have tried to listen to their point of view, but it always ends in anger, and despair for my country and her people. We need to learn to compromise, seek truth, and turn to God. This century has us on a path to ruin. It may have started with attacks from other nations, but we are now set to self-destruct. It is not too late. 


    "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." - Abraham Lincoln

    "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD." - Psalm 33:12

    "However, if that nation I have made an announcement about turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the disaster I had planned to do to it." - Jeremiah 18:8

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna

    Humor, heartbreak, and triumph are served with whipped cream and lots of local nuts in this heartwarming tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness in Fireside, Texas.

    Meet Juliet Cranbourne, local radio personality and owner of a whimsical kitchen gadget store, and her sister Evangeline, a fruit tree geneticist who works for Oregon State University.

    When a rift due to their orphaned past affects their sisterhood, Juliet convinces Evangeline to come home for Christmas and choose headstones to honor grandparents Walt (a tenderhearted, good looking rancher) and Ruby (a blue-ribbon fiddler, fabulous cook, and expert in the art of making family feel loved). 

    As they cruise through Fireside in Ruby's 
    Thunderbird, Juliet hopes that healing memories will somehow smooth rough roads ahead.

    Does the tremendous love that marked Walt and Ruby's lives still have the power to renew their sisterhood and help them find their place in the world? (from the back cover)


    My Review: "When We Last Spoke" is well-written, but I think my expectations were too high. I normally love fiction set in the South with quirky characters and a humorous way of viewing life that can also illuminate a hidden truth. While quirkiness and humor is a part of this book, something just did not quite resonate with me. Some of the actions of characters did not always seem to ring true and there were times characters would teeter into 'beyond the grave' experiences that I was not comfortable with entirely. There are books that allow one to immerse themselves into a story and the fictional people begin to feel like familiar friends, but this did not happen with any of these. Sometimes it just seemed like there was more effort made to make everyone quirky and less on making them well-developed people. I left the book knowing a little more about them, but we were still strangers.

    On the other hand, the possibility of a movie being in development does intrigue me. The possibility of seeing more life breathed into each one may make them more multi-dimensional for me. And, I plan on reading the book again at another time. I have had books that could not capture my full attention during the first reading that would suddenly "click" with me when I would try again later. I certainly see that potential with this author, and her talent is evident. I would suggest her to friends looking for a new author to read.

    I did receive a copy of this book at no cost to myself from FlyBy Promotions. 


    Social Corner:
    Fireside Novels on Facebook
    @MarciHenna on Twitter
    When We Last Spoke on GoodReads
    FiresideTexas.com 
    Buy:
                                                                                              


    GIVEAWAY: Marci will be giving away a FREE Kindle version from Feb. 20-24 on Amazon.

    Friday, February 3, 2017

    I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug!

    I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful book about hugs, imagining the different ways to give or receive a hug through delightful rhymes and entertaining illustrations by Tim Warnes

    Whether it’s a wriggly, wiggly bug hug, an enthusiastic knock over chairs dog hug, or a big bear, leaving you gasping for air, hug---this book is a lot of fun to read and have a special time of hugs and fun before bedtime.

    This is a special book that both entertains and lets a child feel safe, secure, and well loved. This is a ZonderKidz hardcover book, recommended for children between 4 and 8, but toddlers will enjoy it too---especially all of the hugs! It encourages interaction between parent (or grandparent) and child, and gives the child an opportunity to burn off a little energy before settling down to sleep. 


    With Valentine's Day approaching, this would be a perfect gift for your special little Valentine.

    Official Website -  http://bit.ly/2eBPnU6

    “Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
    GIVEAWAY: All entries must be made No Later Than February 7, 2017. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. The winner is subject to eligibility verification.

    Thursday, January 26, 2017

    Priceless DVD

    Priceless is the story, inspired by true events of a widower (Joel Smallbone) who loses custody of his young daughter (Sierra Rose Smith). Unable to keep a job, he agrees to drive a truck across the country. Their stipulation of "No Questions Asked" proves to be more than he bargained for when he accidentally discovers his cargo. He must then make a life-changing choice that threatens his future hope. 

    PRICELESS stars Joel Smallbone (for KING & COUNTRY), Bianca Santos (THE DUFF), Amber Midthunder (“Longmire”) with Jim Parrack (SUICIDE SQUAD, “True Blood”) and David Koechner (ANCHORMAN, “The Goldbergs”). PRICELESS is the first film from the Smallbone Brothers. Ben Smallbone directs from the script by Chris Dowling & Tyler Poelle. The film was produced by Steve Barnett (300). David Smallbone and Luke Smallbone serve as executive producers, and Jacob “Cubbie” Fink is co-producer. 





    Priceless is a well-intentioned film, and I had very high hopes for it. The subject of human trafficking is one that needs to be talked about often, and kept in the forefront of people's minds. The premise of the story is a man who has hit rock bottom after his wife dies and eventually losing custody of his daughter due to a series of bad choices. So he is willing to risk driving a truck with unknown cargo to earn money. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so perhaps it makes sense he would make another questionable decision. I never quite understood how or why things went downhill so fast, so I would have liked to have had a bit more back story. 

    This film is based on actual events, so perhaps my expectations were too high. There were simply moments that I found too unbelievable, and I found my mind wandering more than once. The movie isn't really bad, but there was just something missing for me. However, it is a wonderful conversation opener on a subject that needs to be shared worldwide. I would recommend it for anyone wanting to share more about human trafficking and to offer hope to those who have been sexually abused. The ultimate message is that there is freedom for the captive, whether it be actual captivity or self-induced through drugs, alcohol, and anger.


    Thanks to Icon Media group for sending me a link to review the film. Priceless will be available on Digital HD on Jan 31, 2017, and Blu-Ray, DVD, and On Demand on Feb 14, 2017.


    Saturday, January 21, 2017

    Life in Season - Vanessa Hunt/Heather Patterson

    ‘Life in Season: Celebrating the Moments That Fill Your Heart and Home’ by Heather Patterson and Vanessa Hunt. Heather and Vanessa are sisters who created At the Picket Fence, a website dedicated to providing a place where women can share, care, and inspire one another.

    It's a nice "coffee table" book or gift for a friend. The outside cover is beautiful and it is filled with beauty inside also. The book is divided into the four seasons and is filled with stories to fit each, along with recipes and crafts. I enjoyed reading the stories. Using personal anecdotes, and Scripture, they each contained a message that was inspirational and educational---in a fun way. I loved the lessons to be learned from them.

    The recipes included looked like they were probably doable. I do not enjoy cooking, so there were none that tempted me. But, I have friends who love cooking and would love making these special treats to share with family and friends. There are also several craft projects that look adorable. My craftiness is solidly in the pre-schooler's art project class, so none of them are for my limited skills. But, I am not the potential market for this book, so I can't speak for how easy they are.

    If you or a friend love crafting, cooking, and stories that inspire and are completely relatable and relational, I recommend this book.

    I did receive a copy of this book at no cost to myself from Icon Media Group. 

    Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    God Made You Nose to Toes - Leslie Parrot

    God Made You Nose to Toesby well-known author and family therapist, Leslie Parrot, is a padded boardbook designed to explain to toddlers that God created each part of their body to help them enjoy their surroundings. With the help of a colorful toucan, rhymes are given to express that God made each part for a reason. Delightful animals are incorporated through the story via the talents of illustrator Estelle Corke. The book, published by Zondervan, is 8.38" x 8.38" and has 18 pages.

    I wasn't blown away by the book, but I did think it was cute. More importantly, it has been handled a lot by a 16 months old who is loving the pictures. Also, the book is still completely intact. She is too young to sit still as I read it, but has grabbed it to look at several times. As she gets older we can spend more time on the words and the lesson to be taught. I believe she will enjoy learning more about her fingers, knees, nose, toes, etc., and that God created her to enjoy life and because He loves her very much. Between both of us, I would say the book is not quite a five for me, but not completely a 4...perhaps a 4.45.

    I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers at no cost to myself. However, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 

    Tuesday, January 3, 2017

    The Women of Easter by Liz Curtis Higgs

    In The Women of Easter by Liz Curtis Higgs, you meet three women named Mary. Each of these women had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Mary of Bethany is the one who prepared the way for the Lord’s burial when she anointed His feet with her precious and costly perfume. Mary of Nazareth, His mother, remained by His side from His first breath to His last, her love and loyalty always steadfast. Mary of Magdala, delivered of seven demons, never wavered in her bravery to support her Teacher when others turned away bravely and then she was the one chosen to proclaim the glorious news of His resurrection to His followers. At a time when women were considered to be second class citizens, the Lord loved, respected, and honored them ---giving Hope to all women that we are worthy, too. 

    Higgs has a way of bringing the characters in her stories to life, and even familiar stories are seen in a fresh light. Each Mary she highlights is a person that anyone raised going to church knows all about. Yet, the reader is given more insight to what is happening, and how rare it is for women to be treated with honor during the time Jesus lived on Earth. There were even a couple of "lightbulb moments" when something became much clearer to me. One easily travels to and from the effects of Jesus on the lives of these women to personal stories that Liz shares in comparison. I especially like the Study Guide in the back. This would be a wonderful 8 week devotional for yourself or with a small group. 

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah "Blogging For Books" program at no cost to myself. However, I was not required to write a positive review.

    Monday, January 2, 2017

    NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

    The NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition is a hard cover Bible with an attached elastic closure. Features include:
    • Lines on each page for journaling and notes
    • Thick paper perfect for any writing utensil
    • A presentation page for gift giving
    • A “How to Use This Bible” page to get started on the right foot
    • Ribbon marker
    • The complete text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV)
    This Bible has a visually appealing turquoise cover (other colors are available) with designs and an attached pink elastic closure. I think it is very attractive and my 15 month old great-granddaughter, raced to pick it up, while exclaiming, "Ooooooh." The outside cover is the least important part of a Bible, but I think it is good to have a book that immediately attracts someone. It has a hard cover, which makes it a bit heavy, but I love the durability and the way it is bound.

    The NIV translation is fairly easy to read and understand for most people, and is a very popular version. The print is a little small for me, but should be great for the average reader. However, I have no issue with the print size due to the room given on each page for journaling or note-taking. Not only is there room to make notes, but there are lines to make it easier. This Bible is intended for girls 8 and up, so I really like that it encourages making notes from an early age. The pages aren't too thin, but I encourage using colored pencils rather than highlighters to help avoid bleed through. 

    As a first "grown-up" Bible for a girl, this is an excellent one. It is also suitable for teens and women, though, so don't let the "for girls" mislead you if you want to get this Bible for yourself. I do miss having maps and a concordance, but my personal preference is a study Bible. However, I do recommend the NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition, especially if you like to jot down notes about a particular passage as you read it.

    Thanks to Handlebar Marketing for providing me with a copy for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.