Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Super Heroes Devotional by Ed Strauss

113“Can you actually find spiritual truths in comicbooks and superhero movies?”  
Yes, you can!

For more than 75 years of comic book history and dozens of gigantic cinematic releases, Superheros have captivated our imagination–filling our senses with heart-pounding adventures, riveting plots, and spectacular special effects—and sometimes they have profound messages woven into them. Often the underlying themes reveal a Judeo-Christian influence, and even when it isn’t intentional, you can still draw deep lessons from them.  Whether it’s the self-sacrifice and humility of Captain America and the Hulk’s struggles with anger or the parallels between Superman and Jesus or between Black Widow and a ruthless Bible heroine, your favorite heroes and heroines (and even villains) have much to teach.

If you’re a fan of this good vs. evil world, you will love The Superheroes Devotional—featuring 60 interesting, challenging, and encouraging readings. With devotions drawn from dozens of favorite superheroes from both the Marvel and DC Comics universes—well-known names like Captain America and Batman and lesser-known heroes like Shazam and Gambit—each reading includes spiritual lessons relating superheroes to the heroes of the Bible in themes like faith, hope, courage, pride, and power. You’ll also enjoy reading about the history and background of each superhero, shared by author and lifelong fan Ed Strauss.

Read on, True Believer, and may you draw inspiration and encouragement from the characters and stories that you know and love from comicbook pages and big screen movies alike.

My Thoughts: When I think of a devotional, I’m looking for something that will help me center my day on Christ and possibly even teach or rebuke me. As a mature Christian, this wasn’t the type of devotional that taught me anything new, but I did find it highly entertaining and even enlightening. I enjoyed taking a new look at characters that I’ve grown up with and some that I haven’t met before. I’ll certainly never look at them the same! I was blown away by the connections Strauss had made.
While I don’t believe any devotional should take the place of your time in the Bible and very few are great Bible studies, I do believe this will be a great read for Christians who are also superhero fans. I can also see this being a great conversational tool for older kids/teens and their parents.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it to Christian Superhero fans. I think you’re really going to love this one!

“I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.”

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn

47.jpgOne month to a great relationship…with anyone!

Think of your toughest relationship. Think of a relationship that is good but could be great. Think of a group of people that drives you nuts. You want to show more kindness and generosity, but sometimes you’re just tired, stretched, and frustrated. Besides, would small actions make that big a difference?Yes!

After years of extensive research, Shaunti Feldhahn has concluded that kindness is a superpower. It can change any relationship, make your life easier and better, and transform our culture. But how does it work? And how can you show kindness when you don’t feel like it?

In The Kindness Challenge, Shaunti explores….
* Three simple acts that make all the difference in any relationship (with a spouse, child, co-worker, brother-in-law…)
* Whether kindness is ever the wrong approach 
* The seven ways you may be unkind and never realize it 
* Eight types of kindness—and which might be the best fit for you
* Ten sneaky obstacles that get in the way of giving praise
* Practical ways to persevere when kindness is tough
* How kindness in marriage leads to benefits in the bedroom (yes, really!)
* Why your acts of kindness today can help transform the world

With self-assessments, day-to-day tips, a 30-day challenge, and specific kindness ideas, The Kindness Challenge can make your toughest relationships better and your good relationships great—starting today.

Try the 30 Day Kindness Challenge and be a part of a kindness revolution in your home, your world, and yourself.

What I Loved: First of all this is such a simple concept. It’s nothing really new and yet it’s life-altering all at the same time. Shaunti brings to bear on the reader the truth behind the importance of kindness, the impact kindness has on both parties, as well as our failures at being kind.
I really appreciate how this wasn’t just a collection of personal thoughts and observations but was a book grown out of years of study and interviews. All throughout the book, we’re reminded of the extensive work that went into this single book. And she doesn’t just leave you with her observations but quotes a wide variety of people she had met along the way who can give testimony to the Kindness Challenge during various stages.
For me, I think the most challenging section was the chapter describing how we’re not kind. OUCH! I used to think I was kind but now I’m thinking otherwise. I found this chapter to be a painful but needed eye opener for me and would gladly recommend this book to someone else.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and highly recommend it to everyone. It’s the sort of book, like the Five Love Languages, that has the power to open your eyes about yourself and as well as change the way you treat those around you.

~ I received a copy from Blogging For Books but was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Devotions for Easter

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Prepare your heart and mind to celebrate the risen Savior.

It’s time for fresh spring blossoms, colored eggs, special recipes, and family gatherings. This year, with each tradition, small celebration, and new story, take the time to stop and discover the ways Jesus is showing His love for you. In remembering His Easter story—the greatest story ever told—your own will become that much sweeter.

The perfect companion for Lent, Devotions for Easter invites you to find the messages of hope and mercy God places in even the smallest moments of the season. Forty days of warm, inviting readings, prayers, scriptures, and beautiful images will take you through Christ’s journey toward the cross and the miracle of His resurrection. As new life emerges all around you, let your heart be filled with joyful worship of Christ and the renewal He brings.

What I Loved: This is a compact devotional. It’s broken up into 40 days and meant to be used in the days leading up to Easter to assist you in focusing your mind and heart on Christ during this special time of the year. I felt that it did everything it promised to do. I’m still currently working through it and have so far found it to be edifying, rebuking, and uplifting. Each lesson is a short read but I found that the author could dig deep even with small amounts of time. Aside from the heart-focusing lessons are the stunning pictures used throughout the book. It’s a beauty inside and out and would make a wonderful tool for personal use as well as a gift for someone else.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Devotions for Easter 5 stars and recommending it to any Christian looking for a simple devotion with deep impact or a beautiful gift.

~ I received a copy from Book Look Bloggers. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review: NIV Bible for Teen Guys

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The NIV Bible for Teen Guys, designed specifically for guys ages 13 to 18, is for real teenage guys with real lives. Packed with daily readings, highlighted promises of God, challenging insights, smart advice, and open discussion about the realities of life, this Bible is designed to help teen guys grow in their faith. The NIV Bible for Teen Guys is as serious about your walk with God as you are, helping you discover his will for all areas of your life, including relating to your family, dealing with friends, work, sports, girls, and so much more.

Features include:

Daily readings for teen guys by popular Christian male authors (Mark Batterson, Kyle Idleman, Mark Hall, Max Lucado, and more) Character profiles of men in the Bible Book introductions for each book of the Bible Highlighted promises of God: verses worth remembering A concordance for help in finding verses The complete text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV) of the Bible

I have a Life Application Study Bible that I love. When I picked up this study Bible, I was slightly disappointed not to see the commentary on every page. But that is my own fault for not understanding the differences in study Bibles. So what merits does the NIV Bible for Teen Guys have to offer? 

There is a book introduction at the start of each of the Bible books. It’s short and not exhaustive but still helpful for young men learning the ropes and setting.
They also offer up character profiles of various men found in the Bible. These pages are sprinkled throughout the book where the men appear in Scripture.
Then there are devotionals sprinkled throughout the book that were written by men and encourage teens to dig further into the passages as well as how to apply the teaching to their lives. I really liked these pages. There aren’t enough of them to read every day for a year. But they will enlighten the young men as they study. There are approximately 175 devotionals.
They boast of the highlighted promises of God but the highlighting isn’t easy to spot at a glance.
But they do offer some of the standards we come to expect to find at the back of the Bible such as a Table of weights and measures, Topical Index, and Concordance.

The hardback version I had reviewed is sturdy, but I understand that there are other options available including kindle and audio versions. The pages aren’t so see through that you can’t read it. I found the font and the black, grays, and yellow throughout the Bible easy to read and charmingly masculine.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving the NIV Bible for Teen Guys 5 stars and recommending it to anyone who enjoys the NIV version for the young men in their life.

~ I received a free copy from Book Look Bloggers. I was not compensated for my review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Review: Colorable Scripture Stickers

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Attention scrapbookers, Bible journalers, and sticker lovers!! The new spin on adult coloring is the colorable stickers.

My thoughts: The graphics are attractive and the scriptures used are ideal for applying to various crafts. My only complaint is that so many of the areas are super small and difficult to color if you plan to stay in the lines. I would recommend pulling out the gel pens for some of these.
Faith that Sticks sticker packages would make great gifts to add to a gift basket, stocking, reward bin, or for your personal use.

Basics: There are 4 sheets of stickers in each package. 2 of each style.
You can see both on the package. One sheet looks like a full paged scene while the other is made up of smaller stickers that go along with the overall theme.

~I received a complimentary assortment of stickers from Tyndale House. I was not required to post a review. All thoughts are my own.

To view more coloring products from Tyndal House, visit the Living Expressions page. 

Images: 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: All is Bright, Devotional and Adult Coloring Book

7.jpgThe perfect gift for the creatives and coloring-book lovers in your life! Includes bonus activities and kid-friendly coloring pages for the whole family!

This Christmas season, celebrate the birth of our Savior through beautiful design and devotion. Grab your colored pencils, cozy up with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea, and settle in for a night of peace and wonder with All Is Bright. For lovers of the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest coloring books, All Is Bright is the perfect way to transform the Advent and Christmas seasons for your whole family, re-centering the holidays on the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Combining 31 days of rich content by the beloved and inspirational Nancy Guthrie with intricate designs that will reconnect you with the heart of Christ, this coloring book devotional journey reminds us all of what the season really calls us to: worship.

My Thoughts: We always need something to help us slow down during the Christmas season and focus on what’s most important. All is Bright is a great tool!
There is a quick devotional for all 31 days of December that helps focus the heart and mind on Christ. I love that this wasn’t JUST a devotional but also a coloring book. But better still was that this devotional has the whole family in mind and included specially designed pages for children to color.
The bulk of the graphics didn’t suit my particular style, but I believe most will find them appealing. I would have liked to have had the children’s pages perforated or in a separate book so that sharing would be easier. But the concept behind All is Bright was unique and executed well.

The Basics: Pages are not perforated.
Markers are welcomed.
Images are printed on one side with a devotional on the other side.
Includes pages for children to color.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving All is Bright 5 stars and recommending it to anyone looking for a way to unwind and refocus during the Christmas season or those looking for a new family devotional for the Christmas season.

~I received a free copy from Tyndale House. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

For more adult coloring product, visit Tyndale’s Living Expressions page. 

Sample:

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers

5.jpgMillions of readers have been transformed and inspired by Francine Rivers bestselling novels Redeeming Love and A Voice in the Wind. Now, in this weekly devotional, the beloved author invites you to join her in seeking the Creator through the marvelous natural world we live in. Francine shares observations she s gathered over a lifetime of exploring abroad and in her own backyard and reflects on how they might apply to your daily life. What do the majestic redwoods, the persistent woodpecker, or a glorious sunrise reveal about our artistic and generous God? How could that change your outlook or the way you handle adversity? Stunning photography, Scripture excerpts, applications, and prayers accompany Francine s reflections, inspiring you to be encouraged. Be challenged. Be comforted. God’s power is immense; His attention to detail in precise; His love for you is vast and unfailing. The proof is all around you.

What I Loved: First of all the overall display is to be praised. This hardback book is stunning from the first page until the very last. Each devotional is four pages long with 2 breathtaking pictures to coincide with the theme of the devotion.
Francine Rivers has penned 52 thoughtful devotions that were inspired by different aspects of nature. It’s a quick, but thoughtful, read to add to your Bible study. I enjoyed the way each devotional is laid out and the details that make up each one.
Here’s a sample of what to expect in each devotional:
One full page picture and one smaller image.
At least 4 quotes that go along with the lesson. Most quotes are scripture but some are also hymns and others are quotes from various authors.
A personal backstory linking the devotional theme with the lesson.
Some devotionals have an amazing fact featuring the theme’s the animal or plant.
At the end of the devotionals’ main body, are 3 smaller sections to help you connect the lesson to  your life.
-Reflect helps you turn the lesson you’ve just read onto yourself.
-Apply gives you a suggestion to focus on for the week to keep the lesson front and centered in her mind and your heart. The suggestions are easy and applicable.
-Connect with God is a suggested prayer.
I’m not always a devotional fan but I loved the focus on God through His creation. And I especially loved the weekly Apply sections that offer great advice for allowing the lesson to impact your life.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Earth Psalms 5 stars. I recommend it to anyone looking for a new Christian Devotional. This will make a wonderful gift.

~I received a free copy from Tyndale House. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in Book Reviews

GIVEAWAY and Review: Family Christian Store

I was given a $25 gift card to Family Christian in exchange for an honest review about my shopping experience. The great news is that they’re giving away another gift card to one of my readers!! You’ll find a Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of the page.

First of all, let’s talk SUMMER SALE!!! Family Christian has a HUGE BOGO half off on several of their products. You’re allowed to mix and match products from different departments. Just look for the sunflower while you’re shopping!
Sale is going on now through August 25th so shop your local store or Family Christian online. 

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Do you wanna peek into my shopping cart? 😉 I’ll show you what I found. I picked up Open Heaven/ River Wild Hillsong cd, the For I Know the Plans coloring book for my mom, and My Favorite KJV Verse to Color coloring book for myself.

My Shopping Experience: The site was easy to shop and the sale items were clearly marked. I found the shipping prices to be VERY reasonable. Everything shipped out quickly. But one of my favorite things about Family Christian is their commitment to giving back. They’re a non-profit company, which means instead of taking and keeping  a healthy profit, they hand out. So it’s shopping with a purpose and that’s something that I can stand behind.

Product Recommendations:
Whether you’re road tripping, vacationing with the family, lounging on the beach or staying close to home, Family Christian has you covered! Here are some items we suggest you check out this summer:

Bible: Journaling Bibles
Description: Select journaling Bibles are now 30% off through August 25! Ignite a renewed passion for exploring God’s Word, whether you’re jotting down notes from a church sermon or recording prayer requests from small group—you’ll have all the space you need. And many of our journaling Bibles are filled with illustrations to inspire and get you started. Choose from 26 styles, and save now!

Book: Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
Description: When Evie Blackwell arrives in Carin, Illinois, it’s to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining two of the city’s unsolved crimes. As she dives into evidence and develops new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly a third cold case. She’s determined to solve them before she leaves town, and Sheriff Gabriel Thane and his family will be key to those answers. Book #1 of the Evie Blackwell Cold Case series.

Music: H A R D L O V E by NEEDTOBREATHE (available July 15)
Description: This sixth studio album from NEEDTOBREATE finds the group reflecting on the tumultuous seasons behind their recent albums, Rivers In the Wasteland and The Reckoning, and enjoying extraordinary success while experiencing personal conflict. “We were in a dark place when we made the last record, but to me this album is mostly a story of redemption,” Bear Rinehart said. H A R D L O V E delves into the world of electronic effects and instrumentation, resulting in a sublimely crafted and expansive sound that reflects the band’s unforgettable live show. Includes lead singles “Happiness” and “Money & Fame.”

Kids’ Items: Summer Reading Club
Description: Encourage kids 12 years and younger to take their reading to new heights by joining our Summer Reading Club. When they read six books, we’ll give them a free book of their choice. Jump start their reading now with our Buy 1, Get 1 50% Off sale on all Kids’ Books! The Club is going on now and ends August 25, so get them reading! Link to learn more.

New Product Line: Active Faith
* We’re thrilled to be the exclusive retail partner for Active Faith Sports! Formed by a group of Christian athletes, Active Faith offers apparel with Christian-inspired designs and messages, encouraging you to share your faith whether you’re on the court, out for a jog or running errands around town.

About Christian Family:
* Family Christian is a Christian retailer, operating in 250 stores across the country. They are committed to helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith through a wide selection of Christian books, music, Bibles, DVDs, gifts and more.
* When you shop with Family Christian, your purchases support their efforts to unite with ministries that are helping children and families in need around the world.

Giveaway Details:
Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter link below. Giveaway is open from Aug 16 to Aug 23 at 12 am.
The winner will be announced here on the blog Aug 23.
Rafflecopter Link.
Giveaway Rules: 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, 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.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
“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.

Posted in Book Reviews

Spotlight: When Calls the Heart Season 3 Preorder and Giveaway from FishFlix

Our friends from FishFlix are digging deep and offering When Calls the Heart fans something ultra special! Not only are they releasing When Calls the Heart Season 3 Collector’s Edition at a GREAT price, but they’re offering a free gift for every preorder. All orders placed before October 11, 2016 receive a free gift – When Calls the Heart Season 1 (3-DVD set – $29.99 value).

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When Calls the Heart Season 3 Collector’s Edition is a 10 DVD set packed full with fan favorites. Here’s a look at what’s inside:

Disc 1.       It Begins with Heart
Disc 2.       Troubled Hearts
Disc 3.       Heart of a Hero
Disc 4.       Forever in My Heart
Disc 5.       Hearts In Question
Disc 6.       Episodes 1-5 (As aired on the Hallmark Channel)
Disc 7.       Episodes 6-10 (As aired on the Hallmark Channel)
Disc 8.       Special features
Disc 9:       The #HEARTIES – Footage from the #Hearties Family Reunion
Disc 10.     When Calls The Heart Trivia Game

As with the When Calls the Heart Season 1 and Season 2 Collector’s editions, this 10 DVD set contains both the film versions and the TV episode versions of When Calls the Heart Season 3.  You can watch the series as 10 hour-long episodes or 5 feature films.  As in previous years, fans will enjoy finding small differences between the film versions and the individual episodes.  

The really exciting elements of the Season 3 collectors’ edition are the three bonus Discs.  Disc 8 features the typical bonus material one would expect from a project like this – behind the scenes footage, interviews, etc.  Disc 9 is a special product devoted to the fans that have made When Calls the Heart such a grassroots success – featuring footage from the #Hearties gathering in Vancouver in January of 2016. The 10th disc is a When Calls the Heart trivia game that devoted fans are sure to love. 

Wanna hear more about Season 3? 

Lessons And Reminders

When Calls The Heart is not just a show of adventure and romance, but is also filled with valuable lessons and reminders every viewer can be challenged and encouraged by. If season one was about perseverance and hope, and season two was about truth and forgiveness, season three was about courage, trust, and community. The characters ofWhen Calls The Heart and town of Hope Valley face a multitude of obstacles and challenges in the third season. Gangs of outlaws, sickness, accidents, mudslides, and people from the past move in and out of the plot line, but Elizabeth, Jack, Abigail, and the town of Hope Valley face each with courage– trusting their faith, strength, and friends to get them through. Along the way they will learn the importance of community, of a band of friends who have your back no matter what. Despite several threats and discoveries the community pulls through stronger than before. The individuals also learn the importance of trust. Trust that things will turn out right, trust that the people you love won’t hurt you, and trust that the future holds good things. The Boxed DVD set of third season of When Calls The Heart is filled with a new set of valuable lessons viewers will learn and identify with.

Conclusion

The sweet romance, hope-filled town, moments of adventure and adversity, and believable friendship and community that fill the episodes of When Calls The Heart continue in season three of this beloved series. Older viewers may be reminded of their old favorites such as “Little House On The Prairie” or “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman,” while younger viewers will enjoy the new story and characters that make up When Calls The Heart Season 3. Although not expressly Christian, this television series has many moments of faith, as well as faith-based values that will encourage and inspire believers. The story of Jack, Elizabeth, Abigail, and the rest of Hope Valley continues in the many episodes of this third season of When Calls The Heart. By yourself, with your family, or your friends you enjoy the continuing saga of life on the edge of the Canadian frontier.

This is a great opportunity to build up your collection or take care of some Christmas shopping for the person on your list who enjoys Christian Movies. But let’s not forget the GIVEAWAY! FishFlix is offering one lucky winner a $100 gift card to FishFlix.com. Here’s how to enter: 

In order to enter the drawing, one needs simply to leave a review of Season 3 on this page: https://www.fishflix.com/review/product/list/id/1836/category/153/#review-form and send an email to promo@fishflix.com verifying the “nickname” used on the product review. A drawing will take place on Sept 1, 2016 and one lucky winner will receive a $100 gift card to FishFlix.com.

Posted in Book Reviews

Spotlight: God’s Will by Meghan M. Gorecki and GIVEAWAY!!

22ABOUT THE BOOK: Kathy Andrews is good at goodbyes. Her mother is sent to a sanatorium, her sister, left behind in Chicago, and her father, forced to roam looking for work. So she holds close to the only one she has left, her brother Danny. When the two go to live with the Marshalls in the sleepy town of Brighton, she doesn’t let anyone past hello. Elliott Russell frowns at his aunt and uncle’s generosity–even though he and his sister are on the receiving end. He frowns, too, at the uppity city girl with a chip on her shoulder whom he can’t get out of his head. When a tragedy rips apart what tenuous existence they manage to forge, will they find the sweetest place to be is in God’s will–or will they turn their backs on faith that fails to protect against pain?

God’s Will is turning 2 years old this month. Join the fun by entering the giveaway!!

Visit A Northern Belle to enter for this fun prize pack! 

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For another chance to win, look for a giveaway on Goodreads later this month!

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A sweeping historical set in the tumultuous times of the Great Depression follows two families through the highs and lows of love, loss—and discovering the sweetest place to be is in God’s Will. For a limited time only you can get the paperback for only $9.99! 

9ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction, a blogger, book reviewer and voracious reader. Taking her life a day at a time as God leads, she is pursuing a career in the publishing industry as an editor in training and as a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. A hopeless romantic, history and Marvel nut, she’s also a redhead (thanks to a box), who knows way too much trivia about movie musicals and the Civil War. Find her on social media and at her blog, A Northern Belle.