Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery Review

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Synopsis: A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

My Thoughts: This is the first book I’ve read that focused on a missions trip. I read another book by Jennifer Slattery (Breaking Free…review here) and really enjoyed her writing so I was excited to pick this one up.

The story follows Brooke, who reluctantly goes on a missions trip to El Salvador with her younger sister but it has a big effect on her life. It also follows Ubaldo, a native of El Salvador who translates for the group of North Americans and Fatima, a village girl who has a very difficult life.

I loved Ubaldo. It was very interesting to see Americans through his eyes and to see how he looked at missionaries (people with deep pockets who want to stroke their own egos). I have to admit, this was a bit convicting and caused me to analyze myself.

There were a lot of things in this book that were thought provoking. I finished it yesterday but found myself revisiting the story in my mind throughout the day.

I also loved that the story of Hagar from the Bible is included in the book. Hagar’s story has always spoken to me so I was happy to see it used here.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a touching story that will cause you to think.

My Rating:

 4 stars

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Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid Review

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Synopsis: When doing the right thing will only lead to more heartache, how do you know what you are supposed to do? 

Sixteen-year-old Faith has worked full time in her parents’ Amish restaurant since she finished eighth grade. She loves her Amish community–and the recent romantic attentions of her longtime friend, Gideon. When her sister seems to be getting too friendly with Englischers, and her parents are in a buggy accident, Faith only wants to escape into her dream of joining the church and getting married.

But then a local newspaper runs a story about a child named Adriana who was kidnapped fifteen years earlier, and everything Faith has held true comes into question.

Suddenly the community Faith has known her whole life seems unreal. Can she even trust her own family? And how will she ever find home again if she no longer belongs in the world she knows best?

My Thoughts: I was an avid reader of Amish fiction in the early 2000s…I would eagerly check books out of my church library and devour them that afternoon. After reading most of the Amish books that the library had in stock, I became burned out on Amish fiction. I went through a big reading slump and stopped reading for a while.

It has been about 15 years since I read an Amish fiction story so I decided to revisit the genre. I love the innocence that is found in these stories, it’s a peaceful way of life and it’s a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the “Englisch” world.

Abiding Mercy was an enjoyable story…it follows Faith, who works with her sister at the restaurant owned by her parents. There are some secrets to Faith’s past that are revealed later and her world is turned upside down.

I loved Faith, she was a kind, gentle spirit with a good heart. Her love interest, Gideon, was also a very likable character. Their relationship was adorable. I also enjoyed Olivia’s character…she was flawed, which I appreciate because I think sometimes we tend to forget that the Amish are human and sinful just like us.

The story was good but the pacing tended to be a bit too slow for my taste. The main turning point doesn’t occur until about the last 75 pages of the story, so all the while, I kept wondering when it was going to happen (because it’s described in the synopsis).

This is book one in a series or trilogy but it easily could have been a standalone. Everything wrapped up well in the end, but I am curious to see where the story will go from here.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a sweet story with a bit of love and drama.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers for review.

Action Storybook Bible

DOES YOUR CHILD LOVE COMIC BOOKS?
HOW ABOUT SUPER HEROES?

Now is your chance to have DC and Marvel illustrator Sergio Cariello make your child’s dream come true!

Parents!

David C Cook is proud to introduce the newest book in the Action Bible collection: The Action Storybook Bible (coming October 2017). Pre-order The Action Storybook Bible from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ChristianBook.com to reserve your copy today. Plus click the graphic below to enter to have a chance to win an illustration of your child as a super hero by Action Bible artist Sergio Cariello (who has also illustrated comics for DC and Marvel!).

The giveaway is open until September 11, 2017, 5:00pm MST.  Your entry must be received by then to be eligible. Five winners will be chosen at random from eligible entrants.


{THE ACTION STORYBOOK BIBLE}

Families see the Bible in motion and put their faith into action!
The Action Storybook Bible invites families with young children to explore God’s redemptive story together. An entry point into the world of The Action Bible, it tells of the amazing creation story, powerful kings who reigned over ancient Israel, God’s miraculous gift of eternal life through Jesus, and more! God’s promise for the world is displayed throughout every page. Discover your family’s place in God’s incredible story and together put your faith into action!
Interactive features include:

  • Fifteen key episodes from God’s Word—each one loaded with several stories along with over 350 brand-new illustrations throughout.
  • Short and easy readings—for children ages eight and under with rich, colorful images.
  • Life, Faith, Action! features—conclude every episode and invite families to talk about how God moves in the stories, how to see God in life today, how to put faith into action, and how to easily talk to God with a suggested prayer.
  • Hall of Fame visual index—the place to look up favorite Bible characters by discovering their icon connections and finding them in the stories.

Learn more and purchase a copy here.

Included in Christ by Heather Holleman Review

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Description: A new kind of Bible study…

After the success of her first two booksHeather Holleman received many requests to write a Bible study. And as a college English instructor, she wanted to make sure it really taught and didn’t simply inform. So she surveyed several women about what their dream study would look like, then got to work.

The result is Included with Christ, a narrative-driven study where you can bring your life before Scripture in the context of community. Together women will discern their personal shadow narratives—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth.

This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians willequip women with six “signature stories” of God’s work in their lives—helping them combat exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.

Designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth, Included in Christ will provide community and connectedness as well as spiritual nourishment. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.

My Thoughts: Being included is something that I and many other women (I would assume) struggle with and long for. I could probably think of more instances in my life when I’ve felt left out than when I’ve felt like I belonged. This is why I chose this study…and I’m glad that I did.

The author addressed so many things that I was facing that I felt like she had followed me for the past year or been a fly on my wall…but of course she had divine inspiration by someone who had 🙂

One thing I’ve noticed about good Bible studies is that they are always relevant, they always work for me…that’s a God thing. This study focuses on us being included in Christ, how we are part of something special.

It consists of 8 weeks, with 5 days of study per week. We learn to identify our shadow narrative, which is the narrative that keeps us in darkness, as well as our Savior story, which is the story of how we are included. The entire study focuses on the book of Ephesians, which I had never personally studied before. It has now become one of my favorite books of the Bible.

I completed this study alone, which worked very well but it would also be perfect for a small (or larger) group.

I highly recommend this rich study.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this Bible Study from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Whole Bible Story, Illustrated Edition by Dr. William H. Marty Review

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Description: The Bible tells a story. The events of the Bible are exciting and awe inspiring, but often the story can get lost among the laws, genealogies, and poetry. Here, Dr. William Marty retells the entire story of the Bible in one easy-to-read, chronological account. All the stories you remember, and many of those you don’t, are part of one grand narrative. It’s the page-turning story of God’s pursuit of you–one you’ll want to read again and again. Now fully illustrated.

My Thoughts: As I was reading this book, I kept thinking, “what a good idea!” Dr. William H. Marty took all of the stories from the Bible and put them all together in one place. Everything is chronological, and it flows very well. It is not word for word from the Bible, he expounds on context and culture, etc. throughout. Dr. Marty is a respected teacher at the Moody Bible Institute and explains the stories in a way that makes them come to life.

Also included in the book are photographs of artifacts, places that are described in stories, diagrams, and more. I loved having these to reference as I was reading the stories…to see the place where Jacob wrestled with God or the possible location for the feeding of the five thousand made the stories easier to picture.

Of course, this does not in any way replace the Bible, the word of God, but it makes a great addition to Bible study time. This would be a wonderful resource for new believers or those who are new to the Bible.

I highly recommend this book to any Christian who wants to revisit the stories of the Bible or visit them for the first time.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne Review

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Synopsis: On a hike during a white-hot summer break on the Greek island of Hydra, Naomi and Samantha make a startling discovery: a man named Faoud, sleeping heavily, exposed to the elements, but still alive. Naomi, the daughter of a wealthy British art collector who has owned a villa in the exclusive hills for decades, convinces Sam, a younger American woman on vacation with her family, to help this stranger. As the two women learn more about the man, a migrant from Syria and a casualty of the crisis raging across the Aegean sea, their own burgeoning friendship intensifies, and when a simple plan of revenge goes horrifically wrong, Faoud must go on the run while the women come to terms with the terrible consequences they have set in motion.

My Thoughts: The premise of this story was great but it just wasn’t executed the way that I prefer. The pacing was slow and the writing, although beautiful, had too much of a literary quality for my liking.

The book deals with current issues and dilemmas that people are faced with today in an interesting way, which I found interesting. I also liked the characters, they were very well fleshed out and developed.

If you like a slow burning story with some drama, then this would be the book for you.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.