The Hunter and the Valley of Death by Brennan S. McPherson Review

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Synopsis:

Experience the psalms like never before–through thought-provoking fiction. 
A man wakes up in the Valley of Death and realizes he’s given up everything, including his memories, to attempt to kill Death so that he can bring his wife back to life. But when he fails, who will be there to rescue him?
The Hunter and the Valley of Death is a profound meditation on life, death, loss, and love. Formatted as a fantasy parable on the topic of surrender, this story shows that there is only One who could kill Death–and because of him, and him alone, we say, “Oh, Death, where is your sting?” 

My Thoughts:

This small book packed a lot of punch! The story is a fantasy parable relating to Psalm 23 and many other stories of the Bible.

Told in a fantasy style, the story moves at a swift pace and the reader travels with The Hunter through many places and encounters many creatures along the way.

The symbolism is easy to decipher for those familiar with the Bible. The story is packed with symbols, many that are subtle, so this book would be great for re-reading as new things would be discovered with each read.

It took a bit for me to get invested in the story but once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. The descriptions were very vivid and the story was hard hitting. I went through a vast range of emotions when reading the story, from sadness and remorse, to joy and thankfulness.

This would be an excellent story to use in Bible studies and small groups. There are author’s notes at the end that explain the symbolism and how the story relates to the Bible, specifically to Psalm 23. The author’s love for Christ and the scripture truly shines through and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read this book.

This is the first book in a series (the Psalm series) by various authors and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next story.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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CSB Worldview Study Bible (Navy Leathertouch) Review

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Description:

The CSB Worldview Study Bible features extensive worldview study notes and articles by notable Christian scholars to help Christians better understand the grand narrative and flow of Scripture within the biblical framework from which we are called to view reality and make sense of life and the world. Guided by general editors David S. Dockery and Trevin K. Wax, this Bible is an invaluable resource and study tool that will help you to discuss, defend, and clearly share with others the truth, hope, and practical compatibility of Christianity in everyday life.

Features include:
Over 5,900 extensive worldview study notes
Over 130 articles written by more than 120 notable Christian scholars
Center-column references
Smyth-sewn binding
Presentation page
Two ribbon markers
Two-piece gift box
General Editors: David S. Dockery and Trevin Wax
Associate Editors:  Constantine R. Campbell, E. Ray Clendenen, Eric J. Tully
Contributors include: David S. Dockery, Trevin K. Wax, Ray Van Neste, Kevin Chen, John Stonestreet, Ted Cabal, Darrell L. Bock, Mary J. Sharp, Carl R. Trueman, Bruce Riley Ashford, R. Albert Mohler Jr., William A. Dembski, Preben Vang, David K. Naugle, Jennifer A. Marshall, Aida Besancon Spencer, Paul Copan, Robert Smith Jr., Douglas Groothuis, Russell D. Moore, Mark A. Noll, Timothy George, Carla D. Sanderson, Kevin Smith, Gregory B. Forster, Choon Sam Fong, and more.

The CSB Worldview Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture’s life-transforming message and to share it with others.

My Thoughts:

The cover of this Bible is Navy Leathertouch and it feels amazing. It is beautiful, smooth, and very luxurious. The edges are silver and the Bible includes 2 ribbon bookmarks (blue and cream), which I love. There are many occasions where 2 bookmarks are extremely helpful. It also comes in a very nice, sturdy gift box with a lid that is very nice for storage.

This Bible focuses on the Christian worldview. A worldview is described as “a lens through which a person looks at the world”. This worldview affects how we think, act, and treat others so reading the Bible and having a Biblical and Christian worldview is extremely important.

There are over 130 articles throughout the Bible that focus on various topics that are relevant to our world today (Church and State, Animal Rights, The New Atheism). Included in the front of the Bible is a table of contents for where to find each of the articles. The articles are written by over 120 Christian scholars and are very interesting and thought provoking. One of my favorite articles is titled, “Speaking to a Non-Christian about Jesus”…it provides powerful examples from the Bible of how to witness to others and share about Jesus.

The Bible also includes footnotes that are helpful to understanding the verse better. In some cases, the footnotes are more limited than I prefer, but for the most part, I am pleased with them.

There are center column references throughout the Bible and many full-color maps in the back of the book. It also includes the CSB concordance.

The Christian Standard Bible translation is my favorite translation. It is very accessible and easy to read, while remaining true to the Bible’s original meaning.

Overall, this is an excellent Bible that is extremely relevant to the world today. I highly enjoyed reading the various articles and would definitely recommend this to other Christians.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this Bible from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

High Cotton by Debby Mayne Review

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Synopsis:

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family’s next reunion. On the one hand, she’ll get to see everyone in her mama’s family—folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there’ll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law’s deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunion . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay’s teen self, but the woman she’s become doesn’t know what to make of this.

Shay’s contentment is challenged, and she’s determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she’s looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet and predictable life? One thing is certain: Life in the Bucklin family is never boring.

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My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed getting to know the characters of this book. Each character is facing their own challenge and looks with apprehension towards the upcoming family reunion.

The story is set in the south and the author includes a lot of southern references (sweet tea, biscuits, and “high cotton”). I really enjoyed this setting as I’m a Pennsylvania native but love visiting the southern states…southern hospitality is very special.

The writing style flowed easily and the pacing was good. I loved the family dynamics. The reunion scene was definitely my favorite part of the book. Anyone who has been to a family reunion would be able to relate to the wild and crazy antics that occur in these scenes. The story has sweet moments, sad moments, a few twists, and many funny moments.

This book was a nice change from some heavier historical books I’ve been reading. It was a lot of fun.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Embraced by Lysa Terkeurst Review

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Description:

A real embrace indicates an intimate level of closeness. It’s not a high five or a casual handshake. The best kind of embrace is when someone we know deeply loves us flings their arms wide open and pulls us in close.

Our hearts were made for this kind of love and security but for many of us, we know more about the pain of heartbreak and fear than the unconditional love for which we were created.In Embraced, Lysa shares her own struggles, doubts, and heartbreaks while pointing to the Ultimate Embrace: God opening His arms wide on Calvary through Jesus so that He could pull us close for all of eternity. Welcoming us into the safety and hope of His grace and His love.

And because we have been fully embraced by Him, we can spend our lives held securely by Him and trust all of His ways.

Through these 100 devotions, daily scriptures, and prayer prompts, readers will be equipped to:

Begin to find freedom from the struggles that have held them hostage by learning new ways to experience God’s love and more authentic ways to trust Him.
Surrender their deepest hurts by processing them in a godly way with Lysa, a friend who understands their pain.
Hear the Lord speak intimately to their heart by learning how to seek His direction.
Release the tension of wondering, If God is near why does He sometimes feel far away? by spending intentional, guided time with Him each day.
With an exquisite cloth cover, highly designed interior, ribbon marker, and stained page edges, Embraced will be a treasured keepsake for you as well as a meaningful gift for those you love.

My Thoughts:

I quickly became a fan of Lysa Terkeurst when I discovered her book, Made to Crave…there is something about the way she writes that feels very down to earth and friendly. I feel as though I am hearing from a friend when I read her writing. I also love that she is a woman that isn’t afraid to admit that she has many imperfections and struggles. I think this is why I’ve related to Lysa for so long…she’s real.

This devotional includes 100 days of devos that are geared towards the Christian woman who wants to feel the embrace of her savior. Each devo is only 3-4 pages long but they pack a big punch. Lysa shares her heart and struggles as she presents lessons on anxiety, insecurity, fear, and so much more. There is a great topical index in the back for days when the reader just wants to get a devotion on a specific topic. The days all start with a verse of scripture and end with a prayer.

The book is beautiful aesthetically…it is hardcover with a cloth over board cover. The design on the cover is water-colored with a gold title. The page edges are robin’s egg blue and the book has a cream colored ribbon bookmark. I would have been delighted to receive this as a gift and I’m certain that many other women would be as well.

This book is definitely a winner and I highly recommend it!

My Rating:  5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers to review.

Safe House Shannon Symonds Review and Giveaway

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Safe House

About the Book: As a victim’s advocate, Grace James is used to rushing into trouble to save her victims from abuse or assault. And with a handsome officer like Joe Hart at her side, Grace is sure there’s nothing she can’t do. But an ominous storm brewing on the Oregon horizon is about to change everything—and bring with it dangers and revelations Grace and Joe never expected.

My Thoughts: This book had several “edge of my seat, holding my breath” suspenseful moments that left me with a lot of emotions. I found learning about the role of a sexual assault and domestic violence survivor’s advocate very interesting…this was an occupation I don’t think I’ve encountered in a book before. I also loved Grace’s character, her kindness and love towards those she helped was beautiful.

The author was very good at setting the scene and building suspense. The story opened with a chapter that immediately sucked me into the story.

There is a lot of focus on the LDS/Mormon religion in this book and to be honest, it made me a bit uncomfortable. I just don’t agree with some of the Mormon beliefs and it was just very different from the Christian fiction I’m used to reading. On the positive side, it was interesting to learn a bit more about that religion and the content was extremely clean.

I received this book from SLB tours to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author:

Shannon-Symonds

Shannon Symonds worked for 15 years as an Advocate. Shannon lives in a small seaside town where she works, writes, runs and paints. She believes the word can be changed one heart at a time and then even small acts can make a difference.

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February 14-Singing Librarian Books
February 15-Red Headed Book Lady Heidi Reads…
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February 17-Soulfully Romantic | Reading for the Stars and Moon

Giveaway:

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365 Devotions for Living Joyfully by Victoria York Review

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Description: Discover the joy of the Lord in fresh ways through the beautiful new 365 Devotions for Living Joyfully. Full of simple, accessible devotions for every day of the year, this book will help you find deep, unshakable, biblical joy and will inspire you to live your most joyful life.

In the midst of busy schedules and endless to-do lists, joy seems like a luxury few can afford, let alone a foundational part of an identity rooted in Christ. God promises His children a life of joy, and yet it remains so easy to lose sight of the gifts He offers every day. Take a few minutes each morning to rekindle this biblical understanding of a joy-filled life with the beautiful and inspirational new book, 365 Devotions for Living Joyfully.

Reflect on the abundant life God holds out to you, and rediscover how joy can transform your heart. With Scripture verses and a prayer on each page, these devotions will inspire and grow your faith as you begin to see life as God truly intended it—full of abounding joy! Take heart and refresh your soul every day of the year through the encouraging words of 365 Devotions for Living Joyfully.

My Thoughts: First of all, this book is adorable, definitely the cutest devotional book I’ve owned. It’s a nice, compact size with a ribbon bookmark, bright colors, and bicycles on the end pages. It even has yellow flowers on each page. Each devotion is dated, which helps the reader to easily keep track and read through it in a year.

The devotions are quick to read but meaningful. They are thought provoking and include a verse of scripture and a final thought. I love this book for my morning devotions. I can grab it before my feet hit the floor and read through one in less than 5 minutes. It is also great for those days when you may not have time to spend a lot of time in the word.

I would recommend this book as a gift…it’s so pretty and would delight any recipient.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers to review. My opinions are my own.

The Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sisson Review

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Description: Mark Sisson–author of the mega-bestseller The Primal Blueprint–unveils his groundbreaking ketogenic diet plan that resets your metabolism in 21 days so you can burn fat forever.

Mounting scientific research is confirming that eating a ketogenic diet could represent one of the greatest nutritional breakthroughs of our time–and that it might be the healthiest and most effective weight loss strategy ever. Going “keto” by eating high fat, low-to-moderate protein and low-carb foods enables you to break free from the disastrous effects of carbohydrate dependency by resetting your metabolism and promoting metabolic flexibility–where your body learns to burns fat instead of sugar for energy, even when you go off plan.

Unlike many other ketogenic programs that require challenging restrictions and deprivation or offer misinformation, Mark Sisson, bestselling author of The Primal Blueprint and publisher of the #1 paleo blog MarksDailyApple.com, presents a unique two-step, scientifically validated approach for going keto the right way. He first reveals the real secret to rapid and sustained weight loss, which is in becoming “fat-adapted” before entering full nutritional ketosis. This process allows your body to learn to burn fat more efficiently, resulting in increased and sustained weight loss over the long-term. It takes as little as 21-days to reprogram your metabolism to burn fat for fuel, by ditching processed grains, sugars, and refined vegetable oils in favor of nutrient-dense, high fat, primal/paleo foods–and you’ll see immediate results. Next, you’ll fine-tune with Intermittent Fasting and then foray into full ketogenic eating for a further weight loss boost and improved health.

With The Keto Reset Diet, you can eat to total satisfaction by enjoying rich, high-satiety foods, and even weather occasional slip-ups. You’ll use keto as a lifelong tool to stay trim, healthy, energetic, and free from the disastrous health conditions caused by the typical American diet. With step-by-step guidance, daily meal plans and a recipe section with over 100 delicious keto-friendly recipes, this is the definitive guide to help the keto-beginner or the experienced health enthusiast understand the what, why, and how to succeed with ketogenic eating.

My Thoughts: I have tried many diets in my life and the one that always works the best is a form of carb reduction. In June I jumped into the Keto diet plan with both feet and am happy to report that I have lost 25 pounds since then.

Up until now, I had found all of my information on the internet regarding Keto, and, like many other diet plans, there is a lot of conflicting information. So when this book popped up for review, I was very excited to request it.

This book breaks down the Keto diet into layman’s terms and makes it seem much less confusing. With this plan, you start with a 21 day metabolism reset, which helps your body become fat adapted. Each week is explained clearly with tips on sleep, stress relief, and food replacements.

There are also many recipes that look very tasty and use common ingredients. There are some color photographs for the recipes but I would have liked more. There are also meal plans and a guide to intermittent fasting, which is explained very well.

The writing style is very easy to read and conversational.

I love this book and will keep it for a very long time as a resource for my new eating lifestyle. When followed properly, Keto works and this book explains it very well. Highly recommended!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books to review.