Friday, August 26, 2016

Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

From the Publisher:
As a board-certified neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson sees the devastation of depression. Early on, she practiced the most effective treatments and prescribed them for her clients. But when she experienced depression herself, she found that the treatments she had recommended were lacking. Her experience showed her the missing component in treating depression.

In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion, blending her training and faith, to offer readers a hope grounded in God's love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God's grace, it cannot do. The result is an approach that offers the hope of release, not just the management of symptoms.

For those who struggle with depression and those who want to help them, Hope Prevails offers hope for the future.

As someone who struggles with depression this book was hard to read. But let me share somethings that I thought were unique and impressed me about this book.

1) This is the most Biblical and spiritually packed book on depression I have read.  Each chapter ends with questions to go through (by yourself or with a group) and one of those always has scripture to put on flashcards and put around the house and memorize/read.

2) Music playlists.  Music is therapy for my soul and I just loved that she included songs on this journey.  
3) She addresses many of the issues behind depression.  She doesn't try to have one answer for everything but shares about God's love and the Word of God and its power for your life.

4) The book is short.  If it was a long book someone with depression might never get through it because concentrating is very hard.

Honestly, I had such a hard time with this book. As someone in the midst of depression I just couldn't get passed the feeling that if I only prayed and read enough that I could beat my depression. That probably isn't what the author intended but that is how it felt.  

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Spiritual Warfare for Your Family by Leighann McCoy

From the publisher:
Parents and grandparents long to protect their children, yet many don't know how to fight spiritual battles for their kids. But you can win the battle on the home front! 

In these pages you will be equipped to defend and fight for your family. You will learn what spiritual warfare is as it relates to your children as well as offensive tactics for how you can strike first through prayer and knowledge of God's Word. Discover why you might be losing battles at home and weapons for waging war on behalf of your loved ones. Through personal and biblical stories, you will be empowered to recognize areas of vulnerability in your own family and keep your loved ones safe.

I really have been blessed by Leighann McCoy's books.  As a mother I want to protect my children and spiritually is the most important because that's what matters in the end.

The beginning of the book was a big harder for me to get into because she was laying the foundation for the what the spiritual battle is and why we are losing the battle.  As it became more specific to how to spiritually fight for our family it picked up.

I am glad she has all the scripture in there as well as the discussion questions.  This is great for personal study or studying with a group.  

Leighann shares personally and vulnerably and I believe if you push through this book can be a huge blessing.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Lisa Tawn Bergren Illustrated by David Hohn

This book is a great way to help children (and adults) to remember to have thankful hearts.  It is easy to dwell on things we don't like, but by looking around and naming all the blessings God has given us it can change our way of seeing things.

I like that this book has the parents and children pointing out small and big things they are thankful for (i. e. apples, freedom, fishing, being together).

The only thing is that I would caution parents to also allow their children to share their negative feelings.  Sometimes there might be something deeper than just the apparent negative attitude.  When Pup says, "I dunno, I'm just sad" to his mama and she says, "How can you be sad on such a beautiful day?" That bothered me because sometimes sadness is deeper than can be explained.

Overall the book and illustrations are cute and the message is good.  Just a caution to pay attention for depression or deeper issues.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Service Tails by Ace Collins

Often when I think of a book about dogs and dogs being heroes I think of police dogs, or dogs that rush into fires, or other heroic acts.  But this book opens our eyes to more of what being a hero is.

This book is compilation of stories of dogs who change the lives of the people with disabilities.  These dogs give their owners independence, confidence, and unwavering love and loyalty.  These service dogs give life to the owners.

Not only will this book touch your heart for these beautiful dogs and the history behind them becoming service dogs, but it will make you more sensitive to the needs of those who need these dogs.

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

From the publisher:

While Lydia King's reasons for joining the Teaville Moral Society might be suspect to some members, her heart is in the right place. Because of her father's debts and her mother's persistent illness, her best chance at a secure future and curing her mother is to impress the politician courting her. Her first task--to ask the town's wealthiest man to donate--seems simple enough . . . until he refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas Lowe wants to help others, but prefers to keep his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, but Nicholas still intends to do things his own way. Neither predicts what they'll learn about true charity or foresee the complications their actions will bring to the town, forcing Lydia to decide where her beliefs and heart truly align.

I just loved this book.  I was hooked right away.  The cover drew me in with its beautiful detail and then the writing kept me eagerly returning to this book again and again. 

I have never read Melissa Jagears before but I will definitely be on the look out for her name from now on.  Truly I was engaged fully through out the whole book and loved the character and plot developments as they went along.

If you are a fan of North and South and/or Pride and Prejudice you will fall in love with this book.  Lydia's own love for books will mirror your own. 

Melissa Jeagears reveals a part of life where past choices could taint you for life.  The hope for second chances will warm your heart.  The damage of prejudices, especially those held as Christians are shown to be what they are, and it is a powerful witness that is so important with current events to consider.  The conversations that Lydia and Nicholas have together will challenge you and grow you as a reader.

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Courageous by Dina Sleiman

From the publisher:
Inspired by the vision of the Young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross, seeking to free captives from prisons near Tripoli. She gladly gives herself to the cause, as she's haunted by a tragic mistake and no longer deserves such joys as marriage and family might bring.

Sir Randel Penigree was reared to serve in the church, but dreams of protecting the innocent as a knight. Joining a crusade to escape humiliation at home, he finds himself drawn to Rosalind as they partner to train and protect a group of young adolescents. When they face political machinations, danger, and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of the God they serve.

This is book three in the Valiant Heart series and by far this has been my favorite one!  The other ones were good as well but this one I feel had the richness and depth that just was perfect.

Dina Sleiman does a great job in dealing with the messiness of the Crusades.  At first when I began reading this I wasn't sure how that was going to play out but I was thankful to see her create a realistic picture while being appropriate.

The theme of forgiveness and setting the captives free was a strong and powerful.  Rosalind and Randel's separate pasts plague them with guilt and are unable to be free from the burdens they carry.  But through events and God's work in through others they come to experience in such a beautiful way.  It is so easy to see how others should have forgiveness but not ourselves and I just thought this was so well done.

Another aspect I really thought Sleiman did well was the mystery.  There is a first person narrator that keeps their identification a secret until almost the end and at each step you are guessing who it is but never quite sure. 

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Love You Just Because Written by Donna Keith Illustrated by Alison Edgson

This is an adorable board book for children.  This is the first book I ahve read by Donna Keith and I have already put her other books on my "to buy" list.

Here are somethings I loved about the book:
1) Adorable illustrations.  Each spread has pictures that feel soft and inviting.  You and your child(ren) will enjoy taking in each spread and enjoying the details.
2) On each 2-page spread on it tells examples of how each baby bear is different but how the parents love them "just because."  The differences in the baby bears are there but it doesn't make them less lovable.  The baby bears also are able to say with confidence  back to the parents that they are loved "just because." It also shares how the sibling bears love each other in their differences "just because."  Each page has a message that is different but emphasizes the same point.
3) Along with the different situation and "just because" message are Bible verses.  Each 2-page spread has a Bible verse that ties into the situation.  The are simple enough for children to understand and I love that these are grounded in scripture.
4) I love that the baby bears are all different.  This could easily be a book for adoptive parents or foster parents as well as biological parents.  I think it is just about perfect.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson

From the publisher:
How to make home your family s favorite place to be . . . all year long. Does your home sometimes feel like just a place to eat, sleep, and change clothes on the way to the next activity? Do you long for home to mean more than a place where you stash your stuff? Wouldn t you love it to become a haven of warmth, rest, and joy . . . the one place where you and your family can t wait to be? There is good news waiting for you in the pages of The Lifegiving Home. Every day of your family s life can be as special and important to you as it already is to God. In this unique book designed to help your family enjoy and celebrate every month of the year together, you ll discover the secrets of a life-giving home from a mother who created one and her daughter who was raised in it: popular authors Sally and Sarah Clarkson. Together they offer a rich treasure of wise advice, spiritual principles, and practical suggestions. You ll embark on a new path to creating special memories for your children; establishing home-building and God-centered traditions; and cultivating an environment in which your family will flourish.

What I liked about this book was that it was broken down by month.  Each month had its own section and ideas to use that month to make your home life-giving.  That made is simpler for me to digest.  Honestly looking at the book all at once was overwhelming but if I chose to just read a section at a time and digest that portion then I could get more out of it.

I would recommend that people not feel that they have to do everything like the Clarksons.  Instead let them inspire and give you ideas to springboard from.  There are wonderful ideas for practical things and environmental things for the home but not everyone will be as these authors are.  If you find yourself not inclined to do certain things from this book don't be discouraged!  Take what works and keep reading!

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.