Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Evenings with Tozer, Daily Devotional Readings , A.W. Tozer, compiled by Gerald B Smith

Moody Publishers / 2015 / Paperback

This volume of 366 selected and edited daily readings from Dr. Tozer's books, editorials, and sermons is published for the spiritual help it may consistently bring to "God's good, plain people," who, as Dr. Tozer himself pointed out, "are a benediction wherever they are found!" Previously published as Renewed Day by Day.

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My Review

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV)
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Tozer’s writings are as relevant today as they were decades ago when he wrote them. Taken from books and sermons and other writings of his, these 366 Devotional Readings are meant to be a complement to personal Bible study time and I have to say they are thought provoking!

In one of the readings, Tozer speaks of our devotional life being crowded out by busyness and modern technologies. Sound familiar? He was referring to radio and television but I can only imagine how he would feel with the distractions of tablets, phones, computers, and hand held games that we have in the 21st century. Rarely do I see families eating at a table in a restaurant without one or all of them staring at their individual electronic devices while silence reigns between them. I am guilty of this myself!

I have been re-energized by this devotional. My copy already has many passages highlighted. Tozer was a studied man, devoted to prayer, and a highly respected ‘modern day’ theologian for his time. I highly recommend adding Evenings with Tozer to your daily repertoire of study materials. 

I received a complimentary copy from Moody Publishers in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review, only my opinion of the book. No compensation has been received.

~Happy Reading~

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review ~ The Promise Bride (Montana Brides #1) by Gina Welborn and Becca Whitham

Expected publication: August 29th 2017 by Zebra
 In a booming frontier town, a heavenly match may be in store for mail-order brides seeking a fresh start . . . women of strength and spirit who embrace the challenges of life and love in the wild Montana Territory.
Determined to save her father and siblings from a crumbling Chicago tenement, Emilia Stanek becomes the long-distance bride of a Montana rancher. But when she arrives in Helena, a rugged lawman shatters her plans with the news that her husband is dead and deeply in debt.
County sheriff Mac McCall can t afford to be distracted by the pretty young widow, not with scandalous secrets emerging as he investigates his friend s suspicious death. Mac s gruff order that she leave town at once only spurs Emilia s resolve to take ownership of her late husband s ranch and face his debtors. But as her defenses soften, Emilia begins to accept Mac s help, feel compassion for his own wounded heart and learns that trust means taking a leap of faith . . ."

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My Review
5 STARS!!!

I spent fourteen days in June sitting at hospice with my father-in-law.  I was elated to have a review copy of The Promise Bride because at the end of each day, I would crawl into bed and escape into the old west with this riveting story of love anticipated and lost and new love found.

Emilia and Mac are one of the most engaging couples in my summer reading experience so far! Of course, when the story starts, they are not a couple but they sure do have chemistry. Their engaging dialogue kept me riveted as well as the theme of loss and redemption woven seamlessly through the book.

This story is filled with emotions but one scene struck me as no other. Mac is sitting alone at his kitchen table, missing the friend whom he had shared a bond with, perhaps closer than a brother. His emotions are overwhelming him and he cries out to God.

  Why, God? Why him? Why him and not me?
  No answer. No comfort. Just pulsating grief and the watery promise of heaven.
Mac needed something to hold, to touch, to strike. Heaven—though he knew it was as real as the pine-wood table supporting his crossed arms and bowed head—felt too insubstantial and slippery to prop up such heavy anguish.
              He pounded the table with one fist. Again. And again.
              Why, God? Why?
Someone had once told him that questioning God was a sin. The way he figured it, God didn’t mind the questions so much as those who tried to make up their own answers. So he prayed for all the things he knew were true—but weren’t offering consolation yet—to permeate his soul, clear his mind, and bring him peace.  –The Promise Bride, 119

I have read several individual novellas by Welborn and Whitman and enjoyed them but The Promise Bride superseded them all! I was drawn into this novel from the beginning. I didn’t rush through it, even though I wanted to. I savored the intricacy of the plot and pondered the circumstances that Emilia and Mac found themselves in. I felt as if I was living it right along with them. It was wonderful.

If you are a fan of clean historical fiction with descriptive prose, snappy dialogue, and a swoon-worthy sheriff, then The Promise Bride is for you.

Thank you, to author Gina Welborn for having a print copy sent to me. This is my honest opinion of the book. No compensation was received.

~Happy Reading~

Friday, August 18, 2017

You Might Call Me Crazy!

1 Corinthians 3:6 
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 

I love plants. Seriously love plants. Now that I don't have small children at home or indoor animals, I can have as many plants as I want. Thankfully, my husband loves them too.  :-) 

I found a great deal on some large tropical house plants at my local grocery store so I bought several to place around our living room. The problem was that two of them had super dull looking leaves with what looked to be dried water residue and dirt all over them. I sprayed them down outside with the water hose but they still looked dirty and dull. Sooo, I went looking for solutions and found the perfect one on Chemistry Cachet.

Alexis, the chemist @ Chemistry Cachet, recommends cleaning house plants with a solution of milk and water mixed together in a spray bottle. Super simple to make and if you follow the link, you can get exact measurements and read all about why milk is good for your plants. She also recommends an Epsom Salt solution as a natural fertilizer. I'll be trying that in a few days. 

By the way, I read an article that said it's good talk to your house plants because as you talk to them you are breathing out carbon monoxide and that's beneficial to them too! I felt a little odd at first but once I got going, I had all kinds of things to say to Spike (above) and *Optimus Prime (below). Actually, that's when I decided on their names. Spike is obvious. He's spikey and I had to keep telling him not to cut my fingers! 

*Optimus Prime, on the other hand, has leathery like leaves that are absolutely gorgeous! He reminded me of a transformer toy with how his leaves transform from solid green to display striking streaks of red, orange, and yellow.

 *Optimus Prime (he's a Codiaeum variegatum, aka Croton plant) had the most dramatic 'transformation' in the cleaning too! See what I did there? hehe :-)
He has a lot of leaves! And they are fragile despite being leathery in feel. I found that if I bent one too far while trying to get into the ridges to get all the dirt out, the leaf would 'snap'. He calls for a gentle touch. It took me about an hour to water and clean these two plants but in the end it was well worth it!

Do you have any indoor plants? Have you named them? Do you talk to them? 

I would love to chat about your plants and any successes or failures you've experienced. 

~Happy Gardening~

*no copyright infringement intended - just naming my plants after a toy that my boys loved playing with when they were young.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rebecca Reviews ~ The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin

Published August 8th 2017 by Bethany House Publishers

 Heartwarming and Touching New Contemporary Romance from Victoria Bylin
After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans.
Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding.
Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love.

About Victoria
Known for her realistic, likable characters and vivid writing, Victoria Bylin writes both western and contemporary inspirational romance. Together With You, a story about family and forgiveness, won the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary, and her historicals have finaled in the Carol Awards, the Rita Awards, and RT Magazine’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. She and her husband currently live in Lexington, Kentucky and have two grown sons. 

Purchase Links:
(Christian Book Distributors)
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Rebecca's Review
4 STARS!!!

"To leap or retreat? To plunge ahead with the courage of a soldier, or to hold back with the wisdom of a judge?"

"It's your choice", he had said. "Join me for breakfast?", he had asked. Mia Robinson has a decision to make after a curious meeting with a total stranger. Typically she holds her cards pretty close, especially when it involves a man, having been hurt so deeply in the past. Something about the handsome Jake Tanner, with the loyal service dog, lures her into thinking that she might take a chance. In the end, the decision is made for her, for they are both in Las Vegas for the same reason.

Former police detective Jake Tanner hasn't been the same since an injury in the line of duty took his hearing and killed his partner. Committed to starting a rehabilitative camp for boys in her honor, he has modeled the concept after his own mentoring relationship with his deceased partner's son, the son that is now hastily getting married to his pregnant girlfriend. When he meets Mia Robinson in the process, he has no way of knowing how his faith is going to be tested or his dream challenged, for Mia believes she that has made a promise to God that would never include Jake.

So much more than a story, "The Two of Us" is a tutorial on forever love, which only has a beginning and never an end.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 

Rebecca is a graduate of Bryan College with a degree in Christian Education, and is currently serving at the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina as the Director of Children's Ministry. With nearly 28 years of experience in her field, she has had many opportunities to use her love of reading and writing in creative ways across the generations. A wife, mother of four "nearly" grown children, and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, Rebecca has been able to return to her love of reading and more recently reviewing, with a renewed passion for the "beauty of story".

~Happy Reading, Y'all~

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rebecca Reviews ~ 12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1) by Michelle Griep

September 2017 by Shiloh Run Press  

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancĂ©, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they've been striving for isn't what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

About Michelle Griep

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write...except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?


Rebecca's Review 
4 STARS!!! 

"The Twelve Days of Christmas, As never's been reveled, Your presence, Miss Chapman, is respectfully herald." "Why God? Why?" Clara Chapman has whispered the prayer a thousand times over the past months; stripped of her wealth, left at the altar by the man she loved, and betrayed beyond measure, she has nearly lost hope of an happily ever after. When the finely embossed invitation to Bleakly Manor arrives at the door of her aunt's modest residence on Christmas Eve, she has no idea what it means, but dutifully responds to her dear relative's advice, "One does not question an opportunity, my dear. One simply mounts it and rides." 

Benjamin Lane is angry, hungry, and cold; wasting away in a London prison for a crime he did not commit. To his complete astonishment, a taste of freedom appears when he is curiously transported to Bleakly Manor, only to discover that the woman whom he never thought to see again has arrived as well, along with a smorgasbord of curious guests with their own invitations and agendas; some rather nefarious, others quite innocent. 

Stranger things have never happened than during the 12 Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor. 

I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are entirely my own. 

Rebecca is a graduate of Bryan College with a degree in Christian Education, and is currently serving at the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina as the Director of Children's Ministry. With nearly 28 years of experience in her field, she has had many opportunities to use her love of reading and writing in creative ways across the generations. A wife, mother of four "nearly" grown children, and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, Rebecca has been able to return to her love of reading and more recently reviewing, with a renewed passion for the "beauty of story".

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review ~ Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs by Amy E. Mason

 Tyndale House Publishers

As the parent of a child with special needs, does your heart ache with questions, confusion, or discouragement? Do you ever feel that you have no margin in your emotional reserves or sense a gaping need for encouragement, rest, and refreshment? Caring for someone with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, emotional or behavioral disorders, or physical disabilities can be all-consuming. Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs can help you claim God's promises for your everyday life. You'll become more aware of God's passion for you and your child through this handy guide that speaks directly to the unique journey of special needs parenting. These promises are for your comfort. Claim them as your own. Pray them over your family and over your children. Let them guide you into the presence of Jesus and the security that only he can provide.
My Review
4 STARS!!!

Amy Mason has taken Scripture verses and applied them to emotions we experience as we walk this road of parenting a child with special needs. Adding a short commentary at the end of each one to encourage and uplift parents and/or individuals, I found myself entranced by the accuracy of her words.

As a grieving parent of a child who had special needs and was taken home to glory in 2012, for 28 ½ years I experienced every emotion I can think of, from fear to guilt to joy to grief. I am always curious when I see a book like this since I do not remember there being anything resembling it when my daughter, Amy, was born. Little did I realize when I began reading Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs, it would become a stepping stone in my own healing process. I do not think at the time I was raising my daughter that I could even identify some of the things I felt but I sure recognized them as I read through this book. I can even identify a few of them in present day circumstances with a child of mine that is not special needs, so I would say this little gem  can be used by anyone.

You can tuck it right into your purse or tote bag and it will be handy for any time of day, especially when you are sitting for long hours in a medical clinic or hospital bedside. It would also make a great gift for someone you know who is walking this long and sometimes lonely road, and it has an encouraging post for that emotion as well.

I appreciate Tyndale House Publishers sending me a copy for review purposes. No compensation has been received.

~God bless you~

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review ~ Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection

Published June 1st 2017 by Barbour Books
Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved?

My Thoughts 
4 STARS!!! 
Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands puts a little different spin on the usual ‘mail-order’ romance story.  I looked forward to reading these novellas because of the twist in them being ladies writing off for husbands and not vice versa. The authors did a great job in that each story felt complete and not rushed. They are faith-filled and humorous, with amiable characters and engaging plot lines, providing a few hours of welcome entertainment at the end of a long day. While I enjoyed all of the novellas, I definitely had a favorite or two. I can highly recommend this collection to fans of historical fiction! 

I want to thank Gina Welborn for sending me a paperback copy of this book for review purposes.  No compensation has been received.

~Happy Reading~