Review of Not by Sight by Kate Breslin


Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction

Not Recommended.

51wZz3hh67L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_It’s 1917, and wealthy British suffragette, Grace Mabry, desires to help her country’s WWI efforts in any way she can in order to bring her brother home from the trenches of France safely. At a costume ball she hands a feather of cowardice to Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke–a man she believes should be fighting for his country rather than attending balls and absorbing female attention. But Jack has secrets of his own, and is involved in a circle of espionage. As their paths cross again, they are each forced to confront true courage, vulnerability, and the romantic feelings budding between them despite him being engaged to another.

I chose to read this book based on the stunning cover art of the mysterious woman in a brilliant green dress. The mystery and enchantment of the cover, unfortunately, did not translate for me into the narrative. This is a cute, light-hearted story, but it progressed too slowly for me, and without real depth. There are some twists–the backbone of the story is good–but it was not written in a way that created much suspense or mystery. I easily anticipated what would happen based on the direct character cues and details. I also did not love the characters, and would have liked more historical detail.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House.


Review of Thankful by Eileen Spinelli Illus. Archie Preston


Genre: Children’s

Highly Recommended.

_225_350_Book.1665.coverI love this book about being thankful for the little things! The charming illustrations show a sister and brother playing dress-up, helping with chores, and generally enjoying themselves, while the corresponding rhyme imaginatively describes the alternate reality of “pretend” that they are reenacting or experiencing. The result is an unusual depth of empathy and thankfulness amidst the simplicity of the story and pictures.

Moreover, the simple rhythmic text is perfect for young readers. My five year old has enjoyed reading this to me, while both he and his younger brother find the illustrations interesting and funny.

This is a book with a great, multi-layered message, that our whole family enjoys.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zonderkids.


Review of Bible Stories Gone Crazy! by Josh Edwards and Emiliano Migliardo


Genre: Children’s Puzzle Book


unnamed(1)My 3 and 5 year old love this over-sized book of silly Bible illustrations.

The Bible stories included are: Noah and the Ark, Moses leading the way across the Red Sea, Joshua and the destruction of Jericho, David and Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den, Jonah and the Sea Monster, Jesus’ miracle of loaves and fishes, and the healing of the man being lowered through the roof. Each story has it’s own two-page spread, a Bible verse, the longer Bible reference, and multiple funny mistakes and/or events to find in the picture. There are also teddy bears to find within each story.

The quality of the book is really good: It is hardback, and the pages are thick and glossy like dry erase paper (we have not written in it, but that would probably work).

The kids enjoyed the bright illustrations, and finding modern, fantasy, and humorous images mixed within the Bible characters and scenes. This book keeps their attention longer than many. One thing that confused and bothered us, though, was that some of the side notes of what to look for do not match the illustrations exactly. For instance, there may be an image of a guy doing something, and when you find him in the picture he is facing the opposite direction as the example–so some of the details could be better. There is also no answer key, which would be helpful (one item we still have not found!). But many of the questions in the margins are excellent discussion points, and it is a fun book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications.


Tonight Begins Rosh Hashanah; Happy 5776!


L’Shanah Tovah! Tonight is Rosh Hashanah, the head of the Jewish year, and beginning of the year 5776. This day (Tishrei 1st) is also called Yom Teruah–the day of shouting (also called the Feast of Trumpets). I have noticed that Christian/Messianic congregations often focus on celebrating from the perspective of Yom Teruah as there is so much eschatological significance; but I would like to express the depth and beauty of this holiday from a different angle.

Rosh Hashanah looks back to remember the beginning–how God created the heavens and the earth. Yet even though Rosh Hashanah begins the new year, it is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar, because after the creation came a re-creation. After the world and calendar was established, God declared that Nissan–the month in which Passover occurs–would be the first month; a new beginning (Ex. 12:2). So, just as we were born, and then are spiritually re-born in Messiah Jesus, so was the earth created, then “re-created” in the month of the Passover Lamb and exodus! Only believers can appreciate these parallels.

Rosh Hashanah also begins the important ten day period of the High Holidays, or Days of Awe, culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). This is a time of serious reflection and re-centering. We remember that God is the Creator of the universe, high above all else. We remember who He has created us to be within the world. We go back to a pure foundation of intimacy in Him through repentance (tashlich): casting aside the old, sinful, and not-beneficial, and anticipating instead the sweetness of the Lord, which we are invited to taste and see (Psalm 34:8).

As we enter into this exciting new season I pray that you would be blessed, strengthened, and awed by the beauty and glory of our Lord, who has created and called you to exciting new things in Him.




Review of Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer


Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance


Mind-of-Her-Own7Louisa and Collin Copeland are struggling in their marriage. Then a kitchen accident causes Louisa to wake up in the hospital with amnesia and an alter identity. With her memory gone, Louisa no longer identifies as a trophy wife and mother of three. Instead she believes she is Jazz Sweet–a renowned romance writer from Florida. This disruption of their normal lives allows both Louisa/Jazz and Collin to re-discover who they are, independently and in marriage, and to bring healing to the past in moving forward to a more lively future.

This fun narrative explores deep pain and real issues while managing to keep the tone uplifting, inspiring, and even humorous. The mystery surrounding Louisa’s dissociative personality is a bit predictable, but also realistic and healing. I enjoyed reading about how this fictitious couple reinvented their marriage while learning to live authentically and fully as themselves.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.