Archive for the 'Non-Fiction' Category

Max Lucado – The GIFT for All People

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

The Gift

A New View on the Old Rugged Cross

Are peace, joy, and significance on your wish list? How about redemption, forgiveness, the salvation of your soul? Each of these descriptors bring us to the main event: grace. Saving grace, God’s immeasurable gift intended for all. Regardless of accomplishments or station in life, despite sins of the past, anyone can receive the free gift of grace.
Yet too often we take God’s incomparable gift for granted—despite the fact that God’s very Son paid for it with his body, breath, and blood. Understandably, we often find ourselves caught up in the daily routine of life, not taking time to reflect on the enormity of God’s mercy.
So here’s a suggestion: give yourself the gift of a few moments spent in the world of God’s grace. Read pastor Max Lucado’s unique, stirring insights into God’s role as grace-giver. Spend some time reflecting on the gift of grace, in all its magnificent meaning.
Let grace, the gift for all people, speak to you personally through these pages.
For All People—Even You

God loves you more than you can imagine.

Is that hard to believe? Many of us consider ourselves unworthy due to past sins and mistakes, wrong turns and missteps.,
But God’s gift of grace is limitless. Though we are undeserving, he offers grace. Though we are weak in our faith, he extends strength through grace. God’s endless grace is a free gift. It cannot be earned.
No matter who you are or what you’ve done, the all-powerful God waits for you to choose him, to choose life in his presence—here and in heaven.

“[God] simply wants you home with him. And to bring you home, he offers you a gift. My prayer is that through these pages you’ll see his gift like you’ve never seen it. If you’ve already accepted it, you’ll thank him again. And if you’ve never accepted it, you will. For it’s the gift of a lifetime, a gift for all people.”
—Max Lucado

My Comments:

This is a great devotional-type book. It’s easy to read, it has short chapters, and it’s a short book. Max Lucado is a prolific writer for good reason. I love every book I’ve read by him, this one included. The first half of the book focuses on Jesus – how He came. The second half deals with Jesus as well – why He came. The whole book deals with how he feels about us – His great love. God’s grace is hard for us to comprehend. This book full of short stories gives us a little more understanding. I recommend it. The book is short and an easy read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

5 Habits

Have you ever gotten to the place where you just couldn’t take it anymore?

Dreams. Programs. Jobs. Relationships. There are so many different areas where we feel like calling it quits.

It’s time for an honest conversation on how not to give in to the temptation to give up.

Nicki Koziarz is a woman who has thrown in the towel a time or two. In fact, she’s quit just about everything in her life. But with God’s help, she’s discovered a few habits that have helped her and others conquer the choice to quit.

5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit will enable you to:
Evaluate the internal personal struggles that make you want to quit.
Cultivate consistent habits to help you progress toward your goals.
Receive a fresh dose of perspective from the Bible that will help you develop perseverance.
You are not made to quit! Join Nicki as she identifies five habits to help you keep going no matter what struggles may come your way.

My Comments: I have been there – I was a quitter. I still quit at times. I just can’t do all that I want to do. Sometimes that is not a good thing, however, that is why I was interested in this book, especially since it is based on the Biblical character of Ruth. The author is very honest in her struggles, which I could relate to. I think this book encouraged me to wait a little longer before quitting. It also helped me to understand people who give up on things I’m interested in or involved in before giving it half a chance.

This is a great book for young mothers who need to set a good example for their children — not to give up and quit something that may seem very difficult.

I bought this book on Audible and enjoyed listening to it each day as I drove to work. I also received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

My Picture Perfect Family by Marguerite Elision

Sunday, April 17th, 2016


picture perfect family

What Happens When One Twin Has Autism

By Marguerite Elisofon

In their family photos, the Elisofons look like they stepped out of a Hollywood movie—handsome father, beautiful mother, adorable son hugging his twin sister as she beams a radiant smile. The reality was quite different.

Out of the 11,600 children who were born today, some 171 will be diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Receiving this news can be heartbreaking for parents whose fondest wish is to have a healthy child. Marguerite and Howard Elisofon were first alarmed, and then overwhelmed, when their daughter Samantha was diagnosed as being on the Spectrum. The family’s struggle to understand ASDs and find the optimal interventions—in the days before internet resources and autism parenting groups—are at the heart of the compelling memoir MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY: What Happens When One Twin has Autism by Marguerite Elisofon (Central Park Publishers; April 4, 2016).

Marguerite and Howard Elisofon eagerly anticipated starting a family. After receiving medical help to conceive, Marguerite joyfully found herself pregnant with twins. Born after only 33 weeks, Samantha’s introduction to the world was much more challenging than her brother’s. The differences between the twins continued to escalate after they left the hospital. The Elisofon’s overly sensitive infant daughter grew into a toddler who fell further and further behind her twin in language and cognitive development. Finally, at the urging of family members, they sought professional help and received the diagnosis they feared—their daughter was on the Autistic Spectrum.

MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY paints an engaging and at times heart-wrenching picture of the courage it takes to raise and advocate for a child who is far more than the sum of her ever-shifting diagnosis. Elisofon details the therapies, treatments, school searches and day-to-day victories of a little girl who so desperately wanted to fit into a world that didn’t understand her. She shares the considerable challenges met by the entire family including Samantha’s twin brother, Matthew. And she reveals the eventual triumphs as Samantha grows into a young woman who discovers a hidden gift for singing and pursues a college degree.

ASDs are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States with an increase in diagnoses from 1 in 150 in 2000 to 1 in 68 in 2016 (1 in 42 for boys). Elisofon’s memoir is a stark reminder of the human being behind the diagnosis and the important work we must do in order to offer these children and young adults their best and brightest future.

What Happens When One Twin has Autism
Marguerite Elisofon
Central Park Publishers; April 4, 2016
$14.95; 276 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938595-04-2

My Comments: I loved this book! Our school houses the autistic population in our district, and I, myself, have had a couple of high functioning autistic children in my second grade class. I found this book extremely informative from the families point of view. I feel that the Elisofons were very fortunate to be able to afford all of the help they were able to provide for their daughter. It was very enlightening to read about all the help available and how it actually helped (or didn’t). Also, since Samatha and Matthew were twins, I loved reading Matthew’s point of view and feelings. I could definitely relate to the mom, Marguerite. The marriage of Marguerite and Howard was very strong, even with all of the challenges a special needs child brings to the plate. I highly recommend this book to families dealing with autism and/or other special needs children.

The Duck Commander Devotional for Couples by Al and Lisa Robertson

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

duck devotional

With the ongoing popularity of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, the much-loved Robertson family has more to share about family, faith, and love than ever before. Alan (the beardless brother) and his wife Lisa have created a devotional combining their hard-won wisdom about love and marriage to help bring couples closer together and closer to God.

Alan and Lisa Robertson had a failing marriage. But with unwavering faith and the unconditional love of their ever-present family, they got through the tough times and rekindled their love. Now the Robertsons want to share what they’ve learned. Combining the spiritual with the practical, The Duck Commander Devotional for Couples has a simple purpose: to bring couples closer to God and to each other. Designed with busy couples in mind, this devotional encourages husbands and wives to set aside time weekly to enhance their relationship. Spending spiritually meaningful time together every day is often impossible, but Al and Lisa arranged this devotional with realistic goals, allowing you to experience success and the desire to meet together regularly.

Each devotional includes inspirational messages, relevant scriptures, thoughtful questions, and prayer suggestions. Whether you are happy in your marriage or struggling to hold it together, setting aside time to focus on each other and deepen your connections will improve your relationship and bring you closer to God.

My Comments: I like the way this book is laid out. There are weekly devotionals with some food for thought, a scripture, thought-provoking questions, and a space for the husband to write a reflection and a space for the wife to write a reflection. I wish my husband and I would have had something like this early on in our marriage. Some of the topics include Uniqueness, Promises, Prayer, Love, Forgiveness, Communication, The Holy Spirit, Trust, Friendship, and many more. There is a devotional for every week of one year. This is a great resource for Christian couples.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Sharks and Dolphins (A Compare and Contrast Book) by Kevin Kurtz

Sunday, February 7th, 2016


Sharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

My Comments: This is a beautiful read for children. The pictures are outstanding. The text is simple enough for my second graders to enjoy. We used this book as part of our research for informational writing on sharks, and it gave us some good information. I like the way it is a compare/contrast book discussing the similarities and differences between the two animals. Different types of the two animals were highlighted. In the back of the book there is a sections entitled, “For Creative Minds.” This section gives even more information about sharks and dolphins. Arboreal provides great non-fiction texts for children. I highly recommend them!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Saturday, January 16th, 2016


About the book: In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, you’ll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work. You’re not stuck with the brain you’re born with. Renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes cutting-edge reseach and the latest surprising, effective “brain prescriptions” that can help heal your brain and change your life:
To quell anxiety and panic:
Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil
To fight depression:
Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
To curb anger:
Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage
To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus:
Develop total focus with the One-Page Miracle
To stop obsessive worrying:
Follow the “get unstuck” writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises.

My Comments: Since suffering with depression in the past and dealing with people with all sorts of mental issues, this book appealed to me on several levels. I found a lot of helpful information which is worth giving a try, including ways to boost your memory and learning how to focus. I’ve had issues with these for year. Also getting rid of negative thoughts will be helpful to me. I can’t wait to give some of the suggestions a try!

Lazarus Awakening Bible Study and DVD by Joanna Weaver

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Lazarus Awakening

Do you feel trapped in a tomb of regret, doubt, or fear?
Are you tripped up by patterns and behaviors you need to leave behind?

Just as Jesus called Lazarus from darkness, He is calling you to come out of the false beliefs and habits that keep you from receiving His unconditional love. He is calling you to know deep in your spirit that God not only loves the world—He loves you.

It’s time to “come forth!”

Journey to the Tomb of Lazarus…and Hear Jesus Call Your Name

Mary worshiped. Martha served. But what did Lazarus do to experience Jesus’s lavish love?

Filmed in the Holy Land, this DVD companion to Joanna Weaver’s book Lazarus Awakening explores the incredible truth that Jesus loves us apart from our works or our worthiness. He wants to call us out of our tombs and into friendship with Him.

Designed for use with the book and companion study guide, this three-disc DVD Bible study is formatted for both individual and group use, with content suitable for both men and women.
· In-depth Bible study: Features eight 15- to 17-minute video sessions.
· Bonus “Israel Moment” videos explore the life of Christ and the Holy Land.
· Designed for use with the study guide and book.
· Leader’s guide, promotional material, and retreat format included.

My Comments: This is a great Bible study. I was hooked when I read in the introduction that Weaver wrote this study to shake us out of our complacency and call us into the abundant life Christ meant for us to have. The DVD sessions are a good length and beautifully filmed. I am going to suggest this for our women. It would be a great study and/or retreat. The scenery really adds to the content of the studies. I loved her study on Mary and Martha and I love this study on Lazarus! Come forth!

I received a free copy of this study from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by Reba Riley

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015


About the book: An important inspirational debut, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is much more than a memoir about reclaiming faith and overcoming chronic illness. Written with humor and personality, it tackles the universal struggle to heal what life has broken. This is a book for questioners, doubters, misfits, and seekers of all faiths; for the spiritual, the religious, and the curious.

Reba Riley’s twenty-ninth year was a terrible time to undertake a spiritual quest. But when untreatable chronic illness forced her to her metaphorical (and physical) derriere on her birthday, Reba realized that even if she couldn’t fix her body, she might be able to heal her injured spirit. And so began a yearlong journey to recover from her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by visiting thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. During her spiritual sojourn, Reba:

-Was interrogated by Amish grandmothers about her sex life
-Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple
-Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement
-Fasted for thirty days without food—or wine
-Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom
-Was audited by Scientologists
-Learned to meditate with an urban monk, sucked mud in a sweat lodge with a suburban shaman, and snuck into Yom Kippur with a fake grandpa in tow
-Discovered she didn’t have to choose religion to choose God—or good

For anyone who has ever longed for transformation of body, mind, or soul, but didn’t know where to start, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome reminds us that sometimes we have to get lost to get found.

My comments: I did not really enjoy this book. I am very sorry that Reba Riley (no relation) had a rough experience in church, but I can’t relate to what she went through. Honestly, I could only get half way through the book. This is my honest opinion.

The Sweet Side of Suffering by Esther Lovejoy

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

sweet side of suffering

About the book: Suffering is often a reality you don’t choose. However, you do have a choice in how to respond to it. In The Sweet Side of Suffering, M. Esther Lovejoy explores the character of God to help you find a response that can sweeten the bitter waters of suffering.

In an engaging way, she shares biblical truths and practical insights from her own experiences. She says, “In the brightness of good times we often miss some of the most wonderful and intimate details of God, but against the blackness of suffering we see pinpoints of light that we never noticed before.”

Through her message of hope and encouragement, M. Esther Lovejoy helps you gain a better understanding of God’s love and provision and reveals how you can taste the sweetness of His peace. Discover how you can follow the light of His Word even in the darkness of life’s most painful circumstances.

My Comments: This book piqued my interest because the author, Esther Lovejoy, has a similar background to mine. She was a pastor’s wife and involved in ministry for many years. This is where our similarity ends. Her husband was involved in life and game changing sin and her life completely changed. Although I have not experienced this, I find it happens way too often and I’m interested in how these people cope and continue to trust, love, and serve God. Mrs. Lovejoy is definitely a role model and has a lot to say for women who have suffered in this way, as well as to women who have suffered serious financial loss.

Actually, very often I get tired of the idea that Christians don’t suffer and that ALL things always work out for good in THIS life, because I don’t find that true. Life is hard. Period. Many of us suffer – either physically, emotionally, mentally, or all of the above. I for one find comfort in a book like this. It helps me discover who the complete God is — and that He can and does meet my needs, maybe not in the way I would choose, but always in the way that is best for me and causes me to be more like Him.

This book is easy to read and packed full of useful information.

Thank you Ms. Lovejoy, Discovery House Publishers, and NetGalley for this book. I received it free in exchange for my honest review which I have given. Love the cover!!

If You Find this Letter a memoir by Hannah Brencher

Monday, March 9th, 2015

if you find


A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher—founder of The World Needs More Love Letters—who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world.

Fresh out of college, Hannah Brencher moved to New York, expecting her life to look like a scene from Sex and the City. Instead, she found a city full of people who knew where they were going and what they were doing and didn’t have time for a girl still trying to figure it all out. Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange—she wrote the woman a letter. She folded it, scribbled “If you find this letter, it’s for you…” on the front and left it behind.

When she realized that it made her feel better, she started writing and leaving love notes all over the city—in doctor’s offices, in coat pockets, in library books, in bathroom stalls. Feeling crushed within a culture that only felt like connecting on a screen, she poured her heart out to complete strangers. She found solace in the idea that her words might brighten someone’s day.

Hannah’s project took on a life of its own when she made an offer on her blog: She would handwrite a note and mail it to anyone who wanted one. Overnight, her inbox exploded with requests from people all over the world. Nearly 400 handwritten letters later, she started the website, The World Needs More Love Letters, which quickly grew.

There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era. If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world—and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started.

My Comments: Usually I don’t care for this genre, and this one isn’t so different. It was just ok for me. I love the idea of writing love letters though, so I gave it a chance. I’m glad this has turned into a website and type of “movement.” Many people are lonely and someone going out of their way to write a letter telling these people that they matter is a very useful and caring idea. We are beginning to lost the personal touch in our culture, and love letters helps bridge the gap.

Basically the book is about a girl trying to find her way. It takes us through her later teenage years and early twenties. We delve into some of her relationships, I especially enjoyed reading about Hannah’s relationship with her mom. If you want to check out her website try this: If you want to know more about the author, Hannah Brencher, try the book.