It’s that time of the year when we’re thinking about what to give family and friends this Christmas. If you love to read, or know someone on your gift-giving list who does, here are some book reviews. Please note that for majority of the books reviewed, a free advanced reader copy was given in exchange for posting an honest review on this blog and/or a retailer website.
• NIV, Beautiful Word Bible by Zondervan
This beautiful Bible includes 500 verses illustrated in full-color. Through the talent of seven artistic contributors, this Bible celebrates the beauty and creativity of all of us being God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). As mentioned in the letter from the Editor, the verses on display in this Bible were handpicked based on data research, provided by BibleGateway, through key verses online Bible readers searched most often. It was really neat to see how these verses come to life through the artistry. This Bible also provides wide margins to jot down notes, journal entries, or create your own artwork. I loved the style guide (font styles, colors chosen etc.) for this Bible. I envision this Bible being a great resource and I look forward to giving it to others, too.
• In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri J.M. Nouwen
This book is not a long read, but it is deep. This is a great book for anyone who wants to be challenged and inspired in their faith journey.
• Incense Rising: 60 Days To Powerful Prayer by Carolyn Dale Newell
When reading Carolyn Newell’s devotional, I found that her book complimented my Bible reading plan; this included the scripture verses and themes I had read that morning. Even more so, Newell’s devotional is inspiring as she shares some of her life experiences. Newell has insight and clarity into scripture in ways that are beyond her years.
• Your Powerful Prayers: Reaching the Heart of God with a Bold and Humble Faith by Susie Larson
This was my first time reading a book written by Susie Larson, as I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced reader copy from the publisher. I found ‘Your Powerful Prayers’ to be practical as well as passionate. Larson equips the reader with what the Apostle Paul refers to in Ephesians 6:10-20 as the armor of God. This armor is what Christians are called to figuratively put on daily through prayer and through the reading of scripture. Even though there is a DVD study that accompanies this book, which I haven’t watched yet, I was still able to learn a lot from just reading ‘Your Powerful Prayers.’
• 41 Will Come: Holding on When Life Gets Tough — and Standing Strong Until a New Day Dawns by Chuck E. Tate
’41 Will Come’ is an inspiring and uplifting book that will help you go after the dreams God has placed on your heart. Pastor Chuck writes with humor, grace, wisdom, and insight. Focusing on Scripture, this book has a great balance of personal reflection, poignant testimonies, and practical teaching. #41WillCome will inspire you to believe that #41HasCome in your life!
• Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow with A.J. Gregory
Life is filled with many ups and downs. In Tim Tebow’s new book, he shares about what he’s learned, and continues to learn, from his college and pro-football days. Throughout the book, Tebow also shares stories of others who have walked through setbacks, only to see that God was using it to move their calling in a new direction. If you are looking for a book that will remind you of who you are in Christ then read ‘Shaken.’
• Embracing the Race by Lisa Preuett
Do you have a love for running, or any other type of sport that requires extensive physical training? If you do then you will enjoy Lisa Preuett’s infectious passion for running and how it relates to our faith. Her new book conveys a positive, encouraging, message of hope in the midst of whatever race you might be figuratively, or literally, running in life. If you are looking for a devotional that will help you run the race of faith well – focusing on Scripture and Jesus – then this book is for you!
• Fallen: A Biblical Story of Good and Evil by Melinda Inman
Fallen is a well-researched fictional account based on the scriptures, and it includes an in-depth Bible study. Just like its sequel, Refuge, this novel presents many foundational truths regarding salvation and redemption. It contains descriptive storytelling, with great character development. Fallen, just like Refuge, will challenge the reader to think authentically about their faith.
• Manhattan Grace by Clarice James
God is constantly working behind the scenes, refining us, in order to transform us to be more like His graceful and grace-filled image. Unmerited favor was a consistent theme throughout Manhattan Grace. A must read for anyone who wants to recount the times God has orchestrated the delicate details of their life together for good, and for His glory.
• Double Header by Clarice James
With the crack of a bat, everything can change in an instant. For some in life, it’s a foul ball. For others it’s a home run. Join the characters of Double Header to learn what a home run is really all about. This book is especially for you if you’re a baseball and/or Boston lover. After living in Massachusetts for seven years, I enjoyed the well-researched and finely detailed reminders of Boston and New England woven into this novel. Double Header is sketched with excellent character development, and dialogue, that will make you feel like you’re sitting on the sidelines watching this story unfold.
• Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past by Gail Johnson
Beautiful. Brilliant. Bold. These are the three words that came to mind as I read Gail Johnson’s new book. Beautiful because it’s written from the depths of her heart. Brilliant because it is genuinely told and includes powerful prayers, words of song and praise by Gail. And bold because of the amazing courage it takes to share a story like hers. If you have walked through a traumatic life experience and desire the abundant life that Jesus offers, this includes more freedom and peace of mind, then please read Gail’s timely treasure.
• Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy by Alli Worthington
Have you ever done something, only to realize halfway into it that you needed to reevaluate your priorities? That’s exactly what happened to me after reading ‘Breaking Busy.’
Along with reading God’s word on a daily basis, this quote from Alli’s book was one that resonated with me when making a decision to step back:
“God sometimes calls us to edit out something good in our lives to make room for something great.” – page 85
Alli’s writing style comes with ease, humor, and grace. Her book will leave you laughing at her, and even yourself. Breaking Busy is a short read which is great for any woman, or man, during any season of life. The book is also packed with great reminders of what it means to focus on the calling God has placed on your life, instead of focusing on all of the distractions or expectations around you.
Here are a couple more quotes that I liked:
“Embracing the season of life that we are in and the limitations that come with it helps us to break busy and live life at a saner, more sustainable pace.” – page 35
“Jesus promises us a spiritual sweet spot even within the world of crazy that surrounds us.” – page 37
• If: Trading Your If Only Experiences for God’s What If Possibilities by Mark Batterson
If. What comes to mind when you think of this two letter word?
Do positive or negative things come to mind? How about hopes and dreams? Or maybe it’s expectations, unforgiveness, or regret.
Whatever comes to mind ‘If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities’ focuses on Romans 8 which contains a very hopeful promise for believers in Christ. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good of those who love God. As Batterson explains, all things include poor choices and bad decisions we’ve made, past mistakes, pain, and even our regrets.
Throughout the book, Batterson exemplifies simple story-telling that is practical, and tangible, for the everyday reader.
For a young mom like myself, I enjoyed reading this book because it has 30 (relatively short) chapters. You can take your time reading this book, or turn it into a 30 day devotional.
“At the end of your life your greatest regret won’t be the things you did but wish you hadn’t. Your greatest regret will be the things you didn’t do but wish you had.”
“…fasting invites God’s favor. In God’s kingdom, fasting is the way you go faster, go further. It’s not a shortcut, but it is a moving sidewalk.” (page 46)
“Success involves risk beyond what most of us are willing to take, sacrifice beyond what most of us are willing to make.” (page 59)
“Just as the seasonal flu vaccine changes from year to year, God’s mercy changes from day to day. It’s a new strain of mercy.” (page 68)
If you want to be encouraged that God is for you, and reminded of the fact that He has great things in store for your life, then read this book.
• Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Imperfect Life by Michele Cushatt
Undone arrived in the mail at just the right time! I started reading it shortly after a major cross-country move.
In addition to my daily Bible reading plan, Michele’s book became a safe haven during a time of transformative transition.
Jam packed with stories – ranging from Michele’s cancer diagnosis to family life – that are articulated with compassion and vulnerability, Undone will leave you laughing one minute and crying the next.
Like a good friend joining you for some much needed girl time, this book will be the healing balm for whatever feels raw in your life. Undone will help you know that it is praiseworthy to be a constant work in progress.
For more book reviews please visit my Amazon book review page.
What books did you read in 2016? What books do you hope to read in 2017?