Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I received a copy of A YEAR WITH JESUS: DAILY READINGS AND REFLECTIONS ON JESUS’ OWN WORDS by R. P. Nettelhorst, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. This devotional follows 365 days, rather than certain months, so the reader can start it at any time. I find that helpful, so I do not have to wait until January 1. Each page includes a quote from the Bible and a few paragraphs of the author’s interpretation, taking you deeper into the words. The writing flows well, making it easy to read. I like to start my day with a reading while I lay in bed. It calms me after hearing the annoying buzz of my alarm clock. I also get to ponder each passage while I work throughout my day, and look forward to reading the next one. The passages are organized into different categories, such as Love and Hate, so I can ponder the entire section before moving on to the next.

This makes an excellent Christmas or New Year’s gift. My mother was delighted with my copy, which we share. I know that my grandmother and uncle would also this devotional. It is a great way to further bring Jesus into your day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I received a copy of AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER – THE PROMISE, PART ONE by Gene Luen Yang from Dark Horse Books. The television show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is still one of my favorites. I eagerly awaited it every week, and now I get to eagerly await THE PROMISE, PART TWO. PART ONE continues the storyline where the show left off – the four nations are being restored to harmony. The comic opens with Zuko’s concern over how many colonies the fire nation still has. Aang volunteers to peacefully remove them. The colonials do not want to return to the fire nation, however. Zuko faces a tough decision. He must decide to join Aang’s peace movement or leave the colonies as they are now.

The comic follows the same artwork, so it is like watching the show, but you can go back to read your favorite parts. The vivid pictures jump off the pages. It was fun inserting the voices from the television show to the characters. Best of all, the comic contains my favorite characters – Zuko, Mai, and Katara. The relationship between Aang and Katara continues. Of all the shows on television, their relationship is still my favorite, and it continues to blossom throughout this comic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I received a copy of THE GRACE EFFECT: HOW THE POWER OF ONE LIFE CAN REVERSE THE CORRUPTION OF UNBELIEF by Larry Alex Taunton from Thomas Nelson, via BookSneeze. As soon as I looked over the back cover, I was excited to start reading. The author, Larry Taunton, meets Sasha, an Ukrainian orphan. Atheistic theorists had shaped her, but with his guidance, she embraces God through the power of grace.

The book began a bit slow and dry. It felt more like a textbook, but the words were interesting, describing the goal of atheists , and leading into the debate about God, as driven by atheists versus Christians. From there, the story began, with Larry Taunton and his family in an airport. The actual story is well written enough to make you feel as if you are there with them. Larry Taunton writes with exhilarating voice and insight, bringing the people to life. Actual photographs are interspersed throughout the chapters, and each chapter begins with a quote from somewhere else, such as the Ukraine Travel Guide. Dialogue is woven amongst information, keeping the reading grounded in the truth behind the words. By the last page, I had tears in my eyes. It is definitely the type of book to pass on for others to read.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I received a copy of THE THREE TREES: A TRADITIONAL FOLKTALE by Elena Pasquali from Kregel Publications. Sophie Windham did the illustrations; they are colorful and intense, yet not too complex.
As someone with a degree in elementary education, I was excited to read the blurb on the back: A tale of hope and faith for Christmas, Easter, and always. There are not many picture books for children about Easter, so this will make a lovely addition to my library. As I read, I imagined different lesson plans to apply to the book. For example, the events could be researched in the Bible, and students could plant their own trees.

The story involves three trees. Two of the trees want more out of life, but the third is happy living on its hill. The first two trees are sad when they are not made into their dream jobs, but then realize they have greater purposes then they could have ever imagined. The first tree becomes the manger for baby Jesus, which ties in the Christmas aspect of the book. The second tree becomes a fishing boat that Jesus rides upon, and stills a storm. The third tree is also cut down. It becomes the cross Jesus is tied to, and after Jesus is seen alive again, the tree realizes it will “stand for ever, pointing to heaven. “ That ties in the Easter aspect.

After reading the book, I also read it to my young cousins. They enjoyed it, but as they aren’t too familiar with the Bible yet, they had difficulty linking it to Christmas, Easter, and Jesus. The book might be for older children, who already have a strong foothold in religion. My cousins were also confused about a few of the pictures. One cousin thought the people looked Amish, and another asked if they were pioneers. Overall, they liked the book enough to want to hear it over again, and one said she would ask for it for Christmas. This books is ideal for children and adults, so it makes a perfect story to read aloud.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I received a copy of THE ENCOUNTER: SOMETIMES GOD HAS TO INTERVENE by Stephen Afterburn, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. The book is about Jonathan Rush, a wealthy businessman in Florida who has never been able to deal with his mother’s abandonment. After a suicide attempt, he is advised to confront her in Alaska, the state he was born in, and finally put his rage behind him. He arrives in Fairbanks, Alaska, and begins tracking the woman who left him when he was four years old. Through a series of investigations that takes him from an orphanage to a burned cabin, Jonathan learns how to better communicate with people and realizes the value of friendship. Erica, a reporter, helps him on his way, as does an array of other complex characters. In the end, he learns the greatest gift he can give and receive is forgiveness. As I read the final chapter, tears sprang to my eyes. The book is both deep and touching. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the simplistic writing style. At times, I would have liked to see Jonathan’s emotion more, and some sentences seemed more telling rather than showing. I also figured out Mercy’s secret within a page of meeting her. Altogether, though, this is one of my new favorites.

It is less than two-hundred pages, so I was able to read it all in one evening. At the end, Stephen Afterburn included a discussion guide and the truth behind the story, for it is based on something real that happened to the author, adding another amazing level. I’ve already passed the book on to my dad. This is a perfect gift for family or friends.