Friday, January 27, 2012

"Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go" Review

For everything there is a season. A season for joy. A season for sorrow. A season for testing.

About the book:
Jemima “Jem” Perkins has it all – money, a fine house, a handsome husband, and a new baby boy. But when her family fortunes turn, Jem’s husband Seth leads her to a new home: a sod house on a Nebraska homestead.

It is a season of growth for Jem as she reluctantly confronts her new realities: back-breaking labor, dangerous illness, and mind-numbing isolation. She learns to embrace her new role as a capable woman and marriage partner and discovers an awareness of God’s hand in her life.

Then, on January 12, 1888, the history-making Children’s Blizzard sweeps across the land, ushering in a season of hardship she never expected. Can Jem’s confidence, marriage, and new-found faith weather the storm?

My Take:
Stories that take place on the newly-settled prairie in the 1800’s are among my favorites, as I have mentioned here on my blog before. This novel is even based on true events that occured during a horrific blizzard in the Midwest in January of 1888.
What I enjoyed about this book was what I always enjoy in prairie novels: people overcoming hardships and becoming stronger because of them. I also enjoy the simpler lifestyle, even though their lives as a whole are harder. The growth that Jem does over the course of this book is phenomenal. She starts off as a spoiled little rich girl, but she ends up enduring the worst the untamed prairie can dish out, all the while relying on God as her strength.
While I did enjoy this novel, it was difficult to read, too. It was so heartbreaking at times, and I was quite often disappointed in the actions of Jem’s husband, Seth. While being extremely interesting historically, this is not a comfortable story to read. Hard questions are asked, faith is challenged, and the ending is not happily-ever-after. (I am hoping there is a sequel to this in the works, because there seemed to be a lot of things left hanging. A lot.)
Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go is a true look into the lives, both good and bad, of men and women who were pioneers in the 19th Century.
I will give it 3 ½ BookWorms.



For more information about this book, including an excerpt and a fun quiz, visit the author’s book page at:  http://naomidathan.com/whither/




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kirkdale Press and LibraryThing Early Reviewers as an electronic book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Bible Study on 1 Peter: Week 3


Week 3:


1 Peter 2: 4-10

"Rejoice that you Rock!"

Here is the question from the publisher that I am going to answer today:

Have you ever been given a nick name by someone close to you? How did that term of endearment make you feel? In 1 Peter 2:9 you are called by not one but four names:
  • A chosen people
  • A royal presthood
  • A holy nation
  • A people belonging to God
Which one of these speaks the most to you and why?

When I was 2 or 3-years old, my mom dressed me up as a cowgirl for Halloween, and Dad took me around the neighborhood Trick-or-Treating. Ever since then, Dad has called me "Cowgirl." It makes me feel special that my dad uses a nickname that is only for me. The name has endured, too. Even though I am now much older than 3 (not going to say how much older!), Dad still uses his special nickname for me.

God uses 4 special names for believers and the church in 1 Peter, which shows his great love for us. It also shows that he has a plan and a design for us as individuals and as a people. The name "chosen people" means the most to me, because of the "chosen" part. God chose us to be used for His glory. We should follow Him and be the kind of people that please God.


Join me next week as we study 1 Peter 2:11-25:  "Shadow the Servant."

You can read my thoughts on previous weeks of this study here:
Week 1
Week 2

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge" Blog Tour & Giveaway

 
About the Book:

Strengthen the core of your life and faith on a year-long journey with beloved Super Bowl–winning former head coach Tony Dungy! The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge contains 365 reflections from the #1 New York Times bestselling author on living an “uncommon life” of integrity, honoring your family and friends, creating a life of real significance and impact, and walking with the Lord. This year, step up to the challenge—and dare to be uncommon every day.

Go to http://www.tyndale.com/ for more information about this book and others from Tyndale.

About the Authors: 
<><><><><>           
Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Quiet StrengthUncommon, and The Mentor Leader. He led the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl victory on February 4, 2007, the first such win for an African American head coach. Dungy established another NFL first by becoming the first head coach to lead his teams to the playoffs for ten consecutive years.

Dungy joined the Colts in 2002 after serving as the most successful head coach in Tampa Bay Buccaneers' history. He has also held assistant coaching positions with the University of Minnesota, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings. Before becoming a coach, Dungy played three seasons in the NFL.

Dungy has been involved in a wide variety of charitable organizations, including All Pro Dad, Abe Brown Ministries, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Athletes in Action, Mentors for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Boys & Girls Clubs. He also works with Basket of Hope, Impact for Living, the Black Coaches Association National Convention, Indiana Black Expo, the United Way of Central Indiana, and the American Diabetes Association.

He retired from coaching in 2009 and now serves as a studio analyst for NBC's Football Night in America. He and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of seven children.
For more about Tony Dungy and the "Uncommon Life Challenge," visit http://www.coachdungy.com/.
<><><><><>         
Nathan Whitaker
Nathan Whitaker is an attorney who lives in Florida with his wife and two daughters. He graduated from Harvard Law School and has worked in football administration for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His firm currently represents NFL and college coaches.

My Take:
Since this devotional book is geared towards men, I had my husband read this one, too, and he is the one providing the content for this review. 
This book is a one year devotional book by Super Bowl winning head coach Tony Dungy.  It focuses on seven principles: Core, Family, Friends, Potential, Mission, Influence, and Faith.  Each day of the week is devoted to one principle.  Each week, the cycle repeats.  Each devotional starts with a verse, has a page of personal insight from Tony Dungy, and ends with a statement to carry with you for the rest of the day.
As far as a daily devotional goes, this one is pretty good.  Tony has some interesting insights and great stories to use as examples to illustrate biblical principles.  The lessons taught (and hopefully learned) are excellent for the daily Christian life, and an excellent way to lead “an uncommon life”.
Having said that, I would offer a brief word of caution.  This book relies heavily on Tony’s life for examples.  Not surprising, many of his stories are sports related.  That shouldn’t come as a surprise, but if you are not into sports, perhaps you should find a different book.  Also, I found that reading a different topic each day was a bit distracting for me.  I personally would have preferred to have one topic for a week, with a seven week cycle instead of a seven day cycle.  This would have allowed me to focus on one topic for a week rather than just for a day.  But, this is a daily devotional and is what many people prefer.
Overall, this was a good book and one that I would recommend for those looking for a daily devotional and don’t mind (or are even looking for) a sports lean. 


The Giveaway:  I have a certificate to give away for a free copy of this book! Please fill out the form below for a chance to win. The contest begins now and will run through Tuesday, January 31st. I will announce the winner on Wednesday, February 1st. Good luck!
Congratulations to the winner of "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge" book ...


Mary S.


I will send an email to the winner with instructions on how to claim your prize.


Thansk to everyone who entered!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bible Study on 1 Peter: Week 2

Week 2:

1 Peter 1:13 - 2:3

So far so good on getting my Bible study done! I hope I can keep it up. It definitely helps having a blogging 'deadline.'

This week I am going to be talking about two questions from the publisher.

Here is the first:

Core One talks about getting ready, first with our minds. Sue directs us to 1 Corinthians 2:12-16. Based on these verses, why is it important to start with our minds? What other verses in the Bible speak to this? 
  • I'm going to answer the first part of this question by quoting what the author of this study says in a later question:  "Peter begins with the mind because how we think determines how we feel and ultimately how we behave."
    • This may seem backwards to some, especially since the current worldview relies so much on feelings and how whatever you are feeling should determine how you think and act.
    • It is easy to get caught up in our emotions, but God wants us to think on Him and His Word first, which will give us strength to act as we should.
  • In Matthew 22:37-39, Christ told us that loving God wholeheartedly, including with our minds, is important.
  • Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of ours minds so that we can determine what pleases God.
  • Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy and that the God of peace will be with us.
Here is the second question:

Fun! We get to talk about chocolate... What is your favorite food? Something you crave and thoroughly savor. On a more serious note, how do you learn to crave and savor God's Word?
  • Now, I enjoy chocolate, but anyone who knows me well knows that I am a true Southern gal when it comes to craving food. My favorite food is biscuits and gravy. You heard me right. I blame my grandmother for making the best biscuits of all time. :)
  • Peter said in 1 Peter 2:2 that we should crave pure spiritual milk so that we may grow up in our salvation. If we don't eat and drink and take care of our bodies, we will not grow and thrive physically. If we don't learn about Christ and what we need to do to be followers of Him, how are we going to grow spiritually?
  • I know that if I go for a long time without my favorite foods, I will want it even more. But, I think this is the opposite from craving God's Word. I think if you go for a long time without it, you can become callous to the realization that you need it. This might not always be true, but it has been true for me in the past. The more you read and study and spend time with Him, the more you want to know about God and His Word and you crave it even more.
  • Do you agree with me on this? I can actually see it going both ways. I just know for me I 'miss' my time with God a lot more when I have been consistent with prayer and study rather than when I have been distant.
Join me next week as we study 1 Peter 2:4-10, "Rejoice That You Rock."

Read my thoughts from previous weeks here:

Week 1

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bible Study on 1 Peter: Week 1

Kregel Publications recently offered me the opportunity to do a 9-week blog tour revolving around a Bible study on the book of 1 Peter. I thought it would be a good way to start off my devotions for the year, so I jumped at the chance.

Over the next nine weeks, join me every Friday for a short review of this study that is directed to women. We are going through the study book, 1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times by Sue Edwards.


About the Book:

The letter of 1 Peter was heard by women who knew times like these. This newest addition to the Sue Edwards Inductive Bible Study series digs into 1 Peter and takes a look at the stories of real women—past and present—to teach today’s woman how to stand faithful to God regardless of her trials, however severe.   
Click here for more information on this study.

About the Author:  Sue Edwards (MA, Dallas Theological Seminary; D.Min., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) teaches full-time in the Christian Education Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has more than twenty-five years of experience teaching, pastoring, and directing women's ministries. In addition, Sue speaks at retreats, conferences, and seminars across the country. She is the coauthor of Women's Retreats and New Doors in Ministry to Women, and the author of the new Sue Edwards Inductive Bible Study series.

Week 1:

I really enjoyed my introduction into this study and to the book of 1 Peter. I've not done an in-depth study of this book, and I am looking forward to it. Plus, committing to blogging about this study every week will keep me accountable!

Each week I will answer a few questions that have been offered by the publisher during the blog tour.

·  This study (and all Sue Edwards studies) offer three levels so you can choose which level of study fits your lifestyle. As you start this study, how do you plan to use the three levels? Which level are you committing to for the next nine weeks?

     Here are the levels this question is referring to:
  • The “core” questions (designated by 1, 2, 3, etc.) require a total of about an hour and a half of weekly study time, yet provide a basic understanding of the text. For busy women, this level offers in-depth Bible study with a minimum time commitment.
  • The “digging deeper” questions require outside resources such as an atlas, Bible dictionary, and concordance. This level will challenge you to learn more about the history, culture, and geography related to the Bible. You will also be looking up parallel passages for additional insight.
  • The “summit” questions are for those who want to probe the text even more deeply. These questions grapple with complex theological issues and differing views. You’re encouraged to investigate deeper by using an interlinear Greek-English text and Vine’s Expository Dictionary on your own. Also, you may create outlines, charts, and essays in seminary-style open-ended assignments. Some with teaching gifts and an interest in advanced academics will enjoy exploring the “summit.”

For this study, I am committing to completing the "core" questions as well as some of the "digging deeper" questions. I'm not quite ready for the "summit!"

·  1 Peter 1: 3-5 reveals the amazing riches God provides for His children. Which blessing and benefit most touched you as you read these verses? How do those blessings prepare you for whatever trials you may face?
  • Living hope through Christ - What an awesome blessing to know that my hope is in Christ. And not only is my hope in Jesus who died for my sins, but my hope is in Jesus who rose from the dead and is alive! He is living and active, and he will give me strength.
  • Shielded by God's power - It is both humbling and hopeful to know that God protects me. Knowing that He is powerful and that He has given me His protection makes me realize that whatever may come, it will be for His glory.
So, that's Week 1 in 1 Peter! Feel free to join me each week for this study, and please leave comments to let me know what you think!
--Shoopette

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"The Keeper" Blog Tour & Contest

About the book:

Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she knows who is to blame:  perpetual bachelor and spreader of cold feet, Roman Troyer, the Bee Man.

Roamin' Roman travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. He relishes his nomadic life, which keeps him from thinking about all he has lost. He especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia on a mission to punish him for inspiring Paul's cold feet, the Lapp farm is looking decidedly less pleasant.

Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?



About Suzanne:

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania, as well as to Ohio, a couple of times each year for research.


Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found on-line at:
www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.


My Take:

When I first received this book for review, I had no idea what "The Keeper" was referring to. When I found out it was about a beekeeper who visits Amish farms so that his bees can pollinate their orchards, I was fascinated. I had never heard of that before, and I was interested in the Bee Man's history.

The story is told from the point of view of each of the many characters in this book, but it was fairly easy to keep everything straight. I always enjoy getting to see what is happening from the perspectives of both of the main characters, and this book took that a step farther by including the other characters. I especially liked that the 'voice' of M.K. was just right for an eleven year old.

I enjoyed The Keeper very much. Amish fiction as a genre is definitely growing on me, and this book helped that cause a lot. It was easy to read, it kept my interest, and I liked the characters. The ending was bittersweet (and pretty difficult for me to read), but I respect the author for deciding to have the story go that way.

I look forward to reading more about the Lapp family from Stoney Ridge in the next books in this series.

I will give The Keeper ... 4 BookWorms




Buy The Keeper here.


About the Contest:

Suzanne is hosting a "honey of a giveaway"during the blog tour for The Keeper!

During 1/3-1/17 you can enter to win an iPad2 from Suzanne and connect with her on January 17th at The Keeper Facebook Party!







During the giveaway one Grand Prize winner will receive a Prize Pack valued at
$600:


  • A brand new 16 KB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • A $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of The Keeper
But wait there's more! Just click one of the icons below to enter, then on 1/17 join Suzanne for The Keeper Facebook Party! During the party Suzanne will announce the winner of the "Honey" of an iPad Giveaway and host a fun book chat and give away some fun "honey" inspired prizes - It'll be 'sweet"!


RSVP early and tell your friends!
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your
friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your
chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 17th!





Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishing through Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"When the Heart Cries" Review

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall was sent to me as a review copy by WaterBrook Press through their Blogging for Books program. It is the first book in the “Sisters of the Quilt” series by this author.
Seventeen-year-old Hannah Lapp, raised in an Old Order Amish family, has done the unthinkable:  she has fallen in love with a Mennonite. Paul Waddell is in love with her as well, and he has asked Hannah to marry him as soon as he finishes his final year in college.
But everything comes crashing down after a traumatic event, and all Hannah thought she knew is destroyed. This event leads to questions that the Old Order ways cannot answer, and Hannah risks losing her family and even her one true love.

Read an excerpt from this book here.
This first book in the “Sister of the Quilt” series by Cindy Woodsmall was published several years ago, but it became available again for review at Blogging for Books. Since I have read a couple of other books by this author, I thought I would see how I liked this Amish series.
I thought this book was written well because, even though I didn’t exactly relate to the characters, I was still able to feel their emotions and their experiences. This can be seen as a positive (and I do think it is a positive thing to be able to feel what the characters feel), but this can also be a negative. Because this book deals with some difficult subjects, it was sometimes really hard to read. It was depressing at times, and I was extremely frustrated with the way this Amish community related to each other.
Even though I thought this book was written well, there was just an overall feel to it that bothered me. The community and Hannah’s family were extremely harsh, and this decreased my enjoyment of the book. There was no spirit of forgiveness among this community, especially for something that wasn’t even Hannah’s fault.
There were a few characters that I did enjoy. Paul, Mary, and Matthew seemed to be the only characters in the book that had any compassion at all. I was also interested in the story, even though the characters (especially Hannah's father) sometimes frustrated me to no end.  
It’s hard for me to say for sure whether I liked this book or not. Is it fair for me to say that I didn’t like a book because I disliked some of the characters? To me, that is the sign of a well-written book – the author has crafted a story that makes me empathize with the main character and feel her frustrations. But, at the same time, the book was sometimes difficult to read because of the harshness of the characters.
Although I had mixed feelings about this book, the story (even the parts that were harsh) is compelling, and I am interested to see where the next books in the series take us.
I will give When the Heart Cries … 3 BookWorms.





Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press through their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."