Wednesday, May 25, 2016

VIP by O.S. Hawkins

Very Influential Person
O.S. Hawkins
(Thomas Nelson 2016)  

I was interested and curious about this little book when I saw it on Thomas Nelson's website. So I took a chance, and it was a good call.

VIP: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose is not a quick read. It is a book that is designed to read a portion, research the passages mentioned, and let it stew and marinate in the mind.

Each of us carry a narcissistic flair within. We want to be important. We want people to like us. We want to influence others. 

In this book it shows us how to find that sphere of influence that God had assigned just for us.

O.S. Hawkins uses a combination of life stories, Biblical stories, history, and literature to prove his point in each category. He really takes a different approach to the well known acronym, VIP. He challenges the reader to live not in pursuit of importance but to influence others toward eternal significance.

This wasn't a quick read; I did find it tedious and a book to read as though I were studying a course, which in a way was what it was like. After quickly reading through it, I will now go through it piece by piece, day by day, making notes, highlighting, and applying what I have read.

This makes a great gift and I recommend it as a different type of nonfiction book. Not quite a devotional, not quite a memoir or biography, but definitely an outstanding "self-help" book. 

***I received this book through Thomas Nelson's Booklookbloggers in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Surrender to Peace by Rose Allen McCauley

Surrender to Peace
(Olivia Kimbrell Press 2015) 

~~"I had to come to the point of total surrender, giving up what I wanted, and being willing to accept whatever He wanted..."~~(Ramona p.58)

The book brought this line to life. An easy read that wasn't about conflicts. It wasn't about a whirlwind romance. It wasn't about fighting against God's will.

It was a love story--a sweet and simple love story about surrendering your heart.

As I read Joy's and Benigno's story, I came to realize that another love story was unfolding--God's love story.

As the words breezed into my mind, as I pictured myself on the beaches and streets of Puerto Rico, peace settled over me. 

And the title says it all "Surrender to Peace". Only then can love shine and the voice of God be heard.

If you want a sweet, timeless love story written in the vein of Henry van Dyke, then Rose Allen McCauley brought one to you. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

NKJV Study Bible

New King James Version
Study Bible
Personal Size, Softcover
(Thomas Nelson 2016)
I normally would not review a Bible for my blog, but I have to say, I really enjoy this one.
I've only had one study Bible in my life, and that was a student study Bible ASV. Eventually it fell apart, as in Acts kept acting up and falling out.
So I was delighted to receive this Bible for review. And I am hooked on delving further into God's word!

What makes this one so different? Although I love to read the King James Version, I do prefer the simpler syntax of our time; hence, the New King James Version. Same content, same meaning...just in our speech pattern of today.
But what else does this Bible contain? History! Inserts are included throughout that gives insight to the history and culture of that time. Face it, we today are not like them of yesteryear. We, those who are not historians, do not know much of their culture back then, especially the Israeli and Jewish culture. Knowing and understanding how they lived helps in understanding more of why they behaved as they did or made decisions as they did, etc. 
Another plus is the archeological facts that actually help prove the Bible and the people of the Bible existed. Case in point: King Shalmaneser is the first Assyrian king to come into direct contact with Israel. Although he is not mentioned in 2 Chronicles during the reign of Ahab, a reference of him is found on an inscription where Jehu, son of Omri, is mentioned paying tribute.
This is one in many points of interest. There are many bonuses in this study Bible such as: timelines, maps, paintings, photos, archeological finds and the history behind it, culture explanations, and one of my favorites: comparison charts.
Hosea and Gomer's relationship is drawn as a parallelism to God and Israel. The story of Esther and her sacrifice for her people is compared to Christ and His sacrifice for mankind.
At the bottom are more in depth writing to further explain what you read or what many theologians think the Scripture passage refers to or is about. Between the columns are the standard references that help you book-hop where Scripture reinforces Scripture.
The only downside to this book is that while it is a personal size Bible, the typeset is more condense. I would have preferred the hardback or at least leather (pleather) cover. And the weight come in about 2.7 pounds.
So while I hold my Study Bible to strengthen my spiritual body, I am also strengthening my physical body.

***I was given this Bible through BookLook Bloggers via Thomas Nelson in exchange of an honest review***

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mail Order Surprise by Lucy Thompson

Mail Order Surprise
(Forget Me Not Romances 2016)

Western romances seem to be the rage in historical romances lately. There are so many and most seem to be cookie cutters of each other, but not so with Lucy Thompson's Mail Order Surprise. She exceeds a Mary Connealy book or a Colleen Coble novel with her wit and humor.

To me it was a fresh take on the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers theme. The surprises that cropped up in the story were unexpected and pleasant. 

At times I wondered why Lydia did the things she did, and it made sense once the ending was reached. "Ah, yeah, that makes sense now. I don't blame her one bit" was my reaction. 

Reading this novel was almost like watching not just the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but also a John Wayne flick like McClintock and others. The brothers interacted with each other in such a natural way. Lydia and the children seemed to be a natural extension of that family. The love that developed between Beau and Lydia was what was expected of an arranged marriage, but one that was orchestrated by God. 

Mail Order Surprise brought a real type of Western life, complete with tough gals and chivalrous cowboys and yet a touch of the gentile. The ending sets the reader up with a foreshadowing of another Lucy Thompson story and one that would be just as entertaining as this one.


Monday, May 9, 2016

The Madonna of Pisano by MaryAnn Diorio

(TopNotch Press 2015) 

MaryAnn Diorio uncovers a deeply moving story of how sin can fester and unravel lives. Though the sin that was brought upon Maria was not her own, she harbored for seven long years vengeance against the one who destroyed her life and dreams.

As a teen, my favorite novel from school was The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This novel by Diorio is a new, fresh retelling of the age-old tale.

Don Franco learns that sin, no matter how hard you deny it or try to keep it quiet, will rear its ugly head to wreak havoc upon a soul and body. Whereas Luca realizes that sin can disguise itself in the least suspecting of souls. And Maria learns that freedom comes with true forgiveness through the Grace of God.

The Madonna of Pisano brought to life not only the world of religious corruption, but also an inside look at Catholicism--even priests are human--, but also the hypocrisy of a small village. 

As Maria states: You believed a priest over a woman. A pastor over a violated parishioner. A so-called saint over a so-called sinner.

Those words hit hard, for we all are guilty to some degree of that accusation.

Diorio is also able to weave symbolism throughout. The sparrow and the crow come to mind; as does the storm which is no respecter to anyone in its destruction.

So natural was the faith in the story, the reader will feel the conviction and the freedom that God brings to the characters.

This a complex and inspirational book that is character driven in its content. I look forward to more about Bella Terra and more from MaryAnn Diorio.