Category Archives: Blogging For Books

My Irish Table – Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn

My Irish Table is published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.

My Irish Table is published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.

About Cathal Armstrong
About David Hagedorn
About the Book

Summary: Cathal Armstrong was born and raised in Ireland. When he was 20 he moved to the U.S. and started working at an Irish pub in D.C.. From there he worked at a number of restaurants and discovered that it was something he wanted to pursue as a career. In 2004, Cathal and his wife Meshelle opened Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia. This cookbook is his life story in food.

Review: Ireland is a country on my bucket list. This cookbook was an introduction to Irish foods for me. It’s a compilation of recipes that Cathal grew up with and some that he uses in his restaurant. There are 10 chapters, starting with breakfast and ending with sauces and stocks. I love the inclusion of a glossary because not everyone knows all the fancy cooking terms used in recipes. The authors also included a list of places where you can get cooking gear and special ingredients. The index and conversion charts are also very handy! I like that there is historical information included between some recipes as well. You learn a little bit about the country and why the dish is important to Ireland.

Of all the recipes I am looking forward to trying, I think the potato pancakes and Quiche Lorraine are tied for first place. As soon as I’ve got the money, I’m definitely going to get the ingredients for both. Once I do that I’ll post a recipe review too!

My Irish Table is a great cookbook! It’s well-organized and easy to follow. If you’re a fan of Ireland, definitely check this one out!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. No other compensation was received.

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The Holy Land Key – Ray Bentley

The Holy Land Key is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

The Holy Land Key is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

About the Book
About the Author

Summary: The Holy Land Key brings readers into the Holy Land to see how God’s prophecy is being fulfilled. Ray Bentley brings prophecy to light through personal experiences and stories from people who live in the midst of it. Divided into five parts, The Holy Land Key covers how to study prophecy, how prophecy is revealed today, why there’s so much hate directed towards God’s chosen people, signs of prophecy, and how readers can get more involved.

Review: I have to be honest, I tried really hard to finish the book but I just couldn’t. Personally, I felt like Ray Bentley was saying that it’s all the non-Jewish churches fault that there are a lot of problems in Israel today. I also felt like he was saying that the Jewish people get a “free pass”, so to speak, and that they don’t need to accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Is that what he intended to come across like? I don’t know. It may just have been how I read it, and I’ll gladly pick up the book again in the future and try again with fresh eyes. But from a first reading that’s what I got out of it, which is why I couldn’t finish it.

Good points: The author did a great job writing, overall. He used personal stories to make an impact, and they did make an impact.

I don’t rightly know if I’d recommend the book. I’ll have to read it again to see if my first impression was wrong.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received.

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Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe – Sharon Jaynes

Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

About the Book
Read Chapter 1
About the Author

Author Website

Author Facebook
Author Twitter

Summary: Have you ever wondered how to pray for your husband? Or maybe you’ve wondered why you should pray for your husband. In Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe, Sharon Jaynes gives you some ideas for where to start praying and what to pray for. She gives you 16 “landmarks” to help you pray more effectively for your spouse and 30 days of prayers! Each prayer brings with it Scriptures that correspond to the area of your husband’s life that you’re praying for. Even if you don’t pray exactly what’s written in the book, you’ll at least know where to start!

Review: Let’s be honest here, I am really bad when it comes to praying. Read my Bible? I’m on it! Serve at events? Totally! But praying? Not so good about getting it done. It kills me to say that but it’s the truth. So when I say that I really appreciate what Sharon Jaynes has done with Praying for Your Husband, I really  mean it! The first few chapters are dedicated to explaining why prayer is so important and why you’ll be praying for the areas of your husband’s life that she lists. It really gives you a firm basis for knowing “Hey, these things are important and I need to pray for them.” She also points out that you’re NOT praying to CHANGE your husband’s annoying habits. What you ARE praying for is for God’s will to be done in his life, for God to help your husband stay on track with Him, etc. If, in the process, some of his annoying habits change, woo hoo! 😉

It’s taken me a bit to get this review written because I wanted to read through the book and then go through at least a week of the prayers to get a feel for it. For me, having the prayers already written up is really helpful. I can start reading/praying them and add to it as I know is needed. The Scripture references are nice, I tend to skip over them though. Either way, you’d be amazed (or maybe not, if you’re more consistent with prayer than I am) what happens when you pray! Especially for your spouse! More peace, less stress, a closer relationship…

In the back of the book Sharon has included an appendix that has prayers for your husband’s salvation (if he’s unsaved), for his fatherhood, and for his healing. She also asks some reflection questions of you, the wife. Things like, “What changes have you seen in your marriage?” and “How has your attitude toward your husband changed?” So, not only is your husband’s life going to be changed, yours will too!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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The Global War on Christians – John L. Allen Jr.

About the Book
About the Author
Read an Excerpt

Summary: The Global War on Christians brings to light the stories of Christians living in parts of the world where there are documented cases of religious persecution. John Allen clarifies that this isn’t the type of “war” here in the U.S. where people fight over whether or not nativities are ok in public, this is genuine persecution where just being a Christian is life-threatening.

Review: Honestly, I’m not done with the book. I’m not even a quarter of the way through. It’s not because it’s a bad book or because I don’t agree with the author (he’s Catholic, I’m not). It’s just that I have a really hard time reading books like this. The content is valuable and the Western world needs to be aware that persecution on the level of “you’re being killed because you believe in God” actually happens. But this just wasn’t the book for me. It was wordy, which the author admitted it probably would be. But it was dry, I thought. The data is good to include, the break down of world areas was good because it kept things more focused. For me, I think it would have been less dry if there had been larger sections of biographical information thrown in. I understand though that because of the topic, those kinds of stories may be hard to come by.

The Global War on Christians was well-written and well worth the read if you like more data. I would definitely recommend the book simply because it’s a topic that seems to be a bit taboo in the United States. But I have to let you know, I like this kind of stuff (because it’s important to know for a number of reasons) but unfortunately I couldn’t make it through the book in a timely fashion, no matter how hard I tried.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Martyr’s Fire – Sigmund Brouwer

Martyr's Fire is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

Martyr’s Fire is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

About the Book
Read Chapter One
Author’s Website
About the Author

Summary: The Priests of the Holy Grail have amazed the people of Magnus and taken control. Fortunately, Thomas escapes and goes on a journey in search of the answers that have been eluding him since childhood. Can Thomas be trusted to side with the Immortals, or is he merely a pawn of the Druids? Travel with Thomas across England and to the Holy Land. Join the quest for answers in Sigmund Brouwer’s third book in the “Merlin’s Immortals” series, Martyr’s Fire.

Review: Where to start? I’d read both The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist so I jumped at the chance to continue on with Thomas in Martyr’s Fire. To be honest, it took me a few chapters to really get into the story. I was a little disappointed in that simply because the first two books grabbed my attention in just a few pages. Whether the lack of attention grabbing was just me or the writing I’m not sure. Once I really got into it though I couldn’t put it down.

I loved the interaction between Thomas and Beast (his puppy). There were a few surprises too. Robin Hood is usually associated with England, of course, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him make an appearance. It was done well and fit my pre-conceived ideas of Robin Hood. It’s always nice when the author doesn’t really change the image of a classic character. Without giving too much away, I have to say that I was surprised with the events surrounding Hawkwood and I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in the series to see if my guesses are correct.

About the cover: I don’t like it. I’m not sure if the knight on the cover is supposed to be Thomas or someone else. I hope it’s not Thomas because it’s not how I pictured him at all. Especially not after seeing the cover of the first book. The Orphan King cover was amazing and the cover for Fortress of Mist fit well. Sadly, the cover for Martyr’s Fire needs a little help.

Aside from the cover and the amount of chapters it took to get me hooked, the story was a good addition to what we already know about Thomas, Magnus, the Immortals, and the Druids. Would I recommend it? If you’ve read the first two books, yeah. It wasn’t as good as I was anticipating but that’s sometimes how it goes in a book series. I will for sure be reading the next book Blades of Valor which comes out next spring, I believe.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received. All thoughts are my own.

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The Women of Christmas – Liz Curtis Higgs

The Women of Christmas is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

The Women of Christmas is published by Waterbrook Multnomah.

About the Author
Author’s Website
About the Book
Read Chapter 1

Summary: Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. The three key women in the Christmas story are brought to life by Liz Curtis Higgs in her newest book The Women of Christmas. As each of these women prepare for the coming Savior, readers will to as they see these women of God in a new light. Verse-by-verse reading digs readers down deep into the lives of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. Read The Women of Christmas and prepare your heart in a whole new way for the Christmas season.

Review: This is the second Liz Curtis Higgs book I’ve read and I have to say, I love her writing style. How she goes verse-by-verse, or verse section, is a really great way to dig deeper into the stories we’ve all read/heard over the years. In The Women of Christmas, Liz Curtis Higgs brings the lives of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna to life. I’ve heard or read the Christmas accounts since I was a little kid, but I haven’t connected with them the way I did while reading this book.

I was moved to tears a few times, whether it’s because I’m a mother myself I don’t know, but the things that moved me were things I’d heard/read before and been like, “Oh that’s nice” but that was it. This time though, something clicked and the enormity of it all amazed it. The events surrounding the birth of Christ weren’t your every day drivel, they were HUGE. And the way Liz Curtis Higgs wrote about them really made them hit home. “What we call miraculous, God calls business as usual.” (pg. 30). Goodness, that pretty much sums up the whole thing right there!

The only thing I found that I wasn’t a fan of was the lower case use of pronouns in place of God or Jesus. I have no problem with the pronouns themselves, I just really feel that they need to be capitalized. (I know, I know. “There she goes again about capitalization!”) For me, it’s a matter of, you wouldn’t replace the capital G in “God” with a lower case, so the pronoun needs to be the same. It’s a respect thing. But, besides that, The Women of Christmas is a really really good book!

I’ll likely be reading it again when it gets closer to Advent. It would make for a good devotional for the season. And there are study questions in the back so that makes it really easy to use for devotion time. Woo hoo!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. No other compensation was received.

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Desiring God – John Piper

Piper

More Info

Read the first chapter

About the Author

Summary: Are Christians supposed to pursue pleasure? John Piper brings Scripture to light that would suggest so. Looking at several areas of life, from conversion to worship to marriage and even to suffering, John Piper explains how pursuing ultimate joy is fundamental for bringing glory to God.

Review: The dictionary defines hedonism as “the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good” and “devotion to pleasure as a way of life”. John Piper defines Christian hedonism in much the same way but with the focus being God. It’s basically summed up in the oft mentioned phrase “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” At first I was kind of leery because most of the time hedonism has negative connotations, as evidenced by the fact that two of the synonyms are “debauchery” and “carousal”. I have to say though, that having read the whole book, the idea makes sense. If we want the things God wants, then ultimately we’re living our lives in such a way that we’ll be eternally joyful. At least that’s how I kind of understood it.

My absolute favorite part of the book was in the chapter on suffering. Sounds terrible, right? John Piper includes a passage from Sergei Kourdakov’s autobiography (The Persecutor) about one young lady who changed his life. She was beaten multiple on multiple occasion at the hands of the Russian secret police because she was at Christian prayer meetings, until a fellow police comrade jumped in front of her to save her life. I can’t do the passage justice by describing it so I’ll leave you the page numbers in Desiring God (Revised Edition) rand let you read it. It’s on pages 275-278 and it’s quite powerful, at least it was for me.

I know I will be reading Desiring God again. There is so much to process that it’s going to take me at least one more reading to get it all.

I’ll leave you with three video links. One is of John Piper reading from his journal: Watch it here. The next is from Mark Driscoll: Watch it here. And the last is Tim Keller: Watch it here.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

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Fortress of Mist – Sigmund Brouwer

About the Book and Author

Author’s Website

Read Chapter One

Summary: Thomas is ruler of Magnus and isn’t quite sure who he can trust. There’s the group of mysterious people associated with the strange symbol and there’s the group of people associated with the man who helped him free the knight from the gallows. When the Earl of York visits Magnus with a request, Thomas has to decide if it is in his best interest to accept or decline. Meanwhile, in the background, a battle is raging for the soul of Thomas. Who will he trust?

Review: When I finished The Orphan King last year I was sad to see that I had to wait until early this year to read book two of the “Merlin’s Immortals” series. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to read and review book two! Fortress of Mist continues shortly after where The Orphan King left off. Thomas has gained control of Magnus and lost both Katherine and Isabelle. Or has he? I devoured this book. It took me all of a day to read, between housework and kids, and I was not disappointed. Well, that’s not entirely true. Fortress of Mist is just as good as The Orphan King but I wasn’t a fan of the ending. I actually caught myself saying “No! Thomas, don’t do that!” However, it will make for a good beginning to book three (there will be a book three, right?!).

Again, this is a young adult fiction novel but it’s so good. Every once in a while I enjoy an entertaining young adult book and the “Merlin’s Immortals” series satisfies that craving. Historical “fantasy” with a touch of adventure and mystery. Great read if you’re wanting something different that won’t take you a long time to read.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

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A Sudden Glory – Sharon Jaynes

Author Website

More Info

Read Chapter One

Summary: Do you feel like there’s something missing in your relationship with God? In A Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes reminds us that as we live out Acts 17:28 and live with our spiritual eyes and ears open, we see God’s glory all around. God isn’t far away, He’s quite close. And when we live in harmony with Him, we experience more of His presence. We are reminded that we really shouldn’t be leading two lives, our spiritual life and our daily life; they should be intertwined so that it’s our daily spiritual life.

Review: First off, I suppose I should put in what Acts 17:28 is, yes? The HCSB version is translated like this, “For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’”  A Sudden Glory really focuses around this verse, the first part specifically. After having read through the book, I completely understand why. Our lives, 24/7, should be lived out in Him.

I’d never heard of Sharon Jaynes when I chose this book to review. I like reading different authors so I thought I’d give it a shot. Whoa. Let me tell you, I got more than I bargained for. The writing is great and she bases her words on biblical concepts. A Sudden Glory isn’t just a fluffy, feel-good, bandaid type book. This is a book that says, “Hey, you’re the one making the choices in your life. Are you choosing to live a life of obedience?” It reminded me a lot of Ann Voskamp’s book about seeing the gifts of God in the everyday things. (Ann, by the way, has good words about A Sudden Glory, printed right on the cover!). Sharon’s book really goes to the next level though, for me. It’s beyond just living a life of thanks, it’s living a life of obedience that makes you aware of God’s presence. Honestly, I’d recommend this book for a women’s small group. It’s got Bible study questions in the back (which are great, and part of the reason it took me a long time to read this book). 

As a final side note, I always like to make mention of proper capitalization of pronouns used for God. It always rather bugs me when they’re not used but Sharon does, so I’m happy.


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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Deadline – Randy Alcorn

Author’s Website
Buy the Book (and read Chapter 1)
About the Author

Summary: Three lifelong friends hop in the Suburban during half-time but only one makes it home. Can Jake Woods, the survivor, put all the pieces together to figure out what happened? Follow Jake as he works along side Detective Ollie Chandler in the first installment of the Ollie Chandler trilogy by Randy Alcorn. Put the pieces together as Jake reveals them and see if you can figure out big picture. Not only does the big picture include what happened to his friends, it also includes serious life-changing realizations for Jake.

Review: I have to admit, I enjoy just about everything Randy Alcorn writes. Maybe it’s because he’s from my home  state of Oregon, I don’t know. What I do know is that once I get into his books, I can’t put them down. They suck me in like a good book should, but the nice thing about Mr. Alcorn’s books is that they have substance. There’s important messages to be picked up on even in his fiction and I love that.

Prior to reading Deadline I had read Deception, which is book three in the trilogy, and I enjoyed it. I was eager to read Deadline at the time but the library didn’t have it in so I had to skip it. When I saw it was available for review, I was excited. Admittedly, it did take me a little while to start what with the holidays and such but it was well worth it. The first few chapters took me a while to read but once the story picked up speed I couldn’t put it down. (In theory, I do have three kids, LOL!). I enjoyed it and I had fun trying to figure out what was going on while I read. Admittedly, I didn’t have all the pieces quite right!

I do have to mention, there is a strong pro-life thread in the story which doesn’t bother me at all but I know others might not want to go there. That aside, I think this is a great read for those who like mystery/suspense novels.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Waterbrook-Multnomah in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

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