Category Archives: Book Review

The Basic Bible Atlas

Title: The Basic Bible Atlas
Author: John A. Beck
Publisher: BakerBooks
ISBN: 978-0-8010-7790-6

“And we will not fully understand this story unless we understand the place from which it has come. That is why you need an atlas. Because some of what the Lord has to say to us, he has said using geography,” John S. Beck writes in the introduction of his book, The Basic Bible Atlas: A Fascinating Guide of the Land of the Bible.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-seventy-six-page paperback targets those who want to have a better understanding of the lands mentioned in the Holy Bible. After a map and illustration list plus acknowledgments, the book is divided into two parts: Introduction to Geography and Putting the Story in Its Place. The ending includes notes, Scripture index, and an index of place names. The New International Version of the Holy Bible is referenced.

In this book that focuses mainly on Israel and its surrounding areas, over sixty maps with illustrations explain the Old and New Testaments’ geographical locations relating to the stories they provide. The first part has an introduction to the atlas and Biblical world that includes the ancient Near East, regions mentioned in the Bible, and Israel’s major cities, towns, roads, zones, rainfall, seasons, culture, soils, and products. The second and larger section of the book is subdivided into eight chapters covering the creation, the exodus, conquests, the kingdom’s establishments, divisions, and exile, and when Jesus was living as well as church stories.

~Why ~
This is is a wonderful read as it is basic and too the point so the reader can pick a topic of the Old or New Testament and pinpoint on a map where it took place. I loved looking at the maps’ notes and learning that Israel covered 6,750 square miles, the Jewish people’s meandering route for forty years in the desert, where Samson lived and died, the travels of the Ark of the Covenant, the expansion of Jerusalem and its Temple, and Elisha’s history. Understanding the distances Jesus traveled and places He performed miracles were interesting as well as Paul’s many journeys.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not be interested in an atlas that shows how God was and is always there, taking care of the beloved Jews and Christians. Others may wish there was more content to the discussions, but it is a basic synopsis.

~ Wish ~
I wish there were more stories of every person’s whereabouts in the Bible, but this would be a major task. Including an index by people’s names would be helpful for quick look-up. By accident, I noticed Susa (Nehemiah and Esther) was not listed in the index. I prefer all pronouns of God to be capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are wondering how far Moses traveled, where Bethlehem is related to Jerusalem, or how the Word of God was spread in the New Testament, this is an excellent source of knowledge that will amaze you.

Thanks to BakerBooks for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2vwG3KE

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The Bible in 10 Words

Title: The Bible in 10 Words
Author: Deron Spoo
Publisher: Worthy
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1427-0

“Each word, found in the first page or two of the Bible, sets the stage for God’s perfect world, the brokenness that follows, and the restoration God has in mind for those he loves,” Deron writes at the beginning of his book, The Bible in 10 Words: Unlocking the Message of Scripture and Connecting with God.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-nine-page hardbound targets those who like a simplistic devotion of the Word of God concerning less than a dozen keywords. Using the Christian Standard Version of the Holy Bible, the NIV is also referenced. The ending includes acknowledgments, notes, and the author’s biography.

In this short read, ten simple words from the first three chapters of Genesis are discussed and shown how they relate to Jesus being revealed from the beginning to the end of the Bible. The major words are Light, Dust, Breath, Garden, River, Eat, Alone, Naked, Afraid, and Alone as well as one final, perfect word: Jesus. With an introduction and ending, each chapter begins with a written out Bible verse or two and a quote, followed by several pages regarding the topic. Chapters end with a prayer, three to four discussion questions, and further Scripture to research.

~ Why ~
This is a thoughtful read regarding ten words from Genesis and follows them through the Bible. The author discusses finding the True Light, accepting our ordinariness with humility, having a spirit-filled breath to worship; allowing God to tend to our needs; noticing blessings and boundaries; listening with our hearts to the Lord’s instructions; being alone yet wanting God’s companionship; shedding guilt and shame when our true self is uncovered; instead of freezing, fighting, and fleeing when afraid, have the fear of the Lord; understanding life is a gift with a curse so we must persevere, and Jesus is the answer.

~ Why Not ~
If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you may not like this book, yet it may be one that ties the Bible together as it focuses on how Christ is shown throughout it. Others may not appreciate reading the writer’s personal stories about his wife, children, family trips, and visits to a monastery as well as tales of chess games, the Heimlich maneuver, shoelaces, and the Mona Lisa to name a few.

~ Wish ~
While I enjoyed the down-to-earth explanations of the words conveyed, I expected there to be more detailed discussions about each as written in the Bible (one word is mentioned only twice in Scripture). I wish it was more of a study book with more Biblical research. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like reading a contemporary book of ten words found in the first book in the Old Testament and their correlation to Jesus Christ, this is a nice read at a sophomoric level that contains the writer’s personal reflections. It may be a good read for a new believer.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for this book that I am under no obligation to review.

More about this book can be found at https://amzn.to/2Uyy1eK

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Collision of Lies

Title: Collision of Lies
Author: Tom Threadgill
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3650-7

“You’ll see. Everybody lies, either intentionally or because of their skewed point of view. The witnesses. The suspects. Even the victims sometimes,” Amara is reminded in Tom Threadgill’s novel, Collision of Lies.

~ Wha
This four-hundred-page paperback targets those who enjoy a suspense story about a school bus traffic accident that may have been covered up. With no profanity, topics of exhuming bodies, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt from the next author’s book, biography, and advertisements.

In this tale based in SanAntonio, Texas, thirty-two-year-old policewoman Amara Alvarez wishes she could be promoted from stolen property to homicide, especially when she learns a local mother recently received a text from her son, who was supposedly killed in a bus accident three years ago. As the detective tries to uncover the truth about the incident and if the boy may still be alive, she puts her life and others in danger.

~ Why ~
This is an interesting read for those who like mysteries involving how the police handle local, federal, and international situations involving kidnapping, especially when they concern young ones. I appreciated the last third of the book tracking down the culprits and what had to be done to solve the problem.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like novels about children possibly dying may want to avoid this book. Others may find the often bantering between the protagonist and several of her co-workers campy or some of the resolutions skeptical. Some may consider the storyline predictable.

~ Wish ~
I found the first half of the book a struggle to get through due to its unnecessary filler content involving gym workouts, Downton Abbey, and innocuous flirtations between a few characters that were never resolved. If these were limited, it would have held my attention more to get to the ending.

~ Want ~
If you want a suspense thriller about complicated lies covering up a crime in a Texan town that takes you to Mexico, this may be a decent read, but I struggled to complete it.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #TomThreadgill #CollisionofLies

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2UkUAmY

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Good Night, Fireflies

Title: Good Night, Fireflies
Author: Janet L. Christensen
Illustrator: Francesca Pesci
Publisher: Little Lamb Books
ISBN: 978-1-7332828-3-3

“God is just like these fireflies. Even though we can’t see Him, God is always with us,” Landon’s dad explains to his son in Janet L. Christiensen’s children’s book, Good Night, Fireflies.

~ What ~
This unnumbered thirty-four-page paperback targets five to nine-year-old children who like stories about not being scared or alone, especially when going to bed. Ideally for second and third graders, it would best be read out loud to beginner readers due to some complicated wording. Expressive and colorful illustrations are most pages. The ending includes the author and illustrator’s biographies. The New Living Translation of the Holy Bible is referenced.

In this short story, Landon hems and haws when it is bedtime as he does not like to be alone and is afraid of the dark. When the child thinks he sees spookies and creepies, his dad comes into his room and reminds the boy that God is always with him. The two go outside and watch the fireflies. When they catch one in a jar and the insect stops being bright, the daddy reiterates how the bug is like God – He is there, even when He cannot be seen. When the child goes back to bed, he realizes there are simply shadows in his bedroom and thanks God for always being there.

~ Why ~
Teaching young ones about the Lord being with us can calm the fears in both children and adults. I appreciate the correlation of God being like fireflies. The story does not make fun of the boy being afraid and the father is caring enough to offer an example of how God works. The drawings are easy for a young one to understand and follow.

~ Why Not ~
Children who do not know or have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand how the Almighty is consistently there for us. Insecure children may relate to the child’s fear, which may or may not cause more stress. There are several two to four-syllable words that may be too complicated for beginner readers.

~ Wish ~
Some parents may be concerned that the boy kept having tummy somersaults, which were quickly dismissed but could be interpreted as an illness. This topic could be eliminated to avoid children mimicking being sick to avoid bedtime.

~ Want ~
If you are trying to help a fearful child go to bed calmly, this book that focuses on the fact of God always being there for us, no matter what, would be lovely bedtime read.

Thanks to BookCrash and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

#GoodNightFireflies #JanetLChristensen #FrancescaPesci #LittleLambBooks #Bookcrash

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2tgPGMS

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January 24, 2020 · 10:29 AM

The Fascinating Animal Book for Kids

Title: The Fascinating Animal Book for Kids
Author: Ginjer L. Clarke
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64611-149-7

“The male narwhal’s long, spiral tusk is really a tooth growing out of its top lip. It has only one other tooth inside its mouth,” Ginjer L. Clarke explains in her children’s book, The Fascinating Animal Book for Kids: 500 Wild Facts.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-ten-page paperback targets children ages nine to twelve years old who enjoy books about animals and their distinct features. With no profanity or scary scenes, colorful photographs are on every page with several one to two sentences about various animals. The ending includes the author’s biography.

Divided into six chapters of Magnificient Mammals, Creepy Crawlers, Water World, Scaly Things, Amazing Amphibians, and Feathered Friends, this educational book packs tons of information on all types of animals from the quviut, cicada, and the red-lipped batfish to the reticulated python, marsupial frog, and oropendola to name a few.

~ Why ~
I love children’s books that teach young ones, especially if they are about animals and nature. I appreciate how this one not only has some of the common creatures but also the absurd, unusual, or unknown ones. With a six-year-old granddaughter who is fascinated by narwhals, it was great to see them listed in the book.

Some random wild animal facts include:
Virginia opossum babies are so small that up to 20 of them could fit into a teaspoon.
A fishing spider can stay underwater for 30 minutes while it waits for its fish prey.
Sharks never need to visit a dentist. Their teeth never get cavities.
The tuatara has a small, sightless third eye on top of its head.
The wood frog is the only frog that lives in the Arctic Circle.
Malleefowl nests can be 3.3 feet (1m) tall and 16 feet (5m) wide.

~ Why Not ~
Some children will not like that there is usually only one fact about each creature, yet sometimes there will be a full page describing several kinds in one animal family. Others may prefer less photographs and more information. The book may be too sophomoric for some fourth to seventh graders. Beginner readers may have trouble with some of the three- and four-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
Although I greatly appreciate this book that focuses on God’s creations, I wish there was an index so one could look up the animal’s fact and feature quickly. Due to its limited information per animal, it would be a hard book to use for a school report.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a fun book about the strange and interesting characteristics of mammals, insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, this one would be a good option that will keep a child’s attention and offer adults insights to the amazing animal kingdom. I am sure my young grandchildren will enjoy learning a thing or two also.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

Rated 4.5 of 5 stars.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2sLq5LL

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Isaiah’s Legacy

Title: Isaiah’s Legacy
Author: Mesu Andrews
Publisher: Waterbrook
ISBN: 978-0-7352-9188-1

“I thought we wanted to make Judah better. Teach Nasseh about the true gods that could make him the greatest king in Judah’s history,” a confused Shulle considers in Mesu Andrew’s novel, Isaiah’s Legacy: A Novel of Prophets and Kings.

~ What ~
The third book in the series, this four-hundred-page paperback targets those who enjoy Biblical historical fiction involving King Manasseh, Israel’s Old Testament king whose reign of terror forced Jews to worship and sacrifice to other gods. Containing no profanity or explicit sexual situations, its topics of sorcery, physical abuse, torture, child sacrifices, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. A chart of characters, reader’s note, map, and prologue is at the beginning, while the ending includes an epilogue, acknowledgments, and author’s note. Corresponding Bible verses are written out at the beginning of each chapter with references.

Written mostly in first person, this comprehensive story covers over fifty-years of Judah’s history when King Hezekiah dies and his smart but troubled and dysfunctional son takes his place and turns from trusting Yahew, the God of his father, to worshipping foreign idols. Told mainly through the eyes of Shulle, the child, friend, and lover of the young king, she learns slowly how trusting in the Almighty no matter what the cost is the only answer to the evil, tragic, and cruel ruling of her husband, Nasseh.

~ Why ~
Having read the Bible cover to cover yearly, I was extremely impressed with the detail Andrews divulges in this rewritten story. With the tale’s focus on dark arts of curses, cures, and charms, it shows how demonic planning and plotting to take our eyes off the Lord can never be overshadowed by God’s eternal plan, even when we do not understand what it is. The writer’s characterizations are flawless of a protagonist, young king who becomes a ruthless dictator, and family members who either religiously follow or blatantly disregard God’s Word.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not appreciate the beliefs and prayers to Him for help, support, and peace. Others may not care for the ample liberties taken to enhance the storyline, but they are well written and believable. A couple of times I had to check the Bible verses or research historical facts (example: Isaiah’s death by being sawed in half is not in the Old Testament but documented in ancient manuscripts).

~ Wish ~
Although the author’s note explains vaguely what portions are historical or fictional, it would be helpful if Hezekiah’s demise, Manasseh’s release from prison, and the royal family’s extensive background were verified. I had always thought cats were the only domesticated animal never mentioned in the Bible.

~ Want ~
If you love Old Testament historical fiction about forgiveness, love, and redemption, this creative, imaginative read will not only educate you about a wicked time in Hebrew history, but it may also captivate your heart as what is your eternal legacy when you leave this earth.

Thanks to the Waterbrook & Multnomah Launch Team for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#MesuAndrews #Isaiah’sLegacy #Israel’sKingManasseh #WaterbrookMultnomah

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2NhCBcG

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* CONTEST * The Art of Writing ~ FREE Print/Ebook Contest!

WIN PETER YANG’S BOOK,
THE ART OF WRITING!

1 PRINT & 3 EBOOKS to be given away by the author!

TEASER: “These principles serve as a necessary foundation for anyone wanting to enrich their writing, which will, in turn, enrich their life,” Peter Yang states in the introduction of his book, The Art of Writing: Four Principles for Great Writing that Everyone Needs to Know.

SIMPLE steps to enter this 3-day contest:

1.  Follow my blog if you do not already.
2. Click on the headline ** CONTEST ** to be sure you are on the Reply page.
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I read & reviewed this 4.5-star book – https://connywithay.wordpress.com/2020/01/10/the-art-of-writing/

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The Art of Writing

Title: The Art of Writing
Author: Peter Yang
Publisher: TCK Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-631-61076-9

“These principles serve as a necessary foundation for anyone wanting to enrich their writing, which will, in turn, enrich their life,” Peter Yang states in the introduction of his book, The Art of Writing: Four Principles for Great Writing that Everyone Needs to Know.

~ What ~
At sixty-six pages, this small paperback that is also available as an ebook targets authors who want to improve their writing skills while maintaining their creativity, individuality, and purpose.

After an introduction, the book is divided into five sections, followed by the author’s biography and information. The chapters cover four principles of economy, transparency, variety, and harmony as well as meditations on writing.

~ Why ~
Great writing life skills are waxing and waning since the digital era autocorrects, offers instant solutions, and formats wording without considering its possible connotations. I appreciate how the author discusses a myriad of topics in a short, concise matter while explaining thoroughly their ramifications. Some included are how to avoid crutches, repetition, and punctuation mistakes while being intentional, describing with purpose, and meticulous with modifiers. By using a variety of sentence and paragraph structures as well as word choices, artistic harmony in language and thoughts clarify excellent writing. The script also adds tips on how reading, making use of time, and conveying the truth play a factor in properly putting the pen to paper.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not care about writing or have no interest in it may have no need for this read. Others may feel they need not be reminded to avoid using filler words, write more actively than passively, and use the Pareto principle to name a few.

~ Wish ~
While Yang does a comprehensive job on what to do or not to do when writing, he did not mention the often incorrect use of the ellipsis or dangling prepositions (which some accept nowadays). Including an index would be helpful.

~ Want ~
If you attain to be an artistic author and want to continually improve your skills, this small but powerful book will encourage and enlighten you in ways you may not have considered while enhancing your writing style.

Thanks to Peter Yang and TCK Publishing for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2R3LXtT

#TheArtofWriting #FourPrinicipalsforGreatWriting #PeterYang #TCKPublishing

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Big Dreams & Powerful Prayers Illustrated Bible

Title:  Big Dreams & Powerful Prayers Illustrated Bible
Retold by Mark Batterson with Glenys Nellist
Illustrator: Omar Aranda
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 978-0-310-74682-9

“Jesus is the ‘author’ of our faith, and if we give him complete editorial control over our lives, he writes amazing stories through us,” Mark Batterson with Glenys Nellist writes in the introduction of their children’s book, Big Dreams & Powerful Prayers Illustrated Bible.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-twenty-four-page hardbound book targets young children from four to eight years old.  The book covers thirty stories taken from the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. With no overtly scary or violent scenes, it would best be read out loud to non-readers or beginner readers who like to look at pictures due to their limited reading comprehension level.

After an ownership page, two-page introduction, and table of contents, the book contains fifteen stories from both the Old and New Testaments, with each being six to eight pages long. Having colorful, easy-to-decipher illustrations, the designs show expressive characters and scenery on almost every page. Each story ends with a Prayer Point that is a paragraph or two applying the chapter’s theme personally with a short prayer and Bible verse written out.

~ Why ~
This chapter book has short, to-the-point stories written in a positive way. Although not all the stories told offer some facts (there is no mention of everyone dying except those in Noah’s ark, Jesus’s birth does not explain the immaculate conception, and His resurrection does not mention Christ died for our sins), it generalizes the events. Some of titles include In the Garden, By the Sea, In the Pit, With the Angel, In the Storm, In the Jail, and On the Island. Adding the prayer discussion is appreciated.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not want to promote teaching a child about Bible stories will pass on this book. It may be too advanced for beginner readers due to the two and three syllable words. Some may not realize this is not a fully-illustrated Bible but thirty stories. Others may notice sin is rarely mentioned or no full plan of eternal salvation is given.

~ Wish ~
I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence. This is a lovely Bible devotional, but it is sophomoric in its storytelling, so it may be best for preschoolers who are just hearing about our Savior.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a book of thirty simplified stories from the Bible, this would be a good selection for a young one who is just learning about God’s Word, but note it is not fully accurate.

Thanks to ZBlogSquad for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2PJ1gZw

#Zonderkidz #ZBlogSquad #BigDreamsandPowerfulPrayers #IllustratedBible #MarkBatterson #OmarAranda

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