Category Archives: Christian

Jacob’s Bell

Title: Jacob’s Bell
Author: John Snyder
Publisher: FaithWorks
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1039-5

“If I can gain the love and acceptance of my children after what I have done to them, I will never ask for anything else,” Jacob begs in John Snyder’s holiday tale, Jacob’s Bell: A Christmas Story.

~ What ~
At two-hundred-and-twenty-four pages, this small hardbound with a charming jacket cover targets those who enjoy a Christmas story of forgiveness and redemption. Dedicated to Salvation Army Bell Ringers, the story has acknowledgments and the author’s biography at the end. Including slang words such as dang, crap, darn, and damn, its topics of alcohol abuse, war, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this story set in 1944, sixty-three-year-old Jacob McCallum has lost his wife, family, and business, turning to the bottle to forget his guilt, shame, and poor decisions. After years of drinking, carousing, and having poor judgment, he meets a man who runs the local Salvation Army and helps him change his ways. With the desire to make amends with is adult children, he encounters a young girl who captures his heart while learning how to forgive himself.

~Why ~
This is a short, quaint story about redemption, hope, and forgiving. I like how the writer sets the scene dealing with the main character’s shortcomings and feelings of unworthiness. With a few references on faith in God, it shows how the Almighty is always there for us, no matter what we have done.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with God may have no interest in this read. Some may find the characters stereotypical and the plot predictable, but its value rings soundly as Jacob changes his ways for the better. I found some of the monologue unnecessary and dry.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciated the basis of turning one’s life around, finding God, and forgiving others and oneself, I wish the story conveyed more of Jacob’s inner struggles in not being able to reestablish family relationships. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence and no slang or cuss words in a faith-based book.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a redemptive Christmas story about an older man ardently seeking forgiveness from his family, this would be a thoughtful read, hopefully contemplating one’s own family relationships.

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

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jacobs-bell-john-snyder/1127922431

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Christian, Fiction

My Christmas Story Tree

My Christmas Story TreeTitle: My Christmas Story Tree
Author: Dr. Mary Manz Simon
Illustrator: Gavin Scott
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 978-0-310-76125-9

“So celebrate the story that you see upon my tree—a story sent from God above for all the world to see,” a little boy explains at the end of Dr. Mary Manz Simon’s book, My Christmas Story Tree.

~ What ~
This twenty-page board book that is cut out like a Christmas tree and has glitter on its front cover targets young children from preschool to second grade age. With no scary scenes, it is a story of a little boy decorating his Christmas tree as he explains how each added item relates to Jesus’s birth.

In this rhyming tale, a cute brown-haired boy with his cat and dog in tow decorates his fir tree. As he adds an angel, ornament, candy canes, star, and lights, he compares them to God never changing, an angel talking to Mary, the nativity, shepherds, the star of Bethlehem, and Christ being born.

~ Why ~
This is a charming book that brings meaning to decorating a Christmas tree and focusing on our Savior’s birth. I like the way the book is laid out, especially the cat and dog that want to help the boy with his project.

~ Why Not ~
Those who have do not believe in Jesus and His birth may have no interest in this book. Due to two and three syllable words, it may be hard for beginner readers to comprehend.

~ Wish ~
I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence. It would be helpful to include Scripture verses at the end for the reader to look up.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a Christmas book that correlates Christmas decorations to Jesus being born, this is an excellent and fun read.

Thanks to Z-Blog Squad for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-christmas-story-tree-mary-manz-simon/1128138039

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Childrens, Christian

Mouse’s Christmas Gift

Mouse's Christmas GiftTitle: Mouse’s Christmas Gift
Author: Mindy Baker
Illustrator: Dow Phumiruk
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 978-0-310-75900-3

“Parson had never canceled a Christmas Eve service before! Mouse had to do something! But what?” Mouse questions in Mindy Baker’s book, Mouse’s Christmas Gift.

~ What ~
This thirty-two-page oversized hardbound with a jacket targets young children from four to eight years old. With no scary scenes, it is a story of a church mouse that helps make Christmas special. 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. The New International Version of The Bible is referenced.

In this tale, Mouse is quite concerned when Parson is so ill that the Christmas Eve service is canceled at the town’s church. Although the little critter gets sets up the nativity scene, he feels still has not done enough. When he lights a candle in the church’s window, others in the town contribute to the festive occasion by adding a wreath, ribbons and a star on a tree, and baking goodies. The residents come to church, sing songs, and read the nativity story from the Bible. Parson sees his parishioners attending, and Mouse is happy all turned out well.

~ Why ~
This is a charming book that shows how a community can band together during the holiday season and celebrate Christ’s birth. I appreciate that Scripture is quoted and part of the song, O Holy Night, is written out. The mouse’s role is tender and adorable.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not want to promote teaching a child about Christ’s birth will avoid this one. Some children may not like the church being the focus or that the entire nativity story is not fully presented.

~ Wish ~
I wish the Bible verses used were documented so the reader could look them up.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a Christmas book that will delight young ones while promoting working together and the birth of our Savior, this would be a great selection.

Thanks to Z-Blog Squad for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mouses-christmas-gift-mindy-baker/1128138035

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Childrens, Christian

A Savior is Born

A Savior Is Born: Rocks Tell the Story of ChristmasTitle: A Savior is Born
Creator: Patti Rokus
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 978-0-310-76496-0

“I wondered if each rock was shaped over time for this very moment—to represent Mary or Joseph, an angel, or even our Savior,” Patti Rokus writes in the notes of her children’s book, A Savior is Born: Rocks Tell the Story of Christmas.

~ What ~
This thirty-two-page oversized hardbound with a jacket cover targets young children from four to eight years old. With no scary scenes, it is a rendition of the nativity designed by rock arrangements. 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.

The book tells the accurate but simplified Bible story of Mary being told she will be having a baby, Joseph and Mary waiting for Jesus and going to Bethlehem, Jesus being born in a lowly stable, and the shepherds and kings visiting Him. Also added are written out Bible verses of John 3:16 and passages from Luke 1 and 2 and Matthew 2. Near the ending is the author’s note of how she came up with the idea of making scenes with rocks and an invite to create artwork. The rocks stand out against a black background.

~ Why ~
This is a nice book that promotes our Savior being born. I like the simplicity of making designs with rocks as well as the added Bible verses. I feel it would be a nice coffee table book to have available during the holiday season.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not want to promote teaching a child about Christ’s birth will avoid this one. Some children may find the concept of rock designs sophomoric and boring as there is little to view for young children, but it can stimulate creativity.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciate the creator’s rudimentary designs made of rocks, I felt it may be too hard to comprehend for some children. Having more of the story written on the pages may be considered as the most wording is in the notes and written out Bible verses.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a Christmas nativity book that cleverly depicts the scenes with rocks, this would make a nice gift for those that are attuned to nature and the birth of our Savior.

Thanks to Z-Blog Squad for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-savior-is-born-patti-rokus/1128138050

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Christian

God Notes

God Notes: Daily Doses Of Divine EncouragementTitle: God Notes
Author: Jackie Trottman
Publisher: DreamSculpt
ISBN: 978-1-945949296

“What if you had someone who totally believed in you and reminded you daily through notes of Divine encouragement,” the back jacket states in Jackie Trottman’s book, God Notes: Daily Doses of Divine Encouragement.

~ What ~
At four-hundred-and-ten-pages, this paperback targets those seeking a brief daily read about getting closer to God. With no Scripture verses mentioned, it contains single words followed by short statements or paragraphs for each day of the year to focus on as the Almighty speaks directly to the reader. After an introduction, instructions on how to use the book, and a dedication, it has eight sections, ending with acknowledgments and the author’s biography.

Written by a remarried woman with a hurtful past, the topics are all written as if God is speaking. Covering one word per page, they are divided alphabetically into themes of nature, body, mind, spirit, guidance, healing, transformation, and truth.

With no dates or structure to follow, some one-word titles include Awe, Beauty, Tree, Eyes, Face, Lack, Learn, Angels, Bold, Between, Can, Joy, Let, Enlarge, Energy, Time, and Today. By reading the short content and meditating on the words, the reader will tune in to God’s encouragement throughout the day.

~Why ~
I like that these are very simple concepts with short readings that are uplifting and positive.

One example I enjoyed is Longing under the Guidance section. It has God stating that He will guide, provide for, sustain, help, fill you with love, and be the One to fulfill all of your longings.

~ Why Not ~
This is not an in-depth devotional so may work for new believers. Some readers may not like that there are no Bible verses written down or to look up or prayers to pray. With God speaking to the reader, it is all about what you get from Him, often missing the power and awesomeness of what He has done for us. Each page has a lot of white space with limited wording, which may frustrate some readers.

~ Wish ~
Since this book is formatted similarly to Jesus Calling by Sarah Young in that it purports God speaking to the reader (yet this one has no Biblical references), I struggled with deciding if I liked it or not. After reading the introduction to Sarah’s book and learning she had supposed strange visions that aided her writing her book, I stopped reading books in this format. I wonder if this author’s mention of her special meditation is in the same vein as she refers to it yet does not explain its source or background unless you buy one of her CDs. I strongly recommend looking up the word meditation on Wikipedia and see there is a multitude of false religions that practice mindfulness to new age to transcendental meditation. Not knowing what type of meditation Trottman used to get the words from our Creator makes me wary and cautious. I prefer reading directly from the Word of God to hear Jesus speak to me, so I am on the fence about rating or approving this book.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a collection of words that are supposedly God speaking and encouraging you, this may interest you, but I cannot promote it since I do not know enough about the author’s validity since there are no Bible verses given and no information regarding her meditation techniques.

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

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/god-notes-jackie-trottmann/1126266404

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Filed under ** Think Twice - I Didn't Like It, Book Review, Christian

God’s Good News

God's Good News: More Than 60 Bible Stories and DevotionsTitle: God’s Good News
Author: Billy Graham
Illustrator: Scott Wakefield
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0989-7

“These stories will help you understand God’s good news—the news that God has a plan for your life, that God loves you, and that He is a God of mercy,” Billy Graham writes in the introduction to his book, God’s Good News: More Than 60 Bible Stories & Devotions.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-eight-page hardbound targets children ages four to eleven years old who are looking for beloved Bible stories with a short applicable devotion. Using full-color, full-page expressive illustrations, it references the New King James Version of the Bible. The beginning has an ownership page and table of contents, followed by seventy-four stories and ending with a prayer by the author.

In this oversized book, there are thirty-seven stories taken from the Old Testament and thirty-seven from the New Testament. With each covering one to four pages, the well-known stories range from Creation, Moses, Samson, Isaiah, Daniel, and Esther to Jesus’s birth, miracles, death, and resurrection to name a few. Each story begins with a selected noted Bible verse or verses, often with written out sections and included story. The ending has a highlighted “From Billy Graham” short devotional.

~ Why ~
Many young children love to read or be read a Bible story at bedtime. I appreciate how the stories are laid out, sometimes with partial Scripture added. The stories are told simply but contain enough facts to understand and comprehend. I appreciate the ending having a relatable devotion that can be further discussed.

~ Why Not ~
For those who want nothing to do with learning about God and the Bible, this would not be a good choice. Although there is no explanation of Mary’s virginity, the simple plan of eternal salvation of Jesus shedding His blood on the cross for our sins and rising again is mentioned. Others may be concerned about the violent stories of Goliath being killed, Jonah in the fish, Daniel in the lions’ den, and Jesus dying on the cross, but they do not show any fearful or scary depictions.

~ Wish ~
I assume the italicized wording is taken directly from the Bible but unsure. I wish one-line prayers were added at the end of the devotionals.

~ Want ~
If your preschooler to elementary school-age child wants to read more vivid stories from the Bible, this would make a lovely addition to his or her bookcase.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gods-good-news-billy-graham/1128128169

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Christian

Bodyguard for Christmas

Title: Bodyguard for Christmas
Author: Carol J. Post
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-1-335-54400-1c

“But I am begging You, for Colton’s sake, please bring Liam back home,” Jasmine desperately prays in Carol J. Post’s novel, Bodyguard for Christmas.

~ What ~
Part of the Love Inspired Suspense series, this two-hundred-and-twenty-four-page pocket-sized paperback targets those who enjoy inspirational suspense while dealing with deep loss, past pain, and redemption. With no profanity or sexual content, topics of illness, physical abuse, kidnapping, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book promotes that God is aware of what we are going through, good or bad. An author’s note and insert of other Love Inspired series books are at the end.

This current-day story based in the South, determined, ex-military Jasmine is hired as a bodyguard to protect Liam, the young son of a widowed assistant district attorney. Although she is highly trained and disciplined for the position, she is insecure that she never measures up.

A twin who lost his wife less than a year ago, Colton is distressed and cautious when Liam, who has stopped speaking, is nearly kidnapped. With Jasmine’s help and protection, the two adults work closely together to find out who and why someone is after his son.

As multiple death threats occur, Jasmine doubts she is good enough for Colton, while he wonders if he can move on after his wife’s demise. Each must realize God allows healing from unexpected sources while they are challenged by their insecurities.

~ Why ~
The fast-paced tale shows how its two main characters must deal with their past heartbreaks to overcome their loss, fears, and relationship problems. Including the death of a spouse and its effect on others, the book shows how a parent would do anything to keep his child safe and protected. I like the author’s way of portraying her broken and imperfect characters who are urged to seek God for help. Like her other books, there is no eternal plan of salvation given, but the underlying story is about trusting God to protect and save.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not know Jesus Christ personally may not appreciate the concept of being a relationship with Christ, who sometimes allows us to go through the storms of life to grow closer to Him. Some may not care for the topic of a young child being kidnapped.

~ Wish ~
While I think this is one of the writer’s best books I have read, I do not care for the title as it seems corny relating it to Christmas; I would have chosen something more engaging. I wish Cade’s role had more closure in the story.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a suspenseful fiction that includes child abduction, dealing with one’s past, and romance, this short read with a surprising ending shows how far a father and bodyguard will go to protect a child.

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

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bodyguard-for-christmas-carol-j-post/1128492735

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

How Do You Say Good Night?

How Do You Say Good Night?Title: How Do You Say Good Night?
Illustrator: Catalina Echeverri
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
ISBN: 978-104002-9811-8

“Each good-night was great! Now I can  hardly wait
To say my own good-night with my family snuggled tight,”
Zoey concludes in Catalina Echeverri’s children’s book, How Do You Say Good Night?

~ What ~
At twenty pages, this board book with rounded corners targets children ages four to eight years old. With no scary scenes, it is a nice story about a zebra learning how other animals say good night and finds her own way to make the routine special. Full page color illustrations of the animals and where they live cover the pages.

Written in rhyme with some complicated wording, this tale involves a zebra named Zoey who is on a quest to find the best way to say good night. Whether lions wrestling before bedtime, warthogs wiggling their snouts, elephants brushing their tusks, ostriches preening their feathers, monkeys swinging through the trees, or hippopotamuses floating, all animals getting ready for bed thank God, and Zoey finds a way to say good night with her family.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like books that mention God may not approve of this one. Since God is mentioned often, the book could be applied to any god-focus religion as there are no Bible verses or references to Jesus. Beginner readers may have trouble with some of the two- and three-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
I wish the animals characteristics in their bedtime routines were factual in the story as they may not all be. Including a Bible verse or two would ensure the Almighty God is thanked.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a book to read at bedtime that focuses on night time routines and how they can be different for everyone, this may be a good selection that includes thanking God.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for furnishing this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-do-you-say-good-night-catalina-echeverri/1128128159

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Animals / Pets, Book Review, Childrens, Christian

Let’s Get Ready for Bed

Title: Let’s Get Ready for Bed
Authors: Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki
Artists: Tod Carter and Chuck Vollmer
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 978-0-310-76748-0

“This rhyming read-aloud book will lull your little one to sleep with their favorite stuffed animal characters, the Nighty Nights,” the inside flap states in Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki’s children’s book, Let’s Get Ready for Bed.

~ What ~
Part of the Nurturing Steps series, this twenty-four-page jacketed hardbound targets infants to toddlers. With no scary scenes, it is a nice story about a couple of stuffed animals helping a puppy fall asleep. Sophomoric colorful illustrations on white backgrounds grace the pages.

With a page that includes a space to write in the owner’s name, presenter, and date, this tale involves a puppy getting ready for bed. After taking a bath, putting pjs on, brushing his teeth, saying his prayers, and looking at a book, he still cannot fall asleep. When the two critters start singing a lullaby, the little canine drifts off to a peaceful rest.

~Why ~
Having three grandchildren under the age of five, I love reading them bedtime stories when they visit and spend the night. I like that this story is quaint, short, and simple. Having a professional recording artist write the lullaby that includes thanking God is appreciated.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with God may not understand why it is necessary to spend time daily praying to God. Some may not have internet access to listen online to the lullaby link included in the book. Others may think the drawings are too simplistic and lack details. Beginner readers may have trouble reading the two- and three-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
I wish there were a way to hear the lullaby when the book is opened to the specific page as it would be easier to hear the song than to read it. The online link is only noted on one corner of the jacket cover, and one must submit their email address to hear the song.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a relaxing bedtime book that helps produce sleep, this may be a good choice.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lets-get-ready-for-bed-michael-w-smith/1128138070

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Childrens, Christian

The Gift That I Can Give

The Gift That I Can GiveTitle: The Gift that I Can Give
Author: Kathie Lee Gifford
Illustrator: Julia Seal
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0924-8

“All God asks me
As I grow, love, and live
Is that I show others
The gift I can give,”
Kathie Lee Gifford rhymes in her children’s book, The Gift That I Can Give.

~ What ~
At thirty-two pages, this oversized hardbound with a jacket cover with sparkly butterflies targets children four to eight years old. With no scary scenes, it is a book that promotes God and the special gift He gives to all who believe in Him.

After an ownership page to complete and dedication page, this book is told in rhyme about a young girl who learns that she is exactly the person God made her to be. Since birth, she has been given a gift from God to share with others. Wondering what the gift is, she contemplates if it could be a special talent, helping others, being kind to animals, cheering on a friend, lending a hand, visiting someone who is sick, or loving her family. She realizes that as she grows, loves, and lives, it is God’s love that she can give to others.

~Why ~
Having grandchildren, I love getting books about God and His love for them. I like the broad, colorful illustrations of adorable children who will keep young readers’ attention, including the butterflies in almost all the scenes. By explaining ways we can give to others, the underlying message is God’s love surpasses all.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like books about God or a relationship with Him may not approve of this book. Others may note there are no Bible references and God is generalized so it could be anyone’s god. Beginner readers may have problems with some of the two- and three-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciate the author’s fun and engaging poem that reminds young ones that God is love, I wish it went a step further to mention Jesus and the eternal plan of salvation that should be shared with others. Providing a Bible verse or two may correlate the story to the God of the Bible.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a children’s book for preschoolers to third-graders that exemplifies that we can share God’s love to others at any age, this is a good starter to show how to grow, love, and live for Him.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-gift-that-i-can-give-kathie-lee-gifford/1128128162

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Christian