Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Seeing the Unseen

Title: Seeing the Unseen
Author: Randy Alcorn
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 978-0735290792

“Life on Earth matters, not because it’s the only life we have but precisely because it isn’t—it’s the beginning of a life that will continue without end,” Randy Alcorn pens in the introduction to his book, Seeing the Unseen: A 90-Day Devotional to Set Your Mind on Eternity.

At two-hundred-and-eight pages, this paperback that is meant to be read daily for three months targets those who want to focus on life with Christ for eternity. Using mainly the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible, also referenced are the CEB, GNT, NET, NIV, NLT, and Phillips. After a table of contents and introduction, the ninety devotions are followed by the author’s biography, information on a non-profit ministry, and notes.

The book is separated into ninety two-page devotions that start on the right side of the page with a day number. Each chapter has a title and short statement, followed by several paragraphs that begin with a topic related to the subject and sometimes referencing Bible verses. The devotion ends with perspectives from God of written-out Bible verses and God’s people, usually well-known pastors, evangelists, authors, speakers, or individuals. Every devotion includes an epm.org blog link for more discussion.

~Why ~
I love devotionals that do not have commentary of the writer’s personal experiences and appreciate that this one contains little. Instead, there are current day topics and ideas that are blended with a Biblical tone of what we do here on Earth affects us later in Heaven. Samples of the titles include Only One Way, Homesick for Heaven, The Master Artist, Delighting in Him, The Audience of One, The Brief Window of This Present Life, The Universe’s Greatest Tragedy, and Under Grace, Not Sin. Able to read each in under a few minutes, the devotions are short and to the point.

One devotion that stood out to me was Finding True Contentment for Day 59. The writer mentions the way to contentment is to see the present advantages of the phases we are in throughout our lives and to trust God’s purposes in our circumstances. Keeping away from idols helps us find true contentment through Christ. The written out Bible verses are from I Timothy 6:6 and 2 Corinthians 12:10, and Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Hall are quoted with further reading on the noted blog.

~ Why Not ~
Some may not like themed devotions so would pass on this book. Others may prefer longer or deeper devotionals that explain Bible verses or concepts in depth or only reading the Scriptures as their daily reading.

~ Wish ~
With the title mentioning eternity, it would be more beneficial if there were more explanations of what Heaven will be like for us that is more akin to the author’s expected writing.

~ Want ~
If you like devotionals that focus on day-to-day living as we anticipate a future eternity with Christ, this may be a good selection. Due to its limitation, it should be read daily along with the Bible.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for this complimentary book that I am reviewing freely.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Picturing Heaven

Picturing Heaven: 40 Hope-Filled Devotions with Coloring PagesTitle: Picturing Heaven
Author: Randy Alcorn
Illustrator: Lizzie Preston
Publisher: Tyndale
ISBN: 978-1-4964-2527-0

“As you ponder these pictures and participate in the art, you’ll more fully appreciate Christ’s promise …“ Randy Alcorn writes in the introduction to his book, Picturing Heaven: 40 Hope-Filled Devotions with Coloring Pages.

~ What ~
A part of the Living Expressions collection, this ninety-six-page paperback targets those who enjoy contemplating on Heaven while having down time coloring. With forty illustrations, the large book has written-out Bible verses, devotions, and black and white drawings with already-colored gold sections. The NLT, CEB, ESV, GNT, NCV, NIV, and The New Testament in Modern English versions of the Holy Bible are referenced.

After a table of contents, the left sides of the pages have a title and written-out Bible verse followed by one paragraph by the author about an aspect, activity, or character of Heaven. The opposite pages are detailed artworks to complete, each containing some gold-filled highlights. The book ends with acknowledgments, author’s biography, a blank page for sketches, and a lined page for notes.

Topics on Heaven include the New Earth, New Jerusalem, Eden, multi-racial people, and worshipping Jesus as well as concepts of time, weather, pets, work, dancing, singing, and joyfulness to name a few. Many of the illustrations have adults, children, animals, birds, nature, buildings, and activities with decorative patterns to color.

~ Why ~
I cannot wait to go to Heaven to be with God and Jesus, so a book like this is apropos. I like that the written words are short and to the point about so many Heaven-related topics, while the charming illustrations are creative and engaging.

One of my favorite devotions was the one about remembering Christ’s sacrifice mentioned in John 20:26-27. The writer reiterates that when we are in Heaven, we will never forget our sins nailed Jesus to the cross and He shed His blood for us to live there for eternity.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or are not looking forward to Heaven may not appreciate this book. Others may not care for coloring or doodling. Those who are avid colorers may be concerned the cardstock will bleed through to the other side if colored markers or paints are used.

~ Wish ~
It would be nice to add a short prayer after each devotional. I wish the book would lay completely flat.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a special gift to give that special person who has their eyes on Heaven and love to color, this will make a wonderful present.

Thanks to Tyndale for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

Grammarly was used to check for errors in this review.

 

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365 Devotions for Living Joyfully

Title: 365 Devotions for Living Joyfully
Author: Victoria York
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 978-0-310-08550-8

“These pages will guide you through a yearlong journey toward a transformed, joyful heart that overflows into the lives of those around you,” the back jacket states in Victoria York’s book, 365 Devotions for Living Joyfully.

~ What ~
At four hundred pages, this hardbound for women meant to be read daily throughout a year encourages living life joyfully through God’s promises and desires for us. Using mainly the New International Version of the Holy Bible, also referenced are the ESV, HCSB, NLT, and Voice. It comes with an attached light blue marker ribbon, and there is a Scripture index at the ending.

The book is separated by month with one page dedicated to each day of the year. Each date starts with a title and written-out Bible verse, followed by several paragraphs that usually begin with an everyday topic or idea, later linking it to the Biblical topic. The page ends with a short two-line prayer.

As it concentrates on joy and God, some random titles include The Joy of Sleep, The Lord is Kind, Focus on the Lord, Joy with Abandon, Pain and Praise, Tradition, Without Him, Seeing People, Better Than I Deserve, God of Compassion, Your Name in Written, and A Legacy of Joy.

~Why ~
Without using her personal experiences, the writer calls the reader to relate to an event, memory, or experience and correlates it to how to find more joy through Christ in everyday living. I like that I could relate to the majority of the topics and how God is the focal point. The prayers are short but meaningful.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their savior may not appreciate this devotional. Some women may not like themed devotions so would pass on it. Others may prefer only reading the Scriptures as their daily reading. It should not replace daily Bible reading.

~ Wish ~
While realizing the intent the book is to live a life of joy through God, I wish it had more about Him and less about the world, but that is my preference in my daily devotions.

~ Want ~
If you like devotionals that you can relate to throughout the year, this is a joyful reminder of God always being there for us during our lives. It would make a thoughtful gift for a young woman.

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

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Russia Rising

Title: Russia Rising
Author: Mark Hitchcock
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-2807-3

“The Bear is rising to take its place among the cast of characters in the final drama of the ages,” Mark Hitchcock writes in his book, Russia Rising: Tracking the Bear in Bible Prophecy.

~ What ~
This two hundred-and-forty-page paperback targets those interested in Biblical end time prophecy and how it relates to Russia. Using mainly the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible, other versions referenced are the KJV and NASB. There are ten chapters, ending with three appendixes, notes, and the author’s biography.

In this informative read, the author dissects the Bible’s Ezekiel 38 to 39 in current time, correlating it to the end times of the king of the North trying to crush Israel and the Antichrist making his seven-year pact of peace. The chapters explain the final four kings, the rise and fall of Russia compared to the bear in Daniel, and the triumvirate of Russia, Iran, and Turkey to name a few. Also discussed is Rosh, Gog, the Hidden Imam, and a prophetic checklist. The ending has the verses in Ezekiel written out, a section by Dr. John F. Walvoord, and common questions related to Russia, the Middle East, and the end of days.

~ Why ~
This book is well-written without being confusing when it comes to Biblical prophecy about Russia during the end times. I appreciated the explanation of Rosh being Russia, Gog is a northern commander, Tarshish’s possible location, and Putin’s “vertical of power” by stealing land, seizing assets, slaughtering, and stifling Western power. According to the Bible, Hitchcock does not mark a day or person in stone regarding the future but offers scenarios, background information, and circumstances happening today that could be apropos to the topic. Including the eternal plan of salvation is key to readers who are unbelievers.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or are not concerned we could be in the end times may not appreciate this book. Others may disagree with the writer’s pre-tribulation rapture stance (I am one who agrees with the author).

~ Wish ~
With so much happening globally every day, I wish this book could contain up-to-the-minute additions of the day-to-day news we hear that further links the puzzle pieces together when Christ returns. Believing the rapture is imminent, I hope readers take the book seriously.

~ Want ~
If you are trying to figure out the end times Biblically and are unsure of the main players in the world, especially Russia, this read displays it clearly, offering several current variables.

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for this complimentary book that I am reviewing freely.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Morning & Evening Devotions

David Jeremiah Morning and Evening Devotions: Holy Moments in the Presence of GodTitle: Morning & Evening Devotions
Author: David Jeremiah
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7180-9261-0

~ What ~
At 768 pages, this brown embossed devotional hardbound is meant to be read every morning and evening. Using mainly the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, also referenced are the CEV, ESV, KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT, RSV, TLB, HCSB, God’s Word, Phillips, and the Message. A ribbon marker is attached.

Containing two devotions for each day of the year, the opened pages have the morning’s contents on the left side of the pages with the evening’s on the right. After a title, there is a short written out Bible verse, followed by a few paragraphs about the topic. While an introduction is at the beginning of the book, sources and several lined blank notes pages are at the back.

~Why ~
I appreciate devotionals that have little information about the author but focus on God in day-to-day living, and this book does that nicely. The readings are brief and to the point, often beginning with a couple of sentences regarding a person, place, or thing, explaining how it correlates to God.

One of my favorites was May 2nd. The morning’s devotional is titled God Never Sleeps with Psalm 121:4 written out. While discussing Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal mentioned in the Old Testament, the writer stresses that God is there all hours of the day for us. The opposite page has the title of Succeeding at Failing with 2 Timothy 4:11. When Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, departed from Paul’s ministry, many considered him a failure, but Paul later counts him as a valuable coworker, showing how God uses our circumstances.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not want to get a daily devotional that focuses on getting closer to the Almighty. Others may wish each read were longer in length.

~ Wish ~
It would be thoughtful to include a short prayer at the bottom of the pages so one could apply the devotional to that morning or evening when talking to God.

~ Want ~
If you like devotionals that have both a morning and evening read, this is an excellent choice for one seeking a closer walk with Christ, but it should not take the place of daily Bible reading.

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

GRAMMARY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Spoken from the Heart: Living a Life of Obedience

Spoken from the Heart: Living a Life of ObedienceTitle: Spoken from the Heart: Living a Life of Obedience
Author:  Cheri Swalwell
Publisher: Spoken by the Heart
ISBN # 9781545139851

“It wasn’t until I truly understood how much God craves a relationship with me, His child, that I began to understand why He also desires my obedience,” Cheri Swalwell writes in the introduction of her book, Spoken from the Heart: Living a Life of Obedience.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-twelve-page book targets readers looking for a quick Christian women’s devotional that can be read daily over a thirty-two day period. Referencing the New International Version of the Holy Bible, it also uses The Message. With a dedication, list of other authored books, written out Bible verse, and note from the author at the beginning, its ending has a thank you, acknowledgments, contact information, and her biography.

With more than a month of short two- to four-page devotions, the book examines the author’s journey learning to obey God, no matter what the cost. Beginning with written out Bible verses or quotes from a well-known writer or pastor, the chapters cover obeying God, stepping into His promise, waiting on His schedule, being one of His sheep, and learning obedience is hard to name a few.

~ Why ~
Everyone has different experiences when they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and Swalwell shares her struggles, fears, and frustration as she learns to obey the Savior more. I like how she discusses the importance of having a deep relationship with Christ to want to obey Him, hopelessness to hopefulness, and examining the Israelites and Biblical characters such as David and Paul. She divulges how she deals with anger, depression, a miscarriage, job changes, eating addictions, and her husband’s illness by being in the Word, fasting, and trusting God.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have or want a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will not be interested in this book. Some may not like devotions that include the author’s experiences, fears, and reflections by correlating it to her family’s pet reptile, leeches, fixer-up shows, glass pearls, and a puppy. Others may wish more Bible verses or Biblical examples were added.

~ Who ~
An ardent Christ follower, Swalwell is a wife, mother, and writer who lives in the Midwest with her husband and family. She has written over a dozen books with many in this series as well as been a contributor for another devotional.

~ Wish ~
Being one who prefers devotionals that have little of the author’s personal information, I found this is a woman’s journal of how she deepened her relationship with Christ by obedience. Although others may like this type of devotion, those I read that have a lot of personal content are given 4 stars out of 5 because I try to only focus on Jesus when adding to my daily Bible reading.

~ Want ~
Similar to most devotionals, this book reflects the thoughts and personal feelings of a Christian who desires to be closer to Christ. Although it mainly contains the author’s experiences, readers may find it a helpful reminder to obey God in conjunction to daily reading Scriptures.

Thanks to the author for this complimentary book that I am reviewing freely.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

 

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Spoken from the Heart: Walking in Freedom

Spoken from the Heart: Walking in FreedomTitle: Spoken from the Heart: Walking in Freedom
Author:  Cheri Swalwell
Publisher: Spoken by the Heart
ISBN # 9781544762579

“For me, it means realizing true freedom is living by God’s rules, the rules He put into place to bring me life, not to punish me or deny me fun,” Cheri Swalwell writes in the introduction of her book, Spoken from the Heart: Walking in Freedom.

~ What ~
This eighty-two-page book targets readers looking for a quick Christian women’s devotional that can be read daily over a thirty-two day period. Referencing the New International Version of the Holy Bible, it also uses The Message. With a dedication, list of other authored books, written out Bible verse, and note from the author at the beginning, its ending has a thank you, acknowledgments, contact information, and her biography.

With more than a month of short three- to four-page devotions, the book examines the author’s journey from fear to faith in freedom. Beginning with written out Bible verses or quotes from a well-known writer or singer, the chapters cover conviction versus condemnation, communion, healing and non-healing, wrestling with God, everything is God’s, fearing Him, His unconditional love, and walking in freedom to name a few.

~ Why ~
Everyone has different experiences when they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and Swalwell shares her struggles, fears, and frustration as she learns to lean on, trust, and obey the Savior more. I like how she discussed Satan condemning while God convicts, learning to make time for the Sabbath, and understanding offering blessings to others. She divulges how she overcame her fear of driving in the snow, eating addictions, trust issues, and false guilt as she learns to pray more often, realize she is loved no matter what, and find freedom.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have or want a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will not be interested in this book. Some may not like devotions that mainly include an author’s experiences, fears, and reflections. Others may wish more Bible verses or Biblical examples were added.

~ Who ~
An ardent Christ follower, Swalwell is a wife, mother, and writer who lives in the Midwest with her husband and family. She has written over a dozen books with many in this series as well as been a contributor for another devotional.

~ Wish ~
Being one who prefers devotionals that have little of the author’s personal information, I found this one is a woman’s journal of how she deepened her relationship with Christ. Although others may like this type of devotion, those I read that have a lot of personal content are given 4 stars out of 5 because I try to only focus on Jesus when adding to my daily Bible reading.

~ Want ~
Similar to most devotionals, this book reflects the thoughts and personal feelings of a Christian who desires to be closer to Christ. Although it mainly contains the author’s experiences, readers may find it a helpful to daily reading the Word of God.

Thanks to the author for this complimentary book that I am reviewing freely.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Psalm Hymns: Worship Leader Books 1, 2, & 3

Psalm-Hymns Worship Leader: Books 1, 2 & 3 (Volume 1)Title: Psalm Hymns: Worship Leader Books 1, 2, & 3
Author: L.L. Larkins
Publisher: Capture Books
ISBN: 978-1517796884

“By reciting or singing these psalms, God makes Himself, His records of testimonies of His deeds more accessible,” L.L. Larkins writes in the introduction of her book, Psalm Hymns: Worship Leader Books 1, 2, & 3 (Volume 1) – Dramatic, Contemplative, Singable, Recitable Psalms!

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-ninety-page oversized paperback targets those who are seeking a compilation of rewritten psalms from the Bible that are set to the music of famous songs and hymns. By using a plethora of different versions of the Holy Bible, three books in one are included in this series that covers Psalms 1 through 89.

After an introduction and historical uses, the eighty-nine rewritten psalms cover two to eight pages each, ending with the Ten Commandments, author’s biography, and a proposed fifteen-week performance syllabus.

Each psalm is written out in poem format with the psalm title at the top of the page, followed by the type it is, tune it is set in, author of the original song, and year published. After several stanzas are written, notes are included, explaining the history of the original psalm and more information.

~ Why
This book would be helpful for a church or Sunday school group that is studying Psalms by singing corresponding rewritten wording to a famous song’s melody. With the added notes regarding the history or background information, it can become an in-depth study of the Word of God that is set to music. I like that old hymns are used such as What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and Rock of Ages.

One example I enjoyed was the short Psalm 23 that is arranged in four stanzas to the tune of Away in a Manger by James R. Murray in 1887. The notes explain the name of God is Jehovah Roi as well as three other names for Him. Also mentioned are sheep and their characteristics, habits, and utter dependency on their caretaker, just like we need to be personally taken care of by Jesus.

~ Why Not ~
Those who have no interest in singing, worshiping, or learning more about Psalms in the Bible will not be interested in this book. Others may not like the translation or rewritten versions of the poems and songs of the Old Testament.

~ Wh0~
A transcriber of psalms for singing and reflections and mentor /counselor in performance and theory of worship, Larkins used to be a leader of praise and worship in church, youth, and various African groups.

~ Wish ~
It would be helpful to include an index that listed the musical arrangement that went with each psalm.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a praise/worship book for a church, choir, or singing event, this may be a helpful source that focuses on the more than half of the Biblical Psalms.

Thanks to Capture Books for this complimentary book that I am reviewing freely.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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The Gatekeepers

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every PresidencyTitle: The Gatekeepers
Author: Chris Whipple
Publisher: Crown
ISBN: 978-0-8041-3824-6

“Each chief can make or break an administration, and each president reveals himself by the chief he picks,” the front jacket flap states in Chris Whipple’s book, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.

~ What ~
At three-hundred-and-eighty-four pages, this hardbound targets those interested in the behind the scenes of the highest office in the United States, the presidency. After an introduction, nine chapters cover the different presidential chiefs of staff from 1968 to 2013, followed by an epilog, notes, bibliography, author’s note, acknowledgments, and index.

From Nixon to Obama’s terms in office, the chiefs of staff are dissected in how they got the position, their goals, frustrations, and perspectives, what they did or did not accomplish, and why they were fired or left the position.

~Why ~
I found this read extremely detailed and informative when it came to explaining how the presidential office runs and who helps or hinders history. By reading its contents, I remembered the blaming of Halderman for a causing Watergate, Rumsfield being effective keeping Ford on track, the press core loving Cheney, Baker and Duberstein rescuing Reagan from the Iran-Contra scandal, Panetta bringing discipline into Clinton’s administration, Card not empowered to control Bush’s advisers, and Obama’s Emanuel to name a few. Having written-out audio tapes, memos, and documents show the strengths and weaknesses as well as successes and disasters of both presidents and their top aides. By having to do grunt work and telling it like it is, all chiefs had few moments of peace performing the daunting task of advising their presidents.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like recalling the political turmoil of several of our past presidents may show no interest in reading this book. Others may find its contents sometimes gossipy and name-dropping with the who’s who of politics and Washington D.C. socialites.

~ Who ~
An acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Whipple is also a writer, speaker, and journalist who has won several awards.

~ Wish ~
I wish more photographs were included.

~ Want ~
If you are curious about who has been the United States presidents’ chiefs of staff the past fifty years, this well-written book offers a plethora of differences and similarities of the men holding the second most powerful job in government.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Devotions from the Kitchen Table

Devotions from the Kitchen TableTitle: Devotions for the Kitchen Table
Author: Stacey Edwards
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7180-9187-3

“God is still present no matter what a day may bring. God does not hide Himself from us. He can be found by anyone whose heart seeks Him,” Stacey Edwards writes in one of her inserts in her book, Devotions .for the Kitchen Table.

~ What ~
At two-hundred-twenty-four hundred pages, this book is meant to be read at one’s kitchen table as a devotion that targets women. Using mainly the New International Version of the Holy Bible, also referenced are the ESV, HCSB, NASB, NLT, and Message. A ribbon marker is attached.

Containing ninety devotions, each one is one to one-and-a-half pages with beautiful full-color photographs on their opened pages of homey, comfy scenes. Having short titles such as First One Awake, Meal Train, Pinwheels, Slow Cooking, Power Lines, Dad’s Voice, The Garage Door, Bird Feeder, and Grampa’s Toolbox, each begin with a written out Bible verse followed by several paragraphs correlating the topic to God and a closer relationship with Him. The endings have one to three sentence prayers regarding the devotions’ content.

~Why ~
I appreciate devotionals that have little information about the author but focus on God in day-to-day living, and this book does that. The stories are brief and to the point, often beginning with a question but rarely using the words “I” or “me.” Sometimes Old and New Testament characters or Scripture are noted as the writer shows the struggles, goals, and achievements of daily life with Christ.

A favorite was Raindrops on a Window that offers the Bible verse I Corinthians 1:9 regarding fellowship with Jesus. The author asks if you have ever noticed the raindrops on a window pane and how the view is skewed. She reminds us that when we are lonely, we must not fall into the trap that God is far away; but we need to have an accurate view of Him always being nearby, no matter what our circumstances. A short prayer is at the end asking for a proper perspective.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not want to get a book that focuses on getting closer to the Almighty. Others may wish there were more than ninety devotions included.

~ Who ~
No information is provided about the author.

~ Wish ~
With the stunning photographs throughout the book, it draws away from the writing, so I may be one of the few that wish there were less artwork and more than ninety devotions that could be read throughout the year.

~ Want ~
If you like devotionals with beautiful photographs and short reading, this is an excellent choice for a Mother’s Day or birthday present or gift for a friend who are seeking a closer walk with Christ, but it should not take the place of daily Bible reading.

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

GRAMMARY was used to check for errors in this review.

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