Tag Archives: Christian

Preparing Your Teens for College: Faith, Friends, Finances, and Much More

Title: Preparing Your Teens for College: Faith, Friends, Finances, and Much More
Author: Alex Chediak
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-8312-5

Alex Chediak questions readers in the introduction of his book, Preparing Your Teens for College: Faith, Friends, Finances, and Much More, “Will my children’s Christian faith be strong enough to withstand the tests of college – the party scene, the atheistic professors? Will they form solid, healthy friendships or be lonely and get in with the wrong crowd?”

This four hundred and forty-eight page Christian-based paperback mainly targets parents of college-bound students making life-changing decisions. More of a book geared toward raising a teenage son or daughter to an adult life loving God, it offers helpful resources, suggestions, and Biblical tools.

After a foreword by Tedd Tripp and an introduction, there are six parts of eleven conversations parents should have with their maturing teens. There is a conclusion about two young adults’ progresses along with acknowledgements, an appendix, and notes but no reference index. This reader wishes all pronouns of Deity were capitalized for reverence.

Divided into six topics of character, faith, relationships, financial discipline, academics, and making the right college decision, this well-rounded book is a “beginning to understand college” subject for panicked parents.  Each chapter starts with a conversation, includes a letter from a student or parent, and offers Bible-based suggestions, followed by bullet-point summaries and several ways to start a discussion.

Unsure if parents know anything about current day college campuses, experiences, pitfalls, issues, or costs, it can be an eye-opener for the naïve. They need to teach their offspring responsibility and train them to be future-oriented. Entering adulthood questions one’s faith, conviction, tolerance, friendships, purity, finances, work ethics, talents, and interests. Some individuals may need to consider trade school instead.

Chapter four dissects three types of people in regard to worldviews and Christianity: those that are success-oriented may not have a deeper meaning of life, those ideals-oriented tend to lack morality, and the pleasure-seekers may ignore responsibility. There are six character qualities that should be sought out and developed in young adults: being truthful, encouraging, challenging, responsible, respectful, and humble.

Mentioning the aspects of picking a Christian versus secular college, deciding on major based on skills or talents, and financing using the FAFSA, the appendix adds a plan for saving for this expensive, sometimes necessary educational need.

Chediak focuses more on the spiritual foundation and background passed down to the children and less on the secular side to make various college decisions. Through prayer and information offered, some of the pain, worry, and concern will ease in letting go of a soon-to-be adult.

This complimentary book was furnished by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinion.

This review will be posted on Tyndale, DeeperShopping, Bookpleasures, and Amazon with links on Bookfun, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Queen of the Waves

Queen of the Waves

Title: Queen of the Waves
Author: Janice Thompson
Publisher: Summerside Press
ISBN: 978-1-60936-686-5

In the Bible, Psalms 103:12 it states “As far as the east if from the west, so far that He removed our transgressions from us.” In award-winning author Janice Thompson’s novel, the American Tapestries series Queen of the Waves, the writer shows how God is forgiving, loving and always directing our paths, even if on board a famous, doomed ship.

This three hundred and thirty-three page paperback novel depicts a young lady dressed in the early nineteen hundreds high society apparel, standing on a ship deck looking at the ocean. After the story, there is a short author biography along with four books by other authors in the series. With no profanity or explicit sex scenes, the book can be read by young adult and older and is obviously targeted toward females.

This Christian historical romance starts in England, when the Titanic makes its maiden voyage across the ocean to America. Only child Jacqueline Abingdon is from a wealthy family whose father has arranged for her to be married to a handsome but rather boring older man who plans on merging their businesses. But Jacquie is in love with Peter, the manor’s groundskeeper and will do anything in her power to be with him. Since Jacquie’s mother does not want her daughter involved with either suitor, behind her husband’s back she sneakily arranges boarding passes for Jacquie and her maid Iris to sail on the Titanic to avoid both relationships. With Peter’s sister, Tessa, subserviently at home with a drunken task-master father who forces her to brutal “prayer” confessions for supposedly being lazy at keeping up their minimal farm, Jacquie and Peter come up with an even more deceitful plan to make all three of them supposedly happy.

The unrefined, unsophisticated Tessa switches places with Jacquie and boards the Titanic without any problem but has issues with Iris, who resents her deception and lowly status as she pretends to be aristocratic and rich. Tessa, uncomfortable in her new role of expensive clothing, quarters and society, notices Nathan, who is traveling with his mother and a family friend, as he finds her just as intriguing. Back in England, Jacquie must deal with Peter’s true feelings toward her and how he purposed to save his sister Tessa from their abusive father.

When the Titanic starts its deathly voyage, all is opulent, cultured and almost superficial at the top deck of the ship. While Tessa is trying to tell Nathan the truth about her ruse and he learns about his father, the magnificent ship strikes the ice berg. Thomson writes compassionately how one learns that God loves and forgives each and every one of us unfathomably, in spite of our deceit, lies and sins.

This is a fresh angle about one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters with over fifteen hundred deaths and a little more than seven hundred survivors. Without giving away the ending, every one of the main characters have hope and endurance facing their own destinies.

This review will also be posted at http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com

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Exposed – Inexcusable Me … Irreplaceable Him

Product Details

Title: Exposed – Inexcusable Me … Irreplaceable Him
Author: Shannon M. Deitz
Publisher: Hopeful Hearts Ministry
ISBN: 978-0-9852503-0-0
In the Bible in Philippians 4:7 it states that “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” In Shannon M. Deitz’s Exposed – Inexcusable Me … Irreplaceable Him, the author finds her way out of depressing darkness into God’s loving, peaceful arms.

This two hundred and eighty-one page paperback book has a dull silhouette of a woman walking toward the light on the front jacket. Forty-something year old writer, Shannon Deitz tells all in this memoir about growing up as an unaccepted, unrecognized teenager and into a young married life and motherhood. Due to the topics of sex, drugs and alcohol abuse and spiritual warfare, this book may or may not be edifying to a young teen or middle school child or younger who does or does not have the maturity to understand the consequences of such acts and addictions.

Dietz writes this tome in first person, from her own experiences and viewpoint, changing the names of people who are involved to protect all. With a plethora of her own sexual encounters that also include being raped during her high school years and again while in college, one easily can see her angst and emotional upheavals as she goes through bouts of self-doubt, insecurity and depression. Being boy-crazy during middle school to watching her sister’s drug addictions, learning of family incest, drinking to the point of passing out and sometimes offering herself physically to others, Deitz pretends to be the perfect child on the outside, while being raised in a Catholic environment. Yet truth be told, she is like each one of us in this world: sinful, self-indulgent and prideful – but she admits it.

Continually seeking for an answer from God, she is practically shunned from a charismatic Christian youth group, goes through the Catholic traditional motions, witnesses several spiritual warfare battles and makes herself feel cheapened and unworthy by the opposite sex and supposedly God. It is not until she is married and has two sons that she finally gives all of herself to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who washes away the pain, sorrow, regret, hatred and self-condemnation. It is then that she can look back at her life and see how God was and is in control and has His hand continually and habitually protecting her.

With a strong commitment to God through praying to God, Jesus, Mary and dead saints for redemption, the rededicated Catholic author tells a raw, humble, redeeming story as she grows in her love for Christ. Although some of the book heavily emphasizes her multiple sexual liaisons with too much detail, it is a cherished, heart-felt read that makes one’s own sins and imperfections stand out.

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com


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Joi the Koi Gets a New Home

Joi the Koi, Gets a New Home (Joi the Koi, Volume 1)

Title: Joi the Koi Gets a New Home
Author: Devon Anthony
Illustrator: Gwen Glifford
CD Producer: Mark Vincent Pence
Publisher: Diamond DMT Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9837638-0-2

The Bible states in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In Devon Anthony’s children’s book Joi the Koi Gets a New Name, hope is seen through a pet fish looking for a new home.

This unnumbered but around thirty page over-sized hardcover book has a colorful drawing of a happy large Koi with big red lips on the front cover and a photograph of the author’s pet fish on the back cover. Illustrator Gwen Clifford’s artworks are large, bright, detailed, easy to understand and are depicted on every page as they follow the engaging storyline. Also included is a narrative CD produced by Mark Vincent Pence that has a woman telling the story, complete with background sounds and music with both English and Spanish options. The story is compassionate and not at all frightening so would be acceptable to all age groups, from preschool through adult. At the end of the story, the above Bible verse is mentioned. There is a dedication page to a beautiful woman and fun fish facts about guppies, Bettas, Shubunkins and Koi fish along with author’s notes and introduction to the next book in the series.

This cute tome is about Joi the Koi whose current home is at Ark Land, a busy pet store where many customers come and go, choosing and buying their favorite pets. In the back of the store is the Fish Village which has four types of fun fish. An energetic young boy enters the area bouncing a ball and accidentally breaks the fish tank glass, causing all the fish to spill on to the floor. With all fish rescued and put into a new, safe tank, an announcement is made that all the fish are now half priced and must be sold right away. All but Joi the Koi are sold quickly and she tries to get many customers to notice her by kissing the glass or trying to make noises like the other animals in the store whenever anyone walks by her tank. Finally a little girl notices Joi is all alone and asks to be her friend. Before the Time Keeper says it is nine o’clock and the store is closed, Joi is netted, placed in a bag and bought, leaving with her new friend to a new home.

With all of the interesting information, this book is a wonderful educational tool that not only teaches about different types of fish but it reiterates hope, friendship and carrying about others between the detailed pictures and rhyming story.

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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A Plain & Simple Heart

A Plain and Simple Heart (The Amish of Apple Grove)Title: A Plain & Simple Heart
Authors: Lori Copeland & Virginia Smith
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4755-8

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” is from Proverbs 3:6. In Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith’s second book of The Amish of Apple Grove series, A Plain & Simple Heart, the Biblical concept of God directing our paths without us realizing it is the main focus in this romantic tale.

With over three hundred pages, this paperback book depicts a somewhat corny photograph of an Amish young woman and a sheriff on the front jacket. The book also includes a discussion section, author’s notes regarding factual, historical characters in the book and thirteen pages of the next story in the series. Since there is no profanity, questionable sex scenes or innuendos, it is an ideal read for any young preteen age or older female who love wholesome romantic stories. The topics of alcohol, prohibition and women’s rights in the late nineteenth century are discussed.

This tome is set in Kansas in 1885 when it was one of the few states that outlawed any type of liquor, yet backs were turned when the law of the land was applied. Amish Rebecca, only seventeen years old, has been fantasizing and dreaming about Jesse, a boy she met four years ago. Now that she is a full-grown woman, she wants to fulfill her love toward him – if only she can locate him. Having heard Jesse is now a cowboy in the nearby town of Lawrence, she leaves her father’s Amish farm and sheltered upbringing by sneaking away to complete her rumspringa, her rite to experience the Englisch way of living, before she joins the church.

Upon arriving in Lawrence, she gets unknowingly caught up in the women’s rights movement and assists in challenging local sheriff Colin to uphold the laws regarding prohibition. Colin, who is planning on leaving in two weeks, and the mayor arrest and jail her for ninety days. In mere weeks, will the two thrown-together young people realize their love for each other or will Rebecca wait for Jesse to come rescue her and Colin to move on in his life?

Not typical of normal Amish stories, this one is unique in that it shows that the Amish and their non-simple believers have the same God in spite of their different cultures and beliefs and can accept one another as is. Copeland and Smith do a good job showing that God directs our paths and puts us in perfect circumstances, even though we may not always believe in them.

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com, http://www.harvesthousepublishers and http://www.amazon.com.

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The Haven

Haven, The: A Novel (Stoney Ridge Seasons)Title: The Haven
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1988-3

“… Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Romans 4:7. In the second of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s series “Stoney Ridge Seasons,” her novel The Haven deals with God forgiving and forgetting our past and our sins as per this verse in the Bible.

This three hundred and fourteen page paperback has a photograph of a young Amish girl on the front cover and is targeted toward young, mature Christian women who enjoy wholesome romantic stories. There is no profanity but the subject matter of pre-marital sex and having children out of wedlock are discussed. At the end of the book there are discussion questions, acknowledgements, author biography and sources to obtain her other written works. This author wishes pronouns in reference to God would be capitalized for reverence.

Young woman Sadie Lapp has spent several months in Ohio, helping her sister and brother-in-law establish their new home while also learning about herbs and their medicinal purposes. As she returns to her Amish home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she is at the bus station, where she falls asleep but is startled to awaken in the possession of a baby boy in a basket. She takes the baby home to her father, younger sister and housekeeper, convinced that God has given her the bundle of joy for a specific reason.

Sadie’s sister M.J. is very outspoken, intelligent and tends to say too much, giving the tight-knit community the impression that the baby boy is Sadie’s. Gideon, a befuddled, awkward schoolteacher to M.J. has been in love with Sadie for years and habitually says and does the wrong thing to get Sadie’s attention.

Meanwhile, outsider Will, a confused and wayward college student who has a love of birds, is sent to the Amish farm to keep watch of two endangered falcons living on the homestead. Fighting his emotions, he learns about himself, his upbringing and his interests in Sadie.

As the story twists and turns, will Sadie figure out who are the parents to the baby or will she succumb to Will’s attention? Will Gideon stand up for his love for Sadie or will he resent and hate Will for noticing Sadie? But most of all, will Sadie’s family and the Amish community understand forgiveness and love the newborn baby that changes the Lapp family forever?

Leaving a clear opportunity for future books, this tome not only shows the simplistic, current day life and thinking of the Amish, but shows “when God forgives, he does it once for all. He doesn’t keep dragging out reminders the way people do.”

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com

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The Shadow on the Quilt

The Shadow on the Quilt (The Quilt Chronicles)Title: The Shadow on the Quilt
Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-616264444

What would you do if you had just found out that your husband has been having an affair – or more than one affair? What if you could not have a child and your husband had offspring from another woman? And what would you do if your husband, a pillar in the community, was killed in a fire at the local brothel, supposedly rescuing one of the working ladies? In Stephanie Grace Whitson’s novel, The Shadow on the Quilt, these sad, tragic events happen to Juliana Sutton.

This three hundred and nineteen page paperback book depicts a women dressed in late eighteenth century clothing holding a quilt with a muted large house in the background on the front cover. This Christian historical fiction has no profanity, includes mild romantic overtones with no sexual scenes and discusses consequences of adultery, children born out of wedlock and coping with infidelity. The tome is targeted to young female adults but might be enjoyed by young mature teenage women. Each chapter has a Bible verse dedicated to the topic discussed in the chapter. There are several well-known hymns dove-tailed into the story from the time period.

The second in the Quilt Chronicle Series story is based in Lincoln, Nebraska during Chester Arthur’s presidency of the United States in 1883, when towns were expanding and historic mansions constructed. Juliana Sutton, young, married to Sterling but unable to have children, finds a locket in her husband’s dresser drawer with the initials of P.L. engraved on it along with a photograph of a mother and child. Juliana’s anger erupts but is abruptly extinguished when the town’s brothel catches on fire and her wealthy, successful husband is killed along with a brothel employee.

With her faith in God, Juliana not only has to process her husband’s infidelity and adultery, but grieve for his passing while dealing with her anger and pain. She is kept busy continuing over-seeing the large, opulent mansion her husband was building outside of town. Cass, the foreman supervising the construction and dealing with his own family upbringing and troubles, befriends Juliana and questions if there is could possibly be more to their relationship.

Whitson uses a hand-made quilt weaved throughout the story that is made by the Society of the Home of The Friendless ladies which include Sterling’s two dear aunts and Juliana. Besides the history of the land, the time period and growing romance that Juliana yearns for, the story includes mourning observations, courting relationships and day to day work habits of the community.

This is a wonderful read that is engaging, spiritual without condemnation and romantic in an agape and loving fashion. Including the simple plan of eternal salvation, this book shows how God’s love conquers the broken, hurt heart and that His plans are perfect in all instances.

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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Apples for the Soul

Title: Apples for the Soul
Author: Marcia Schwartz
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1-4327-8284-9

In the Bible, Philippians 3:13b – 14 states “… but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” In Apples for the Soul – A Book of Meditations, evangelical Christian Maria Schwartz reminds us to stop dwelling on the past or what we are doing, concentrate more fully on God and let Him show us what to do.

This one hundred and forty six page paperback book has colorful red and green apples against a green background on the front cover. Inside are seventy three meditations spread out between two pages so any page one turns to in the book, the introspection can be read in its entirety. Each thought out topic starts with an apropos Bible verse, has a two or three paragraph story or discussion and ends with one to three sentences of prayer. The book seems to be targeted toward Christian women, but can be enjoyed by both sexes. There is no profanity, questionable themes or unacceptable topics.

Being a retired school teacher, Schwartz knows how to engage her readers and make them pay attention to the Almighty God through reverence, respect and resources. After each Bible verse, her stories are sometimes endearing or charming as she gently persuades us to concentrate on God instead of ourselves. Some of the stories are taken directly out of the Bible or from other individuals yet some are written through her own thoughts and experiences.

If it is not a discussion built around a famous person’s comments like those taken from John Newton’s “Amazing Grace,” Robert Nathan’s “Portrait of Jenny,” “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens or the Biblical Jonah, David or Solomon, it could be a simple story about old items, pennies, puzzles, weeds, working out at the gym, an airplane pilot or when her child was five years old. The author effortlessly relates and blends a Bible verse into topic or words of famous people, places or herself and molds them to building and encouraging a growing relationship with God through prayer and reflection.

With the main focal point being to meditate on God to produce a truer personal relationship with Him, Schwartz writes an easy to read, easy to concentrate and easy to repeat quick prayer devotional to keep in better touch with our Lord and Savior.

This review will also be posted at http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com

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Cries in the Wind

Title: Cries in the Wind – God’s Answer
Author: Vanessa A. Jackson Austin
Publisher: WestBow Press
ISBN: 978-1-4497-3956-0

In the Bible, it states in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In Vanessa A. Jackson Austin’s short book, Cries in the Wind – God’s Answer, she explores her own path in life dealing with cancer and coming to the realization that God is truly in control and has a reason for her life history.

This one hundred and five page paperback book has a photograph depicting flowers being blown in the wind on the front cover. Besides her story inside, there are seven pages each of topics on her gracious acknowledgements to her caregivers, other cancer survivors’ stories, and additional website resources along with a healing Scripture section, five ways to “stay alive” and information of her other books. Her own heartfelt poetry about God and His love is spread throughout each chapter. This book is ideal to aid and encourage anyone going through the agonizing process of hearing he or she has cancer or any debilitating health issue and yearns for God’s help and peace.

The author writes her own feelings and thoughts during a few years where she was diagnosed and had surgery for breast cancer, had a melanoma scare on her foot and dealt with frozen shoulder and osteoporosis to name a few. Throughout each step in her physical health process, she gives God the glory and relies on Him for her direction, comfort, peace and encouragement. The book has a mirage of Bible verse after Bible verse to remind herself and the reader to constantly consider God’s ways, not our ways as we go through our trials. It is as if she is writing reminder notes on sporadic topics to herself to not concentrate on why she has the disease or health issue, but how to remember and honor the Lord through it on a daily basis.

Austin does a good job focusing on God through each of her trials as she recalls Romans 10:31 that states “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Like so many others with cancer or any other sickness, she was indeed placed on this earth to go through the horrible test of such an illness to be a living testimony to glorify God and be called according to His purpose to be used through her writings and poetry.

This review is also posted at http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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The Treasure of the Celtic Triangle

Title: The Treasure of the Celtic Triangle
Author: Michael Phillips
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-61626-586-1

In the Bible, Proverbs 3:6 states “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.” In Michael Phillips, A Treasure of the Celtic Triangle, the author hones in on this wise truism in his novel about a family going through heartbreaks, change and acceptance of God being in control and directing those who acknowledge Him.

This four hundred and thirty-seven page paperback has a young couple in nineteenth century clothing standing in front of a massive Celtic landscape on the front cover. Besides a geographical map in the beginning of the book, the conclusion has explanatory notes from the author about its factual characters along with an autobiography and insightful book club discussion questions. With no profanity or explicit sexual scenes, this book is perfectly targeted to young Christian women but could be enjoyed by men also. This reader wishes pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

The excellent writing style and in-depth story-telling of Michael Phillips comes out clearly and concisely in this historical romance starting in 1872 in Northern Wales. Weaved in and out of the storyline are the famous George MacDonald’s spiritual writings and novels along with references of D.L. Moody of the time period which are the fiber behind the well-written romantic creation.

When young twenty-something Percy Drummond is summoned to his uncle’s death bed at the large Westbrooke manor in Gwynedd, he is told of the viscount’s prior youthful past and asked to locate a particular person dear to his uncle. After the uncle dies, his daughter, Florilyn, calls off her marriage engagement to Percy as she is convinced the two of them mimic characters in one of MacDonald’s novels. Percy, confused but wanting to know God’s will too, starts an ardent search per the uncle’s last wishes and realizes Florilyn’s astuteness about their potential marriage, so considers another woman from his childhood who has disappeared. Meanwhile, Florilyn’s ruckus brother Courtenay, soon to be heir of the estate, tries to take the Westbrooke family land away from his mother and into his own, uncontrollable hands.

From beautifully describing the Welsh landscape, exploring the Celtic history and explaining every-day living and hierarchy of personal status, the book’s consistent reminder of God’s love, forgiveness and truth plays a precious part in reconnecting broken relationships among the characters. With many twists of events, introduction of several interesting, unassuming and heart-felt characters, Phillips intertwines the lives of the Westbrooke manor into a wonderful love story of mercy, compassion and spiritual growth. One is kept guessing if Percy finds his true love, if Florilyn actually marries a man who wants her money, if the dead uncle’s wishes are followed through or is the true treasure the triangle between God and specific people and not a place.

Without a doubt, this author should be added to the bookshelf of exceptional, understanding and wonderful novels where all loose ends are concluded yet there is a yearning for more and more.

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com

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