A Fresh Batch of Book Reviews

Four book reviews today!  A Christmas devotional, a book to help you hear Jesus’ voice, a Scripture memorization help, and a memoir.  Enjoy!


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: A Countdown to Christmas by Ace Collins

Each day in December, read a history of Christmas carols and movies along with a brief devotional.  Each day includes a recipe or a craft.  I’m looking forward to testing the recipes for lime foot scrub and sugarplum cookies this year.

This Christmas devotional is unique due to its historical accounts.  I learned new and encouraging stories about familiar hymns and carols.  I also enjoyed the author’s lighthearted voice.  If you’re looking for a light, cheerful Christmas devotional, this one is a good pick.


Jesus Today: Experience Hope in His Presence by Sarah Young

This book has 150 readings with a short devotion and several Bible verses.  The author expertly weaves Bible verses into the text, so the book really is God’s word to us.  She writes in contemporary language which is peaceful and encouraging.  The book is appropriate for older children, teens, and adults.

Flipping through the pages, I heard Jesus speaking loud and clear to me.  On Day 33, he said, “I will fight for you; you need only to be still…I am working on your behalf; so be still, and know that I am God.”  On Day 45, he said, “No matter what you are experiencing or how alone you feel, trust that I am with you–well aware of your circumstances.”  On Day 66, he said, “The challenge before you is to stop focusing on your problems and limitation–and to believe that the way ahead really is an open road, in spite of how it looks.”  This book is truly speaking to me in a current situation, and I plan to incorporate it into my daily Bible study.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs has a signature engaging, humorous style.  Her style drew me to this book on scripture memorization.  Liz polled her readers for their favorite Bible verses and chose 31 verses to break down for memorization.  She breaks down verses bit by bit, providing a mixture of historical context, personal stories, and devotional encouragement.  She asks thoughtful questions to help the verse sink deep into your heart.  What I really like about this book are her practical tips for memorization, such as “Choose the best time of day when your mind is the sharpest,” “Set an alarm to remind you to review your verse,” and “Say the verse aloud.”

I grew up memorizing scripture as a Lutheran school girl, and I still recall many verses from my childhood.  What this book did for me is breathe new life into verses that seem so familiar, like “Be still and know that I am God” from Psalm 46 and the famous promise of Romans 8:28.  I believe that scripture memorization is important for me and for my children.  As I use the techniques in this book, I can hide God’s word more effectively in my heart and be a better teacher to my children.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Waterbrook Multnomah.


All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth

I enjoy reading and writing memoir, and I was drawn to this story of a difficult childhood.  Edie Wadsworth grew up poor in the Appalachian Mountains, yet eventually rose to great success as a medical doctor, then left her career to stay at home with her family and write full-time.  I couldn’t wait to read her story of transformation.

Her experiences with poverty, dysfunctional family members, alcoholism, and sexual abuse certainly had the power to hold her down and keep her trapped in destructive cycles.  But God spoke to her in church and through coaches and friends, and her heart was drawn to him at a young age.  She sought perfection in her quest for self-worth, and made some poor relationship choices.  But she conquered over her fears and hangups with faith in God’s provision and promises.  Even after her life stabilized, she suffered a terrible loss through a house fire.  God strengthened her faith again through that difficult trial, and her faith shines through on every page.

I enjoyed the author’s vulnerability and honesty of such sensitive subjects.  Her deep love and affection for family was obvious, despite the many ways they hurt her.  I appreciated that she was honest about her own failures, and treated the reputations of her abusers with care.  She writes with grace, both in her style and in her willingness to forgive.  This inspired me in my own story.  I want to write memoir with that much grace and love.  Although the story moved along slowly at times, it was sprinkled liberally with humor, charm, and joy, so it held my interest.  If you are looking for a true story, balanced between hard truth and generous grace, I recommend this as a worthy read.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.