Monday, March 31, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge Starts Tomorrow!

This year I'm not doing the A to Z Challenge on writing. I've been reading more than writing, so I decided to blog about books that I'd like to read.  So, for the month of April, I'll be sharing 1-2 books a day that I'd like to read. Maybe you'll see a few that you'd like to add to your reading list!

Cheers...and happy reading!

 And for fun, here's a little A to Z poem...

Owls, &
Volumes of 
Wonder &

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: Heaven and Hell

Loved "Heaven and Hell" by Kenneth Zeigler!

Overview: Heaven and Hell takes you on a journey through Heaven and Hell, as viewed through the eyes of Chris and Serena Davis, who come to experience their reality first hand. Through God s mercy, those who dwell in Heaven, have no recollection of loved ones in Hell. At least, most don t. Yet, in the most beautiful place in the universe, one man s troubling dreams lead him to realize that the love of his earth life has been condemned to Satan s realm. Now, with the help of a famous scientist from the past, Chris endeavors to pull off the ultimate prison break.

First off, several year ago, I got the third book in this series, Rise of the Beast, for free, so I read it. I could NOT put it down. It was like the Bible end times were coming alive on the pages! I’ve been meaning to read the whole series ever since then. So, I ordered the first and second book from Abe’s Books and I just finished the first one. Also, I had facebook’d Mr. Ziegler on his author page to tell him how much I enjoyed “Rise of the Beast” and he responded back – how awesome is that?!

Full Title: Heaven and Hell: The Journey of Chris and Serena Davis (Tears of Heaven Series)

Dawn’s Recommendation: 5 of 5 Stars

What I liked:
* Opening grabbed my attention with the characters dying in a car wreck.
* Riveting story and world-building to include vivid details of heaven and hell. Author uses his love of science to create believable worlds and situations.
* You can tell that the author is well versed on the Bible and he creates his fiction to sync with what the Bible says. Fantastic job!
* Unexpected and exciting ending! Can’t wait to read Book Two, "The War in Heaven".

What I didn’t like:
* A few misspellings jumped out at me, but not enough to take away from the great story.
* Would like to care a little more about the main characters, Chris and Serena, but even so, the story is strong enough to carry the book!

Do you like Christian fiction?  If so, what kind do you read? 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Book Review: Leaving Ordinary

Experience a deeper prayer life by reading Leaving Ordinary: Encounter God through Extraordinary Prayer by Donna Gaines! This book is one of the Inscribed Collection of Women's Studies.

The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and be known by God.  God longs for an intimate relationship with us as well.  But how do we develop that kind of relationship with a holy God? It is one thing to long for such a relationship, but quite another to experience intimacy with Him. In Leaving Ordinary, Donna Gaines shares from her personal experience how prayer can become the channel that links the believer’s heart to the heart of God.

God gave the pattern of the tabernacle to the Israelites. It was a temporary and portable dwelling for His glory. Through it God taught them how to approach and worship Him before He led them to their reward—the promised land. Using the tabernacle and its articles as a guide, Donna teaches readers how to interact with God in that secret place of true intimacy that leads to worship. Your ordinary daily practice of prayer can become an extraordinary encounter with the living Lord. Leaving Ordinary is essential reading for anyone who desires to enter into and experience the reality of God’s presence.

Dawn's Recommendation: 5 of 5 Stars!

What I liked:
*The inside cover bookmark flaps (I know...weird, right?!). Each Inscribed book in this collection has a front flap has a note and Scripture in the author's handwriting. I love that! I got to start to know the author even before I read! Also, the book flaps are great bookmarks!

*The personal stories like Ms. Gaines' fear of public speaking, the story of her husband's surgery, and of Henry being saved.

*Relating items of the tabernacle to prayer as a way to deepen reader's prayer life.

*The opening Scripture verses and encouragement from the author to memorize them.

*The wonderful quotes throughout the book like "prayer is our power line" that enrich the teaching. Some were so good that I shared them with friends.

*The book is God-breathed. It is evident that God has blessed Donna Gaines and her writings. And I am blessed because she has been faithful to teach on prayer. It is fantastic to see how God is working. At one point, a few days ago, God had been inspiring me to read many verses relating to Jesus being the Bread of Life. As I contemplated this, I opened to where I had left off. I was amazed to see it was about the Table of Showbread and The Bread of Life! It was exactly what I needed and exactly what God had been sharing with me in the previous days.   

*The questions at the end of each chapter are great and they help you go deeper in your faith and prayer life.

"Leaving Ordinary" is just that. It is a step toward God. I am very blessed to have read it.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing.

I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers, HarpersCollins Christian Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

I will have more reviews on the other books in the Inscribed Collection as I read them:
Living "So That" by Wendy Blight
Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel
Dive Deeper by Jennifer Jernigan

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why do trials come?

Read James 1:1-8

911 Memorial, NYC, Dawn M. Hamsher, 2012

I’ve been studying the book of James in the Bible and it talks about trials and how we are supposed to consider trials -- “joy”.  Not that we are happy or joyful when have to go through them, but we should look to the hope and joy that will come at the end of the trial or sometime in the future.

According to James, trials are needed to:
*Build perseverance and endurance
*As we work on perseverance and endurance, we grow more spiritually mature

What can help us during the trials?
*drawing close to God
*Asking God for wisdom
*Believing and trusting whole-heartedly in God

Are you going through a trial right now? How can looking to future joy help?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: 21 Toughest Questions…

Good resource for tough faith questions.

“The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity & How To Answer Them Confidently” by Alex McFarland (Wow, that’s a mouthful of a title!)

Overview: University apologist, director, and popular speaker Alex McFarland has spent the last two decades answering questions about Christian worldview and the Bible from children, teens, and parents. In The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask about Christianity, he summarizes questions today’s children and teens are asking about God, the Bible, and the problem of evil.

Alex’s experiences have taught him that how adults answer questions about God is as important as, if not more important than, what kids ask. He provides parents with teaching strategies that will help them reach their children intellectually and spiritually. Today’s kids and teens are looking for authenticity, integrity, and straightforward truth. Alex comes alongside parents and gives them tools to effectively answer not only their children’s toughest academic questions but also the questions that plague their hearts. (from Amazon) 

Dawn’s Recommendation: 3.5 of 5 Stars

What I liked: It helps answer faith questions for teens and adults. I used it to answer questions that my 14 year old daughter had and also an adult friend.

This book is a good resource, but not one that I could just pick up and read the whole way through.  Instead, I've used it to look up specific hard questions. Each section title is a tough question followed by the answer, which is backed by Scripture.

Some questions the books helps answer are:

--Why do bad things happen to good people? 

--How can a loving God let people go to Hell?

--Is Jesus real?

What I didn’t like: The layout/flow in each section is annoying --  You get to reading about a tough question and then it is interrupted with a box of related text, so you have to skip the box to continue reading. The boxes interrupt the reader’s flow. The boxes have good information in them, but why stick them in the middle of text?  It just makes reading harder and more confusing.

Some of the author’s explanations are a little advanced and might not translate well to younger children.

Overall: Good resource. I am glad I have it in my library because it has come in handy! I could only give it 3.5 stars, though, because of flow.