A July Bride by Beth Wiseman ~ A Contemporary Fiction Review

A July Bride
A Year of Weddings, Book 8
Beth Wiseman
Contemporary Fiction

About the book:

A year's worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. 
Happily ever after guaranteed.

Can she forgive the man who left her at the altar?

Alyssa Pennington dated Brendan Myers for three years before she accepted his proposal. For almost a year, Alyssa's friends and family helped her plan a lovely wedding to take place in the church she'd grown up in. It was the happiest day of her life when she walked down the aisle to be united with the man of her dreams. But when Brendan left her at the altar, Alyssa was consumed by humiliation, embarrassment, and a broken heart that wouldn't allow her to trust anyone. Especially Brendan.

Brendan Myers knows he will spend the rest of his life regretting what he did to Alyssa, the only woman he's ever loved. Without her, his life is empty. In one fateful moment, he'd panicked, destroyed their future, and ruined everything. Now he plans to win her back.

But winning back his bride might prove much more difficult than he can imagine. And even if he does get her to the altar again, will she think turnabout is fair play?

My thoughts:

Of the eight novellas that I have read in the A Year of Weddings series, this one rates up towards the top. From the opening scene of Alyssa and Brendan's dream wedding I knew something had to go wrong. After all what would the rest of the story be about? I was expecting Alyssa to be the one to get cold feet, but instead it was Brendan.

Poor Brendan, almost immediately he realized that he had made a horrible mistake. He loved Alyssa more than anyone and really did want to spend the rest of his life with her. But it seems as if every gesture he makes just rubs salt in the wound instead of being a healing balm. Even Alyssa's father has told Brendan to quit. Then Brendan's worst nightmare happens. Dalton turns up and begins to pursue Alyssa. Alyssa has always had a secret crush on Dalton so it seems like a great choice.

As secrets unfold and become known a distinct story-line of redemption and forgiveness emerges. I really enjoyed how everything came together with not only the main characters but the supporting ones as well. My only complaint is that I would have liked this to be a full length novel rather than a novella. There was so much to this tale that I think it would have been nice for Beth to have the time to develop the characters more and to expound on the themes of overcoming and forgiveness. Quite frankly I think I would say this about any novella that Beth Wiseman would write. I just like her stories and this one came to a conclusion much too soon.

A Year of Weddings Series

An August Bride by Debora Clopton
A September Bride by Kathryn Springer
An October Bride by Katie Ganshert
A November Bride by Beth K. Vogt


Nature Girl: A Guide To Caring For God's Creation by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White ~ A Juvenile Nonfiction Review

Karen Whiting and Rebecca White
Juvenile Nonfiction

Back of the book:

As you become an expert in all things green, Nature Girl offers fun ways to care for God's creations while enjoying the wonders of nature! With activities, recipes, science experiements, and much more, you can discover how to create recycled jewelry, plan a spa day with friends, make your own earth-friendly skin care products, or team up to clean a park or a neighbor's yard.

Each chapter centers on different topics, like water, air, energy, and recycling, and includes crafts, Scripture, games, quizzes, interviews with experts, and quotes from real girls like you. From the itty-bitty flowers at your feet to the air high above your head, discover how you can make a difference for our planet.

My thoughts:

If you have a tween girl that loves nature and all things green then this is the book for her! She will be thrilled with all of the interactive elements to this book. It has a bit of everything to interest and nurture her love of the beautiful creation that God has allowed us to live in.

Nature Girl has interesting information from leading professionals in different fields of science. The commentary is in conjunction with Scripture so it has a nice balance of reminding us that we are to enjoy and take care of the creation. But our worship is for the Creator alone.

This is a very hands on book that expects the reader to experiment and create with all aspects of the world around us. There are very interesting quizzes that are included that help solidify the facts that have been presented within the chapter. The experiments are great skill builders that will help your girl in her biology studies. The crafts are an absolute bonus! I think your daughter will have fun doing several of the projects with her girlfriends.

This really is a fun book that I think you will enjoy going through with your daughter. In fact I think it would make a great book to go through as a family, just hide the title from your boys!

Connect with the authors:

Rebecca White (Karen's daughter) is a pastor's wife with a degree in elementary education and she has taught third and fourth grade in North Carolina and Florida. Rebecca loves the outdoors and all things crafty.


Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer ~ A Christian Life Book Review

Thom S. Rainer
Nonfiction / Christian Life

Back of the book:

No one wants to see a church die.

And yet, far too many churches are dying. For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Thom Rainer has helped churches grow, reverse the trends of decline, and has autopsied those that have died. From this experience, he has discovered consistent themes among those churches that have died. yet, it's not gloom and doom because, from those themes, lessons on how to keep your church alive have emerged.

Whether your church is vibrant or dying, whether you are a pastor or a church member. Autopsy of a Deceased Church will walk you through the radical paths necessary to keep your church alive to the glory of God and advancement of Christ's Kingdom!

My thoughts:

I'm a church girl. I was probably in church the Sunday after I was born. I grew up going every time the doors were open. Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around the church. Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Club, Girls in Action, Church Camp, youth group and dozens of others fill my mind when I think back on those years. I met and married my beloved in our church. We've raised our kids in church and are now watching our kids raise their kids in church. 

Several years ago something disturbing came to our attention. We had gone back to our hometown for a funeral and spent some time wandering around looking at and reminiscing about our growing up years. We drove by the church of our youth and were stunned and saddened to see it abandoned and up for sale. What had happened to the once thriving and dynamic congregation that we remembered? 

Recently I was given a copy of Autopsy of a Deceased Church to read and review. I wasn't really sure that it would be a book that would appeal to the masses but the title had me intrigued so I gave it a read. I was completely wrong in my preconceived notions. This is a book that every church member needs to read. Dying churches aren't just the problem of the preacher and the church staff. It is a problem that we all need to open our eyes to.

Through the pages of the book I could clearly see what had happened with the church of my youth. The signs were there the whole time. Granted we weren't there when the final nail was placed in the coffin, but the death process had been a slow but steady one. It was a process that was happening even back in the day. But like most of these churches we ignored the signs and chose to look the other way.

One of the things that I like best about this book is that it isn't a doomsday missive. Instead it is full of useful information about how to change the inevitable. I came away from this book with a renewed love for the church and the knowledge that I am part of the body that breathes life into it. If you are part of a church I would urge you to pick up a copy of this book and read it and apply it then pass it on to another member. With the directions contained we can make a difference so that generations to come will have a place like we did and do to be nurtured and loved. Forgive my paraphrase but, without the church the people will perish!

Connect with the author:


Notes From A Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider ~ A Christian Life Book Review and Giveaway

Tsh Oxenreider
Nonfiction / Christian Life

Inside the flap:

In a sense, it all started with a bike, a powder-blue cruiser with chrome fenders and a wire basket.

To Tish Oxenreider, this birthday gift represented a promise made with her husband--"that we'd try, with all our collective might, to make a new and better life that actually aligned with our values."

In another sense, the blue bike was simply one more milestone in a quest begun years before to live more simply, more fully, and more purposefully. This memoir traces the family's journey from an urban high-rise in Turkey to the congested city of Austin, Texas, and finally to a small town in Oregon. It chronicles false starts, changed minds, periods of chaos and boredom, doubts and dilemmas--but also moments of surprising and transcendent grace as the Oxenreiders gradually learn to live the life they have chosen:
  • buying less and enjoying more
  • changing their approach to food, work, travel, education, and entertainment
  • discovering the grace and the sanity-saving joy of the "80/20 principle"
  • fostering global awareness and a sense of curiosity and adventure in themselves and their children
  • learning to live with partial and imperfect solutions without losing sight of what matters 
  • seeking out emotional, spiritual, and physical revival
  • creatively planning and pursuing a life they can believe in
Full of practical hows and compelling whys, Notes from a Blue Bike emerges as far more than a memoir. It's a gentle but persuasive manifesto--an invitation for readers to strike out on their own journeys toward an on-purpose, values-based lifestyle.

You may never own a blue bike. But the message of Notes from a Blue Bike--that you can choose your life and find grace along the way--will resonate in your heart and mind long after you've finished reading.

My thoughts:

I enjoy reading books about other people's journeys. I find it interesting to read about their thought processes on topics that I am interested in. I love to tag along with them through the pages of a book as they navigate through life's obstacles. 

In Notes from a Blue Bike we get to literally travel the world with the Oxenreider family. The story begins in 2008 with them living in a small apartment in Izmir,Turkey. The culture is completely different from Austin, Texas where they are originally from. The language is different, the shopping is different, and the relationships are different. Tsh shares her struggles and triumphs in this beautiful place that will wind up leaving a lasting impression on their family.

Eventually the family settles down in small town Bend, Oregon and that's where the real work begins. They moved to Bend to try and capture some of the simpler aspects of living in a small town. But they quickly realize that location doesn't necessarily mean simplicity. Instead they begin to make intentional choices that lead their family in the direction that they desire.

The memoir is broken down into parts entitled Food, Work, Education, Travel, and Entertainment. In each of these sections Tsh shares her family's journey through intentional choices to arrive at a simpler lifestyle. If you are a follower of Tsh on TheArtOfSimple.net you will especially enjoy reading and getting an inside peek into the everyday life of her and her family. 

Connect with the author:

The Giveaway:

We are thrilled to offer one of our readers a copy of the book Notes from a Blue Bike. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Rafflecopter form below. All entries are optional.
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God's Word For Me Bible Storybook from Tommy Nelson ~ A Children's Bible Storybook Review and Giveaway

Tommy Nelson
illustrated by Marijke ten Cate
Juvenile Nonfiction / Bible Stories

Back of the book:


a collection of favorite stories in actual Bible text

I have taken your words to heart.
~ PSALM 119:11

As your children unwrap timeless truths from both the Old and New Testaments, they will be reading actual Bible text--selected passages from the International Children's Bible, the translation kids can read and understand.

In addition to Bible stories and intricate and engaging illustrations, God's Word for Me Bible Storybook includes these great features to help your little ones participate with God's Word:
  • Rember God's Word - memory verses so kids can hide Scripture in their hearts
  • Do God's Word - fun activities to help kids learn to live God's Word
  • Pray God's Word - short, meaningful prayers that show boys and girls how to communicate with the Lord
  • Favorite passages such as the Ten Commandments, the Twenty-Third Psalm, the Lord's Prayer, and more
  • A reading chart to help children and parents track their journey through Scripture
By reading favorite Bible stories in real Bible text, kids will develop a love for God's Word at an early age.

My thoughts:

Pouring the Word of God into my kids at every opportunity is important to me. I believe that the words contained within the Bible are the very words of life. Since the stories contained in the book do not change I am always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to convey that message to my children.

God's Word For Me Bible Storybook contains all the major themes of the Old and New Testaments. The text used is from the International Children's Bible and is written on a level that is easily understood for most children. The illustrations that accompany each account are colorful and do a great job of enhancing the story.

What sets this book apart from the dozens of other Bible storybooks are all the little extra learning tools that are included. Throughout the book there are small sections in the midst of each story that contain suggested memory verses, relevant activities, and easy to repeat prayers. Those things are nice and I think they will be very helpful but what I really liked were the resources in the back of the book.

There are a couple of charts that will allow your child to keep track of verses that they have memorized and their reading progress. There are also several sections of things that I think are of utmost importance to teach your children. Among them are the Lord's Prayer, the Twenty-Third Psalm, a list of the twelve apostles, the twelve tribes of Israel and of course the books of the Bible.

This book is just a fabulous resource for family devotions or homeschooling Bible lessons. It is a great beginning for setting up a routine of Bible study for your children that can develop into a life-long journey into the Word of God.

The Giveaway:

We have partnered with Tommy Nelson to offer one of our readers a copy of the book God's Word For Me Bible Storybook. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Monday, August 4, 2014. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Rafflecopter form below. All entries are optional.

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