Book Review: Raw Faith by Kasey Van Norman

“I had plenty of people tell me while I was undergoing chemo that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. …the truth is that sometimes He does allow more into our lives than we can bear… so we have no other choice but to turn to him.”

Kasey Van Norman, author of Raw Faith, will give you a front row view of what real faith looks like in the midst of suffering.

Having just gone through a two year period of caring for her mother who was dying of cancer, very little time passes before she gets the news that it’s now her time to fight the battle for herself. Upon receiving the news, she begins a year long journey of discovering whether she can believe what she has taught – that God never leaves us, never changes.

Written with raw emotion and transparency, readers may identify with Kasey’s honest writing being similar to that of Ann Voskamp – incredibly real, heartfelt, and truthful. She doesn’t sugar coat her journey. The doubts, the anger – she shares it all in an attempt to help the reader see that a believer’s journey of faith is not at all a simple one but it is however, worth the hard, long fight which may very well leave you raw, from the inside out.

Kasey uses many relevant scriptures as she tells her story of struggle, drawing on God’s word to reinforce the lessons she learned.

Easy to read, but very thought provoking. Have a notebook and a pen ready. You’ll want to take notes to glean from later. And don’t forget the kleenex.

“Real faith knows that God can save. Real faith believes that God will save. And real faith will stand in the flame, even if he doesn’t save.” [statement referring to her telling of the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being put in the fiery furnace]

Note: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review from Tyndale Houes Publishers.

Book Review: Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids

Twelve years old is a tough age. Everything's changing. Especially if you take on a job being a spokesperson for the greatest new line of sportswear, which is just what Riley Mae has done. Jill Osborne, author of Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids, takes her reader on a quick-paced adventure through the Northwest.

Along with all the new “Riley Mae” line of shoes available at her disposal, Riley is making lots of friends on her new quest. Fame and fun footwear doesn't come without a price for Riley, however, and she soon finds herself, along with her new friends, on the roller coaster ride of her life.

Will her new friends turn out to be who they say they are? Will she be eaten by a bear? Will she sruvive the rapids in one piece? Will her best friend still be her friend when she gets home? Will her new friend come to believe that God is real?

Mystery, humor, biblical truths and more make up this book, written especially for kids. Part of 'The Good New Shoes' series by Osborne, kids will grow to love Riley and her family and friends and be eager for the next book where the adventure continues.

Four stars; can seem somewhat silly at times, but then… that's indicative of being a kid! Available in Audio CD, Paperback and for Kindle.

Note: Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids was received free of charge from Zondervan Publishers in exchange for an honest review.


Book Review: My Time with Grandma Bible Storybook

'My Time with Grandma' Bible Storybook by Phil A. Smouse was sent to me by Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest book review. Well, let me give you my honest opinion…

If you're looking for a book for a grandchild, a baby shower, a grandma with small grandchildren, this would be a great gift. It takes twelve of the most 'popular'/well-known Bible stories and with exceptionally colorful illustrations, brings them to life for children.

Intended for pre-school age through about seven years old, children will be captivated by the pictures as “grandma” reads stories about Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Elijah and the rain, Shadrach, Meshach and Agednego, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Jonah and the Whale, Nicodemus, Jesus and the little children, the Good Samaritan, the lost sheep, the Prodigal Son, raising Lazarus from the dead, and the Resurrection.

Stories in Smouse's book are biblically sound, emphasizing truths of God's word.

I especially enjoyed Smouse's liberty of play with words for children. For example, in the story of Jonah and the whale, he says, “…”Throw me out,” [Jonah cried]. Then the storm will stop!” So out he went — sploosh! — down into the sea, where he was swallowed by a huge fish! “Oh, Lord,” Johan prayed, “forgive me!” So the fish spat him out — ptooo!”

Can't you just picture the scene?!?

At the end of each half page story is a “Love note from Grandma”. This is a little personal summarization of truth from the story, coated with 'grandma's' reassuring love and a enouraging word to the child in living out that truth. On the following page after each story, is a “Love Note from God”, a one sentence truth of scripture from God's word, relevant to the story read.

As I said, the illustrations, by artist Ela Jarzabek (who, hopefully we'll be seeing more of) are colorful and lively and fun. I really enjoyed the depiction of Goliath.

I cannot recommend this book more highly. I loved it. And although intended for readings by 'Grandma', it will be welll suited to be read by any loving adult/older sibling to younger sibling.

Available by Tyndale Kids/Tyndale House Publishing, October 2013.


Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Oh my gosh! When I received this book to do a review for BookSneeze, I never expected to like it. I think because it was written in a diary/journal format and I guess I've never been too fond of those. Also, how can anyone do justice to Mr. Knightley from Jane Austen's ever popular classic, Emma?!?

HOWEVER, Katherine Reay, author or Dear Mr. Knightley did a superb job of journaling young Sam's life during her time while attending Medill's School of Journalism, via a generous grant by an anonymous gifter who refers to himself (as none other than), Mr. Knightley.

Upon receipt of this grant there is a catch. Sam must correspond with the unknown gifter, telling of her life at school, thus the journaling, which I suppose can be said are more the letters she wrote to Mr. Knightley than a journal.

Sam has a lot of growing up to do and feels free sharing every detail of her life with her unknown donor, mainly because she doesn't know who he is. From her past – growing up in the foster care system, to her present – pursuing a career as a journalist and dating a famous author. No detail is left untouched. He knows it all. The relational encounters Sam finds herself run the gammet of realistic, heart-wrenching, light-hearted, and believable.

A book with wit, wisdom, and the desire to keep turning the pages will leave the reader satisfied. A fun read with a great message that shows becoming who you were created to be is the best place to be.

One of the 'funnest' books I've read.

Note: This is an honest review given to BookSneeze Book Review Program in lieu of free receipt of the above book.


Book Review: Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry


In Chris Fabry's novel, Every Waking Moment, the reader can be assured s/he'll receive an inspirational and encouraging experience as Fabry tells the tale of a young woman with an exceptional gift of helping other people.

With a retirement home being the main setting for this book, we are introduced to many of its occupants and how their lives intertwine and weave together with each other, the staff, and others beyond their somewhat safe haven. Fabry eventually shows one example of how a well run retirement home can quickly disintegrate from a place of excellence to one in critical condition.

The characters are brought to life in such a way that the readers feels connected. The premise for the story is realistic, the descriptions believable.

It is a story of hope and courage in the midst of odd, sorrowful circumstances. It is a story of learning the truth about life and choosing how to respond to it. It is a story of forgiveness, compassion, and learning to accept and love others who – for whatever reason – we may not understand why they are the way they are or do the things they do or make the choices they make.

Merely an opinion, I felt the ending lacked substance and I personally didn't care for how it ended. But that's just me. I did, however, really enjoy his timely inserted, subltle opportunities for sharing the gospel with his readers and also how he is not shy about pointing out untruths told of scripture, an example being that nowhere in scripture does it say (although it is highly referred to as such) that God never gives us more than we can handle. His take on this phrase is very refreshing.

All in all, I would recommend Fabry's book for a good read if you want a serious book with some lighthearted moments filtered in.

Note: This is an honest review given to Tyndale Blog Network Book Review Program in lieu of free receipt of the above book critique.


Book Review: Amy Clipston’s “A Hopeful Heart”

Set against the backdrop of a modern-day Amish community, Amy Clipston brings A Hopeful Heart to life as Hannah, Hopeful Hearts' main character, struggles to pick up the pieces of her hurting family after the recent death of her husband.


Clipston paints a wonderful word picture that makes it easy to picture the families farm and surrounding community and is pleasingly vivid in her descriptions of the Amish life as it brushes against the life of the 'English'.


A Hopeful Heart is written in such a way that the reader is left to wonder, page by page, exactly what decision Hannah will come to when faced with a life-changing situation. Will she leave her community, risk losing her children and the only home she's ever known to follow the unknown she believes God is calling her to? The book will keep you continually wanting to turn pages to find out.


I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.


Not Your Normal Story

I must admit, I had never read a book by Billy Coffey before this one. I will, after reading When Mockingbirds Sing, read another.

I first had a hard time with where this story was headed but then started asking myself, if we believe God speaks to us, why not, in the case of where this story takes its reader – a child?

This story is set in a rural, small town in today’s America, focusing on a small new-in-town family, specifically the young daughter, Leah.

Leah is the new girl in school and she not only has that as one strike against her already, she also stutters, leaving the ability to make a friend near impossible, given how kids are prone to tease over things like that. However, there comes a very special little girl who befriends Leah under very different circumstances. Leah tells her new friend of another friend she has, since moving to her new home. Leah says only she can see him and she calls him the Rainbow Man.

The Rainbow Man uses Leah to deliver a very important message to the community – one that can only be given through Leah because of her faith. When Mockingbirds Sing reminds us that unless you have the faith of a child, you will not enter the kingdom of God. It also shows that we must have the faith of a child,as small as a mustard seed, to sometimes be able to see that which most cannot.

Coffey weaves the unbelievable into every day life, showing that anything is possible, if you just believe.