Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

BookLook Review: 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables by Bob Welch

About the Book:

Gold Medallion Award-winner Bob Welch crafts 52 nuggets of Bible-based wisdom from one of the most popular novels, musicals, and films of all time: Les Misérables.

In 52 Little Lessons from Les Misérables, Bob Welch walks readers through Hugo’s masterpiece, extracting dozens of uniquely spiritual reflections from this enduring portrait of poverty, social injustice, mercy, and redemption. Welch reminds us that Jean Valjean’s life provides the truest example of why real love is found in the grittiest places, and that hearts are made whole beneath the crush of mercy. Most important, though, Welch keeps returning to the intersections of faith and reality throughout Hugo’s writing—those places where mercy becomes an inroad to the heart, and where love is only truly received when it is given without condition.

Discover again why life’s purpose is found not in attending to personal needs and desires, but in responding to the hearts of others.

You can purchase your own copy at Faith Gateway.

My Opinion:

I still remember when I had my mom buy me a copy of Les Mis in middle school, the awe I felt as I cracked open the cover and began reading Hugo’s tome brought me in the history and lives of those living in France.  The story of Jean Valjean, Cosette, Fantine, Javert and many others enraptured me – and still does to this day – the story is one we can all relate to, we may not be physical prisoners in a cell but we can relate to being a prisoner of something, some sin that holds us, we know the pain of those who can despise us, and many know the love and forgiveness of a loving God.  Yes, Les Mis isn’t just a story about the French but about the bigger story in us all so when I saw 52 Little Lesson from Les Miserables I knew I had to read it.  Bob Welch gleans much from the pages of Hugo’s book and in doing such he relates the story of Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, the priest Myriel, Javert who ends his own life – to us all – who knew a novel so long ago written would still resonate with so many today?

My goal is to re-read Les Mis when I have some spare time and with it I’ll be re-reading 52 Little Lessons so that Les Mis becomes even more clear and even more life altering.  Even though Hugo was not a full out Christian there are many, many Christian values and morals and thoughts throughout the book and Bob Welch seeks to bring that out in his book – there is so much in Les Mis that so much can be overlooked and that is what I liked about 52 Little Lessons is that the little things that are missed he picks up and brings to the reader’s attention.  No worries, if you have never read or even seen a movie or theatrical version of Les Mis you’ll still be able to read this book – and it may just have you looking to read or watch a version of Les Mis.  From “context matters”, to “the conscience must not be ignored”, to “the law is not enough” 52 Little Lessons will have something that resonates with everyone – I know I can’t pick just one lesson that meant the most because they all spoke to me.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Booksneeze Review: She’s Twelve Going on Twenty by Kim Camp #grow4christ

Booksnees review of She's 12 going on 20 at Growing for Christ About the Book: Especially for moms of teens and preteens, a practical, Christ-centered guide to helping your daughter grow in mind, body, and spirit.

As the mother of a young girl aged 9 to 16, you want a lot for your daughter. You want to see her soar in self-confidence and accomplishment, to navigate a safe course through the treacherous waters of school, culture, and hormones, and to grow closer to God while learning to rely on his Word. And through it all to maintain a warm, open mother-daughter relationship.

She’s Twelve Going on Twenty offers a comprehensive, Christian approach to issues almost every mother and daughter will encounter:

Identity and faith
Music, movies, TV, and the Internet
Boys and falling in love, sex and purity
School and grades
Drugs and alcohol
Clothes, fads, appearance, and body language
Boundaries and personal safety

Easy-to-read and deeply personal, this invaluable book draws on a wealth of experience, careful research, and a deep grounding in the Bible and Christian faith. “Working It Out Together”at the end of each chapter provides communication starters and activities to help you and your daughter talk things out and plot a positive course together for the challenging but exciting adolescent years.

My Opinion:

I’m always on the look out for a book that will give me ideas on making the raising of my daughter’s easier and more godly.  I have an 11 1/2 and an almost 8 year old and they are both so different from one another, it’s hard some days to know what one needs and the other doesn’t.  So that is why I grabbed She’s Twelve Going on Twenty by Kim Camp, she has five daughters of her own and so she knows a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t in raising girls who love the Lord.  Geared for moms of tweens (I really don’t like that term but I digress) and teen girls the one thing that will come in handy for using this book and make it meaningful is getting a journal that both you and your daughter will share – if you have two daughter’s get two journals so they can both feel there thoughts are not being shared.

As with any book, I don’t take everything I read and take is as the absolute authority, the only absolute authority is God’s Holy Word, so there were some things that I didn’t quite agree with but those things were easily overlooked but Kim uses much Scripture throughout the book so most everything she writes about is backed up with Scripture.  My main disagreements are that girls will want to experiment with alcohol, drugs, sex, etc and that may be true for girls who are constantly bombarded with these things in school or in Sunday school (yes, moms, trust me from first hand experience not all Sunday schools or youth groups in church are as innocent as they appear), however, being homeschool does change the dynamics quite a bit – although I’m not naive enough to think my girls will never be tempted but I do know that I’m raising them without the interference of those who think such experimentation is okay. Oh, and in the area for diet and exercise she does utilize the my plate and other usual ideas for the SAD (Standard American Diet), and that I can’t recommend.

At the end of each chapter is an area called, “Moms and Daughters: Working it out Together”, which is where the journal comes in because you’ll both be using the journal about your questions, faith, and most of all if you are working on building your relationship they can have a safe way to express what is going on in their life without thinking you’ll lecture them or have them feel unsafe.  My almost 9 year old is excited about doing this with me, my 11 1/2 year old not so much, so I’m on the lookout to get a beautiful journal for us to share and work through the working it out together in our journal.

I review for BookSneeze®

(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Booksneeze Review: 12 Days in Africa by Lisa Sanders #grow4christ

About the Book: Lisa traveled to Uganda with her teenage son on a 12 day mission trip. In an orphanage her world view abruptly changed as she held a shivering, emaciated little boy who lay dying of malaria. This experience and others while on the trip were so profound that she is compelled to share them with you. Come and walk with Lisa through Uganda as God shows her His different definitions of “mother.”

You can purchase the book at Westbow or on Amazon.


My Opinion:


Grab a box of tissues, or if you’re like me a roll of bathroom tissue (it goes further!) and start reading this book that will probably get you thinking, ‘when can I go to Africa’?  As most of my readers know I have a heart for foreign mission work as does my currently, 8 year old daughter, and this book will take you to the heart of Africa where children are dying from preventable diseases, women are dying from violence against them and where clean water in some villages is only a dream – one that sometimes will never come true.  This isn’t a long book, I finished it in less than a day, but it’s one that will move your heart and mind to thinking beyond your boundaries.


Even if all I can do right now is pray for these people and fellow Brothers and Sisters in Africa, for those who run these mission organizations and those who go – the Lord can use my prayers to spur them on.  While the book is short it is big on showing the darkness that envelopes villages that still live shrouded in mysticism and witchcraft, where rapes are daily occurrences, starving is the meal of the day Lisa Sanders does a great job in expounding on loving those in Africa, giving them a hand up – through a hug, cleaning a wound and education versus a hand out.  I can almost feel the red dirt she describes as it gets into her skin, I can sympathize with her plight of a migraine and the strobe like effect of motorcycles as they travel the roads at night and I can almost smell the flesh that has been festering with infection as it’s cleaned, cleaned of debris and treated.


Like other books about mission trips and those who take them, don’t read this if you don’t want to be challenged, if you don’t want to feel something.  I read this book after having suffered through a migraine attack, and it made me realize that I’m only giving excuses.  Lisa’s story has made me realize that migraines or not I can take a mission trip so I’m glad that I listened to the Lord’s leading and grabbed this book to read as it’s given me a reason to not have an excuse.


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Silent Night by Colleen Coble

About the Book:


As Christmas day nears, Bree and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.

Bree Matthews is preparing for Christmas guests, but her heart is reeling from the recent and tender loss of her unborn child. Her sister-in-law, Lauri, suddenly turns up on the doorstep of the lighthouse home Bree shares with her husband, Kade, in Rock Harbor. Secretive and withdrawn, Lauri seems curiously intent on discovering what happened to a parachuter who disappeared in the North Woods along Lake Superior’s icy shore.

As Bree and Samson, her search-and-rescue dog, plunge into the search, Bree wonders if Lauri may know more than she’s admitted about the parachuter. And then the clues lead them to the trail of a young woman whose family fears the worst about her disappearance.

Will the search on this snowy, silent night lead Bree and Samson to more than clues about the missing girl? And will Bree’s prayer for a baby ever be answered?


My Opinion:

I was looking for a short Christmas novella that would be a quick read and get me feeling Christmas-y since it’s feeling more like Easter lately than Christmas where I’m at and Silent Night fit the bill on both accounts.  It was short, nine chapters short – which made it perfect for this busy mom of three to read in one day.  Some would assume that in that short of book that the plot wouldn’t be well developed or the characters, but they would be wrong on both accounts.  While the plot was a bit more hurried that didn’t take away from the story or the suspense as Bree finds out what happened to the parachuter who was found dead.


Having read other books of Colleen Coble, I’m familiar with her work but I’ve not read any of her other Rock Harbor series but that will be soon changing as I’d like to really delve into the characters that are in this book.  Yes, this novella can stand alone, enough background information is given that the reader has enough information as to who is married to who or at least related so that the rest of the book falls into place.  A wonderful read that I was glad to have taken the time to read and enjoy.


**Disclaimer:  I was provided an e-book from Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson) in exchange for posting my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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An Amish Kitchen by Beth Wiseman, Amy Cliptson and Kelly Long


About the book:


The Amish Kitchen is the Heart of the Home – and the Ideal Setting for Stories of Love and Hope.

Fall in Paradise, Pennsylvania, always brings a brisk change in the weather. This season also ushers in unexpected visitors, new love, and renewed hope for three women.

Fern has a green thumb for growing healing herbs, but longs for love to bloom in her life. Then the next-door neighbor’s oldest son, Abram, comes running into Fern’s kitchen seeking help for his little sister. The crisis soon leads to a promise of romance—until mistrust threatens to end the growing attraction.

Nearby, Hannah runs her parents’ bed and breakfast, Paradise Inn—but her life feels nothing like Paradise. She longs for a man of integrity to enter her life, but never expected him to knock on the front door looking for a room. Will she be able trust Stephen with her future once she discovers his mysterious past?

When a storm blows a tree onto Eve’s farmhouse, she has little choice but to temporarily move her family into her parents’ home. Outside of cooking together in the kitchen, Eve and her mother can’t agree on anything. But this may be just the recipe for hope in healing old wounds.

Three Amish stories—each celebrating love, family, and faith—all taking place in a tight-knit community where the kitchen truly is the heart of the home.

Also Includes Reading Group Guide and 45 Old Order Amish Recipes.


My Opinion:


You don’t have to be Amish to know that life sometimes really does revolve around the kitchen – family gatherings, lunches with children, births…..did I say births well if you want to know more you’ll have to get your own copy of this three in one novella that is written by some of the top authors in Amish fiction.  The stories all intertwine to some extent and you’ll feel as if you really know these characters by the end of the book and the whole book just flows with seemingly no breaks, which makes for an enjoyable read (and quick).


I have to say though I loved the bit about the lizard, again you’ll have to get the book to know what I’m talking about, but the lizard part just tickeled my funny bone and had me laughing – which then had my family thinking I was perhaps going crazy as well.  Seeing the faith, family and love all being lived out by those who may have been dealt a bad hand is wonderfully inspirational and that is what this book is, inspirational.  There is some romance but nothing that I wouldn’t not let my oldest daughter read, although she only wants to read the one with the lizard in it!  Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and visit in a Amish kitchen, even if it’s only in your imagination.


**Disclaimer:  I was provided an e-copy of this book from Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson) in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How Not to get Blindsided by Your Child’s Teen Years by Mark Gregston

About the Book:

Parents of preteens and teens can move from scared to prepared with a new approach to parenting their adolescents.

Parents of preteens intuitively know that no matter how good their kids are, there is turbulence ahead. Many feel lost and unprepared as they watch the damaging effects of culture collide with their child’s growing pains and raging hormones.

For the past 35 years Mark Gregston has lived and worked with struggling teens and knows what it takes to reach them. He says, “A parent’s success has little to do with either the validity of their words or their intent as messengers, it’s more about how they approach their child and engage with them.”

The book is divided into three sections:

*What’s so different about today’s culture *Why traditional parenting no longer works *A new model for parenting teens

Foundational and practical, and written from the crucible of experience, Tough Guys and Drama Queens answers the questions that parents are asking, helping them become the parents their children need them to be.

My Opinion:

I wanted to like this book, really, I did but it seemed more written to the parents who have a child that is in a public or private school setting and isn’t taught not to follow the crowd.  Most people, including the author, I believe feel that all teenagers or those who aren’t teens in age but are in other ways are going to have rebellion and discord in their hearts and homes.  However, I don’t feel this way, if the parents are building a foundation with their child from birth.  This is what I’ve done and while not every day is perfect or stress free with my budding adolescent we do our best to work through the issues and I try to use the Bible as my guide, instead of using new parenting ideas that change from one generation to the next.


I’m not saying I don’t think the author doesn’t know what he speaks of in this book, he runs a center for youth to live in that need to be out of the house but I wonder how many of the children he sees have parents who are devoted to teaching their children Biblical truths for their life, teaching them at home instead of sending them to school and being truly and honestly involved?  I’m all for giving children responsibilities but I don’t think that should start at age 12 – it should start as soon as the child is able to walk, even a toddler can help empty trash cans or make their beds.  Yes, there comes a time when a child needs more control over their lives but certain issues are not up to them and while the child may resent it there are rules.


There were some things I could take away from this book, but I found it frustrating to read and even maddening at parts because it sounded to me, like a lot of what goes on today, that children need discipline but don’t be too hard on them because they have to learn to make mistakes at some point.  I think for a family whose child is following the crowd and has a peer group that is less than desirable and spends most of their waking time in a school building, this could be very helpful but for this homeschool mom, who desires to raise her children up to know and love the Lord it wasn’t much help.


**Disclaimer:  I was given an e-copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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The Beauty Book by Nancy Rue

About the book from Booksneeze:

Learn with Lily and her friends just what it means to be beautiful in God’s eyes—inside and out!

In a society so focused on the idea that external beauty reigns supreme, it can be difficult for young girls to figure out what “true” beauty is all about. This unique and creative book for girls ages 7–11 answers the common questions girls ask during this often confusing and overwhelming stage in their lives in an inviting and conversational manner.

Filled with fun quizzes, imaginative activities, and cool illustrations, The Beauty Book offers cool, relevant information about everything from great hair styles to tattoos, from skin care to clothes, and much more. Above all, the message that God-confidence is beautiful is highlighted on each and every page.


My Opinion:


As a mom with two daughters I’m always on the look out for books that inspire godly beauty and Biblical insights into being a girl.  The Beauty Book is definitely one of those books that I’m glad to be able to share with my girls.  My daughters are 10 and 7 and as they get older they are struggling to find out who they are and who they are supposed to be according to God – and having this book along side us while studying the Bible is exactly what we need.  I’m not saying I agree with everything in the book, I don’t think girls need to get their hair trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks – I trim mine maybe once or twice a year – and don’t have issues with hair not growing or with split ends.  However the advice given to girls is that if your parents say no, then it’s no, and maybe you can bring it up again in X months.  Right before I wrote this review my 10 year old asked if she could dye her hair green – um, no!


As girls mature younger and younger, they are going to have questions about their bodies and this book does a great job in answering those questions without taking away the parent’s involvement.  There is mention of breasts and shaving but if your daughter is reaching or has reached this point then it’s really a non-issue as it’s handled very well and from a Biblical standpoint of how to deal with the changes.  This is not a book to answer in depth questions such as body changes, but more in how to take care of their temple – their body, as they go through changes that have them unsure of themselves and the others around them.


**Disclaimer:  I received this ebook from Booksneeze/Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.



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Simple Secrets to a Happy Life by Luci Swindoll


About the book from BookSneeze:


Is it possible to stay full of life, laughter, love, and the Lord through eight decades in this crazy world? Is that even realistic? Yes! There is hope, and Luci Swindoll is living proof.

With heart and humor, this best-selling author and beloved speaker lays out the truths that can help us all become a little more creative, organized, healthy, and happy. This is not a complex prescription for how to become superwoman. These are simple secrets, the wisdom produced by years of walking with God and living well.

We don’t need more tips for “having it all,” but we could all use insight on “having what matters,” and there is no better guide than Luci Swindoll.

Luci has spent eight decades accumulating the stories, memories, verses, and practical tips that make up Simple Secrets to a Happy Life. Whether traveling the world or building life-long friendships, singing in the opera or working for Mobil Oil, every step has taught her a little more about how to love God, love her neighbor, and love herself.

The result is both personal and universal. Organized into fifty short chapters, her reflections form a simple and profound outline for making the most of the lives God has given us.

We could all use a little more joy in our lives, which means we could all use a little more Luci. Visit her through these snapshots of wisdom. You’ll find yourself drawn back again and again.


My Opinion:


Do you have less than five minutes a day to dedicate to getting back to a simpler way of life?  If so, then grab Luci Swindoll’s, Simple Secrets to a Happy Life – in it she gives fifty ways to make the most of everyday with simple to follow ideas.  I think we all long for a simpler way – whether it’s just a day without electronics or just a day to sit and relax in the shade (no, I’m not a sun girl) – we all try to find the simple things.


You don’t have to read the whole book in one day, choose one or two bits of wisdom and focus on those each day, enjoy the book, savor it.  It’s divided into five parts; Beginning with the Basics, Developing Your Style, Achieving Balance, Living a Good Life,  and Staying Connected and within each of these parts are several smaller areas to focus on such as:

  • Honor Your Father and Mother
  • Take Jesus with You Everywhere
  • Decide What Is Not Neccessary
  • Figure it Out for Yourself
  • Trust Friends for the Truth
  • and many, many more


This is a book that you won’t read just once, but you might  find yourself coming back to refresh your insight into the simple life or maybe just to once again remind yourself that the simple is within reach and not some far off dream that only the Amish can have.  There are lots of great truths both Biblical and from life that speak to the reader if you really put your mind into it and try to implement at least some of these great ideas.


**Disclaimer:  As a member of Booksneeze, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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Farm Fresh Southern Cooking Straight from the Garden to Your Dinner Table By Tammy Algood

About the Book:

Is there anything better than a kitchen countertop spread with the spoils of a Saturday morning at the farmers’ market? Every trip yields some new assortment of old favorites and newfound treasures. One week, you’re tempted by the sun-warmed heirloom tomatoes and the Mason jars brimming with orange blossom honey. Another week, it’s the slabs of milky Havarti cheese and the Red Haven peaches heavy with juice, enticing you to spend just a little more than you planned. Kentucky pole beans, silky ears of sweet corn, and sacks of stone-ground buckwheat flour may find their way into your basket on another visit.

Whether you shop with a list or purely on impulse, you’ll always find the truest taste of home at the local farms, roadside stands, and produce markets in your community. These are the places that offer up the native flavors of the South and all its seasons. They are your portal to the fields, the waters, and the vines where your food is cultivated. Get to know the origins of what you eat and the people who produce it. Tammy Algood’s Farm Fresh Southern Cooking celebrates this experience with delicious recipes that will enhance the natural flavors of your latest market haul and stories of the South’s most dedicated growers and culinary producers

My Opinion:

I’m not in the South, but I do enjoy all things Southern (well almost, I don’t like sweet tea, all may be too strong of word) so imagine my delight when there is a cookbook that combines farm fresh ingredients and Southern cooking.  Like most cookbooks this is divided into appetizers, soups, salads, desserts, etc but unlike other cookbooks it features farm from the South that are worth looking into (physically or on the internet).  Don’t think you have to have  a garden to use these recipes, visit your local farmer’s market and pick from the wide array of food selections and prepare to be surprised at what you’ll find – sometimes even cheaper than the grocery.  Some recipes I want to try are time honored cheese crackers (using a cookie press!), cheddar muffin pan biscuits, show-off grilled cheese sandwiches and grilled pork loin with fresh tomato marmalade – there are many, many more.

There are a lot of full colored pictures through out of the various foods which lends a very cozy touch to the cook book and it’s easy to tell which picture belongs with what recipe.  I really, really enjoyed the spotlight sections which feature a farm of some variety, either for bees, catfish, veggies, fruit, etc – with information about location and website, if available.  The author also gives a description of her visit and a little history of each farm.  This makes me want to take a road trip to visit farms!  This cookbook is not only a trove of recipes but also a fun trip down South to some great farms that makes one want to take advantage of those local farms in their area.

**I was provided an e-book copy from Booksneeze through Thomas Nelson in exchange for posting my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.


Eyes of Justice by Lis Wiehl, April Henry

About the book:

The Triple Threat Club has solved intense murder mysteries before…but this time it’s personal.

Cassidy, Allison, and Nicole fight for justice every day—Cassidy as a crime reporter, Nicole as an FBI agent, and Allison as a federal prosecutor. Together they’re a Triple Threat to be reckoned with.

But when a ruthless murderer kills one of their number—and the authorities seem intent on keeping them out of the investigation of the crime—their desire for justice goes into overdrive. They find an unexpected ally in a quirky private investigator named Ophelia whose methods confound the wise.

Yet just when it seems police have the killer in custody and justice is within sight, he somehow strikes again. Not knowing whom to trust, the team engage in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the killer. Nothing can be taken at face value…and nothing will ever be the same.

A riveting Triple Threat mystery that will leave readers shocked and satisfied.

My Opinion:

I’ve really, really enjoyed the other two books I read in this series, Triple Threat, and I was not let down with this one either, Eyes of Justice was an edge of your seat suspense that kept me flipping the virtual pages.  I read this book in one day – I couldn’t and didn’t want to put it down – it was engaging and kept me up reading way past my bedtime and I was not disappointed, except for the loss of a character.  In a way since I’ve read the other books, the characters have become like another family – through miscarriage, pregnancies, losses and crimes I felt like I have come to know the women in the novels as another set of friends (although not in the I can’t leave the fantasy behind way).

I did find this one to be a bit more graphic in the description of crime scenes and after a murder two of the characters get drunk to drown their sorrows – although one must not have been too bad as she was driving – regardless, this one did seem to be making things a bit more gruesome which didn’t appeal to me as much.  Yes, I enjoyed the story, but I didn’t need complete scene descriptions as they were discovered.  The other thing that kept creeping up was that the character who was murdered was depicted as going to Heaven and that the other character prayed for the Lord to take her soul.  While this is a nice thought it goes against what Scripture says – so that part was bothersome to me as well.

Even with the above issues the book for me was one that I did enjoy, I liked the suspense and several times when I thought I knew who the killer was I was shocked to find that I was wrong!  It was a twist turning plot line that will definitely appeal to those who want a ‘clean’ suspense, meaning no cussing and no intimate relationship stuff.  If you don’t mind a few crime scene descriptions and a few drinks then this book will give you a great read.

**I was provided a copy of this e-book from Booksneeze through Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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