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Beautiful and Informative ⇉ Review of The NIV Woman's Study Bible

Monday, March 19, 2018
The NIV Woman's Study Bible features helpful study information at the beginning of each book of the Bible to give readers context for understanding the book that they are studying. Within the books themselves include features such as quotes, articles, and study charts designed to speak to a woman's heart and give insights into godly womanhood. These features, as well as chapter headings, are provided in full color.


What kind of Bible is this?
This is a study Bible.

What kind of special content is in this Bible?
  • Introduction to each book: includes author background, date (it was written), historical background (setting, audience, purpose), literary characteristics, themes, and outline.
  • Commentary (provided in the footnotes)
  • Quotes by women, articles, study charts designed to expand the reader's understanding of the historical context and also to apply biblical concepts to life today.
  • Table of Weights and Measures
  • Index, Concordance, Maps

What Version is it?
New International Version (NIV)


My Reactions
What drew me to this Bible is how it is a study Bible designed for women. This is an attractive Bible that includes full-color floral illustrations and font that make it pleasing to read. It encourages me while reading in this study Bible. Furthermore, it provides commentary through study tools that have been created with women in mind. More focus is placed on the women that appear in the Bible and on the circumstances that shaped their life. The study tools also provide information that are relevant to our lives today and which provide parallels between our lives and the lives of woman in biblical times. For example, one article in Genesis provides information on cooking during the time of the patriarchs. This helped me to get a better idea of the domestic lives of the Israelites and relate it to my family’s cooking customs today.

What are you overall feelings towards this particular Bible? Is it easy to use?
This is a beautiful Bible that is easy to use and encourages me in my Bible reading. The study tools and commentary are relevant and strategically placed to illuminate biblical truths.

Are the study tools helpful and informative? Does the commentary convey Biblical truth?
I like how the study tools are targeted towards women. They provide a different insight into biblical truths compared to the ones found in other study Bibles and commentaries. This helps me to understand the Bible better from a woman's perspective.

Is the Bible durable?
I'm reading in the hardback edition of this Bible. The hardcover feels durable, but the pages are cheap and low quality. The imitation leather edition might have higher quality paper. If you're looking for a more affordable edition and don't mind the low paper quality, however, the hardback edition is priced more affordably.

Do you like the typeface and print in general?
The font for the biblical and is large and readable, but the font for the commentary is on the small side. That said, I know footnotes and articles inserted into a text are typically smaller, so it's not unexpected. I do love how the chapter headings are colored and in a different font. It's beautiful and encourages me while reading in this Bible.

Would you recommend this particular Bible to others?
I would recommend this particular Bible if you are looking for a Study Bible that is designed with women in mind. It provides especial focus on the women in the Bible and in drawing parallels between their lives and our lives today. I wouldn't recommend it if you are looking for more critical commentary on the Bible or one that with a linguistics focus.


The Woman’s Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God’s truth for balance, hope, and transformation. Special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman’s identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom. Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, The Woman’s Study Bible reflects the contributions of over 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds.

A copy was provided for review through BookLook.

Mini Reviews: Fan Favorites That Fell Flat for Me ⇉ Rebel of the Sands & Steelheart

Monday, February 26, 2018
Have you ever read a book that everyone seemed to be raving about, but you just didn't enjoy it as much as you thought you would?

Rebel of the Sands and Steelheart are books that I've seen a lot of rave reviews for. While I enjoyed them, I didn't love them. Following are the reasons why.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

What was most interesting to me was how this book touches on the subject of what it means to be human. There was a lot of potential to explore this topic with the conflict brewing in Miraji and with the existence of the djinn (and their relationships with mortals). There are also elements of religion in the book, but there is a strong leaning towards atheistic themes, irreverence towards the country's gods, and the empowerment of humans. While it does reflect a growing trend in literature, it does get old, especially if that's the only perspective given. I would have liked to see more complexity in the world building. (For the most part, we only get the main characters' perspective).

The plot was predictable, no real surprises. The MC also shows inconsistencies in character that suggest that, while she is largely independent, she's easily influenced by her emotions, which is particularly noticeable when she's in love. I would have liked to see more development of the character and why she is the person that she is at the time of this novel, but the inconsistencies in character didn't detract too much from the read.

While it's not a particularly memorable read for me, it stays true to what it is: a YA fantasy with a good dose of romance. If you're looking for an easy read with a straightforward plot, I would recommend this book. Though the world is still underdeveloped (hopefully, more complexity is added with the later books), it is an interesting world to visit. That said, I don't anticipate reading book two anytime soon.


Publication Info
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  • Published by Viking
  • On March 8, 2016
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Pages: 316 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
    1. Rebel of the Sands
    2. Traitor to the Throne
    3. Hero at the Fall
        • Kissing
        • Violence

        Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

        Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

        And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

        He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

        Recently, I found out about Brandon Sanderon's Mistborn and Stormlight Archive series. At heart, I'm a fantasy lover and have been looking for books to return to my (reading) roots. I've purchased The Way of Kings off Amazon and, while waiting for its arrival, decided to read Steelheart (since it was available for digital loan from my local library).

        Since Steelheart is a YA novel, I understand that the characters and world building won't be as intricately developed as Sanderson's longer fantasy works. However, the characters were static. While we learn more about them as the novel progresses, I didn't see much character growth. Events were predictable for the most part and didn't flow into one another smoothly, though the time skips are understandable given all the waiting that must happen. What kept me turning the pages was my desire to learn why Steelheart bled and how the MC will get him to bleed again.

        Overall, Sanderson has created an interesting world that explores the effects of possessing ultimate power: what it does to an individual's personality, moral code, and attitude towards others. And how their treatment of others will influence the world. I'm not in a hurry to read book two, but I do expect to read it one day in anticipation of how the Reckoners will change the world.


        Publication Info
        • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
        • Published by Delacorte BFYR
        • On September 24, 2013
        • Genres: Science Fiction
        • Pages: 384 Pages
        • Format: Ebook
          Series: Reckoners
          1. Steelheart
          2. Firefight
          3. Calamity
              • Violence

              CHAT WITH ME

              What are books that you've heard rave reviews about but didn't enjoy?

              A Valentine's Read on Love as an Action ⇉ Review of With Love, From Me to You by Mary Manz Simon

              Tuesday, February 6, 2018
              A day meant to celebrate those we love, Valentine's Day all too often becomes about the number of candies and flowers that we receive (or give). In With Love, From Me to You, Mary Manz Simon reminds us that love is, at heart, an action. Through a series of encounters by different animals, Simon portrays different ways we can show others that we love them. She ends with a reminder of the source of our love and the need to love others year round, not just on Valentine's Day.

              WHAT I LIKED

              Cute Illustrations
              From front to back cover, this book is filled with full-color illustrations. The overall ambiance created is light and airy. That and the board-like pages suggest that this book is intended to be enjoyed with beginning readers.

              Textured Cover
              The cover is textured with the title and hearts intended and covered in red shiny material that adds to the Valentine theme of love. Young readers will enjoy feeling the texture of the title letters and hearts.

              Fantastic Message
              What drew me most to this book is the theme of love as an action. I love how the book reminds us that love is not all about how many candies and flowers we give or receive but about showing others through our words and actions that we care about them—and that we should do this every day of the year, not just on Valentine's Day.

              Furthermore, this book reminds young readers that we love not for our own benefits or because we prefer someone over others. Rather, we love because God's love is giving, and we feel it when we love others.

              WHAT I DISLIKED

              Complex Ideas (for the target audience)
              For a book that is only nine pages, With Love, From Me to You is very wordy. The style and format/layout of the book seems to target beginning readers, but the complexity of the language and ideas is more appropriate for an older audience (and is more at a beginning chapter book level). I wouldn't read this book with young children, but the style and layout of the book seems young for grade schoolers.

              Small Print
              Each stanza is squeezed onto a single page of the book. As a result, the font size is small for a picture book. The font size as well as the book itself is small for a picture book. I wish that the book were larger and that the stanzas were spread out over at least two different pages. (Even four or more to add variations.)

              Zero Character Development
              Though the cover features a cast of characters, the characters are silent and show no character development throughout the book. They are merely there to illustrate the ideas that are expressed in the book. While this would be fine to illustrate a point in a Sunday School lesson with older children, the lack of character interaction isn't as good with a book that seems to target a younger audience.

              Rather than trying to make a theological statement, this book would have been better off portraying the lesson through a story about a cast of characters. This would help the message stick in the readers' minds. After all, we learn best through stories.

              FINAL THOUGHTS

              While I love the message, the book fell flat for me because of the lack of story line. Rather than a story, this felt more like a Sunday School lesson wrapped in the guise of a children's storybook. It becomes quickly apparent from the first pages, however, that there is no narrative to this book. With the theological message of the book presented clearly in the final pages of the book, this book make a clear argument for God's love as the basis for our personal responsibility to love others in turn. It did not present any challenges to my faith.

              I would recommend this book to parents who want to teach their children about the theological reasons for love. Because this book tries to pack a lot of information in so few pages, however, parents should prepare supporting material to expand on the ideas presented in this book. Among these materials, I would include narrative stories that allows children to explore the act of love in the characters' stories.


              With Love, From Me to You is a board book for little ones that will remind them how important it is to love and be loved. With adorable illustrations and sweet, rhyming text by bestselling author Dr. Mary Manz Simon, this book shows children how important their actions and words are in expressing God’s great love with one another. Parents will enjoy reading this book on Valentine’s Day or any day of the year to encourage their children to remember that love is more than gifts and candy; it’s about doing for others and sending love to everyone who’s near.

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              CHAT WITH ME

              What's one action you take to show others that you love them?

              Publication Info
              • With Love, From Me to You by Mary Manz Simon, illustrated by Corinna Ice
              • Published by Zonderkidz
              • On December 26, 2017
              • Genres: Children's Book
              • Pages: 9 Pages
              • Format: Board Book
              • N/A
              • N/A

              A Protagonist Who Reads + It's Numair from the Immortals! ⇉ Review of Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

              Tuesday, January 23, 2018
              I first discovered the Tortall world in middle school. They're books that I can read over and over again without tiring. I've been waiting for the Numair Chronicles several years now and was stoked to receive this for review. So much that I made it my first read of the new year! I've been curious about Numair's origin story since Emperor Mage gave us a sneak peak into his backstory.

              WHAT I LIKED

              A Fellow Reader and Dreamer
              Readers, dreamers, and seekers (aka. forever curious people) will relate to Arram. I have loved Tamora Pierce's strong heroines, who we also know to be real people with real struggles, but it is wonderful to have a protagonist who may also be found buried in books, is an idealist, and is constantly coming up with new ideas and wanting to know things (and getting told to stop asking questions). That was a really long sentence. I'll stop now, or I'll keep rambling about my delight with young Arram Draper.

              (But one more thought: I did enjoy comparing young Arram with the older Numair in The Immortals series. It is such fun to make connections! Like his feelings about riding horses.)

              Characters We Know and Love

              What really made this book for me is the familiar world and characters. I remember the main protagonists as well as some other characters from Tamora Pierce's Immortal series, and I enjoyed the references to characters from other Tortall books. (There are even a couple references to characters, or related characters, from the Beka Cooper series!)

              Complex Characters
              What was especially interesting is the portrayal of Ozorne's character. I knew that he and Numair were friends during their university days, but given his role in the Immortals series, I was not expecting to like him so much. It's interesting to see how his character develops over the course of his time at the university in Tempests and Slaughter. I'm interested in seeing where and how his break with Numair occurs in the next installment of the Numair Chronicles.

              Creative World Building
              As always, the world of the Tortall books is fascinating. I enjoyed learning more about the world south of Tortall.

              WHAT I DISLIKED

              Feels More Like a Summary Than a Story
              The story covers Arram's early years from his entrance into the university's Lower Academy at age 10 (when most enter a year later) to the first year of independent studies at age 14. Because it covers such a broad span of time—and because so much happens during this time—much gets summarized. If I was not already familiar with the Tortall world and invested in Arram's story, I doubt I would have enjoyed this novel as much as I did.

              Furthermore, this is not even a complete summary. Different key plot elements get introduced at various times across the novel without a clear resolution.

              The story ends In Media Res
              My only clue that the story was coming to an end was the "percentage status" in the bottom right corner of my Kindle. The plot brewing had thickened, and hints had been dropped that all was not well despite thoughts to the contrary. Then we're left hanging in the middle of a scene that seems out of place given everything that has happened and that we know will happen. I was left with a feeling of incompleteness.

              It seems that this novel is not meant to be the first installment in a series so much as the first half of a story that will be resolved in the second half, which is to be released (hopefully) next year.

              What's with the Title?
              The title sounds cool, but I'm still not sure how it relates to the story. (Or to which specific plot points they refer.) The problem may be that the story doesn't have a coherent plotline but seems more like a record of Arram / Numair's early years. (Which is how the series advertises itself but which causes it to fall flat as a standalone novel.)

              If you figure out the meaning behind the title, I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

              The Cover Art
              I'm not a fan of the new artwork that they've given the series. I loved the original ones where they featured the character on the cover with illustrations. Even if they stopped featuring the characters on the covers, I would have preferred they keep the original artwork styles instead of using the new dark, intense covers that look heavily photoshopped (or whatever it is they use on computers nowadays).

              A Few Other Miscellaneous Details
              Some details don't make sense. For example, a character may have taken an action in between a couple paragraphs, but the action is not mentioned. While it doesn't heavily impact the overall flow of the story, it makes for a small glitch or bump in the road as I'm reading.

              I also get the feeling that some things don't quite align with the Immortals series. It may be because this prequel series was written afterwards, or it may be because it's been some time since I last reread the Immortals. I do get the feeling that some details should be changed in the Immortals because of new revelations here. (In particular dealing with crocodile gods and sunbirds. But who knows. Maybe things happened outside of Daine's knowledge.) But perhaps the course of events in The Exile's Gift will change my mind.

              FINAL THOUGHTS

              I loved reading about Numair's early life and his misadventures. I wish I had book two in my hands now. However, while this series is called the Numair Chronicles, I didn't enjoy so much how the book essentially summarizes his early years at the university. The story lacks a coherent plot that allows it to stand alone but rather spends it entirety introducing the various plotlines that I expect will converge in The Exile's Gift (book two).

              What made this story for me are the familiar characters and the opportunity to explore more of the world that Tamora Pierce has developed over the years. I would recommend reading at least the Immortals series first (because it's she first introduces the primary cast), but if you can read the other Tortall books as well, it will make this read even more priceless.


              Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

              Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

              In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

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              CHAT WITH ME

              If you were a mage, in what field would you like to specialize? (To name a few, animals, healing, warfare, one of the elements...)

              Publication Info
              • Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
              • Published by Random House BFYR
              • On February 6, 2018
              • Genres: Fantasy
              • Pages: 480 Pages
              • Format: Hardback
              Series: The Numair Chronicles
              1. Tempests and Slaughter
              2. The Exile's Gift
              3. TBD
              (highlight to see)
              • Kissing
              • Sexual activity (implied)
              • Wet dreams
              • Boner
              • Gambling
              • Drinking / alcohol
              • Language (words specific to this culture)
              • Violence & death (from murder, plague, and battle) - conditions described in detail
              • LGBTQ relationship

              Animal Friendship + A Book for Growing Young Readers ⇉ Review of The Moonlight Meeting by Tracey Hecht & Rumur Dowling

              Tuesday, January 9, 2018
              It's been almost a year since I was first introduced to The Nocturnals. Some of favorite books growing up were books featured animals in prominent roles (e.g. Animal Ark, Hank the CowdogWarriors, Guardians of Ga'Hoole, to name a few).

              What makes The Nocturnals unique is that it introduces Australian wildlife. Throughout The Nocturnals series, I've enjoyed learning more about the different wildlife that populate Australian forests. This adaptation for younger readers is my new Nocturnals favorite!

              WHAT I LIKED

              Full-Color Illustrations
              The full-color illustrations bring the characters to life. I enjoyed seeing the characters' expressions and body language paired with their dialogue. They are adorable. (Especially those of Bismark. He's such a character.)

              Lively Dialogue
              Partly because this book targets a younger audience and partly because this book narrows down its focus to Tobin, Bismark, and Dawn's first meeting, more expression is put into the dialogue and character expressions. The pacing was rhythmic and made for an enjoyable read. I can easily imagine this book being reader aloud to entertain a younger reader (and having the younger reader read it back or join in on certain words/phrases).

              A Book on Friendship
              From the beginning, it's clear that this book is about making friends. I like how each of the protagonists has his or her unique personality. It shows how friends do not necessarily need to be alike in order to be friends but that friendship is about mutually intending to and taking action to be friends.

              Fun Facts
              At the end of the book, there is a section explaining what type of animals are Tobin, Bismark, and Dawn as well as what is a pomelo. I appreciate having this information to give me a better understanding of the protagonists. (And it's the type of information I would have geeked over as a kid, being the animal lover that I was.)

              WHAT I DISLIKED

              Where's Book Two?
              To be honest, there wasn't anything that I disliked about this book. While I did have some issues with the original book form which this story was taken, the problems have been smoothed over for this one. The characters didn't feel superficial, and Bismark's over-the-top personality works for this shorter story.

              If anything, I loved this book and want to read the next one right now!

              FINAL THOUGHTS

              The Moonlight Meeting is a highly enjoyable read featuring endearing characters and lively dialogue that are brought to life through rhythmic pacing and animated, full-color illustrations. Those who enjoy books with animal protagonists will especially enjoy this book for beginning readers. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the next Nocturnals release!

              For more information and resources, such as educator and book club kits, check out the Grow and Read website here. For more about the Nocturnals, check out the Nocturnals website here.

              Additional note: I was sent some swag along with this book. The swag included a bookmark, paper art to recreate the protagonists, and a fox stuffed animal wearing a snake-skin printed handkerchief with the Nocturnals logo on it. It is adorable and would make a lovely addition alongside of the book for a present. I haven't heard anything about this fox plushie/handkerchief combination being on sale, but maybe it'll happen in the future :)

              Thank you to Fabled Films for sending me a copy for my honest review.


              In The Moonlight Meeting, Tobin, a sweet pangolin, Bismark, a loud-mouthed sugar glider, and Dawn, a series fox, introduce The Nocturnals' nighttime world with friendship, sharing, and humor.

              Bonus Content includes Fun Facts about the Nocturnals.

              YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...

              « Click to read reviews »


              CHAT WITH ME

              What are your favorite bookish animals?

              Publication Info
              • The Moonlight Meeting by Tracey Hecht & Rumur Dowling
              • Published by Fabled Films Press
              • On September 12, 2017
              • Genres: Children's Book
              • Pages: 64 Pages
              • Format: Paperback
              • The Moonlight Meeting
              • The Slithery Shakedown
              • N/A

              Keepsakes for Little House Fans and Their Young Readers ⇉ Mini Reviews of A Little House Picture Book Treasury and Christmas Stories

              Thursday, January 4, 2018
              I loved reading the Little House books growing up. The books that I'm reviewing today are ones that I'll be saving to enjoy with young readers, especially when the next holiday season rolls around.

              This hardcover, full-color treasury includes six picture book stories adapted from the classic Little House books.

              The Little House series introduced generations of readers to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life on the frontier. Now with this illustrated storybook collection, the youngest readers can share in her world as well.

              Laura Ingalls lives in a snug little log cabin with her ma, her pa, her sisters, Mary and Carrie, and their dog, Jack. Almanzo Wilder lives on a farm with his family and lots of animals. These pioneer children have all sorts of adventures, including trips to town, county fairs, cozy winter days, and holidays with family.

              I love how the Little House stories have been adapted to picture book format to share with beginning readers. The full-color illustrations on each page are gorgeous and bring the Little House world to life. The illustrations are reminiscent of the original artwork; they gave me nostalgia for my childhood days when I first discovered the Little House books. This treasury features six short stories that may also be purchased as separate entities.


              Publication Info
              • A Little House Picture Book Treasury: Six Stories of Life on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
              • Published by Harper Collins
              • On September 19 2017
              • Genres: Historical
              • Pages: 208 Pages
              • Format: Hardback
                • Compilation of 6 Books from the "My First Little House Books" collection. For more, click here.
                      • N/A

                      For Laura Ingalls, Christmas means good things to eat, visits from friends, and special gifts to give and receive. As Laura grows up, every Christmas is better than the one before.

                      Join the original pioneer girl in this Little House chapter book, adapted for younger readers from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved classics. Illustrated with beautiful new black-and-white artwork, this repackaged edition includes bonus material such as games, activities, and more!

                      Christmas Stories features nine Christmas stories along with some fun Christmas-themed activities and an author introduction in the back of the book. It's been a while since I've read the original Little House books, but the reading level for this book felt similar to the original books. The only difference is that this book is smaller since it only includes select stories. This makes it more accessible to younger readers who would feel daunted by a larger chapter book.

                      That said, this book would make a great introduction for young readers to the Little House world. I'll be saving this one to enjoy with young readers during the Christmas holidays!


                      CHAT WITH ME

                      Are you a Little House reader? What is your favorite story from the series?

                      Publication Info
                      • Christmas Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder
                      • Published by Harper Collins
                      • On September 19 2017
                      • Genres: Historical
                      • Pages: 112 Pages
                      • Format: Paperback
                      Series: Little House Chapter Book Collection
                      • The Adventures of Laura & Jack
                      • Pioneer Sisters
                      • Animal Adventures
                      • Laura & Nellie
                      • Christmas Stories
                      • School Days
                      • N/A