Christian, teen, tween

Believe in You: Big Sister Stories and Advice on Living Your Best Life

Authors: Christina Cimorelli , Katherine Cimorelli, Lisa Cimorelli, Amy Cimorelli, Lauren Cimorelli, Dani Cimorelli
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian / Teen
ISBN: 978-1-4002-1302-3
Pages: 192
Price: $18.99

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The Cimorelli sisters have received lots of mail from girls looking for advice on how to handle the ups and downs of their growing-up years. Since they can’t respond to each one directly, they decided the best way to reach everyone was to compile their collective wisdom in Believe in You.

The topics they cover are: your relationship with you, spirituality, friendship, dating, family, money, your future, and letters to our younger selves. In each chapter, the six sisters share their own unique perspectives on the subject being discussed. Chatting as big sisters, each encourage girls in how to live their best life.

Believe in You is perfect for any girl who wants a Christian “big sister” to look up to. Fans of Cimorelli will especially enjoy it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, finance

Provisions for Abundance

Author: Ryan Mack
Publisher: Health Communications Inc.
Genre: Christian / Finance
ISBN: 9780757323645
Pages: 384
Price: $16.95

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Christians have a responsibility to manage their money in accordance with God’s word. But how does God feel about accumulating wealth? Surprisingly, He doesn’t have a problem with it, as long as the quest for money doesn’t become an obsession for believers. And, in fact, it can become a wonderful resource when giving to those in need.

In Provisions for Abundance, author Ryan Mack offers 365 Christian daily devotionals for financial success. Each day explores a different topic, and includes several Bible verses to ponder along with a daily tip. But this is no “prosperity gospel” preaching. Instead, Mack encourages us to use a common-sense approach in financial planning. Budgeting, saving, smart spending, and being more generous to others are strong themes in this book.

Even if we’re not looking to build wealth, the strategies Mack shares with us will be helpful in everyday life. Smart money management is a skill that everyone can use, and I highly recommend this book for Christians who want to improve their financial future.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, men


Author: Pierce Brantley
Publisher: David C Cook
Genre: Christian / Men
ISBN: 978-0-8307-8073-0
Pages: 224
Price: $17.99

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Many men see their jobs as nothing more than a weekly paycheck, but Pierce Brantley doesn’t agree. Instead, he asks men to see their jobs as a calling that has meaning and purpose. But how can they find that purpose in the daily grind? Calling shows them how.

Throughout this book, Brantley shares his own experiences of growing up and working at various jobs. He has been laborer and business owner, and he shows how each has worked to further God’s will in his life, using the Bible as a reference. And finally, he shows men how to see the same purpose in their own lives.

As a woman, I was disappointed that the author chose to direct this book exclusively to men. Women can also benefit from his thoughts about following God’s will in our workplaces. But overall, I thought that Calling offered a fresh perspective of turning our daily work over to God to use for his highest glory.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Hope of Glory

Author: Jon Meacham
Publisher: Convergent Books
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-593-23666-6
Pages: 144
Price: $22.00

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In commemorating the Passion of Christ, Christians often focus on the last seven words of Jesus. Taken from the Gospels, these last words express essential Christian truths. The Hope of Glory is a collection of meditations on each of these last words, beginning with an explanation of their significance.

These words are:
The First Word: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
The Second Word: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Third Word: “Woman, behond thy son!” “Behold thy mother.”
The Fourth Word: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The Fifth Word: “I thirst.”
The Sixth Word: “It is finished.”
The Seventh Word: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

These meditations originally were spoken from the pulpit in 2013, and focus on the Jesus’s message of love, grace, and extraordinary mercy. The Hope of Glory would be a great read during the Lenten season.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Bible in 52 Weeks

Author: Dr. Kimberly D. Moore
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Christian / Bible study
ISBN: 978-1-64152-815-3
Pages: 208
Price: $14.99

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Have you thought about reading the Bible in a year? Many reading plans can be found on the internet, but maybe you’re looking for something more. The Bible in 52 Weeks provides a full reading plan along with 52 weekly meditations, as you study the scripture for the week.

The scripture reading plan is more than a trip through the Bible, cover to cover. Mixing it up a little makes it easier to get through some of the books that readers often find difficult. Each week’s meditation focuses on one of the daily passages, followed by some probing questions to think about and other supplemental materials.

The weekly reading plan provides six days of reading with one day off to catch up. Catholics who want to use this book could use this day off to read the Deuterocanonical books that are not included in the reading plan. This is not an in-depth study guide, so serious Bible readers would probably be better off with a reading plan from the internet and a good study Bible. But if this is your first time through the Bible, The Bible in 52 Weeks would be a good introductory plan to use.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

biography, Christian, literary

Becoming Mrs. Lewis (Expanded Edition)

Author: Patti Callahan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical fiction / Biographical novel / Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7852-1809-8
Pages: 448
Price: $17.99

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When Joy Davidman Gresham wrote to C.S. Lewis for the first time, she was seeking answers to her newfound questions of faith. Born Jewish, and an avowed atheist, she was confused at her sudden knowledge of the presence of God in her life. Over time, letters between the two became more personal and conversational, and Joy began to see Lewis as more than a friend and confidant. Becoming Mrs. Lewis shares a fictionalized account of their friendship, and ultimately romance, that took place over a decade.

Patti Callahan drew on many sources for this masterful recreation of their unlikely love story. Joy and Jack (as he was known to his friends) come alive in this well-written tale. Their story is compelling, and the reader is eager to get to know them better. Bonuses in this expanded edition include discussion questions, an imagined letter from Joy to Jack, a timeline of events in their lives, ten things you probably didn’t know, and some information about Oxford.

This is one of the best biographical novels I’ve read, and I couldn’t put this book down. I had to know how this romance would end, since I was unfamiliar with their story. I highly recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Refine & Restore

Author: Rachel C. Swanson
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1344-0
Pages: 272
Price: $15.99

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If you’ve ever wondered Why does this Christian life feel so empty?, Rachel Swanson can sympathize. After years as a happy and fulfilled Christian, she sought answers for why she felt distant from God. Refine & Restore offers us a glimpse into her life story, and how she came to be in the place she suddenly found herself in.

Reviewing her life, Swanson realized that some of her own actions contributed to her unrest. Unhealthy friendships, body wars, lust, anxiety and depression are just some of the issues she faced in her past. But with prayer and faith in God, she made the decision to turn back to Him for healing. As she shares her own story, she gives us guidance and hope in moving away from the damaging worldly influences in our lives.

Swanson holds nothing back as she shares her own missteps along this journey. Refine & Restore is a breath of fresh air to those who also are living ordinary, mistake-filled lives – not the airbrushed, holy ones we often read about.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


True Reflections

Author: Laura L. Smith
Genre: Christian devotional
Pages: 60
Price: $10.00

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God may have created us, but do we really know who we are? We may know our personalities, preferences, and occupations, but do we know who we are deep inside? In this 30 day devotional, Laura L. Smith guides us through an exploration of what the Bible says about who God created us to be.

Each of these thirty devotions is designed to be completed in one day. On one page, we’re given a Bible quote, followed by the author’s musings on the topic presented, and a probing question for us to ponder. The second page offers a reflection opportunity with lots of blank space for recording our thoughts. Finally, the devotion ends on a nugget of truth for us to hold onto as we go about our day.

The Bible offers so many great affirmations about our worth to God. This 30 day devotional will help us hold them close in our hearts. I highly recommend True Reflections.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Unknown God

Author: Mathew P. John
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-8307-8074-7
Pages: 208
Price: $17.99

The Mosaic Course
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God created humanity, and it’s no surprise to find that He’s active in all religions – not just Christianity. In The Unknown God, author Mathew P. John shares his perspective on these world religions and how they all point to Jesus as Messiah.

Having grown up in India, John has a unique perspective of witnessing several religious practices in his home country. He looks at Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian beliefs in an attempt to show how Jesus appears in each, and how God is still using those religions to bring his people to Christ.

God sent a Gentile group of Wise Men in search of his beloved Son on the eve of his birth. These men had no Jewish upbringing, yet they knew that a Savior was to be born, as they set off to follow the star. The Unknown God provides a wonderful explanation as to how He’s still reaching the people who don’t yet know Him.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, fitness, health

Find Your Weigh (with Bible study)

Author: Shellie Bowdoin
Publisher: Source Publishing
Genre: Weight loss / Christian
ISBN: 978-971-503-442-5 / 978-9715034456
Pages: 251 / 111
Price: $13.99 / $12.99

Author’s website
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Buy the Bible study guide at Amazon

Would you like to be free of your weight issues? Do you believe that God can help you succeed? If so, Shellie Bowdoin has given us some pointers on how to let Him, as she encourages us to let go of the diet mentality, once and for all.

We all know diets don’t usually work. We go on a diet, lose the weight we want to lose, and then go off the diet, only to regain the weight. So instead of going on yet another new diet, Shellie gives us some new principles to follow – goals that redefine our process as healthy weight management. She also encourages us to journal what we’re feeling, and even provides special blank pages and some weekly reflection questions, along with her own journal as a model. The Bible study guide is accompanied by free Youtube videos, and throughout the study, Shellie shares Bible wisdom to encourage us in our efforts.

Losing weight can be a struggle, but God wants to help us in our efforts. Find Your Weigh provides encouragement and resources in making the changes we know we need to make.

Reviewer: Alice Berger