Intercessory Prayer By Dutch Sheets: Book Review

Intercessory Prayer
By Dutch Sheets 

Find it on: 

First Person
Non-Fiction
286 Pages

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Called foundational, revolutionary, illuminating, and motivating, Intercessory Prayer continues to be a classic work after more than 20 years. This rich, biblical teaching is full of fresh insights showing how vital our prayers are and how God has always planned to work in partnership with us through prayer. As Dutch explains the nuts and bolts of prayer with wisdom, gentleness, and humor, readers will find inspiration and courage to pray for the impossible–and the persistence to see prayers to completion. 

Why I Choose this Book: 

I know prayer works, and that it’s extremely important, but far too often I don’t pray as much, or the way, that I should. Recently I’ve decided to read some books about prayer and implement more structured prayer into my life. 

What I Thought About this Book:

Going into the book I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was soon drawn in by the author’s writing style, and then the information grabbed me, too. Mr. Sheets wrote a book with a lot of seriousness, but he found a good balance of throwing in funny little stories or rabbit trails at just the right time to help balance the book. There was one time when I literally laughed out loud, which was totally unexpected for me. 
Intercessory Prayer explores the topic of prayer to great levels. Mr. Sheets doesn’t shy away from “hard” (aka confusing) questions, like “Is prayer really necessary? Isn’t God sovereign? If so, then why do we have to pray?” Instead, he delves into the Bible and explores hundreds of verses, going into the Greek and Hebrew origins of different words, and helping give a more complete picture of why prayer is important. 
The fact that Mr. Sheets uses so many verses from the Bible while explaining his standing was a huge plus. It’s always encouraging to me when people go to God’s Word as their standard, instead of just quoting other people or using logical. (The book uses all three examples, so yay.) 
Mr. Sheets also told of multitudes of miracles and answers to prayers that he’s experienced, or else known people who have experienced them, over the years. That was quite encouraging and inspiring and helped remind me in more than one way how important it is to pray. Mr. Sheets also gave some ideas of specific things to pray about in certain situations, drawing from the Bible for examples.

Overall, I enjoyed the first half better than the second half, but both of them had lots of good information. Some of what Mr. Sheets pointed out about different Hebrew and Greek words was totally new to me and helped me learn a lot. It also helped me to understand prayer to a greater degree. I always knew it was important, but this helped spotlight the reasons it’s important. 

Conclusion:

There were some things I didn’t agree with in the book, as well as some doctrines that I need to study more before I agree or disagree with them. I suggest people who read the book do so willing to set aside their own preconceived ideas and really study God’s Word. At the same time I caution people not to blindly accept everything the author says. Overall though, the book was edifying, uplifting, challenging, and full of God’s Word.

Rating:


I’m giving Intercessory Prayer 4 stars out of 5, and 8 stars out of 10. I recommend it to Christians who want to serve God. 

*I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review*

Pianos, Teaching, and a Guest

Today I have a special guest post, spotlighting a book about how to teach piano. 
I “met” Amanda (the author) via another blogger, Jason, who has helped with beta reading When Life Hands You Lymes. Jason had interviewed Amanda for his blog, and had come to the conclusion that she might enjoy beta reading WLHYL for me, since the main character is a classical pianist. I contacted Amanda, and she kindly agreed to beta read, and then proceeded to offer some great insights for the book. 
About Amanda
Amanda Tero is a Christian music teacher, currently residing in Mississippi. She has played piano since the age of seven, studying classical performance, theory, and arranging from various teachers.  She began teaching private piano and violin lessons in 2007, equipping church musicians with a balance of classical and hymn education. 

In 2016 she released her first how-to book for musicians entitled, “Me? Teach Piano?” You may purchase this book on Amazon (click here).

Find her blog here, and her music website here.
About The Book

About The Process of Writing “Me? Teach Piano?” (By Amanda)

I’ve been a writer since before I was ten. It wasn’t that I was amazing with words or anything (trust me: Mom always catches plenty of “Amanda-isms” in my writing before it hits the public!). I just loved a good story, and I wanted to be a part of creating more.

“Me? Teach Piano?” was a totally different field, being a non-fiction, educational-type book. This was definitely not something I initially set out to write. But in a matter of just a few months, several of my friends/former piano students began quizzing me on teaching piano. I wrote at least two long letters with different tips and pointers plus had a serious “Q&A” phone call. I guess you could say that was the seed that planted the desire for me to help many others teach piano (cause… I’m a teacher. And I even like teaching others how to teach). 

When it came time to write “Me? Teach Piano?” I approached it completely differently than a piece of fiction. Usually, ideas go from… well, ideas… to more ideas and more. But when it came to funneling the lessons I’ve learned about teaching into a booklet, I didn’t really know where to start. So, I gathered the information that I had given my friends (you never know when a letter might be returned to you, do you? ;)). But then, I sent out emails and texts to various pianists I knew with, “If you had any question about teaching, what would it be?” The responses I got pretty much built my booklet. I organized their questions by topic and set to answering them in the five chapters that make up “Me? Teach Piano?” 

In a way, I treated writing “Me? Teach Piano?” like writing a very long letter to someone I really wanted to help succeed (hence, there’s a light-hearted feel to it). I am still amazed with how smoothly the actual writing process went, though. I’m not much of a “binge-writer” where I sit down and write thousands of words at a time. But when it came to this, the Lord gave me clarity of thought and plenty of ideas and my fingers flew.

Now, for the publishing part. “Me? Teach Piano?” actually sat for about eight months after I did the final edits before I started publishing it (long story short, we were building a house and getting it finished in those months). In that time, I had published “Journey to Love” (fictional novella about a girl from the orphan train) which gave me a head-start on formatting “Me? Teach Piano?” 

One of my favorite parts about publishing “Me? Teach Piano?” was how God provided that amazing cover design that the world sees. I can’t even draw a stick-person and though I have a few sisters who draw well, my idea wasn’t their style. Not knowing where to begin, I posted an “ad” for it on several FaceBook pages, contacted a few artists, and did a lot of praying. It was actually my sister, Elizabeth, who found my artist (“You know, my friend’s little sister draws cartoon-style…”). When I emailed Sydney to see if this was something she’d be interested in, she replied a very enthusiastic, “Yes!” saying that she’d been praying for a way to use her art for God’s glory. Wow. You just can’t get any better than that! She was great to work with. 

Elizabeth (same sister who suggested Sydney) drew the whimsical interior designs, and the rest is pretty much history. “Me? Teach Piano?” is out there, and I pray that it aids and encourages many upcoming teachers!

What I (Lydia) Thought of Me? Teach Piano?
I’m not a piano teacher, piano player, or even remotely musical. Nevertheless, even I found the book interesting. The format is fantastically easy to concentrate on, the writing style a breeze to read through, and the information presented in a way that is impactful without being overwhelming. Plus, in addition to coming across as really professional, it also had a light-hearted, whimsical feel to it. 
In reality, I didn’t expect to do more than skim-read the book to get an idea of what it’s about, but after I started, I was sucked in and wanted to know how a piano teacher goes about teaching. The book is brief, but full of helpful information such as how to prepare before you start teaching (things to include in a student contract, etc…), how to choose the amount to charge, what to do if a student isn’t getting anywhere, the benefits of recitals, and the list goes on. 
There were several times the book brought to mind “For Dummies books” which is a high compliment, because I find the “Dummie” books to be quite helpful. Overall, I highly recommend Amanda’s book to anyone who is interested in teaching piano. Buy your copy here
Thanks, Amanda, for joining me on Noveltea today!

(un) Natural Mom By Hettie Brittz – Book Review

It’s a delightful Monday morning, and wonders of all wonders, I plan on being home all week! I’m seriously excited about that, and all that I’ll (hopefully) be accomplishing. This morning has gotten off to a great start, although it’s a good thing I built some leeway into my plans, because yeah… I’m already seeing I’m going to need it.

Today I get to review an interesting book for y’all. I also have three more books awaiting their debut onto Noveltea’s stage. I’m currently reading Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets, and although I’m only on page 57, I’m pretty impressed with it. The plan is to review that book on here sometime this weekend. 

And sitting on my desk, just waiting to be picked up, I have The Intercessors Handbook by Jennifer Eivaz, and Rare Leadership by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder. How’s that for a fantastic sounding to-be-read pile?  This month has been a bit slow-going when it comes to reading. I’ve only read four books, and three of them were ones I had agreed to review. It’s been a good month though, and the plan is to read one or two of the aforementioned books before September comes rushing in. (September! Yay! Autumn and beauty and all sorts of wonderfulness.) 

Now for today’s book review…

(un) Natural Mom
By Hettie Brittz 

Find it on: 

First Person
Non-Fiction
278 Pages


About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Do you feel like you’re the only mom who serves store-bought birthday treats, dreads school plays, and misses the days of going to the bathroom by herself?

unNatural Mom gives you permission to say that mothering doesn’t always come naturally to you. Parenting expert and self-proclaimed unnatural mom Hettie Brittz helps you…

  • Recognize how unrealistic our culture’s standards of mothering are
  • Move beyond the myths of “supermom”
  • Complete the Parenting Style Assessment to determine your own parenting style
  • Understand and forgive the mothers who hurt you
  • Embrace your capabilities as well as your challenges

Come find new hope in discovering that every mother has unique gifts. In Christ, the “unnatural” mom becomes the supernatural mom who is just right for her family!

Why I Choose this Book: 

Although I’m obviously not a mother yet, I do have a lot of kids in my life and I’ve found that sometimes it helps me be a better human when I study books like this one. Also, I would like to be a mother one day, so the subject is quite interesting to me. Plus, mothers are just incredibly amazing and I am pretty overwhelmed them, so reading a book by a mother about mothering seemed smart.

What I Thought About this Book:

It was quite interesting. There were many things that didn’t apply to me at this stage in life (duh), but I was surprised at how much I still gleaned from the book. Miss Hettie pretty much created her own “personality system” for mothers, using trees for the different categories. Since I have a fond place in my heart for studying personalities, this book was right up my alley.

Miss Hettie writes with a lot of honesty and some humor. I was happily surprised at her creative way to weave the different personality traits into the book and found myself eager to keep reading. I found areas in life I could relate, even though I don’t have kids of my own, and look forward to hopefully reading this book again down the road if I ever have kids of my own.

Conclusion:

Her book was definitely written from the mother-to-mother point of view, and even though there weren’t lots of details, it’s not a book I would hand to a young teenage girl.

Rating:

I’m giving (un) Natural Mother 4 stars out of 5, and 7 stars out of 10. (The book was close to a 3-star book for me, but I’m fairly certain it would have gotten a solid 4-star review if I was a mother, which is the intended audience, hence the rating.)

*I received this book free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review*

Service Tails by Ace Collins – Book Review

This morning I was sitting down to eat breakfast when it suddenly hit me that the month was passing by exceedingly fast and I’d most likely missed the deadline for one of my Litfuse book reviews. After some searching of my emails, I realized that was indeed the case. Thankfully I was only a day late; sadly, I hadn’t even begun reading the book yet. It’s a good thing I schedule reading time into my world as an author, because I was able to move around plans and curl up with a nice mug of coffee and race through the book. 


Service Tails 
By Ace Collins 

Find it on: 

Third-Person Narration 
Non-Fiction Contemporary
200 Pages

{The cover won’t load for some reason, but I’ll try again later.}

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Heart-tugging true stories of the courage, faith, and loyalty of remarkable service dogs.
Not all heroic dogs wildly toss themselves into lifesaving situations. Some save lives simply by their incredible commitment to duty and service. Some lead the way to independence for people whose disabilities were supposed to limit their lives.

In Service Tails: More Stories of Man’s Best Hero, prolific author Ace Collins introduces us to leaders whose entire lives are wrapped in the banner of service. Their stories are remarkable snapshots of the value of vision and teamwork, as well as devotion to duty and unconditional love and acceptance—stretching the way we see both canine and human potential. Their training was intense, their loyalty unquestioned and each step of the way they constantly adapt to better serve those they lead. These unforgettable dogs are more than heroes; they are models from which we can learn how to love and serve unconditionally.


Why I Choose this Book: 

Although I’m not an animal-lover to the degree that lots of people are, I do enjoy dog stories from time to time. Plus, I’ve been intrigued by service dogs for quite a while. And, well, there’s a Golden Retriever on the front cover, and Golden Retrievers are such beautiful creatures. 

What I Thought About this Book:

I’m simply amazed at how smart dogs are (and at how patient humans are to train them so well). Service Tails is a collection of 12 true stories about dogs and how they served their masters who had disabilities. 

If this book wasn’t true, it wouldn’t have held my interest, but since it was true, it was pretty intriguing. I probably won’t re-read it, but overall I don’t have any negatives about the book, other than the fact that it felt a bit redundant at times. The fact that most of the stories take place (or at least end) as recently as 2012 makes it pretty cool, because I know I can look up the various people they mentioned who have been in the news. 

Told in a simple style, but with easy to picture details, Service Tails is a book that should appeal to dog people everywhere. It’s also eye-opening as it talks about struggles people with different disabilities go through. (Blindness, deafness, being paralyzed, etc…)

Overall, it was quite enjoyable to learn about the different dogs and all the amazing things they’ve done to help their masters over the years. It’s also really encouraging and inspiring to hear about the people themselves – all they went through and overcame, and how they didn’t let their problems stop them from living life. 
Conclusion:

Although I wouldn’t consider this to be a christian book, it was clean and and free from violence, so it’s a good read for the whole family. 

Rating:

I’m giving Service Tails 4 stars out of 5, and 7 stars out of 10. 

About the Author 

Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas.
*I received this book free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review*

Master Your Money: Book Review

Master Your Money 
By Ron Blue
Find it on: 
First-Person
Non-Fiction
272 Pages

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):
A step-by-step guide to financial freedom
Do you know if you have enough? Do you know how much is enough? If you can’t answer these questions, Master Your Money is for you.
In this book, Ron Blue extracts principles from God’s Word and applies them to your financial portfolio.
Learn how to:
  • Avoid the most common financial mistakes
  • Apply biblical principles for money management
  • Save, invest, and give wisely
  • Create a long-term financial plan that works
  • Plan for your taxes and estate needs
  • Get out of debt
Ron’s professional experience in financial planning will ease your anxieties over money and be an asset to you and your family for generations to come. Learn the tools and techniques you need to move forward toward true financial freedom.
This new edition includes important updates and new content, making it timely and relevant.
Why I Choose this Book: 
Money is an important part of life and I want to make sure I use my money in a way that brings God glory. 
What I Thought About this Book:

Master Your Money is thorough, helpful, and practical. It’s clear the author knew what he was talking about and that he really wanted to help others manage their money well. I especially appreciated the many times the author referenced the Bible and used God’s Word for his guide while writing the book. As God’s children, I believe that Christians are going to be held accountable for how they make and spend money and this book can help people figure out how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and use their finances to live life the way God wants them to. 
There were quite a few times where I felt like the book was above my head, but that’s not surprising as taxes and investments are still something I find quite confusing. Reading books like Master Your Money helps me learn a little bit more though, and for that I’m thankful. (I will note that Your Money Map by Howard Dayton was more at my level and covered a lot of the same information. I highly recommend both Master Your Money and Your Money Map.) 
Being free to earn and spend money is a blessing I’m very thankful for. I’m also thankful that money can, and should, be used as a tool. When we learn to master our money it no longer “masters” us, and that’s a very good thing. We can’t serve both God and money, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have money, it just means that money shouldn’t be our god or an all consuming issue in our life. This book can help bring that balance about, which makes it a very useful book.
Although I don’t remember the book discussing it, statistics show that there’s a lot of friction regarding how people handle finances when it comes to marriage and I’m pretty sure the same is true with other relationships (such as business partners). I highly recommend people who are sharing finances to read this book and work through it together.
Conclusion:
Yay! Read it. Learn. Don’t spend more than you make. Use God’s Word as a starting point. Money can be a blessing when used the right way.
Rating:

I’m giving Master Your Money four stars and recommend it to anyone 18 and older. (Although I suppose it’s really geared more toward those who are already running a household, it doesn’t hurt to get a good foundation started early on.) 

The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations: Book Review

The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations
Find it on: 

Third-Person 
Two Points of View
Non-Fiction
288 Pages


About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Love God, love people. Could evangelism really be that simple?Often, it doesn’t seem so. It can feel scary, awkward, and uncomfortable as we try to navigate loaded questions and different perspectives. Even the most faithful of believers sometimes get stumped. But can you imagine if we, as Christians, simply spent time with people who are far from God and provided a safe place to talk about spiritual matters? If we listened to them and discovered what was really important to them? After all . . . it’s what Jesus did. And it’s what you can do too.

Drawing straight from the life and ministry of Jesus, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations offers simple practices to help you build relationships with people who believe differently. Anyone who has read and appreciated Becoming a Contagious Christian or Just Walk across the Room won’t want to miss this book on creating a safe space to have natural, loving, and spiritual conversations with others.


Why I Choose this Book: 

Conversations are interesting, and there’s always the balance of carrying on a good conversation with someone who believes differently from you while remaining respectful. Plus, from reading the sub-title I actually thought it was about how to have conversations between christians with different interpretations of the Bible, but that wasn’t the case.

What I Thought About this Book:

When I started the book I really wasn’t sure what I thought of it. There were several things in the first few chapters that I didn’t agree with fully. For example: the authors seemed to almost look down on just out right witnessing (as in, bringing up conversations about God before developing a relationship). I think there are many different ways to witness, and that different people are called to witness in different ways, and each situation is different from all other situations. 

After the first couple of chapters though, I found myself agreeing more and more with the book. The overall word that kept coming to mind as I read it was practical. The book was incredibly practical and therefore easy to put into practice. 

The main idea I came away with is that as christians we’re called to be the salt and light and so therefore we need to fulfill that calling by actively engaging people in every-day life situations. We should be building relationships, then sharing God’s truths with those people in a conversational-type setting instead of simply lecturing them. 

There were many parts of the book that could have been in any self-development book, but then they related the ideas back to the Bible, pointing out how Jesus is our example. For instance, there was a chapter about asking questions and then really listening instead of asking questions and then forming your reply as they talk. They shared several examples of questions Jesus asked and the situations surrounding those instances. It was pretty cool. 

Conclusion:

I read this book all in one day while getting over the flu. After the first few chapters I found it interesting, helpful, and informative. I don’t recall any questionable content. The writing wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was nice and easy to read. 

Rating: 

I’m giving The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations four stars and recommend it to ages 15+ 

*I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review*

In the Field of Grace By Tessa Afshar: Book Review

In the Field of Grace
By Tessa Afshar 
Find it on: 
Third-Person 
Two (?) Points of View
Fiction
290 Pages

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi’s, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.


But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi’s chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.

Based on the biblical account of Ruth, In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel’s destiny and the future of the whole world.

Why I Choose this Book: 

The first Bible Study I attend as a little girl was hosted by my older sister and we studied Ruth. Ever since then I’ve found her story to be fascinating and somewhat mind-bloggling. When I saw the chance to review a biblical fiction book about Ruth, I was pretty excited.
What I Thought About this Book:
Ah, Ruth! This book portrayed familiar characters in unfamiliar ways, and really helped them to come alive. Although the author obviously took liberties and added huge sections to the short account in the Bible, I found the book to be happily (as far as I remember) above reproach when it came to the actual scriptural part of the story.  
Although the writing wasn’t as tight as I thought it could have been, I found the descriptions to be lovely and really could imagine the time period and what all was happening. I could see the fields and almost feel the dust and heat. I could imagine the hurt and longing. The book did a good job at coming to life for me and helped me think thoughts about the account in the Bible that I hadn’t really had before. 
The account of Ruth has always been somewhat confusing to me, probably since I don’t fully understand what the culture was like back then. It’s amazing to me how people lived their lives and conducted business and just went about day after day. This book spurred on a bunch of random thoughts regarding life back then and life now and how different, and similar, life is the world ’round, even centuries apart. 
I enjoyed the story a fair amount, and the first half of the book a lot. Toward the end I felt my interest waning a good bit and wished that the book would have ended sooner than it actually did, that alone was enough to take the book down a notch or so in my estimate. 
Conclusion:
There was obviously romance since this is about Ruth. Overall though, I really felt like the romance was handled carefully and didn’t come across wrong. There were a few scenes that I didn’t appreciate, but other than that I thought the book was good. 
And, as I mentioned earlier: I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second and think it dragged two much at the end. 
Rating: 
I’m giving In Fields of Grace four out of five stars, seven out of ten. 
*I received this book for free from Moody Press in exchange for an honest review*