This page is for books I receive from FirstLook
to read and review!!! 

Hunting Hope
Nika Maples

about the book

Hope is not an accident. Sometimes it has to be hunted, and hunting it takes courage.
Hope hunters know how to excavate hope from hardship. There is dirt underneath their fingernails and sweat on their shirts. They rake through the rubble of an unwanted situation, digging into difficult circumstances because they have come to expect that adversity will produce good. They believe that light always triumphs over darkness. They have learned to walk through winter with their eyes on spring.
Nika Maples became a hope hunter after suffering a massive brainstem stroke that left her quadriplegic in her twenties. Doctors warned that she had as little as 48 hours to live, and-if she lived at all-she would never walk or talk again. There was no hope on the horizon. So Nika started to hunt for it. Today, she not only walks, but she speaks to audiences everywhere about the power of hunting hope when a situation appears hopeless. She says hope remains camouflaged in the daily mundane. If we are not looking for it, we will miss it, though it is right before our eyes.
Whether you or someone you know is going through a situation that feels hopeless, you will find encouragement in Hunting Hope. Whether you are experiencing a medical trauma, a financial hardship, or a relational crisis, you will find empowerment in Hunting Hope. As you read, you will cling to 20 truths about God's character and practice 5 daily disciplines that will develop your own character in crisis. 
You will become a hope hunter.
Maybe it doesn't matter what causes suffering in our lives as much as it matters what suffering
causes in our lives. Maybe we were all meant to be hope hunters.

my review
It was written in a way that is easy to read...the font is good size..The pages are just the right size too...not too long or too short....just right to me anyway.
It's not a new concept, but it is a true one. In a time of prosperity gospel and inaction seeming best, this book is a welcome relief and challenge to readers to be more, because God enables them to be able to be more.

would I recommend this book to anyone....yes, those who are struggling through a trial or tribulation

about the author
When I was 20 years old, my plans for my life, career, family, and future fell apart. One day I was an active sophomore in college, the next I was quadriplegic in the Intensive Care Unit, having suffered a massive brainstem stroke. I could not speak, swallow, or blink. Because I could hear, I listened as doctors warned my family that I had as little as 48 hours to live. There was nothing for us to do but pray. My faith sustained me in ways I can hardly explain, and a year later I walked back onto my college campus on my own two feet.
Eventually, I earned a B.S. in mass communication from Texas Wesleyan University, along with a Texas teaching certificate in English in 2002. Then in 2010, I earned an M.A. in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Currently, I am pursuing an M.Div. at the King's University in Southlake, Texas. I taught public high school and intermediate grade English for ten years. In 2007, the Texas Education Agency awarded me the distinguished honor of Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Currently, I write and speak full time, sharing messages of hope and endurance with education, business, and church groups across the country. Almost everyone walks away with a renewed sense of purpose. I write and speak on hope and endurance because if there is one thing I know, it is how to keep going.
All of my communication -- books, posts, keynotes, and training's -- centers on practicing hope and endurance. I have learned that even when a situation seems impossible, it is never too late. But in order for someone to keep going, they need a steady supply of encouragement. That is why this blog offers just that:
  • Encouragement for education.
  • Encouragement for every day.
  • Encouragement for health and mobility.
  • Encouragement for goal-setting.
  • Encouragement for spiritual growth.
  • Encouragement for writing.
No matter what you are going through, you need encouragement.
You will find plenty of it here.
Take some for yourself, leave some for others.
And then keep going.


Sacred Intent: Maximize the Moments of Your Life


about the book
Sacred Intent is a devotional approach in contrast to a practical approach to personal growth, leadership and influence based on Scripture. Crowe challenges you to think, dream and lead. Structured around the days of the week, you will learn: character-driven decision making; ownership of biblical values; and a commitment to influence through service. Topics include: a focused dream, time management, and inner calling. This thought-provoking and visionary book will appeal to young people and leaders burning to make a difference.

My Review
I got right into this book by just reading one and started marking the passages that were written in it...The sections are all one word titles and in each section there are several chapters to fully open each concept. The seven sections are entitled:

Monday: Influence
Tuesday: Time
Wednesday: Calling
Thursday: Engagement
Friday: Relationships
Saturday: Motivation
Sunday: Dreams

Brent uses stories from the Old and New Testament, from history, from his own personal life to show us the importance of all seven concepts and how they fit into the eternal plan God has for your life. God can and will use all these things in our lives to make our life shine for His Kingdom and His Glory.
This is a good book. It is focused on discipleship and missions to reach a lost world through all of the seven words above. Youth through the oldest among us can learn from this book. It is deeper devotional than others I have read. Brent digs into God's word throughout the book and shares his understanding . Read it and then pass it along to young people or college students or whoever wants to know God more deeply. Reread it! The cover is not much to look at... but the book has the potential to be used by God to ignite the church to reach out to the lost world around them. But never being put before the Bible.

I would recommend this book to ANYONE....

about author

Brent Crowe is a thought-provoking visionary and speaker who has a passion to present the life changing message of the gospel. An emerging spiritual and cultural leader, Brent uses humor and real life situations to relate to people at the heart of their struggles. The roles of husband, father, minister, evangelist, writer and leader have allowed Brent to influence people from all walks of life throughout his years in ministry. 

Engaging issues such as leadership, culture, and change, Brent speaks to tens of thousands across the nation and abroad each year and is currently serving as Vice President for Student Leadership University, a program that has trained over one hundred and twenty thousand students to commit themselves to excellence.

He is also the author of Reimagine: What the World Would Look Like If God Got His Way and Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life. Additionally Brent co-authored with David Nasser, The Call: insights from those who have answered . . .practical advice for those who are about to and is the Associate Editor of IMPACT, The Student Leadership Bible and a contributing author to The Complete Evangelism Guidebook. His latest work, Sacred Intent, is scheduled to be released on October 13, 2015. 

The desire of Brent's heart is to see people realize that they have been set apart to the gospel of God and thus, in turn, they must set their lives apart in an effort to capture every moment in worshipful service to Him. 

Brent Crowe is currently serving as Vice President with Student Leadership University in Orlando, Florida. He is married to Christina and has three children, Gabriel, Charis and Mercy. He holds a Doctorate in Philosophy and two masters degrees, a Masters of Divinity in Evangelism and a Masters of Arts in Ethics, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.


Knit, Purl, Pray: 52 Devotions for the Creative Soul


Knit, Purl, Pray is for the knitter who recognizes that when she is creating something beautiful with yarn, it is also a way to be quiet and reflect. The devotions make connections between knitting and all manner of things from joy and service to boredom and confession. These reflections help the reader think about the craft they love in a new way and perhaps see their problems as something that can be unraveled and reworked into something beautiful. Each new day is an opportunity to create something new.

My Review
I am a crocheter and not a knitter... but I thought to myself since they are similar in some ways I could probably change the words knitting into crochet...well it did not really work that way...there are many knitting tips in this devotional , so I could not really change the knit to crochet. But, I could read the devotional and be blessed...I enjoyed most of them and love to hear about knitting ministries...but that part wasn't really a devotional.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys knitting!

About Author

Meeting in cyberspace the easiest thing to do is give you a snapshot of who I am. Here then, are a baker’s dozen facts about me.
In 1987 I married my college sweetheart, Rod. We dated for seven years first. Believe me it was definitely worth the wait.
Being Zach’s mom is one of my favorite things even if he is a full grown man now! He’s amazing.
My exercise of choice is hiking. I walk the hills near our home every morning. It’s the best quiet time I know that doesn’t involve knitting.
I love a good chick flick. The two I own so I can watch them any time I want are Love Actually and Stranger Than Fiction.
My car is a 2011 slate blue Mini Cooper. It makes me smile every time I pullout of the driveway.
The kitchen and I are on great speaking terms. I am a pretty good cook and I love to bake. Just ask the church choir about my plum cake!
I recently moved from California to New York but I still think of myself as a mid-western girl. Being raised in IL, KS, MD, and CO will do that to a person.
Autumn is my favorite season. And the first snowfall of winter comes in a close second for magical times of year. Raking leaves and knitting sweaters, ah good times.
I am not a pet person however our fatso catso, Pepper, changed my mind. He is fun and I have learned to love him. He’s been round here for 8 years.
If I do not have a good book to read before I go to bed I will go out at 9PM to buy a new one. I usually use the library though.
In 2010 I won the Guidepost Writers Workshop and got to take a trip to Rye, NY to learn how to be a Guideposts writer. Exciting experience.
Yes, I do smile as much as the pictures here have led you to believe. The glass is always half full!


Redeeming Pleasure
Jeremy Jerigan

About the book
Pleasure. We hear about it, we think about it, and we look for it. Constantly. But why do so few of us ever seem to really experience it? Is it possible to satisfy our deepest cravings for lasting satisfaction? The answer is yes! But it might surprise you as to why. Author Jeremy Jernigan takes readers back to the very beginning and to the root of God's intention for pleasure. Through personal stories, practical insights, and a depth of wisdom culled from thinkers both ancient and modern, Jernigan reimagines pleasure and unmasks its deceptive allure.
This is a book that has the power to revolutionize the way you think and beautifully transform the way you live. It is simply a MUST read!
Dr. Gregory Boyd, author, Letters From A Skeptic
I grew up around Christians who never seemed to think pleasurable things were from God or even okay to pursue...Redeeming Pleasure will help many believers live more pleasurable lives because pleasure and joy come from God!
Tyler Reagin, Executive Director, Catalyst

My review
In this "post modern" generation, the terms "seeking pleasure" and "seeking God" are often considered to be mutually exclusive. However, Jeremy takes the reader outside the box. He addresses a number of issues that challenge the church of today. Creation theology, homosexuality in the church, parenting, entertainment, drugs, sex, among others.
The message contained within is man's pursuit of these things "of the flesh" demonstrates how we seek pleasure to fill various voids in life that are ultimately fulfilled only by the pleasure of a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Redeeming Pleasure" isn't necessarily a title that would jump into my hands from the shelf of my local Christian bookstore. However, Pastor Jernigan offers some compelling arguments across the range of topics. While Jeremy's theology is more liberal than my own, I still appreciate his zeal. This is a well-researched volume and fairly presented with strong scriptural support.

I'll end with this that Jeremy does use multiple stories, analogies and Scripture selections ( not always rightly used) to support his points.
In this regard, for those seeking a new view of the relationship between seeking pleasure and seeking God, I recommend this book to you..

About the author
Jeremy Jernigan is an important and much needed refreshing voice today...Redeeming Pleasure goes after the search we all hold so dear and clearly points us to the more fuller and expansive life Jesus promises...such an incredible read!
Steve Carter, Teaching Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church


The New Pilgrims
Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D

About the Book
Faith in America is experiencing a powerful religious revival particularly among Hispanic immigrants,offering an exciting opportunity for spiritual renewal. The New Pilgrims compares today's Hispanic immigrants to the very first religious immigrants of the sixteenth century the Pilgrims of Massachusetts. Castleberry describes the positive effect these immigrants are having, especially in terms of moral and family values, as well as more conservative politics.

My Review
I am not sure if I agree with this book or not...
There a somethings I can see happening and other things not happening. My experience with the Hispanic immigrants has not been very good.....I see them not trying to learn to speak English,they abuse the rules in housing by fitting as many people they can fit in one house,they abuse the system by going on welfare and not trying to get off it.....not good. Joseph did make some points on the positive on immigrants and I am NOT saying they are all the way I have seen and experienced. A note on page 5 “This story deserves attention, and several authors have focused on them”,repeats itself. I believe most Hispanics are Catholics and worship Mary not Jesus, so to me that is not good. All in all Joseph shared somethings that I did not know, and he is a god writer but, I do not agree with some of his findings about this subject.
I would recommend this book to those who want to learn more about immigrants but to be discerning.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Education degree in International Educational Development from Columbia University. During 20 years of missionary service in Latin America, he spent three years as a university professor and pastor in El Salvador, Central America, three years as Associate Dean for Latin America at Global University in Texas, and five years as a pastor, seminary dean, and community development leader in Ecuador. Dr. Castleberry and his wife of 30 years, Kathleen, live in Kirkland, Washington.


God of the Big Bang:

How Modern Science Affirms the Creator

About the Book
Scientific evidence strongly suggests that our universe had a beginning: the "Big Bang." What does this mean for those who believe in God as Creator? In God of the Big Bang, astronaut, research scientist, and Christian Dr. Leslie Wickman explores our biggest heart-and-soul questions about how faith and science go together:
  • Can anyone ever really prove that God exists?
  • How do we interpret genesis in light of the big bang?
  • Are we alone in the universe, or could there be life on other planets?
  • Why is the universe beautiful, orderly, and understandable?
  • Does conflict between science and faith stem from incomplete knowledge or flawed interpretation?
  • What is a Christian's responsibility toward the environment?
  • Does Christianity make sense in light of logic, reason, and science?
In this rich and faith-affirming book, Dr. Wickman interprets complex scientific discoveries in ways we can understand, giving us a better understanding of how Scripture, science, and creation fit together.

My Review
Even though this book is written by an actual rocket scientist, it is very easy to understand to the reader without a Ph.D. I believe that "truth" exists and we can find it. I also believe that all truth is God's truth, so seeking the truth will never lead us away from God—but lead us to God .
She writes out the arguments for the existence of God, for a beginning and a Creator in ways understandable without needing a seminary degree. Dr. Wickman is a Godly gifted teacher and leads you through the arguments with skill. This information is not watered down either.  If you’re interested in a definitive answer to the Big Bang it is not in this book. If you’re interested in some research into the compatibility of faith and science, you will find it in this book. If you’re not sure what you believe, you will probably be swayed to the position involving theistic evolution. If you are already a literal creationist, you will not be very impressed. But, I liked the size of the print, it is very easy to read. It is also not too long or drawn out to make the points that Leslie shares. All in all I liked the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in God and science.

About the Author
Former Lockheed Martin corporate astronaut, rocket scientist, and engineer on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station programs, Leslie Wickman, Ph.D., is currently 
chair of Engineering and Computer Science as well as director 
of the Center for Research in Science at Azusa Pacific University. Stanford University-educated Wickman also works as a research scientist with government think tanks on technical 
and political aspects of national aerospace and defense issues. She is an internationally respected research scientist, engineering consultant, and inspirational speaker. Leslie lives in Los Angeles, California. 


Claudia Wife of Pontius Pilate
Diana Wallis Taylor

Claudia’s life did not start easily. The illegitimate daughter of Julia, reviled and exiled daughter of Caesar Augustus, Claudia spends her childhood in a guarded villa with her mother and grandmother. When Tiberius, who hates Julia, takes the throne, Claudia is wrenched away from her mother to be brought up in the palace in Rome. The young woman is adrift–until she meets Lucius Pontius Pilate and becomes his wife. When Pilate is appointed Prefect of the troublesome territory of Judea, Claudia does what she has always done: she makes the best of it. But unrest is brewing on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, and Claudia will soon find herself and her beloved husband embroiled in controversy and rebellion. Might she find peace and rest in the teaching of the mysterious Jewish Rabbi everyone seems to be talking about?
Readers will be whisked through marbled palaces, dusty marketplaces, and idyllic Italian villas as they follow the unlikely path of a woman who warrants only a passing mention in one of the Gospel accounts. Diana Wallis Taylor combines her impeccable research with her flair for drama and romance to craft a tale worthy of legend.

I fell in LOVE with this book….which is the first one I have read from this wonderful Author. I saw a post somewhere online and went to her website and asked Diana if she would like me to read and review them ...any or ALL of them…I realize not all can send books to everyone but I was blessed by getting two of her AWESOME books!!! I know they are novels but that is okay with me. I began reading Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate and cold not stop…the vivid characters, people places and things came off the page..I could see them in their beautiful clothes and surroundings….The way of living and what they ate etc,etc,etc.
Then Jesus comes into their lives and things change,,,,I REALLY enjoyed reading this book and cannot wait to read the next one named , Journey to the Well

I thank GOD for you, Diana for allowing me to read your heat filled books and pray GOD will continue to give you all the words to write in many, many more…Gods Peace, In Jesus Name Amen
I would recommend not only this book but all the books she has written to all who love to read about history and how Jesus intertwines into their lives!!!  

Recently named “Writer of the Year” by the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, Diana Wallis Taylor has been writing since the age of 12 when she sold her first poem to a church newspaper. Her third novel, Mary Magdalene came out May 2012 and she recently completed her fourth novel of Biblical Fiction for Revell, Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate. She won first place in the San Diego Book Awards for her short story, “Phipps and the Jay”; First place in Christian Romance for her book Smoke Before the Wind. First place in Christian Fiction for her manuscript, “House of the Forest”; Second place last year for Martha all in the Reader’s Favorite Book Review and Award Contest. Her collection of poetry, Wings of the Wind came out in 2006. Her writing contributions appear in various compilation books and magazines. Diana wrote the words and melodies to an Easter cantata called “Glorious” recently completed with her fellow collaborator, Carolyn Prentice, who did the orchestration.
Diana lives with her husband Frank in San Diego, California. Between them they have six grown children and ten grandchildren. She enjoys speaking and sharing her heart with women of all ages.
Please visit Diana

to purchase her books please use the links below


Journey to the Well
Diana Wallis Taylor

About the book – 
In the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus tells His surprised disciples that they must go through Samaria. Most Jews went out of their way to avoid that land because of animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. Though apprehensive, they didn’t question the Master, and after a long journey, they arrived at Jacob’s Well. Jesus stopped to rest of there while the disciples went into the town of Shechem to buy food. As he waited, a lone Samaritan woman came to draw water. Since Samaria had many springs, she could have gone to the local well. Instead she went a mile out of her way in the hottest part of the day to draw water. Who was she? Why did Jesus choose this woman as the first person to whom he would reveal himself as the Messiah? Was there more to her than we have supposed?
Journey to the Well is a compassionate and riveting portrayal of a woman who has historically been maligned. This surprisingly fresh look at the woman of Samaria reveals an inner strength and courage that helped her face the joys and heartbreaks that shaped her life. One by one, the pieces fall into place that draw her at last to Jacob’s Well, and a life-changing confrontation with Jesus

This is the one woman I can really relate to in so many ways, where her lifestyle was before meeting Jesus. I have been overly blessed by this book. I realize this is a novel and I know Diana shared the Word of God throughout yet did not add or remove any words or meanings or just to make it sound good. I enjoy the way Diana uses people from the Bible and helps you to learn more about their lifestyles. The places they lived, their clothing, how the cook and made their foods, how they traveled and so much more. To me it does not take away for God’s Word but helps you to want to read more of His Word.
I HIGLY recommend this book for young woman and up!!!
I ask the Lord God to continue to write these books and use them all for His Glory!
Truly blessed by your books Diana Gods Peace 

About Diana
Recently named “Writer of the Year” by the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, Diana Wallis Taylor has been writing since the age of 12 when she sold her first poem to a church newspaper. Her third novel, Mary Magdalene came out May 2012 and she recently completed her fourth novel of Biblical Fiction for Revell, Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate. She won first place in the San Diego Book Awards for her short story, “Phipps and the Jay”; First place in Christian Romance for her book Smoke Before the Wind. First place in Christian Fiction for her manuscript, “House of the Forest”; Second place last year for Martha all in the Reader’s Favorite Book Review and Award Contest. Her collection of poetry, Wings of the Wind came out in 2006. Her writing contributions appear in various compilation books and magazines. Diana wrote the words and melodies to an Easter cantata called “Glorious” recently completed with her fellow collaborator, Carolyn Prentice, who did the orchestration.
Diana lives with her husband Frank in San Diego, California. Between them they have six grown children and ten grandchildren. She enjoys speaking and sharing her heart with women of all ages.
Please visit her here diana wallis taylor 

I was blessed to receive this book from Diana in return for my honest review.

I have not been paid by anyone

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