The End Of The Magi

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Carr, Patrick W. The End Of The Magi. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Though facing adversity from several different angles, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, joins the caravan of Wisemen following the star leading to the Christ Child. In a Biblically-based novel, The End Of The Magi traces the journey from a unique, thought-provoking perspective. While set in motion many years earlier, the current timetable of the story takes place just before the birth and includes some very personal events and challenges which Myrad must encounter. Complete with Bible verses, accuracy and historical relevance, author Patrick W. Carr pens a Christmas story that intrigues, teaches and explores the coming of the Messiah.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect for the upcoming Christmas season, The End Of The Magi is so much more than just a light seasonal story. Never having read anything from this author previously, I was unsure what to expect other than a Biblically historical novel. Already familiar with the Wisemen’s story, I was ready for the altering message which actually caused me to consider variances to the usual story told. Though it took me a bit to really appreciate Patrick Carr’s writing style, I was soon able to grasp the flow and immerse myself in the book. Having now read it, I must admit I will pay a bit more attention to the Bible story this season rather than just accepting what was already familiar. Definitely a book to read; definitely an author I will read again.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The End Of The Magi from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

King’s Shadow

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Hunt, Angela. King’s Shadow. The Silent Years Series- Book 4. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
As King Herod’s only sister, Salome lives her life full of resentment, selfishness, and uncertainty. On the other hand, Zara, Salome’s handmaid, is full of compassion, selflessness, and humbleness. With a storyline that alternates between characters, King’s Shadow, written by the New York Times bestselling author, Angela Hunt, demonstrates the struggles of each woman. Set in the years between the Old Testament and the New Testament, both women must survive their different positions during King Herod’s rule.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Giving voice to a quiet time in history, author Angela Hunt fills in the gaps in a story-like fashion. Certainly not an easy, light, fast read, rather this novel is deep, strong and full. With a convenient format of each chapter being labeled, not only was the book interesting but it also kept me reading to reach the next chapter as I followed each woman. (Sometimes, I even jumped ahead a bit if I just couldn’t wait.) Absolutely a book for fans of Biblical Historical fiction (which I generally am not), I think it may also offer a substantial Bible study. Not having read all the previous books in The Silent Years series, the story was able to stand alone fine but may have been even heartier if the other books were read before. Definitely a thought-provoking and well written book.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of King’s Shadow from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge

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Toler, Stan (Editor). The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge: A Collection of Bible History, Trivia, and Fun Facts. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Organized into 4 parts, (Bible Knowledge and Learning, Things We Say From the Bible, Bible Knowledge Challenge, and Essential Bible Verses), The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge provides pages of Bible information set in easy to access lists and explanations, Bible quizzes complete with the answers, and a listing of Bible verses arranged by topic. Efficient, easy to read, and full of useful knowledge, general editor Stan Toler hopes to enhance the impact of the Bible on people’s lives.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Great as a review for people already familiar with the Bible, a wonderful resource for beginner Bible readers, or filled with interesting facts for any Bible user, The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge was actually quite enjoyable to read and use. A general review of the Bible including people, books and events, as well as some very fun information regarding everyday things we say- “Wolf in Sheep’s clothing”, “Blind leading the Blind”, and “Burning the Midnight Oil” are explained and included. Inviting to browse, engaging to play, satisfying to learn, and comforting to know, I found this book perfect for travel, quiet time, or just a few available moments. This would be a great addition to a church library, classroom or personal shelf, and would work well with groups of people or individuals. An awesome resource!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge from Harvest House Publishing for my honest review*

Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers

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Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers with Augmented Reality. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Crafted in a sturdy, chunky board book perfect for little hands, Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers is filled with colorful pictures surrounding important basic Bible stories. Each 4 page Bible story depiction includes augmented reality; a simple process which causes the characters (and story) to come alive! Download the free app, use a phone or tablet to scan the picture, and enjoy the 3-D animation and audio as the interaction begins. Engaging, usable, captivating and educational, the technology stays current while teaching the Bible to youngsters.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already so impressed with the older version of the Planet 316 Story Bible for children ages 4-8, I was interested in the newest version for toddlers. Welcoming the shiny, thick, well-constructed pages of the Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers, this book could with-stand lots and lots of reading. With the easy-to-use augmented reality technology, toddlers are sure to be able to activate and enjoy the movement and sounds of characters as much as this adult. Definitely a book I would recommend for a church library, Sunday school curriculum or a gift. Absolutely awesome! (Any chance of making an adult version?)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Great Escape

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Thomas, M.J. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape- Book 3. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Traveling to Ancient Egypt to witness the Exodus, Peter, Mary and their faithful companion dog Hank, find themselves on a treasure hunt for scrolls. Having only 14 days to find the missing ancient scrolls or being stuck in Egypt forever, Peter, Mary and Hank must work together in the past time period to discover the secret. Journeying through a desert, befriending the Pharaoh’s daughter, understanding the plagues, and learning biblical history and truths in the process, The Great Escape provides a captivating, honest and exploratory experience in a beginning chapter book.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Book 3 in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series, this newest addition, The Great Escape, continued the adventures, imagination and success of the previous two books in the same series. Geared towards ages 6-9 year olds (grades 1-3), this starting chapter series is Biblically accurate, immersive in history, and has relatable characters and interesting events. Perfect for the intended audience, the series would also work well as a Bible lesson in Sunday school, a study section for elementary school, or personal time either reading aloud or beginning to read on own. I appreciated the suggested further reference to the Bible at the end of the book. Hopefully, more books in this series will follow shortly.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Great Escape from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Numbers in the Bible/ Colors in the Bible

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Museum of the Bible. Numbers in the Bible/ Colors in the Bible. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Two separate board books, Numbers in the Bible and Colors in the Bible connect basics to the Bible. 2 brothers (Jacob and Esau), 6 days to create, 10 commandments, red flames (on the burning bush), white dove, orange lion (Daniel)- all included on sturdy pages with bright colorful accompanying pictures. Simple words, scripture verses, and important messages all combine in these beautiful books for the youngest of tots.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Easy to read, simple to repeat and relating directly to the Bible, Numbers in the Bible and Colors in the Bible make sight words, colors, numbers, and a foundation of Bible stories a breeze to learn. Liking the child-friendly illustrations with cheerful colors, these durable books would be perfect for Sunday school, a library, or a personal library. Sure to become favorites, I wouldn’t hesitate to gift these often.  Wonderful!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Numbers in the Bible and Colors in the Bible from WorthyKids Ideals for my honest review*

Planet 316 Story Bible

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Planet 316 Story Bible with Augmented Reality. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Alongside more than 100 Bible stories accompanied by colorful illustrations, the Planet 316 Story Bible adds another exciting element-Augmented Reality. Downloading the free app allows the readers to move their devices over the pictures causing them to spring up in 3D. Audio and movement add context, depth and interaction to the characters encouraging a more meaningful and lively experience. The stories are written in child-friendly language, include the related Bible verses, and make the Bible very approachable for young readers.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A team of talented writers, artists and developers, Planet 316 uses current technology to bring the Bible to life, engaging and immersing readers in Bible stories. With easy to use technology (even for adults-LOL), I was enthralled with the characters seeming to pop off the pages, complete with voices and noises. Meeting the current young generation at a place where they are obviously very comfortable, using that technology to learn is genius. Definitely a novel and captivating idea, I would absolutely recommend this Bible to readers ages 4-8; however, older readers reading on their own may also enjoy the awesome interaction opportunity. So cool!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Planet 316 Story Bible from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Hope For Each Day Devotional

Graham, Billy. Hope For Each Day- Words of Wisdom and Faith- Large Deluxe Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017

SUMMARY:
Filled with 365 daily devotionals, Hope For Each Day gifts pages of scripture, thoughts, stories, and words of wisdom from preacher, evangelist and author, Billy Graham. Updated from an earlier edition to include an imitation leather cover, a larger, softer size, a more deluxe interior design, a ribbon marker and of course, lots of grace, peace and faith from a devotional leader. Sturdy, readable and genuine, this devotional will leave a legacy.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Respected and honored, Billy Graham has ministered to many all over the world. Complied into a beautiful devotional with an updated and more elegant style, I so admired this devotional. Definitely a book I will use this year and many years to follow, I would be proud to give this one as a gift, present it to a church, or recommend it to a friend. Though not too deep, each devotional contains enough of a message surrounding hope and inspiration that I can delve deeper on my own or keep the smile within my heart for the day. Beautiful!

RATING:
5 ( out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hope For Each Day from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Bible Explorer’s Guide

Zonderkidz. The Bible Explorer’s Guide: 1,000 Amazing Facts and Photos. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Is it possible that the olive trees at the traditional site of Gethsemane could be 900 years old?  Did you know the Philistines were one of Israel’s fiercest enemies because they knew the technology for making iron weapons? With 16,000 animals on board the ark, who knew that included 12 tons of animal waste every day? Filled with loads of Bible tidbits, references, and information, each two page spread is divided into themes, then sprinkled with material surrounding that theme including accompanying photographs. Easy to read yet packed full of information, The Bible Explorer’s Guide is perfect to share with all ages.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Visually pleasing with interesting portions of Bible trivia, though this book tends to be geared more towards elementary children, I enjoyed paging through it while sharpening my Bible skills and even learning a thing or two.  I was also impressed with the lead to the Bible scripture associated with the Bible facts shared in the different sections. Wonderful for a classroom, library or Sunday school lesson, it would also be perfect as a gift or for generational sharing. Drawn to the colorful photographs yet submersed into the fascinating information, it is definitely a book which could be used often and repeatedly. Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Bible Explorer’s Guide from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible

KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With high quality leather-soft covers, gilded edges, readable larger type size, new Thomas Nelson KJV font style, double ribbon markers, words of Christ in red, and in the King James translation, the KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible is also portable and durable. Convenient for travel while being comfortable to read, this version also lays flat open, is pleasant for the eyes and fits nicely in hands. A beautiful Bible available in several cover-color choices and material options.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already owning several Bibles but interested in one to take to church, the Thomas Nelson KJV Bible is perfect for such an occasion. Especially liking the easily readable and eye-friendly type size and font, the other amenities only add to the value. The soft leather covers in a rich black color combined with the beautiful gilded edges are striking while the ribbons are very helpful for referencing Bible locations. Definitely a Bible that will be used but also one I would be proud to present as a gift.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Thomas Nelson KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*