NIV Women Of Faith Study Bible

Niv Women Of Faith Study Bible

Niv Women Of Faith Study Bible by Anonymous

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review assumes that you are religious in some faith and looking to study the Bible. I’m planning another post later to explain why I think every writer should read the Bible, but that is not my point of this review. Nor will I be trying to convert anyone to Christianity; your religion is your business and I don’t want to force my religious preference on anyone. That being said, if you are a Christian and particularly a woman who is struggling to balance her religious role with her family and professional life I believe this is the study guide for you.

What makes this Bible unique is that it provides introductions to each book of the Bible outlining the author, history, key topics, and the role women played in that book. The left and right margins are filled with explanations of passages, religious hymns and poems, and additional reference materials. I found the text in the margins very helpful and looked forward to turning the pages to see what the commentary would be.

For those who keep a diary and journal this may be the perfect companion as it asks some very thought provoking questions to deepen your faith and expand your understanding. For those who want to read the Bible in a year this study guide offers weekly essays that reference passages that answer some of the toughest questions Christians ask themselves about God and the church.

There were only two things I found lacking in this study guide but neither will truly prevent you from enjoying and learning the Bible. First, I wish this book has Jesus’s words in red text. I have always found that a helpful highlighting in a Bible. Second, I discovered that many of the map references are incorrectly labeled throughout the book. There are several maps in the back of the book that provide excellent references for Jesus and the Apostles travels, but unfortunately the references often list the wrong map number. Fortunately, all the maps have titles, so just look at the titles and you’ll find the map you want. (Note: I bought my version in 2002 so later printings may have fixed the map references.)

I have to say that this is one book which is better appreciated the slower you read it. I started this book in May of 2002. It has taken me ten years to finish reading the Bible cover-to-cover. I’m proud to say I finished it and I feel that I have gotten more out of this study guide than I ever hoped to discover when I started. If you are looking to read the Bible I recommend this printing and hope you find everything you are looking to find.

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The Steampunk Gazette

The Steampunk GazetteThe Steampunk Gazette by Major Tinker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When my husband said he picked out a book for me at the library I wasn’t sure what to expect as our tastes in reading material are as different as day and night. Regardless of our differences, I never should have doubted that he knows me. He found the perfect selection for me when he brought home The Steampunk Gazette written by renowned Steampunk expert Major Tinker.

There are three things that immediately impressed me about this book. First is the very succinct definition of Steampunk it provides for those who haven’t been introduced to the subject. Tinker explains – in a finer sentence than I’ll summarize here – that steampunk is inspired by the Victorian era with a twist of science fiction, modern technology, and fun. Second, this book offers a thorough historical summary of how Steampunk has evolved into its current existence. While Tinker explains the term “steampunk” was not coined until 1987 the creativity behind Steampunk has existed for many years and many will recognize its roots in such popular items as the work of Jules Verne. The third reason that jumped out at me is that Tinker dictates that the Steampunk genre and activities involve everyone being “nice to each other.” I believe that may be exactly why this creative outlet has such a firm hold on society currently. We all want to be embraced for our uniqueness and yet still belong to a group that has common ground. Steampunk can really be all encompassing across ages, race, and the arts, and yet so wonderfully narrowed down to your own individual focus.

If that doesn’t interest you enough, Tinker’s gazette is filled with wonderful color photographs from Steampunk events such as The Asylum and Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium. You’ll find chapters organized by Steampunk furniture, music, literature, and clothing to name a few. Each providing examples so that you can be inspired by whatever thread of Steampunk culture sparks your interest. In addition, you’ll learn about real world examples of Steampunk art and gadgetry on display at museums and restaurants around the world.

Now that I have read The Steampunk Gazette, I’m looking forward to digging through my to-read pile to find the next Steampunk gem to read. Here is a list of just a few of my favorite Steampunk books:

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Books for Writers: The Amazing Story Generator

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Writing Career Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Amazing Story Generator: Creates Thousands of Writing PromptsThe Amazing Story Generator: Creates Thousands of Writing Prompts by Jason Sacher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for something to help get your creative juices flowing?  Look no further than The Amazing Story Generator. It is a simple idea with a wealth of writing inspiration.

Organized into three 60-card sections, all the idea-stumped author has to do is flip a few cards in each section to reveal a unique story prompt in one sentence with a setting, character and action.  Use the prompts to start new projects, clean off your writing muse palette between large projects, or as a group activity with writing friends.

What you do with that prompt is completely up to you but you’ll never have to worry about not having an idea again.

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Sweet Venom

Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls #1)Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs is about three girls who are trying to get through high school, learning to deal with high school boys, and adjusting to the discovery that they are triplets who were separated at birth. Oh yeah, and they can see monsters.

The first novel in Childs’ new Medusa Girls series is told in first person while changing the voice with each chapter so that each of the three sisters – Grace, Greer, and Gretchen – get to give their point of view. Three more different girls you can’t imagine yet I think there is a piece of each of them that every girl will identify with. They are strong yet sensitive, intelligent yet innocent, and confident yet unsure. Like all of us they long to have someone who truly understands them. The hard part is your willingness to adjust your world when someone who does understand you suddenly walks into your life.

Childs does an excellent job in this story of slowly introducing one sister at a time to readers like you’d stir egg whites into a cake batter; never letting any of the sisters’ storylines go flat while rolling the next sister into the plotline. Throughout the entire novel I felt the tension building to a decisive climax that I knew was coming and yet I never saw the specific details of how it would happen until they all but hit me in the face in the final scene.

This is an excellent first novel for a series. Childs did a great job of resolving just enough of the questions so that I felt I was given a resolution and at the same time she pulled back the curtain on their future so that I could see a host of unanswered questions facing the three sisters ahead. Hold on, I think they are in for a bumpy ride. Sweet Shadows, the second book, is already available while Sweet Legacy is expected in 2013.

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Playing Dead

Playing Dead Playing Dead by Jody Lebel

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really had a hard time getting into the suspense novel, Playing Dead by Jody Lebel. While the suspense plot line of the book had merit and some interesting twists, I found that I couldn’t get past a heroine who I realized I didn’t like.

Renee Rose is a court reporter. She has seen the low of the low and unfortunately even married a scum bag who happened to be a cop. Needless to say she has steered clear of men in blue since her divorce but she finds herself immediately attracted to Detective Anthony Graciano who is assigned to help her best friend, Liz, who is getting emails from her dead husband asking for money.

That sounds like a good story. And it is, except for two things.

First, Renee’s reaction to her attraction to Detective Graciano is to pick a fight with him every time he opens his mouth. While I like a couple who aren’t afraid to do some verbal sparring, constant bickering while secretly lusting after a man seems incredibly childish for an independent woman. Even for a woman who still has emotional scars from her last failed romance.

Second, Renee is babysitting an exchange student who is supposed to be staying with her mother. I found the stereotypical portrayal of the ignorant foreigner a little over the top. While the story does attempt to explain some cultural differences, Detective Graciano’s instant dislike for Hanif is too unfounded to be believable.

There are some good moments in the story which prove Lebel’s talent as a novelist even though this offering didn’t always hit the mark for me on character actions and emotions. I look forward to reading Lebel’s future novels and I predict that as she refines her craft she’ll be an author to keep an eye on.

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A Christmas Bride

A Christmas Bride (The Ideal Wife #3) (Dark Angel #5)A Christmas Bride (The Ideal Wife #3) by Mary Balogh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s the holiday season so it seemed appropriate to read a Christmas romance novel. A Christmas Bride by Mary Balogh is a wonderful Austen-like book packed with inner turmoil and passionate romance. It is a romance novel in the purest sense. There is no mystery to unwind or vampires to fight. It is simply a story about two people falling in love. And yet to use the word “simply” seems to undervalue this novel. It is filled with strong personalities and opinions and involves the complex workings of the human heart.

Lady Stapleton is on the other side of thirty. She has been married and made a widow. She lives a comfortable life of independent means but she never quite fits into the high society. She hasn’t been involved in any scandal and she has never flaunted any affairs with men, even if she dresses boldly and just a tad bit sexier than the average lady of privilege.

Edgar Downes is extremely wealthy and is loved by his father and sister. But he has always been aware that a man of wealth and professional achievement does not make him a gentleman of society. While his sister has made into the ton, he has always been on the peripheral. Now at the age of thirty-six his father requests that his last wish in life be to see his son married to a real lady and produce an heir. Being a man of commitment, Downes leaves his comfortable country home and heads off to London to view the young maidens forced by their over-enthusiastic mothers in pursuit of a husband.

Remember this is a time when a married woman was practically owned by her husband. The men did the decision-making and the wives did the child-bearing.
How could two headstrong people ever find love when one would always be the master of the other? That could only with the help of a romance writer like Balogh. She has given each of her characters flaws and backgrounds that on the surface make them appear incompatible and yet once you get to know them you can see how they would indeed make a fine match.
Interwoven into this story is a strong sense that Christmas is a time for people to come together to celebrate life and love. A Christmas Bride is a heartwarming read that will help to get you into the Christmas spirit and help you rest after a hard day of work or shopping.

Dell, part of the Random House Group, has just republished A Christmas Bride in combination with another Balogh Christmas classic, Christmas Beau. Maybe you can bring some Christmas cheer by gift wrapping these Christmas stories for the avid romance reader in your house.

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Iced (Dani O'Malley, #1)Iced by Karen Marie Moning

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen Marie Moning’s newest book, Iced, is still based in the world of her Fever series. While the Fever series focused on Mac and Jericho Barrons, this new series heroine is Dani O’Malley, a fourteen year old sidhe-seer with super powers and the Sword of Light which can kill Seelie and Unseelie.

This series picks up right where Fever left off. Even though Mac and Dani are on the outs (if you haven’t read the Fever series Iced will explain why), she is not alone. Dani is still the smart-mouth teenager we know and love but she gains a whole list of new sidekicks. In this new series she is surrounded a by smart man (Dancer), a powerful man (Ryodan), and a Highlander (Christian). Each man has his reasons for wanting to protect Dani from herself and the dangers of the world in year 1 AWC (After the Wall Crash).
Iced is filled with plenty of creepy Unseelie monsters that we know from the Fever series and a few new and inventive monsters that Moning is so wonderful at creating. There is plenty of action in Iced to keep you on the edge of your seat.

This story is told from three points of view: Dani’s, filled with her classic “feck” floating throughout her speech; Kat, the reluctant new leader of the sidhe-seers; and Christian, the Highlander trying to adjust to his changing world. These three voices add an interesting flavor to the story, as Dani is all youthful enthusiasm, Kat is weighed down by worry, and Christian is consumed with his single-minded vision. It makes for a rich tapestry in storytelling.

I highly recommend this fey story. Moning doesn’t disappoint. I found this first Dani O’Malley story to be as good as the first Fever story. I’m looking forward to a long – dare, I say – fun-filled story. I hope we get to see plenty adventures before Dani is grown up and truly understands everything around her.

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