Tag Archives: christian book reviews

Book Review: Heaven Is for Real for Kids by Todd, Sonja, and Colton Burpo

Colton burpo, todd burpo, sonja burpo, boy who went to heaven, heaven is for real, heaven experience

I have a four-year-old daughter who loves to learn, so I thought this book that is written from a child’s point of view about heaven would be great for her. And I was right. She loved every bit of it.

The book is only about 20 pages long. The chapters are very short. I told her I was going to read one chapter each day to her. Well, that didn’t’ happen. When I was finished with the first chapter, she asked me to read the next one, and the next one after that. And before I knew it, I had read the whole book to her, including the questions and answers at the end, in one sitting. She loved it!

What I love about the book is that it tells of Colton’s experience of going to heaven and seeing Jesus seated at the right hand of God and the Holy Spirit seated on the left. He describes everything he saw in heaven and the people he met there, and it sounds absolutely wonderful. The best part about it is that it all aligns with Scripture as well.

I love his description of Jesus, and the painting of Jesus’ face in his book is amazing. All of the other pictures that illustrate what Colton saw in heaven really help kids to picture what he describes as well.

I give this high marks. It’s a great book! My daughter and I will probably read it many more times.

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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Kids Books and Bibles


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Book Review: Diving Appointments by Charlene Ann Baumbich

Divine Appointments, Charlene Ann Baumbich, Dearest Dorothy, Snowglobe Connections, Novel based in chicago, chicago fiction, fiction based in chicago, book based in chicago, chicago, christian novel, inspirational novel, christian fiction, inspirational fiction, divine appointments review, book review

This is quality fiction from a quality writer. You can really sense the author’s story-telling expertise as you view life through each character in the book. The characters are deep and amusing, the writing is incredible, and the story is not the pat romance story that has been beaten to death.

I really appreciated all of the real-life problems that the characters faced. One was bitter from her divorce. One was raised to be non-feeling and is almost robotic in her work life. And one is a widow who was forced to go back to work after her husband’s death.

What I really loved was that every character in the book handled their problems differently. And in the end they learned from each other’s better qualities and created change in their lives.

Ms. Baumbich tells this story in a pleasant, refreshing way. There is an aspect of the story that requires a stretching of the imagination, but it’s done in such a way that it adds very nicely to the story. I loved the book. Each page was a pleasure to read.

Thank you to the publisher for giving me this copy to review.

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Posted by on January 29, 2011 in Fiction Reviews


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Book Review: Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Okay, I’m not normally one to pick up a romance, but it’s Christmassy and  based in England. Right now, I’m really into fiction that takes place in other countries. So this appealed to me. This was the first book I’ve ever read by Robin Jones Gunn, and I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the characters for a romance.

What I didn’t realize was that this is the second book in this series. The first one is Finding Father Christmas, but I was able to read this one and understand everything that was going on without reading the first book. I would suggest reading the other one first though.

In all, this was a nice read at Christmas. It really puts you in the Christmas spirit and transports you to a small English village. It was fun to read.

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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Fiction Reviews


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Book Review: Unlocked

Unlocked, Karen Kingsbury, Kingsbury, autism, autistic, Holden, Ella, Christian fiction, inspirational fictin, christian novel, christian novels, inspiration novel, inspirational novels, book review unlocked, book review, review

This book was incredibly exciting to read. I found myself cheering on Ella, who stood up to school bullies and attached herself to an autistic student in her high school. She was ridiculed for it, but she never budged on her commitment to her new friend, Holden. As she saw him start to engage and come out of his autistic shell, she became even more determined to stick with him, trying to draw him out more.

The story is amazing. I was awed to not only see through Holden’s friend’s and family’s point of view in this book, but from his point of view as well. To be able to get into the mind of an autistic soul was a pretty astonishing thing. All of the outward idiosyncrasies began to make sense as his thought process was revealed.

Half-way through the story, it was so incredible, it was starting to sound too good to be true. So, I flipped to the back of the book to read the note from the author and hopefully see how Karen Kingsbury went about researching for the book. I wanted to see if there was any truth in what I was reading.

What I discovered was that she had witnessed this very story in real life. You’ll have to read it for yourself to see what I’m talking about, but it made this novel even more incredible. After Karen came across this real life story, she sat on an airplane and outlined the whole book, filling up 20 pages in her notebook. She poured her heart out, even crying for the characters in the story as she scribbled out the storyline and title. It was the first time she’d ever done anything like that, and she felt that God had met with her on that plane and gave her “Unlocked” as a special gift from him.

I’ve got to say, I agree with her. The book feels like it is a special gift from God to show people that he loves everyone. The way he creates people is not by accident. And the story of this miraculous journey puts this on display beautifully. I can’t say enough. This book has got to be read!

Thank you, Zondervan, for sending this book to me in exchange for my review.

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Posted by on November 4, 2010 in Fiction Reviews


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Book review: Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson

Bringing Up Girls, Bringing up girls book review, bringing up girls review, james dobson, dr. dobson, dr dobson, dr. james dobson, dr james dobson, raising girls, parent resources, parent resource, parenting, help for parents, vanessa carrollWhen I first saw that Bringing Up Girls was finally out, I was very excited! I had heard of the book Bringing Up Boys by Dobson and always wondered when he was going to write this one. He researched for three years before he published the book. He didn’t jump into it lightly, and I’m glad. You can really feel the care and love he took in writing this book. I hope it will profoundly impact how girls are raised.

When I brought the book home, my  first thought was that it was going to be hard to read and I would have to force myself to keep reading it. Happily, that was not the case at all. In fact, I had to keep forcing myself to put the book down. The book is truly fascinating.

In the book, Dobson clearly shows where American pop culture and values are today and how it got there. He puts forth the evidence of how it is impacting girls today, and it is not pretty. We can all see this evidence clearly. What is shown on TV today, as opposed to just five years ago, is repulsive, and it will continue in a downward trend. Of that, we can be sure. What kids watch, the peers they hang around with, and their home environment has a huge impact on them and will most likely steer their whole lives.

Not only does Dobson show how the culture is affecting girls, he delves into how God created girls differently than boys. This is what I found especially fascinating. I had no idea that baby and toddler girls are affected by hormones until the age of three. And I had no idea that healthy affection from parents can actually stave of early puberty. That was just a couple examples of the amazing things that can be learned from Bringing Up Girls. I found the whole book to be really incredible.

There are so many issues that girls face now that we didn’t have to deal with. One of the kids interviewed in this book stated that parents can help kids through these difficult times, but they have to stay tuned in to their kid’s world. One way to do that is to read this book. It takes you from the womb, through early childhood, and into the teen years. It shows the issues girls deal with and gives great advice, wisdom, and actual actions to take to prevent girls from going down the wrong road – or to get them out of it if they already are in a bad situation.

I wish every parent, teacher, youth worker, aunt, uncle, grandparent, and anyone else who influences children would read this book. It is that good! I have benefitted greatly from reading Dobson’s booksThe New Strong-Willed Child and The New Dare to Discipline. Dobson’s insights in these books formed the loving discipline that my husband and I use with our daughter. And similarly, after reading Bringing Up Girls, I feel much more prepared to teach my daughter how to become a girl who loves God and wants to make the right choices as she grows older. I feel I now have more knowledge that will help us give our daughter a strong foundation to stand on the rest of life.

Here’s the description of the book:

Bringing Up Boys by parenting expert and best-selling author Dr. James Dobson was, and continues to be, a runaway hit, selling more than 2 million copies to date. Now, Dr. Dobson presents his highly anticipated companion book: Bringing Up Girls. Based on extensive research, and handled with Dr. Dobson’s trademark down-to-earth approach, Bringing Up Girls will equip parents like you to face the challenges of raising your daughters to become healthy, happy, and successful women who overcome challenges specific to girls and women today and who ultimately excel in life.


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Book Review: Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner

Sometimes a Light Surprises, Jamie Langston Turner, Christian fiction, inspiration fiction, Christian novel, inspirational novel, Christian novels, inspirational novels, Christian book, Christian books

I haven’t read a book like this in a long time. It is written in third person, omniscient. The point of view jumps from character to character, so you really get a feel for what several people are thinking. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to follow along as you roam through several people’s minds through the course of the book.

I really enjoyed the characters of this book. They are real, flawed people. It is definitely a character-driven book, as opposed to a plot-driven book. So, anyone who enjoys delving into the imaginations and thoughts of characters will enjoy this book. It is very slow, allowing the reader to savor the words on the page. If you are one who likes action to drive a plot forward, you probably should skip this book. But if you are one who enjoys good writing about good characters, you’ll like this book. Personally, I like both of those styles.

I thought the subject matter was very appropriate for today’s world. The main character is a man who has grown away from his children, and they have become distant and bitter toward him – until one of his daughters takes the initiative to get them all back together again for a week-long vacation. The author does an amazing job of showing the eventual change of heart over several months in all of the characters involved in the story, using humor along the way.

It’s written in a slightly old-fashioned way (which I enjoyed, by the way). Even though the writing style was a little old-fashioned, the author made sure to make the young characters modern in their clothing choices as well as pop culture. So, it’s kind of an old-fashioned contemporary book.

One other thing in the book that I was surprised about was that one of the characters was interested in adopting from China. What was surprising was that all of the statements made about children adopted from China and the adoption process were wrong. My husband and I have adopted from China, and for the last five years, I’ve studied the subject in some way just about every day. I have never heard any of the statements that she has made in the book; they are really out there. But I don’t hold this against her. I really enjoyed the book, so I can overlook these off-base statements. It does make me wonder where she got her info on the subject though.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Sometimes a Light Surprises. I liked all of the characters and felt it was true to life and real. The subject of Christianity was subtle, but made its way into characters hearts. The book was very well written and pleasant and amusing to read.

Book description:

Though it was years ago, Ben Buckley has never gotten over the loss of his wife. But even more than the mystery surrounding her death is the radical change that occurred in her life shortly beforehand. Their marriage was unusually happy–until she met a woman who “turned her on to religion.” Baffled, angry, and still feeling guilty for the way he treated Chloe those final weeks, Ben now lives behind the protective walls of severed relationships and a rigid work routine. When two unlikely people enter his narrow world, Ben’s view of his life begins to change, and gradually the barriers he’s erected around himself come tumbling down. For readers who enjoy character-driven, thought-provoking stories that stay with them long after the last page is turned.

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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Fiction Reviews


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Book Review: The Scribe by Francine Rivers

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I’m not sure I can even put into words how this book affected me. I had always known that Silas journeyed with Paul and some of the other apostles, but not much else. This book is an amazing look at Silas, his work as a scribe – penning the letters from the apostles – and his work as a voice for Jesus. It is the fifth volume of the Sons of Encouragement series. After reading this book, I have to read the others!

What really impressed me the most about this book is how difficult it was for the apostles to carry the message of Jesus. In their lifetime, they saw thousands of people come to Christ. On the Day of Pentecost alone, three thousand people joined the Kingdom of God. But their work for the kingdom came with a high cost to them. The temple elders and rulers of the day viewed the Christian movement as extremely dangerous to their positions, so they did anything and everything they could to stop it.

The apostles faced danger wherever they went. They endured beatings, stonings, prison, and worse for the cause of the kingdom. The resurrection of Jesus instilled in them such a passion for spreading the news that the Messiah had come that they considered it an honor to suffer as their master had.

Reading of the exciting work of the apostles and what they went through to do it, made me think of my own cushy life. I have no idea what it is to suffer. I’ve never had to face the danger of being up against powers like the religious and governmental rulers that the apostles faced. So, why is it that I’m not spreading the gospel like they were? If I don’t have to worry about being punished for it, if it is perfectly legal, if I am free to speak of God, why don’t I do it more often?

The only way to answer this is to put it before God. Here I am, God. I don’t know what I can do to serve you, but I’m open to do what you ask.

If you want to learn of the founders of Christianity, if you want an infusion of passion for Jesus, if you just love Francine Rivers, please read this book. I’m sure it will have a different effect on everyone who reads it. But I know it will affect you.

Description of the book:

Volume 5 in the Sons of Encouragement series by best-selling author Francine Rivers introduces us to Silas. His wealth allowed him a position of power. His obedience led him to give up his worldly possessions. His humility helped him dedicate his life to recording the words of others.

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Posted by on September 7, 2010 in Fiction Reviews


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Book Review: Moon Over Tokyo by Siri Mitchell

Moon over tokyo, Siri Mitchell, book review, book reviews, Christian fiction, inspirational fiction, Christian novel, Japan

I really enjoyed Siri’s writing style in this book. The main character, Allie, is a down-to-earth twenty-something. She’s not shockingly beautiful or exquisitely talented. Frankly, it was very refreshing.

This was the first of Siri Mitchell’s books I picked up. After I finished this one, I read three more of her books. Siri has a great way of making the setting of her books become almost another character. In this book for instance, the main character has a hard time relating to Japan. In other countries she has lived in, she felt at home and enjoyed their nuances and traditions. But as much as she tried, she could not understand Japan, and she could not get the feeling of being a part of it. But with a new friendship she struck up with an former “enemy,” she began to see Japan in a new light and started to gain an understanding of how she fit into it and how it could change her.

Moon Over Tokyo is a great read. It’s pretty light reading. Not earth-shattering material. But it has moments that make you think. Throughout the book, there were a few too many descriptions of temples. I could’ve read a couple and been happy. Also, the love interest, Eric, seemed to show up out of nowhere all the time. This seemed a bit forced. Other than those issues, I loved the book.

Mostly, I just soaked in Siri’s writing style. It is conversational, almost lyrical, but at the same time simplistic. Here is the opening paragraph as an example:

“How many of us notice the instant our lives change? The moment we step out of ‘what has been’ and into ‘what is to come’? I didn’t. But looking back, unraveling all that had happened before and everything that happened after, I think I can pinpoint the exact moment. Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with Eric’s coming and nothing to do with Gina’s leaving. It had everything to do with me.”

This is a great read. Allie’s pursuit of love, her struggle to understand Japan, and her new understanding of God is a humorous, imaginative, and learning experience. I’d recommend it highly.

I also enjoyed her other books based in France – Kissing Adrien and Chateau of Echoes – as well as her book based in Colorado Springs – The Cubicle Next Door. My favorite of these was probably Kissing Adrien, which is set in Paris. It’s a really good love story in a great setting! What’s not to love about Paris?

Back cover description of Moon Over Tokyo:

Siri L. Mitchell invites readers to an exotic and mysterious land on a journey of self–discovery.

Though Stars and Stripes reporter Allie O’Connor has lived in Japan for two years, she still feels like a foreigner. As her best friend prepares to move away, she prays for a new friend. Just a friend.

Soon after this prayer she runs into Eric Larsen at church, an old classmate from high school. Eric has recently been assigned to the U.S. embassy and lives in Allie’s district in Tokyo. In school they had been polar opposites. He had been captain of the debate team; she had edited the literary magazine. He drank espresso, while she preferred green tea. He is definitely not the friend she was looking for. And yet…here he is. Here she is.

Will Allie accept this unexpected answer to her prayer? And will she be brave enough to really see the person she once chose to overlook?

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Posted by on September 6, 2010 in Fiction Reviews


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Hello fellow Christian readers!

Vanessa CarrollThis is my first post on my new blog! This site is for reviewing Christian books. I’ve read a lot, but I will start with the most recent ones I have read. Since I am a fiction lover, there will be a lot of Christian fiction reviews. Please feel free to comment on any review to let me know what you thought of the book also. If it is fiction, please don’t give away the ending or anything else the reader should discover on their own.

Let the reviews begin!

Also, check out my other blog about my work as a freelance writer.

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Posted by on September 4, 2010 in General


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