Book Review – The Crown Volume 1

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Book Title:  The Crown, Volume 1

Author:  Robert Lacy

Published by:  Crown Archetype (October 17, 2017)

Amazon info:

The official companion to the Emmy-winning Netflix drama chronicling the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and starring Claire Foy and John Lithgow, The Crown by Peter Morgan, featuring additional historical background and beautifully reproduced archival photos and show stills

Elizabeth Mountbatten never expected her father to die so suddenly, so young, leaving her with a throne to fill and a global institution to govern. Crowned at twenty-five, she was already a wife and mother as she began her journey towards becoming a queen.

As Britain lifted itself out of the shadow of war, the new monarch faced her own challenges. Her mother doubted her marriage; her uncle-in-exile derided her abilities; her husband resented the sacrifice of his career and family name; and her rebellious sister embarked on a love affair that threatened the centuries-old links between the Church and the Crown. This is the story of how Elizabeth II drew on every ounce of resolve to ensure that the Crown always came out on top.

Written by the show’s historical consultant, royal biographer Robert Lacey, and filled with beautifully reproduced archival photos and show stills, The Crown: The Official Companion: Volume 1 adds expert and in-depth detail to the events of the series, painting an intimate portrait of life inside Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. Here is Elizabeth II as we’ve never seen her before.


My rating:  4 stars

My review:

I only saw a small part of “The Crown” on Netflix but my daughters enjoyed the whole series. Regardless, this is a helpful book to understand the history as well as the artistic liberties the creator of the series used. I always wonder how much of some of these historical dramas is true…this book answers that question for this one.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Book Review – Refresh by David and Shona Murray

November 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Title:  Refresh

Author:  Shona & David Murray

Published by:  Crossway

Amazon info:

“I feel so overwhelmed.”

Do you race from one thing to the next, unable to keep up with all the demands of your ever-growing to-do list? Are you overcommitted and overstretched, but don’t know how to slow down when the world just says to speed up? Is there any hope for rest in a world of never-ending demands?

Many women don’t realize they’re running at an unsustainable pace until it hurts them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Drawing on many years of counseling and their own experiences of burnout, wife and husband team Shona and David Murray want to help you slow down to a more grace-paced life—enabling you to avoid the pitfall of burnout, cultivate sustainable habits for the future, and experience the rest of body and soul that God intends for you.

My rating:  4 stars

My review:

I previously reviewed David Murray’s book, Reset, and enjoyed it very much. My “complaint”, if you could call it that, was that that book was really geared toward men, and pastors in particular.  So I was glad to hear that he and his wife had written a companion book for women.

The Murrays speak from experience, and that experience adds a great deal of credibility to their advice and comments regarding the pace of life most of us find ourselves living in these 21st century years.  While you might not find anything earth shattering or life changingly new, this book is biblical, practical, easy to read and follow, and helpful for those who are just feeling a bit out of control – which is almost everyone I know.

While I prefer the Reset book’s content, much of it is duplicated here and also really good.  I encourage you to give this book a read.

I received a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Book Review – Lasting Love by Alistair Begg

November 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Book Title:  Lasting Love:  How To Avoid Marital Failure

Author:  Alistair Begg

Published by:  Moody Publishers

Amazon info:

What makes love last a lifetime?

No one marries intending to fail. Each couple that says “I do” hopes for a long and beautiful life together. But as time passes, many drift apart, and some eventually call it quits.

But what about the ones who stay the course, who don’t just bear through marriage but actually love it? What’s their secret?

It’s simple, really: there is no secret. They follow God’s revealed design.

In Lasting Love, Alistair Begg unfolds this design. After laying theological foundations, he builds levels of application, showing how God’s blueprint makes marriages sturdy and vibrant.

Ideal for both those considering marriage and those already married, Lasting Love is a comprehensive book on the essentials of a great and godly union, such as:

  • What the Bible says about marriage vows, gender roles, and parenting
  • What to look for in a potential spouse
  • How to cure and prevent marital decay

Heed the advice of this pastor who has seen too many marriages come and go. Let yours last a lifetime.

Includes a study guide for spouse and group discussion to help you put the book’s principles to practice. 

My rating: 4 stars

My review:

I have to admit at the outset, I’m a huge fan of Alistair Begg. I’ve read a couple of his books and have listened to his podcast/radio program for many many years. Through his teaching I’ve been convicted on much and I continue to be thankful for his heartfelt, solid, biblical, compassionate, bold teaching each time I hear him.

This book is all that.  I don’t know that you’ll discover anything “new” about marriage, but Begg writes as he speaks: very inviting, warm, and pastoral.  Sometimes I think I can “hear” his beautiful accent coming through as I read.  With practical advice for any couple at any stage of marriage, this will be one of the few marriage books that I’ll gladly give as a wedding gift to newlyweds with the hope (and firm advice) to read together early on in their life together … and many times thereafter.  I plan to read through it every year as a refresher and as a reminder of God’s design for the man and wife union, individual roles of each in marriage, and encouragement for the long haul. It definitely helps that Begg speaks from his own experience – being in a loving, faithful marriage for many years.

Get this book. You won’t be sorry!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Spurgeon Study Bible

November 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Title: The Spurgeon Study Bible

Publisher: Holman Bible Publishers

With forward and biography of Spurgeon by Alistair Begg

Buy on Amazon (click)

My rating:  4.5 stars

My review:

This is a beautiful bible.  It’s a great size for a study bible and the little touches that include copies of Spurgeon’s own handwritten notes and some of his lost sermons is really great.

The biography at the beginning by Alistair Begg is wonderful too.  There is much good to say about this bible and it’s a great price for what you get.  The commentary itself isn’t extensive but that’s not surprising nor does it take away from the overall value of the book.

I’m not a huge fan of putting a man’s name on the bible, though I understand why it is in this case. I’m thankful the cover signature is subtle though.

I received a copy of this bible in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

A lovely Hymn devotional book

November 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Book Title:  Classic Hymns

Authors: B&H Editorial Staff

Amazon blurb:  This next installment in the Read and Reflect series will dive into the lyrics of classic Christian hymns, and give the reader reflection questions, bible study questions, and prayer prompts based around the lyrics.

Click here to buy on Amazon.


My thoughts:

This is a beautiful devotional. I’m a great lover of hymns and they’re rich lyrics and set apart melodies. This book takes a deep look at the words by giving you questions on how these hymns reflect scripture as well as how they words can be instrumental in working through your issues of life. Some of my favorite hymns are in here as well as several with which I’m not familiar. I look forward to opening this book after I read the bible in the morning – humming the song throughout the day afterward and thinking more about the words.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Holman CSB Reader’s Bible Review

September 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Title: The Holy Bible

Publisher:  Holman Bible Publishers

Purchase on Amazon (click here)

Amazon info:

The CSB Reader’s Bible provides the perfect opportunity to read the Bible in its original and simplified form, uninterrupted by verse and chapter references. This unique Bible reading experience invites the reader to encounter God’s Word as a grand narrative and have a fresh experience with the Bible.

Features include: Single-column reader’s text, Simplified page design, 10-point type, Ribbon marker, Smyth-sewn binding, and more.

The CSB Reader’s Bible features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read and share with others.

I was pretty excited to receive this bible in the mail today. I’ve been eyeing both reader’s bibles and single column journaling bibles for some time now trying to decide which would make most sense for me.  I think this one is a great choice.

The bible feels and looks like a “regular” hardback book. It’s heavy – the bible is 1800 plus pages, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming at all.  I love the idea of reading without the chapter and verse numbers to get a different “feel” when reading the text.  This should be particularly interesting when reading the Proverbs.  I suspect that once in a while I’ll get tripped up trying to figure out verse numbers after I come up to familiar passages as I’m reading. But I can live with that.

I’ve also heard very good things about this particular bible translation: the Christian Standard Bible so I’m glad to finally have one on my shelf.

Definitely just for home use and for personal reading, this is a great bible to add to your home and to give as gifts to your kids and other family members.


I received a copy of the bible in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Sing! Keith and Kristyn Getty’s new book on Worship

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Book Title:  Sing

Authors: Keith and Kristyn Getty

Published by: B&H Books

Amazon Info: (buy on Amazon now – click here)

Sing! has grown from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s passion for congregational singing; it’s been formed by their traveling and playing and listening and discussing and learning and teaching all over the world.

And in writing it, they have five key aims:

• to discover why we sing and the overwhelming joy and holy privilege that comes with singing
• to consider how singing impacts our hearts and minds and all of our lives
• to cultivate a culture of family singing in our daily home life
• to equip our churches for wholeheartedly singing to the Lord and one another as an expression of unity
• to inspire us to see congregational singing as a radical witness to the world

They have also added a few “bonus tracks” at the end with some more practical suggestions for different groups who are more deeply involved with church singing.

God intends for this compelling vision of His people singing—a people joyfully joining together in song with brothers and sisters around the world and around his heavenly throne—to include you. He wants you,he wants us, to sing.


I love singing psalms and hymns. I love it!  We attend a church that sings hymns every Sunday and I’m thankful for the rich lyrics and tunes that fit the majesty of the One to whom we are singing.  This book is a great overview of the importance of congregational hymn singing and how great hymns are so important to the church.  Written in a very readable style, this is a wonderful little book for anyone who is interested in hymnody.  Would make a great gift for your pastor, worship leader, choir director … anyone!

Highly recommended!  I’m impressed!

I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Finding God in My Loneliness – Book Review

September 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Adult Book Reviews

Book Title:  Finding God In My Loneliness

Author: Lydia Brownback

Publisher: Crossway

Number of Pages:  176

ISBN-10: 1433553937

ISBN-13: 978-1433553936

Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches

Amazon Blurb:

Young or old, single or married, male or female—at some point in life, we’re all confronted with loneliness. We try to fill the void or change our circumstances so we no longer feel the pain. But what if our pangs of loneliness are meant to point us to something greater?

Looking at various aspects of loneliness, Lydia Brownback reminds us of God’s power to redeem our loneliness and use it in our lives to draw us to himself. Ultimately, she helps us see that even when we feel misunderstood, forsaken, or abandoned, we’re never really alone. God is always with us, and only he can meet all of our needs in Christ Jesus.

My rating: 4 stars
My review:

I read this book twice before sitting down to write a review. I rarely do that.  In fact, I must confess that sometimes with book reviews I try to speed read through just so I can meet the review requirement and move on to another book. It’s not right but I maintain that my opinions of some books wouldn’t be that much different even if I chose to simmer over them rather than speed through.  That usually happens when I’m not overly fond of a book.

That’s not the case here.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this book. I don’t consider myself a lonely person per se.  But in the current season of my life I do find myself alone more and often would consider some moments lonely.  My default in those moments is to get online and surf, watch a stupid movie, or text garble to someone.

This book challenged me to rethink my alone moments but even more so, to embrace my lonely ones as a gift to drive me to Christ and His word.  Full of scripture and theological insight, this is a great book for women, though I suspect men will find nuggets as well.  Even though it’s written from a single woman’s perspective, the application is not at all limited to singles and, in fact, can be even more applicable to to marrieds as well.

Highly recommended!

I received an ebook copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Hickies no tie shoelaces

September 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Parent Product Reviews

Hate tying your kids’ shoes everyday before they step out of the house? Hate stopping to tie your own shoes mid-run? HICKIES products turn any pair of sneakers into convenient, comfortable, and stylish slip-ons that are perfect for any activity from recess play to Mom and Dad’s triathlons.


Works in any shoe with eyelets.

One size fits all.

Elastic material keeps shoes secure and comfortable.

Never tie again! Play uninterrupted.

Fun look, without messy knots and bows.

Adjustable tightness.

Quick and easy – simply slip on and off.

Never tie, never worry. @Hickies Never Tie Laces on 25% off w/ code USFAM now thru Sept. 20th!

Squishy Mats – for babies and kids!

I just got a Squishy Mat in the mail today.  And it really is, well, squishy!  This particular one is the soft baby changing mat and it’s easy to carry and super comfy for mom and baby on the go!

(One of our sweet ones enjoying the soft mat and her toy!)

I love the super soft top – kind of cuddly and you could even use this for a younger infant to sleep on the floor when visiting with friends for coffee.  It’s made with a layer of memory foam and a super soft cover. Pretty easy to clean and super nice quality.

We have about 8 friends, currently, that have new babies ranging in age from newborn to almost a year. I’m keeping this great mat close at hand for their visits.  It’s machine washable and easy to spot clean if needed too.

(I think she likes it!)

And here’s the thing. I’m a floor sitter. I’ve always preferred to sit on the floor over sitting on the couch or a chair. It gets a bit uncomfortable, however, after sitting during a longer movie or conversation with friends.  This mat will be great for even me!  I may even bring it along for use at sporting events!

And…this mat would be great for our pets too!  Nice and soft and squishy for them! I might have to buy a few more.



Who can use a Squishy Mat?
Sitting on the floor gets uncomfortable for anyone! These soft spots encourage parents, grand-parents and caregivers to linger at eye level with little ones, and make a nice buffer between all bottoms and the hard floor or ground. Take a Squishy Mats to an outdoor concert, baby yoga or your older kids’ sporting events, and the whole family can gather there in comfort.

What is a Squishy Mat?
Squishy Mats contain almost one inch of Memory Foam – also known as the low resistance polyurethane foam developed by NASA in the 1960s. The surface of each mat is covered by a super soft, micro-flannel fabric and is backed with a nonslip rubber grid. Each mat is durable, sturdy and designed for life on the move.

Squishy Mats come in three sizes:
16×32″ Changing Mat – folds and fastens with a carrying handle.

3×3′ floor mat – folds and fastens with a carrying handle.

4×4′ floor mat – folds and fastens with a carrying handle.

How does it feel?
In a word, SQUISHY! Memory Foam is known for its use in mattresses, pillows and even some shoes; it has incredible give and easily returns to its original shape. You and your child will love the luxurious feel of the minky micro flannel top as it glides under your fingers. With nonslip rubber backing, your child won’t get wrapped up as he plays, and it won’t slide out from under baby if you (or your pet) step on it!

Overall my thoughts of this changing pad:

  • Pro: Super soft!
  • Pro: Squishy! Comfy!
  • Pro: Large size is great for just a comfortable play mat
  • Pro: Non-slip backing gives an extra element of safety
  • Pro: Easy to clean and machine washable
  • Con:  Large size means it won’t fit in the average diaper bag – you’ll have to carry two things
  • Con: Memory Foam.  The jury is still out on whether or not this is a safe product for long term use?


My Readers Save 15% Off with code “USFAMILY” on all sized Squishy Mats – The world’s first baby memory foam mat that folds for quick storage and transport.

15% off promo – USFAMILY





I received a Squishy Mat directly from the company in exchange for an honest review. I wasn’t compensated for this review in any other way, nor was I required to leave a positive review.


Buy the 4’x4′ on Amazon by clicking below!

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