Ever feel like quitting? It is a choice we make every day; go on or give in! Bentley hippo meets children facing daily struggles and challenges that are both visible and not so visible. His biggest and most important lesson is convincing Julia, a patient in a hospital room to Never Give Up. This heart-warming, inspirational story is perfect to teach children that a bad day is not a bad life. Dreams do come true. Things will get better. So, pick yourself up, shake yourself off and believe that if Bentley can do it You Can Do It.Bentleythehippo.com
The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Never Give Up, by Argyro Graphy, is a good book to use to encourage children if they have a disability or are going through a tough time medically. The animals and children share about their own disabilities, including those that aren’t seen, in order to show not everyone, (indeed no one) is perfect!
The pictures are appealing, vibrant and cute. They do a good job of illustrating each animal or child’s disability or illness, while at the same time the characters explain the same. As they are reading, or being read to, children will be able to better understand compassion and friendship towards others. I feel one of the greatest lessons to learn is optimism and that every day is not a bad day. These are among the many valuable lessons to be learned from Bentley Hippo and his friends!
The book is recommended for ages 3-8. However, I feel it is better suited to ages six and above as the subject matter may be a little “heavy” and scary for younger children.
I received The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Never Give Up from Book Sirens. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
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The story compares sizes of insects and animals from ants to dinosaurs, asking each time, “Do you see a giant?” which gives children an opportunity to compare sizes and see that there are different sizes all around. It also gives them a chance to learn through repetition, too!
Do You See the Giant? Is an entertaining picture book for younger ages. The adorable drawings add to the appeal of the story and aid in educating children.
I received Do You see The Giant? from Book Sirens. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
A forty-day interactive journey that challenges readers to come face to face with the reality of their life circumstances, identify the internal battles they must personally declare war on and fight through, and become the difference-maker that God created them to be.
Simultaneous release with a video-driven curriculum perfect for group study.
Every person has a mission and a God-given potential to impact the world, whether they recognize it or not. But the stuff of life—the loss of a job, the death of a friend or a loved one, the inability to focus due to bad moods or self-sabotaging tendencies—presents challenges and traps us in a helpless, hopeless loop of anxiety and fear. These are the kinds of things we face that turn on the dark for any thoughts of a future.
In this book bestselling author and pastor Levi Lusko gives a step-by-step process to take back your life, which includes
a new introduction and perspective from Pastor Levi
stories and testimonies from those whose lives have been changed by his messages, and
an action plan with journaling space to turn your thoughts into real change.
With a unique blend of message and practical tools, using themes and teachings from his bestselling Through the Eyes of a Lion and the more recent I Declare War, Lusko gives readers an interactive forty-day journey of learning how to think right so they can live right.
Take Back Your Life: A 40-Day Interactive Journey to Thinking Right So You Can Live Right, by Levi Lusko, is a great devotional, aimed at helping you realize your worth in God’s eyes and His immense love for you.
I valued Lusko’s candor. He addressed his battles, his struggles, and especially his anguish, agony and grief when his five-year-old daughter passed away five days before Christmas. I cannot imagine the sorrow or ache or loneliness he and his family faced. However, they also triumphed and became closer to God than ever.
The story of his daughter is a small part of the whole but was a very defining part for me. It helped to put my own grief over my losses into better perspective, which I am sure will help me heal even more.
Lusko’s devotional will affect and touch a different chord in each person who reads it. There are so many nuggets to glean from this self-help book, and I’m sure each one will make an impact.
One distraction for me was the style of the breaks in the chapter. For example, in one break it appeared as if someone had written something then scribbled it out. There were also page breaks with hand-drawn images. For me these took away from the gravity and solemnity of the message. I did enjoy the references to current culture. Allusions to movies, music, television shows and other contemporary, cultural references brought the devotional themes to life.
Hampton Hall’s new owner has the villagers of St. Hampton Heath all aflutter—all except Lavinia Ellison. The reverend’s daughter cares for those who are poor and sick, and the seventh Earl of Hawkesbury definitely does not meet that criteria. His refusal to take his responsibilities seriously, or even darken the door of the church, leave her convinced he is as arrogant and reckless as his brother—his brother who stole the most important person in Lavinia’s world. Nicholas Stamford is shadowed by guilt: his own, his brother’s, the legacy of war. A perfunctory visit to this dreary part of Gloucestershire wasn’t supposed to engage his heart, or his mind. Challenged by Miss Ellison’s fascinating blend of Bluestocking opinions, hoydenish behavior, and angelic singing voice, he finds the impossible becoming possible—he begins to care. But Lavinia’s aloof manner, society’s opposition and his ancestral obligations prove most frustrating, until scandal forces them to get along. Can Lavinia and Nicholas look beyond painful pasts and present prejudice to see their future? And what happens when Lavinia learns a family secret that alters everything she’s ever known?
Daughter of St. Hampton Heath Village’s pastor, Lavinia Ellison, isn’t affected by riches or looks. She believes everyone should help the poor, live modestly and own up to their obligations.
Thwarted at every turn, Nicholas Stamford, Earl to St. Hampton Heath Village, just wants to turn his duties over to his bailiff and be done with it.
I especially enjoyed Lavinia’s wit and somewhat sharp tongue. Critical of those not living up to their legal and moral responsibilities, she often had an acerbic tone. However, she was equally as condemnatory of her own failings.
Interspersed throughout the story are rich portrayals of the villagers’ pitiable homes and the landscape of the area juxtaposed against the detailed narrative of the aristocrats’ estates and opulent lifestyle. The starkness of the contrasts leaves you feeling the despair and sadness against which Lavinia struggled.
An impressively written book rich in history, the novel abounds with faith, aspirations, romance and just the right amount of intrigue and family mystery. It is so beautifully written; I had a hard time comprehending this was Carolyn Miller’s debut novel.
The main characters’ development, tempered by their faith, added a unique perspective to this tale.
Regency Era fans will love Carolyn Miller’s debut book, The Elusive Miss Ellison.
I received The Elusive Miss Ellison from Celebrate Lit. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
About the Author
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop, Miss Serena’s Secret, The Making of Mrs. Hale, A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh, Underestimating Miss Cecilia, and Misleading Miss Verity, all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Koorong, etc Her contemporary novels include Restoring Fairhaven and Regaining Mercy, as part of the Independence Islands series.
More from Carolyn
Mr. Darcy has a lot to answer for, doesn’t he?
I’ve long been a fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and my first historical romance, The Elusive Miss Ellison, was so fun to write as I worked to weave the social commentary of Jane Austen with the wit and romantic dash of Heyer, an unwavering Christian thread, and a dash of Aussie perspective.
I’ve been very fortunate to visit many of the settings used in my Regency Brides series (of series), including the Cotswolds, Brighton, Bath, London, Derbyshire and the gorgeous Scottish castle featured on the cover of Misleading Miss Verity, and have loved seeing readers respond so positively to these stories of hope, redemption, family and love.
I love to share images of my trips and what I envisage concerning these stories at my website (www.carolynmillerauthor.com) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CarolynMillerAuthor) and hope readers will enjoy being swept up into an age of ladies and true gentlemen, when the code of honor was paramount, and Mr. Darcy showed that first impressions can never be fully trusted, and that there is always something deeper to the story.
Few things make us feel as helpless as living with a story we don’t like. Maybe one that involves the loss of a loved one, an unwanted transition, a difficult diagnosis, or a dream that fell through. At one time or another, we all deal with disappointments and feelings that life is unfair or that we are being punished.
In Renewed, a four-week study of the Book of Ruth, women glean wisdom from Naomi’s perspective, a woman who lived a story she didn’t choose or like. Forced to chart a new path as she mourned the loss of her husband and two sons, Naomi learned that the journey from bitterness to renewed hope and joy was rooted in God’s promise of redemption.
With insight from her own journey of living with a story that is not easy, Heather teaches women to flourish even as they live hard stories through a willingness to trust that God can transform them and trade their heartache for hope. They will learn to rely on God’s movement in the details of their story, even when it can’t be seen, gain confidence to act in the part of their stories that they can change, and watch expectantly for God to redeem the parts they can’t.
A four-week study of the Book of Ruth from Naomi’s perspective.
This shorter study is ideal for in-between or busy times.
Helps women find the courage to live with a story they don’t like and trust in God.
Participant Workbook with Leader Helps includes group sessions guides, discussion questions, prayers, video viewer guides, and more.
DVD features dynamic, engaging teaching in four 20 to 25-minute segments.
Heather Dixon has taken a Bible story that most of us know, and flipped it on its head. Instead of focusing on Ruth, the title of the Biblical story and its protagonist, she focuses on Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law.
Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Storyis a brilliantly written Bible Study. Dixon delves into the story of Naomi with great wisdom, feeling and insight. She gets real and personal about her own journey, a story she didn’t and doesn’t like. However, with God’s grace and constant communication with the Him, she has been able to succeed, thrive and grow in her life and Christian walk.
I relate to Dixon’s life for numerous reasons and I am grateful for her Bible study. She has written it in an easy to follow format, with a schedule of three days a week for intense study and a break of four days, which makes it perfect for in-depth study.
I feel everyone can benefit from this study. There are several methods of learning to include a Participant Workbook with Leader Helps and a DVD that has four 20-25-minute segments with closed captioning.
I received Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story from I Read with Audra Blog Tours. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
Part 2 of Interview with Heather M. Dixon, Author of Renewed
While most studies on the book of Ruth focus on the book’s namesake, in Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story (Abingdon Press), Heather M. Dixon focuses in on Ruth’s widowed mother-in-law instead. “I’ve always read and taught Ruth from Naomi’s perspective because ultimately, I think it’s her story,” Dixon explains. “For all believers, a transformed heart is one of the key identifiers of life with Christ and as readers, we get to experience that journey with Naomi—from bitterness to renewed joy. Her transformation echoes that of anyone who has struggled with a hard story and found Jesus to be faithful along the way. It’s also my personal belief that Naomi’s response to grief has often been judged too harshly. I wanted to give my readers a safe place to explore feelings of bitterness as they learned to look for God’s movement in their own story.”
In Renewed, women glean wisdom from Naomi’s perspective, a woman who lived a story she didn’t choose or like. Forced to chart a new path as she mourned the loss of her husband and two sons, Naomi learned that the journey from bitterness to renewed hope and joy was rooted in God’s promise of redemption.
Q: Is it OK to grieve the parts of our stories that we don’t like or is that self-pity? What can we learn from Naomi’s bitterness about her situation?
You have permission to grieve! Naomi was bitter because of her circumstances (and who wouldn’t be?), but she still remembered God’s sovereignty. Did He punish her for her bitterness? No, He was always working for her good as He brought renewed hope to her life. Her story reminds us that it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to say this is not what we wanted. It’s okay to acknowledge this isn’t how things should be. We don’t have to be afraid of expressing our honest feelings to God because he understands. Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus, even when He knew He was about to raise him to life.
I think our society has much to learn from an example that values a natural and healthy grief process over stoicism. What’s more, the expression of grief is an acknowledgement that this broken world needs Jesus. When we let it, grief can be a vehicle for deep intimacy with Jesus.
Q: We’re familiar with how Boaz was the kinsmen-redeemer who rescued Ruth, but how did he redeem Naomi? How does this parallel the gospel story and our need for a redeemer?
The gospel story is rooted in redemption and renewal. From the pages of Genesis 3, the promise for redemption through Jesus has always been God’s plan for this world. (“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” – Genesis 3:15) The kinsman-redeemer promise extended to Naomi also. When Boaz married Ruth, he redeemed all of Naomi’s property that she acquired through the death of her husband and sons. For Naomi, Boaz’s purchase of her property promised provision and care for her future. Without Boaz, she would be debt-ridden and destitute, but his redemption of her property made way for the renewal of her story.
Similarly, through His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation with His blood. He redeemed all that may have been lost from our past circumstances and the entire debt we owe to God for our sins. His purchase promises our provision and care for eternity. Without Him, we would be unable to pay the debt we owe to God. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we have everlasting hope for renewed joy.
Q: How was Naomi reminded that God would always provide?
I adore that one of the motifs from the book of Ruth is the empty-to-full motif. Naomi was empty in every way at the beginning of her story, but it ends with her being full—full with food, family, happiness, offspring. God provided for her every need. God provided companionship for Naomi through Ruth’s determination to stay with her. God provided food for Naomi and Ruth in what would have appeared to be a stranger’s field, but it wasn’t. God provided family through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz. He provided happiness through the birth of her grandson, Obed. And He provided offspring and blessing and security through Obed’s family line, which was the human ancestral family line for Jesus.
Q: What does Naomi’s story teach us about hope for our own situations?
I remember watching my elementary school friends on the playground, climbing up the tall ladder to mount the slide and zooming down it without fear. Hands up and laughing all the way down, they were free and joyful. I didn’t think I could do it myself, but watching them gave me hope. If they could do it, maybe I could too. I sense the same feelings rising when I read Naomi’s story.
She was a woman who walked through what many of us fear the most: the death of precious loved ones and life-altering change. And yet, if God could renew her story, why couldn’t He do it for mine as well? Naomi’s story teaches us that God is sovereign, loving, strategic, and compassionate. Her story prompts us to courageously lift our chins and say “He did it for Naomi, He can do it for me too.” There is hope in that. As a second-grader, I raised my hands as I slid down the slide. As a woman who has experienced much grief and change, I now place my story in God’s capable hands, knowing that God is always working for my good, even when I can’t see it. And that renewed joy is always just around the corner when I am walking with Jesus.
Q: Did you write Renewed for a specific audience of women?
Yes, absolutely. I wrote Renewed for any woman that is carrying a difficult and life-altering story. I wrote it for the woman who is not just walking through a season of hardship, but who has experienced a story that they did not choose and cannot change.
I also wrote it for the woman who yearns to trust God’s sovereignty and His plan for her life even as she grieves and is angered by her circumstances. Trusting God and grieving your story are not mutually exclusive. Renewed is for the woman who needs an honest space to do both as God fills them with hope.
Q: Tell us about the format of the study. How long does each lesson take and how many weeks are in the study?
Because we lead busy lives, this study is designed with just four weeks of study, and three days of lessons each week. Each day’s lesson will guide you through personal study of a passage from Ruth as well as application of what you’ve learned. This study is intentionally designed to offer a flexible but thorough plan to walk through the entire book of Ruth. You may find that setting time aside on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to go through each lesson works best for your schedule. Or perhaps it may be better to work through them on the weekends. Depending on your learning and study style, I would expect to spend 20-30 minutes on each lesson.
Q: What other Renewed resources are available to go along with the study?
Heather M. Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who understands living with a story that is not easy. Diagnosed with an incurable and terminal genetic disorder that she inherited from her mother, she is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to trust in God, face their greatest fears, and live with hope, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie West and Tillie Taylor, want to be sisters. Ginnie’s widowed dad plus Tillie’s divorced mom could equal a lifetime of round-the-
clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie come up with the perfect scheme to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ (aka OSS). After all, if they can’t get Dad to move on, Tillie can’t move in. Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and her dad doesn’t talk about—if Dad doesn’t take them away.
The Secret Sisters Club by Monique Bucheger is a sweet story about two girls, Ginnie West, whose Mom has passed away, and Tillie Taylor, whose abusive Dad divorced her Mom then moved away.
I enjoyed the story. I especially liked getting to know the girls, their families and the horses. Although the horses do not have a major part in the overall plotline, they do play an important part in the narrative.
As I read The Secret Sisters Club, I remembered how much I wanted a horse when I was younger. I really wanted a Palomino. I also wished I had a friend like Tillie. However, we moved so much I was never able to make many friends.
I believe the book would be of great appeal to pre-teen and middle school girls. There are many situations they will relate to. Instances common to tween girls include overwhelming and intense anger that appears from seemingly nowhere and makes little sense. Tweens also have an overpowering need to be able to control their own lives, while also wanting things to remain the same. Yet wanting them to change, too.
I received The Secret Sisters Club from Celebrate Lit. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
About the Author
When Monique isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events.
Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She shares it with a terrific husband, her dozen children, twelve granddarlings, too many cats, and many real and imaginary friends. She is the author of several books in three series and hopes to write many more.
More from Monique
I’d like to welcome you to the first book in my Ginnie West Adventures Series: The Secret Sisters Club. This series has been a fun journey that started longer ago than I care to admit.
As a tween, Ginnie West was my imaginary friend who gave me courage. Since then, I have written her story through four novels to each become a #1 Amazon Best-selling novel.
The Secret Sisters Club is the story of 12-year-old BFF’s (Ginnie and Tillie) who want to become sisters. However, The Secret Sisters Club is more than a scheme (AKA: OSS: Operation Secret Sisters) to get Tillie’s divorcee mom to fall in love with Ginnie’s widowered dad.
The Secret Sisters Club is a contemporary, middle-grade novel about: belonging, overcoming hard things, finding joy in the journey of your life, and finding the courage to change your own stars when you don’t like the hand you have been dealt—and realizing that ‘real’ family can be friends you have chosen when the people in the family you were born to are missing because of choices they made, death, divorce, and circumstances beyond your (and sometimes their) control—and these themes are shared in an uplifting, empowering, age-appropriate way.
Because Tillie was abandoned when she was six years-old by her birth dad, six years before The Secret Sisters Club starts, she longs to for a “whole” family: with a mom, a good dad, a sister, and a brother. Tillie has always been timid, but Ginnie helps her feel brave. Tillie, in turn, helps Ginnie realize that she has a lot to be grateful for.
Ginnie has never worried about what her family looks like—because it has always “felt” right. She lives in a 3-generation farm family composed of her great-Uncle Ben, his two kids, her dad , Todd, and his brother, Uncle Jake–who were raised by Uncle Ben because they were orphaned as young tweens, as well as Ginnie’s twin brother, Toran.
Ginnie’s mother died in a tragic accident when she was 3 ½ years old, leaving Ginnie with very few memories of her mom. Which hasn’t been a problem for her—UNTIL she finds a box of her dead mom’s journals and starts reading one.
Then Ginnie realizes that she really missed out—her mom was pretty amazing: creative, energetic, courageous, funny, a nationally ranked beauty queen (which Ginnie couldn’t care less about) but also a nationally ranked equestrian and trick rider—which Ginnie cares VERY much about. And more than that—she realizes that her mother truly understood her. And while her dad loves her very much—Ginnie is constantly tossing him out of his comfort zone as he struggles to balance her need to be independent with his need to keep her safe.
The Secret Sisters Club explores the journey of two BFF’s finding strength to overcome adversities, humor in day-to day life, and courage to make hard choices as they grow up together, embracing their differences as well their similarities, to make life a totally awesome sauce adventure.
Experience God’s Unstoppable Blessings and Breakthrough!
You may be facing an issue that’s seems like an insurmountable barrier in your life. Or, your circumstances may be so difficult you feel surrounded by walls with no way out. You ask God to knock down those walls, just as He did for Joshua at Jericho. But they’re still standing. Sometimes, God removes the obstacles from our lives immediately and dramatically. But what can we do when the change doesn’t occur, when the breakthrough doesn’t come, when God’s promises aren’t fulfilled, even when we pray?
That’s when we have to plant ourselves in God’s Word and presence and let Him grow us over the wall. The breakthrough starts as our roots grow deep. This is what Joseph did when he was in the pit and the dungeon. He grew over his wall by adopting a heavenly perspective rather than an earthly one. The result was a multitude of blessings for him, his family, and the world: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22).
You can grow over your own wall of difficulty, opposition, hindrance, or limitation. As you grow, your wall won’t look as high as it used to. And one day, you will grow over it. Every negative situation will divinely position you to be where you need to be in life. You will grow over circumstances you thought were too powerful for you. You will grow over the wall of limitation that once surrounded you. You will grow over the dead end or impossibility that threatened to defeat you. The trials of life have no power to stop you from being abundant and fruitful in God, receiving His blessings, and fulfilling the plans He has for you. Like Joseph, let your branches grow over the wall. Then, your breakthrough will become a breakthrough and blessing for others, too, enabling them to grow over their own walls of difficulty.
Matt Sorger is a prophetic minister and a strong preacher and teacher of God’s Word, mentoring and equipping the body of Christ to live in the realm of God’s power and glory. He carries a unique anointing that fills entire rooms with the tangible glory of God, with many people saved, healed, set free, and filled with God’s presence. Through Matt Sorger Ministries, he has ministered in more than thirty-five nations and has reached more than two hundred nations by television and other media. He is the author of Power for Life: Keys to a Life Marked by the Presence of God. Matt and his wife, Stephanie, oversee Rescue1, an organization that rescues children from trafficking around the world. Their vision is to see at least 1,500 children set free. The Sorgers have two children and reside near Charlotte, NC.
More from Matt
Turn your pain into power and experience God’s unstoppable blessings and breakthrough.