Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Great and Fun Book



Finding Jesus by Winston Rowntree was a great fun book.  It reminded me of those old "Where's Waldo" books.  The pictures are great and the detail is wonderful.  You could spend so much time looking at pictures and making new discoveries about the people in each picture.

Overall, this would be a great book to purchase for the Christmas holidays.  The price is right.  It's a great extra little and fun gift, which can also be passed on to others.


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Excellent Information on the Churchless

Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect With Them was a very good book.  I was amazed at the level of statistics found in the book.  The statistics helped me to gain a better understanding of where Christians are at in trying to help those outside of the church gain a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

The book is written by George Barna and David Kinnaman.  both have written extensively as it pertains to the unchurched and have used statistics to help the reader better understand the current situation in our world. 

At times the stats were overwhelming, yet the book was relatively easy to read and was not filled with theological arguments.  I would have appreciated more information about how churches, especially smaller church can engage the churchless people in our communities.  This was a book I will refer back to as I work with other Christ followers to share the Great News of Jesus.

I was provided this book from Tyndale Press in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Excellent NKJV Study Bible

The NKJV Study Bible Full-Color Edition is an excellent choice of Bibles.  I use either the NKJV or ESV.  I found this Bible to be very easy to use and greatly appreciate the study notes on the bottom of each page. 

Each chapter includes a color introduction, which is slightly shorter than I would have liked, but still has good information.  In each Old Testament Introduction, there is a section which attempts to show where Christ can be found in that chapter.  I really appreciated that and have not seen that in other Bibles. 

There are many helps which are not unique to this Bible, but help enhance its value.  For example, the Bible includes ~

Colorful Bible-land photos and graphics
Colored maps and charts within each chapter
Full cross-references with textual notes
Word studies and indexes
Bible Times and Culture Notes
Book introductions, outlines, and timelines
Reader-friendly notes and articles ideal for extended study
Concordance including proper names

Overall, this is an excellent Bible.  Well worth the price.

I received this book from booklookbloggers.com in exchange for an honest review.

Tidying and Organizing!!

The title of this book sounded very intriguing.  I would like to think I’m pretty tidy and keep things organized, then I look around, and not quite as good as I thought.  In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo has written a very practical, although at times tedious book.

This was an easy to read book, although there were moments I felt as if it took too long to get to the point, which for me, was the practical application of what she was trying to teach.  The premise of the book is to teach people through various methods who to declutter their spaces.  Whether it's work, home or wherever, Marie has a thought about ways to declutter and then organize your space. 

One thing I really appreciated was the small length of each chapter.  It made the book easier to read, and I could put it down and easily pick it up back up to read.  The section about folding shirts was fun to read and one that I am going to try.  I have too many shirts already, so I think this will be a good test to see how it works.

Overall, this was a very good book and one I recommend to others.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  This is an unbiased review.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Nice and Entertaining Book

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger, was a fun to read and entertaining book.  At times it seemed to drag, but it reminded me of my roots.  The story focuses on a Jewish assisted living facility in which one of the residents is murdered.  Mrs. Kaplan tries to solve the death of Bertha. 

The book has a number of Yiddish expressions in it, which would be used by Jewish adults, especially senior citizens.  I enjoyed the book.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Excellent Book About C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors.  I was thrilled to be able to read this book which helped me gain a better understanding of this prolific writer and Christian apologist.  In the book, C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian, Gregory Cootsona shares part of his struggles and how C.S. Lewis helped him on his journey to Christ.  C.S. Lewis struggled with the issue of faith and this book shares part of his journey as well.  Cootsona breaks this book down into sections dealing with crisis.

There is the ~

Crisis of Atheism
Crisis of Materialism
Crisis of Meaninglessness
Crisis of Anomie
Crises of Christian Faith
Jesus and the Crisis of other Myths
Crisis of the Bible
Crisis of Human Life
Crisis of Feeling
Crisis of Suffering
Crisis of Death

Because Lewis strongly believed in myths, he had to separate the myth of Jesus from the reality of Jesus.  Cootsona did an excellent job helping explain the process Lewis took, along with help from some of his literary friends, and Cootsona shared his journey as well. 

Overall, if you are a fan of C.S. Lewis or want to learn more about this powerful man of faith, I highly recommend this book.

I received this book from Westminster John Knox Press, and NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Fascinating History of Baghdad

This was a fascinating book.  Justin Marozzi’s book, Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood, is about the city of Baghdad, looking at it from a historical view to the present day.  If you don’t like history, the book will be a struggle, since the book is filled with a great deal of historical accounts.  I enjoy history and appreciated gaining a greater understanding of Baghdad. 

Reading this helped me to better understand more about the people of Baghdad and their civilization.  I also gained a better appreciated for the differences between the Sunni’s and Shia’s.  The book details the brutality of fighting within the land and the peace which was also found in the same land. 

Marozzi leads back to the modern era, discussing themes and images which we have a better grasp of today.  Baghdad seemed to be a place filled with great diversity and a place filled with a great deal of culture.  I appreciated reading this book.  Again, it starts slow, and you need to be interested in history and Middle Eastern history, that is, Baghdad.

I received a digital copy of this book through Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review of this book.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Excellent Historial Fiction!

I recently finished leading a Bible study on the book of Esther and we looked at the call by Xerxes for the annihilation of the Jewish people. Although, we didn’t move into the stories of Ezra as he led the march back to Jerusalem, this is an excellent book giving us glimpses into how the people felt as they faced destruction and the move back to their homeland.

In this book, Keepers of the Covenant (The Restoration Chronicles), Lynn Austin has written a fictional book in which you feel like you are part of the story. This is very well written. While it is fictional, I believe Austin understood the Old Testament and was able to bring it to life, which helped while reading this book.

This is part 2 in the Restoration Series, yet, the books seem to be stand alone books. I would encourage anyone who wants to gain knowledge and understanding of the Jewish people during this period in their history to read this book. This book helps the reader gain a better understanding of the Old Testament story of Ezra as well.

I highly recommend this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, in exchange for an impartial review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Skeleton's in God's Closet? Nope!

I was really intrigued by the title of this book and was very glad to have read it.  The Skeletons In God's Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy Way, by Joshua Ryan Butler kept me interested throughout as he sought to help readers look at issues which we generally think are hidden away and taboo to talk about. 

His premise is that these topics, hell, judgement, the lake of fire, etc. should be discussed.  He believes we have the paradigm all wrong.  He believes we look at heaven and hell as later realities, while earth and our lives are lived in the here and now.  However, Butler believes heaven and earth are torn by sin, and being ravaged by the destructive power of sin.  God's plan then, is to reconcile heaven and earth from the influence of hell.

Yes, this book can be a little deep at times, but Butler kept me interested.  While I am not fully in agreement with some of his theology, and need to consider more of what he wrote, I most appreciated his closing statement ~

God is good.  Gloriously good.  Better than we could ask or imagine good.  God is good in his very bones: not just in what he does, but in who he is; not only in his actions; but in his character.  God's goodness is the hope of the world.  It is God's goodness that gives rise to resurrection: as hope for our sin-struck; war torn world.  It is his goodness that gives rise to reconciliation: as hope for the fragmentation we have inflicted upon his world.  And it is his goodness that gives rise to restoration: as hope amid the destruction we have unleashed in his glorious world.
That is a long paragraph, but I believe it aptly summarizes what Butler was wanting to prove.  I appreciate his desire to show that God is good . . . all the time!  Amen to that. 

I would recommend this book to those who are interested in moving deeper in attempting to understand the dichotomy between God's goodness and God's wrath and judgement.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Powerful Book

Gerard Long has written a very passionate and moving book, entitled,  Awakening to God: Discovering His Power and Your Purpose.  The premise of the book is that we (the Christ followers) would wake up from our sleep and become passionate about Jesus Christ.  You can sense the passion and even urgency in Long’s writing.  He reminds us that the time is now to take action, not to wait and delay. 

Long tells the story about his life and pain, the death of two children, and the power and presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of his story.  The book follows a simple pattern calling us to wake up.  He works for Alpha, after serving as a Pastor in London.  His titles are very revealing ~

Awakening to God’s Love and Purpose
Awakening to the Holy Spirit: Power for Living
Awakening to our Calling: Go and Make Disicples
Awakening to Brokenness
Awakening to Eternity
Awakening to Opportunity: A Bigger Vision
Awakening to God’s Provision: How to Become Fishers of Men
Awakening to the Nets: How to Draw in the Fish
Awakening to the Catch: How to Draw in the Nets

I would highly recommend this short and powerful book!

I received this book from Tyndale Press in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Interesting, Entertaining & a Little Sad!

In his newest book, The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents, Ronald Kessler seeks to give readers an inside look at those inside the White House.  Often times I found myself laughing at the incredulous actions of people.  I have to assume this book is true, and if that is correct, then I wonder why more people don’t know the conduct of those inside the White House, since character directly impacts the way I vote.

I wanted to be certain that Kessler gave equal treatment to Democrats and Republicans.  He really slammed the Clinton’s and other Democrats.  Was not as harsh on the Obama’s, but did indicate many in the Secret Service and those who worked in the White House did not like Nancy Reagan. 

There were some interesting interludes between chapters about the personnel and the preparation for those in the Secret Service.  I found those chapters interesting.  Those who I thought were bizarre and narcissistic confirmed my thinking. 

This book was very easy to read.  It was informative, and in some respects troubling about the way our government, especially the way our leaders run the nation, their lives and sadly, the way many treat those within the White House and their disdain of military and police.  That was sad and wish that could be brought to light even more so. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to others wanting to read something like this.

I received this book from www.bloggingforbooks.org, in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Powerful - Must Read!

This book was powerful and riveting.  It was hard to put down.  Bryan Stevenson has written a real winner in Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.  The main focus is on the unjust imprisonment of Walter McMillan.  He was convicted of murdering a white woman in Alabama.  He was given the death penalty even though witnessing could account for his whereabouts and no evidence pointed toward his guilt. 

Stevenson writes about the trial and all the events leading up to this trial.  He also wrote about many other situations in which people fell through the legal cracks and were sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.

This is a powerful story about justice and truth.  There are many stories that make your stomach turn as you realize there is much more discrimination than we would like to admit in our country.  They prejudices are still too high. 

While I would like to say I enjoyed the book, which I did, I was also moved by the book, the personal nature of Stevenson's writing was great.  I highly recommend this book for people interested in social reform or who just want to read an excellent non-fiction book.  This would be an excellent choice!!

I received this book through Netgalley.com and Random House Publishing.

Powerful Story about Redemption

I was not sure what to expect from the book, From This Day Forward: A Love Story of Faith, Hope and Forgiveness, written by Amy and Matt Baumgardner.  This was a very moving and honest book from start to finish. 

This is a story about a couple who seem to have it all.  Their lives and marriage, their children; everything seemed perfect.  Then Amy began drinking and not caring for herself, ultimately leading to a car accident in which she was drunk and critically injured their daughter. 

The couple go back and forth recounting their story to help others who may be in a similar situation not to lose hope.  They discuss the struggles, the despair and in the end, the coming back together of their marriage.  They are not preachy about alcohol and addictions.  Instead they are honest about discussing how this addiction dramatically impacted their lives.

I believe this book can help others.  It was well written and worth the time to read.

I received this book through Netgalley.com, and  HCI Publishers.


Excellent Little Book!!

It's been awhile since I have seen Les Miserables. So, I wondered if this book would be good or not, and I was not at all disappointed. Bob Welch has written an excellent book in 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables.

Welch identifies a number of different spiritual issues which are dealt with in the play. He discusses them by giving examples from the performance / book. This is a Christo-centric book. He looks at a number of issues, such as price, loss, poverty, social injustice, grace, forgiveness, mercy, redemption, transformation and more. .

Every chapter, and they are short, 3-5 pages, are filled with biblical examples and life examples to help keep the reader attentive and to gain a better understanding of the application from Les Miserables. This was an excellent book. One which will be used as a resource book as well.

I received this book from http://booklookbloggers.com in exchange for an honest review.

Moving Story about Loss and Recovery



Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love, written by Anna Whiston-Donaldson is about the death of Anna’s son Jack, to a tragic accident occurring in a flash flood.  The book is about more than telling the story of his death and to be careful for flash floods.  This book is raw, it’s emotional, it’s about grief and the grieving process.  It’s the story of how you eventually, yet never learn to live without someone who tragically dies.  It’s the story about learning to cope when someone does not return home.  It’s a story about learning how to live with her husband and daughter, without their son, Jack.  

Anna recalls the day of the flood, what she was thinking prior, during and after.  She is open and honest about her feelings and memories.  She isn’t afraid to tell you about her loss and despair.  There is nothing phony about this book.  Anna also tells the story of Jack, we get to know him, the good and the bad.  She
This is also a spiritual book, you can call it religious.  She is a Christian and speaks from that vantage point.  Anna struggled with her faith after Jack’s death, but realized she needed her faith to make it.  She does not preach or pretend to be a theologian and explain Jack’s death away.  Instead, Anna lets us in on her journey to healing.  

This is an excellent, moving book which impacts all people who read it.  I highly recommend it!

I received this book from Convergent Books in exchange for an honest review!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Joy of the Pursuit

Chris Guillebeau's new book The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life, was a very interesting book.  The author is a life traveler, business leader and motivator.  He believes each person should pursue what we really are called to do, instead of doing what is expected of us.  His approach was to travel and meet with people in short conversations to learn from them and share those nuggets with the reader. 

His goal was to visit every country on the planet.  He did this within 5 years.  The book includes stories about people he met on his journey.  He includes their successes and failures.  Part of the purpose of the book was to encourage the reader not to give up on the quests they have in life. 

This was an easy to read book.  At times the writing became a little old, some of the same being written over again.  But overall it was a very good book.  Hopefully it will inspire you to never give up on your quests to live life.  Note the title is not the pursuit of happiness, but it is the happiness in the pursuit.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this unabiased review."


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Colliding with Destiny: Finding Hope in Ruth

Colliding with Destiny: Finding Hope in the Legacy of Ruth by Sarah Jakes is a book which uses the book of Ruth as a means of looking at our lives.  Sarah Jakes is the daughter of the famous and popular pastor in the Dallas area, T.D. Jakes.  She is very open and transparent in this book as she discusses some of her hardships in life; a teenage pregnancy, marriage to an unfaithful football player that ended in divorce, being gossiped about because her parents were high-profile ministers, and her own struggles with her weight, depression and keep spending under control.  Many of these are issues most people have to deal with in life.

The book is also about not letting our past, our struggles, failures and poor self image defeat us and impact our future. Each chapter is short, maybe 3-5 pages and contains thoughts for reflection, about 5 questions, then Jakes offers a prayer at the end of the chapter.

This was an encouraging book.  This was not a book about lamenting her past, but a book about overcoming her struggles as she identifies with some of the struggles Ruth had to endure on her journey.  As part of the journey through this book, you will also gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the book of Ruth. 

I would recommend this book for those who are struggling through various issues in life.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in order to give an unbiased review of this book.