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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Voice of Conservative Women

In her debut book, Roar: The New Conservative Woman Speaks Out, Scottie Nell Hughes has written a very good book, as she attempts to explain why conservative women need to make their voices heard.  Her desire is to encourage conservative women to speak out, to make their voices heard as they don't back away from fighting against those who are liberal.

You are either going to like or dislike her style.  She is an in your face writer.  She makes no apologies for her style of writing or her passion on the subject.  She believes she is correct and is not afraid to let the reader know that.  You might say she is very opinionated, but she bases much of what she says on facts, yet there are many opinions she offers about women and their role in the home, including appearance and how they should act.

She believes the conservative party is hurt by the passive nature of the women who support conservative politics.  Her goal is a call to the women who support conservative politics to stand up for what they believe in and to start making a difference.  She believes these women have influence, but don't believe it, yet they should know it because of what the liberal women have accomplished.

Overall, this is a very good book.  One which many conservative women will appreciate.

I received this from Worthy Publishing in exchange for this review.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Excellent and Easy Read!

I have always enjoyed reading books and listening to John Eldredge.  John and his son, Sam, have cowritten a book entitled, Killing Lions: A Guide Through the Trials Young Men Face.  Once again, John does not disappoint me in what he has to say in this book.

This book is a conversation between father and son, as Sam begins his journey after college and into marriage.  The reader gets an inside glimpse at some of the personal conversations father and son have.  As always, John is very open with many of his answers to Sam's questions and concerns. 

John has always been an advocate that boys need to be boys and men be men.  I believe John is correct with this belief.  Yet, it should all be with respect for all people.  The title comes from a story that an African man had to kill a lion in order to be viewed as a leader and a hero in his community.  For many men, this is symbolic as they must conquer their fears and insecurities as they move into the world and face a warfare they never knew existed.

In the back of the book are a few various prayers.  Overall, this is an excellent book, which is also easy to read, filled with powerful insights.

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.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Good Bible, But . . .

I was really torn about how to rate this Bible, the NIV First Century Study Bible.  As one who loves history, I relished the opportunity to gain additional nuggets of information that helps form the entire picture of the Bible.  This adds to the richness of God's Word.  I believe this was accomplished through short articles and small pictures describing scripture.

The Study Notes and Word Studies were good aids as well.  There were Study Helps in the back of the Bible, including 15 maps, a nice concordance, a glossary and more.  There were articles within the scripture and a feature called "Day in the Life" which gave nice information.

Overall, there are a great many helps.  What I didn't like was the newer NIV.  I still like the 1984 NIV as the best version.  I could live with this version though.

One additional area I did not like was some of the editorial comments that are made within the Study Notes.  In Genesis 4:1, Kent Dobson alludes to the fact that even though the Bible says Adam and Eve made love, and had Abel; "ancient interpreters believed Eve slept with a serpent of a fallen angels."  He does not attempt to refute, but leaves it hanging as a possible reality.  I would hope Dobson is not giving credence to this interpretation.

That is one example which can disturb the mature Christian, but also lead the newer Christ follower to question what is true according the Word.  I am sure there are other instances, but did not read the entire Bible. 

The Bible font is good and readable with many aids, but because of the comments made in the Study Guide I question whether this Bible should be given more than 3 stars.  I would state, be careful with what you accept others to say as the truth, since there is only One source of truth.

For more information, check out http://www.zondervan.com/niv-first-century-study-bible.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLookBloggers®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Must Read!!

This was an incredibly powerful book.  It was one I didn't read all at once.  I read this book in small chunks, as Eugene Cho had so much which was so profound to write about.  In his book, Overrated, Cho asked the question, "Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?" 

What a great question he asks.  It gets right to the heart of the matter. 

Cho does not pull any punches.  This book is not for the weak of mind and spirit.  He wants us to care about social justice, and do something about it, not just throw in a few coins and feel good about ourselves.  he wants us to stop talking about changing the world, and actually become the change we want to see.

Cho writes from his heart and experience.  You will certainly be challenged by this book and should never be the same person again.  I would highly recommend this book for individuals and for group study.

I received this book from David C. Cook Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Mind Blowing Puzzles!


This was an amazing book, and as amazing as it was, it was just as frustrating.  The book, Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind is a new book from Marbles: The Brain Store of fun, unusual puzzles that are mind altering.  The book is divided up into 5 sections of puzzles with 5 levels of difficulty in each section ~

visual perception
word skills
critical thinking
coordination
memory.

These puzzles will definitely test you and stretch your mind and most likely your frustration level.  If you enjoy challenging puzzles, or no someone who does, then this book is a must purchase.

I did appreciate the fact that there were answers in the back of the book, which helped when I was struggling, and I struggled a lot.  This was great brain food, but my brain overate and at times was hurting.

Overall, this is a fun and challenging book for the puzzle lover!!

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

Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Amazing Story of Transformation

I was not sure what to expect when I requested this book.  But this was an amazing story.  Son of Hamas is the story of one man’s journey from a fierce hate to a love for all of humanity.   This was a book which, once you start reading, you won’t want to put down.  The author includes a great many points regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which was interesting, and was part history lesson and part of the story as well.

For the writer, Mossab, his heart was transformed by the Bible.  This is a story about repentance and renewal in a man’s life.  As a result of his life being changed, other lives have been changed and saved as well.  It had to take great courage for Mossab to write this book, and speak against the culture and ethos he was raised in. 

This is an excellent book!  I highly recommend it for all who want to read about the Israel / Palestine conflict and some of the inner workings of it, along with it being a very personal story about a man’s journey to finding true life.

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

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Excellent Book about Faith and Football

I really enjoyed reading Kirk Cousins book, Game Changer: Faith, Football and Finding Your Way.  This was an enjoyable book about a young man with a great deal of class and character.  It's a book I will have my sons read so they can understand the journey some take in life to make it where they've dreamed of.

You can sense the humility in Kirk's writing.  This was a personal book and because of that I was able to know Kirk better.  This was a story about his faith leading him on his journey even in picking a college.  I was sad he didn't choose my college, but he prayed for God's peace.  That's so great to hear from a high school senior. 

He told great stories, of faith and football and told them in a way which helped the reader identify with him.  Overall, this was an excellent, easy to read and hard to put down book.

I would recommend it for all young men and their dads to read together.  Kirk also includes a transcript of a speech he gave at the Big 10 Banquet his senior year.  I have included a link to that speech as well.  Click on the link below.



 Kirk Cousins speech at the Big 10 Banquet




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.

Be Weary No More

In her book, Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the bondage of to-do lists, steps and bad advice, Elyse Fitzpatrick has written an easy to read, relaxing and refreshing book about the absurd expectations women are expected to meet.

As a man, I thought it would be interesting to read this book to better understand what the world demands, and Christians demand of women.  I found this book enlightening and entertaining.  Fitzpatrick was able to weave stories into her themes which were humorous, but have a significant point.

Within each chapter she has shaded areas called "Bad Advice Women Receive" and a section "The Good News."  There are other highlighted areas and questions at the end of every chapter to help the reader reflect on their journey. 

This book would be a good book study for a women's group or for a woman to read this individually.  This book should help free women from some of the grandiose expectations that have been placed before them.

The author asked us to post the following ~



I have a daughter, two daughters-in-law,and two granddaughters, and if there is anything I want them to know, it is this:

There is good news for you. You don’t need to learn secret steps, try harder and harder, wear yourself out in
an attempt to be beautiful, snag Mr. Perfect, or raise perfect children. You are already welcomed, loved,
forgiven, and completely okay. You can laugh and rest and resist all the ways the world lies to you and tells
you you’re not good enough. And you can love God because He has already loved you. You can be free to
fail, to rest, to love, to be weak, to grow, and to know that everything is already given to you in Him.

I know that women (and men) have been overwhelmed by to-do lists, steps, and bad advice since the beginning of time. Even five hundred years ago, Martin Luther didn’t need to read his Facebook friends’ posts about their having fun without him to realize that there was something wanting in his life. He was aware of his inability to obey God’s law from the heart, and he knew he didn’t have his own self-approval, let alone God’s. But I do think there is something a little more desperate, more frenetic about our present wilderness.
There are so many messages being broadcast at us from every direction about “How to be perfect in 149 simple steps” or “How your life will become a self-inflicted Armageddon if you don’t follow these rules.”
As a woman who loves Christ, the gospel, her family, her church, and her country, I’m standing up to scream, “Stop this madness! Be done with the fluff, the bricks, and the despair-breeding, anxiety-multiplying self-righteousness!  

It’s time to trust in Christ—and Christ alone! He has already done it all. Everything you need has already been given to you.” Or in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:1011).

Instead of freeing me to love and serve Christ and my family, all this “good advice” loaded me down with guilt and shame over my ongoing sin and piled on more and more wearisome rules. The very thing I was taking as an antidote for my failure was making me more and more ill. Instead of finding freedom, I was a slave to self-justification.  And judging from what I’ve heard from other women, I don’t think I’m the only one who has ingested this poisonous brew.

The problem comes when women (and men) haven’t learned how to differentiate between law and gospel—when we don’t understand how the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign is meant to impact us. When we don’t see the connection between the righteous life Jesus lived and our standing before a holy God, we are setting ourselves up for bondage. Many women don’t understand
the freedom that has been purchased for us, and we often get tangled up in legalism or moralism. We don’t know what it would look like for obedience to be motivated by gratitude.

I believe there are specific instructions in Scripture regarding gender roles, including those in Genesis 2–3, Proverbs 31, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3. I believe that these truths remain valid for today and that we ignore them to our great harm. But I also believe that much of what has been dished out to women under the guise of “biblical gender roles” has failed us in at least two ways. It has gone way beyond Scripture’s bounds, while at the same time closing off much of the Bible’s message of comfort and hope. In
these ways, much of this teaching resembles Jesus’ description of the Pharisees’, for it gathers unnecessarily heavy burdens and lays them on women’s shoulders (see Matthew 23:4).  Meanwhile, those who teach these things effectively “shut the kingdom of heaven in [their] faces” (verse 13).

When we define gender roles too narrowly, overemphasizing a limited number of texts while completely ignoring the breadth of Scripture— when we try to make Scripture say more than it actually does or tell any segment of people that only certain parts of the Scripture concern them (whether we intentionally communicate this message or not)— we do so to the detriment of women and men, and to the detriment of the church and its mission in the world.

and soul crushing to tell a woman that the only worthwhile activity she can do is to birth children and serve a husband and a family. This mind-set also creates an idol out of the family structure, making success as a homemaker/mother the most important vocation in a woman’s life. And although this is a high calling, it should not trump our first and foremost calling: to believe in Christ.

In response to the evils of radical feminism, which shamed women who didn’t work outside the home, the radical femininity movement has shamed Christian women who work outside the home (for a variety of reasons) or who are not married or who have been divorced. Many Christian women have been taught that motherhood is not only their highest calling but also that it is the only calling they should aspire
to. It seems a little like the drunk man who falls off his horse on one side and climbs back into the saddle, only to fall off on the other.

Taken from Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick copyright © 2014. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.


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