Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Captivating, But . . .

The premise for this book, I HUNT KILLERS, is eerie, but can be fascinating if you're into delving into the minds of authors and characters in books.  The premise for this book was a boy's father is a famous serial killer who has been captured and is in prison.  The book follows a period in the life of the son as he attempts to figure out who he is supposed to be.
I felt the author, Barry Lyga, did an excellent job developing the main characters, the son, Jazz and his friend Howie.  The book takes a number of twists and turns and we seem to be waiting for Jazz to explode and be more like his father, yet he reminds himself over and over again that "people matter."  This helps him overcome the demons which are raging within him.

I felt at times there were gruesome details added for effect and actually took away from the book.  I could have done with less gore for effect and more into the minds of the characters.  

In addition, from what I have read, this book is recommended for YA readers.  I do not believe this is appropriate for teens to read.  This is not a book for under high school, and even then I believe this book should be an adult book, not for teens.

I received this book through, and the publisher "Little, Brown Books for Young Readers."

Books! Books! And More Books!

For those who read my blog, I want you to know that I am trying to read books which are not just Christian books.  I'm trying to get a wider perspective of what the world is reading, not just what I want to read.

With that being said, most of the books I read I receive at no charge, as long as I give an honest review.  So, you may be seeing more reviews of books which you would not ever consider and I fully understand that and appreciate that.  Yet, in order to better understand the world around us, I'm trying to be selective about what I read (no porn), etc. in what I read, but I still need to know what the general world is reading and learn why.

Hopefully this helps me to improve in my ability to communicate the message of Christ to the world who desperately needs to hear and experience the love of Jesus!

Thanks for being part of this blog.  I hope you find it helpful!


Pastor Michael

Monday, July 28, 2014

Powerful Book

In her book, Let Me Be Clear: Barack Obama's War on Millennials.  And one woman's case for hope, Katie Kieffer has written a hard hitting book about her disappointment with President Obama and her belief that he lied to the very generation who helped elect him as our president.

Kieffer looks at the way Obama was elected president, and focuses on his words, "Let me be clear" which he used during his campaign, as her title.  She then looks at the different policies and their impact upon the millennials ~ 

  • Economy
  • Health care
  • Education
  • Housing crisis
  • Family systems 
  • Military
  • Foreign policy 
  • Gun control
She ends the book with a look at the best solutions and how to move forward.  I appreciated the fact that Kieffer did point out many faults and shortcomings of her generation, the millennials.  She took them to task on the ways they've overlooked many of President Obama's lies. 

I read this book because I wanted it to stretch me in my understandings of politics and how President Obama has manipulated the people.  Yet, at the same time, I read with a certain degree of skepticism, but appreciated the many references and notes Kieffer includes in the book.

This was an enlightening book and I recommend it.

"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

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

Excellent and Practical Book!

In her newest Sticky Faith book, The title is The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Kids, Kara Powell has hit another home run.  This is an excellent book, with great practical suggestions. 

The author has realized we are losing a young generation of Christians as they become older.  What's the solution?  Kara Powell believes it is helping our children gain a greater "practical" understanding and usage of their faith.  That all starts with parenting and planning how we can help our children grow in Christ.

There is some theory, but mostly there are many, over 100 ideas for helping our children grow into the people Christ calls them to be.  Their premise is that we make plans for so much of life, but we leave out the plans to help our children hold onto their faith through all of life. 

Topics of chapters touch on
  • Forgiveness
  • Mistakes
  • Family Relationships
  • Communication
  • Vacations
  • Senior Citizens
  • Servanthood, 
  • and more.
If you are wanting to read something which has tons of practical ideas which don't take hours to prepare, but will help you and your child connect better and at the same time help them to become more Christ centered, then this is a great book to read.

I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A New Understanding to Prayer

This book was very refreshing!  So many times we pray with the expectation that God will hear our prayers and God will be the one who has been moved to action.  In his book, Wasted Prayer: Know When God Wants You to Stop Praying and Start Doing, Greg Darley reminds us that often times the opposite must occur. 

We are one's who are called to take action.  Yet, too often we feel paralyzed because we are waiting and wanting God to act, rather then trusting in God and taking action ourselves.

Darley takes the reader on a journey reminding us we need to overcome our procrastination and sense of paralysis and follow God's call in our lives. 

In many respects we use prayer as a means not to act.  Yet, God is calling us to take action.  We are called to break what he calls the "Religious Cycle" and enter the "Discipleship Cycle."  As we become more active following Christ, we will also find ourselves drawing closer in our relationship with Christ.

This is an easy to read book, with chapters averaging about 10 pages.  The entire book is just under  200 pages.  I would highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Raunchy and Funny!

In her book, based on her blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Jen Mann has written a raunchy (swearing), yet hilarious book.  If you can get by her language, you will definitely identify with her. 

She has a knack for finding herself in difficult situations with difficult people and the results are often crazy, but you're left shaking your head in disbelief wondering if she made up the story. As I read this book, I found myself laughing outloud at some of the situations and end results from her encounters with other people, especially as it came to bowling and her daughter's hopeful play date.

Jen doesn't take herself too seriously, yet, at the same time she's dead serious.  She understands life, even though she would be the first to admit she has no clue.

She writes about her marriage, her marriage day, the kids, the daily events she encounters and the people who are in the middle of her life who seem to cause the stress in Jen's world. 

Again, while the language is right out there, the reader will certainly identify with her life and situations.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Division for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Interesting Premise, But I Disagree!

Yes, blog readers, your pastor read this book.  Occasionally, we need to read books which stretch us and even ones we know we are not necessarily going to agree with. 

I was hesitant to review this book because I do not believe the Bible says Yes to same sex marriage.  However, I wanted to read The Bible's YES to Same-Sex Marriage, by Mark Achtmeier.  The book because it would force me to think critically about what the author was trying to state.  I was intrigued by what Mark Achtemeier states, yet was very disappointed in his arguments for same sex marriage. 

I felt he was stretching for answers that were not present.  It was basically, if the Bible does not say, no, then the answer is yes, and even if the Bible does say no, we’ll find a reason to say yes.  I was disappointed even in his thoughts on premarital sex.  He speaks of “treating virginity as an arbitrary rule” and later states, “Treating Biblical sexual regulations as arbitrary expressions of divine authority also imbues them with a kind of radioactive aura that can do enormous spiritual damage to those who, even once, yield to temptation and fall short.”  In other words, give in to temptation so you don’t have to feel bad about the guilt of sin.  I totally disagree.

He also attempted to argue from the fact that there are rules and God needs to explain the rules to help us know why we can’t do something.  Yet, according to Achtmeier’s logic, adultery is acceptable since it is not a crime.  God does not need to explain why something is wrong, because God is the authority. 

He attempts to use logic by comparing answers with ice cream and cars.  He seems way off base on this. 

He attempts to explain the scriptures which spoke directly to homosexuality referring to these passages as fragments.  Again, with that type of logic, the Bible is filled with fragments and their interpretations would be scattered all over.  Furthermore, to say that they are contextual also takes away the Word and its authority to speak in our lives. 

At the same time, we often use fragments to our advantage if we can.  So, he is not totally off base, yet to use that as an argument for same sex marriage does not work.  Nor to say that as one of his chapter titles indicate, “Gay People have an Honored Place in God’s Heart” is almost an insult to gay people.  It’s like saying, “hey, I know some gay people and they’re nice.” 

He uses a number of examples in the first part of the book and while I can sympathize with the situations he describes and the people in their difficult situations, I still have to live according to the Word of God, which tells me this is sin.  Finally, in his conclusion, Achtemeier states, “I find that the biblical case in support of gay marriage is overwhelming.”  Overwhelming?  I think not. 

I appreciate the opportunity to read this book.  While I don’t agree with his theology, this was a great opportunity to read and grow in my own beliefs. 

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pursuing Justice? Yes!

In his book, Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things, Ken Wytsma has written a very important book.  So many of us are living our lives with one thought in mind, our personal pleasure.  We do that at the expense of those who are desperately in need of justice.  Not criminal justice, but justice according to the Word of God.  People who have been 'left behind.'

Wytsma paints a picture of what justice looks like, arguing from a theological standpoint of its importance.  He tells stories, uses history, theology and art to help the reader gain a better understanding of what justice is, according to God.  He starts by relating the stories of his grandparents and his parents and finally how God changed him and he met justice.

While the book looks a little intimidating . . . it is not!  I was struck at the ease of reading the chapters, the stories and illustrations, the humor, the self-revelations helped the book to move at a crisp pace.  I also felt that Wytsma was not preaching at me.  He was using passion to help me see the passion and need for justice in our world. 

In the end, he helps us to see that justice is a very real part of our theology and religion.  This is not a how to book, with a list of steps you need to follow so that you can feel better about yourself.  Instead, I believe Wytsma wants the reader to be moved so that they take action, whatever and wherever that may occur and look like. 

For those who want to learn more about a Christ-centered approach to gaining a better understanding of justice, I would highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book of Great USA Facts and Stories

Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll is an imposing book by it’s size, but is a great read!  Carroll uncovers places in the United States which are obscure, yet have important cultural and historical significance.  His writing style easily draws the reader into the book and his adventures.  He did a great deal of research on the various places he traveled to and helps the reader to see places that even those who lived in those locations were unaware of.

There’s a sense of history and adventure; intrigue and mystery woven into most of the stories.  The stories range from inventions to deaths to body snatching and our first venture into World War 2 in an obscure Hawaiian Island I never even heart of.   For anyone who enjoys reading about history, especially forgotten USA history, this is a fun book to have sitting on your coffee table.

I would have really enjoyed pictures of the many places he went to which would have helped make the book even more alive.  Of course that would have added pages, but it would be worth it.

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

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

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

YES! Be Rebellious!

In her book, Be Rebellious: Fight Back Against a Culture that Doesn’t Care About You, Megan Clinton has written an outstanding book for young women.  I have told numerous parents about this book and the need for parents with girls to read this.  Megan Clinton is right on with her appraisal of the worlds expectations for girls. 

As a result, we don’t become the very people God created us to be.  As a father of two boys I was intrigued and wanted to read this book, as my sons have many friends who are girls.  I see the struggles and the way they are seduced by society to be who they are not.  They have bought into the lies that you have to have certain looks, clothes, shoes, be revealing, speak a certain way to be “liked.” 

Megan’s call is for this generation of young women to Be Rebellious.  They should not buy into the cultural expectations.  She gives many examples, some personal, some from friends and acquaintances to help the reader understand her points. 

She also makes the book practical and understandable.  It’s not about beating you up over your mistakes, but in becoming the woman God called you to be.  This is not a book which beats up the reader.  This is an encouraging read.  It’s one I would recommend for every parent of a prepubescent girl to read and even for churches who want to minister to this age in youth groups!

You can read more about Be Rebellious through their own website, HERE

I received this book for free through and Worthy Publishing in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Fast Moving

This is the first book I have read from Marcia Clark.  The Competition is a unique title for the book, but it was based on a competition about who could be the most outrageous criminal.  The book brings you in right from the beginning.  There were no breaks, no time to get bored.  The book moves at a fast pace with many twists and turns. 

The book is based on boys who want to copycat Columbine and other shooting disasters.  Marcia Clark takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of L.A. County's Special Trials Prosecutor Rachel Knight and Detective Bailey Keller.

As they appear to close in, there seems to always be a twist.  By the end of the book, you could sense another twist coming.  Some of what I expected did not occur and some did.

A reminder that this is the same Marcia Clark, who was the former prosecutor who led the team in the O.J Simpson trial.  I wondered about how many prosecutors travel with the detective, but that didn’t take away from the book.  It was very engaging.

There were unexpected twists and developments and what I appreciated was the opportunity to look into the workings of a case like this, and the minds of those who seek to commit the crimes.  The use of two psychologists who discussed the criminals and what to expect from them was also interesting.

The end of the book brought us back towards the beginning with comments about another case which remains open and will lead you to book number 5, next summer. 

I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review.

Fun Kids Devotional

God Gave Us the Bible: 45 Favorite Stories for Little Ones is a very well done, hardcover introductory Bible for parents to read with thei...