Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Review: "If I Live"

The conclusion to Terri Blackstock's If I Run series is a game-of-cat-and-mouse race-for-the-prize - with the prize for the good guys being justice and life. Of the three books, it is the most intense as Casey, an innocent fugitive has no place left to hide and must prove her innocence before more people die.

The problem is: a corrupt police detective has people working for him everywhere. Casey doesn't know who she can trust. She only has Dylan, the private investigator hired to capture her, and an ally or two of his on her side. And Dylan is in danger of being found out, too.

I gave up trying to put this book down just a few pages in; I just had to know how the story would end. I loved Blackstock's conclusion. I also loved her author's note at the end. If you're tempted to skip it when you read this book, don't!

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book, so I could recommend it to you. Be sure you read the books of this series in order, though; their sequence does matter.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Review: "How Healing Works"

I'm sorry to say I was disappointed in this book. The author, Wayne Jonas, MD, promises "a revolutionary approach to healing and health." I'm interested in such things but did not find them in this book. Instead Jonas tells story after story after story of his patients and their responses to things he tried to do to help them. These stories seem tediously long and without a clear point - another step on this doctor's quest to find the secret to healing. When all is said and done, he concludes that people who have a positive outlook on life, loving support from family and friends, and a determination to get well have a better chance of getting and staying well than those who don't - regardless of what kind of medicine, traditional or alternative, they choose to use.

I did appreciate learning more about why the FDA is skeptical of alternative forms of medicine and why insurance companies don't usually cover it. I also appreciated his honesty about the strengths and weaknesses of both traditional and alternative treatments. The books I've read on these topics so far take one position or the other and present a clear bias. This author does not. He wants his patients (and readers) to find the healing and relief they need, he doesn't want to offer false hope, he does want to offer possibilities and encouragement.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Blogging for Books program.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: "The Push"

I asked my youngest daughter what she liked most about The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, and she said, "Everything!" She really enjoyed this book. I liked it, too. The book is a cooperative effort by real-life friends Gary and Justin Skeesuck (with drawings by Matt Waresak). Skeesuck's battle with a degenerative muscular disease has caused him to lose the use of his hands, but he colorized the images in the book using a voice-controlled computer program. I loved the soft colors he chose and the texture he gave to them.

The book tells how two boys, John and Marcus, become life-long friends when one moves in next to the other. Whenever John thinks he can't do something because he uses a wheelchair and can't use his hands, Marcus finds a way to help, so John can participate. Near the end of the book, John wonders aloud what he ever contributed to the friendship and why Marcus wanted to be his friend. Marcus's answer is inspirational and absolutely true.

Children who read this book will learn that friendship is more than just playing together nicely and that all people have something to contribute. They'll also learn how friends encourage and lift each other up. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it to my daughter, and I hope it's one she'll want to read again and again. I thank Tyndale Kids for sending me a complimentary copy. I recommend you go get this book, find a group of kids, and read it aloud to them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Book Review: "Live Fearless"

In this new book, Live Fearless, Sadie Robertson shares her most recent life lesson, so that others can learn something from her experiences too. She tells about all of the things she used to be afraid of, so afraid that she almost let fear keep her from doing some amazing and God-honoring things. She tells how God worked in her heart through His Word, her family, life experience, and great mentors to set her free from fear. She encourages her readers to learn to live fearless as well.

I love her style. She doesn't talk down to her readers. She simple explains each idea in an easy to understand way and cheers her readers on to join her in this worthwhile quest for fearlessness. She uses a few quirky, and therefore memorable, analogies to make great points. She bases everything she says on Bible Truth. She closes by inviting those who don't yet know Jesus to pray for salvation and guides those who do into the next steps they need to take in order to grow in faith. She also provides a list of Bible verses for memory that speak of choosing to live fearless.

I enjoyed reading her story and considering her ideas. Her message is relevant to every age, even though older teens and young adults are her primary audience. I'm excited to hand this book over to my daughter! Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary copy, so I could share my thoughts with you. I recommend this read.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Book Review: "The Masterpiece"

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers is my absolute favorite of hers so far. From the beautiful cover to the deeply wounded characters to the way Rivers wove back and forth from present to past to present to another past was intriguing. As she moved the storyline forward, she revealed just what we needed to know about each person involved at just the right moment in time, ultimately leading her reader to discover what every person on the planet desperately needs to know about God.

Grace and Roman are the main characters in this contemporary tale. Grace is a single mother, abused in childhood and used in her short marriage. She is struggling desperately to keep her son, when Roman, an eccentric artist with his own troubled past, offers her a job as his personal assistant. While she is determined to hold on to her faith in spite of her mistakes, Roman lives a risk-filled life with no boundaries and no regard for anyone, not even himself. Grace is tempted to quit within five minutes of taking the job, but hangs in there out of desperation to finance an independent life for herself and her child.

One element of the book I especially love is the unlikely support system of family members and friends and people determined to be friends even when shoved away that Rivers gives to her two main characters. It's a side theme, but Rivers shows how this world could be a much better place if people would learn to be there for each other, to commit to caring for the people they encounter who have needs they can meet.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers, so I could share my thoughts with you. It's one I would have told people about anyway! I highly recommend this book.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Book Review: "A Song Unheard"

Set in World War I, A Song Unheard is the story of two musicians trying to survive. The first, Willa Forsythe, is a thief for hire sent to go undercover and obtain a mysterious cypher key. Because she is a violin prodigy, able to play whatever she hears, she joins a group of refuge musicians in Wales. This is where she meets our second musician, Lukas De Wilde, famed violinist on the run from those who seek his father's work, the cypher that Willa is trying to find. Separated from his mother and sister, he is desperate to learn if they are still alive.

I love it when an author finds an interesting historical detail largely overlooked and brings it to life through fiction. This is what Roseanna M. White has done through this intriguing story, the first of hers I've read. I'm eager to go back and read the first book in this series now, A Name Unknown, the story of Willa's sister Rosemary. Fans of historical Christian fiction will enjoy this book! I thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me complimentary copy, so I could read it and share my opinion with you.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: "When God Made Light"

The illustrations in When God Made Light absolutely make the book, telling a story of their own right alongside the rhyming words. They begin with a girl working on an art project as her little sister looks on, a dog and a cat playing nearby. Soon all move outside to frolic in and explore the world around them, eventually getting a grandparent to take them out at night where they can see the moon, the stars, and fireflies - all different kinds of light.

My daughter made up stories of her own about what might happen next in each scene and was disappointed when the backyard sprinklers didn't come on to douse the pets. She enjoyed the rhyming words and tried to anticipate which would come next. She expressed confusion, though, when the author tried to relate God creating light to God placing a light inside of her. The concept was just too abstract but could become a talking point in a future reading of the book. (She was too eager to see the next picture during this reading.) Her favorite picture was the one of the owl on the very last page.

When God Made Light provides an enchanting reading experience. If your children enjoy storytime, they may enjoy this book. I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending a complimentary copy, so I could share my daughter's reactions with you.