Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Book Review: "Indescribable"

Indescribable by Louie Giglio is one of my favorite kinds of devotional books. Pastor Louie, as he identifies himself to his readers, has developed 100 devotionals based on facts and observations from God's created world. He is letting the creation testify about the Creator, helping readers grow in faith and in knowledge of their wonderful God.

Pastor Louie identifies four scientific categories for his devotionals: space, earth, animals, and people. Kids and their parents can choose to read straight through the book or focus on one category at a time using the index on page 7.

As with most traditional devotionals, each starts with a Bible verse which is followed by information about something found in God's creation. Pastor Louie helps readers understand what this information can teach readers about God and His ways. He concludes with a short prayer. In addition, prayers are followed by a section called Be Amazed which teaches kids something new of interest about the topic of the devotional. Each devotional also has a full-color photograph or cartoon drawing for added fun.

I especially recommend this book to parents looking for a daily devotional they can read with their children before bedtime or at some other regular time of day. Tommy Nelson sent me a complimentary copy, so that I could share my thoughts with you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review: "God Gave Us Family"

I will enjoy reading this new book by Lisa Tawn Bergren to my children. It begins as a conversation between a wolf pup and his parents. The pup wants to know why some families are big and some are little. As the discussion continues, the pup's parents talk about adoption, single parent families, children raised by their grandparents, and extended families. They even touch on how some families do things differently than others. The point: when parents are caring for children that's a family. My favorite lines from the book: "Because we're family , we figure out how to get along. We need to love the family God gave us."

About two-thirds of the way through the book, Bergren changes it from a discussion between the wolf pup and his parents to a narrative of the wolf pup enjoying time with his cousins. I found this a little bit jarring and wondered if Bergren just ran out of topics for the wolf family to discuss. Bergren ended with the wolf pup being thankful for the family God gave him.

My favorite part of the book, the part I think my children will like best as well, is the sweet artwork by David Hohn. It goes perfectly with Bergren's words. I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book, so I could share my thoughts about it with you.

Book Review: "The Delusion"

While I enjoyed reading The Delusion by Laura Gallier, give it a five-star rating, and look forward to reading the next book in the series, I have to caution parents to read it before giving it to their kids and to use discretion based on their child's maturity and sensitivity. The book carries a strong Christian message, but it is also a work of horror. And most of the teenagers portrayed in the book are not Christians, therefore their actions are true to those of kids who don't understand what living for Jesus means. This is essential to the plot and message of the book, but not all kids can understand this and some parents don't want their kids exposed to it even in a book with a Christian message.

That said, Gallier presents her readers with an intriguing story about a boy who is given the ability to see the unseen. His eyes are opened to the spiritual forces, both good and evil, at work in our world. He is horrified to see what happens when his friends make dark choices. He is confused when forces of light don't intervene. He is determined to help, to rescue the people he loves, but can't figure out how. To make matters worse, no one will believe what he's saying; they won't see their need for help.

The Delusion is intense, but it's message is brilliant. It's one I'll share with my older children. It's one I recommend. I thank Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy, so I could share my thoughts with you.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review: "Fierce Hearted"

I have found all of Holley Gerth's books to be fun and encouraging, but Fierce Hearted is without a doubt my favorite yet. Throughout the forty short chapters of Fierce Hearted, Holley brings readers along on her personal journey to discover what a fierce-hearted woman is and how to become one herself. In the introduction, she tells readers that she tried not to write the book, yet she shares her stories, so her readers will realize they aren't the only ones going through whatever it is they are going through. She writes, "I want all of us to feel less alone and more comfortable in our God-sewn skin and a little surer that we are a force to be reckoned with in this world." I'm pretty certain we all want that!

Each chapter begins with a quote, most from current female writers of the same genre as Holley writes Fierce Hearted in. Many end with a resolution of some sort, printed in decorative type. Chapters are only three to five chapters long, so this makes a great purse book for reading during unexpected waiting times or for often-needed, middle of the day, encouragement breaks. Holley's page-long definition of a fierce-hearted woman, printed at the beginning and end of the book is worthy of a wall-hanging!

I thank Revell for sending me a complimentary copy of this book. I've enjoyed reading it and am happy to recommend it to you.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review: "The Alphabet of Grief"

The concept of this book is so simple, it's brilliant. Knowing that people who are grieving, even the most voracious of readers, may find it difficult to process more than a few pages at a time, Chaplain and Spiritual Counselor Andrea Raynor has provided 26 reflections about navigating one's way through grief, each focusing on one word that starts with a different letter of the alphabet.

The concept is simple, but her reflections are both comforting and profound. Both those who are grieving and those who want to understand those who are grieving in order to offer help that will actually be helpful will appreciate Raynor's insights. Each reflections begins with a relevant quote from someone well-known and ends with a meditation and an affirmation, giving the reader one solid point to hang on to. Insights are explored through Raynor's personal experiences and those of her family and others who are close to her. She also refers to Scripture and presents the Christian point of view on life, death, and the afterlife, while recognizing that not everyone who reads the book may share her beliefs. In other words, she doesn't apologize for her beliefs, but she respects those who do not share them. Her goal is to offer help in time of sorrow to anyone who is grieving.

I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book. I found it full of wisdom and truth. I'm happy to recommend it to you.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: "The Proving"

The Proving is one of Beverly Lewis's sweetest books yet. It's the story of a young woman who ran away from everyone she knew and loved rather than face and deal with painful circumstances. When this woman, Amanda Dienner, learns that her mother has died and left her an Amish bed-and-breakfast to run, she feels confused and unworthy. But she just happens to need a job. The one condition to her inheritance is that she must successfully run the business for one year. Mandy decides she'll do this and starts counting the days until she can sell her inheritance and leave again for good.

But returning means facing her family and her people. It also means making new friends of new and recurring guests and of the newcomer and his son whose help on the property she somehow inherited with the inn.

Through this imaginative story, Lewis has found a interesting way to present ideas about grief, forgiveness, relationships, sacrifice, and generally overcoming one's stuff. I enjoyed the read and am sure it's lessons will stick with me. Fans of Amish fiction will like this book as well. Bethany House sent me a complimentary copy; I read it because I wanted to and in order to share my thoughts with you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: "I'm Not a Scaredy-Cat"

I'm Not a Scaredy-Cat: A Prayer for When You Wish You Were Brave is the newest children's book by Max Lucado. Inside Lucado introduces children to a spunky cat who likes to brag about how brave he is - except when he is not.

In actuality, this cat is pretty much afraid of everything. He lists several things he is afraid of, then recites the prayer he uses to help himself feel better, lists more fears, recites the prayer again, and so on. After each recitation of the prayer, the cat says to the reader, "And then you'll feel better."

If it weren't for those five words following every recitation of the prayer, I probably would have loved the book. But those words made the prayer feel to me like a magical feel-good formula instead of a sincere conversation with God. Lucado is absolutely right: when I am afraid, I feel better when I tell God what I am afraid of, and then affirm my confidence in His Presence, His goodness, and His love. I want my children to learn that they can do this, too. But I want them to place their confidence in God Himself, not in a few magic feel-better words.

The illustrations are darling, and I love the idea of teaching children to turn to God when they are afraid. For very young children being raised in relatively safe environments, this book is a fun read. Perhaps parents can use it as an introduction and begin to build from there. Kids who have experienced real trauma may be confused by this read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tommy Nelson Publishers, so I could share my thoughts about it with you.