Sunday, March 17, 2019

Book Review: "Finish First"

Scott Hamilton's newest book, Finish First, was great! He has filled every page with encouragement for whatever goals his readers have set. He has also used sound logic to help his readers chase every purpose-defeating lie right out of their heads, so that they can get on with the business to which they have been called or about which they dream. Hamilton's words shatter negativity and boost confidence.

I especially loved the way he defined finishing first: "To finish first is to understand what you have to offer the world and then to be the best you can be at offering exactly that. It means understanding your life purpose and putting your whole heart into being the best at what you do. It means to break through your perceived limitations, overcome the barriers that stand in your way, and make the biggest impact in the world you are capable of making" (p. 6). To me that's a goal worth striving for, and, using examples from his own life and from other people he knows, Hamiliton tells his readers how to do so.

I also appreciated his drive to keep moving forward after every victory. On page 142, he says, "Who I am today is not who I want to be. It's the foundation of who I am becoming." We don't just reach our goals and stop. We use each victory as a foundation for the next thing.

These are just a few examples of the wisdom readers will find in Finish First. I enjoyed reading it and plan to read it again. This book is one I highly recommend.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy, so I could share my thoughts about this book with you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Book Review: "Walking with Henry"

It's not really about the donkey. But Rachel Anne Ridge's second book, Walking with Henry, is her brilliant way of sharing the newest developments in her spiritual life: disciplines she has developed, lessons she has learned, trials she has endured. And as she tells the stories and shows how she came to understand the things she did, her readers get to come alongside and learn, too.

In Rachel's first book, she introduced us to Flash, her adopted donkey, and told how he came to live with her family - and the spiritual lessons she learned while getting to know him. In this second book, she tells how Henry came to join the family, too. She thought it was because Flash needed a companion, but God used Henry, the backward walking donkey, to teach her how to move forward . . . because she had an empty nest . . . because changes in the economy were making change necessary . . . after a traumatic event. The book tells what happened, how Henry helped, and what Rachel did as a result.

Rachel doesn't come right out and say, "This is what you should learn from my experiece and do as a result." She simply tells the story and what it meant to her. Yet readers will find plenty to ponder for themselves and ways to apply her insights to their own life stories as well. I enjoyed reading my complimentary eCopy of Walking with Henry courtesy of Rachel's launch team and am excited to recommend it to you! Meet Henry. Meet Flash, if you haven't already done so. Let Rachel Anne Ridge use their stories, and hers, to encourage you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Book Review: "Secrets at Cedar Cabin"

Colleen Coble's newest book, Secrets at Cedar Cabin, is the third book in her Lavender Tides series. Each of these books has had its own deeply suspensful mystery, yet the continuing story revolves around one family and its unlikely reunion. I loved how Coble worked it out!

In this book, we meet Bailey Fleming, a young woman who must run for her life when her mother is executed and an attempt is made on her own life. Having recently been given a cabin in Lavender Tides, she takes refuge there. What she doesn't know is that the cabin is being watched by the FBI because of its use by a human trafficking ring. FBI agent Lance Phoenix doesn't know whether to protect her or arrest her.

I had planned to read this book slowly over a few days, but once I started reading, I just kept going. I appreciated the way Coble brought all of the characters from her previous Lavender Tides stories into this book, putting everyone in great danger while letting their stories continue. I'm also hoping she'll give readers just a little more information about one of the characters in a future book. But I can't say more about that without spoiling this most recent release for you.

If you like Christian suspense with a hint of romance and an emphasis on family and community, I recommend this series to you. I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy, so I could share my opinion with you.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Book Review: "NIrV Seek and Explore Holy Bible"

I'm really excited about the new NIrV Seek and Explore Holy Bible and its unique approach to helping children get to know God's Word. An opening note to parents begins, "The traditional approach to learning focuses on mastering content. This book, however, is about engaging the child's whole being - heart, soul and mind (Mark 12:30). It is about discovering the Bible's message by doing and experiencing."

The editors of this Bible have identified nine different learning styles. They have created nine characters called Wayees to lead children through the Bible according to their chosen learning style. Children are encouraged to see Bible study as a treasure hunt, and instead of searching for one, big treasure at the end of the journey, they are looking for lots of hidden treasures all along their journey - through the Bible, throughout their lives.

The different sections of the Bible are edged in different colors for easy identification, so that the right-hand edge looks like a rainbow, helping kids turn quickly to wisdom literature, the gospels, prophets, and so on. Text boxes designed to look like notepads provide notes of interest relevant to specific passages. Green text boxes with pictures of Wayees provide activities kids can do according to learning styles that interest them. (I love that the book doesn't encourage parents to label their kids or limit them to just one learning style. Kids are free to do whatever activities interest them. Some may choose to follow one particular Wayee through the Bible then go through it again with another at a later date. Some may choose to read all the Wayee boxes, doing the activities that most interest them.)

Parents of younger elementary-age children may choose to use this Bible as a resource for family devotions, working through passages and activities together. Older elementary kids may enjoy exploring this Bible on their own. I thank Zondervan Kids for sending me a complimentary copy. I'm happy to recommend the NIrV Seek and Explore Holy Bible to you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Book Review: "Love Does for Kids"

Fans of Bob Goff's popular book for adults, Love Does, will be excited to learn that he and his daughter have written a children's version. I haven't yet read the grown-up version, so I can't compare. I can only tell you about the book for kids.

Love Does for Kids is a quality hardcover book with 46 stories about the Goff family that illustrate their beliefs about love in action, faith revealed in how one lives one's life. Each story ends with a comparison to something that happened in the Bible or a simple observation about God. These would make great bedtime stories and could be used to start discussions about how Christians respond to God's love by living loving lives.

My only wish is that the authors or publishers would have included some Scripture references, so families could easily look up the stories or concepts for themselves. I always appreciate ideas firmly backed by the Bible's authority.

I thank Tommy Nelson Kids for sending me a complimentary copy of this book, so I could share my thoughts about it here. I plan to share the stories with my children in the coming year.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Review: "The Gift That I Can Give"

My daughter and I both loved Kathie Lee Gifford's new children's book, The Gift That I Can Give. The pictures, done by illustrator Julia Seal, are adorable. I enjoyed the simple features and bright colors on every page. Gifford's sing-song rhyming words were easy to read aloud and carried a powerful message. The brightly colored words with chosen ones highlighted were a nice feature, too.

I appreciated how Gifford communicated that every person has a God-given gift or two or three, that some gifts are flashy and seem extra-important, but quiet gifts are significant, too. She also shows children that God will reveal their gifts as they grow up and as they grow to know Him and that His only expectation is that they use their gifts to reveal His love to others. His love is a gift that everyone receives and that everyone can give away.

I thank Tommy Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book, and I am excited to tell you about it. If you have young children, I recommend The Gift That I Can Give to your family.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Book Review: "Lady of a Thousand Treasures"

I've read a few of Sandra Byrd's book for teenage girls, but Lady of a Thousand Treasures was the first I've read that she has written for adults. I loved it! Byrd truly is a master of historical Christian fiction. She's an impressive wordsmith, too. I loved the way she sprinkled the book with unusual grouping words as a game of sorts her main character enjoyed playing in her head.

This character, Eleanor Sheffield, comes from a family of antiquities evaluators: authenticating, repairing, and finding new pieces for clients' collections. Until her father's death, the business had been run by brothers in the Sheffield family. Now Eleanor is running it with the help (and name) of her aging uncle. She finds an opportunity to make a name for herself and to earn the respect of the collecting community when a wealthy client passes away, leaving Eleanor in charge of determining the fate of his extensive collection. She is to investigate his son's motives and activities to decide whether he is worthy of inheriting the collection or if it should go straight to a museum. This son, however, just happens to be her childhood sweetheart and someone who had hinted at a proposal of marriage.

Just as Eleanor has no idea who she can or should trust, readers will be just as confused. It's a fascinating story with many unexpected changes in circumstance and characters worth getting to know.

If you enjoy great fiction in historical settings, I recommend this book to you. Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy, so I could share my thoughts with you.