Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Review: Face of Betrayal

Face of Betrayal is the story of three women whose jobs bring them together so that a strong friendship is born. One is a federal prosecutor, one a reporter, the third an FBI special agent. They find their paths crossing as each plays her unique role in fighting crime; they call themselves, “The Triple Threat Club.”

In Face of Betrayal, a teenage girl is missing, a senate page. Entries on the girl’s MySpace page lead Allison (the prosecutor) and Nic (the FBI agent) to suspect murder or suicide, rather than kidnapping. Because the girl is a senate page from an influential family, the case quickly becomes big news, keeping Cassidy (the reporter) busy.

At the same time, Allison’s life is threatened and Cassidy becomes involved in a complicated relationship. These story elements, along with hints about Nic’s mysterious past add drama to the book while letting us get to know the main characters.

I enjoyed reading Face of Betrayal, though it was a little bit graphic for my tastes. If you are a fan of crime dramas, you’ll like this book.

Following the story, there is a thought-provoking discussion guide—very well-done. There is also an interview with Lis Wiehl by Bill O’Reilly where we learn how her career experiences helped her to create “The Triple Threat Club” and where she promises a sequel to come soon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book Review: Do Hard Things

If you have a teenager, are a teenager, work with teenagers, know a teenager, or have a heart for building God’s Kingdom whatever your age, you must read this book. Don’t argue with me—go get it today. I’m not kidding! Go!

Alex & Brett Harris were only 16 when they founded TheRebelution.coma teenage rebellion against low expectations. This book was born of that movement and, though written for teens, is full of sage advice for adults as well. The Harris brothers took Paul seriously when he said, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” –1 Timothy 4:12. Through their web site, book, and conferences, they are encouraging others to do the same.

In the book, they start by telling their story, then move into a history of “teenagers.” Did you know they’ve only existed since the early 1800’s? They explain how teenagers came to be and some of the results society is seeing today. After that, they give examples of historical “teenagers,” then considered adults, who accomplished some amazing things. They call this first section of the book, “Rethinking the Teen Years.”

In section two, they define hard things and tell why teenagers should attempt them—to grow, to pursue excellence, to dream big, to be faithful and choose integrity, and to stand for what is right. They also explain what is needed to accomplish hard things: courage, commitment, competence, collaboration, character and so on.

Finally, they tell stories of teenagers today who have done hard things and who are planning to do hard things. They encourage the reader to make a plan to attempt his or her own hard things. In the appendix, Alex presents the Gospel for any reader who doesn’t yet know Christ.

Do Hard Things is well-researched, well-organized, and well-written. It's an easy and interesting read. It’s also a very good idea! I highly recommend it. Happy reading!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review: The Noticer

I think you could say this book is a combination novel, self-help, motivational read. It’s a fictional story about a homeless man who is helped by a mysterious stranger who claims to be a noticer. His wisdom comes from noticing what others tend to miss. The homeless man’s life is forever changed for the better, and the noticer disappears.

Years later, he returns, however, to share his wisdom with those who need it throughout the town. His insights are profound—that’s where the self-help, motivational part of the book lies. Yet the story is intriguing. The Noticer is a happy story.

I did have two concerns about the book, though. First, some of the Noticer’s wisdom comes from other books. It’s adapted just a bit to make it somewhat unique to this book, and I liked what the Noticer added to these popular concepts—he did make them even easier to understand. Yet I still felt the other authors deserved credit for their ideas.

Also, in two scenarios, the Noticer’s wisdom leads to great points, yet doesn’t really follow a logical path from point A to point B. The Noticer says if this is true, then this is true, then this is true, then this must be true, but if one thinks about it, if the first is true, the second isn’t necessarily true, although the end point is nice and in some cases may be true anyway. I won’t give specific examples and give away elements of the story. Just think carefully when you recognize this formula in the book.

In spite of these two concerns, I enjoyed the book and considered it worth my time. The Noticer is a quick, thought-provoking, inspirational read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Review: His Name Is Jesus

A beautiful hardcover book with a matching, protective slipcase, His Name Is Jesus by Max Lucado would make an ideal gift for someone not yet acquainted with his work. I am certain it would also be appreciated by someone who enjoys reading Lucado’s books, but hasn’t collected them all over time. This gift book provides a nice sampling of some of Lucado’s most profound thoughts on Jesus’ life.

His Name Is Jesus is a compilation of selections from Max Lucado’s many devotional books. Portions have been taken from the devotionals about Jesus and arranged chronologically to tell Jesus’ story through Lucado’s insightful eyes. The book is divided into six chapters: the preface, Jesus’ birth, mission, death, resurrection, and legacy. The artwork and photography greatly enhance each story and highlighted thought.

Although the preface is all that seems to be unique to this book as far as words are concerned, the arrangement, photography, and design offer a whole new, collectible work. I especially enjoyed being able to read it at Easter time. The book was a valuable tool to help guide my reflections surrounding that precious holiday and Jesus’ sacrifice for you and for me. As an introductory gift or keepsake for someone who doesn’t collect, I’d recommend this book.