Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks

Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks: Confessions of April Grace by K.D. McCrite is a really cute story for late-elementary-age girls. If you have a young daughter, I recommend this book, the second in a series, to her and to you. (I still remember loving it at that age when my mom read the books I was reading!)

April Grace is an 11-year-old girl entering her first semester of junior high. The story is set in the 80’s. (Does that make it an historical novel?! Oh, my! Can't be.) Yet April Grace, her family, and her community reminded me of the Walton’s and their little town. So picture Elizabeth in 80’s attire, and you know what April Grace is like. (She even has the red hair!)

Along with the normal challenges of junior high, April Grace must deal with unwanted house guests who take her older sister’s room forcing her sister to move into hers, her mom’s surprise and difficult pregnancy, and her placement under protest in the church’s Christmas play. Life is hard for this spunky, little girl. And she very honestly shares all of her feelings!

Yet she survives and learns many valuable life lessons along the way. Themes regarding family, community, compassion, self-esteem, forgiveness, and living out one’s faith are subtly woven throughout this fun story.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary eCopy for my honest review.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review: Wonderland Creek

A book about a girl who reads too much—who could resist?! Wonderland Creek is the story of Alice, a young woman whose teachers recommended she give up the idea of becoming a teacher and become a librarian instead. Alice related better to her books than to the people in her world. But when her fiancĂ© breaks their engagement and she loses her dream job, Alice decides its time to run and hide. Taking books collected for an impoverished community, she hitches a ride with her aunt and uncle who drop her off on the steps of Acorn’s public library, promising to pick her up within two weeks. But the creek running through Acorn isn’t named Wonderland for nothing, and Alice quickly finds herself caught up in the adventure that will forever change her life.

Alice in Wonderland, the book (I’ve never seen the movie.), was too intense for me—like the Wizard of Oz, it gave me nightmares. Wonderland Creek had the same level of intensity in some places, making me want to throw the book across the room. I kept reading, though, and in the end, decided I really liked this story. It was kind of a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Catherine Marshall’s Christy, if you can imagine such a thing. I loved most of the characters and the historical setting—the great depression, the New Deal, packhorse librarians, unionization, and the conservation corps. The ending was perfect for the story. It’s one I recommend; just be ready to hang on tight in spots when unbelievable plot twists may temporarily frustrate you.

Bethany House Publishers sent a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review: One Month to Live

One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook is a book chock full of great advice on living an abundant Christian life. It’s divided into four sections of seven or eight short chapters each: Live Passionately, Love Completely, Learn Humbly, and Leave Boldly. Each chapter contains an analogy or two from life experiences such as mountain climbing, scuba diving, and roller coaster riding. Readers are encouraged to enjoy one chapter a day for thirty days while considering how they would live their lives if they knew they only had thirty days left.

The title, One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life, almost kept me from even considering the book. I chose to read it because I'd heard good things about the authors. But the concept itself sounded guilt-inducing, pressure filled, and perfectionistic. “Don’t waste a moment. Take advantage of every opportunity, or suffer the consequences and live with regret for the rest of your life!” This book is not that. The theme is simply the package that neatly wraps up all of the Shook’s ideas and leads readers to the corresponding website for more:

What the reader will find in this book is basic and sound, practical and biblical advice on Christian living. The Shooks encourage readers to love God, to love each other, to do whatever God leads them to do, and to encourage others to do the same. If you are looking for an upbeat and uplifting 30-day-devotional on how to live the Christian life, I recommend this book.

Thank you, Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers, for sending a complimentary copy for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Review: Healing Is A Choice

Because I liked Stephen Arterburn’s book The Encounter so much, I decided to read Healing Is A Choice, too. It was different from The Encounter, as I knew it would be, but it’s definitely a worthwhile read. (The Encounter is fiction. Healing Is A Choice is psychological, self-help.) If you’ve been wounded, spiritually, socially, mentally, even physically, and still feel pain, this book offers sound and biblical advice to you.

I especially liked the format. Arterburn gives ten choices one must make in order for healing to occur. Following his explanation of each choice is a cultural lie that often keeps people from finding the courage to make the necessary healing choice. Arterburn clearly (and from a psychological and biblical perspective) shows why each lie is a lie. Finally, following the lie, are the corresponding workbook pages to the text. These give added clarity to Arterburn’s points and provide questions for the reader to work through, whether alone or with a small support group.

Throughout the book, Arterburn shares stories from his own life, lessons he learned while recovering from an unexpected and unwelcome divorce. He tells with great honesty of the lessons he learned about himself and changes he chose to make in order to avoid repeating mistakes in his second marriage. If he hadn’t chosen to heal and to grow and change, he might have run into the similar problems in his second marriage as he did in his first. But the book isn’t about recovering from divorce. This is the author’s personal application. The principles within the book can be applied to so many other life situations that cause pain. (Arterburn includes other people's life stories to show how this is true.)

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for giving me an eCopy of this book in exchange for my honest review. If you are healing or long to, or if you minister to those who need healing, I recommend this book to you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review: Wait No More

I loved the true story in the book, Wait No More. This is the story of how Team Rosati came to be. When John and Kelly Rosati were ready to start a family, they followed God’s leading and chose to adopt through the foster care system. They adopted once, then felt led to adopt again. They thought that was all, but God eventually brought two more children into their family. How it happened is amazing. I was blessed by the story.

Kelly tells the story in her voice, event by event. She tells of the great blessing, painful heartaches, daunting challenges, and driving love. She tells how God prepared and worked in their hearts and why they chose to obey each time. She tells a bit about how the system works and its pros and cons. Mostly, it’s a story of praise and thanksgiving as God creates a new family.

In the end, Kelly tells about the ministry they’ve become involved in through Focus on the Family, Wait No More. Through this ministry, Focus on the Family is encouraging families all over America to consider adopting foster kids and helping them to do so. To learn more, read the book, Wait No More.

I thank Tyndale House Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.