Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: Not This Time

Not This Time is the third and final book in the Crossroads Crisis Series by Vicki Hinze. This installment focuses on Beth’s story, but also tells Sara’s. It’s full of familiar characters who continue to face peril in Seagrove Village, Florida.

The book opens with Detective Jeff Myers walking in late to a wedding only to find everyone unconscious on the floor. The plastic groom has been ripped away from the bride on the cake topper. Soon after, it becomes clear that one of the guest’s husband has been kidnapped for ransom. But whether this is a simple abduction for money or part of a much more complicated terrorist plot to obtain something else entirely will have everyone speculating for quite some time.

This speculation took up much of the book, which made it feel slow for a time. Once speculation began to yield to solid answers, however, the pace picked up. The endings for Beth and for Sara and for all the familiar women of the Crossroads Crisis Center were just as they needed to be. I was thankful for the opportunity to read all three of these stories in their unique setting.

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers sent a complimentary copy of Not This Time for my honest review. You can read my reviews of the first two books in the series by clicking here or here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Review: Heart Echoes

Teal has a long-kept secret. The people closest to her know she’s keeping this secret, but they’re okay with that. Until a California earthquake reveals her teenage daughter’s secret. Suddenly Teal’s secret begs to be told, leaving Teal desperate to keep the truth from being revealed.

I could hardly put this book down!

A conversation between Teal and her half-sister, Lacey, seemed especially profound to me. During this conversation, Lacey told Teal to:
Just act like God adores you, no matter how awful you think you are, and after a while, it will become your first thought every day. It will be what echoes in your heart instead of those lies from the hurts. (p. 238)
She continued:
There’s so much more to this relationship with the holy Father. I mean, God is absolutely crazy about us. He can’t stop thinking about us. He’s always watching over us, waiting for us to notice Him so He can show us what new gift He’s got in His hand. (p. 239)
I love that!

Heart Echoes helps readers understand they don’t have to prove their worth to God because He already loves and accepts them. It also shows that they don’t have to prove their worth to others because we’re all messed up in some way. God offers grace and teaches us to pass it on freely to the people He’s placed in our lives.

I’m happy to recommend this book to you and thank Tyndale House Publishers for sending a complimentary copy for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Review: From Blah to Awe

If you are looking for an inspirational book for a teenage girl, I recommend From Blah to Awe: Shaking Up a Boring Faith by Jenna Lucado Bishop. And, though it's written for teenagers, I have no problem recommending it for older young women, too. Bishop is a capable mentor for young women who long to grow deep faith.

In this book, Bishop answers the questions, “Why do I get bored with God?” and “Does God care if I am bored with Him?” She writes as if she is speaking directly to the reader, sharing the stories of other young women, her own experiences, and solid Bible truth. After introducing each topic, she moves into a section of the chapter called “Going Deeper.” She then sums everything up by answering the questions, “Why do we get bored with God?” (where she presents the reason from that particular chapter) and “Knowing this, how do we get unbored with God?” (where she presents the chapter specific answer). In the second part of the book, the summary questions are “Does God care if we are bored with Him?” and “Knowing this, how do we get unbored with God?” Scattered throughout the book are questions for the reader to reflect on and journal space for her answers.

I think Part 1 of the book can be summarized in a quote from Chapter 5:
“To have a zealous faith, we have to want it, choose it, and then have the discipline to maintain it.”
In a gentle, fun, and encouraging way, Bishop shows her readers how this is done. Then she moves into Part 2 where she helps readers understand that God loves them and wants an intimate relationship with them. Living a life that glorifies His name is far from boring when we know and walk with our loving Creator God.

Thank you, Thomas Nelson Publishers, for sending a complimentary eCopy of this book for my honest review.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review: Straight to the Heart of Moses

I had mixed feelings—mostly good—about Phil Moore’s book, Straight to the Heart of Moses. This book is part of the Straight to the Heart series. Each book in the series, as I understand it, gives the reader 60 Bite-Sized Insights into the portion of the Bible that is the topic of the book. In this case, Moore is giving us 60 insights into Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Some of Moore’s insights are amazing. He really made me think and helped me see Moses’ story—and others—in fresh ways. I loved that!

I also like the way he connected what was going on with the Israelites to the New Testament. He showed how different events in this chronicle corresponded to or were parallel with the Gospel of Jesus. In other words, Moore compared God’s work in saving the Israelites with Jesus’ work to save each of us.

Each insight is about four pages long. I’m thinking this is why they’re called bite-sized. However, many of these are tough meat, chewy bites that require much work to digest. I liked that, but it wasn’t what I expected when I read bite-sized. (I was probably thinking M & M's.)

My only frustration with this came when Moore would attempt to tackle an especially big point in those four pages. Rather than explain in full, he’d offer footnotes with minor clarifications or Scripture for further reference. I’d follow these in an attempt to understand, but sometimes I wished Moore would have simply written more. I could tell he was on to something, but I needed clearer connections and greater explanations.

I recommend he write a bigger book. (That’s a compliment.)

In the meantime, I’m thankful for insights offered here and leads to pursue for even more insights. If you enjoy Bible studies that prompt you to dig, I recommend this book.

Thank you, Kregel Publications, for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Note: Beginning February 22 and continuing through Easter Sunday, Kregel Publications will be tweeting links to Straight to the Heart of Romans. The entire book will be posted as short, five to ten minute, daily readings. Find it by following Kregel Publications or #Straight2Heart on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: Sweeter Than Birdsong

Sweeter Than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott is the sequel to her Fairer Than Morning. Both books, part of The Saddler's Legacy series, are based on the lives of real people who worked on the underground railroad, attempting to smuggle slaves to freedom through Ohio to Canada. In Fairer Than Morning, we learned about Ann Miller and Will Hanby. The sequel tells the story of their oldest son, Ben, writer of songs that include “Darling Nellie Gray” and “Up on the Housetop.”

We also meet Kate Winter in Sweeter Than Birdsong. Kate is the painfully shy daughter of a socially ambitious mother and alcoholic father. Her dreams of being part of the first female graduating class of Otterbein College are threatened by the public speech requirement and her desire to escape from her difficult home life. When Kate is inadvertently drawn into work on the underground railroad, she learns there are worse situations than hers from which to escape. Her compassion for slaves draws her to find courage within to do that which she never dreamed she could.

I enjoyed both the historical part of the novel and the fictional story line. Elliott is gifted in both aspects of this genre. I also appreciated the afterword which made the distinction more clear. Thank you, Thomas Nelson Publishers, for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my review.