Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Review: "Generational IQ"

Every person involved in Christian ministry needs to read GenerationalIQ. For the first time in history, we are trying to minister to five generations at the same time. There are bound to be struggles. Haydn Shaw, author of Sticking Points, teaches sincerely concerned readers how to navigate through them with understanding and grace.

Just as he did in Sticking Points, Shaw begins by defining each of the four older generations. This time, though, he explains how the generation we are born into affects our relationship with God. As he moves from the traditionalists to the millenials, he helps readers grasp subtle shifts in thinking that have taken place through the years resulting in dramatically different world views for each generation.

Next he answers questions about relating and reaching out to family and friends in other generations. In the first few of these chapters, he’s writing mostly to parents and grandparents about the younger generations, then he addresses the church, helping ministers and members see how they can more effectively tell unchurched people of all generations about our amazing and faithful God.

His most important advice: listen, love, be patient, answer questions honestly, trust God. His insights into each generation’s mindset show readers how to do this well.

I enjoyed Shaw’s first book, Sticking Points, but wasn’t sure what he could add to my understanding of generations in Generational IQ. This new book adds a lot, though. In fact, I think, in the long run, I’ll find the understanding I gained from the new book to be even more valuable. If you live with or minister to people of different generations, you’ll appreciate Shaw’s hopeful outlook and deep insights. I recommend this book.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: "The Imposter"

After reading Suzanne Woods Fisher’s newest book, The Imposter, I am so excited about the whole Bishop’s Family series. Unlike other “family” series I’ve read, this one introduces us to every member along with significant members of the community. It keeps readers guessing about whose story will be resolved and even to what extent. But the first book ended perfectly for the segment of the story it told. I can’t wait for Book 2, The Quieting.

In this first book, we meet David Stoltzfus’s family in a time of crisis. One member has just returned from far away under curious circumstances. Another is grieving with a broken heart. All six of the children miss their mother who died in an accident a year earlier. And David, one of the community’s ministers, is working to prevent a devastating church split.

Thankfully, the family is surrounded by an unusual group of
people dedicated to helping them: an injured widow who needs help running her business, her mysterious farmhand, a buggy repairman and his niece-in-law (both introduced in a previous book), and a bird-watching spinster turned schoolteacher. Fisher has populated Stoney Ridge with a fascinating cast.

Revell sent me a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review. I recommend it to fans of Amish fiction and contemporary romance.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Review: "She's Almost a Teenager"

She’s Almost a Teenager by Peter and Heather Larson and David and Claudia Arp is a book that can most definitely help parents prepare to raise their teenage daughters well. This book provides ideas and questions to consider when preparing to have eight essential conversations with a ten-  to twelve-year-old daughter. These conversations include: the big picture (becoming a teenager), friends, academics, body, faith, boys, money, and tech. Each chapter either gave me something to think about that I hadn’t yet thought about or equipped me with great ideas for navigating through conversations I already know might be challenging. The Larsons and the Arps are giving parents a needed head-start.

I especially appreciated their emphasis on keeping things positive. It’s exciting when our children become teenagers. It’s a privilege to help them as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. We celebrate as they master new skills and take on more responsibility. We enjoy adding appropriate, corresponding privileges as they do.

On page 151, the authors say, “Remember, our job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job and into a relationship that will last for a lifetime.” Every chapter in this book is designed to help parents succeed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I recommend it to parents of daughters approaching their teens.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: "The Photograph"

I think Beverly Lewis’s main character from The Photograph, Eva Esch, must be her sweetest yet. I so wanted a happily ever after ending for her! Recently orphaned, Eva lives with her two sisters, one younger and one older, in the home they grew up in. Her youngest older brother, though, has inherited the property and plans to move his family in. He says that one sister may stay to help his wife with their kids, but two must go. He suggests they find someone to marry—fast! But Eva doesn’t want to marry for any reason other than true love nor leave the candy shop her father built onto the house just for her. She truly is a damsel in distress.

Eva’s younger sister, Lily, complicates matters by running away during the night to embrace the Englisch life. Closer to Lily than anyone else in her family, Eva finds herself grieving yet another loss. She turns her heartbreak over to God, daily praying for Lily to find reason to return. God answers her prayer in a curious and unforeseeable way.

I loved reading this story, and I enjoyed the way Lewis brought back characters from a previous novel, The River, giving readers a little update though The Photograph stands alone. I thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I recommend it to you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Book Review: "Return to Christmas"

It’s been a while since a book has brought tears to my eyes. But as I reached the final pages this one did. Return to Christmas by Kathi Macias is a tender story full of hope and a beautiful example of the way the fiction can sometimes educate and inspire as much or more than non-fiction informational or self-help.

Return to Christmas tells the stories of two families. In the first, the husband has just returned from his second deployment as a Marine. He is unemployed, depressed, and in need of counseling for PTSD. Prone to irrational bursts of anger, he has his family confused and unsure of what to do. His wife fears she’ll never again be able to do anything right in his eyes.

The second family has adopted a three-year-old boy out of foster care. This child suffers from attachment disorder and dwells in his own, little, isolated world. His parents have been patient with him for a year, anxiously waiting for him to respond to their love, to begin to reach out to others socially. They are beginning to despair.

Return to Christmas shows how prayer, patience, endurance can make a difference in the lives of those who suffer. God knows who is hurting; He is faithful in His work of healing hearts.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Review: "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish"

When I see that a book is described as a daily devotional, I expect to find a book of short readings that start with a Bible verse, that are followed by a few paragraphs about a life experience or such with insights into the meaning of the verse, and that end with prayer or life application. The Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Daily Devotional is not like this.

In this daily devotional, each entry does start with a Bible verse as expected. The verses are usually followed by single paragraphs, sometimes two, that are related to adoption. The relationship between the chosen verse and paragraph is mostly unclear. The paragraphs about adoption give just enough insight to let the reader know that the author has a point to make, but fall short of making it clear. As I was reading, I kept thinking that I’d like to know more about what the author was talking about; she raised a lot of questions in my mind. But to find the answers, I’ll have to read another book. In fact, I’ll probably have to read the book the devotional is based on, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, because, after reading the devotional, I still don’t know what those twenty things are.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for this honest review. I can’t recommend it as a devotional or as a book with clear insights into the heart of an adopted child. Readers who’ve read the book this devotional is based on may find this devotional useful for quick reminders of what they learned from that book.