Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thin Ice - Irene Hannon

In the past 6 months, Christy Reed has lost her entire family.  First, her parents were killed in a tragic car accident.  Then, her sister is killed in a house fire.  Or is she?  3 months later, Christy receives a terrifying yet, in some ways, hopeful, note...insinuating that not only has her sister not died in the fire, but that she is still alive!  She is also instructed not to go to the authorities.  With the fear of what could happen to her sister (if she truly is still alive) hanging over her, Christy decides to call the FBI instead, from a pay phone.

Being as this is, apparently, a mystery suspense, you can pretty well guess what happens from here out: who the FBI investigator is (handsome, but with baggage), how they decide to approach the case (as a dating couple, basically), and what follows...only I don't want to give out any spoilers.  

I did finish this book in one sitting...which means that it at least mostly held my attention.  I was curious who exactly Christy's mystery stalker would turn out to be, but really, I didn't think it was very suspenseful at all, since I was pretty sure main characters weren't actually going to be killed or anything.  Also, the last chapter really didn't even need to be in there...I was bored after the mystery was solved.  

I was given this book by Revell Reads (Baker Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.  As you can see, this is honest...I didn't really like the book, and don't really recommend it.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Proverbs Prayers - John Mason

Half of this book is the book of Proverbs.  So when considering buying this book, realize that each day is first: a chapter from Proverbs, and then a "rewrite" of the chapter as a prayer by the author.  There's not necessarily anything wrong with this, but that's what the book consists of.

I do have a slight problem with the introduction.  He states "As you read each proverb and pray the corresponding prayer, you will be asking the Lord to cause every promise and principle from that chapter to come alive in your life."  It seems a little bit like prosperity theology: do x, and y will happen in your life.  That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with reading the proverbs and praying the prayer.  Just be aware that it is not a recipe for success.

I received this book from Revell Reads in exchange for an honest review.

Forgiven - Terri Roberts

This is the story of the mother of Charles Roberts, the man who took hostage and killed a number of Amish girls in 2006.  It is the fascinating account of a man's life, his mother's memories, and the way she tries to reconcile what happened and accept that reconciliation in her own life.

It is a raw, heart-rending story.  I appreciated Terri's honest evaluation of the way she raised her sons, as well as how open she was with their struggle to get through the aftermath of the situation.  Of course, the emphasis she wants to make (as evidenced by the title) is the gracious and quick forgiveness of the Amish involved in the case.  I appreciate the balance she has been able to reach, and the honesty with which she has told her story.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

God Gave Us Sleep - Lisa Tawn Bergren

This is a short story about a polar bear cub and her mama's advice about sleep: from her playing outside, to her mama tucking her in at night and a conversation about dreams...the cub doesn't sleep well and is grouchy the next day until finally night rolls around and she determines that God gave us sleep so we will have good days.  

I am honestly not sure what I think about this book.  It seems like a book geared towards 2-4 year olds, but the text is geared more towards 6-8 year olds, I would say.  The pictures are adorable...but the text/story seems stilted.  One complaint I have is that the entire book is about Mama talking to her cub, and then suddenly on the second night towards the end of the book, Papa says it is time for bed...but until then he was MIA.

It is a cute book.  I'm not a huge fan, and probably wouldn't pay money for it.  I received this copy free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  

Saturday, October 31, 2015

She's Almost a Teenager - Essential Conversations to Have Now (Larson & Arp)

This is a helpful, practical book for helping parents navigate the tricky preteen ("tween") years.  The book contains 8 "Conversations" (chapters) to have with your daughter, and then suggests a way of welcoming her thirteenth birthday ("Project Thirteen and Birthday Boxes").

These are practical, reasonable ideas for conversations.  Each chapter is about a specific conversation (ex. "The Body Talk", "The Boys Talk"), with various stories from different families, and thoughts from the authors.  Each chapter contains a few (4-5) specific "Conversation Starters" which are then summarized at the end of each chapter (for example, in "The Body Talk" chapter, one of the conversation starters is "2. 'How do you feel about your body?' Your daughter is beautiful just the way God made her! This truth is easily lost in the teen years. Start reminding her today who she is in Christ."

I think this is mostly helpful in that it gets parents communicating with their children.  Personally, I believe communication throughout a child's life (NOT just starting in the tween years) is essential to your child developing a healthy worldview.  This book will help remind parents "what it was like" when they went through those same years.  It will help you see your child's perspective, yet maintains a Biblical view of authority and how we should relate to our children.

I received this book free from Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 30, 2015

10 Things Great Dads Do - Rick Johnson

First, I am reviewing this as a mother, not a father.

This was a practical, down to earth book.  I appreciate Rick's honesty in writing this book.  He is writing from the perspective of being not only a father of 2, but a grandfather who took a large part of raising one of their granddaughters.  He doesn't try to be politically or socially accurate: he tells it like he sees it.  In this way, I can see him offending some readers.  However, if you're able to hear the heart of what he is saying, I believe you will find a lot of wisdom in this book.

The chapters themselves give a good idea of what this book entails:
1. Have Fun! The Importance of Humor and Play
2. Go Outside Your Comfort Zone: But It's Uncomfortable Out Here!
3. Surround Yourself with Healthy Friends and Couples: It Matters!
4. Communicate with Your Children: Someone Is Going to Influence Them
5. Develop Your "Brand" : When Everyone Knows Your Name
6. A Man's Spirituality: Finding Yours So You Can Teach Your Children Theirs
7. Your Child's Spirituality: Helping Your Child Find Their Way
8. Teaching Character: Allowing Your Children to Suffer
9. Children, Members of the Family: Not the Center of the Universe
10. Not in My House: Dad, the Gatekeeper of the Home

I have a few problems with chapters 6 and 7.  Namely, his use of the term "spirituality" and what that entails.  I expected this to be a Christian book, written by a Christian author...and while I do actually believe those two things to be true, he goes a little further out of his way than necessary to cater to a wider audience.  For example, in a section on teaching your children to pray, he lists the steps of prayer, and the last step is "If you are a Christian, end with 'In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.''"  Excuse me?  IF you're a Christian?  Is he?  If so, he should be aware that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) There is no purpose in praying, if it be not to Christ.  I wish he would be a bit less "religiously correct" and a little more Biblically accurate in this.

All in all, I found this a helpful, practical book.  Do I agree with everything written inside it?  No.  But it is insightful and gives us as parents, things to think about.

I was given this book by Revell Reads, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review.

On This Foundation - Lynn Austin

I couldn't put this book down.  Literally.  I read the entire book in an evening, finishing at 12:30 PM.  This is the first book I've read by Lynn Austin, and I was definitely impressed.

This book is captivating.  Lynn is a good writer: she spent the first few chapters introducing each of the main characters (Nehemiah, Chana, and Nava), and then alternates between those three storylines throughout the book.  The characters are deep and interesting, and not necessarily predictable.

Interestingly, when I finished the book, I went and read the Biblical book of Nehemiah...and was impressed at how much from there she actually managed to weave into this definite work of fiction.  I thoroughly enjoyed her creativity in adding fictional characters yet keeping it Biblically accurate, with the correct mindset that a Jew would have likely had at that time.

Some of the scenes/themes are not appropriate for a younger audience, so keep that in mind when deciding to buy or read this book.

I was given a free copy of this book by Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review.