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.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Horse of My Heart - Stories of the Horses We Love

This was a collection of sweet, enjoyable stories about horses, and the people that loved them.  Honestly, I do not love horses.  My sister I read this with her in mind.  I thought the stories were pleasant, and well-written, but I didn't come away wanting a horse.  I plan to pass the book onto her when I'm finished, and I have a feeling she will appreciate the stories much more than I did.

The individual chapters (stories) are not very long in length, but they did start to sound the same after awhile.  I would recommend this book if you are someone who enjoys will probably come away thinking that horses are even more amazing.

I did appreciate the Christian spin taken on the stories.

I was given a copy of this book by Revell Reads in exchange for an honest review.

A Reason To Stay - Kellie Coates Gilbert

Faith Marin's life has turned out exactly as she has planned it.  Until the end of the second chapter, when (spoiler alert!) she is shot.  The book from here on is her reflecting? dreaming? thinking? on her relationship with her husband Geary.

Geary.  My biggest complaint with this book.  While it is made clear that Geary is a stable, almost "perfect" man (with the exception of his large, overbearing, yet kind family), he is completely one-dimensional in this book.  You don't ever come to understand the logic of his falling for someone like Faith...unless it be purely physical, and it seems like it must have been (that, or the author just forgot about his character).  Also, the descriptions of their marital intimacy are uncomfortable for a Christian novel, and inappropriate for younger readers.

I felt like I was "suddenly" getting to the end of the book, and things were going to have to wrap up...and they wrapped up absolutely perfectly, with everything working out like a fairytale.  I suppose there's nothing really wrong with this, it's just...really predictable.

I'm not a huge fan of this book.  I was given a copy of it by Revell Reads (Baker House Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage - Sheila Wray Gregoire

This book surprised a good way.  I found Sheila to have a very practical, realistic, and Biblical view of marriage, and of men and women.  

Sheila's perspective is accurate: we can only change ourselves.  And in changing ourselves, we change the dynamic of our marriages.  We CAN change our perspective on our husbands: which in many, many cases is equivalent to "changing our husbands", because it forces us to look at him in a different light.  At the same time, she cautions against being blinded to sin, and instead wisely suggests that men who are sinning be able to reap the consequences of whatever their choices are...instead of women blindly "submitting" to his every whim.  

I very much appreciated her practical ideas for applying the wisdom in this book.  Each chapter has first a "thought that can change your marriage" (example: I'm Not in Competition With My Husband), and a number of "action steps" within these chapters, and then lists them all at the end of the chapter in summary (example: Find a practical way every day to put your husband's needs and preferences first).

In each chapter, she also has "pat answers", or: "incorrect thoughts we've always been taught", and then explains thoroughly what is the more accurate, Biblical solution to any one "pat answer".  For example, a pat answer would be: "The husband is the authority in the family.  In a disagreement, he decides, and she obeys.  When you do this, the family will experience God's blessing."  She then goes on to explain submission, what the Greek word actually means, and how it might practically apply to a marriage.

I highly recommend this book.  I plan to read it again and use it in my own marriage.

I received this book free from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Photograph - Beverly Lewis

20 year old Eva Esch is left an orphan, and while she is flanked on either side by equally orphaned and single sisters Lily and Frona, they are all as different as three sisters can be.  This story follows the always-likable Eva and her perspective on about a month's worth of events following their mother's death.

This was a pleasant, if possibly slightly boring, read.  I found the plot quite predictable, and I personally am not a huge fan of these types of stories...even if you are, I would be surprised if you were kept on the edge of your seat, or were overly surprised by...anything that happened.  There was nothing dramatically wrong about the book, there was just nothing truly dramatic about the book.

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