Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Four Tendencies - Gretchen Rubin

The author’s analysis of people finds that they tend toward one of four groups in their approaches to expectations, both outer and inner: the Upholder meets both outer and inner expectations; the Questioner resists outer expectations and meets inner expectations; the Obliger meets outer expectations and resists inner expectations, and the Rebel resists both outer and inner expectations. I love analyses that break people into four main groups, being most familiar with approaches regarding temperament. Rubin’s grid is, in my opinion, a stroke of genius. This well-written book applies Rubin’s understanding to coworkers, spouses, children, and health providers, helping each of those groups understand and accommodate the various groups and subgroups (e.g., Questioner-Upholders, Rebel-Obligers, etc.) Rubin’s grid is easy to grasp and helpful to understand, both with regard to oneself and others. I think everyone would profit from reading this book, and I highly recommend it. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Jesus Always - Sarah Young

This book of 365 devotionals is “written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you,” and it is written in Jesus’ voice--first person--rather than third person as we are used to reading. I found this unnerving and not something with which I became more comfortable the more I read. At times, I had a hard time imagining some of these words coming out of Jesus’ mouth on any occasion, such as (from July 17), “I am infinitely more brilliant than the greatest genius imaginable.” That just isn’t the Jesus I know, and it exemplifies what I found distasteful about the writing: there were often what I consider to be overstatements, as God doesn’t talk that way about Himself. He is gentleman enough to allow us to come to those conclusions, such as when He asked Job the “where were you?” questions that made Job face his limitations without being bashed on the head with God’s immensity. Many of the devotionals seemed repetitive, aimed at themes of comfort, trust, and righteousness, and the tone of the book is reassuring and encouraging; almost never does it exhort or correct. The author includes three or four verses with each devotional, but often they are quite unrelated and can feel jarring in their juxtaposition. Perhaps if listening to Jesus’ voice is a new skill, this book might be helpful, but to one who has listened to Jesus for many decades, I actually found it limiting as the readings often felt stilted. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Tokyo Street Style - Zoé de las Cases

This third coloring book featuring fashion sketches, botanical drawings and Toyko scenes is absolutely charming, with enough variety among the three categories to keep things interesting. The artist, as usual, does not include full faces in her drawings, so the focus is on fashion. It has been my impression that Japanese young women like girlish fashion, sometimes bordering on the juvenile, and this is reflected in this book where clothes and accessories often feature kittens. Some of the clothing includes traditional Japanese touches, such as kimonos and obi belts. Everything is drawn with an emphasis on whimsy. The paper is heavy, and the bright pink cover features drawings in a bright yellow. The yellow ribbon bookmark can help you keep your place, and the pink elastic band originating on the back cover can hold the book shut, protecting the heavy, but not hard, cover. I love the work of Zoé de las Cases and hope she will continue to feature major cities and their fashion. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Truth Doesn’t Have a Side by Dr. Bennet Omalu

Having seen Concussion and having seen and read League of Denial, I was eager to read Bennet Omalu’s personal account of discovering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and the price the National Football League made him pay. For the most part, his account did not disappoint, although a time or two, there were a few too many personal details. If you don’t know about CTE, this book is a good starting place, as it starts at the beginning, with Omalu’s biography, providing the basis of understanding why he was exactly the right, or wrong, scientist, depending on your viewpoint. His background also explains why he had an open mind, which he thinks is a large part of the reason he was the one to discover CTE. The one aspect of Omalu’s life not covered by other sources is his walk with God. His own book gives a clear narration of his belief that God led him each step of the way, at times providing miracles that allowed Omalu to remain in America and do his work. This was particularly refreshing to read. Omalu’s story is not yet finished, and it will be interesting to follow his career to see what impact his research will have on saving people from CTE. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Friday, September 8, 2017

New York Street Style - Zoe de las Cases

She has done it again! Zoe de las Cases follows up her Paris Street Style with fashion sketches and New York City street scenes. The sketches are beautiful and retain their hand-drawn look. The paper is lovely. There is a pink bookmark and an elastic band to protect the covers. The blue covers with pink drawing are eye catching. You will love this! I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Love Heals by Becca Stevens

The founder of Thistle Farms, a community devoted to the healing of traumatized women, produced this beautiful gift book outlining fourteen ways and means God uses love to heal, such as through creation, with compassion, by His mercy, and during forgiving. In parts, the book was more poetic than I could fathom, more redundant than I liked, and more wordy than was comfortable, such as this: “This morning I went outside and felt the sunrise that was offered like a gift wrapped in bands of purple. I saw two beautiful rabbits feasting on clover in my overgrown yard, and a cool breeze kissed my cheek in the midst of the summer heat. I was full of praise and gratitude, and I felt inspired to birth new ideas.” I like fewer details and certainly fewer adjectives; this kind of writing makes me feel like I don’t know where to look. Another example was part of a poem which the author places at the beginning of each chapter: “Soaring above, predators scan meadows for the most vulnerable prey, like I am searching the horizon for a thought.” Huh? As the book progressed, however, it became less flowery and more solid. I found the chapter “Love Heals Beyond Stress” to be excellent, as Stevens suggested these “short-term practices”: pray daily, create free time, develop healthy sleep rituals, daydream, keep a student’s heart, understand pain as a teacher, and laugh. Chapters on forgiveness and fear were also outstanding. I would recommend this book with the caveat that the reader be ready for a couple of very different writing styles in one volume; one is liable to suit you, and you will no doubt learn from and be challenged by the author’s insights. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Alphabet of Grief by Andrea Raynor

This 144-page book consists of 26 chapters, each starting with a letter of the alphabet, addressing topics designed to help one move forward in the grieving process. I found it to be full of suggestions and insights ranging from the practical to the profound. The author is a long-time chaplain, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and a United Methodist minister. Knowing that she served as chaplain to the morgue at Ground Zero after September 11 will tell you that her experience in confronting death and providing comfort has been deep and wide. Her writing reflects her skill. Each brief chapter is followed by a meditation and an affirmation, all of which will provide comfort and encouragement to anyone who is grieving. An example of how Raynor “gets it” is the chapter entitled “Everyone Else,” in which she tells of her father, riding in a car on the way to bury his mother: “Beyond the window was a world he did not know, one populated by a people called everyone else.” That captures how isolating a shocking death is. Some chapters are unusual, such as “Violence”, in which Raynor says, “When [death] is sudden and violent, it can tear us to pieces. The horror we feel, combined with the loss itself, can send us into a pit of despair from which it feels there is no returning.” I would recommend this book to everyone. If you are not grieving, this will give you helpful thoughts to tuck away until you or someone you love needs them. If you are grieving, you will find much to help you. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.