Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Know Who You Are by Tim Tebow

Aimed at the homeschooled, this 36-chapter book is divided into four parts titled, “Who Are You?”, “Don’t Sweat It; God’s Got It”, “Others Matter”, and “Live Bigger”. Each chapter starts with a key verse, is less than three pages long, is followed by a journaling question, and ends with a quotation. The writing is clear and concise, and I imagine it to be very appealing to a young person. Tim’s aim is to help homeschoolers come into and sustain a vibrant relationship with God and others. His very well-written book would be helpful to anyone with that goal. The book contains enough personal examples to make it interesting but not so many that the book becomes about Tim. I thought it was written in a way that made the topics easy to relate to. Tim talks about how to come into relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the assurance of God’s love and plan. He then delves into matters of character, including keeping your word, overcoming fear and failure. choosing wisely, being an honest and courageous friend, and being purposeful. I would recommend this book to any young person, not just the homeschooled, as it would help the serious reader consider all aspects of their life. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda

Subtitled “Profiles of History’s Great Cat-Loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and Statesmen,” this heavily illustrated book profiles 30 men whose lives and, in many cases, work were heavily influenced by their love of cats. Each of the 30 is featured with a biography of several paragraphs, many of which are followed by a full-page quotation and illustration, resulting in a book of fewer than 100 pages. The illustrator is also the author, and the book is more illustration than prose. Neither the artwork nor the biographical sketches were to my taste, as the art was modern and the prose exceptionally brief. Unless you are a fan of Sam Kalda’s artwork, this would not be a book for you. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This Life I Live by Rory Feek

Just so you know, I had never heard of Rory Feek or his wife Joey. Rory is a country writer/singer who came from an unstable childhood involving multiple moves, with a father who was in and out of his life, and a mother who struggled to raise him and his siblings. This led to Rory’s own unstable adulthood--until Joey came along, bringing with her a firm belief in God, rooted in the Bible. Since Rory was in his late 30s when he met Joey, he had a lot of life experiences behind him. Rory came into relationship with God (although he is not specific about how that happened) a few years before meeting Joey. He wished and was ready for something different, weary of a history of his own making. Joey brought a new kind of relationship and a new life to Rory. Life wasn’t perfect, but it became healthy. Rory and Joey had a love that transcends everything. They built a stable home and life by facing themselves, down to the core, and changing the parts of themselves that didn’t work well. For 14 years, they contributed their best to their marriage, and it paid good dividends as they faced Joey’s terminal illness. This is a biography worth reading. It is filled with hope. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

This narration of Hillary Clinton’s loss, written by two authors sympathetic to her, provides the very long division, from before the start to the end of the presidential campaign, of an insider’s close look at the minutiae that contributed to that “tragic” outcome. (That word “tragic” provides the lens through which the authors look, as there are those who would say it was “fortuitous”.) This 400+-page tome hammers home the points that Hillary’s campaign staff was both tone deaf and overly focused on analytics, to the exclusion of providing necessary resources on the ground in state after state, and, perhaps the biggest flaw, Hillary Clinton failed to clearly articulate her vision for her presidency. Couple those factors with the mistake of having the wrong staff members making major strategic decisions and the outside forces working against Hillary (Russia, the FBI, Congress and the Benghazi and e-mail server issues), and you have the formula which, according to the authors, brought Hillary down. The elephant in the room, though, was Hillary herself. Her personality, character, judgment and history worked against her. After 24 years on the national stage, Hillary was a known quantity. No voter needed to be confused about who they thought she is, as she has an entrenched reputation for being cold, aloof and secretive; for being less than honest; for being slow as molasses to face up and ‘fess up when caught; and for choosing the wrong side to defend when faced with evidence of being married to a sexual predator. Yet Hillary Clinton thought she could play the American public against itself, certain that it would never choose her bombastic, egotistical, impulsive, unpredictable, lewd and crude opponent over measured, prepared and qualified her. Clearly this was a no-brainer. But it wasn’t. In the end, the slow drip of 24 years of watching this very careful candidate led enough voters to cause the electoral college to turn away from her and risk it all on a more unknown quantity. The inexorable pull against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election seems inevitable, according to Shattered. It lays out the downhill course step by step. If you are interested in every last detail about what should be Hillary Clinton’s last race, you want to read this book. If that would be too much information, then take a pass. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What Happens After You Die by Randy Frazee

This book is straightforward in considering the Bible’s teachings about heaven, hell, being with God, and separation from God. The writing was clear, and I found nothing that contradicted the Bible. The first three chapters were a little slow, as there was some repetition. The author’s consideration of topics was thorough, as he addresses subjects including ghosts, purgatory, degrees of hell, rewards, pets and animals, marriage in heaven, guardian angels and cremation. This is a good basic book covering a broad range of topics related to life after death. I recommend to those who have not considered this topic deeply. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Known by Dick and Ruth Foth

Subtitled “Finding Deep Friendships in a Shallow World”, this thoughtfully written book makes a compelling case for prioritizing relationships in a fast-paced world now seemingly driven by social media. The authors advocate using conversation, especially the telling of our personal stories, as a tool toward friendship as an antidote to the great loneliness that is rarely helped by current methods of personal interaction, whcih emphasize the exchange of information. The authors outline specific qualities of friendship, including praying for each other, talking deeply together, resolving conflict, doing good and reaching out. The personal dynamics they encourage include commitment, spending time face to face, telling each other the truth, and pursuing each other, all of which contribute to an active, vibrant relationship. The book’s style is conversational and engaging. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to consider friendship as a serious topic. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency - Chris Whipple

This book is particularly informative for those who are not terribly interested in politics, as it explains in basic terms how each president since Nixon utilized his chief of staff, some very successfully and some less so. In about 30 pages, Whipple narrates how each president became acquainted with and chose his first chief of staff, and then he highlights the personalities of president and chief, primary events, successes and failures, and successors if there were any. If this writing formula is not your cup of tea, you will not enjoy this book. It suited me exactly, as I could not have even named a chief of staff, then or now. Since politics is a bore to me, I chose this book to become a little more educated. The book held my interest, chapter after chapter. It was a story that unfolded decade after decade, leaving me with more appreciation of the inner workings of the White House. One appealing thing Whipple did was to connect with former chiefs of staff much more recently to get their perspective of their times of service. It makes for interesting reading to see how those men now regard their presidents and themselves. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.