Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldman

Subtitled ‘Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship”, this very practical book has a lot to offer. Addressing a real need in our world, Shaunti Feldman proposes a change in thinking and behavior, laid out in small, concrete steps. Taking on the challenge seems failproof, as our world, down to every single relationship, could use more of what the author so carefully lays out. Feldman’s definition of “kindness” encompasses far more, including compassion, thoughtfulness and even generosity. Her thorough research and careful consideration are reflected in her writing, making for a book whose time has come. In a time, and an election year, where fear, hostility and animosity have become commonplace, the challenge offered by the author could not be more important. Shaunti Feldman outlines 30 specific tasks in order to, in her words, nix the negatives, practice praise, and carry out kindness. In addition to addressing proactive steps, the author includes discussion about objections and resistance. This book is well written. I highly recommend it; as it deserves a wide audience. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Devotions for a Deeper Life - Oswald Chambers

By the author of My Utmost for His Highest, which I have not read, this newly published work consists of 365 devotionals. Let me say at the outset that this was not my cup of tea; I could rarely get myself to be on the same wavelength as the author, finding him very, very firm of opinion and coming from a different theological standpoint than I. Oswald Chambers did not mince words, so he was clear about what he thought and believed. His writing very much reflects a time gone by, with a tone that was at least exhortative and many times seemed to scold. It is not a tone you see much these days. At times, Chambers overstates his case, such as at the end of the devotional on page 103, where Chambers wrote very jarringly: “We are called to faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Any movement or person that contradicts Jesus, God will blast to pieces.” I don’t find that teaching in Scripture. On page 253, Chambers says, “This kind of self-sympathy, arising from the cares of this life, is carnal. It will kill the Spirit of God within you.” The Bible says we can quench the Spirit, but it never states we can “kill the Spirit of God” within us. If a firm tone is something you appreciate in a devotional, you might like this one. If not, I’d look elsewhere. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Monday, November 7, 2016

66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild

This little book spends exactly three pages on each book of the Bible. The first page makes the point of how God’s love is communicated in that particular book, such as “In Genesis God Fashions Me with His Hands”, and the next two pages narrate the specifics of that point. The author always quotes at least one verse from the book and then applies it personally to the reader. The tone of the book is very reassuring and comforting. It is obviously not intended to be a scholarly work but more along the lines of a devotional. A good audience would be those who want reassurance of God’s love or those who are new to the Bible. Jennifer Rothschild writes very well. I have read several of her books, and this one is nothing like her others, where she writes from her experience. This book is more objective, applying the words of the Bible to the reader’s life. Only in the introduction does the author mention her life. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Brady vs Manning by Gary Myers

This book is exactly what you think it might be: a long narrative of the individual life stories of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning with a focus on their long rivalry. Along the way, the reader discovers the deep respect and friendship these two stellar quarterbacks share. Both men provided source material for the author, as did the fathers of both. It makes for a very interesting read, reflecting not just these two who have dominated football for more than a decade and their teams, but the sport itself. If you have followed the Brady/Manning rivalry over the years, I doubt you will learn very much from this book, but if you have not, this is a thorough and thoroughly interesting work. The only jarring note is that periodically the author will quote trash-talking players. It’s infrequent enough that I found it disruptive to the tone of the book. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life - Henri J. M. Nouwen

The little I have read by Henri Nouwen was too mystical for my taste, so I chose to read this collection of his letters in hopes that I would come to understand Nouwen more. Spanning decades (1973-1996), this book includes letters to a wide range of recipients, from dear friends to strangers. Nouwen was clearly a gentle, soft-spoken man, given to encouraging and supporting others no matter who they were. He apparently was also a very emotional man, given to introspection and great sensitivity to pain and insecurity. He came across as a very human man. Almost all letters begin with Nouwen’s thanks to the recipient for their correspondence, and he invariably spoke very personally, including when he gave gentle advice. Surprisingly, this well-loved author wrote in one letter that those to whom he ministered influenced him most profoundly; it was not books that had a lasting influence. Repeatedly, he encouraged others to pray. Once he stated his simple intercession list: friends, enemies, your city, your country, and the world, and he advocated gratitude and intercession as gateways to a closer relationship to God. Many wrote of loneliness and depression, and Nouwen cautioned them to listen to the voice of hope, not of despair, and encouraged them to pray for others. He readily acknowledged that depression was his nemesis, so he knew their struggles. A few times, Nouwen responded pointedly to criticism. In one letter, he summarized how the criticism sounded, how it felt, and how the writer would never have written in that vein had they known what he was facing. He replies, in part, “I don’t think I am ready yet to pray with you and Alex together. That feels quite scary to me. I would be too afraid of being told that I am not praying right or not living up to your expectations. So maybe we have to be very, very gentle and patient with each other. Please continue to pray for me and recommend me in the prayers of your community.” He had the ability to speak plainly and yet graciously. Part of his brilliance was in his simplicity. Describing the soul, Nouwen said, “The way I think about the soul is simply as the place where God dwells. . . . My ego, mind, self and DNA are part of my mortal being, and I know that one day I have to let go of that. But my soul is eternal in me, that aspect of me where I am part of God’s life. When I pray, I nurture my soul. When I care for the sick, dying and weak, I nurture my soul, and it is that soul in me that will be held eternally in God’s embrace.” There is much to learn from this book, and it is easy to imagine oneself as the recipient of some of Nouwen’s letters, as he addresses so many situations common to the human condition. I imagine it was impossible not to like him. The one thing I found distracting in the book occurred in introductions to the letters. Often after identifying the addressee, the editor adds notes, such as “He shares his own struggles as well as his insights born of his recent experience that one must go into the pain in order to discover God’s unconditional love.” These short summaries occur so often in the book that it feels anticlimactic to read the letters themselves; the book would have been much improved without those summaries. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Unreasonable Hope by Chad Veach

Chad and Julia Veach’s firstborn is Georgia, who has lissencephaly, a brain disorder which keeps her at a three-month-old infant’s development, although she is now over three years old, and is characterized by seizures and a lack of interaction. Chad’s book focuses on telling their story and communicating the faith and hope God provide in their journey. The book has four sections: The Struggle, Remedy, Rest and Better, each ending with “In Conclusion”, which include excellent action steps. So far, so good. Unfortunately for me, the author, who is in his mid-30s, writes heavily from that perspective and jargon. If your daily vocabulary includes “amazing”; “sucks”; “like” as a verb or adverb, as in (referring to Abraham talking to God), “He was like, ‘Let’s do this thing,’” (p. 180), then you likely will like this book. If, on the other hand, you do not know the meanings of, “One night Abraham was kicking it with God in the tent,” (p. 181) or, “A funny thing about God is that he doesn’t come in to fix things and then peace out,” (p. 115) or if you might find yourself wondering what he means when describing his second child as “my little gangster baby,” then you will either need some translation, or you might want to find a book written by someone either older or less entrenched in current culture. If, like me, you are not acquainted with CrossFit or do not understand what “the OGs of the fishing world” are when referring to Simon Peter and the others, much of the narration will be lost on you. In addition, if you find no humor or cuteness in hearing someone renarrate the biblical stories of Joseph and Moses by referring them as “Jo” and “Mo”, I’d move on. Its vocabulary is even already outdated, as it includes instances of that annoying cutesiness from a few years ago: “Such wonderful words to speak over your family. Not.” (p. 34) Every once in a while, I read a book by an author I think of as writing with one eye on the mirror, thinking “how clever am I!” This is one of those. Interestingly, long after my opinion solidified, the author notes on page 91, “. . . I’d like to describe the type of person I am. I love being affirmed after I’ve done something well. I’m the guy who puts one dish in the dishwasher at home and looks around to see if anyone noticed.” This book is, to say the least, a mixed bag. Proceed with caution. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Today’s Moment of Truth by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg

Subtitled “Devotions to Deepen Your Faith in Christ”, this book is aimed at those who may be searching for God, questioning His existence, or wondering about the authenticity and authority of the Bible. In addition, it painstakingly lays the groundwork for belief in creationism, the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the supremacy of God. It really is a thorough apologetic work in the form of short devotionals. I would recommend this book to those who are questioning their beliefs about God, Jesus or the Bible or to those who wish to bolster their ability to convincingly speak to those who are. The book is well reasoned and well written, covering the basics of the Christian faith with clarity and conviction. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Taste and See by John Piper

This book of 125 daily meditations was the first book I’ve read by John Piper. It covered a wide variety of topics from the theological to the mundane. Many of the readings reflected the wisdom of a man who has lived a long time and who has given great thought to the subject of what it means to be human and what it means to walk with God. There is something helpful in this book for everyone. I found a few of the meditations particularly stimulating, such as the one that challenges people not to retire, and the excellent one on how to approach Sunday worship. At times, however, Piper’s choice of topic and/or writing were almost incomprehensible to me. They seemed to be answering questions no one is asking. The meditations entitled, “How Does the Spirit Produce Love?” and “Cherishing Truth for the Sake of Love” were cases in point. There were times when Piper went so deeply into a subject that he lost me. All in all, this book was good. It did not, however, make me want to read more of Piper’s writings. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors by John Chetwynd

I love sports, and I love metaphors, so this should have been the book for me. The experience of reading it cover to cover, though, was not unlike reading a dictionary; it felt like more than I bargained for. The complimentary thing to say would be that the book is thorough and well researched; in actuality, the narration about almost every metaphor exceeded my interest, as it was filled with dates and citations that at times made it read like an encyclopedia. My opinion is that this little book is a good reference to keep on the shelf until one thinks, “I wonder how ‘no harm, no foul’ came to be part of everyday language?” That’s the time to look things up in the very handy index. But reading the book cover to cover feels like reading answers to questions not being asked, not a pleasant experience. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Young and Beardless by John Luke Robertson

While the title leaves a lot to be desired, the book itself is remarkable. Nineteen-year-old John Luke Robertson, the oldest child of Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson, demonstrates a well-grounded perspective and maturity. He is eminently sensible and thoughtful in his approach to life, having profited from the very apparent nurturing and guidance he has received from a host of relatives. John Luke encourages the reader to consider self and the world with a long lens, with introspection, consideration for others, courage, curiosity, and love. Woven throughout the book are excellent questions encouraging reflection as well as brief reviews of the author’s favorite books. John Luke’s love of reading is touted and reflected in his writing. The author knows the Bible and quotes it effectively throughout his writing. He takes the Word of God seriously as the basis for his life, and it shows. I highly recommend this book. It was refreshing to read and would have been outstanding no matter the author’s age. The fact that it is written by one so young whets one’s appetite for more of John Luke Robertson’s writing. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Longing in Me by Sheila Walsh

I have read a number of Sheila Walsh’s books, and this one struck me as the best of the bunch. Sheila draws wonderful parallels between her life and that of David, both in triumph and in trial, and she fills in some blanks a reader may not even have realized were missing, dating back 20+ years. For the first time, she talks about some of the foundational reasons for her psychiatric hospitalization and reveals some of the circumstances of her life that she has never mentioned publically. Sheila also talks about more recent events that were implied but not revealed during her talks at Women of Faith. These two areas of revelation really bring Sheila’s life into focus for the reader, and they help readers know they are not alone in facing great, and even current, trials. Sheila tells how the longings in us for, among other things, protection, control, the past, and happiness all indicate a deep longing for God, and she talks about how each of these longings are met in God. This is Sheila’s most open and honest book. It is impossible not to identify with her when she talks about the longings in us. This is a book to revisit repeatedly for the encouragement it offers. The author did an outstanding job of weaving stories together with Scripture to offer encouragement. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Where the Light Gets In by Kimberly Williams-Paisley

The author’s mother was diagnosed in 2005 with a less-common form of dementia that results primarily in language loss. This book is the story of the author, her parents and two siblings through the still-ongoing battle to support Linda, who is now living in an assisted facility. The journey has been excruciating, changing the relationships of everyone with Linda. Kimberly Williams-Paisley writes with great honesty into the changes she experienced, grieving her hopes and expectations of Old Mom and learning to not just live with but join and celebrate New Mom. It has been anything but easy every step of the way. The book is well written; the author is articulate and insightful, a combination of traits that allows the reader to easily understand and sympathize with the family’s journey. She is also gracious and kind. The author is a well-known actress, but that is a tangential fact in the book’s approach. This book would be well worth reading no matter the author. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Water-Saving Garden by Pam Penick

I have a water-saving garden, having replaced the lawn on our corner lot a few years ago. I used a landscaper for guidance on plants and planting, and, while I am satisfied with the results, I was interested to read my first book about such a garden. Pam Penick’s work is an excellent resource, as it starts with the rationale, descriptions and illustrations of well-established water-saving gardens in different parts of the country. Section two describes the process of designing the garden, including planning for water retention, use of proper materials, how to irrigate and choose soil and/or mulch, and where to add windbreaks in the form of trees, hedges, walls and fences. The last three sections concern choosing plants and when to plant them, as well as how to create the illusion of water if that is desired. This book is an excellent overview of the why and how of a water-saving garden. Having been through the experience of planting one, I found this book thorough but not overwhelming. I recommend it highly. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Remnants: Season of Glory by Lisa T. Begren

I chose this book because I loved this author’s writing 20 years ago, when she wrote romantic fiction aimed at women. To say the least, she has since shifted gears. Season of Glory is the third and final book of a series. That alone made for a challenging read, as this book picks up where the last left off, with no background given about time, place or people. I gathered that this series is aimed at adolescents or young adults, as the writing consists of much more dialogue than the average novel does. I never did understand much about the time, place or people, although it was evident that it is an imaginary place. The culture was unique, as demonstrated by the language used about it. For example, where we might say a couple was engaged, the characters said they were “bound”. There are knights and royalty involved, so you know it’s a hierarchical society. There are places such as a Citadel, so you know there’s a military system in place. The cause is called “the Way,” and “the Maker” is authoritative. There is a love triangle where two men are interested in one woman. The dialogue itself is rather stiff, as if it’s a Star Trek script. The characters say such things as, “She communicates with our enemy. Stop her from doing so again, would you, my brother? I will address the emperor.” I think only those who start with the first book of the series and enjoy it will want to read Season of Glory. It’s not for everyone. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot

The author’s maternal grandparents, Anna and Armand, met in 1936, married in 1944, separated a few years later and never spoke again after 1955, although Anna lived until 2010 and Armand until 2015, she in America and he in Switzerland. Mouillot felt the silence between her grandparents as a heavy shadow, in part because she was close to her grandmother, incorporating the rift as part of her personality. From her teenage years on, the author came to know her grandfather through periodic visits. Eventually as a young adult, Mouillot lived in an abandoned house in France which belonged to her grandparents and made it her quest to piece together the history of their life together, tracing their meeting, their mostly separate journeys through World War II and what little she could unearth about their marriage and subsequent life. Anna appears to have been an open, grateful, and expansive woman, while Armand comes across as guarded, defensive and even crotchety. While the differences in their personalities may well have driven them apart, the back cover of the book says, “As she reconstructs the overwhelming odds her grandparents braved together and how the knowledge Armand acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory.” The book is as much about Mouillot’s own life and her journey toward uncovering what she believes to be the whole story as it is about her grandparents. It makes for an uneven pace, as chapter after chapter serves as foreshadowing. There were times when I felt as if I was deeply into the book with little movement toward the truth of the situation. It is not until page 240 of this 267-page book that the first mention of the trials at Nuremberg appears. Suddenly, like the accelerated pace of adding the last pieces of a puzzle, the author ties her theory together that Armand’s role as a translator at the trial affected him so deeply that it drove a permanent wedge between Anna and Armand. By that time, the reader has been so steeped in the narrative of the differences in their personalities and perspectives, it seems coincidental that Armand’s job was traumatic to him, and it is almost hard to imagine that his role had that great an effect. Because of what felt like a very rushed ending, the story felt unsatisfactory to me, leaving me with a different perspective than probably the author intended, which was that the grandparents’ marriage was on shaky ground from the start--the author acknowledges that no one really knew why they married; even the grandparents themselves were not clear--so any challenge might well have driven them apart. This is not a book I would recommend, as its very uneven construction results in the story feeling uneven also. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Paris Street Style - Zoé de las Cases

This fabulous coloring book features mostly fashion sketches and Paris scenes. The sketches are so well done and charming you almost don’t want to color them. But when you do, you find that the paper quality itself lends to the wonderful experience of coloring, making you feel like an artist. You will love this book if you like fashion, the whimsical, and quality. It is one of my favorite books ever. The black cover feature drawings in gold is simply elegant. The book has a ribbon bookmark and an elastic band to hold the book shut. It is the finest coloring book I have seen, and I am eager to see more of Zoé de las Cases’ work I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Forgiving My Daughter’s Killer by Kate Grosmaire

In March 2010, the author’s 19-year-old daughter, Ann, was shot at close range by her boyfriend, Conor, someone beloved by her family. He left her and drove around for 45 minutes before turning himself in to the police. After four days, she was removed from life support and died within a few minutes. The book takes a deep, tender look at Ann and her family, detailing the mature way in which her parents dealt with the whole traumatic situation, from the moment they were notified. They aimed constantly to see things from God’s perspective and to obey what He said to them. This caused them to choose forgiveness. Their reasons, based on the Bible, are clearly stated, and Scripture quotations are included, helping the reader understand their decisions and experience. The forgiveness offered was not simple or easy. They explain how it has been and even still continues to be a process, and series of choices. The author makes it clear that she does not forgive Conor for his sake but for hers; she does not want to spend her time and life cloaked in bitterness. The path the family chose was restorative justice, a concept and process detailed thoroughly in this account. This approach to crime is diametrically opposed to our current criminal justice system, as it places the victim and family squarely in the middle of the process, allowing for healing and growth. Much of this book is about this approach, including how and why it was applied for the first time to this first-degree murder case in Florida. There is much in this book to contemplate. It is thoughtfully written and addresses the hard issues. Everyone in this story is quite human, and their strengths and weaknesses are included. This sobering book is well worth reading. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Before I Forget by B. Smith and Dan Gasby

B. Smith is a celebrity, but she was unknown to me. I picked up the book, written by B. and her husband, because the clever title, pertaining to B.’s battle with Alzheimer’s, intrigued me. This book returns repeatedly to four perspectives: B.’s own words about her experiences; Dan’s narrative of the progression of B.’s disease; “Lessons Learned” to educate and encourage the reader with regard to common aspects and challenges of Alzheimer’s; and advocacy for Alzheimer’s research and support. It is, by turns, honest, eloquent, poetic, poignant and inspiring; I found the book to be an absolute page turner with its engaging and empathetic tone. It is especially encouraging for caregivers. One paragraph that struck me, from page 91, was this: “Guilt is, to some extent, unavoidable: it goes with the territory. One way to temper it is not to set the bar as a caretaker too high. Don’t feel you have to be perfect! And don’t punish yourself when you fall short of that self-imposed standard. Aim to be a pretty good caregiver, not a perfect one: B-plus is good enough. Heck, B-minus is just fine. The goal isn’t to do everything right. It’s to keep your household from falling part. Pass/fail--that’s the standard I’ve learned to go by.” The reader comes to understand--and care about-- B., Dan, Alzheimer’s, and the current state of caregiver support and medical research. A list of resources epitomizes the whole book, as it ranges from the broad and organizational (organizations working on Alzheimer’s) to the narrow and personal (B.’s and Dan’s favorite comedies). This book is a Must Read for everyone, as it addresses a disease that will, sooner or later, touch us all. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis

Subtitled “Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships”, this book is well written and instructive. Part One describes how love requires commitment, selflessly sacrifices, speaks truth, conquers fear, offers grace, brings healing and lives forever. Part Two applies Part One to one’s spouse, famly, neighbor (everyone), friends, enemies, self, and Creator. The narrative is easy to read, straightforward and well laced with Scripture. The author effectively illustrates points with real-life situations. The author is in his mid-30s, so his childhood memories (and many illustrations) are centered in the ’80s. This results in his book being aimed mainly at a younger audience, and at times that shows. Those of us who are old enough to have recent technology occupy only a small fraction of our lifetimes can be jarred by, for example, a reference to the Bible as “God’s text message.” All in all, this book gives one much to consider about love and loving. Even if the author’s thoughts are not new to the reader, they are a good reminder. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Love Without Limits by Nick Vujicic Nick Vujicic, born without limbs, wrote this with his wife, describing how they met, their courtship, wedding, and birth of their first child.. Those who have followed Nick’s life story know how, from a young age, he deeply despaired of ever finding a woman who would truly love him. Nick found that treasure in Kanae, whose upbringing and background prepared her to love deeply and for a lifetime. Their story is heartwarming. You rejoice for them both, as they were so blessed to find each other. Her thoughtfulness and ingenuity are remarkable, and his gratitude and love for her are all you could wish for him. This would not be one of Nick’s books if it did not offer lessons for others’ lives, including specific ways in which singles who wish to be married can help themselves wait. In other chapters, Nick and Kanae suggest ways in which other couples can learn to relate well, maintain the relationship, and prepare for and thrive in childrearing. Nick and Kanae have firm beliefs, but they do not shove those at others but rather gently encourage the reader to consider carefully their course, making choices which foster their best growth. If you have an interest in Nick Vujicic, want to read a sweet and an inspiring love story, or wish to read about a young couple starting out with maturity and on solid footing, this is a book you will enjoy. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Raising the Perfectly Imperfect Child by Boris Vujicic

The work of the father of Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs, this gem of a book encapsulates a lifetime of learning and wisdom. Written in an understated, straightforward manner without a hint of hysteria, this excellent book allows you to read between the lines a bit. It is often touching, balanced with marvelous instruction on how to deal with challenges, especially aimed at families of disabled or special-needs children. The advice provided in this book is spot on. Woven between the author’s narration of the shock and grief accompanying Nick’s birth are important lessons, such as allowing yourself to grieve, letting others help, learning from your child, how to be an advocate for medical care and education, balancing the family’s needs, including those of the parents and any siblings, and preparing your disabled child for adulthood. If you want an encouraging glimpse into a family that adjusted and learned to nurture a challenged child, this is the book for you. It will instruct you as well as lift you up. You will learn just from the example of these parents. One of my favorite parts is an account of a time when Nick had, shall we say, a very hard day. At bedtime, his father went to Nick and talked to him, assuring Nick of the love of each family member and of God. He sat by Nick and stroked his hair until Nick fell asleep. It is glimpses like that, coupled with the wise words of a father who has walked a road few have walked, that make this book so worthwhile. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Comeback by Louie Giglio

Subtitled, “It’s Not Too Late and You’re Never Too Far,” this well-written book provides encouragement to keep going. The author blends contemporary stories with biblical ones to make the point repeatedly that there is no such thing as “too low” or “too far gone.” The biblical stories include those of Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses, the thief on the cross, Joseph, and the prodigal son. Giglio takes a good look at Samson, Lazarus and Jesus Himself. Besides comeback accounts, the author encourages those who need a comeback to focus on Ps. 37:3-5, which says to “trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness; delight yourself in the Lord; and commit your way to the Lord.” This book’s aim is toward younger people, as the life circumstances repeatedly mentioned were transitions made in young adulthood. The principles covered, though, apply to anyone. This book skillfully uses Scripture throughout, and it was a great encouragement to read. I would recommend it. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

This twenty-fifth anniversary publication emphasizes our need for grace, exhorting us never to forget thta we will always be needy people; it’s how God designed us, for we cannot welcome grace if we do not need it. This work is a deep look at grace: what it is and is not, who it is for, and why it is needed. Manning drives home the point that we cannot save ourselves. This is not a shameful fact to be covered by more effort; it is rather a pitiful reality with a solution, God’s grace, already available. Forgiveness and grace are not to be experienced once, after which we launch out on our own. Forgiveness and grace are to be like the air we breathe, a constant need and refreshment. Manning’s writing is less conversational than is now popular, as it is more classic and less colloquial both in language and style. This classic work is a powerful look at a timeless subject. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson with Chrys Howard

I wanted to read this newest book because I enjoy Duck Dynasty, and it appears Willie and Korie Robertson have raised some very fine children. Korie’s book is as I expected it to be: down to earth, easy to read, and practical, just like the Robertson clan seems to be. Their approach to childrearing is based deeply on biblical principles, emphasizing qualities lauded in the Bible, such as self-control, honesty, compassion, patience, joy, and humility. Korie’s style is apparently an encouraging one; she spends chapters on parenting with confidence, consistency, love, truth, and creativity, as well as encouraging parents to be real, unified and intentional. Each chapter ends with a page or two written by Willie, giving his perspective on each quality. I found this book refreshing. There is an honesty to it that keeps it from being merely theoretical and a reality to it that seems to make it possible to aim toward and successfully emphasize character traits as you raise your children. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program.