Monday, June 25, 2012

My Stubborn Heart

This book from the genre of chick lit is actually deep as it touches on love, loss, and love again.

I do love a good book.  However, I hate it when the story drags along just to make the book longer.  The first 200 pages was nice as the story developed and character dynamics were described.  Then for the next 100 pages the story plateaued with no progression of the storyline and no character development. The last 50 pages, the storyline picked up the pace and almost sprinted to the finish.

The characters were mostly believable and the romance was nice without being overly sentimental.  The end was predictable, but there were a few surprises along the way.  This would have been a great book if it wasn't for the 100 pages in the middle where the story dragged along too slowly.

Bethany House provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Starring Me

This book was the epitome of teen check lit with too-good-to-be-true characters and a happily ever after storyline.

With so much fluff and fantasy, it was hard to relate to this story.  Chad is a teen singer after rising to fame on a reality show.  He is well-grounded and agrees with his parents' desire to pick his next female co-star.  In walks Kara who also is well-grounded and comes from a good home.  Although not a Christian like Chad, she is a good girl who just wants to make it big in show business without compromising herself.  I do like all the goodness within the story and the desire to be good.  However, this is not reality.

Surprisingly, the faith aspect of the storyline is well done.  The character of Kara struggles to first believe in God and then believing God loves her individually.  I appreciate that her struggle is weaved into the storyline and is not some forced or contrived scene within the book.  Her faith came about naturally with friends encouraging her and life challenging her.

Thomas Nelson has provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Fourth Fisherman

I understand why the author wrote this story in parallel form.  Initially each chapter alternates between the story of the 3 fisherman and the story of the author.  Their lives are parallel which makes sense to tell the story in parallel form until their lives are intertwined.

The fisherman are lost at sea and the author is lost in his life.  Being lost is figurative for some and literal for others.  Either way, they were lost.  And being found was not the end of the story.

The story is really a story about writing this story.  If that makes sense, then read this book.  If that does not make sense, then this book is not for you.

This book is for anyone who has been or is currently lost, both figuratively or literally.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


With the height of the NBA finals going on right now, it is interesting to look back at this unusual professional basketball season which included a lock-out, a shortened season, and the rise of an unknown.  Jeremy Lin gave basketball the inspiration it needed to return to favor in the American, and world, culture.

I have been fascinated with Lin's quick rise to stardom; however, when you read this book, you learn that it was not fast at all.  He has been playing the game and working hard to make it in the NBA for many years.  He has had some setbacks and was overlooked by quite a few.  Even getting a scholarship to play basketball at a Division 1 school was not possible.  Instead, Lin went to Harvard, paid for his education with the help of supportive parents, and was instrumental in making Harvard a powerhouse in Ivy League basketball.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, not just young adults, who are interested in the real life of Jeremy Lin.  It might surprise you as it did me.

Zondervan provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord

With encouragement and humor, Dave Stone reminds us that raising children who love the Lord is not impossible.  It is incredible.

Simply stated, children will love the Lord when parents love the Lord.  Within this book are simple ways to ensure parents are setting a good example for their children.  Investing in our children requires commitment, courage, and candor.  We have to be intentional when spend more time on hobbies than we do with our children.  We have to do the hard thing such as saying no.  We have to be honest when we fail and apologize to our children.

When we fail, which we all will, Stone reminds us that God is more concerned with direction than He is with perfection.  I so needed this reminder.

Being a parent is more than just providing food, clothing, and shelter.  It is about providing children with the foundation they need to trust in God for themselves.

Thomas Nelson provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, & Laughter

Having a family who enjoys being together and gets along is not impossible.  It is incredible.

This book encourages families to be more than just busy people who do a lot without accomplishing anything real.  It is like we are running on a treadmill exerting a lot of energy but going nowhere.

One thing families can do to live intentionally is to create a family mission statement.  Much like many businesses and even churches have done, this statement describes who you are and what you want to do.  It gives directions to families who need focus in their lives.

There is nothing new in this book, but there is hope for families today to be intentional about living.  We can all use this reminder.

Thomas Nelson provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I really liked this book because it articulated thoughts I have had but just could not define.  I have felt stuck in my faith and needed this book to help me get unstuck.

Arnie Cole and Michael Ross address the need for American Christians to quit being so nice and perfect.  We all struggle, and we all have faults.  Instead of trying to hide them or dress them up nicely, we need to face them and deal with them.  If we are comfortable, we are not truly living out our faith.  We have not just pitched a tent in our comfort zone but have built giant mcmansions to house our comfortable lifestyle.  This is not to say we need to live in tents, but we need to invest in what is really necessary and what is truly a blessing.

Too often, I read books with the 3 step plan of how to better my life.  This book in not about a formula or about rules or about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.  Instead it is about relationships and being honest and seeking real change in your life.

Bethany House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Truth About: The Lordship of Christ

John MacArthur does not sugarcoat the truth as he makes us all think about what it is that we truly believe.  Sometimes the truth hurts, but the truth will always set you free.

I was challenged when I read this book.  It is not that I disagree with what is said, but I realize how I do not always live the truth I believe.  Being a follower of Christ is more than just holding up your hand or walking an aisle or even having a fish sticker on your car.  It is "not easy, it is not user-friendly or seeker-sensitive; it isn't a rosy, perfect world Jesus gives you whatever you want."  After reading this I realized how often I get lazy in my spiritual walk and try to take the short-cut.

It's not easy, and it's not suppose to be.  I am grateful for John MacArthur's The Truth About series as it is a wake-up call to all of us to live what we believe and to make good on our commitment to Christ.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for me review which I freely give.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Winning Balance

Shawn Johnson has lived many highs and many lows.  She has dedicated her life to gymnastics but refuses to make gymnastics her whole life.  She balances her sport and passion with her life and family.

In this book, Shawn shares her experiences with candor and courage.  In some ways, she has worked hard for her success.  Yet, in others, she has just been in the right place at the right time.  For example, a retired Chinese gymnast opened a gymnastics center right in Shawn's small Iowa town.

As a middle-aged woman reading this book, I recognize that Shawn is still young and has a lot to learn.  Some of what she shares is just part of growing up.  At one point, she misses her parents so bad she thinks about quitting, but later on, Shawn is annoyed with her mom's constant presence.  Shawn is still young and has a lot to learn.  However, she has done so much in her young life.  You can't help but like her.

As I was reading this book, I did learn that Shawn has bowed out of competing this year and will not make it to the 2012 Olympics.  But I know, Shawn will continue keep her life in balance and be an example for young girls everywhere.

Tyndale House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding Our Way Home

This book was a leisurely summer read.  I enjoyed the character development and the progression of the storyline.

Sasha is an injured dancer who is learning to let go of her career without letting go of who she really is.  Evelyn is a young woman who does not want to let go of who she is but is learning what career she wants to pursue in life.  Together these women learn and grow and overcome their personal struggles.

What I did not like about this book was the snow globe.  It had more of a storyline than some of the minor characters.  This snow globe was portrayed with magical qualities and was called "their beloved talisman."  This just really bothered me when most of the book expressed faith and hope.  If it was not for the snow globe, this would have been a great book.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

To Heaven and Back

Dr. Mary C. Neal's experience is unique but not unusual.  Although many people have written about their experience of dying and returning to earth, each one is unique and worth hearing.

Mary died while on a kayaking trip in Chile but returned to earth after being told there was more for her to  do.  She shares her story with honesty and with sorrow as her story does not end with a happy ending.

Even though there were parts of Mary's story that I had a hard time understanding, I do recognize the truth of her testimony.  She, like all of us, are trying to grasp the meaning of life and God's will for us while we live here on earth. We may not get it all right, but God is a God of grace and gives us many opportunities to understand and to follow Him.

This book is similar to 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is For Real.  All of these books remind us that there really is more to this life and that we have a hope of a better place.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  

You can read more about this book and see the interview on Fox News here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Fiddler

Beverly Lewis is the gold standard in Amish fiction.  She started with The Shunning and continues to raise the bar for other books in this genre.

Amelia Devries is a world-class violinist who is so focused on her music that she has lost her way in life.  When she loses her way, literally, in a bad rainstorm, she finds herself in an Amish village.  There she realizes her need to reclaim the truth she once knew.  She also falls in love both with a young man and with a simpler life.  Amelia then has to decide what she really wants in life and how to go about doing just that.

I enjoyed reading this book and felt the calming effect of the Amish way.  I am not a world renown musician, but I am a woman who, like Amelia, can forget what is truly important in life.  This book is a gentle reminder for me and for all readers.

Bethany House has provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.