Friday, December 28, 2012

Soul Detox

How do I explain how I liked this book even though it was 'getting up in my business'?

I will admit that I am not perfect, but this book goes even further as it challenged me to address those issues that I may not want to admit but absolutely need to deal with.

I was most challenged by the chapter called Green With Envy.  I really did not think I had an issue with envy, but apparently I do.  "Envy is when you resent God's goodness in other people's lives and ignore God's goodness in your own life." (p. 111).  That hit a nerve, but in a good way.  I needed the tough love.

In this book, Craig Groeschel says the hard stuff we need to hear so that life does not have to be so hard.  Even though he addresses many things that are toxic to the soul, he does not leave us in pain.  He adds encouragement and strategies to help us deal with our issues.

Zondevan provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Praying Circles Around Your Children


I did not like The Circle Maker and expressed my concerns with this book in the previous review; however, I was pleasantly surprised with Praying Circles Around Your Children.

This book encourages parents to pray for their children and to never give up interceding for them.  It also encourages parents to teach children to pray for themselves and to follow God's leading in their own lives.

I also like the idea of praying God's Word over children.  It is a great way to focus prayer and to bring God's truth into prayer.

Many of the stories from The Circle Maker are repeated in Praying Circles Around Your Children.  I only noticed as I read these books back to back.  Otherwise, I did enjoy this book.

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

The Circle Maker

This book has been popular lately, and I was thankful that Zondervan sent me a copy to review.  I always need encouragement in my prayer life, and this book certainly points us in that direction.

The basis of this book is a legend about a Jewish man named Honi.  A few years B.C., Honi drew a circle and stayed in this circle praying for rain.  He intended to remain in that circle until the rain came, which it did.  The author draws a parallel from this legend that we can draw a circle around our dreams, concerns, hopes, etc. and stay there until our prayers are answered.

While reading this book I was both nodding my head in agreement and shaking my head with disagreement.  I am all for praying big prayers and trusting God for answers, yet I do not agree that "If you keep drawing prayer circles, the answer is yes" (p. 43).  Later on the author clarifies this point by stating, "No doesn't always mean no; sometimes no means not yet."  This sounds too much like a 'name it and claim' routine which the author says this book is not about, "drawing prayer circles isn't some magic trick to get what you want from God" (p. 14).  So I am confused about the purpose of a circle prayer.

I was reminded of The Prayer of Jabez while I was reading this book.  Years ago that book inspired people to pray big prayers and trust God.  Where the Jabez prayer is found in the Bible, the Honi legend is just that, a legend.  I am having a hard time with the theology of this book especially since the basis of the book is a legend, not a Biblical truth.

Suffice it to say, this book did not inspire me.  I really wanted it to, but it fell short.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action

First of all, I did not read Life Without Limits nor have I seen any of the videos from Nick Vujici.  So I really had no preconceived notions before reading this book.  I read it without any knowledge of Nick or his life story.  All I knew was from the book summary and the picture on the front cover.

Nick does share a brief summary of his life story, but mostly this book is about his life since his last book.  There are many stories about people who have inspired him as he travels the world.  The book also points to God for hope, peace, and strength.

I found the book hard to read as there was no real flow.  It was mostly just a lot of vignettes and a bunch of pep talks.  It seems that this book is the sequel for the first book, but it is not well organized.  Nick's story is still inspiring and for those who know his story, they might enjoy this book.

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Silent Night

A family trying to overcome struggle.  A sister trying to stop her rebellious ways.  An unexplained death and a missing person that has become a cold case.  There really is a lot packed into a little book including mystery, suspense, and drama.

Since the book was so short, the story line moves fast.  A lot happens in a short period of time so this book could really can be read in one sitting.  Also, I did not find this book to be just a holiday novel as the title suggests but a novel for any time of the year.

While reading this book on my Kindle, I was surprised that when the location bar at the bottom read 60%, the book was finished.  The rest of the file includes a long excerpt from Tidewater Inn.  If I was to buy this ebook, I would like to know that almost half the file was from another book.

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Stories

What a delightful book to read during the Christmas season!

This book is a compilation of stories, vignettes, and reflections from 9 other Max Lucado books.  Even though I have already read the other books, this book highlighted all the ones that surround the birth of Jesus.

Reading this book was like drinking a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day.  It is worth buying this book just so you have a reason to sit down and reflect on the true meaning of this holiday season.

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


Monday, December 17, 2012

Chew On This

It is hard to find devotionals that are good for teenagers, and this book hits the mark.   Aimed at teens who are learning to seek God on their own, this book guides the reader through meditations and reflections.

There are 31 devotions, and each devotion is just a few pages long which is good for those with a limited attention span and for those are are just starting to spend time with God.  There is room for notes and journaling inspired by the many open-ended questions.

Some of themes were quite appropriate for teens today such as dating, materialism, and forgiveness.  Other themes were not what would I have expected such as death.  In Chapter 6, "Saying Good-bye"is a mediation where the reader sees his own funeral and is guided through questions about who would be there and who would not.  It is a topic I would not have included in a book teaching teens how to have a devotional time with God.  It is why I gave the book a 3 star rating.  The idea of guided devotions is good, the execution is well-done, but the themes are mediocre.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Empty

I was thrilled when fellow Booksneeze blogger, Cherie Hill, sent me her latest book to review.  I have enjoyed reading reviews of books she has read, and now I get the chance to review her book.

The book, Empty, summarizes the deep emptiness that all humans feel.  We are empty for a reason.  If life was good and easy, we would have no need for hope, for salvation, for God.  The emptiness leads us to God who is the only one who can truly fill us.  He created us with a thirst that only He can quench.

There is a lie that we have believed, "God will never give you more than you can handle."  This is not Biblical, and the author dispells this myth by telling the truth from God's Word.  Life is hard, and we will have trouble.  That is the truth.

I am impressed with Cherie's insights.  I did not know that the longest recorded conversation of Jesus was between him and the woman at the well.  He talked with this un-named woman and promised that the water he provides ensures that she would never go thristy again.  How refreshing!  I need draw from this well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Heaven Changes Everything

This book really is a follow up to Heaven is For Real.  The parents of Colton Burpo expound upon their experiences in writing the book as well as traveling around the country speaking about Colton's trip to heaven.  Their honesty is refreshing especially from a pastor and his family.  I am glad that I am not the only one who gets mad at God.  Todd Burpo talks about railing at God while Colton was in the hospital.  Todd is saddened that Colton was able to see him from heaven; yet God was not offended.  God can handle our anger and sadness and frustration and any other emotion we feel.  He created us and those emotions.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Heaven is For Real so I was looking forward to reading this latest Burpo book.  This devotional reader has 42 chapters with each chapter containing a quote from the first book, a reflection from Todd or Sonja, a Bible verse, and a question for reflection.

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

At Every Turn

Ally Benson has a big heart and unlimited means.  As a matter of fact, she is the daughter of the richest man in town.  When she impulsively commits to a large donation in front of her church, she finds herself in a bind as her dad does not support the ministry.  So Ally tries to raise the funds on her own with the one thing she is good at...car racing.

I enjoyed the pace of the story and the character development.  The story line was never dull or boring. The book was well written and easy to read.  However, I did not like the main character.  Ally is a spoiled rich girl who justifies her actions to get what she wants.  She wants to help raise funds for missionaries, but in order to do that she lies and deceives.  Ally also flirts with 2 men and enjoys their affections even though she is not interested in marrying either of them.  After a while, I had to put the book down, because the main character really annoyed me.

The ending was satisfying even though I did not like the portrayal of the main character.  She really does not understand sacrifice and true giving.  She never really had to work for the money she raised.

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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Deep & Wide

As a churched person, I never noticed what church looks like to an unchurched person.  I grew up in church.  I attended church throughout my life as an adult.  I love the church; however, this book opened my eyes to see what others see when they visit church.  I am even observing my church from a fresh perspective to see what we look like to a first time attender.

Andy Stanley is a pastor who grew up a preacher's kid, and he knows how to do church.  He also has a passion for those who do not know how to do church and tries to create an environment that is inviting to believers, unbelievers, maybe-believers, and those who just are not sure.

While I anticipated a staunchy book about church, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing.  Stanley is funny, self-depreciating, honest, and incredibly insightful.  All of this makes for an enjoyable book that made me uncomfortable at times, but in a good way.

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