Monday, November 14, 2011

Decision Points ~ George W. Bush

I am really enjoying this book. 
Through eight years of this presidency we never got to hear the Presidents' side of any story,
the media told us what to believe and wrote American history it it's own words and opinions. 
The book at least gives us some background on the who and why of this person that shaped American history. 
Yes...he IS a person. 
He has a family and a lifetime of experiences that shaped him into who he was prior to taking office. You can draw so many rude conclusions and read into his family as much as you want, but you can do that with anything and anyone. I am just happy that I finally get to hear his side of the story and get a view of his life, in his words.
If you are an extreme liberal or extreme right winger and your mind is already made up that you "hate" someone you don't even know because of their politics, than you probably shouldn't read this book.
It will only fuel your hatred. 
You would be better off talking to a counselor about why you have to extremely hate complete strangers to find peace in your life.
However, if you are a kindhearted person that enjoys a good story told by someone that loves history and loves this great country,
then I highly recommend this book. 
The former President is a fascinating public figure, it is about time we get to hear his account of the past decade of American history from his point of view. 
*I received this book from WaterBrook Publishing to review.
I did not promise a good review. All thoughts are mine and mine along.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

House Of Secrets ~Tracie Peterson

The Cooper sisters, Bailee, Geena and Piper, return to their childhood summer home,
at the request of their father, for a surprise.

They go and hear the surprise of their life,
yet not the original surprise.....

The family reveals secrets that they never thought they would.

One sister finds love when she doesn't want it,
one sister deals with struggles of her own.

The entire family goes through life changing events.

From finding God to finding the truth after all those years.

I loved this book, and will more then likely read it a few more times before lending it out.

*This book was sent to me by Bethany House Publishing for free to review. I did not promise a good review, and all thoughts are mine and mine alone.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Couples Who Pray

Let me start by saying that I am completely on board with the fact that praying with your spouse can be a marriage changing experience. It just makes sense to me. If a couple truly desires God to be central in their relationship, praying together should be a no brainier. Easier said than done. That’s why I was pretty excited to review this book.

The official book promo states “takes readers step by step through the 40 day prayer challenge”. Um, no, actually, it doesn’t. The book takes the reader through 150 plus pages of celebrity stories ... and that’s about it. While some of the stories were inspiring, it just got, well, old. No where does it actually talk about anything step by step, although there is a brief “commercial” to visit their website to sign up for support (for a cost). The end of the book has an appendix with questionnaires for husbands and wives to help them, I guess, get started. I don’t know because no where does it outline what to do with the questionnaires.

Except for another appendix in the back of the book, the text has little to no scriptural support. Indeed I think I was about 1/3 of the way through the book before I found a scripture reference. The book also rarely focused on the ONE who answers prayer and just on the prayer itself. Less mature readers will probably walk away with a “if I just do like these famous people do God will give us exactly what we want.” God often does give us our wants. More often, however, He gives us what we need and very often that’s in the answer of “NO” to a specific prayer.
It seems to be just another example of “famous” people touting their expertise just because they are famous. To be sure, several of the stories were touching and inspiring, but this book could have been a lot shorter and much more effective for couples really wanting to develop a habit of praying together.

I was very disappointed with this book, and wouldn't recommend spending your money on it.

*eceived this book free from the Booksneeze Blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review (obviously). The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Nick Of Time

Nick Polchak is the Bug Man, at least that is what his friends call him. He is a forensic entomologist and a professor at a local college. He studies maggots and blowflies and decomposing bodies. So if you have a problem with bugs, this is not the book for you. If you are interested in bugs, dead bodies and how the those two together can tell a story of a life (and death) of a person, start reading. That seems to be where reality ends in this book. (Yes, I know it is a work of fiction.) The story takes a few twists and turns along the way, but nothing compared to the major twist at the end.

The author does a great job of leading you on a path of solving a cold case and making you think that Nick's life is on the line. He also brings in Nick's fiancee to add to the twists and turns. The idea of making you think you are heading one direction and actually fool you in the end is a great new twist to the regular crime novels I read. However, the final act is a little far fetched to really believe. I just cannot believe that a sniper would shoot at anyone, let alone a friend just to make him think someone wants him dead. Also, the fact that they led the fiancee into the whole thing and nearly get her killed is ridiculous. The fact that she blows up at Nick's "friends" is what I wanted to do to the author at the end of the book. To fake the death of a friend and then to let Nick go to the expense of chasing these clues for three days, four days before his wedding is crazy. I cannot believe there is anyone in the world that would do what the author tries to make you believe. If I could give a bit of advice to Tim, please continue to do the twists and turns, just try to make them more believable.

Other than the outrageous ending, it was a very interesting and informative read and entertaining. I would recommend reading the other novels by Tim Downs that involve Nick Polchak before reading this one so you know the back story of the characters.

*I was sent a copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishing to give a honest review on. All thoughts are my own.

The One Day Way

The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs really reminds us what we already knew all along; if want to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you take in. How come were not doing this? How can we change the habits we have. According to Chantel " All it takes is doing things differently for twenty four hours - and then repeating."

You can not click to look inside.     

The book is basically about changing the way you think. Set a goal for food and / or fitness one day at a time. This takes effort on our part but anyone can do anything for 24 hours. The advice is along the lines of information you'd hear from a fitness trainer (which she is) - eat between 1,400- 1,600 calories a day, commit to 30 minutes of cardio vascular activity 6 days a week, and three days of strength training. Some of the advice I question, for those starting out, like fasting one meal a week, indulging one meal a week and her interval training sessions (changing the intensity up and down, up and down, while working out). She does share, that when she first started losing weight she didn't tackle cutting her food in take and exercise at that same time.

Chantel helps get you started with some examples of daily goals you can set. She has also included a list of ten commandments for eating to lose weight, and then talks about each one. She does the same with ten commandments for getting fit for life. There is also a list of power snacks, power foods, sample menus, 31 strength training exercises with a medicine ball and resistance band. For those who like things documented she includes a 2 page Commitment Contract. Some personal stories are spread through out. Sometimes, I think they got a little side tracking.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I have no doubt that following her advice will get you to your ideal weight. She warns you up front it will take hard work and commitment. Her advice is sound. It's honestly what we known all along but didn't want to hear. I would recommend this and give it 4 out 5 stars. 
*I received this book free, from WaterBrook Press, in exchange for a fair and honest book review

A Place Called Blessing

"Josh lost his parents in a drunk-driving accident and lost track of his two brothers after a tragic fire.  By age eighteen, he is an angry young man who only wants a job, an apartment, and to be left alone.  Instead, he meets Mike and Anna, an unusual son-and-mother team who draw him into their lives.  For the first time, Josh receives unconditional love and something every human being craves, the gift of "the blessing."  But tragedy strikes again, and a shocking secret is revealed.  Can Josh hang on to what he's learned about blessings, curses, and family?"

Wow, what an amazing book!  When I requested this book online, I didn't really understand what I was getting into.  I had read the back of the book online, and it sounded like a good "story" to me.  But when I received it in the mail, I re-read the back of the actual book and saw the "Focus on the Family" stamp on it, and then noticed who the author was, John Trent, PhD.

In The Blessing, John Trent discusses specific ways to move toward others and bless others using these 5 essential elements...
~ a meaningful touch
~ a spoken message
~ attaching high value
~ picturing a special future
~ an active commitment

What an amazing read!  I read through this book in one day, in 2 different sittings.  I don't want to give anything away, but suffice it to say, make sure you have a box of tissues close by!  From beginning to end I was fully enveloped in the story, feeling as if I was there with Josh throughout his life.  From the disappointments he faced to the achievements he accomplished, I was there cheering him on.

I give this book 5 Stars and highly recommend it!  Every parent should be required to read this book and learn of the "Place Called Blessing"!
*This book was sent to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing for a honest review.

The Final Hour

In The Final Hour, the 347-page fourth and final novel in the Homelander’s series, Andrew Klavan presents a compelling, honest, and decidedly masculine story of what confronting evil, living true to your beliefs, and emerging victorious looks like. The beginning of the novel feels as if you’ve stepped onto an airport walkway moving at ninety-miles-an-hour and you have to run just to stay on your feet. The book ends with a Reading Group Guide, giving the reader time to stop and catch his breath and ponder the truths described in the novel.
Though the book is understandable on its own it is worth the time to read the three novels prior to this one, The Last Thing I Remember, The Long Way Home, and The Truth of the Matter

The series tells the story of Charlie West, an all-American teenager who fell asleep one night and awoke strapped in a chair, the captive of radical Islamists seeking to destroy the western world and in particular, America. Reading the series entire is enjoyable first of all and secondly it is an education in how to write simply and well and create a truthful, encouraging story that is nearly impossible to put down once it’s begun.
The novel has no table of contents and its short chapters compel the reader to continue to the next chapter and then the next, and suddenly you’ve read the whole thing and it’s three o’clock on a work day morning. Description and dialogue use short almost choppy sentences that convey simplicity, honesty, and urgency.
The Final Hour is a story of the battle of good against evil, where good is clearly defined as a morally clean, upright American life well-lived, and evil is radical Islam which seeks above all else to destroy that which professes faith in God and country. To the enemy, Charlie West represents the Great Satan, and the story clearly favors America and her Christian-inspired culture.  It is understood rather than overt that Charlie West’s Christian faith is the foundation for his behavior. His karate sensei, or teacher, Mike, is also a believer, though again the emphasis in this novel and throughout the series is not specifically Christian men, but the example of good men, living well and honestly, faithful to and willing to fight for their beliefs, their families, their communities, and their country.

The book is decidedly masculine and is an excellent example of honorable behavior for both young men and young women, and for those of us who are older as well. The passion for family and country is encouraging and uplifting. The clear distinction between right and wrong and good and evil is a refreshing alternative to the postmodern denial of objective truth we have forced upon us from the popular culture.
The only weakness of the novel is that the characters sound a lot alike, but this is a minor point and in no way detracts from a delightful, compelling novel where the good guys win and evil is, at least for the time being, defeated.

This book was given to me free of charge by in exchange for an honest review.

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck

Athough entertaining, I would hardly call this a Christian book. The references to God and faith are few and far between, with the main character, Charlotte Beck, having the most shallow faith of all. Charlotte spends most of the book denying the need for God and believing that a person's lot in life comes from hard work. At the climax of the book, she does admit a feeble need for God, but then the remainder of the book is spent focused on the consummation of their marriage, which at times was more detailed than I felt was appropriate for this type of genre.

The writing was also rather extreme. Charlotte's character was over the top wild and opinionated. Alex's character, which bounced between smart businessman and dreamy, entitled stargazer, left a lot to be desired.. But the most confusing part was the storyline of Charlotte's mother, who 'disappeared' when Charlotte was young. The scene in the book where this storyline pinnacles was full of holes. Even worse, the author does not fill in all the gaps, leaving the reader wondering what it was all about.

Overall, I would not recommend this book unless extremely bored and needing something to do.

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

Love You More

What a sweet, sweet, story! This is the author’s intimate memoir of her journey through the International Adoption process when she adopted a little girl from Guatemala. She talks about each step of the journey from the events that led up to her and her husband’s decision to adopt to her family’s period of adjustment after their new daughter joins the family. Jennifer Grant beautifully balances her story between the practical details of adoption with emotional elements of having a daughter in another country, waiting for her to come home.

This isn’t a How-to-Adopt book. It’s more like having a girlfriend over for tea who has adopted and hearing her share her experience. How did you come to this decision? How did you decide which country to adopt from? How do you know there was no corruption involved in the adoption process? What was the home study really like? When you brought your daughter home, how did she adjust to her new life? How did you find a balance between welcoming her and disciplining her? What is it really like to have a multi-racial family? People considering adoption will find a treasure chest of useful information, but in this book Grant has balanced information with inspiration. People who are not considering adoption will still be blessed by reading this story! It is just a good read. The kind of book that makes you want to curl up with a blanket and a hot drink and not be disturbed until you’ve read the last page.

A Year With Jesus

My family was never really a "Church Going" family.

I went to church with my neighbor a few times,
and I was active in Campus Life in high school,
but, we never went to church as a family.

About a year ago, I found myself craving The Lord.

I joined a popular group online but couldn't keep up.
[This is the first time I have tried to read the Bible.]

I felt lost. I felt weak. To tell you the truth,
I felt stupid.

I felt like maybe I wasn't smart enough to understand the Bible.

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the books on BookSneeze, by: R.P. Nettelhorst.
 I read through the description and decided to order it for review.

The description reads:
"Too many times the impact and grandness of the actual words Jesus spoke, as recorded in the Bible, are lost in the telling of the story. In A Year with Jesus, the primary focus is to allow the scriptures that contain Jesus' dialogue to uniquely speak to the reader. The author follows each reading with insights and applications to help explain the context and nuances of the text. The unique titling of each meditation and the nontraditional themes and organization help bring Jesus to our daily lives. Topics include:
Love and Hate
Truths and Lies
Arrogance and Humility
Friends and Enemies
Belief and Disbelief
Patience and Impatience
Deserved and Undeserved
Good and Evil
Fidelity and Treachery
Life and Death" ~ Taken from the booksneeze website.

Went I got the book, I flipped through it and read a few days.
[Each day equals one page.]
Later that night, I went in my room, lit a candle, and opened to Section 1.  [Love and Hate]
Day 1. [Kingdom News]

Mark 1:4-15 NKJV

I was hooked from there.
I grabbed my iPhone and read the scripture through in different versions.

I knew that this would be a book that I could DO!
I love the break down of sections and that you can spend so much time on one day, even though it is just one page.

I would recommend this book to everyone who wanted a closer relationship with God.

*I received this book for free for review from BookSneeze. I did not promise a good review for this book. All thoughts are mine and mine alone.