Sunday, September 17, 2017

Secret Keeper Girl: The Power of Modesty for Tweens

Secret Keeper Girl: The Power of Modesty for Tweens *****
by Dannah Gresh
This cute, little, full-color book covers seven different topics related to beauty and modesty. The book is short, easy to read, and relevant to tween girls.

Dannah Gresh's seven beauty secrets include ones such as "Secret 2: True beauty doesn't come from what's on the outside." And "Secret 4: God wants nothing we wear to distract from seeing our true beauty." She even included a mini history lesson on fashion and how it has become increasingly immodest. 

I appreciated how the author emphasized that modesty isn't about a bunch of rules but about your heart. She does include some fun "Truth or Bare" fashion tests such as seeing if your belly shows when you raise your hands. But the fashion tests are the very end of the book. She does a great job explaining in appropriate language why girls should even care if their tummies show.

She has scripture verses throughout the book as well supporting her statements.

I would recommend this to any tween girls to read. It's a great starting point for conversations about fashion that will hopefully reach the heart and go beyond just "Change your outfit! You can't go out in that." 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Christmas Blessing

The Christmas Blessing *****
by Melody Carlson

Overview: Amelia finds herself alone and desperate after her fiance is killed in WW2. She travels across country with their two-month-old child to meet his parents. Full of fear and shame, she worries about if they will accept her and help her. Bad luck continues for Amelia, and before she can meet her "in laws" she and the baby become terribly ill. How will she survive? Should she give up her baby son and give him a better chance at life?

Positive elements: a sweet, clean story about second chances

Negative elements: The story is short and rather underdeveloped.

Conclusion: I would recommend this story as a pleasant, relaxing way to spend an evening during the busy holidays. I read the book in a couple hours. I appreciated that the book was perfectly clean and not even as predictable as I thought it would be.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Just Sayin'

Just Sayin' *****
by Dandi Daley Mackall
Overview: Cassie's mom was supposed to marry Travis. For some reason, the wedding is off. Cassie is so disappointed because she was looking forward to having a dad again and a new step-brother and step-sister. Travis and the kids have moved away, and Cassie is living with her grandmother for awhile. All the kids are writing letters back and forth because they miss each other. Cassie and her supposed to be step-brother are fans of a TV show about insults. They also start writing the star of the show. 

This is a book full of letters between lots of different characters.

Positive elements: fun looking letters to read, a good message about the power of words

Negative elements: lots of insults, divorce

Conclusion: This book looks fun to read because of how the letters are laid out. However, my 11 yr. old just couldn't get into the book. And it was a bit boring for me, too. The author seemed to really be trying to talk to kids about the importance of kind speech. And that the results of miscommunication can be devastating. Those are great lessons, but the book doesn't really grab your attention. 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.  

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Daring to Hope

Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful
by Katie Davis Majors *****
Overview: Five years ago, Katie Davis wrote Kisses from Katie. She shared her heart about moving to Uganda to care for orphans. She adopted thirteen girls, started a school and ministry, among other things. Now we get to reconnect with Katie and hear about her life and ministry now that she's been serving in Uganda for more than ten years. She is now married and has a baby son of her own.

One of the themes of this book is hope in the midst of hardship. Katie shares the truths God has taught her as she has witnessed and participated in such great suffering. She says, "Maybe we are not called to alleviate suffering (as I once imagined) as much as we are called to enter into the suffering of others and walk with them through it." 

I also was encouraged with her insights on faithfulness in whatever God has for you for the season. After nursing a friend for months and then watching her die, Katie said, "In the days after she died, I walked into her room a thousand times out of sheer habit and remembered the words attributed to Aristotle, 'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.' It struck me. Surely, faithfulness is not a one-time act, not a decision or a destination, not something to eventually be attained. Faithfulness is what we repeatedly do." 

And even though we are so often not faithful, God is. And that's why we can put our hope and trust in Him. Even in the midst of pain, God is still sovereign. The Bible says, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."  

Positive elements: well-written, thought-provoking, so easy to read!

Negative elements: none

Conclusion: This book is a wonderful mix of stories from Katie's life in the last few years and deep truths about God. I was so encouraged to remain faithful in what God has given me to do now. I also was reminded that I am called to embrace suffering and not run from it.

Katie had some similar themes in her book as Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way. It's amazing to see that through two completely different women, younger and older, living out two different callings, in two far apart continents, the truth about God and loving other people is the same.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It would be encouraging to young adults all the way to grandmothers!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
 

A Disruptive Generosity

A Disruptive Generosity: Stories of Transforming Cities Through Stategic Generosity *****
by Mac Pier
Overview: How can we make an eternal difference in the world around us? Mac Pier writes this book to challenge believers today to use their money to change the world. He interviews forty leaders from ten countries and shows how their great generosity has hugely impacted their communities and countries. The book has thirty-one chapters and is designed to be read a chapter a day for a month. Chapters all begin with scripture from Isaiah to meditate on, and the end of each chapter has "points to consider" and a prayer. 

Positive elements: well-written and encouraging

Negative elements: none

Conclusion: I wanted to read through this book quickly so I could get the review done, but it is a bit much to try and read cover-to-cover. I think I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if I had spent a month reading it like is recommended. There are so many people named and details, that I was a bit overwhelmed and a bit bored reading too much at once. 

But I was inspired by two things: many of the people in this book are older, successful business men and women. They have chosen to get involved and give away their money rather than "retire" to a life centered around themselves. As I grow older, God will continue to give me new opportunities to serve if I'm open and not self-centered.

And secondly, I love the quote, "A unique dimension of money is that it can use the temporal to impact the eternal." I felt a little funny reading a book geared toward older business folk, but it held so many truths for me as well. No matter my business or financial status, I can make a lasting difference through giving.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

I'll Push You

I'll Push You: A Journey of 500 miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair *****
by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck

Overview: This is a story about the friendship between two men. The book follows their trek across the mountains of Spain and is sprinkled through with flashbacks of their life-long friendship. The chapters switch back and forth between the two guys writing.

Patrick and Justin had always gone on crazy adventures together, but then Justin started to lose the use of his legs due to a disease. It didn't take long for Justin to be completely paralyzed. But neither Justin or Patrick gave up their sense of adventure. Instead, they tackled this incredible journey.

Positive elements: Clear, well-written, sweet story of friendship. The guys share light-hearted stories of their childhood, describe the amazing trek, introduce us to fellow sojourners, and also share very serious, personal struggles they've faced.

Negative elements: Some of the childhood stories got a bit boring. I felt like they were kind of trying to make the book a bit longer.

Conclusion: I really loved how at the end of the book they talked about not just wishing you did fun things with your friends and family but actually going out and making memories. I probably can't go with a friend or my family on an overseas adventure, and film a documentary, but I can take the time to make some great memories with the wonderful friends and family I have been blessed with right here at home.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Unexplainable Church

The Unexplainable Church: Reigniting the Mission of the Early Believers *****
by Erica Wiggenhorn

This ten-week Bible study covers Acts 13-28. Each week covers roughly one chapter of Acts. Homework is broken into five daily assignments each week. Each day you read a passage of a scripture or more. There are questions to think through and some commentary by the author.

I enjoy Erica's studies because they seem to have a good balance of thought-provoking questions and commentary. In some Bible studies I've done, the questions seem so easy that I really don't have to think at all. I have been challenged, encouraged, and inspired by studying Acts.

Erica's first study The Unexplainable Life covered Acts 1-12.

I would highly recommend Erica's Bible studies to anyone. She provides free resources if you want to use this as a group study. I've found her studies work great for groups because of the great questions.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.