Monday, October 31, 2016

Nothing to Prove

Nothing to Prove *****
by Jennie Allen

Overview: Jennie shares her personal struggle with feeling inadequate, burdened down with life, and always striving to please God. Someone reminded her one day that "God doesn't need you. He loves you." This is her story of coming out from under her self-inflicted perfectionism for God and journeying into freedom.

The first three chapters she calls "Our Desert of Striving." Then the rest of the book she calls "God's Streams of Enoughness." At the end of each chapter, in that second section of the book, she has questions for reflection. She also has re-told a Bible story in her own words and from a different perspective. 

Positive elemen
ts: I like her personal, honest style. I also liked the bold sentences through out the book. You could skim and read the bold statements and get an idea of her main points.

Negative elements: Some of the content seemed repeated from things I've heard Jennie speak or write about in the past. I think it's just because blogs many times get worked into books, which is fine.

Conclusion: I have participated in all of Jennie's IF:Gatherings over the past three years. I really respect Jennie Allen and her approach to ministry. I really enjoyed her first book Anything. It was her profound story of God's working in her life. This book didn't have any profound insights for me, but it was full of good reminders. I liked this quote: "We do not change the world with might and power and creative strategies. We watch God change the world when we pray and abide and believe." So true!

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

On the Banks of Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek *****
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

On the Banks of Plum Creek is a very funny book. It's all about Laura's life when she was living by Plum Creek. This book has a lot of adventure and funny chapters. Laura knows a bully named Nellie Oleson. Laura does everything she can that will make the day one of the worst for mean Nellie. Find out what happens when Laura plays with a crab, gets covered with leaches, and has a herd of grasshoppers so big that they eat Pa's crops. How do they survive? Read the book to find out.

by Sadie Staples, 9

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Mystery Finding True Love in a World of Broken Lovers

The Mystery: Finding True Love in a World of Broken Lovers *****
by Lacey Sturm

Overview: This is Lacey Sturm's story of her fatherless childhood and then growing up chasing the wrong kind of men. She offers a story of hope focused on two areas: God will be a better father than any earthly father, and Christ is our true love in a world of broken lovers.

Sprinkled throughout the story were letters of advice by different people who Lacey knows. The book also has some artwork, but I'm not sure who the artist is.

Positive elements: I appreciated her honest telling of her story, her willingness to be vulnerable about the mistakes she has made, and her desire to point people to Jesus.

Negative elements: The story was a bit disjointed since she talked about different periods of her life at different times. I felt the story dragged on a bit at times.

Conclusion: I usually love reading autobiographies and biographies about people who have been changed and redeemed through Jesus. However, for some reason this story didn't resonate with me. Maybe it is because I haven't listened to her music. Maybe I got tired about reading about all the details of her adulterous relationship. (I realize that all those details would probably be helpful for someone in her same situation.) Maybe I feel a bit old reading this book at as 35 yrs. old.

I do rejoice in all God has done and pray that God continues to grow and work in her and her marriage.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Humble Roots

Humble Roots *****
by Hannah Anderson

Overview: Hannah Anderson finds herself worn down and unable to sleep well because she is worrying about her kids, the laundry, her job, etc. She begins a journey of discovering what it means to daily surrender her life to Jesus in humility. She can find rest in the fact that He is God, and she is not.

Each chapter has a sketch of a different native plant of her hometown in Virginia, and those plants are a part of the story of each chapter.

Positive elements: Well-written, short and to the point, insightful, full of scripture and great quotes

Negative elements: None

Conclusion: This is not a self-help book on how to have peace and rest in the midst of our busy lives. This is a book about humility. I was reminded of the truth that my pride can sneak in so quickly and leave me consumed with myself and my narrow view of the world...the opposite of having trust and peace in a loving God who created this whole world and is in control.

Anderson sums up the book at the end saying, "But this rest comes only by humility. This rest only comes by acknowledging our weakness. This rest only comes by submitting ourselves to Him. For when you do, when you finally come to Him--you who labor and are heavy laden--you can be confident that He will welcome you."

I love gardening so I also loved all the stories about plants and how she used those stories to teach spiritual truths.

I read this book in one evening, but I will continue, day by day, to pray and ask Jesus to give me humility and His peace.

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends

Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends *****
by Rachel Anne Ridge

This is a cute, hard covered book about a donkey who is helped by some animals after an accident. He then is able to help them in return. And as a result of the animals helping each other, they all become friends. 

I read Ridge's non-fiction book about her adopted donkey, Flash, and I just loved her hillarious stories about the donkey. I was hoping this book was going to be stories for kids about her "real" donkey. I was disappointed about that, but overall I did enjoy the book. The pictures are cute, and I love the message of the book. There are even a couple pages in the back for kids to think about people they can reach out to.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Greek for Everyone

Greek for Everyone *****
by A. Chadwick Thornhill

This thorough book begins with an introduction to the Greek language, explanations on how to pronounce the alphabet, and from there it dives in deeper than I could understand into the Greek language. I was quickly lost in the nominative, accusative, vocative, genitive and dative cases.

I think I will slowly try to bite off little pieces of this book. I realized it isn't a book you can just read through and understand. My first step needs to be to revisit the first chapter and stay there until I can memorize the Greek alphabet.

The book is very well-written and clear, or as clear as possible when trying to explain Greek! The book has some helpful charts. There were also helpful chapters on Greek reference tools, on comparing different English Bible translations, on doing word studies, etc.

I would recommend this book to someone who already had some knowledge of Greek as a refresher or a dedicated scholar.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life

Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life *****
by Henri M. Nouwen

Overview: Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest, corresponded extensively throughout his life with a broad range of people. This book is a collection of letters on all different topics to all different people from 1973-1996. Before each letter is a brief explanation of the context of the letter and when and where he wrote it.

Positive elements: You feel like you can go back in time, sitting in an attic and reading through a box of random old letters. The letters have that unpolished, raw, personal touch unlike a biography or a book.

Negative elements: I didn't know much about Henri Nouwen's life. There is an introduction that tells some about his life, but the letters are so varied and random, that you don't get a cohesive picture of his life.

Conclusion: I am conflicted about this book. I did enjoy reading some of the letters, especially those about his time working with the mental and physically disabled. I loved this quote from page 149: "It is such a joy for me to know that you too have sensed the special gift that the handicapped people can offer to the Christian community. By revealing to us that being is more important than doing, the heart is more important than the mind and community is more important than individual stardom, they are truly messengers of the Gospel and witnesses to the Lord who became poor for us."

However, I felt overall that I didn't get to really know Henri due to how unorganized all the letters were. And you only read his responses to the letters so you don't get a full picture of things. There was also this confusing thread throughout of his conflicting homosexual desires. Some of the letters I just couldn't fully understand what was going on. I think I would have rather read one of his books.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The School Skeleton

The School Skeleton *****
by Ron Roy

The School Skeleton was a very good mystery. It was funny, too, and there was a lot of action. And I really liked it.

by Sophie Staples, 6

Miracles on Maple Hill

Miracles on Maple Hill  *****
by Virginia Sorensen

Overview: I loved the story Miracles on Maple Hill. It was a story about a girl named Marly and her family. They came to Maple Hill because of her dad. Her mom said her dad needed fresh air when they come to Maple Hill. On Maple Hill, they met Mr. Chris and Chrisse. They came just in time for harvesting the maple syrup. It was hard work but they did it.

Positive elements:  They tried to shoot a bunch of baby foxes, but Marly and her brother scared the foxes away before they got to shoot them.

Negative elements: The sad thing about the story is that they kill a bunch of baby mice.

Conclusion:  I think kids and grown -ups will like this book.      

By Sabrina Staples, 8

Monday, October 10, 2016

He Knows Your Name

He Knows Your Name: How One Abandoned Baby Inspired Me to Say Yes to God *****
by Linda Znachko

Overview: Linda saw a news report one night of a dead baby found in a dumpster. Instead of feeling sad and then putting it out of her mind, she took action. She called the coroner to find out if someone was going to bury the baby. That first step led to many others. And now she has helped fund countless burials for infants through adults. And through this journey of helping people in their grief, she has found healing in her own personal grief.

Negative elements: Some sad and brutal stories of children's deaths but nothing is graphic.

Positive elements: Well-written, wonderful story of what a difference one, normal woman can make.

Conclusion: This was a short, quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone. I'll admit that at first I wondered, is it worth such a huge fuss and expense to bury an unknown baby? But I quickly realized what healing comes through the truth that God does know our names. There are no unknown and forgotten babies to God. And I was amazed to read about how many lives one baby's funeral can touch.

Linda concludes the book by asking each of us to walk with courage the path God has for simply obey one day at a time and see what God will do. Very encouraging and inspiring!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dirty Glory

Dirty Glory *****
by Pete Greig

Overview: Fifteen years ago, Pete Greig started up the 24-7 prayer movement around the world. More than 12,000 prayer houses have been set up all around the globe and people are seeing God work in amazing ways as they actually start gathering and praying. 

The book isn't just about Pete Greig but tells the stories of so many people. He also delves into issues like poverty and human trafficking and what difference prayer can make individually and in a whole culture.

Pete Greig wrote Red Moon Chronicles about the start of this prayer movement. This is kind of a sequel to that book.

Positive elements: This book is easy to read and so encouraging to hear of what God is doing "behind the scenes" around the world.

Negative elements: The book struggles through some tough topics including drug abuse, human trafficking, terrorism, etc. However, the book isn't graphic, and he shares testimonies that God is at work even in the darkest places.

Conclusion: When I first opened up this book, I thought, Oh, no! This is a prayer book for men. The book is definitely geared toward men, but as I continued reading, it turned into an amazing story of God's working around the world. This is a story of men and women trusting God to lead them to where He's working, no matter where in the world. It's a book to encourage any Christian to continue to pray, even if it doesn't seem like God is at work. He is.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

The 5 Love Languages for Children

The 5 Love Languages for Children  *****
by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

Overview: The five love languages is a system to help you realize that different people feel loved in different ways. The five kinds of love languages are physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, and acts of service. The book explores each of these "languages" in children. The book also addresses discipline techniques in light of different love languages. There is a chapter on anger that I really enjoyed. The book also offers extra insight for teachers and single parents. The end of the book has a "test" that older kids can take to help parents figure out their love language.

Positive elements: The five love languages are so helpful in realizing that different kids feel loved in different ways. The book is short and quick to read through. It has lots of examples of different kids and how important it is for a kid to feel loved by their parents.

Negative elements: If you have read the original book Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you really don't need to read this book.  I feel like all of his versions of the Five Love Languages are pretty much the same thing rehashed with a new cover. (I must say that the book does have some new material, but I'm just not sure that it is enough to warrant buying this book if you already have the original book.)

Conclusion: I would recommend this book for someone who hasn't already read the Five Love Languages. I was encouraged to take time to really think about the ways my kids really feel loved and not try to treat them all the same way. I want to work through the test with each of my children and try to figure out their primary love languages.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

More Stories from Grandma's Attic

More Stories from Grandma's Attic  *****
By Arleta Richardson

In Grandma's Attic was a great book! This book is about the grandma telling her granddaughter about when she was a little girl growing up. These are hilarious little short stories. Good thing is that if the reader is a beginner, then its chapters are short. I really enjoyed this book.

By Sadie Staples, 9

Children Just Like Me

Children Just Like Me

By Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley

This is a very fun book. It tells about kids all around the world. This book tells what the kids like to eat in their country and what the buildings look like there. I really enjoy reading this book. I think any age would like it. Enjoy reading through this fun book!

By Summer Staples, 10 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Lizzy and Jane

Lizzy and Jane *****
by Katherine Reay

Overview: Sisters Lizzy and Jane have been estranged for years after the death of their mother. Now Jane has breast cancer and Lizzy, a chef, has returned home from the big city to help care for her and cook for her.
Will they be able to forgive each other? Will they find wholeness in their family and lives again?

Themes: forgiveness, new beginnings, family, loss, love, cancer, food, Jane Austen

Positive elements: The book is so well-written and clean. The characters are very believable and you care about them. So much delicious food is cooked!

Negative elements: The book deals with some heavy themes around cancer. However, nothing is graphic and the loss and pain aren't the driving emotions of the book. 

Conclusion: I haven't read a fiction book I so enjoyed for awhile. The book has such a strong message of family and forgiveness. There is a love story woven throughout and the healing power of food and fellowship is clearly portrayed.  

The author talks about Jane Austen in all of her books. However, it isn't so prevailing that you'll miss what's happening if you aren't an Austen fan. The book has a few references to prayer but doesn't have a strong spiritual focus.

The Martian

The Martian *****
by Andy Weir

Overview: During a storm on Mars, an astronaut is lost and presumed dead. The rest of the crew is forced to evacuate due to the storm. Turns out the astronaut isn't dead...this is his first-hand account of how he survives alone on Mars. 
They recently made this book into a movie starring Matt Damon.

Themes: overcoming obstacles, perserverance

Positive elements: The story is so realistic. You can imagine him stuck on Mars and recording his daily diary. The story also switches back to what's happening on Earth as well. The author does a good job of keeping it clear when you switch from Earth to Mars.

Negative elements: There is a lot of bad language. 

Conclusion: The story kept my husband and I interested throughout the book. However, the book isn't a thrilling story like the movie was. Rather it seemed to plod along with him solving one problem at a time. It was definitely a book written by a man and about a man. But like I said before, it really was well done and realistic. I just wish there has been less language...that kind of ruined it for me.


The BFG  *****            
by Roald Dahl 

Overview: The BFG is a very good book. It is about a giant and a girl named Sophie. The giants is named the BFG. But I am going to let you find out why he is called the BFG.You should read it. Sophie and the BFG make up a plan to get rid of the bad giants in giant country.The Queen of England helps them. And to find out more you will have to read it yourself. 

Positive elements: The good thing is that it has a good ending. 

Negitive Elements: The only bad things in this book are that it has a lot of made up words so it is a little hard to read and that in the story the bad giants eat people. 

Conclusion: I think kids 8 and up should read this book.

by Sabrina Staples, 8