Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Knot Little Books of Big Wedding Ideas by Carley Roney and the Editors of TheKnot.com

Okay, I've been married to my wonderful man for 22 years and our kiddos are in their early teens.  So what would ever possess me to request  The Knot Little Books of Big Wedding Ideas by Carley Roney and the Editors of TheKnot.com to review?  Well... I am female... and don't we all love a good wedding?!

First of all, this set of books is small.  You could easily slip a book or two into your purse to take to an appointment with your florist, cake designer, or the like.  But what they lack in size is made up for in the great information included in each of the four books.

Book 1:  Cakes.  Great information about selecting a baker, cake design, and type of cake for your wedding venue/time of year.  This book is filled with lots of beautiful pictures to get the creative juices flowing.  Also, I appreciated the idea to ask each baker to give a price per slice so you could easily compare price between your top candidates.

Book 2: Bouquets & Centerpieces.  This section starts with questions for your florist, common sense information about budget, size and height considerations for centerpieces, appropriate bouquets based on the bride's stature as well as venue and time of year.  Beautiful pictures abound.

Book 3: Stationery, Decor, and Favors.  Although this section is filled with beautiful pictures and some ideas for inexpensive invitations, I found this section to be the least helpful for a bride on a smaller budget.

Book 4:  Vows, Readings, and Toasts.  My favorite of all the little books, this one is filled with all types of vows (depending on religious beliefs).  Also were some fabulous readings, some of which brought tears to my eyes as I read them.  The happy couple could easily use ideas directly from the book or use them as a launching point for their own.

I thoroughly enjoyed these books and know that I will use some of the information for other special events as well.  I must admit, though, that I have not read other wedding planning books recently and would recommend that this is just one resource for information, and not your only one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate By Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard

When I first saw the title of this book, my first thought was, "No!  I don't want to read another book that can't heal my relationship with my parents!"  ...But regardless of my initial reaction, I felt compelled to read this book.

As the title implies, this book is about forgiveness, but not necessarily reconciliation. The author shares the story of her relationship with her schizoid father, how he hurt her and her siblings, and how each of them chose to forgive him, and what that looked like in practice.  Mrs. Fields also shares Biblical and contemporary cases where others have chosen to not allow the bitterness of unforgiveness to negatively impact their relationships with others.

Forgiveness, on any level, is mirroring God's forgiveness.  It does not require anything from the offending party.  We may never receive the love and acceptance from a parent that we are longing for, and if we continue to focus on that, we may damage of stifle the relationships we have or could have.

Although the author and others shared their stories of forgiveness, the book still encourages healthy boundaries.

For me, this was time well spent.  It affirmed the direction I was going and showed me a new perspective as well.  I think the biggest "take-away" for me was that honoring your parent(s) may just come in the form of living a productive and God-fearing life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Without You, There is No Us" by Suki Kim


"Without You, There is No Us" by Suki Kim is a unique glimpse into the lives of the North Korean people, specifically the sons of the North Korean elite.

Ms. Kim, who is an American citizen born in South Korea, was allowed to teach English to a select group of young men at a university in Pyongyang from July through December of 2011.  Although these young men came from elite families in North Korea, they proudly went without good, nourishing food and adequate warm clothes as a testimony of their loyalty to the "Party" and to the Great Leader.

While there, Ms. Kim was carefully monitored and was only allowed to speak about certain topics.  All of her lesson plans had to be pre-approved.  Her personal use of CD's or books was extremely limited as the government feared these items may be passed on to a North Korean citizen.  All television, intranet (their internet), reading materials, etc. were controlled by the Party to limit the peoples' exposure to the outside world.  They also constantly listened to nationalist music, and were subjected to billboards, murals, etc. that depicted their "Great Leader" as a god.

I found this book to be one I could not put down.  I was so saddened by the extremes a government will go to, to control its people, and it would be difficult for me to accept that communism is good for anyone other than the people in control.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots by Ron Bates



“How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots” by Ron Bates is a quirky little book well suited for tween-age boys.  Many of the characters have silly names (such as Howard Boward, Winnie McKinney, Stick, and G-Force) and included a deaf classmate as well as a host of bullies.

In the book, Howard gets to build a robot for a robot competition (I’m still unclear about the whole “goo” thing), save the school dance from robots, and stand up for himself with a group of his friends against the “Snowblinders” who have in the past pummeled Howard with snowballs.

I appreciated the camaraderie and willingness to share ideas by the Believer Achievers robot-building group and that they chose to believe that Howard wasn’t behind the vandalization of their projects.

I think the audience this book was written for would enjoy the story and Howard’s goofy antics.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent & Christmas"

The weeks before Christmas can be so hectic that when I was given the opportunity to review "Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas", I jumped at the chance.

First of all, the readings start on November 24.  As I actually received the book on that date was awesome.  But for me, unfortunately, that is pretty much where it ended.  I recognized many of the authors, all of whom, I am sure, are great men and women of God.  But to be able to sit down and read a devotion without feeling like I was back in my conservative Lutheran church being preached at from a pulpit (and I was trying with all my might to stay awake and aware) was very difficult for me.

I am positive that there are those who would read this book and be truly edified by it (hello Dad!), but for me, I guess I'm not "educated" enough to appreciate this book for what it is.  What I do appreciate, though, is the reminder to slow down during the Advent season and remember what Christmas is truly about.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Plough Publishing House via Handlebar Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography" by Fred Schruers


The first "album" I purchased as a kid was Billy Joel's "The Stranger".  As it was the only record I had, I would listen to it over and over again.  Now as an adult, I still love the music he created in his earlier years.  So, it was a no-brainer when I had the opportunity to review Billy Joel's biography by Fred Schruers.

This book details Mr. Joel's life, starting with his affluent Jewish-German grandparents and their son (Billy's future father) fleeing Nazi persecution, and awaiting emigration to the US in Cuba. Sometime after coming the States, his father (who was also a pianist) met and married is mother.

Billy was raised primarily by his mother.  He credits her nurturing attitude to his success in music as his father would have never allowed him to pursue that career in something so impractical.

The book chronicles his rise to success; his first wife's (Elizabeth) part in it; his misplaced trust in the people around him that led to money problems; his marriages and their failures; his relationships with others in the music industry; his challenges with alcohol; and his music, much of which includes a self-fulfilling pessimistic twist.   

Although the story is told by the author, Fred Schruers, there are many quotes from Billy, Billy's former wives, and others close to him.

I found the book to be very interesting although my heart goes out to him.  I truly wish for Mr. Joel that he is able to find the unconditional love and acceptance that he (may unknowingly) seeks.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart

When I first received "365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart" from Bethany House Publishers for review, I was so impressed by the exterior of the book itself.  The hard cover has a soft feel to it, and the light pink color, embossed title, and satin ribbon bookmark are not only feminine, but have a richness to it.

As for the contents, this is a book of daily devotions, each that can be read in a matter of five minutes or less.  Each day includes a Bible verse to start the devotion and one to end it, as well as a short prayer related to the devotion's topic.  For me, these devotional topics really spoke to me.  They are relevant and timely.  I look forward to now reading each one daily as they were intended.

This book would make a lovely and thoughtful gift.  You may also want to pick up a copy for yourself.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.  
 

“The Family Project” by Glenn T Stanton and Leon C. Wirth



“The Family Project” by Glenn T Stanton and Leon C. Wirth is an encouraging book for families.  It encourages us to remember that we were made in God’s image and that He loves us so very much.  It encourages husbands and wives to stay together, and think of the family as a whole, and not just their own feelings.

The authors also encourage mothers and fathers to be role-models for their children, teaching them that no matter if we are male or female, each has his/her important gifts and uniqueness that the other does not have.  God made both sexes for a special purpose (other than procreation) and that both are fundamentally important for each other and society.

Interesting, too, the authors discuss the financial benefits of marriage, not only to the family, but to the nation, and how the decreasing number of children being born can spell economic challenges if not a disaster.

This is a great book for a small group study or other discussion.  I also enjoyed the links for classic art that the authors included.  I must admit that for some reason, I had a hard time getting into the book, but it was certainly time well spent.  Also, if you are looking for politically correctness, go somewhere else.  If you are seeking Biblical correctness, this is a worthwhile read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.   

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Woman Who Would be King by Kara Cooney

"The Woman Who Would Be King" by Kara Cooney is an in-depth, researched, yet speculative account of the Egyptian King Hatshepsut during the 18th Dynasty, prior to the heretic king Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti.

Ms. Cooney's book goes into detail about a woman's role within Egyptian royalty and how many mothers ended up ruling as co-regent until her son could effectively rule on his own.  The interesting thing about Hatshepsut is that not only did she guide her nephew after the death of her brother-husband, but actually rose herself to the status of co-king by being able to successfully transfer her belief that she had been chosen by the gods to rule.

I have read several books about Egyptian kings and queens, but never before I have learned so much about politics, religious customs, living conditions, and the perceived roles of royal women.

This book would be most appreciated by someone who is really interested in Egyptian history.  Being a theoretical book based a lot of research, I still found it to be an engrossing read.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Get to Know Jesus by Nancy I. Sanders




"Get to Know Jesus" by Nancy I. Sanders is another great book! 

Like “Get to Know King David”, this book is easy to read.  Filled with pictures, maps, and outlined text boxes, it begs to be picked up and read.  Short chapters help not to overwhelm struggling readers, and also make it a great choice for something to read just before bedtime.

The book starts with the reason God sent a Savior and a little history of His ancestors.  It continues with Jesus’ birth story and a little about His childhood.  (There is a synopsis of Jewish feasts included in this section that I found interesting as I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like that included in a book for children.)

The remainder of the book includes stories of Jesus’ ministry, betrayal, death, resurrection, ascension, and ends with a synopsis of the Book of Revelation.

Mrs. Sanders really has a knack for sharing Biblical stories in a way that is enjoyable and informative.

We are looking forward to reading more of her books!
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.  Thank you, Book Look Bloggers!

Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land by Charles Dyer

We have been dreaming of a trip to the Holy Land, so when I saw this book, I just had to get it.  And I'm glad that I did.

The "Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land" by Charles Dyer is a fabulous resource for someone planning to travel there.  The book includes all types of tips and information, from traveling safely, to how and what to pack, and getting a passport.  There are even tips on how to overcome jet lag and information for those that may have mobility issues.  In addition, there is some helpful websites that cover currency conversion, tourism, and more.  To prepare your heart and mind for the trip, there are 2-four week bible studies that you may choose to use for yourself personally, or there is a group study if you are traveling in a group. But that is only the beginning of the book!

The majority of this book is information about different regions or cities in the Holy Land, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey, as well as the Biblical significance of each.  The margins of this section have a map that shows where the location is, as well as a lined area for your own notes.

I would highly recommend this book for any first-time travelers to this region.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind by Marbles: The Brain Store

Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind by Marbles: The Brain Store is my kind of book.  I love puzzles, and am particularly fond of Sudoku puzzles.  So getting the chance to review a puzzle book?  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven...



If you like puzzles, you will love “Bend Your Brain”!  Or, maybe you don’t know if you do like puzzles, this is a great book to discover which types you do like!


This comical little book contains a plethora of different puzzles to help you build a “better brain” through visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory.  Now I understand that all sounds pretty boring, but there is nothing boring about this book!  Also, there are varying levels of difficulty, starting with mind-warming, mind-stretching, mind-growing, mind-bursting, and finally mind-blowing.  So, if you are a rookie or a smarty-pants when it comes to puzzles, there is something there for you. 

This book would make a great gift.  Also, I recently took it along with me on a camping trip and I really enjoyed having something fun to do that wasn’t so engrossing that I missed my vacation!

I give this book an enthusiastic “two thumbs up”!
 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a free copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.