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.