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Thursday, May 19, 2011

This Little Prayer of Mine

This Little Prayer of Mine

Publisher's Description (from the back of the book):
"I know you're up in heaven, God, and can hear my voice from there.  I'm just a little child.  Will you answer my short prayer?"

So begins this delightful book that affirms God's readiness to answer our prayers, no matter what our age.  

With engaging rhymes and beautiful illustrations, This Little Prayer of Mine assures children that God is always near--watching, listening, and eager to respond to their requests.  They'll also learn that prayer isn't just about asking for things, but about sharing their feelings of sadness and uncertainty as well as of thanksgiving and joy.  

More important, This Little Prayer of Mine reminds children--and those who love them--that they can trust God to tenderly care for them, no matter what the future holds.

My Review:

First, let me say that Mark Elliot has done a beautiful job illustrating this book.  My 2 year old was fascinated with the pictures and I loved how they illustrated the words and yet the combination of minimal words and beautiful pictures left lots of room for discussion.  (When the kids act "a little bad" we were able to talk about what they were doing wrong and how they could have done things differently for example.) 

Anthony DeStefano does a great job of bringing to mind many of the things children might pray about (protection when frightened, to feel Him when they feel alone, help to make the right decisions, forgiveness etc) without going into a lot of detail.  This lets your child talk about his or her personal situations.

The combination of open wordage and illustrations makes this a book that will remain in my library for use with grandchildren (should the Lord bless me with them in the FAR future) because it is timeless.  I would highly recommend this book for young children as an introduction to prayer and for older children (my 11 year old enjoyed it too) as a reminder that we can go to God with everything.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Skin Map

Publisher's description:
"I need your help with a project. It will be the adventure of a lifetime—of several lifetimes. But it will change you forever."

Kit Livingston's great-grandfather appears in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks—they're pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, ley lines grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code—a roadmap of symbols—that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

The Bright Empires series is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery.

 My Review:
The description sounds great, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, in many ways the author left a lot to be desired.  Kit wasn't fleshed out much as a character, his former girlfriend (the one from the modern time that inadvertently was transported into the past, and Prague at that) was a much more interesting character.

You get the gist of the story line from the publisher's description, but I really think that is probably a description more appropriate for the series rather than just this book.  Yes, Kit is drawn into time travel by his great-grandfather.  However, he spends much of the story being drug along by his grandfather in an attempt to figure out how to return his girlfriend back to the time/place she originated from after Kit attempts to show her why he was late for a date due to time travel and then loses her while traveling.  She is deposited alone, in the past, and conveniently meets a man who not only takes her in, but makes her a partner in his new business venture and expects nothing in return.  Of course she makes him very prosperous and realizes that she likes her life in the past much better than the boring life she had in the present.

There are bad guys with saber tooth cats, and a man who somehow figures out how the time travel thing works and decides to create the map on his skin at some point in the past.  At some point in his future he must have been skinned and the map was cut into pieces.  Now everyone who can travel the ley lines is searching for those pieces.

There are at least 3 story lines going in this book, but they are pretty easy to follow.  The writing is colorful and descriptive without being overly so.  I found the book interesting but at times unsatisfying.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger review

Publisher's Description:

You are Invited to a Dinner with Jesus of Nazareth

The mysterious envelope arrives on Nick Cominsky’s desk amid a stack of credit card applications and business-related junk mail. Although his seventy-hour workweek has already eaten into his limited family time, Nick can’t pass up the opportunity to see what kind of plot his colleagues have hatched.

The normally confident, cynical Nick soon finds himself thrown off-balance, drawn into an intriguing conversation with a baffling man who appears to be more than comfortable discussing everything from world religions to the existence of heaven and hell. And this man who calls himself Jesus also seems to know a disturbing amount about Nick’s personal life.


"You’re bored, Nick. You were made for more than this. You’re worried about God stealing your fun, but you’ve got it backwards.… There’s no adventure like being joined to the Creator of the universe." He leaned back off the table. "And your first mission would be to let him guide you out of the mess you’re in at work."

As the evening progresses, their conversation touches on life, God, meaning, pain, faith, and doubt–and it seems that having Dinner with a Perfect Stranger may change Nick’s life forever.

My Review:
Gregory explores the tennants of Christianity through a dinner invitation from Jesus himself to an unbeliever that had some of the world's knowledge about Christianity, but was filled with confusion and untrue beliefs. Through the meal the reader is brought along on a discussion of questions that many may have for the real Jesus. Why are the other religions wrong? What makes following you so special? What does it mean to be a Christian? How do "bad things" fit into God's plan? When answers that we are commonly given, for example Jesus is asked, "Why has Christianity been such a mixed bag?" refering to people claiming to follow Christ that have done a lot of good and others who have done a lot of bad, the author attempts to give it a little more depth. Jesus responds that those who did bad were not really Christians. Our guest responsd with,"that seems a little convenient for you". This allows "Jesus" to delve into the heart of the matter.

While this book is definitely evangelical in nature, and at times very simplistic, it does provide a casual setting to open discussions about who Jesus really is and what it truly means to follow him. I don't think it was meant to be an end of the road type book, rather a beginning, a springboard to encourage the reader to seek out deeper answers to the questions that are posed.

The writing is good, the characters aren't very deep, especially Nick Cominsky. The reader is given a very small sliver of his life and personality making it difficult to really connect with him. Jesus comes off less caring than I would have prefered. The whole discussion feels as if the two are discussing a business arrangement rather than a personal life decision. This approach, however, may appeal to those who are more analytical than emotional.