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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review: The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout

The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout
The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout by William E. Jefferson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Point has a lot of potential. Jefferson attempts to "present Scripture’s ancient truths, in a modern context", but I really felt like he tried to hard and his approach didn't contribute to the story.

A couple ventures to Estillyen, an island retreat in which storytellers share the Bible as dramatic readings. Goodwin, or Win, and Leslie or Lee depending upon what kind of mood the author is in both felt drawn, but for different reasons. Goodwin has a picture he drew as a child of a house located on the island based upon a photograph his deceased father had. Leslie is on a spiritual journey attempting to deal with a medical diagnosis.

I found the readings to be out of place in the story, as if the author just wrote the story to be able to include the readings. They didn't seem to flow with the story line and often felt like an intermission of sorts. This could be easily overlooked, but the characters were disappointing also.

None of the characters ever came alive for me. The conversations felt stilted, the author switching between pet names and given names made it difficult to follow. I never connected. Not only that, the reader sees the dramatic connection between some of the characters almost from the get go.

The story has potential, but I feel like the author just wasn't able to make me like the characters. And without liking the characters it was a chore to read.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Identity Theft Review

Identity Theft Description:

Has the Messiah been robbed?

Supernatural visitations. Divine time travel. An age-old cover up. In the middle of it all: One man miraculously transformed by Yeshua.

In an instant, David went from being a skeptical Jewish columnist to a desperate seeker of Truth. The catalyst was an angelic visitation—a moment that marked him forever.

David’s quest spans numerous philosophies and religions, culminating with the Person of Yeshua – Jesus the Messiah. He is plummeted into a vigorous spiritual tug of war. Part of him is intrigued and fascinated by the Messiah, while another is plagued by guilt. How could a Jewish person like himself believe in Yeshua considering all the horrific acts that have been done to his ancestors in His name?

Author Ron Cantor, a gifted story-teller and authority on the Jewish Roots of the New Testament, takes you on an unforgettable tour of history as an angel supernaturally escorts David through the halls of time. You will soon discover that though atrocities have been committed in the name of Yeshua, the greatest crime of all may be against the Messiah Himself… a crime of identity theft.

My Review:  

Ron Cantor strives to share the facts of Jesus Jewish roots in a story book setting.  The use of an angelic guide and what appears to often be a classroom setting and an ability to bring in "live" witnesses gives this book a unique perspective.  Does this reveal truth's that may lead some to "discover" Jesus's Jewishness?  I can't answer that for you, it depends upon what you know.

I am blessed to be in a teaching church that included most of these facts in various sermons, not as a 'bring it to light' moment, but just as a way to better understand the situations.  I had assumed that this was true for most Christians and that those of the Jewish faith already had this information.  It seems that isn't true for most.

I found that the way Cantor wove the facts together to be interesting.  David's struggle to relate the Christian Jesus to his Jewish roots was fascinating.  The book did drag in sections, but that may be attributed to my prior knowledge.  If nothing else, it does give a clearer view of Jesus and his disciples.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men

For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men
For Women Only, Revised and Updated Edition: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men > by Shaunti Feldhahn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across this book back in October of 2010 when researching for a study I was teaching entitled "What's it like being married to ME?!". I needed some perspective on what a man thinks, what he expects and/or needs in a relationship. The information from the survey was available online and I had been intrigued by some of the responses. However, life went on and other projects beckoned and I never managed to purchase the book. When the publisher offered it to me to review I was ecstatic.

It seems Shaunti Feldhahn also stumbled into the topic of the book when she was researching the inner life of a man in order to make a fictional character's thought life more true. She turned to men she knew with some questions and was surprised by their answers, and the idea for this book was born.

Feldhahn does more than just present survey results, however, and she gives us real men answering real questions with honesty. We truly do get to see a glimpse of the inner lives of men, from how the can at times view themselves as an imposter while portraying themselves to the world as being capable and in control to the fact that they would rather be respected than loved (although many felt being respected was being loved).

While this book has many helpful insights that allow us to better understand the way they think, and how we can encourage them, lift them up, and support them, it does not deal with how he should relate to you, and it especially doesn't bash men. I found this to be wonderful. Too many times I have read the "how to have a new husband" type books and it was all about bringing him around to you. This book is to help you understand him. It will walk you through 8 key revelations from the survey and then help you to see what they might look like in your own man.

This is one of those books that should probably be gifted at the bridal shower!

Review: Revealing Jesus: A 365-Day Devotional

Revealing Jesus: A 365-Day Devotional
Revealing Jesus: A 365-Day Devotional by Darlene Zschech

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet daily devotional with messages to lift your spirits and point you to God. I found it to be a great way to start my day. My only complaint is that I wish she had identified the devotions that were song lyrics as such at the beginning of the devotion.

Each devotion is written by Darlene and based upon her own life experiences, her thoughts, her hopes, her concerns. She does in this book what she has done for so many through her songs - she points the way to Jesus and His messages to us in Scripture.

Review: Secrets to a Happy Life: Finding Satisfaction in Any Situation

Secrets to a Happy Life: Finding Satisfaction in Any Situation
Secrets To A Happy Life by Bill Giovannetti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bill Giovannetti takes us on a journey to explore the life of Joseph (the guy with the coat) and discover how he managed to keep not only his faith, but his joy.

I love the way Bill writes, he reminds me of Max Lucado with his style. You feel like he is sitting in the room with you sharing a story over a cup of coffee. Not too preachy or rosy, but not so saccharine sweet as to come across as fake.

The book includes 11 "secrets" to a happy life such as letting go, endurance, and wisdom. He discusses the difference between surface happiness and deep happiness (one being like waves rolling onto a beach, it comes and goes, and the other being like strong ocean currents, it runs deep and is always present). Then we begin our journey, walking with Joseph from his brothers selling him into slavery all the way to his rise as the second most powerful man in Egypt.

Many of the "secrets" are common sense. You have to let go of the things you have no control over. Happiness and love go hand in hand. But some we don't want to hear. "Your happiness will always be at risk unless you detach your safety lines from earthly possessions and reattach them to riches in heaven that nothing can destroy." "You cannot compartmentalize your spirituality from the rest of your life and expect to be happy."

Each chapter begins with a short quote, a mini message or point to remember, and closes with questions for reflection making this a great personal study, or even a group study book. There are a lot of good lessons in here and the writing style makes it pleasant to read.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher free of charge. My thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received in exchange for this review.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: Twerp

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 It's not like I meant for Danley to get hurt. . . .

   Julian Twerski isn't a bully. He's just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade--blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

   Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with powerful writing that will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.

My Review:

Meet Julian Twerski, a middle school boy who lives in New York and attends P.S. 23, a.k.a. Twerp. Twerp was suspended from school due to an incident with a boy named Stanley Stimmel, who is affectionately referred to as Danley Dimmel, that occurred during the winter break. His English teacher has given him the opportunity to write a long report about the incident in lieu of the assigned reports. Julian chooses to write about the incident.

Only he doesn't. Julian takes us into his world and we learn about his friends, his struggles with girls, and how a young man relates to others. It's an interesting journey, but Julian admits that he tells these stories to avoid talking about Danley.

I found the book interesting and grew to like Julian. Which is a good thing because by the end, when we finally learn what happened with Danley, if we didn't already like him we would have been very angry with him.

This would be a great book for preteens, and especially boys. We see boys being boys and we also see consequences for actions. I would definately recommend it!

I did receive a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.