One of the Few – A Review

I was given the opportunity to read One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview by Jason B. Ladd, when the author contacted me and asked me if I’d be willing to review his book. I snapped at the chance as I have never had an author ask me for a review.

One of the Few is Jason’s personal account of his life in the marines and his coming to faith. The book is divided into three parts,  Part One being Jason’s story of being a ‘military brat’ and going into the service and finally deciding to be a fighter pilot. We learn about some of his family life and his relationship with his wife who was a Christian, while Jason was not. Then one little question from Jason’s wife starts Jason on the path to discovery of Christ.  As he traverses the training of being a pilot, he also searches out what being a Christian is about. Part two takes a look at the concepts of certain versions of Christianity(I say this because it’s not a ‘this is the only way it is’ in my opinion depending on which area of Christianity you are in) and having a worldview and bouncing those beliefs off of what is going on in life.  Part three is supposed to be about using Jason’s background in peace, war and defense to prepare you for the spiritual warfare you will encounter in life and how to deal with if you are struggling.

The first part of the book captured my interest in the training Jason did in the military, along with little bits and pieces of how being a person of faith applies to life, but towards the  end of Part one, I started to not understand what Jason was getting at in regards to military training and applying it to faith. I also struggled with all of the military acronyms. In my opinion, if you are going to have that many acronyms, have an index of them at the end of the book or beginning or somewhere because, after only one explanation of what the acronym is, I forget it. Then when they are used over and over, I have no idea even what I’m reading. That happened a lot.

By the time I got to Part two, I struggled with what the core of the book was. I honestly am not even quite sure what part two was about except for segments on various Christian ideas. I wasn’t sure how it applied to anything except for feeling like it was a ‘do this, don’t do that’ rambling sort of narrative mixing in Jason’s continued research into being a Christian. While it’s supposed to be about putting your Christian faith up against what you see in the world, and is it right or wrong, I never got that impression.

By the time I got to Part three, I was entirely lost. You could take each segment withing each chapter on its own, possibly, but combined, I never quite figured out what was going on. Basically, the book is combined of a bunch of essays that don’t necessarily connect enough to understand what the total package is. Jason explains what the three parts of the book are about in the introduction, but I felt like he was unable to accomplish it in a concise manner where you understood how each point related to each other.   Roughly five pages into part three , I felt like Jason was not  accomplishing the third goal he had laid out  in his introduction. From this point, I struggled with finishing the book. I had already needed to skip ahead in Part two, hoping that the book would make more sense if I read Part three. Another problem for me was Jason takes an incredibly academic look at Christianity. For me, who grew up in the church, reading all of the more in-depth theological discussions left me feeling tired and bored and scrambling to figure out how it related to Jason coming to be a Christian. Jason also states his opinion about his specific beliefs as fact, a problem I’ve found with Christian authors. For a person who has not been a Christian for very long to state things that way, tends to turn me off a bit. Religions are made of opinions and my opinions are different than Jason’s so they cannot be stated as fact.  I actually felt like Jason had a great idea for this book, but then he jotted it out so quickly, it appeared to have lost its outline which he states in his introduction.

In the end, I’m not quite sure who would find this book helpful other than those questioning their faith and wanting to look at a more academical approach to faith, though at the same time, I felt like it was only barely scratching the surface and wasn’t quite helpful enough for even that.

Another little tick that I found frustrating was all of the notes at the end of each chapter. In most traditionally published books, the notes are at the end of the book, which I find, leaves a clean look to the book. Rarely do I read any of the footnotes or notes in a book, so having them contained at the end of the book leaves a more clean look to reading and gives less of a distraction.

Unfortunately, I find myself having to give this book only 2 out of 5 stars.

Kate

Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope – A Review

_225_350_Book.1777.coverDuring the holiday season, we are so focused on the holiday in general that we forget what the true season of Christmas is about. Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio is an advent devotion book meant to help us slow down, stop, and reflect what Christmas and the advent are really about. Each day starting with November 26th, Paster Giglio guides us in scripture, a reflection relating to the scripture, meditation (which is usually a Christmas poem or song) and finally a prayer.  So 30 days of thinking about how we are waiting for Christ  and the remembrance of his birth, which for Christians, is a very sacred time of year.  So, when we get a little too busy with buying the gifts, preparing the Christmas meals and dealing with family and travel and all the frustrations that may come, this very thing, almost pocket sized book is just right for pulling out. Lighting a candle and meditating and focusing on Christ.

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have loved advent since I was a little girl when we would read the Christmas story through the four weeks of December, lighting a green candle each week for the wise men, Mary and Joseph, The shepherds, the angels, and finally a red candle for Jesus. There were the colorful calendars and it was a very memorable and sacred time of year for me. I eagerly looked forward to it. As time as gone by, I have slowly let that slipe away, and this book is perfect for putting you right back into the calming frame of mind of what Christmas is really about. While I am terrible at devotions and having a daily schedule for reading my Bible, and I didn’t technically finish this book in a daily order, it’s still a lovely small book, perfect for the season. There is something incredibly calming about the red, black, white and grey colors of the book. So calming in fact that I ended up writing a sonnet about red berries with the colors of black, white and grey. This book is perfect for any Christian that want to get back to what advent is about. I love it’s slim size and I love that the meditations are songs I know, but may not know all the lyrics. I liked that it was a very Christmas themed book in that it had the traditional songs that Christians know for the season. From Oh Come All Ye Faithful, O Come Oh Come Emmanuel, Silent Night, and O Holy Night. Lovely hymns Christians know and love.

I would highly recommend this book to any Christian who wants do practice adven but feels too old for the calendars and childish themes. This is a lovely book. Five out of Five stars.

Kate

This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest opinion and review from HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Thomas Nelson, and BookLookBloggers.

Words To Dream On – A Review

_225_350_Book.1502.coverThere is nothing better than going to bed with a wonderful story lulling you to sleep. With the children’s book Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers by Diane Stortz , there are 52 wonderful and sweet bedtime stories from the Bible. Written for children ages 3 to 8 there are full page illustrations in pleasing colors compliment each story that includes the verse where the story takes place in the Bible, a story, a ‘Sleepy-time Prayer’ at the end of the story and a blessing.  The prayers are nice and simple, but reflect what the story was about, giving children a basis for prayer (since at that age, I remember it was very hard to come up with a good prayer). The illustrations are charming, set in gorgeous shades of purples, yellows, blues and greens, and everything else, though those 4 colors dominate. The pictures are reminiscent of Disney, especially the story of Daniel and the Lions Den where the lions could have been taken right out of The Lion King. (This is a good thing in my opinion)

The stories are simple enough to start a child off learning about the Bible, but lack the depth and ugly parts of most of these stories. They keep to a more uplifting and cheerful aspect which is great for a young child, but a disadvantage for older children. But as a beginner’s bedtime book, I think this would be a good starter for any child.

The back of the book has some great ideas for parents wanting to establish a routine of reading before bed. As someone who grew up with this, I think it’s great for parents and a little extra advice on how to start a routine is really nice.

I found this book to be incredibly charming and sweet with illustrations that made me want to just keep the book for that reason alone.  The stories are simple, but powerful and encourage children to want to learn about the Bible.  As a child (and even an adult) I would have loved this book, especially the pictures. I could never get enough pictures when it came to the Bible. There is a cute ‘stage play’ feel to the illustrations having the moon and stars drop down on strings like you would at a school play, and I love this specific detail. The illustrator, Diane Le Feyer, is brilliant at capturing the charming side of the stories.  The colors she uses are incredibly appealing to me and make it incredibly hard not wanting to keep the book.

I would highly recommend this book for parents with young children. I think reading before bed is one of the best patterns parents could install in their children’s routine. My parents read to me and my sister for years and I believe this is one of the reasons I enjoy reading so much and learned so much about the Bible as well. Five out of five stars.

This book was provided to me free of charge from HarperCollins Christian Publishing and BooklookBloggers for my honest review and opinion.

Kate

Telling Fortunes

Published in the US - 1895, US Playing Card Co...

Published in the US – 1895, US Playing Card Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not someone that believes in the occult, nor do I go for all that mystical thing or fortunes or tarot…. I am honestly a Christian.  But I am still fascinated by things like fortunes or tarot.  Just because. I can’t explain it. And even in the Bible, games/lots were thrown. It technically wasn’t biblical, and it doesn’t follow along with trusting God.

But again, it still interests me.

Someone in my life is frustrating the heck out of me and I just found out today I don’t rate as high in his life as he does in mine.  It’s rather depressing and I’ve been trying to mentally deal with that.  A few years ago I found this fun way of determining who you will end up with using playing cards.  Yes, I suppose it is rather ridiculous in the scope of things, but I decided to play with it today.

Here is the original link.  How to tell if he likes you, and other sleepover occult games

So, I just ran my cards, picking the main person, someone new and a possibility, someone who I don’t consider but like talking to, and then someone I can’t stand.

The results….. Um, I ended up with the one I wanted, and it was relatively decent in the scope of things.  I suppose if one believed in this, it would be hopeful…..

But I don’t believe in tarot………. Do I?

Love Letters From God: Bible Stories – A Review

91QjaJsWoXLLove Letters from God: Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, is a collection of short Bible stories for children published by Zonderkidz. Each of the 18 stories has a companion ‘love’ letter to the reader written by “God” hidden under a flap with a charming ‘stamp’ as if it had just been mailed. There is a blank spot to fill in the name of the child for each letter, making this a highly personalized book. There is also one last letter at the end of the book asking the reader to join Jesus’s team and a blank letter for the reader to pen a response to Jesus.

Of the 18 stories, some are classics, like the Creation, Noah, Jonah and the Whale, and the birth of Christ. Then the less ‘popular’ stories such as Samuel, David’s Anointing, the lost sheep, and Zacchaeus. The pages are filled with full page illustrations, that are unique to each story, some having a more photograph feel set in with the drawings. The overall feel of the book is very elegant with heavy pages and a glossy and mat dust jacket. The choice of a turquoise as the main color makes it incredibly soothing in its own way. It’s a very well done book.

I found this book, though, hard to review. I found the premise of the book was creative with the personalized letters to the reader, yet I found each story to be ‘dumbed down’ to the point of being cutesy instead of containing enough depth to really teach anything. Most Bible stories are not what I would call ‘happy’, but Ms. Nellist has made every story exuberant in some way. The story of Noah, while one of my favorite stories, is all about God destroying all but a few people. It’s not about just Noah’s family and the animals in the ark. Nor is it exactly exciting for the lions to be soooooo happy because they are going to get to eat Daniel, in the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. I just think there should have been better content in regards to the stories instead of making them so ‘happy’. ( I feel like I should cue Pharrell Williams and his song “Happy”)

That being said, I think many Christian families will enjoy this book. I myself was raised with a more traditional backing where we read the Bible instead of learning the stories from other books. I think that there are methods to Bible stories that make it more simple for a child to understand without making it ‘fun’. For instance, one of the best methods I remember being taught the stories was with large flashcard pictures, that were works of art in themselves, while the story was read. The content wasn’t taken out, but the pictures helped coalesce the whole story. I found this book to be just cute and I wonder if once the stories have been read over it will become old. Also I would say with what I have seen of most children reading books, don’t let your 4-8 year old alone with this. The letters will get torn because there is great care needed in reading this book.

I’d would probably give this book at the most 3 out of 5 stars. And I can honestly say I hate to write more negative reviews.

I was provided this book free for my honest opinion and review from Harper Collins Christian publishing.

Signing off

Kate

Loveology – Book Review

Loveology – God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female By John Mark Comer

Let me start off by saying, any book that has a grey cover with bright pink writing, and the words, love, sex, marriage, and God, is going to catch my attention.  Not to mention pink font inside, bright pink bubbles and just an all around really girly pretty book.  The cover alone makes me want to ‘swoon’ a bit it’s so nice.

Loveology is the theology of love by the pastor of Portland’s A Jesus Church -Bridgetown.  It’s relatively basic biblical theology on the relationships we have with our partner/lover/spouse written in a very comfortable easy, and almost watered down manner.  With background on the original Greek translations, in John Mark Comer’s style (if you ever listen to any of his sermons, you will understand what I mean). Five chapters on Love, Marriage, Sex, Romance, and Male and Female, including a Q and A section, the book is a fast read geared towards young marrieds, singles and dating couples.

Okay, now the gushing will ensue.  I LOVED/LOVE this book.  When I got it after waiting almost three weeks, I just could not put it down because it was so pretty. I mean, this guy, really knew how to appeal to women. This book is just marvelous to hold and run your hand over. It is a really nice size to slip in a bag and you just want to keep reading it.  John Mark Comer is brilliant in getting a more conservative Christian theology across. Without sounding preachy, he really gets you laughing at some of the funnier aspects of love. That being said, you are a Christian and you don’t already know this, then this book won’t help.  It’s a fun thing to read if you already know the theology, but you should already know it if you are reading this. But that’s my own take.

I enjoyed the book immensely, but that being said, I don’t always agree with the ‘watered-down’ take on the bible.  I find John Mark Comer has a great sense of humor and makes you want to read more, but it’s almost incredibly basic.  Maybe it’s because I was raised in a Conservative Baptist church, but this is much more moderate in style.  But on a scale of one to five, I’d give this a five star rating.

This book was provided to me through Harper Collins  for my honest review.

Signing off

~Kate

Enhanced by Zemanta

Review – Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl

https://i1.wp.com/booksneeze.com/art/_240_360_Book.902.cover.jpg

Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World
By N. D. Wilson, is not a fast book to read.  And honestly, I’m not even sure how to describe this book other than I love it.  The author takes a  broken down, humourous approach to what makes up this world, this world that is a spinning ball at the carnival and we are all along for the ride.  That is, if we are believing that we are all along for the ride.  I mean, we are  “on a near perfect sphere hurtling through space at around 67,000 miles per hour.  Mach 86 to pilots.  Of course, this sphere of mine is also spinning while it hurtles, so tack on an extra 1,000 miles per hour at the fat parts.”

Isn’t that great?  Isn’t it an amazing place we live on?  Where everthing is an adventure and an amazing example of a God who was so creative to give us all of this even if “God never seems capable of moderation or of understanding the basic concepts behind supply and demand.”  No, seriously, there is a section on that as well.  (Have you ever tried to count snowflakes?)

This book is not one to take in large doses over a short period of time.  Read a part of a chapter, then wait a few days.  If you can’t read just part, only read one.  Read it in seasons, for the book is seasonal, starting off in winter.  Take it in small doses where you think. I mean really think.  Part philosophy, part humor, this book gets down to the nitty gritty of life.  N.D. Wilson even calculates your odds of just being here.  By the way, be thankful you are.  There are 8 million sperm out there that could have been you but didn’t make it.  No, really, that is an example that made me bust up laughing.

I highly recommend this book if you want something that makes you think and ponder God’s greatness, without the usual ‘Christian’ dogma or preaching.  It’s fun.  It’s not light though.  Because you really do think.

Signing off

~Kate

Book Review – The Fantasy Fallacy

https://i1.wp.com/www.booksneeze.com/art/_240_360_Book.712.cover.jpgThe Fantasy Fallacy Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts By Shannon Ethridge takes a look at the other side of the argument for the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.  Delving into what some of our fantasies stem from and using Biblical references, Shannon explains some of the problems behind why we crave what we do on a sexual basis.  Written in a very readable wand exciting format, you won’t get bogged down in psychoanalyst mumbo jumbo, but come out of it understanding maybe just a bit more about the human psyche.

I have never read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and don’t really have plans to in the near future, though I have read my fair share of erotic fiction.  IN the past I have struggled with some of my own thoughts regarding my own fantasies and I was quite excited to read Shannon’s book even though I usually avoid ‘self-help Christian’ books. I  flew through this book in a matter of days, enjoying every aspect of it, even the areas I disagreed with, which were very few.  Whether or not you’ve read Fifty Shades, I would highly recommend  The Fantasy Fallacy.  Not only is it an enjoyable read filled with a lot of information , but it is excellent and though provoking if you have struggled with your own fantasies.  My only complaint would be that I wished it were twice as long because I want to know more about human behavior and I don’t know what to read next! Definitely five stars.

Signing off

~Kate

Review – The Scent Of Rain By Kristin Billerbeck

The Scent of RainWhat do you do when your fiance dumps you at the alter, you end up working in a Podunk down town where you took a job because of your fiance, then you loose your sense of smell, which is quite important if you are a top perfumer?  Well, you try to make the best of a bad situation.  Daphne Sweeten left her fabulous Paris job to marry a man she thought was the man of her dreams. Turns out, he is kind of a swine, leaving her at the alter with not so much as even an explanation. Then off to a small Ohio town where she was supposed to take a job at a household products plant where she will create new scents. Only, she has suddenly lost her sense of smell.  Now she only has to figure out how to either tell her new boss, Jesse, or hope and pray that she get’s her nose back.  As Daphne and Jesse work together to create new scents and make a go of her situation, they connect in unique ways.

 

The Scent of Rain is a Christian inspirational story, and while I was quite excited to read this, I was highly disappointed at the whole plot.  I was left reeling in spots where I did not understand dialogue, nor the situation. How is it a supposedly worldly woman, who has lived in Paris for years working at a top perfumery,  not know what sangria is and act like she doesn’t have a brain in her head when it comes to life?  I am surprised Daphne can even make it down the street.  I also found Jesse, the boss and  also hero, to be a bit of the non take charge kind of guy.  Why would you tell the girl of your dreams that you wanted to marry her the minute you first saw her, but denied it the whole time?  That makes absolutely no sense.

Well, I just chalk it up to another christian book that turns me off from reading them in the first place.  While some people may find the book fun, I found it tedious and I was left dragging my heels to finish it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Signing off

~Kate