Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who's the New Kid? by Heidi Bond with Jenna Glatzer

Who's the New Kid Heidi Bond
This is an amazing story, and so inspiring. With child obesity on the rise, this is a very import and timely book.

At nine years old, Breanna weighed 186 pounds. Her mom cooked good tasting meals without thinking about health. Her daughter was a good eater and her doctor had said Breanna would grow into her weight. But she hadn't. Her weight had grown right along with Breanna.

The book is written from the mother's viewpoint. She did not have weight struggles and didn't know about eating healthy foods. There were chips in the pantry and ice cream in the freezer.

Heidi began to realize that something needed to be done. She was seeing signs of depression in her daughter. She read about childhood obesity and knew the future was not promising for Breanna. She and her husband tried locking the cupboards and used other strategies – to no avail.

bond2Then came the day that changed everything. Heidi had been invited by a neighbor to go for a walk. It changed her life and eventually the life of her family. Heidi developed a new routine for exercise and healthy eating habits. She had a zero tolerance policy.

Life began to change but the going was not easy. It was not smooth sailing. She found that relying on the Lord was essential. 

Heidi notes that child obesity is different than adult obesity. Getting the child to make the right choices, to have that intrinsic motivation to choose healthy food, is a difficult path. But she learned the lesson of just starting where you are, even if you don't have all the answers or the way planned out. Heidi has added suggestions and tips at the end of each chapter that include valuable information and great resources.

Breanna dropped 40 percent of her body weight, going from a morbidly obese child to a healthy and energetic girl. What an inspiration! I highly recommend this book for parents of children struggling with weight issues.

There are several Appendixes, including a forty day exercise plan, a forty day food plan, recipes, a shopping list, food journal, and an inspiring forty day devotional from Scripture.

You can watch the Good Morning America segment on Breanna's weight loss here.

You can read the CNN article and see photos here.

You can check out Breanna's website at www.breannabond.com.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

Heidi Bond and her daughter, Breanna, have appeared on several television programs, and together have helped countless families beat childhood obesity. The family lives in Clovis, California.
Jenna Glatzer is the author of 23 books. She has written hundreds of articles for magazines. She lives in Stony Brook, New York.

Tyndale House, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rain by Cynthia Barnett

I really liked this book. I live in western Washington, north of Seattle, the “rain city.” So when I had the opportunity to review this book, I was happy to do so. I was not disappointed.

This book contains everything you might want (and not want) to know about rain. She covers the role of rain in history, rain and religion, the development of weather forecasting, how clouds got their names (and the origin of being on Cloud Nine), the development of the weather report on television, rain gear, rain and the colonists, architecture and rain, flooding rivers and breaking levees, attempts to cause rain, music and poetry and novels and movies about rain, the scent of rain, strange rain, how rain is a part a global system, and the future of rain.

The author has interspersed her facts about rain with stories about her own adventures relating to rain. They helped break up reading information about rain and were generally interesting. I have to admit that I often skipped paragraphs of these accounts, anxious to get back to the facts.

There were a couple aspects of the book that I particularly enjoyed. One was about rain and cities. She writes about Los Angeles, the paved over land and how rain is channeled via concrete into the ocean. People don't want to be in the ocean after a rainstorm because of the plastic bottles, oil from cars, and other junk in the water. She also writes about innovative ways some cities are trying to keep as much rain as possible in the natural hydrological cycle. Many urbanites are learning to live in harmony with rain, especially in places like Seattle.

And that brings me to my other favorite part of the book. I am glad she set the record straight about supposedly “rainy” Seattle, which receives just a little more rain than the national average. She writes about the Hoh Rain Forest on the west side of the Olympic Mountains that does get nearly two hundred inches of rain. But there is also the Olympic rain shadow, where I live, receiving under twenty one inches a year.

I really enjoyed this book. I found out how necessary rain is and how its distribution is certainly changing. I've always loved the soothing nature of the sound of rain and this book helped me understand that affection. I recommend it to anyone enamored with rain and wanting to understand it more.

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on fresh water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She has two previous books. She and her husband,with their two children, live in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches environmental journalism at UF. Find out more at http://www.cynthiabarnett.net/.

Crown Publishing, 368 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Case of the Sin City Sister by Lynne Hinton

I really like this series of detective stories. The novels are not about clever detecting, although there is some. It is more about relationships. That may sound odd for a detective series, but it works. You can read my review of the first novel in the series, Sister Eve Private Eye, here.

Eve Devine is a nun but she takes time away from her religious order to help her dad in his private detective agency. He had been a police detective but received a medical retirement. In this novel, Eve's sister is missing and foul play is suspected. Eve and Daniel, her dad's partner while with the police, head to Las Vegas in search of Eve's sister.

In addition to be a good detective novel, the author has given us much to think about. I like the way the thoughtful issues come through in the dialog. When in Vegas, Eve is contemplating why people come to a place like that. Daniel suggests they do so to get away from reality. He wonders if nuns do the same kind of thing, entering an order to get away from the real world. You'll have to read the book to find out how Eve handles that one.

Eve and her dad actually have a paid client too, a fellow from the east coast who is trying to find out about his great-grandfather who had come to work in the mines in the New Mexico territory in 1889. He had left behind a pregnant wife, promising to send for her. Several letters were sent but then his wife heard no more. Eve and her dad set about the nearly impossible task of finding out what happened to him.

That little mystery begins and ends the novel, with the hunt for Eve's sister taking up most of the book. I found it interesting that near the end of the novel, Eve's dad says, “There are some mysteries we will never solve, but there are others we could find an answer to, we just sometimes don't want to search deep enough.” Thought provoking words.

I really like Eve as a character. She loves to ride a motorcycle fast yet feels called to her religious order. What an interesting woman she is. I recommend this novel to those who enjoy a character driven novel with a little suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lynne Hinton is a New York Times bestselling author. She holds an MDiv from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She has served as a hospice chaplain, church pastor, and retreat leader. She is a regular columnist with The Charlotte Observer. A native of North Carolina, she lives with her husband and dog in Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can find out more at www.lynnehinton.com.

Thomas Nelson, 336 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible by Keith Ferrin

The title of this book intrigued me. I know I am supposed to, and do, read my Bible regularly. But enjoy it? Even those troublesome passages in the Old Testament? That was something I just had to read about.

Ferrin says he has been enjoying his Bible reading for some twenty years. He tells us what inspired him and seeks for us to experience that same inspiration. He wants us to fall in love with God's Word and gives us ten tips to that end.

He emphasizes that God's Word is relational instead of informational. He notes the importance of our expectations and provides a strategy to overcome the enemy's tactics. He tells us the importance of context, reading the entire story. He suggests rereading, reading out loud, having a Bible buddy, and more.

He gives precise suggestions for a sixty day immersion in Philippians and another for 2 Timothy. He suggests we keep a journal when we read, both for our benefit and for when we discuss the passage. He also emphasizes the necessity of community, having others with which we discuss our experiences.

He includes an Appendix giving an outline for studying the book of Ephesians in a small group. He provides a plan to read the Bible chronologically in four months in a second Appendix. He also has additional resources for this book at his website.

There are two areas I wish Ferrin had covered. The first is reading other people's mail. He writes about reading Philippians, especially Phil. 1:3-8, and then asks if we feel loved. To me, that's like me reading a letter I find from neighbor A expressing love to neighbor B and then expecting me to feel loved. Paul was expressing his love to the Philippians. Am I to feel loved by Paul? Ferrin must mean I am to feel loved by God, but then am I also to feel the wrath of God as I read some Old Testament passages?

And that leads to the second issue. Ferrin doesn't address some of the hard passages of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, and how we are to “enjoy” them. An additional chapter or Appendix could have helped us grapple with some of those passages expressing God's anger and wrath and judgment.

I think Ferrin's book is good as far as it goes. Enjoying the reading of the entire Bible, including the troublesome or puzzling passages, may require some additional work.

You can watch a YouTube interview with Ferrin as he talks about his book here.

Keith Ferrin is a speaker, storyteller, life coach, and author. He founded That You May Know Ministries in 1996 to help people fall in love with God's Word and its Author. He presents one man, dramatic, word-for-word presentations of whole books of the Bible. He and his family live in Kirkland, Washington. You can find out more and read his blog at www.keithferrin.com.

Bethany House, 160 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Detained by Don Brown

Not only is this a very well written suspense novel, it also contains a powerful message about the government and our constitutional rights.

Brown explores the issues by presenting two stories that come together in the end. One story involves two Lebanese nationals, Hasan Makari and his son. When Hasan comes to America to visit his son whose is serving in the U.S. Navy, he is immediately arrested and charged with terrorism. He is taken to Guantanamo and his son soon follows. All of this on false charges. Their only hope for freedom is Navy JAG Officer Matt Davis. The Makaris are Lebanese Christians and it was great to see how their faith carried them through.

The other story follows Emily Gardner, a top TSA lawyer. When she is invited by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to become their top legal counsel, she discovers a scheme so dangerous, she knows she has to do something about it. But what can she do, especially since others who have opposed the scheme have been murdered?

This novel confronts issues on these two fronts – the conditions and operations at Guantanamo and the violation of constitutional rights by a rogue leader in the government. Reading about the conditions and torture the Makaris experienced was heartbreaking. I do hope the kind of treatment they received there was fiction, but I think not.

Brown deftly shows what can happen when someone in power wants to grab even more, all in the name of national security. He has taken recent governmental actions and magnified them, showing how they could be used to control citizens.

There is much for readers to think about in this novel. When do we trash the U.S. Constitution to protect people from harm? When is it right to kill some Americans to save others? Is it ever right to not allow due process of law? Great discussion questions at the end will help generate a lively book group discussion.

Two aspects of the novel make it less than perfect. One was the lack of Russian response. All that buildup and tension and then … nothing from the Russians? The other aspect was the quick resolution. The presidential action was totally unrealistic. He calls for so much that depends upon congressional approval, it would just never happen. And, by the way, they all watch FOX News? I don't think so.

Nonetheless, this is a very good novel of governmental intrigue. It is very thought provoking in addition to a great suspense novel. I highly recommend it.

Don Brown is the author of several novels of military suspense. He served five years in the U. S. Navy as an officer in the JAG Corps. He left active duty in 1992 to pursue private practice. He and his family live in North Carolina. You can find out more at www.donbrownbooks.com.

Zondervan, 416 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Kelly Tough by Erin Kelly and Jill Kelly

Kelly Tough” became the phrase that identified the toughest quarterback in the NFL, Jim Kelly. Erin now uses it to describe their journey through her dad's cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

Her dad taught Erin to be Kelly Tough. Erin evidences a spiritual maturity beyond what I would have expected at her age. She admits she doesn't have all the answers as she hasn't lived long enough yet, hasn't had enough life experiences. Yet she shows wisdom and faith that is an encouragement to any young person.

She tells how her younger brother died in 2005, at the age of eight and a half, of a rare genetic disease. She writes of her father's cancer and then its recurrence and all she has learned when under fire.

She went through a time of questioning God yet came through the ordeal knowing the reason for her hope. She draws a wonderful parallel of the love between her and her father and the love we share with our Father. She has learned that God is so gracious that He redeems mistakes.

In the end, she has learned to rejoice in whatever God brings along the path. Here is a little of her wisdom: “And sometimes the victory isn't in the winning or losing, but in the willingness to join the fight, regardless of the odds, or the fear – because it's the right thing to do.” (27) Here is another: “Being Kelly Tough means you always do more than what's expected of you.” (36)

This is a great book for young people, especially if they are going through a tough time. Erin provides great encouragement by example for persevering through the grace of God and by His strength. She helps us know that we too can make it through the ups and downs of life's greatest struggles. It is encouraging to see such wisdom and maturity in a young person.

You can find out more about the book and read testimonials at http://kellytoughbook.com/.

You can find out more about Hunter's Hope, founded in 1997 by Jim and Jill Kelly after their son was diagnosed with Krabbe leukodystrophy, at www.huntershope.org.

Erin Kelly is the oldest daughter of Jim and Jill Kelly. She has always had a passion for writing, journaling, and sharing her faith. A sought-after speaker to young women, she has coauthored five books with her sister, Camryn. She attends Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Jill Kelly is the wife of retired Buffalo Bills quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. She is a speaker and the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller, Without a Word. She and her husband live in Buffalo with their daughters.

BroadStreet Publishing, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Icon media for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Trip Around the Sun by Mark Batterson, Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon

This book isn't at all what I thought it was going to be. In reading the promotion pieces, I know that Batterson and his mentor, Foth, want readers to rise to the challenge of adventure living. Our lives will be richer and our souls fuller, they write. I thought we were being called to adventure for Jesus, so to speak. Perhaps mission trips or inner city work. But that was not the emphasis of the book at all.

Foth and Batterson share their own adventures and draw spiritual lessons from them. The adventures didn't have much to do with Jesus. Batterson, for example, tells of flying cross country with his son a few years ago to do the Sharkfest Swim (1.5 miles from Alcatraz to a San Francisco beach). Another was taking his son to Super Bowl XLV. Then there was kissing his wife at the top of the Eiffel Tower and visiting the Galapagos Islands with his son. Foth shares adventures like visiting the Normandy coast, lunching in the United State Senate dining room and being on an aircraft carrier.

The authors want us to grab life and squeeze every ounce of adventure out of it. It seems that going to a Super Bowl game or lunching in the Senate dining room are the kinds of adventures the authors want to see Christians rise to experience. That was confusing because the authors also say that the kinds of adventures Jesus calls us to is rubbing elbows with the lost, being in the middle of the marketplace. Elsewhere they say the adventures are going places with Jesus and friends. I finished the book being unsure of the kind of adventures the authors want us to have. I was glad to see that they do tell a few stories of other people whose adventures were truly sacrificial, showing love to others.

All of that being said, there were some aspects of the book I appreciated. Batterson writes, “Most people are bored with their faith because they are selfish.” (120) That suggests unselfish adventures would be the answer. The authors encourage us to be life long learners, reading many books. They suggest we live each day in light of eternity and that we provide experiences for our children for their emotional and spiritual growth. And I loved this from Batterson, “I want to go after dreams that are destined to fail without divine intervention.” (72)

Batterson says near the end of the book, “My primary goal in writing this book was to capture Dick's stories for posterity...” (201) That helped me understand that the purpose of the book was not what I had thought it was, to encourage readers to adventure for Jesus. Batterson has succeeded well in his primary goal.

I have mixed feelings about the book. If you like to read adventure stories, you may like the book. If you are looking for an intense encouragement to get out of your comfort zone and adventure for Jesus, you may need to look elsewhere.

Food for thought: “Another day, another adventure.” (197)
Complete the statement: “This trip around the sun I will choose adventure by...”

Mark Batterson is a New York Times bestselling author and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC. He has a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and lives on Capitol Hill with his wife and their three children.
Richard Foth is the father of four and grandfather of eleven. He has been a college president and conference speaker. He is best known as a story teller who believes that God's story and our stories touch the world. He has a doctor of ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He and his wife live in Colorado.
Susanna Foth Aughtmon is a pastor's wife and mother of three with two previously published books. She assists her husband in various ministries at the church they planted in California.

Baker Books, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

River Dwellers by Rob Reimer

Every Christian can live in the fullness of the Spirit, dwelling in the River of Life (John 7:37-38). If we Christians want to have a culture changing impact on the world today, being a River Dweller is essential. This book is an excellent study and encouragement to that end.

Reimer explores what it means to be baptized in the Spirit. He writes about the evidence of that baptism and the elements of receiving it. He shows how we become more sensitive to hearing God speak, the norm for people living in the fullness of the Spirit. He covers six ways God speaks to us, giving examples of each and how to handle what is received. He helps us, in general, understand how to live in the River, dwelling in His presence. He writes of cultivating that experience by using the spiritual disciplines, developing a spiritual desire and increased sensitivity to the Spirit. He also covers the kinds of actions that take us out of the River and the Spirit's presence and shows us how to notice the warning signs and walk in the light.

This is an excellent study on living the Spirit filled life. Reimer does a very good job of explaining it all to us. He writes from his own experience of being raised in a CMA church and later being introduced to the Spirit filled life. (He is currently the pastor of a CMA church.) This book is based on practice, not just theory. His section on quenching the Spirit is really convicting. His teaching on battling disappointments is encouraging.

I really like his illustration of the River. Just like a river rafting trip, there will be some fast exciting times and some slow restful times. There may be times when there is a bend in the river and we can't see what is coming. Reimer has found that staying in the River, all of its parts have shaped him and brought him to where God wants him to be today.

If you want to be sensitive to the Spirit's presence and leading, this book will help you on that journey. If you want to be a River Dweller, the information and encouragement in this book is for you. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter are great too. I highly recommend this book.

Rev. Dr. Rob Reimer is the Founding and Lead Pastor of South Shore Community Church, a church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Brockton, Massachusetts. He is also a Field Pastor for the CMA Field in Senegal, where he speaks and ministers to missionaries on a regular basis. He also equips Christian leaders as Global Leadership Associate. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY. He has a Doctorate in Preaching from Gordon-Conwell theological Seminar. He and his family lives in Bridgewater, MA. You can find out more at www.DrRobReimer.com.

Carpenter's Son Publishing, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.