Thursday, January 5, 2012

quick read, sequel to The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews

I received this free book from Booksneeze, in exchange for my review. I am not being influenced by this site or any other party, this is my opinion. I enjoyed andy’s previous book, the Traveler’s Gift, and found that this book makes more sense if you’ve read the one before it, however, for those who have not, it would not be difficult to stay with the storyline, as I was able to, even though it had been about a year since reading the latter. I read this book within a couple of nights; it is easy to read and follow. I kept turning the pages and not wanting to put it down. The plot brings together historical figures to a ‘summit’, with the purpose of pulling their knowledge and backgrounds together to solve one question posed them by the angel Gabriel. They have only a limited time to come up with the answer. I’m not a history person, and can’t recall much of my American history, but Andy has such a way of weaving in history and the historical significance of the various characters in the story, that I didn’t feel that I had to be a history buff to stay up with the book. He has researched one character, who the history books have scarce information on, and who was a key player, and responsible for the ending of a major war. I did enjoy the book and look forward to my next Andy Andrews book.  If you ever have opportunity to see him in person, he is awesome, high energy, funny, and a great storyteller! He has such a talent for bringing history to life, and illustrating how a person’s life counts for their generation and future generations, (ie the Butterfly Effect/ the Boy Who Changed the World).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

worthwhile reading

Through a series of 10 questions, (spending a chapter expanding on each) the author helps the reader tell whether their dream has a good chance of being achieved, in essence, ‘testing’ their dream. The reader is guided to know how to get from point A to B in achieving their dream. There is a short questionnaire, one question for each chapter’s topic. Through examples/personal experiences of others’, the reader achieves a better understanding of the importance of that question to the overall dream. The more questions that can be answered affirmatively, the higher the chance of being able to achieve the dream. There are some wonderful motivational quotes and insights. At the end of each chapter further questions help the reader have a better grasp on that question discussed. I will definitely be rereading it to apply it to my own dream. I received this book free through Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no pressure to give a positive or negative review. This is my own opinion – definitely a worthwhile book!
It is written in a very easy to follow style. The author is a Christian and mentions a God-given potential/dream, but it is not overwhelming- a book that can be shared with a non religious person. A companion guide at the end provides suggestions for additional reading, reflection, and journaling suggestions, further encouraging growth.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Now I Walk on Death Row by Dale S. Recinella

I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion. I am not being influeced to write a positive or negative review.
The first half of the book was about the authors’ upbringing, how his sister became institutionalized,  how this affected His faith for some time, his beginning career as an attorney, a nutshell version of marriages and children. He was a very successful Wall Street finance lawyer, who was married to his job and the money. Through a series of Bible studies, his life changed & he starts earnestly seeking God and His will for his life. He met his current wife through this Bible study group.  They begin questioning what else they can do for God.  He begins to work part time and starts devoting his time to street ministry and volunteer work. He goes on a study-pilgrimage to Italy, where the group spends time begging in the streets of Rome, visiting holy and historic sites there and Assisi, & go to a monastery , spending 3 days in silence, praying and reading Scripture.  When he returns to the US, as both were raised Catholic, they feel they can best serve God under the auspices of the Catholic Church. They are met with jaw-dropping remarks like, ‘You are suffering from excessive zeal…. Leave the work of the religious to the priests and nuns.’ They end up getting connected with The School of Lay Evangelism, & volunteer through Good News Ministries. After some time, he and his wife are trained in working with AIDS patients and their caregivers through Big Bend Cares. He becomes a spiritual advisor for a prison inmate, and eventually becomes a chaplain for death row.
I am challenged by his faith, prayer life, (including their prayer life as a couple) and their quest to leave the life of luxury behind, become stripped of possessions, in order to focus on serving the ‘least of these’. He is real and open about his struggles, including that his identity was in his work as an attorney and his affluency. From the title of the book, I expected the death row experiences to begin earlier in the book, but actually begin around Chapter 13. There is a small glimpse into the death penalty system and the politics behind this, too. A couple of occasions I felt sick to my stomach with sadness reading about the reality of the legal system and the fact that innocent people do go to prison and that an execution would not be stopped  even if a confession was made by the one who committed the crime.  My heart was softened at reading about experiences of inmates’ faith, openness to being prayed for/with, and it challenged me to look at some of my personal stereotypes and judgments about those in ‘the system’ . It challenged me to start praying for professions such as attorneys, staff who work at correctional institutions, along with their families. More about his experiences as witness to executions and especially his time spent with the inmate, & their families, in the days/hours leading up to execution, would be a fascinating read, if he ever wants to write a sequel!  The book is challenging, making one think about what it really means to be a follower of God and ‘take up your cross to follow Him’. A haunting quote, “who of us wants to face the worst possible consequences of our smallest mistake?’ There is no room for arrogance or self-righteousness in the face of that question! “It is only by the grace of God that we ourselves do not face the worst possible consequences of our smallest mistake, let alone our worst” 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Voices of the Faithful Book 2

I received this free book thru and am writing this review without being influenced by this site or any other parties. I found this book very inspirational to me as I read about others’ deep faith, and trust in God. Their love for the peoples in the countries they have been led to serve in is so evident in each devotion. The faith and answered prayers is humbling to read about; what a great daily reminder that God still works through us when we allow Him to use us to reach others. Each prayer at the end of the devotional is a reminder to pray for the missionaries all over the world, including our own backyards. Each story illustrates the hard work, service, and dedication, as well as the struggles, that were encountered on the mission field; answered prayers are such a blessing to read. The book was like a mirror for me, to see better into my own soul, reflecting back to me where I am at in my spiritual walk, and where I am striving to be. Reading of others’ experiences was encouraging to me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Sacred Journey- not what I expected

I received this book free thru and am writing this review without being influenced by this site or any other parties. I was hoping for, and expected, something different with this book. I found this book to be a very deep, but very difficult read. Often, if seemed to go over my head, and yet, I have a master's degree, and loved school. I love to learn new things, so I went out of my comfort zone and selected this book, thinking I would learn more about the history of pilgrimages, past and present, but found any bits that I was hoping for to be slow in coming. . I did my best to stretch my mind to 'go with it' and tried to get into the mindframe of what was presented, when the author offfered new ideas, but I felt I was trying too hard. A historian, scholar, or professor might feel differently, but my feeble mind could not wrap itself around it. Often, I wondered how a topic or thought was, at all, related to the previous one. I'll pass this book on to an intellectual.