Friday, July 13, 2018

"The God Machine" by James R. Chiles

This book covers an extensive history of the helicopter.  From famous engineers to lesser known visionaries, Chiles goes in detail about technological advancements that made the helicopter what it is today.  There are also descriptions of how helicopters are used from police to rescue to news and more.  Funny anecdotal stories are also included for hijackers and movie scenes and high speed chases.  Rotor dynamics are explained with pictures of lift and drag and torque.  The notion that helicopters changed history is hinted at when presidents used helicopters to get votes and when soldiers used helicopters to win wars.  This non-fiction book is very well researched but honestly a bit dry.  It was difficult to read as it was very dense.

Monday, July 9, 2018

"Psalms for Prayer" by She Reads Truth

This book is all about the psalms of the Bible.  It is not a copy and paste of all the psalms, though, as only select ones are printed herein.  For the selected psalms, they are selected based on a theme.  Themes include praise, confession, adoration, personal struggles, and more.  For more emotions and themes, there is a chart in the book where readers can look up a psalm on nearly any topic of their life.  With the workbook-like nature of this book, there is space for readers to comment on the psalms, answer prompts, and journal their thoughts.  Since the She Reads Truth organization is Christian, there are some references to Jesus and the New Testament included.  The overall style of the book is very white, clear, and crisp.  The few photo images inside are very basic, which is meant to give a meditative / contemplative feeling.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

"Dinner for Dinos" by Ben Whitehouse

This cute full-color wooden paged book is adorable.  It is all about dinosaurs having a barbecue dinner.  The dinosaurs or "dinos" go grocery shopping together, cook together, set the table together, dine together, and finally go to sleep together.  There is a section of the story where one dinosaur does not want to eat vegetables.  This dino eats vegetables after another dino says how strong they make one become.  That was adorable.  There is diversity as the dinos are in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  There are boy dinos and girl dinos.  One dino even has glasses.  This is a great book to get kids excited about mealtime and cooperation with friends.

"The Complete Guide to Dream Interpretation" by Marsha Trimble Dunstan

At first I was a bit skeptical about this book.  I mean, a guide on dream interpretation with input from the Bible?  Come on!  But the more I read about the author's logic and her own personal dream stories, the more convinced I became.  The author has had dreams that have come true and has correctly interpreted friends' dreams.  There are so many dreams in the Bible, and Dunstan does a good job of summarizing those.  This book has a Christian lens, so it makes mention of Jesus and various quotes from the New Testament, in addition to quotes from the Old Testament.  What I really liked was how Dunstan differentiated between dreams.  Some dreams are just from our own bodies (spicy food makes nightmares) while some dreams are from God (spiritual messages after prayer).  This book isn't just talking and stories, as good as that is.  There is a huge chunk devoted to what I call a dream glossary.  For any place, image, color, number, action, animal, etc, there is a short description of what that could mean.  The author is very clear when she says her dream interpretation guide is just a guide.  It is not set in stone as everyone's dreams are different.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"Go to Sleep Sheep" by Thomas Nelson and Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

Beautifully illustrated and cleverly written, this children's book is excellent for bedtime.  The mama sheep is telling her baby sheep that it is time to go to bed.  Meanwhile, the baby sheep come up with all sorts of excuses for why they should stay up.  They are hungry, they are thirsty, they want to play, and so on.  Other barn animals are illustrated in the background, making for a cute addition.  This book is hardcover where each page is wood and stiff.  I like how unique each sheep was.  One had glasses, one had a bow, one had a scarf.  Just as sheep are unique, so are kids.  This cute little book has fun rhymes and is recommended for children.  Go to sleep, sheep!

"Love Defined" by Kristen Clark &Bethany Baird

Focused on love and relationships, this book is a must have for any single girl.  It discusses the need for one to be happy alone before they can be happy with someone else.  There is a huge emphasis on finding one's satisfaction in God instead of a man.  Since the authors are Christian, there are a lot of references to Jesus and Christ herein.  Nevertheless, the basic premise that a man can not always make a woman happy is important.  This isn't to say that a woman should marry a man who does not make her happy (that's just a divorce waiting to happen).  Rather, the point is that women must cultivate a sense of sacrificial love and grace for their future husband.  When feelings fade--and they will--the woman should find her fulfillment in God and not place her hope in her husband.  There is a place in the soul that only God can satisfy.  While I do agree sacrificial love is good, I would caution women not to show this until they are married.  By showing unconditional love beforehand, it may make the man get lazy since he has not yet fully won your affections.  On a side note, there is a section in the book about purity and saving oneself for marriage.  While I agree with this from a religious perspective, I wish the authors went into details from a secular perspective.  What I mean is abstinence has more worth beyond religion.  Even men with no religion do not want to marry a woman who has "been around".  For those women who have made mistakes in their life, there is a section on forgiveness and confession before God.  This was a very fun book to read.  Interestingly enough, the two sister authors include one married and one unmarried.  Well, recently, the unmarried on got engaged.  She is 29, 6 years older than her fiance, and was friends with her fiance for 7 years before he asked her out.  From their youtube channel, he seems very smitten with her.  Ladies, don't rush and settle.  Wait for the best, even if that means you wait a long time!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"Girl Defined" by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird

As someone who watches GirlDefined videos and reads the blog post, I was very excited to read this book written by the sisters who created the group.  The entire premise of this book is getting back to God-defined femininity from the Bible.  The book starts out with stories about Marilyn Monroe and models.  Long story short, fame and good looks do not make someone happy.  Until a woman finds her worth and value in God, she will always be striving.  That sort of living leads to eating disorders, compromise, anxiety, depression, and more.  There is a large emphasis on being a wife and mother in this book.  While that's great, what I did not like was the subtle message that women should not focus on their careers.  Why go to college if you are just going to be a stay-at-home mom?  Well, I would venture that is unwise.  Most men do not marry until they have been living / working independently for a few years on their own.  If they have an advanced degree, they may not be ready for a real relationship until their late 20s or even early 30s.  And some men marry older women.  This means women could have a good 10 years to be studying / working on their own.  All that time, the woman could have been living her dream, working her career, and building wealth.  While I do agree that men should be the providers in a family, I acknowledge that not every woman will get married.  If I never marry, should I just live in poverty because I've never invested in a career?  Or what of the woman whose husband dies or gets disabled and there is no more breadwinner?  Having a strong woman who can earn a decent salary is a good thing in my mind.  Not only that, but for successful men, I would think they like a woman with her own career.  Sure, she can always hit pause on her career for a family, but her being successful means she is not just with the guy for what he can provide.  Yes, providing is important (I would never marry a man who didn't) but I'm sure guys like to know that the girl is with him for him and not money since she could afford everything on her own if she needed to.  That aside, I really enjoyed this book.  It read fast and I felt like I was having lunch with a girlfriend, it was that conversational.  Each chapter also has study guides with journal prompts and space to write answers / prayers.  This book is written by Christians, so there are quotes from the New Testament and references to Jesus. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

"The Better Mom" by Ruth Schwenk

Written by a stay-at-home mom, this book is all about the challenges and rewards of motherhood.  There are chapters on mothers feeling adequate, measuring up, and raising successful children.  So many women can feel inferior without a job outside of being a mom.  Then there are those women who struggle to make dinner and laundry on time, take kids to events, and have time alone with the husband.  Since I am a single woman not in the season of motherhood, I could not relate to a lot in the book.  Still, I found the overall message that one is complete in God to be nice.  Don't find your value in being a mom, a businesswoman, a spouse, a chef, or anything else.  Simply find your value in God and the rest will fall into place.  I should note that this book is written from a Christian perspective, so there are lots of references to Jesus and the New Testament in it.  While I'm not a mom, I do think it is important for women to choose who they have children with properly.  So many people are living less than because they were not exposed properly to love in the home.  There are children who are products of divorce, children with abusive / alcoholic parents, children who were not planned and seen as a burden, etc.  While I do believe anyone can rise out of bad circumstances, I do acknowledge that such people will have a late start in life and miss out on many important aspects of a pure and holy childhood.  Don't just marry anybody and don't just have children with anybody.  Choose someone who embodies love, is a good example for children, and will raise a productive member of society.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"Isaiah's Daughter" by Mesu Andrews

As a long time fan of the kings and queens stories in the Bible, I was very excited to read this book.  Add on the fact that Isaiah is one of my favorite prophets and that I adore the references to Hephzivah ("my delight is in her", which is also my Hebrew name), I was hooked on this book from the start.  Isaiah's daughter Ishma (Desolation) is renamed Hephzivah and eventually marries King Hezekiah, King of Judah.  There is much drama in the book as human sacrifice is tackled.  Hezekiah is actually the second born of King Ahaz.  The only reason he becomes king is because his father sacrifices Bocheru (Ahaz's firstborn son and Hezekiah's brother) to a pagan idol.  Hephzivah has her own family issues, as well.  She is not daughter to Isaiah by blood.  Rather, she is an orphaned refugee whose parents were killed in a war when she was barely five years old.  The story gets even more suspenseful when an Assyrian army invades Jerusalem and the royal Judean family struggles with infertility.   I could go on and on about this book.  I encourage readers to find out for themselves how great of a read this is.  Prophecies from the book of Isaiah will come to life as readers understand how they could have had real meaning in the physical time period of which Isaiah lived in.  Don't just study the Bible.  Live the Bible and understand what the characters back then had to go through.

Monday, May 14, 2018

"You've Got 8 Seconds" by Paul Hellman

This book is all about how to succinctly and effectively communicate to one's audience.  From elevator pitches to sales talks to presentations, readers will learn how to get to the point and hold attention.  There are copious tips in this book, from reducing the number of acronyms one uses to weaving stories into discussions.  With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, it is harder than ever to get one's point across.  In the business world, a talk can make or break an employee.  How can you sell your idea when your boss is zoned out on his phone?  How can you convince your team to try a new process when they don't even understand why they are in your meeting?  I am going to use the tips in this book to better communicate with others both at home and at the office.  Remember, you've only got 8 seconds!

Friday, May 11, 2018

"Wherever You Go" by Joan Leegant

This book tells the story of a few different characters in Israel.  Each of their lives are detailed in first-person over the course of about a month.  None of the characters interact with each other until later in the book when all paths cross.  Amidst political and religious extremism, the war between Israelis and Arabs rages.  The tale gets even more interesting as a bomb is detonated and fingers are pointing every which way to determine who did it.  The characters are all very unique.  There is the woman visiting her sister in Israel.  The woman who had an affair with her sister's fiance 10 years ago and who continues to sleep with married men.  There is the man who is a Talmud scholar.  The man who no longer feels his connection to the divine and shaves off his hasidic beard.  There is the man who dropped out of college and disappoints his parents.  The man who can not control his impulses and hurts others in the process of trying to find his own pleasures.  There is the woman who overdoses on drugs because she never got over the fact that her ancestors were murdered in the Holocaust.  The woman who could have a fulfilled life but can't see those who love her past those who deal her drugs.  Leegant goes into the mind and thoughts of all these characters.  While the plot was very good, there were parts I wish were omitted.  There are various instances of swearing, as well as a scene in which a woman is molested and nearly date raped.  This book is not recommended for children.

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Why Men Marry Bitches" by Sherry Argov

After reviewing Argov's first book "Why Men Love Bitches", I got this second one in the mail to review.  Despite the catchy tongue-in-cheek title, the term "bitch" here does not refer to a nasty drama queen.  Rather, the term means a woman who stands up for herself and has confidence.  There are many concepts in this book that I agree with and many that I disagree with.  First, I agree that a woman who desires marriage in her future should never move in with a man.  Second, I agree that a woman who wants a real relationship should not cheapen herself with revealing clothing.  There is a story in the book about a man who met a woman at a business event where she was dressed very professionally.  He asked her out to dinner later that evening.  The woman went home and changed into a very low-cut top to look "sexy" for the guy.  The guy met the woman for dinner and was immediately un-attracted to the woman.  There is a section of the book detailing how men will use women physically and say / do whatever they need to in order to use them.  This is one of the reasons I think women should save intimacy for marriage--to avoid being taken advantage of.  Many stories from men write about the women they used short-term versus the women they marry long-term.  Confidence and having a backbone are desirable traits.  Now, onto what I disagreed with.  This wasn't so much one particular page in the book but rather the overall message that was lost.  I believe there was not enough emphasis on choosing.  What I mean is, any high-quality woman can get men who want to marry her no problem.  But that does not mean she should go off with just any of them.  So many women nowadays are so obsessed with the idea of marriage that they will simply walk down an aisle with the first man who asks.  I think this is very dangerous as a lack of common values and future goals can lead to divorce.  To all the women out there, use Argov's tips to avoid wasting time with losers who communicate through their words and actions that you are a short time fling.  However, use your own discernment and don't just marry anybody.

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Better Together" by Rusty George

This humorous book is all about the importance of community.  George focuses on the benefits or living life with others.  While there are strong Christian undertones and an emphasis on church community, the overall message can be for any type of community.  George speaks about stories of community from the Bible, from Nehemiah's friends to Jesus' friends.  In one funny episode, the author compares the whining at the last supper to a homeowners association meeting gone bad!  On that note, not all community will be pleasant.  There is an aspect of bearing one another's burdens and having compassion.  Where I disagree with this is when personalities come into play.  With my strong empathy tendencies, I have learned to be selective about how close I let friends get.  I can not be someone's therapist or sit thru 30 minutes of venting.  This simply drains me emotionally.  I can, however, enjoy life with positive friendships.  What matters most is not trying to go thru life alone.  Studies show that having community can increase levels of joy, happiness, success, and even health.  Wherever you are in life, I hope you find community.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Blonde Ops" by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Bec has caused herself so much trouble that she's been kicked out of numerous boarding schools.  Her high-profile parents are too busy with business to chaperone her this summer, so they send her to Rome where she interns at a fashion magazine company.  There Bec meets a whole slue of characters, including two love interests, members of the Secret Service, and the First Lady who just so happens to be visiting.  When the editor in chief of the fashion magazine is sent to the hospital, things get very suspicious.  Then there are all the strange accidents that happen near the First Lady and her eventual kidnapping (spoiler!).  Bec is trying to enjoy her time in Italy but gets sucked into the intrigue.  Her hacking skills (yes, women can code!) and detective skills help her find out what really happened to the magazine editor in chief and First Lady.  There are twists in turns in this book that I did not see coming.  The book starts out a bit slow and doesn't pick up suspense until a third of the way through.  There are a few swear words in the book and some kissing, but nothing graphic. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Never Chase Men Again" by Bruce Bryans

This book is both comical and straight to the point.  As the title suggests, the whole premise is that men chase while women choose.  If a woman likes a man, she should never chase him or initiate contact.  If a woman likes a man that she is dating, she should never give up her hobbies or rearrange her schedule for the man.  If she's free, she'll accommodate the date.  If not, the man will learn to plan dates out further in the calendar.  Another obvious piece of advice the author gave was for women to not have physical intimacies relations or move in with a man before marriage.  Bryans talks about how men categorize women into categories of friends, friends with benefits, or long term committment.  Women should only entertain men who put in the effort and communicate thru actions / words that the woman is special.  Otherwise, time is wasted.  I have found this true in my own life.  When I refuse to go out with men who don't put in any effort, I free up time to meet real men who will rise to the challenge of courtship.  There is also a section on self esteem and how women should be happy with their own life regardless of what men may or may not be in their life.  This book was very short and could be read in a day or simple kept as a reference book (the table of contents is excellent).

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"Bountiful Blessings" by Susie Larson

I’ve gone thru devotionals and I’ve gone thru coloring books, but I’ve never gone thru a devotional coloring book before!  What a fun idea and excellent concept.  The left pages have short Bible verses followed by inspirational explanations, and the right pages have coloring images.  The coloring images range from flowers to landscapes to animals.  I enjoy how the pages are normal novel-sized pages.  I’ve colored in large coloring books before, and there is just too much white space to fill in!  Not with this book, though.  There is enough space to relax with coloring but not so much to wear out one’s wrist.  The Bible verses are from both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.  There is an emphasis on relaxation, calmness, and less worrying.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes to color and wants some peaceful quiet time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"The Healthy Living Handbook" by Laura Harris Smith

Full of wisdom, this book is a must for anyone who wishes to have a more healthy lifestyle.  The book is broken up into three chunks--spirit, mind, and body.  The spirit section focuses on prayer and religious service (in Smith's Christian setting, this means church).  The mind section focuses on de-cluttering, forgiveness, laughter, and more.  The body section focuses on diet, exercise, essential oils, sleep, and hydration.  Each chunk has 10 chapters, most of which are about 5 pages, which makes for a quick read.  At the end of each chapter are questions for the reader to journal respond, as well as a guided prayer.  Since Smith is a Christian, there are copious references to Jesus and quotations from the Bible.  Smith balances religion with intentional living quite well.  While some would say God can heal any ailment, Smith argues that God "will not bless food eaten in hell's kitchen" and that people can not pray themselves from a size 24 to a size 4.  This isn't meant to discount spirituality--there is a whole section of the book devoted to spirituality--but rather to teach readers that they have their own responsibility in this life.  God loves humans, I believe, but sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes.  If someone can eat candy all day long and never get cavities, how can they learn to eat sweets in moderation?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"Courageous Women of the Bible" by Latan Roland Murphy

While many may think of the Bible as a book full of male characters, there are quite a few female characters.  These women are not all just wives and mothers.  They are heroins and champions, dealing with life challenges as difficult as leading nations into battle.  The women of yesteryear had it just as rough--if not rougher--than the women of today.  They faced childlessness, difficult marriages, shameful reputations, personal insecurities, and doubted their faith in God.  Women from the Old Testament and New Testament are detailed.  There is a Christian undertone to this book as there are copious references to Jesus.  Some characters are Deborah, Mary, the mother of Moses, Abigail, and even some women who are unnamed.  I was surprised to see the woman from Song of Songs listed as a courageous woman of the Bible--a women who is nameless in the poem.  Still, I liked where Murphy took the story and how she weaved in the lesson of waiting on love instead of setting for the first person who gives a woman attention--something that can have miserable and lifelong consequences.  At the very end of the book, there is a section for readers to journal about their own fears and courage based on the topics covered in the book.  I found this book to be rather inspiring and uplifting.  May you all find your courage as you cast fear aside.  

"An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" by Chris Hadfield

This book was part of a book club at my workplace.  I wasn't sure if it would be a biography or a self help book or a story.  After reading the book, I discovered it is all that and more. Hadfield chronicles his life journey, from child to astronaut.  There is even a bit about his family and personal life.  I had no idea how young Hadfield married or how straining the life of an astronaut could be on a marriage.  Away for months on end is no easy task for work-life balance.  Throughout the entire book, there is an emphasis on teamwork and humility and being what Hadfield calls a zero.  Being a zero doesn't mean being a loser but rather aiming to keep the machine running without drawing too much attention to oneself.  Don't focus on the spotlight.  Simply focus on doing your best job possible and contribute your piece.  Hadfield also speaks about how loneliness is a state of mind, not a location.  He did not feel lonely in space but noted how many in large cities can feel lonely.  Hadfield speaks about his return to earth and his acceptance of his fame that many will inevitably forget.  For those interested in life in space and how that translates into character on earth, give this book a go!

Friday, March 23, 2018

"Singing the Scriptures" by Julie Meyer

So many people in the Bible sang songs.  There is even a whole book of the Bible entitled Psalms.  So why don't more people sing about God?  What are the mental and spiritual impacts of singing?  How does singing help people change and grow?  So many questions and more are answered in this book.  Meyer shares some personal stories from her own life.  She speaks about singing to foreign tribes in Africa, singing to the homeless in American cities, singing to terrorists in Israel, and just singing in her car.  When discussing Bible verses, Meyer goes into ancient linguistics to explain deeper meanings of the Scriptures.  Meyer is a Christian woman, and there are Christian undertones in the book which are evident but not overdone.  After reading this book, I want to try to sing more often.  Not just listening to songs but actually singing out loud.  As God sings over me, so I shall sing to God.