Saturday, June 27, 2009

“Surrender All" by Joni Lamb

Joni Lamb’s “Surrender All: Your Answer to Living with Peace, Power & Purpose” is an interesting book. The whole basis is that readers need to surrender their lives wholeheartedly to God. As a television icon, Lamb accounts some of her own personal stories, albeit successful. She notes not selling her first television studio to rich and secular buyers, and she instead sold it for a lesser price to a religious buyer. Later, conversely, she sells another studio to NBC for a whopping $76 million. Readers are a bit abashed, but they are relieved when she later writes that she donated a percentage to charity. For those unaware of her show, they still understand what she is talking about. Readers that are wary of evangelic works are a bit skeptical when Lamb’s face dons the cover, making it akin to other famous books that have been said to be fallacious. Luckily, Lamb isn’t one of the evangelicals targeted in Hank Hanegraaff’s “Christianity in Crisis: Twenty-first Century.”

Throughout the book, many stories of woe and anguish persist. The trauma and terrible circumstances are accounted. In the end, happy endings are written. Many miracles and instances of divine intervention are told. While readers may still believe that the miracles and healings took place, it would be better for Lamb to insert some stories of disturbance that are not magically made perfect after prayer. After all, while it is wonderful for one to ask Jesus into their heart, suffering does have its place and may not end until heaven (hence the Beatitudes). Additionally, many stories are about friends of Lamb, but not many are of herself. The few that do tell of her minute pains end in extravagant blessings. Overall, Lamb’s book has a great message of surrender, but it is a bit sugarcoated.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl" by N.D. Wilson

"Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl:Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken Word" by N.D. Wilson is all over the place...and not necessarily in a bad way. Wilson's style of writing and rhetorical style make it idyll for atheists or just the faint of faith. The book reads like a dialog, almost as if the author is speaking to the reader. Much philosophy and science is discussed, both those for and against Christianity. What Wilson tries to do is set up his arguments in such a way that make it impossible for readers to discredit God.

Written in a fast-paced demeanor, readers feel like a long lost friend is running their mouth. This book is so unusual, it is good. For those that don't believe in God or think Christianity is hogwash, this book will change their minds. It is laid out in such a way that readers do not feel like they are being preached at. The language is very informal and oftentimes humorously brusque, although not laconic. While it is usually not good to judge a book by its cover, this is an exception.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"The Solar Sea" by David Lee Summers

"The Solar Sea" by David Lee Summers is a gripping science-fiction novel. Set in the near future, a boy asks his mogul father if he could ever build a solar sail to explore space. The father brushes the little boy off, and he continues to do so as he ages and goes off to MIT. When the boy is older, he puts on the guise of an older engineer and convinces his father to give the go-ahead. Assembling a crew, the main character goes off to many planets in search of a particle that may alter time / dimensions.

Other characters join the story as they are recruited for the mission. Interestingly, a marine biologist who is studying whale communication tags along. She realizes that the whales are communicating with extraterrestrial life (who appear towards the end of the novel in a quite fantastical fashion). Two characters even marry on the ship. The romance is sweet with deep looks into each other's eyes and just the mentioning of a kiss here and there. Summers does not take the low road of many sci-fi writers that insert unnecessary perverseness into plots.

The scientific description is accurate throughout the book. Basic astronomy names are interspersed, and basic physics principles are cited. As for vocabulary, it is pretty straightforward. Younger readers may have to look up a couple words, but they by no means will be constantly running to a dictionary. A thrill for young and old readers alike, "The Solar Sea" is definitely unique.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Solving Zoe" by Barbara Dee

"Solving Zoe" by Barbara Dee is full of preteen angst. The eponymous Zoe is a sixth grader who notices a new boy. This boy tends to keep to himself, and he hunches over a notebook full of scribbles. Zoe's best friend becomes distant when she obtains a leading role in the school play; her new clique is made up of mostly actresses-to-be. The boy silently observes the disturbances between Zoe and her supposed best friend. Trying to make her open her eyes, he takes action. What he does not only gets Zoe in trouble but also puts her further away from her friends. In the end, however, there is a bittersweet, happy ending--the reader is relieved, but not so much as to make it unrealistic.

Older readers might find this book slightly predictable. However, for preteens, the story is engrossing and highly relatable. Young ones get even more enthralled when animals come into play. Additionally, there are puzzles involved in the plot. The reader can try their hand at decoding them. There is even an answer key in the back if they get stumped. Overall, this book is great for young readers. It depicts middle school life, without the graphic nature of most preteen sitcoms.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

“Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes” by Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn’s “Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes” is an unusually life-like book for women. Amidst all of the drama and silly circumstances, the plot events are highly plausible. Number eight in the Sisterchicks series, readers do not have to read the previous books to follow the story. In fact, not all of the Sisterchicks novels use the same characters; each book tends to have a different story of women coming together in God. This disappoints readers who, after discovering that Noelle and Summer are finally meeting for the first time, realize there are no letters to read from when they conversed as pen pals in an earlier book.

Anyway, the story is enjoyable. Summer receives a call from a doctor telling her that she may have breast cancer. With a week before she needs to go in for a biopsy, she puts life on hold to finally see her pen pall of forty years in the Netherlands. Living in denial, Summer lives it up in the hospitality of her friend. It is only towards the end of the book that Summer opens up to Noelle about why she truly came. Noelle also opens up to Summer about her long-lasting feud with her father. Moving to Europe when she was eighteen, she has yet to speak wit her father who violently resisted her leap of independence.

This book reflects on the blessings of God. The few Bible quotations that are present are recited by the main characters. Some are even paraphrased in rather facetious manners to relate better to what situations the girls are in. Overall, both women become closer to God and help each other trust in His divine nature. Funny and sad all at the same time, this book is as bittersweet as the Dutch chocolate lauded by Summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

“100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs” by Stephen Elkins

“100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs” by Stephen Elkins is an interactive children’s biblical book. As the title suggests, there are 100 stories accompanied by 100 songs. The stories themselves consist of about a paragraph each. Also included is a short sentence or two synopsis, or adage, about the story. Then, there is a sentence at the bottom written in the first person narration for the reader to follow based on the moral of each story. The stories have songs that go with each one. These songs are named on the top of each story, as is a verse from the song.

Clearly labeled both in the table of contents and on each page, it is not hard to find corresponding songs for the stories. In fact, both of the CDs included have numbers and song titles printed onto them. Little ones will have no problem finding the songs for the stories. Vivid pictures depict each story and are fantastic. The seriousness of the stories is contained, and there are also fun little animals scurrying around in the background of some. This book is a great deal and fabulous for little readers; it will hold attention, teach biblical stories, and keep youngsters humming along to worship melodies.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

“The Wackiest, Wildest, and Weirdest Animals in the World” by Jack Hanna

“Jungle Jack's The Wackiest, Wildest, and Weirdest Animals in the World” by Jack Hanna is an amazing animal book for young and old readers alike. Thirty amazing animals are listed in the book. They include some exotic ones and some well known ones. This make it easy for readers to identify animals they know with some they never heard of, reaching a nice balance as to not make the reader too bored or too intimidated by their lack of animal knowledge. Everything is broken down in easy to understand terms, and there is even a glossary in the back.

Each animal has a page of its own. The animal’s diet, location, and size are grouped together. There is also a paragraph or so on each page to say what makes each animal “weird.” Fun facts are included in their own border on the page. There are even some personal anecdotes from Hanna about the animals he has encountered. To round it all off, large pictures of the animals are in the center of each page with smaller photos near the sides. Best of all, Hanna keeps God in the picture by reminding readers who created the animals in the book.

Monday, June 8, 2009

“Thanks for Being My Friend” by Ashley Rice

“Thanks for Being My Friend: A Special Book to Celebrate Friendship With Someone Very Important...You” by Ashley Rice is a fantastic book that applauds the value of friendship. The way the book is written, the poems and statements are geared towards the reader. It is as if the reader’s best friend made a collection of notes about the reader and presented it to her bounded. This book highlights the main characteristics of a friend and teaches young girls how to act towards others. For little ones who have yet to make friends, this book will give them hope that there is someone out there who will one day value her and share her secrets with her. For those that already have friends, this book could be a reminder of how special their friend is and why they should not take them for granted. Diversity is encouraged, as is talking to and learning from others that are different. Female readers will relish this colorful book with its glossy pages, enjoyable illustrations, and wavy edges.

“You Are an Amazing Girl” by Ashley Rice

“You Are an Amazing Girl: A Very Special Book About Being You and Making Your Drams Come True” by Ashley Rice is an inspirational book that challenges readers to believe in themselves. Many poems and declarations announce just how grand the reader is. Rice urges the reader to feel good about herself and strive for greatness. Mistakes and weaknesses are acknowledged, but it is noted that the reader should always dust herself off and never give up. There is even space in the book for girls to write down their own dreams, goals, and accomplishments. The main focus is on making dreams that are extravagant but realistic (e.g.- becoming an astronaut over becoming a mermaid). Providentially, healthy living is encouraged, as well, for an overall state of taking care of oneself. All throughout the book, the reader is constantly reminded that she is special and amazing. Girls will adore this colorful book, equip with its wavy edges, glossy pages, and clever illustrations.

“You Go, Girl...Keep Dreaming” by Ashley Rice

“You Go, Girl...Keep reaming: A Special Book About Always Believing in Yourself” by Ashley Rice is a motivating book about goal setting and individual trust. Learning is encouraged greatly, and it is assumed that the reader is a smart girl. Positive affirmations flourish alongside peppy illustrations. There is even space for girls to write what they want to do when they grow up. Math and science are supported, as well as the arts. The reader is pushed to take chances and not be afraid of failure. The book set a strong foundation for young girls’ self confidence. Trying new things and proverbially flying from the nest and portrayed in a very convincing manner. Hope and freedom are among the many key points outlined in the book for success. This wavy-edged book is clad with vibrant colors, glossy pages, and clever illustrations sure to dazzle girls.

“Girls Rule” by Ashley Rice

“Girls Rule: A Very Special Book Created Especially for Girls” by Ashley Rice is a fun book full of advice for aspiring young women. It teaches young girls that they can be anything they set their minds to. It is also honed in on that readers are constantly loved, even when they feel a bit melancholy. Guardian angels are mentioned, and mountains are considered mere stepping stones that should be approached with bravado. There is even a cute part where a cartoon takes a bath; the poem discusses that, when life gets hard, readers can just relax with a soothing bath. Sisterhood is acknowledged, and it is declared that the reader is a star shining bright in the world. There is also additional space in the back of the book for girls to write down their dreams. Girls will greatly enjoy this colorful book with its wavy edges, glossy pages, and clever illustrations.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"God's Little Princess" By Sheila Walsh

"God's Little Princess" by Sheila Walsh is a devotional Bible for girls. The structure of the book is fun. There are Bible verses, beauty tips (for both the inside and outside), words of advice, songs, plays that have roles for the reader and mother, and much more. Girls are encouraged to show kindness and love to others. There are even quizzes on behavior with follow-ups to make sure the reader knows which choices are right. The book encourages children to act like little princesses, politeness and all.

Hardcover with rhinestones and glitter, this book is sure to attract young eyes. Also, the pages themselves are brightly colored with unique designs. Pictures galore fill the book to keep a young girl's attention. The print is large for little ones, as well. All throughout the book, the message of God's redeeming love is evident. Walsh verifies that readers will be princesses in God's royal court of heaven. She also suggests girls pray and come to God when they are sad or have done something wrong.