Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Questionable Therapy" by Steve Godofsky

"Questionable Therapy" by Steve Godofsky is an unusual thriller. The main character is Stacy. She is married to Rick. Both go to Dr. Kraus for psychological therapy. Stacy has a family history of alcoholism and mental health issues. She is a neat freak and has a touch of OCD. Rick is a controlling man that needs to have the upper hand and be the best in all situations. While Rick is off at law school, Stacy stays home and works a job that she strives to succeed at, even though it is second to her real dream job. Depression gets the best of Stacy, and she performs dangerous actions that are outlined in the book. Rick is fed up with Stacy's actions, and he cheats on her both emotionally and physically. Things turn deadly when a man lust for Stacy. The author does a good job here. Readers think the menace is one character--it's predicable and obvious, they say--but it is really another. There are some tiny typos and the unlikely fact that two spouses have the same psychologist, but the story flows. There are sexual innuendos that are not too graphic but still not suitable for young readers. There is also a touch of violence, swearing, and taking the Lord's name in vain. The ending isn't what readers may like, but it's not what they expect, either, which isn't such a bad thing in itself.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Cecil Learns to Smile" by Charlotte Bucher

"Cecil Learns to Smile" by Charlotte Bucher brings a classic touch to children's stories. The vibrant and skillful watercolors will really hold youngsters' attention. The main frog is a species from Costa Rico with a colorful anatomy. Since he is small, he is picked on and secluded. However, one day, a man takes the frog's picture and posts it all over the world. The frog then becomes famous. Coincidentally, the frog's family comes to visit him after their current location is jeopardized by predators. When this happens, the frog is in a much better place emotionally and enjoys making friends. This book will inspire little ones to research animals, make the best out of situations, and--most importantly--smile. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Virginia" by Susan Hughes

"Virginia" by Susan Hughes will blow readers away. Hughes keeps readers turning each page, not feeling compelled to put the book down due to its controversial nature. There are two girls, Virginia and Ivy, that were friends are young girls but grew apart. One day, out of the blue, Virginia reconnects with Ivy and confides in her that she had an angel come to her with startling news. Ivy does not believe at first. The plot heightens as readers and Ivy discover a startling truth about Virginia's family that involves a jihad-like cult of Christianity. Virginia and one of Ivy's brothers set out to stop it before any real damage occurs. All the while, the book has Ivy's narration with Virginia's at the end of each chapter (some of which are flashbacks). In the end, Virginia commits a jaw-dropping act that saves the day, but not how she originally thought. Strong Christian readers will relish this book as it warns of the false prophets of Matthew 7:15 ("Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves"). There is one contradiction of the second coming of Christ being through a womb; however, that never comes to fruition. Additionally, the way Hughes weaves her story, readers will think Virginia is hallucinating at first or simply viewing a member of her family in a divine light. However, by the end of the book, readers will be scratching their heads and wondering if Virginia really did see an angel.

"Acing Depression" by Cliff Rochey

"Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion's Toughest Match" by Cliff Richey with Hilaire Richey Kallendorf is a powerful book. It chronicles the life of Cliff Richey from childhood terrors up to his untimely divorce. Readers are taken on a journey that goes through country clubs, Europe, and, yes, tennis courts. From boy to man, readers see how Richey's depression slowly burgeoned. Black-and-white photographs are included that give the book a personal feel. While readers do not have to be familiar with tennis rules to understand this book, a knowledge of it will definitely help. In the end, this book shows that even superstars in sports can be sad. This is a nice read for depressed men that think it's unmanly to admit depression. Due to the nature of this book, it is for mature readers only.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Adulation" by Tiana Wilkins

"Adulation" by Tiana Wilkins is an unusual book. It is about a student who lives with her stepmother. Her father is dead, and what little family she has left is dysfunctional. When she begins to fail Algebra, she gets a tutor. The tutor also has suffered from close parental death, and the two instantly bond. They fall in love and become a couple. While the content isn't overtly graphic, the euphemisms about premarital sex are enough to make Christian readers twinge in disgust. The plot itself centers around the characters and their dramatic arguments, including a deathly scene at the end. In general, this book has good storyline and the characters have a real feel to them. However, the morals of the book, including abortion and teen pregnancy, will not go over well with Christian readers.

"Naked Being" by J.M. Harrison

"Naked Being: Undressing Your Mind, Transforming Your Life" by J.M. Harrison is a list of 450 adages / perceptions of the self. The essence of this book is for readers to get to know themselves better. The naked aspect is meant in the sense that readers should get rid of facades and personas that mask their true identity. The egos and personality walls are torn down as readers understand who they really at the core of their being. The book mentions that the self is without titles or religion. Christian readers may not like this or quotes from, say, Buddha. Still, the text is not too offensive otherwise, and it'd make a good hiking companion.

"You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be" by Max Lucado

"You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be" by Max Lucado is sublime. With about 30 small topics, this reads like a devotional book but may be completed in one day if read like a novel. There are small sections that cover topics like work, strength, potential, passion, relationships, greed, purpose, change, and more. Several pertinent Bible quotation and stories are given. The actual format of this book is unique with light blue splotches every now and then, coupled with light blue pictures. While this book is aimed at graduates, readers of any age or stage in their life will enjoy it. It outlines how special each reader is and how God has a purpose for them in life. This is a quick read that will keep readers perpetually smiling as they turn each page.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"Bugs Adventure Series" by K.M. Groshek

"Bugs Adventure Series" by K.M. Groshek consists of "Bug Goes Through the Maze," "Bug Meets His Friend," and " Bug's Trip to the Store." All three books are delightfully geared towards young readers. The yellow Volkswagen Beetle is the protagonist. In his many adventures, he faces his fears, makes friends, and accomplishes tasks. The vocabulary would make this book best for reading along with a trusted adult (not every little kid will know what irate means). The pictures are colorful and lively. Also, there are many traffic-related references that will teach children safe behavior. The text is nice and big for those just getting into reading after leaving picture books. The morals and ideals in the book are fine and should not offend any household. Overall, this book series is great for kids and may even inspire them to one day go into engineering or science. Even though the series is about cars, both boys and girls will enjoy the books.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Apparent Danger" by David Stokes

"Apparent Danger: the Pastor of America's First Megachuch and the Texas Murder Trial of the Decade in the 1920s" by David Stokes is a ghastly good read. It is about the famous murder trial where John Norris shot and killed a man in supposed self-defense. There was controversy over this because the Ku Klux Klan became involved to some degree, and the leader of evangelism at the time broke a huge commandment. This book is historically accurate and sites many primary sources that are woven into the story. There is even a list of characters to keep track of the many voices heard in the book. This is useful considering the great size of this book and its depth, both emotionally and literarily. The courtroom scene and famous acquittal are told in suspenseful realism. Some of Norris' past history and interactions, as well as conniving dealings are inserted. At the beginning, Stokes points out that he does not want to offend Christians and that they'd agree Norris deformed the image of Christianity at that time in a most heinous fashion. Readers may never know what went on inside Norris' head, but by the end of the book, they will FEEL something; all good books make the reader FEEL something. Christian readers will keep turning the pages and realize that there is always someone coming in Christ's name, no matter what the era. "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Matthew 7:15).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"How Should a Christian Live?"

"How Should a Christian Live?" is part of the Word of Promise Next Generation Series. Renowned for its famous young voices reading from the Bible, these books come with CDs. This book has 12 devotionals that discuss major Christian topics that give advice on how to live life. 12 may not seem like a lot, but readers will spend a good amount of time going through the book with its many puzzles, word games, journaling space, and encouraged CD listening sections. This is great for young Christians. The messages are obvious and clear as day to mature Christians, but this book and CD gives them a fresh new twist. Even older readers will fun this to be a spunky way to study the Bible. This devotional series is as interactive as interactive gets, and the other books / CDs in the series seem equally promising.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Is He Lying to You?" by Dan Crum

"Is He Lying to You?: An Ex-CIA Polygraph Examiner Reveals What Men Don't want You to Know" by Dan Crum is quite an interesting book. When one gets past the irony of a manly CIA examiner that works for national security writing a dating book, the meat of the book takes center stage. Crum goes into extensive detail about many different cues that signal lying. These are more than the obvious lack of eye contact and show that he really knows what he is talking about. Also, there are examples of people the author studied and experimented with. Their tales are equally interesting as they relate to general males and females across a wide spectrum. There is even a website included where readers can download supplemented materials and even a journal to keep track of their "lie detection" like the people in Crum's experiments. After that, there are parts of the book that give advice on what to do once lies are discovered. This book is well written and not graphic even for a dating book (euphemisms are used in place of vulgarities). Also, the tips in this book will help women [and men] spot lies even if they are not date-related.

"Danny the Dragon 'Meets Jimmy'" by Tina Turbin and illustrated by Aija Jasuna

"Danny the Dragon 'Meets Jimmy'" by Tina Turbin and illustrated by Aija Jasuna is a great book for both deaf and non-deaf children. The vibrant illustrations almost take one aback at first, but they would most likely be greatly appreciated by deaf children who would like extra sensory details. The story is about a boy who finds a shell with a dragon and creature inside. The characters interact, have fun, and become friends. The story is nice but nothing too unique. What is special is that there is a DVD version of the book. It is narrated for the non-deaf; there is a sign language interpreter for the deaf. The clarity of the words in the DVD is not the best, but people would most likely have already read the book and would just be listening or watching the interpreter, along with seeing the pictures on the screen. Overall, this book makes reading fun for deaf children. It can also be enjoyed by non-deaf children in parallel environments or as siblings and friends. Children who can and can't hear will await the coming books in this series. Also, proceeds from this book go towards a special school for the deaf.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"The Finger Prince" by Peter Begley

"The Finger Prince" by Peter Begley is a stupendous book for children of all ages. The clever play on words refers to fingerprints around a house. Most are food related and take pride in their own sense of self-satisfaction and personal identity. However, a finger print from peanut butter seems to doubt himself. However, when a big nasty sponge comes to destroy all of the finger prints, it is the peanut butter one that saves the day. Thus, he is denoted the finger prince. The rhyme scheme is complex enough to foster growth in little ones but not so difficult as to make them put the book down. The large, vibrant illustrations are fun to look at and will definitely get children's attention. The ebook for this is equally first rate and uses both motion and different voices. This book may even inspire little kids to think more about science in the future as they learn how seemingly small things have a fun world of their own. There is a "to be continued" at the end of this book, so there will most likely be more stellar tales from the finger prince.

"This Little Prayer of Mine" by Anthony DeStefano and Illustrated by Mark Elliott

"This Little Prayer of Mine" by Anthony DeStefano and illustrated by Mark Elliott is an excellent children's book. While it focuses on prayer and is endorsed by the National Day of Prayer, it is not some somber book that kids will not like. Rather, it contains copious references to childhood that little ones will adore. The verses rhyme and are short on the pages. Also, the book has pictures and activities that will make it enjoyable for both boys and girls. The images themselves are in a painting style and are of the utmost quality and artistic depth. While this book talks about God listening to prayers and having mercy, there are many kid-friendly juxtapositions. Scenarios like monsters in the night, toys breaking, playing outside, being neglected, going to school, enjoying the weather, sharing, and growing up are all portrayed. At the end, the message printed is so wholesome that readers of all ages can't help but smile; "Please love me God ,forevermore. That's all I want. Amen" (DeStefano).

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.