Sunday, June 27, 2010

Who's in Charge, Anyway? - by Max Lucado

Who's in Charge Anyway, by Max Lucado is a video in the series about Hermie and Friends. With flashbacks to how his friends have learned God's lessons and are growing into the insects God wants them to be, Freddie the Flea learns that God cares about him personally. He also learns that his friends haven't always been the strong, courageous, or confident bugs he knows them to be.

This video feels like the kind of story that will grow with my kids' understanding of it. As 2-year-olds, they enjoy the colors and the characters, and will now frequently ask to "watch Hermie!" As they grow, they will learn to follow the story and begin to understand that God has a plan for each of them, and while He may not be finished with them yet, He hasn't made a mistake, and He knows what He's doing with each of them. There are even subtle jokes (like the "Water Beetles" music group) for the parents watching along to get extra enjoyment out of it.

Overall, I love the Hermie series. I love that there's a good message in an enjoyable cartoon for my kids and I like having this alternative to the other children's options out there.

I received a free copy of this DVD from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze program.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Money Answer Book by Dave Ramsey

By the author of Financial Peace and Total Money Makeover, The Money Answer Book includes some of the most popular questions from Dave Ramsey's radio show and his answers regarding the path to becoming debt-free and financially secure.

Having read Total Money Makeover, I think that this book contained a lot of information I'd already gleaned from TMM. However, I did find a few interesting questions that I hadn't come across before. The idea of a Wants list and a Needs list was a surprisingly simple idea, yet one I hadn't considered previously.

Overall, the book doesn't seem to do well as a stand-alone - due to the format of questions and answers, there isn't necessarily a smooth flow from topic to topic, and there are several areas where Dave repeats information in multiple answers. This repetition does serve to stress what he finds important, however. I think that this book may serve as a primer of sorts to get people interested in Dave's other works or radio show.

I received this book for free as part of Thomas Nelson Publishers' Booksneeze book review program.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God by Sheila Walsh

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God, by Sheila Walsh takes the reader through both the author's experience with trusting God, and through several Biblical character's journeys. We read about how the familiar face of a famous speaker and author has traveled what may be to us an unfamiliar road to get where she is, and we are given a chance to look at familiar tales from scripture with the question in mind of "how did trusting God change the outcome of their lives?"

When I started this book, I thought "Wow, this book could have been written just for me!" I couldn't wait to read it, to find ways that I could take my struggles and learn to trust God to take care of them. Yet, as I read further, I found myself disappointed that the book didn't deliver more. Ms. Walsh's style of writing is very readable, and I enjoyed her personal experience snippets. The insight into the Biblical characters' struggles was also educational. But I had three issues with the book.

1) As a personal preference, it bothered me that the majority of scriptural references were taken from the Message translation (even though the title page information indicates that the default translation should be the NKJV). In addition, the author seems to pick and choose random translations, perhaps trying to find the one that seems to prove her point best?

2) I am admittedly an anal-retentive person when it comes to grammar and spelling - especially in professionally edited and published works. There were several places that were missed in the editing process - misspelled words, missing words, or incorrect words appeared.

3) The issues mentioned above are very surface-y, and the book could have still been great in spite of those. However, I was mostly disappointed in the fact that although the book is called
Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God, it didn't seem to have any female-specific interpretations of the information presented. The author picked a majority of males from the Bible to discuss the issue of trusting God, when she could have found several more women. I understand that the information we're given on men in the Bible is more in-depth, so I would have even been satisfied if she had taken the men's struggles (i.e. Joseph, Abraham, etc.) and applied it to how a woman, specifically, could struggle with trusting God, and how to learn to turn that around.

Overall, I would rate the book as "just okay." I learned a little bit about the author as a person, and I was given several points to think about in terms of familiar Biblical characters, but as far as learning to trust God and make "Beautiful Things" happen in my own life? Not so much.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their review offer.