Monday, February 27, 2012

God Gave Us Love - by Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave Us Love, by Lisa Tawn Bergren, with art by Laura J. Bryant, is a sweet board book about how God wants us to love everybody, even if we don't "like them" all the time. Grampa Polar Bear explains to Little Cub how God designed us to love, because He is Love, and that there is that something of Him in each of us that makes us "want to love others as God loves us..." even though "we don't always feel like loving them." Little Cub realizes that Grampa is right, and the book ends with her asking God to "help her love others better...even the otters."

I love Lisa Tawn Bergren's "God Gave Us..."books. I love that they help me teach important concepts to my three boys about God and, in this case, His love for them. It is important to me that she doesn't water down these concepts, and her spiritual points are strong, yet clear enough even for toddlers. This book gives us another way to explain God's love, the love that was so big that He sent His Son to die for us, to show us love. For now, my boys can say the words, but hearing over and over about God's love, in forms like this story, will continue to reinforce the concept until their little hearts really understand it.

I give this book 5 stars as a children's book.
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I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah publishers as part of their Blogging for Books progam, in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dawn Comes Early - by Margaret Brownley

Dawn Comes Early tells the story of two women: Miss Walker, the owner of Last Chance Ranch, who has chosen a solitary life on the ranch, and Kate Tenney, a woman responding to a advertisement seeking an heiress to the Last Chance Ranch. Miss Walker is seeking a strong, independent woman to run the ranch upon her passing, but she requires that the woman be able to handle the ranch, and that the woman signs a Spinster Pact - agreeing to remain unmarried in order to take possession of the ranch. Kate has been seeking stability her entire life, and has also forged a deep mistrust of men, so this situation seems an answer to prayer for her. If she prayed, that is. When she arrives, she finds that the ranch is more than she bargained for, in terms of the work required of her, and that it might be less than she needs in life.

Overall, this was a pretty typical western romance book. There was the expected heroine who thinks she doesn't need a husband, and the strong, caring man who sets out to prove otherwise. Throw in some outlaws and meddling family members, and it makes for an entertaining read, although not a terribly exciting one. I liked Kate, and I liked the blacksmith Luke as characters. I did like, without trying to spoil the book, that the ending wasn't perfect. Since this is the first in the series, however, I expect that certain things may continue to work out in the next book. And I am okay with that. Sometimes books wrap up way more neatly than life ever could, and it was nice that the heroine had to make some hard choices, without everything coming together at the end, in spite of them.

I give this book 3 stars. I am intrigued at the prospect of this series and these characters continuing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Close Enough to Hear God Breathe - Greg Paul

I never thought I would post a review on a book I didn't finish. This book is my first. I tried several times to just get through it, but every time I had to put it down. I waited and tried again, and the same. I finally give up.

I was excited to read this book - closer intimacy with God? Yes, please! Putting aside the trappings of this life to feel the heart of God? I was all about it. However, from the very beginning, between the author's crass descriptions of John the Baptist, and the irreverence with which he personalized Jesus Himself, I found myself disengaging from the text. The more I read, the further I felt the book wandered until I couldn't remember what the author's point was supposed to be. The stance he takes with the Bible ("The Bible, first and foremost, is a story...") did not sit well with my theology and beliefs, nor did his treatment of Christ on the cross.

So with that, I had to put the book aside, a little more than half finished. Maybe one day I'll give it one more try, but for now, I say no, thank you, and give this book 1 star, because even with the difficulty I had reading through it, I still found a point or two that I could apply to my life. His statement that "two things are necessary for me to be able to hear someone breathing: I must be quiet and I must be close," can help me draw closer to God, even if the rest of the book cannot.

I received this e-book for free from Thomas Nelson publishers as part of their BookSneeze program. I was not required to publish a positive review.

Saving Grace - Annie Jones

Saving Grace is a sequel to The Prayer Tree, which I did not read. The book takes four women who have apparently formed a prayer circle and unlikely friendships, and are looking for a way to stay connected as their lives are slowly moving them apart. Naomi decides that the town's eccentric widower, Miss Grace, would make a perfect project to bring them back together. While she initially presents a challenge, and other obstacles threaten to derail their project, the women eventually, and predictably, break through her tough facade and strengthen their friendships, their relationships, and their faith.

It has been awhile since I have struggled this much to get through a fiction book. While the story didn't seem uninteresting on the surface, I found myself just not caring about the characters. The love story seemed contrived, and the suitor all too eager for it to work out, making me think there might be a twist to that story, but that never came. The storyline with Miss Grace was too predictable - the crotchety elderly lady who seems to not want friends, who eventually softens and enjoys the effort made for her benefit.

Maybe if I had read the first book, I might have been more invested in these women as characters, but having read it as a stand-alone work, I can only give it 2 stars.

I received this e-book for free from Multnomah Waterbrook Publishers as part of their Blogging for books program. I was not required to publish a positive review.