Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading

I’m about to dive a bit more into INSPYs reading, but wanted to share some of my recents reads!

  1. Stuart Little by E.B. White – I blame the puzzle.
  2. Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn – One of the fun books I get to work on. Robin is fabulous, so be sure to check it out!
  3. A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner – Confession, I’m not 100% done, but am loving this one and have really enjoyed this series, and she’s the best, so buy them all! And maybe follow Susie.
  4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – Loved! More about it here.
  5. My Happy Life by Lagercrantz & Eriksson – Again, the puzzle.
  6. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – Lived up to the hype. So enjoyed this one for book club.
  7. Dangerous Prayers: 50 Powerful Prayers that Changes The World – Read more of my thoughts here!

Have you read any? What are you reading right now?

Advertisements
Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible by Joanna Rivard & Tim Penner | Review

What a great story book for children! With a variety of Old Testament and New Testament, this is great for story time with any child. I appreciated that it covered a variety of stories, but with age appropriate details.

Accurate to the stories and the people of Bible times, I am so glad more and more books like this are becoming available.

Here’s a few more photos:

BOOK DESCRIPTION

With whimsical illustrations and engaging storytelling, The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible presents all your favorite stories and diversely represented characters from the Old and New Testaments. It starts at the very beginning with the magnificence of creation and includes Moses parting the Red Sea, Jonah being swallowed by a giant fish, and ultimately the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the rescuing King.

Uniquely presented in a way that connects each individual story to the next, this book introduces children to the most important ideas and characters of the Bible while also making clear how everything fits together to tell one big story––the story of God’s love for his children.

Kids will want to return to these joyful, memorable stories again and again, building their understanding of God’s Word. And the practical lessons, reminders, and truths found throughout the stories make this an invaluable resource for parents and teachers.

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible will help your children discover:

Who God is––the one who made everything and everyone Who we are––his children, whom he loves unconditionally What we were made for––to love God and everyone else

Introduce your children to the incredible story of God’s enormous love for them with The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible! This book’s bright and engaging cover has a unique feel and pops off the page with debossing.

Book Wisdom

Back to the Basics With Hugo Cabret

“If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken.” Hugo to Isabelle (page 374)

This quote is from a scene in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, where the main character Hugo is figuring out why the various toys he has encountered were made – they all had a reason for existence. As I was thinking more on the quote, the reminder became clear. We all have a purpose on the Earth.

This isn’t earth shattering news, I know. I bring up this truth though, because in a culture that seems to scream that our value alone comes from what big thing we’re doing, our side hustle, how busy we are, our platform (and to be clear, these aren’t bad things), I don’t ever want to forget the basics. Our purpose is living out a life of love. Loving God, loving others. Our purpose is that we each can bring faith, hope, and love to every human we encounter. For some, that will be on a big platform, book, public influence, but for many, it will be on a smaller stage. One isn’t any better than the other.

So never forget that you were made for a reason; that simple beautiful purpose of bringing hope to the world.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Greek poet Sappho once penned: “Become a voice.” I encourage you today to continue to be a voice for what matters, because there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for (#SamwiseGamgee).

Book Wisdom

A Few Lessons From Stuart Little About Life, Family, and Friendship

I recently got back into puzzles. Yes, this is also a very random way to start a blog post, but I blame Target. While Christmas shopping, they had puzzles on sale (it was of a tiger) and for reasons I still don’t know, I thought “that sounds fun, I’m going to buy myself a Christmas gift.” It’s been at least two decades since I’ve done a puzzle, but I enjoyed it and found it relaxing, so I bought myself another one. This time featuring covers of famous children’s books. After I finished that one, I did what any book nerd would deem necessary – decided read all the books featured in the puzzle throughout the coming months (It’s gonna be such a struggle when I have to re-read The Hobbit and the two books from The Chronicles of Narnia).

Thus bringing me to a little mouse named Stuart Little. I have a small collection of children’s books and since I already owned this one, it’s the one I started with.

While not Charlotte’s Web nor E.B.’s best work, I think it’s still a fun read for children. It’s a random collection of Stuart’s adventures, with only a few tied together. It ends without some answers, but there are plenty of takeaways. I thought the end quote was quite fitting for life.

We always don’t know what the outcome will be (in Stuart’s case, if he will find his best friend, Margalo), but that shouldn’t stop us from moving forward:

“Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north. The sun was just coming over the hills on his right. As he peered ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.”

Just like a life of faith. Sometimes it’s enough to know you’re headed in the right direction, even if you don’t know the final destination.

Stuart also teaches us how fulfilling life can be when we live it to the fullest, whether that’s seeking adventures in our own backyard or taking some steps a bit further away. He was always up for trying something different or something new.

We also see his love for home. Never is his family and home far from his thoughts, wherever he finds himself and of course there’s friendship. True friendship is one that loves at all times. We see that in his final quest to find his best friend Margalo.

If you haven’t read a children’s book in a while, I invite you to. There’s always something to be gleaned and as my friend C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

Finally, if nothing else, how about these life rules? While “substitute teaching” Stuart asks the class what is important:

“A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy,” answered Henry.

“Correct,” said Stuart. “Those are the important things. You forget one thing though. Mary Bendix, what did Henry Rackmeyer forget?”

“He forgot ice cream with chocolate sauce on it,” said Mary quickly.

“Exactly,” said Stuart. “Ice cream is important.”

I’m good with that.

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

Dangerous Prayers by Thomas Nelson Gift

World-changers. Rebels. Rejecters of the status quo. Throughout history, Christians were never meant to have a safe faith.

Learn from the brave ones who have gone before you with Dangerous Prayers, an inspiring collection of prayers from people who have changed the world. Exploring historical figures, cultural icons, political leaders, saints, and martyrs, this book offers you a rich visual experience to explore the power of dynamic prayers.

From St. Francis of Assisi to Harriett Tubman to Billy Graham, God can use ordinary people who pray courageous prayers to do extraordinary things for Him. No matter your age, position, or status, praying dangerous prayers will change your life—and likely the world around you as well.

Gain wisdom from the prayer lives of spiritual giants and invigorate your faith as you consider those who came before you with Dangerous Prayers.

I love history and I love reading about those who came before us in the faith. Reading bits and pieces about these people is always encouraging because you see so clearly how God works. I love the idea behind this book. Sharing the dangerous prayers of those who have changed the world is inspiring in so many ways.

There is one thing I need to say though. As you know, if you’ve been around the blog for a minute or two, race and America are important topics to me. We can’t heal if we don’t acknowledge the sins of those before us, so I must ask, why do we keep including certain people in our heroes of faith? Two examples in this book are George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. Whitefield was pro slavery. He actively taught that slavery was good and justified it. He believed Africans and African Americans were subordinate. Edwards himself owned slaves.

As Christians, we need to stop praising people who played a hand in keeping one of America’s darkest sins alive and running. I don’t expect our past leaders to have been perfect, but they never realized their sin nor repented. The church then and now is made up of millions of people they helped to keep enslaved. The ripples of their actions continue today.

I’m also not saying we remove them from our church history – all the more reason to actually keep them, as it shows how racism was in the church for centuries – but we also don’t need to include them in every hall of faith type of book Christians publish. We can only move forward when we acknowledge the past.

Outside of that, I really liked this collection. From voices in ministry, to activists, to artists, this shows how God will use you where you are at. They also featured men and women of different backgrounds and cultures.

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby | Book Review

Given the centuries of Christian compromise with bigotry, believers today must be prepared to tear down old structures and build up new ones.

In August of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, calling on all Americans to view others not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Yet King included another powerful word, one that is often overlooked. Warning against the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” King emphasized the fierce urgency of now, the need to resist the status quo and take immediate action.

King’s call to action, first issued over fifty years ago, is relevant for the church in America today. Churches remain racially segregated and are largely ineffective in addressing complex racial challenges. In The Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby takes us back to the root of this injustice in the American church, highlighting the cultural and institutional tables we have to flip in order to bring about progress between black and white people.

Tisby provides a unique survey of American Christianity’s racial past, revealing the concrete and chilling ways people of faith have worked against racial justice. Understanding our racial history sets the stage for solutions, but until we understand the depth of the malady we won’t fully embrace the aggressive treatment it requires. Given the centuries of Christian compromise with bigotry, believers today must be prepared to tear down old structures and build up new ones. This book provides an in-depth diagnosis for a racially divided American church and suggests ways to foster a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people.

I thought about writing a few paragraph of a review, but honestly, I don’t think I need to add much more. The church needs to read this book. Will it be hard for some? Will some want to jump to the defensive? Absolutely. But it’s too important of a topic to not read it, work through it, ask questions, pray, and work to bring healing.

This book is needed. This book is important. Please, read it.

Book Reviews

If You Need A Couple More Book Ideas For Christmas…

I was going through some books this morning (deciding which books to take on vacation is no easy task ;), and thought I would share a few books for those looking for some last minute ideas. They’re different genres and styles, so if you were stuck, hopefully this will help you!

  • For the person who wants to dive deeper in history (and wants to create change): The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
  • For the person who loves stories of friendship (and wants to learn about people different from them): Once We Were Strangers by Shawn Smucker
  • For the thinker and writer (and journal collector 😉: Burning Ships (A Guided Journal) by Douglas Mann
  • For the person who likes to laugh (or teaches English!): P is for Pterodactyl by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter
  • For the person who loves literature and story (because Jack is awesome): On Stories by C.S. Lewis

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Infographic Bible | Review

I really liked the idea behind this Bible resource. There are infographics on a variety of topics and a mix of art work, charts, etc. It’s not a book you can go through in one setting, since there’s such an abundance of information. If you tried to in one setting, you’d get overwhelmed rather quickly, but I kinda like that there’s a ton of info to dive into. My one qualm with it is that the font is sometimes really small, making it hard to read.

It’s definitely worth looking into though.

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
It doesn’t just tell you the story—it shows you the story.

Powerful infographics reveal new beauty and depth of understanding as you engage with Scripture’s story in a fresh, visual way. Taking inspiration from the imagery Jesus evoked with His picturesque parables, The Infographic Bible reveals the character of God, his Word, and his redemptive plan in 84 stunning infographics.

Features:

  • 84 stunning infographics explain the character of God, his Word, and his redemptive plan
  • Scripture excerpts throughout the book taken from the New Revised Standard Version, the New King James Version, and the Good News Translation.
  • Durable cover with generous foil accents
  • Heavy, bright white paper