Reviews

Book Review: How to Be a Perfect Christian

Read on to learn more about the NEW book from The Babylon BeeHow to Be a Perfect Christian.

Read on to learn more about the NEW book from The Babylon Bee--How to Be a Perfect Christian.

A description of the book from the publisher:

With a biting, satirical style reminiscent of The OnionHow to Be a Perfect Christian takes a humorous look at the quirks of cultural Christianity while subtly challenging the reader to search for more than a cultural faith.

Written in the trademark style of The Babylon Bee, this book humorously satirizes cultural Christianity while peppering in subtle challenges to the reader. Through humor and sarcasm (and a handy meter to rank your “holiness” as you progress through the book), readers will be called to find a more biblical understanding of the Christian faith, all while poking fun at the quirks of the modern, American Christian community.

As usual, my five point review:

  • Alright, let’s make sure we have this straight: THIS BOOK IS SATIRE. So, don’t get all cray cray on me thinking we can really be “perfect Christians.” You and I know that isn’t exactly true (or possible). But now that we’re clear… this book is hilarious–it is a must read if you enjoy The Babylon Bee. I have to admit I picked up this book for my husband. He LOVES The Babylon Bee, and I love watching him chuckle while reading their amusing articles. Ben and I don’t exactly have the same sense of humor, but I can appreciate some good sarcasm and satire every now and again, so I like some of The Babylon Bee’s stuff too.
  • How to Be a Perfect Christian is such a clever book but you have to read with a critical thinking mindset… and also realize that they are trying to make a subtle point about our faith practices through humor and satire. Each chapter analyzes a different aspect of American Christianity and pokes fun at everything in the modern church, from how Christians do devotions (i.e. social media images of your Bible and coffee) to worship (choosing the holiest place to sit) to spiritual growth practices (of all types). Prepare to be slightly offended, and maybe a little convicted too.
  • On the vein of being “slightly offended,” there’s lots in this book that could offend. So just be aware of that. I highly doubt that they’re intentionally trying to offend (or maybe that’s the point? I don’t know!). I think most of that is harmless, but depending on your views about language there could be some offending points. Also (and this is just a note), they are sort of casual when talking about Jesus, calling him “our homeboy” and mentioning things about “breathing down Jesus’ neck” in relation to holiness. I would have to reread and consider this more, but considering who we believe Jesus is (God), this is potentially a little too much. Yes, it’s satire, but it may go too far at times. Maybe that’s just me though. I’ve seen similar things on their site in the past. The last chapter shares the gospel much in the same way… so again, your appreciation of this book may vary based on your ability to separate satire and truth.
  • One great thing about this book is its ability to make you question your motives as you practice faith. Are you doing something because it’s Biblical or because it “feels” holy? This book, though funny, has the potential to be so much more… to challenge Christians to consider why they believe or do things, and not just do whatever the modern church tells them to.
  • Overall, I recommend this book. You’ll laugh and cringe, and hopefully come away with a better understanding of you as a Christian as well as how the world perceives you. Maybe you’ll also make changes in your life as a result, or at least examine your motives. As for audience, it would be enjoyed by high school-aged students on up. It could be a great gift to a college grad as they embark into the “real world” and learn how to be a Christian outside of a protective bubble of childhood and the college campus. If you regularly read The Babylon Bee, you may recognize some content or themes, but there is a lot of new material too.

Interested in this book? It releases on May 1, 2018 but for now you can read an excerpt here

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Blogging for Books for the chance to read this great book!

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A suspenseful debut novel from Jaime Jo Wright. Read on to learn more about The House on Foster Hill! #bookreview #reading
Reviews

Book Review: The House on Foster Hill

A suspenseful debut novel from Jaime Jo Wright. Read on to learn more about The House on Foster Hill!

A suspenseful debut novel from Jaime Jo Wright. Read on to learn more about The House on Foster Hill! #bookreview #reading

A description of the book from the publisher:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious demise fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters, resurrecting painful memories and forcing a reunion with the man who broke her heart. Can Ivy unravel the mystery and find a renewed hope before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

As usual, my five point review:

  • Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was so suspenseful and full of mystery that it was hard to put down! Gah. Those are the best (and worst) books to read because you don’t want to do anything else but read! Haha. Unfortunately, that’s not really possible as an adult. Sigh…
  • While reading this story, I connected most with Ivy and her story. Her character was compassionate, compelling, motivated, and sad. But reading about her transformation throughout the novel was wonderful and even though she’s “just” a character in a story, I have high hopes for her future!
  • It was harder for me to connect with Kaine’s story. She, like Ivy, is no stranger to hardship. But–and maybe this is a reflection of our modern life–seemed to have a harder time dealing with her pain. She wasn’t very likable and I just felt there was too much going on with her story for me to feel for her. It was just… complicated.
  • One complaint I had about this novel was that there was SO MUCH going on. Romance. History. Suspense. Mystery. Thriller. Contemporary. Stalker. Murder. Trafficking. Genealogy. There was a lot to keep track of in the moment. Reflecting on the story now… I think it worked, but in the future the author may want to narrow her focus a bit because I could see how that could be off-putting to some.
  • All in all, I highly recommend this book if you like novels that take place in two different time periods and settings, or if you like mysteries/romances/historical fiction/contemporary fiction, etc. The House on Foster Hill is a fast-paced, intriguing read. It does have some Christian elements, but nothing too heavy or religion-focused. I liked that there was a definite creepy/mystery element that is, in my experience, rare in books from the traditional Christian fiction genres. Please check this out, and let me know what you think! 🙂

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Reviews

Book Review: Tell Me About Easter

Looking for a simple, fun way to introduce Easter to your toddler? This is a great pick!

Looking for a simple, fun way to introduce Easter to your toddler? This is a great pick! #Easter #bookreview

description of the book from the publisher:

Is it Easter yet?

Rhyming text fills this short-and-sweet die-cut board book that helps toddlers celebrate the true message of Easter—Jesus! Plus, foil and flocking will engage little readers’ senses as they spot and pat each fuzzy animal. Welcome, Easter!

Looking for a simple, fun way to introduce Easter to your toddler? This is a great pick! #Easter #bookreview

As usual, my five point review:

  • This a short and sweet book about Easter–both sweet spring animals and Jesus. It is absolutely perfect for toddlers! Aside from the content, we’ve been able to use it as we teach our son about colors and animals–asking him questions about what he sees and whatnot.
  • We love the illustrations in this book. It’s not just your average everyday board book–many of the animals (lambs, chicks, bunnies), flowers, and leaves are covered in soft felt flocking. A great tactile way for your kiddo to interact with the book. There is also gorgeous foil in this book as well. Both elements make this book very engaging to young readers. And a pretty book is fun for adults to read, too!
  • The book rhymes, but not in an obnoxious way like other books can. Apologies for using the word obnoxious to talk about books, but please tell me you know what I mean here! 🙂 This rhyming is sweet and sing-songy… it’s precious to see my son nodding and grinning along with the text. He even claps at the end!
  • My husband and I value good theology for books–especially kids’ books. This one is great–very straightforward and simple. You can see the majority of the spiritual content on the page above.
  • All in all, I would highly recommend this book for a way to prepare your kids for Easter, especially for the little crowd (under 3-ish?). It’s simple and sweet. My almost two year old son loves it, either when we read it aloud or when he “reads” it to himself. I could see this book being fun for older siblings to read to their younger siblings as well.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to B&H/Lifeway for the chance to read this great book!

Reviews

Book Review: What We See in the Stars

If you like mythology, science, or history, this book is for you!

If you like mythology, science, or history, this book is for you!
description of the book from the publisher:

A richly illustrated guide to the myths, histories, and science of the celestial bodies of our solar system, with stories and information about constellations, planets, comets, the northern lights, and more. 

Combining art, mythology, and science, What We See in the Stars gives readers a tour of the night sky through more than 100 magical pieces of original art, all accompanied by text that weaves related legends and lore with scientific facts.

This beautifully packaged book covers the night sky’s most brilliant features–such as the constellations, the moon, the bright stars, and the visible planets–as well as less familiar celestial phenomena like the outer planets, nebulae, and deep space. Adults seeking to recapture the magic of youthful stargazing, younger readers interested in learning about natural history and outer space, and those who appreciate beautiful, hand-painted art will all delight in this charming book.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I requested this book to review because my husband loves mythology and science, and I thought it would be fun to look at together… and equally enjoyable for him to be able to take to use in his classroom at school. He teaches eighth grade science, and this book is just perfect! When you open it up, it’s immediately obvious that it’s a very high quality book. The artwork is gorgeous, the paper is thick, and it just feels nice in your hands, almost like a gift book.
  • The book is well organized, with chapters dedicated to various constellations, the Milky Way, the moon, the sun, the planets, asteroids, and deep space. The organization makes sense, especially for science-focused readers. It is so comprehensive, yet very manageable.
  • I appreciated the layout of the book–a good mix of text and (beautiful) images. The author, Kelsey Oseid, seamlessly integrated history, science, and mythology in an approachable fashion. Sometimes discussions of mythology can seem outdated with science and present-day knowledge, but it did not appear that way in this book which was awesome.
  • Oseid’s writing and content was approachable for a variety of ages and knowledge levels. Reading this book made me reminisce about Star Lab in my fourth grade classroom–the first time science was really interesting to me. I think this book would be great for kids interested in any of the subjects mentioned in this book (mythology, science, and history), especially if they want to learn more about another field. Younger kids may need help understanding some of the words and concepts, but it’s accessible for middle school and up.
  • Whether you’re looking for an actually interesting coffee table book that your guests will want to flip through, a gift for a young scientist, a book to use alongside homeschool curriculum, or just an accessible book about the stars (and so much more), give this book a shot! I know you’ll like it too.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Blogging for Books for the chance to read this book!

Tired? Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith can relate. Read on to learn more about Sacred Rest.
Reviews

Book Review: Sacred Rest

Tired? Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith can relate. Read on to learn more about Sacred Rest.

Tired? Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith can relate. Read on to learn more about Sacred Rest.

description of the book from the publisher:

Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested- there’s a challenge.

How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.

Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative-and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. Sacred Rest combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.

By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear. Learn more about the author and the book.

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As usual, my five point review:

  • This book is so practical in our day and age. We are all busy, and in need of rest in so many ways. The author, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, is no different. She set out to write this book as a way for her to address the need for rest in her own life, both from a perspective worthy of her Christian faith as well as her medical background (read: lots of research went into this book!).
  • The author divided rest into seven categories: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, sensory, and creative. Though I’ve never thought of rest as needing to be some of those categories (sensory, for example), it makes perfect sense. The wide variety of categories do not really overlap, as I feared they would. As I was reading this book, that lack of overlap allowed me to zero in on areas in my life where I would appreciate (or need) more margin and more rest. That is so helpful!
  • Since this book aims to target the busy, the burned out, and the frenzied among us, the chapters are short, sweet, and concise. The majority of chapters contain practical advice on how to reset and rest so you can “recover your life, renew your energy, and restore your sanity.” This is very compelling! Though I read this book from cover to cover for the purposes of this review, the author encourages savoring the chapters to get the most out of them. Additionally, she gives an option of starting the book partway in (which I thought was very interesting!) so that the desperate can get practical tips, now.
  • There were two issues I must address with this book. The first is the lack of Christian content. Depending on your side of the coin, you may appreciate this (or you may not). There is some scripture in this book and you can definitely tell the author is a woman of faith. There wasn’t as much of a spiritual basis for the author’s beliefs and arguments for why we should rest. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and maybe my perspective would be different if I savored the book rather than read it straight through. This leads to my second point to address: part of the book, like most self-care/self-help/psychology based books, definitely had a me me me feel to it… a selfish feel. Maybe that was hard for me to read because, like most women, I want to take care of others, particularly my family. I didn’t get a good sense of the author’s why for rest besides just a healthy self. I think I was looking for something more here… I may not be articulating it well, and perhaps that isn’t even the point of the book. It’s just something I want to mention.
  • All in all, this is a good book. The practical tips for rest are great. Nothing earth shattering, but breaking it down by areas is a unique approach. Additionally, there is a quiz in the book to help us self-diagnose where we need to pursue rest. Though the Christian content is lacking and may not align entirely with my beliefs, there are parts that I still appreciate.

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Litfuse for the chance to read this book!