One Call Away

One Call Away
Answering Life’s Challenges with Unshakable Faith

By Brenda Warner with Jennifer Schuchmann 
Published by Thomas Nelson

Thoroughly enjoyed this book!

One Call Away is the inspiring life story of Brenda Carney Warner.  Though her life journey has included a myriad of difficult circumstances, Brenda gives God the credit for her perseverance in the face of both loss and abundance. 

One Call Away is a captivatingly well written memoir.  As Brenda reveals the struggles she has faced at various points throughout her life, she also reveals how her faith in God, founded from childhood, ultimately brought her through and led her into an amazing life living within His will.  

Summary:
From childhood, Brenda thrived on attention.  Immediately out of high school she became a US Marine, got married and soon became a mom.  She had the life of her dreams. However, that all changed with one phone call. An accident that left her four month old son blind and brain damaged was just the beginning of her struggles.  Brenda soon found herself a divorced, single mother of  two, living on food stamps and government assistance, and dating an aspiring, though younger, college football player named Kurt Warner. As her journey continues, she faces another major blow with the death of both her parents simultaneously in a tornado. Through this tragedy also, Brenda  learns to trust God in every circumstance.  It is this trust that continues to keep her grounded as Kurt, her now husband, rises to fame as an acclaimed NFL quarterback. 

One Call Away is an honest look at her own life by Brenda Warner. It is inspiring and captivating.  I didn’t want to put it down once I began reading. I could relate in so many ways to Brenda’s struggles as will many more readers like me. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

Espresso For Your Spirit

Espresso For Your Spirit
Hope and Humor for Pooped-Out Parents

By Pam Vredevelt
Published By Multnomah Books

Espresso For Your Spirit is a nice little book full of inspiring stories, motivating encouragement and humorous illustrations.  Author Pam Vredevelt, writes from her experience as a counselor, pastor’s wife and mom of three, including one special needs child. Each chapter opens with a relevant scripture from The Bible and closes with a “Power Perk” of either quips of humor in “A Sip of Humor” or quotes of encouragement in “A Taste of Hope”.  

Vredevelt writes with a witty and heart-felt style.  The genuine emotion she portrays when writing about events relating to her son, born with Down’s Syndrome, comes across in her writing. The advice she gives, gleaned from years of counseling others, is helpful.  However, many chapters I found extremely inspiring, while others were mediocre.  I chuckled at many humorous illustrations but also found a few repetitive or irrelevant. Overall, it was just an “ok” read.  It was worth my time, but not necessarily outstanding.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, through the Blogging For Books book review program, for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Smack-Dab in the Middle of God’s Love

Smack-Dab in the Middle of God’s Love
By Brennan Manning & John Blase 
Published by Thomas Nelson

Misses the mark. 

Smack-Dab in the Middle of God’s Love is a simple little book geared toward younger children.
Not too complicated for little ones to understand.  
Not too long for their attention span.
Repetitive text captures their attention and involves them in the story as they begin to recognize the bold-font phrase “smack-dab in the middle”. 
Unfortunately, Smack-Dab in the Middle of God’s Love misses the mark. Thouh it does a good job reminding little ones of God’s perfect, unconditional, never-ending love for them, a greater opportunity is missed.

As Willie Juan asks the children the question: “Little friends, someday, when you are in heaven, what do you think Abba will ask you?”, we hear their various answers reflecting fears, dreams and concerns common among us all.  However, the discussion centers only around earthly matters while completely avioding the only question that will truly matter for all eternity – whether you know His Son Jesus or not.
So where does Jesus fit into this story?
How can we talk of God’s love apart from His saving grace through the ultimate sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus?  

As we already battle against a  me-centered world, this book seems to put us (people) as the center of God’s attention – “smack-dab in the middle”.  Here is a wonderfully written little book, but missed a great opportunity to teach children that cultivating a relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way to find true happiness  “smack-dab in the middle” of God’s love.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

The Bone House

The Bone House
By Stephen R. Lawhead
Published by Thomas Nelson

The Bone House, the second book in “The Bright Empires Series” by established Christian author Stephen Lawhead, picks up where it’s predecessor The Skin Map left off.  Set in various time periods as well as locations due to the nature of the storyline involving ley travel, The Bone House continues the search by Kit Livingstone for the key to understanding ley travel contained in the Skin Map itself.  While other characters are also searching for pieces to this puzzle, their motives and intentions are not necessarily pure. The battle between good and evil continues.

I found the storyline shallow and exhaustively drawn out.  The idea of ley leaping, or travel between different times and places through the manipulation of physically being in specific geographical places at specific times, is interesting at first, but does not quite develop past the initial intrigue presented in The Skin Map. Even more concerning is the disjointed flow of information. The storyline is not developed sequentially, but instead the chapters reveal in a seemingly random order bits of relevant information, leaving this reader somewhat confused and frustrated.  After reading the first book in this series, I was disappointed, but decided to give it another chance with this second installment. Unfortunately, nothing is redeemed.  Though marketed by a Christian publisher and author, Biblical content is surprisingly lacking, almost to the contrary. Overall, I was extremely disappointed in content as well as writing style.

Recommend? Nope.  Can’t say that I do.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

The Chocolate Diaries

The Chocolate Diaries
Secrets for a Sweeter Journey on the Rocky Road of Life

By Karen Scalf Linamen
Published by Waterbrook Press

Inspiring little book with practical advice packaged in light-hearted humor

Author and speaker Karen Scalf Linamen delivers uplifting stories from her own life and others.  Each of the fifteen chapters digs into a unique aspect of coping with the bumps we all experience at some points along this road we call life. Each chapter also closes with a few “Food for Thought” questions useful for more in-depth individual or group study.  Scattered throughout the book Linamen includes quick and easy chocolate recipes for those inevitable times when emergency chocolate intervention is required. These recipes are graphically enclosed in boxes which she humorously entitles “Because Real Women Don’t Need a Cookbook”. 

More biblical content and scriptural references could have been included to point the reader back to Jesus and His Word as the true source of wisdom in coping with life’s ups and downs.  However, overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Chocolate Diaries.  Linamen’s style of writing has a way of capturing and keeping the reader’s attention.  I would love to see an accompanying Bible study guide, with recipes of course!

Recommend? Yes.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, through the Blogging For Books book review program, for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cherished

Cherished
By Kim Cash Tate
Published by Thomas Nelson

Cherished is on of the most enjoyed books I have read recently.  Tate does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the intertwined lives of her characters.  It is a light read but with heavy messages that brought this reader to tears more than once.  Though I could painfully relate to some of the events in the characters past, Tate writes in such a refreshingly pointed manner that I thankfully found myself caught up in rejoicing over God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.

The storyline centers around three main characters and how their own destructive choices in the past have left lasting consequences. Each character is dealing with the consequences in a unique way, some not necessarily healthy.  Tate reveals God’s work in each life and beautifully illustrates how we can all experience healing in our brokenness if we will humble ourselves before God and allow Him to walk us through forgiveness as only He can do.

Fairy-tale ending? Possibly, but I would not change one thing.  After all, as God’s children, do we not have a real fairy-tale ending to which we are looking to as our hope for all eternity?

Amen “Sistah Tate”!  Praying that God sees fit for you to continue pouring out wonderful Christian fiction.

Recommend? Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To view a preview of this book click here.

Life Everlasting

Life Everlasting

By Robert Whitlow
Published by Thomas Nelson

Life Everlasting is the second book in the Santee Series by established Christian author Robert Whitlow.  It provides a wonderful continuation of the storyline which began in Whitlow’s book Life Support, the first in this series.

The storyline involves Baxter Richardson, a recently married young man who has survived a fall from a cliff and is currently dependent upon life support. The book opens where Life Support left off, as Baxter begins to make progress in his recovery, although the progress is minimal.  The struggles between Baxter’s wife, Rena, and the Richardson family continue to intertwine as attorney Alexia Lindale continues to help Rena an sort out the details.  Many factors, both pure and evil, affect both sides. As additional information is revealed throughout the book, the reader is caught up in the emotional swings of the characters and their stories.

The novel is intriguing and well written.  However, from a Christian evangelical standpoint, a bit lacking in biblical content and truth.  This is not for lack of references to God or acknowledging credit of His working in the characters’ lives. This shortfall is in failing to present the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ alone as revealed through the Gospels of the Bible.  Salvation is described more as an experience, basing the believer’s “change of heart” on feelings alone and not necessarily on knowledge of the truth.

Recommend?  Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.