Bookshelf28 Oct 2016 04:23 pm

Well, I’ve stewed on this book long enough – and please don’t take that to mean that this is a book of any substance that requires any amount of time to ruminate on or ponder or process. No, it’s more that I needed time to prevent having two rather negative reviews back-to-back. I know, technically, they are back to back, but I dragged my feet long enough and distracted you with The Afters and Ryan Lochte, so…

The Newsmakers – Lis Wiehl

I’m going to try not to indulge my desire to launch into a diatribe and instead just punch in on the high level blemishes that irritated me about the book. Then we can move on.

First, I’ve never (to my knowledge) done this before, but I felt compelled to write down a handful of predictions based on the first 2-3 chapters. These are things that I knew full well would happen by the end of the book because Wiehl all but broadcasts the entire series of events from the beginning of the book. This is something I expect (and get) regularly from Hallmark movies, but for some reason, it’s WAY more annoying in a book. Probably in part because of the investment of time in reading a book versus watching a movie, but I think it extends beyond that in that the writing just wasn’t very good. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf&SPORTS05 Aug 2016 03:59 pm

Long overdue, I know. I really need to work on updating more and I really need to stop saying that I really need to start working on it and I… well, you get the idea. Today, the 2016 Olympics officially kicks off. So this review is incredibly timely. Almost like I planned it. If only.

Anyway, We’ll start with a conversation I completely made up in my head…

Swimming with Faith: The Missy Franklin Story – Natalie Davis Miller

“Hey, the Olympics is coming up, we need a book about someone who will be competing.”
“How about that swimmer girl who smiles a lot and won some medals and is famous. Missy something.”
“Do you know anything about swimming?”
“No, but I read some newspaper articles about her and I follow her on Twitter.”
“Should I set up an interview?”
“Nah, just use what’s on the web”
“Okay, I don’t have much, though”
“That’s okay, we’ll make it a kids book so it can be short.”
“Should I fact check any of these stats?”
“Nah, it’s just numbers, we need to get this published so we can sell it before it’s too late.”

That’s how I imagine the conversation went when Zondervan decided to have Natalie Davis Miller write this “biography” of Missy Franklin.
[continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf12 May 2016 02:55 pm

NOW PLAYING: The Comeback Kid – b.reith

First off, I debated on which song to choose for a while because, honestly, I can’t hear the word “comeback” without thinking of LL Cool J’s classic hit, “Mama Said Knock You Out.” In fact, I just got distracted by writing that and had to go listen to it before I could continue. However, I did go with the b.reith song for a couple reasons I’ll get to later. Before that, it’s time for a book review.

The Comeback – Louis Giglio

Louie Giglio is well known in Christian circles (and there was that nasty little thing was the President’s prayer breakfast). You could say he’s been here for years, but then you might get side tracked again, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Anyway, he is known primarily for his role within the Passion movement, the genesis of which he actually recounts at the beginning of this book, and his public speaking engagements. THE COMEBACK captures one such teaching series and small group study topic on page.

Giglio reminds us that the primary storyline of all our lives is one of redemption. God is calling us back to Him and it’s up to us to accept his offer of grace and restoration. Weaving numbers of personal anecdotes and Biblical accounts into his message, Giglio connects with the reader on an emotional level and drives home his point. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf19 Feb 2016 04:10 pm

So, I’ve previously written about the first two books in the Dreamtreaders series and I’m happy to wrap things up and talk about the final book in the trilogy. In review, the first two books of the series set the stage for a cataclysmic, maybe epic conclusion. Did it work? Was the payoff worth it? Was it everything expected? Well…

The War for the Waking World – Wayne Thomas Batson

I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve made it this far, you should already understand the concept of dream treading, the fabric between the dream world and reality, and the threat that has caused a rift between the worlds. Does this signify the rise of a new Nightmare Lord? Will the worlds collide and cause irreparable damage to our very existence? Do I sound enough like that old Batman announcer, yet?

All these questions (except the Batman one) are addressed in THE WAR FOR THE WAKING WORLD. Unfortunately, as a reader, you pretty much know most of the answers before you read them. Knowing that this is book three of the trilogy and that resolution is guaranteed, you can easily predict enough to make the ending a foregone conclusion. That’s not to say that it doesn’t work or that it’s not worth reading, just that it’s not as thrilling as it perhaps could have been. Which also makes it less memorable, which is also why I had to refresh my memory before writing this even though I finished the book just a couple weeks ago.
[continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf06 Jan 2016 05:10 pm

I have long wanted to dig into a Wayne Thomas Batson series. Or even a single book. And this is one of those cases when it was worth the wait. (And it will probably encourage me to continue reading through Batson’s older catalogue while anticipating any future releases). This trilogy takes us on an imaginative journey into the world of our dreams. Actual dreams, not like, if I could dream up a world, it would look like this… although, I guess there is a lot of crossover between the two concepts. Anyway, let’s get started.

Dreamtreaders – Wayne Thomas Batson

Book one opens in a dream sequence where we meet up with some of the terrors that shape our nightmares and we are introduced to a young, somewhat brash warrior charged with protecting our dreams – or something like that. Within the first chapter, we meet some compelling characters and we see glimpses of what is to come. There’s a confrontation with the “Nightmare Lord,” who we learn is a far greater warrior than our hero (Archer) and experience a glimmer of hope as Archer shows the potential to overcome this great villain.

There is immediate intrigue and mystery and action and vulnerable emotions. By the time we reach chapter two, I’m already hooked and fully invested in the book. Later, we learn Archer regularly enters the dream world to defend us, but this time, something is different. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf19 Nov 2015 01:38 pm

Sometimes, I feel like I’m on a never-ending quest to find a book written by a comedian that is actually as funny as it claims to be. I’ve tried with Tim Allen, Seinfeld, Demetri Martin, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, and others. I’ve even tried Christian comedians, comedians who happen to be Christians, or whatever the title du jour happens to be right now. All of them have left me shrugging with a sly, half-smile at best, wondering if it’s possible to ever find this book, which appears to be as rare as a leprechaun riding a unicorn sliding down a rainbow into a pot of gold that belongs to Scrooge McDuck.

See, that would have been funny if I said it out loud (I promise). Written? Not so much. Anyway, I’m not going to overanalyze this. It’s not exactly a tremendous burden to bear. So what, right? I don’t find so-called humor books funny – even when written by stand-up comedians who make me laugh.

Diary of a Jackwagon – Tim Hawkins

But I try again. This time, it’s Tim Hawkins. If you’re scratching your head and scrunching up your face, don’t worry, I wasn’t familiar with him either. I had heard the name and there are a lot of YouTube videos with pieces of his stand-up show, but I went into the book with a clean slate. Please make me laugh. Pretty please.

Short answer: no, not really. I did smile and quietly chuckle a couple times, but no ab workout here. Not for me.

That’s okay, though. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf06 Aug 2015 04:37 pm

I walked into the break room the other day and observed two tables. Both tables were surrounded by my colleagues, but they were markedly different. At one table, the four occupants were chatting up a storm, laughing and carousing between bites, sharing a meal and life stories. At the other table, six of my colleagues shared a familiar posture – head down, expressionless faces locked into a phone screen, thumbs and fingers firing off messages into the stratosphere.

I don’t think it makes me an old fogey to recognize that life at the first table is way more like what life should look like. And I don’t think it makes me too much of a hypocrite to admit that more often than not, I’ll find my way to table two. That’s why God put people like Donald Miller in the world.

Scary Close – Donald Miller

Some of Miller’s earlier books have caused a stir of controversy amongst religious readers, but there’s little in SCARY CLOSE to argue with. The basic premise is that we are here on this earth in a community of other people and things go much better for all of us if we are honest with each other and act like we were uniquely designed to rather than how we wish we could be perceived.

[continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf19 Mar 2015 04:05 pm

Hey… have you missed me? Well, here’s a couple book write-ups…

How to Make Friends and Monsters and How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots – Ron Bates

howardbowardMiddle school is a pivotal time for most people, but it can be especially difficult if you don’t quite fit in. Unless of course, you are such a nerd you can create your own friends – even if they turn out to be monsters who try to take over you school and town. This series is an enjoyable look at the ups and downs of such a life.

In book one, Howard Boward is a nerd who, through no real fault of his own, creates a monster life-force to be his friend. Naturally, this doesn’t work out exactly as expected, although, it does make him popular… for a little while. When things start going awry, Howard learns a lot about life and identity and friendship and a little bit about having a moral compass. It’s a fulfilling and fun read, with plenty of illustrations to keep the pages turning.

Book two continues the saga and finds Howard struggling to remember some of the life lessons he gained previously. Also, he dabbles with robots and they try to take over the city. Again, we have a clever tale, written from a pertinent point of view and there are plenty of laughs, lessons, and mistakes from Howard’s experiments and experiences. This time, the undertone dives a little deeper into the realm of true friendship, loyalty, and teamwork. There’s also a bit of a redemptive call to action, but it’s not exactly heavy-handed. It’s another fine read and one that leaves you wondering what could possibly happen next.

These books are written in the style of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (visually, at least – I’ve never read those), Timmy Failure, and other half-graph novels. (I may have just coined that term… hope it sticks). They should appeal to middle schoolers, obviously, most likely boys, and the kid in all of us.

peace… love… bdg….

Bookshelf&business&leadership31 Dec 2014 12:25 pm

Game Changer – Kirk Cousins

So the season is over for the Washington Redskins and for Kirk Cousins, it was over a month or so early as he was pulled from action in lieu of Robert Griffin III and Colt McCoy. Oddly enough, I’ve read books about each of them in the past year or two also. But in reading GAME CHANGER, it is clear that Cousins is going to be okay, whether he’s benched or starting. He obviously strives to start and succeed in the NFL, but he lives with a purpose and vision beyond the gridiron lines, Gatorade showers, and screaming fans.

For such a young guy, he’s already experienced a lifetime of challenges, failures, and successes, as well as plenty of twists and turns along the way. However, through it all, Cousins keeps his focus on the bigger game plan. In GAME CHANGER, Cousins shares his journey, offers inspiration through his story, and passes along helpful advice for others, regardless of their current situation. This is a helpful book for younger readers – maybe 10-18 years old – looking for identity, success, and help along the way.

And hey, today is New Years Eve (as I write this), so what better time than the beginning of a new year to read through an inspiring tale to get you ready to tackle (pun intended) those resolutions in the coming months.

peace… love… bdg….

Bookshelf03 Oct 2014 04:04 pm

Smart Money, Smart Kids – Rachel Cruze, Dave Ramsey

Money. No one likes to talk about it or think about it, but, inevitably, it is one that we are confronted with many times a day. Unfortunately, by not talking about money, we aren’t thinking through the implications or consequences of our spending habits. This often leaves us without financial plans, savings strategies, or appropriate goals – much less the means to attain them. And, for those of us who are parents, these deficiencies are passed on to our children, placing them in a difficult position as they face their future.

Enter the Dave Ramsey and his daughter, Rachel Cruze. The Ramsey name is somewhat synonymous with giant scissors cutting up credit cards and phrases like, “cash is king,” “normal is broke,” and “debt is dumb.” His Financial Peace University program just crossed the twenty year mark and has been making a significant impact across the country. Having participated in the program a few times, I’ve learned one of the most common questions from attendees is, “how can I teach this to my kids?” Well, here you go. Rachel Cruze co-authors this book from the unique perspective of a “Ramsey kid” and explains the basic principles and practices she’s learned growing up with the FPU program.

Covered topics include the importance of giving, saving, and spending – in the right order – avoiding debt altogether, and paying for college, cars, and more. However, and most importantly, Cruze and Ramsey tackle the underlying issues of the growing problem: discontentment. SMART is a thorough guide to teaching kids common sense and practical money management. Absolutely recommend this to parents and kids.

peace… love… bdg…

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