Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review of CLOUT by Jenni Catron

Title: Clout
Author: Jenni Catron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
What It's About: Clout is about the God-given influence everyone has and everyone should be exercising in the world.
Why I Read It: I saw a lot of my favorite leaders on Twitter talking about this book, and I always enjoy reading books on influence.
What I Liked About It: The book is specifically about influence as something that God has designed into each person. Catron explores some of the flaws in most of us that negatively impact our influence. I personally resonated with the areas of comparison, insecurity, and control. Catron tackles these "clout killers" by sharing interesting stories along the way and showing what will counteract each of the clout killers. After exploring the clout killers, she takes readers on a journey of developing their God-given influence. It's a journey of self-discovery as you explore who you are as God has created you and how God has designed you to impact the world. Clout is a good book for discovering areas that you struggle with when it comes to influence and how to replace those flaws with something more constructive. 

Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson through Book Look Bloggers

Where You Can Buy It: Amazon.com

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review of TREASURING CHRIST WHEN YOUR HANDS ARE FULL by Gloria Furman

Title: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full
 
Author: Gloria Furman
 
Publisher: Crossway
 
What It's About: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full is a book about pursuing Christian in the midst of being a busy mom.
 
Why I Read It: This is a book for moms and, obviously, I'm not a mom. My wife is, however, and I know the struggles she faces each day as she raises our three young children. I know it can be exhausting and discouraging with barely a moment to sit down, let alone pursue the heart of Christ each day. I was sent a copy of this book from Crossway for review, and I found it interesting just because it deals with what my wife faces day in and day out.
 
What I Liked About It: With a book that's designed for busy moms, you would expect it to be small and concise, and that's exactly what you get with Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. Gloria Furman is a busy mom and wife, but she's also someone who clearly loves Christ and the role that she's been placed in. What's great about this book is that is seeks to show purpose and meaning in the things that mothers do each and every day. From encouraging moms that God designed motherhood to revealing the reality that it's not always picture perfect. From what I can tell, moms struggle with how so many moms appear to have it all together, and they sometimes feel like they're the only one. Furman encourages moms that they are not. There's no such thing as the perfect mother, and anyone who appears to be is working really hard to maintain that outer image while struggling just as much on the inside. Furman's book is about the practicalities of what it's like to be a Christian mother. As my wife is reading this book, I'm praying that God is using it to encourage and strengthen her as a mom and as a follower of Jesus.

Review copy provided by Crossway Books
 
Where You Can Buy It: Amazon.com

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review of CHRISTIAN FAITH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT by Gareth Lee Cockerill

Title: Christian Faith in the Old Testament
 
Author: Gareth Lee Cockerill
 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
 
What It's About: Christian Faith in the Old Testament is an overview of the Old Testament from the perspective that the Old Testament was the Bible of Jesus and the apostles. It seeks to show how the Old Testament foreshadows the New Covenant, the arrival of Jesus, and the faith of Christianity.
 
Why I Read It: The Old Testament is interesting with all of its stories and the way God interacts with the world. The Old Testament is something people often struggle with, while the New Testament seems to present a much more loving God. I read this book because it seeks to show how Christianity originated in the way God dealt with humanity and made promises in the Old Testament.
 
What I Liked About It: Initially, I decided to read this book because I thought it was going to be a theological discussion of how people were saved by faith in the Old Testament. I would have really gotten into a book like that. Unfortunately, that's not what this book is about. However, it's still a good book for what it is designed to be. The book is a good overview of the Old Testament, and it reads well with helpful charts throughout. The book does a good job of showing how God interacts with his creation in love in the Old Testament. It seeks to show how relevant the Old Testament is to New Testament Christians. I liked the description of the Old Testament as "the Bible of the apostles." 

Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson as a part of Book Look Bloggers
  
Where You Can Buy It: Amazon.com

Friday, March 28, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday: The Journal, Part Six

Check out Sara's journey after awakening in a world with a rewritten history in episodes 1234, and 5.


The Journal, Part 6

Sara sat quietly in the passenger seat of the black car as Jack drove toward the city. They left her dad's car behind, as well the mysterious accident scene where she somehow hit a child and yet didn't. Apparently another one of her hallucinations.

She didn't know what to believe anymore. The man beside her claimed to be her brother, but she never had a brother growing up. Yet this was the man who held all the answers she needed.

"If you're my brother," she said, "why wouldn't I remember you?"

"It's interesting," he said. "I remember a history completely different than you do, and in it, we were really close."

"So the history of the world is different here?" she said.

He glanced at her briefly before putting his eyes back on the road. "Of course," he said. "That's what they always wanted."

"Are you telling me you didn't exist before all this happened?"

He picked up the journal and held it up. "How could I have left this for you if I didn't exist?"

"But we don't remember the same. What makes you think you're really my brother?"

He smiled as he glanced at her again. "There's nothing I'm more sure of in the world than that I grew up with you, and I've loved you more than I could love anyone."

She wasn't sure how to feel with a complete stranger professing his love to her as a brother. She wanted to believe that he was who he said he was, but it made no sense. For her, their history together never happened.

"Were you there when the world ended?" she said.

"We all were," he said. "You and I tried to stop it together."

"Wait," she said. "That's not something I would forget. There was only one person who was with me until just before the end." She tried but failed to block the image from her mind of her boyfriend Michael plummeting to his death from the rooftop of the Faceless Corporation Headquarters.

"It's really not that far-fetched, Sara," Jack said. "Look around and you'll see that Faceless has managed to erase everything. The world ended and yet nobody even knows about it except us. Surely, it wouldn't be that hard for them to erase me from your memory."

It's possible, she thought.

"So what's our plan?" she said.

"We drive to the Faceless Corporation building. It is, of course, something else now, but it's the only place I know to start."

"Don't you know who's behind this?" she asked, remembering what he wrote in the journal.

He stared straight ahead. "I can't tell you that just yet. I don't want you to die, and have to protect you for as long as I can."

"From what?"

"Faceless prepared for this for a long time," he said. "If they know you survived and somehow have most of your memories in tact, then they have to be looking everywhere for you."

"Why would they care? No one even knows they exist now."

Jack suddenly pulled the car over to the side of the road. He put the car in park and looked at her, a look of determination on his face. "You're the only one who can stop what they're planning. It's all about you. It's always been all about you."

"What do you mean? I didn't stop it. It happened."

"No," Jack said. "Their plan has always been much bigger than destroying the world. This is about enslavement and eradication of everything of everything we believe in. They want to change everything, and not for the better. Not by a long shot."

Sara's head was spinning. She had always thought she understood Faceless's end game, but clearly she didn't.

"I've gotta get some air," she said as she reached for the door handle.

The moment she stepped out of the car, her vision lit up with the scene of a burning earth and the screams of dying people. Then it was gone.

She got back into the car. She looked over to speak to Jack, but Jack wasn't there. The journal sat in the driver's seat.


Where did he go? she thought. I was only out of the car for maybe ten seconds.

.She grabbed the journal and opened it up. A new entry was written inside.

Dear Sara,

I wish this journey didn't separate us the way it does.
I hate that I can't be there to protect you all the time.
They've changed things, and I'm not sure how to stop it.
They're looking for you.
You have to hide.
We'll find each other again.
Don't lose this journal.

Love,
Jack

To be continued...

Photo Credit: karimiaz via PhotoPin CC

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review of GETTING IT WRITE by Lee Jessup

Title: Getting it Write: An Insider's Guide to a Screenwriting Career
 
Author: Lee Jessup
 
Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
 
What It's About: Getting It Write is about pursuing, achieving, and sustaining a career as a professional screenwriter. 
 
Why I Read It: I've toyed with screenwriting a bit for a few years and have recently taken it more seriously as I've begun working on an original idea I came up with that I'm excited about. Though I don't hold any serious aspirations of becoming a full-time professional screenwriter to support my family, I have always had dreamed of writing at least one screenplay that got made into a movie. This book seemed like a helpful career guide.
 
What I Liked About It: Getting it Write is a serious unflinching career guide for anyone interested in the professional world of screenwriting. I heard about the book after listening to a podcast of Pilar Alessandra's On the Page where Lee Jessup was the guest. Jessup is a screenwriting career coach with years of experience and an incredible wealth of insight. She lays out what it takes to be a professional screenwriter and break into the business, and she makes it very clear that breaking in involves intentionality and hard work. The temptation is to write a great screenplay and be done, but Jessup tells readers that a great screenplay won't sell itself. You have to do the work, access the proper channels, and be relentless about trying to sell your script.

Another thing that I loved about this book, because I don't have ever plan to move to L.A., is that her advice isn't limited to those who have the most access by being physically near Hollywood. A screenwriter in the middle of the country can make it. It doesn't matter what your situation in life, if you can write a great screenplay, you can become a professional screenwriter. She carefully outlines some of the steps a screenwriter will have to take to succeed if they don't live in L.A. 

Furthermore, the book is packed with helpful information about screenplay submission, networking, the writing samples a screenwriter should have available, and a lot more. Jessup's book will help you to understand the business and career side of screenwriting better than ever before and give you the practical steps to make your screenwriting journey a successful one.

Review copy provided by Michael Wiese Productions

Where You Can Buy It: Amazon.com

Review of THE HIDDEN TOOLS OF COMEDY by Steve Kaplan

Title: The Hidden Tools of Comedy
 
Author: Steve Kaplan
 
Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
 
What It's About: The Hidden Tools of Comedy is a tool for writers to understand how effective comedy writing works so that they can write things that make people laugh.
 
Why I Read It: I love storytelling in general, and I love to learn new things about different genres. I've written a few blog posts that have gotten some laughs, but I wanted to understand what makes something funny and what doesn't.
 
What I Liked About It: Kaplan's definition for comedy is extremely helpful. Comedy is about sharing real life. It makes sense, and he shows how. In drama, all the real things, the flaws that people have, are taken out. Drama is about getting the perfect moment. Comedy is about capturing moments as they really are, and this often produces funny results. He then outlines his "comedy equation," which contains the tools for creating comedy that gets people engaged and laughing. The rest of the book is spent explaining each element of the comedy equation and illustrating them through examples from popular movies and television shows. The Hidden Tools of Comedy is a very instructive book for understanding what makes something funny. It's the first kind of book like it that I've read, and it's a good one.

Review copy provided by Michael Wiese Productions
 
Where You Can Buy It: Amazon.com

Review of THE DOODLE REVOLUTION by Sunni Browne

Title: The Doodle Revolution
 
Author: Sunni Browne
 
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
 
What It's About: The Doodle Revolution is about the inherent creativity and ability to think visually that we all experience at a young age. Sunni Browne uncovers the many benefits of the practice of doodling and why doodling should be encouraged.
 
Why I Read It: I watched Sunni Browne's Ted Talk on doodling, and I was intrigued by the insights she provided in just a short time. When I found out she wrote a whole book on the concept she outlined in her Ted Talk, I knew I wanted to read it. 
 
What I Liked About It: What Browne reveals about the benefits of visual communication is compelling. I've always loved to draw, and with young children, I enjoy encouraging my kids to be creative and think creatively. The Doodle Revolution is a sweeping argument for why people should practice doodling. She shows how it helps with communication and how it helps with our thinking processes. The book includes doodles throughout to illustrate as well as exercises for the reader to practice their own doodling skills. This is really fun book and one that is beneficial to the communication conversation.

Review copy provided by Portfolio Hardcover
 
Where You Can Buy It: Amazon.com