“The Dog Who Was There”–Review

51bjP8hjO+L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Set in first century Jerusalem, this story is told from the point-of-view of Barley, a dog who was abandoned and nearly drowned when he was a puppy, until a husband and wife rescued him and brought him to their home. While Barley grows up in the home of the compassionate woodcarver and his wife, tales of a special teacher from Galilee are spreading throughout the villages. While it causes quite a stir for many, others are influenced in positive ways and want to follow this teacher.

When life unexpectedly changes, however, Barley is on his own again, wandering the outskirts of Jerusalem. It is there that he meets Samid, a homeless and petty criminal. Soon the two become friends. With his new master, Barley experiences new struggles and new revelations. After his encounter with the Teacher, Barley learns the lessons of forgiveness, compassion, and love after witnessing events to what has been known as “the greatest story ever told.”

I enjoyed reading this book. It was so sad, yet it had some moments that made me smile. The ending really surprised me and that’s when I knew I already loved the book. In fact, when I got home from work, I immediately hugged my dog. Whether you’re a dog person or not, I still recommend this book. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Ron Marasco’s first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. He cowrote the book About Grief: Insights, Setbacks, Grace Notes, Taboos, which has been translated into multiple languages. His most recent work is Shakespeare: Portals to Prayer and he is currently writing a book about Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Ron has acted extensively on TV in everything from Last to West Wing to Entourage and has done recurring roles on Freaks and Greeks and Major Crimes. He appeared opposite screen legend, Kirk Douglas, in the movie Illusion, for which he cowrote the screenplay. He has a Ph.D in Theatre History from UCLA and is a professor at Loyola Marymount University.

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“How to Live in Fear”–Review

_225_350_Book.1876.coverI’m a mess—but that doesn’t mean God isn’t good, He doesn’t care, or He is unable to change my situation.

In How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out, Pastor Lance Hahn talks about his current struggle with severe anxiety disorder, which he’s dealt with since he was six years old.  For unknown reasons, he’d constantly suffer panic attacks, usually at home, in school, during his sermons, etc.  Oftentimes, these attacks would lead to nausea, including fainting.  In this book, he uses empathy and patience with those who also deal with anxiety, and guides them through steps to coping with fear and panic attacks.  Not only does he guide his readers with coping, he teaches people to accept their feelings without giving in to them.  Despite the years of struggling with anxiety, Hahn has always believed God was on his side and still is.

Although this book isn’t really for me, I admit I like how honest the author is.  It’s a recommended read for those who know the pain of anxiety attacks.  Hahn isn’t one to suggest people pray and it all will go away.  Because he knows what to expect with his panic attacks, he advises people to take on healthy hobbies and activities to keep the mind occupied.  Diet and exercise is what he also recommends.

If you, readers, suffer from anxiety or know others who go through it, this book can be a guide for you.  Feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Lance Hahn is the senior pastor of Bridgeway Christian Church in Roseville, California.  He is the host of the Ask Pastor Lance radio show, a conference speaker, and an adjunct professor.  He is married to Suzi, and they have two daughters, Jillian and Andie.

“Son of a Preacherman”–Review

51IAbPo4KtL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_It is Summer in the Greenwood District in 1920s Tulsa, Oklahoma. Small businesses in African American neighborhoods are doing quite well.  Segregation policies aren’t strong enough to run out the developments of the Greenwood district.

Benjamina “Benny” Freeman and her family are a part of the developing businesses in Tulsa.  While they own a wealthy ranch, Benny helps her mother run a dress shop in Greenwood.

Billy Ray Matthias, the son of the new pastor in Tulsa, eventually meets Benny and is convinced Benny is the woman God planned for him.  While Billy Ray carries on his work at the local pharmacy with his brother, he wants to maintain a friendship with Benny—and hopefully more.  However, Benny is emotionally unavailable.  No matter her past or current struggles, Billy Ray continues to hold a place in his heart for her.

Meanwhile, the eruption of racial tensions in Tulsa is getting stronger.  In the end, when Billy Ray and Benny are caught in the dangers of the chaos in their hometown, Billy Ray vows to keep her safe.  But will she let him?  And will she have enough faith to trust and to allow him into her heart?

I must say this is a great book I’ve read for this year.  Son of a Preacherman is based on the infamous Tulsa Race Riot in the 1920s.  I enjoyed getting to know the characters.  The dialogue is excellent, which provided plenty of tension to keep me turning the pages.  It all got to the point.  There were many scenes I didn’t expect, yet I liked it all.  This is actually my first book by this author and I look forward to reading more.  As always, feel free to leave any comments.

Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Moody Publishers.

About the author: Marlene Banks resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She has an associate degree in theology from Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, VA.  Her previous work was in the medical fields and the business world; however, she considers it her goal to bridge the gap between faith-based and secular literature.  To learn more about the author, click here.

“A Broken Kind of Beautiful”–A Review

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Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful, by Katie Ganshert, is the story of a twenty-four-year-old model, Ivy Clark.  Having been exposed to the world of fashion and modeling since she was fourteen, Ivy has learned along the way the only truth behind it all—appearances are everything.  No exceptions.  As long as she looks beautiful, nothing else should matter, not even her broken past.  Another fact hits Ivy hard, however.  Her twenty-fifth birthday is nearing.  In the modeling industry, no one wants a model who is getting closer to her mid-twenties.  They want fresh, younger faces.  Because modeling is all that Ivy knows, she pushes her uncle/agent, Bruce, to find her more jobs, any jobs.

An opportunity comes along when Ivy moves from the fashion industry in New York to a quaint island town in Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line.  Although Ivy isn’t ecstatic about the idea, she takes the temporary job with her stepmother in hopes that she’ll be able to land a new modeling job in New York once it’s all over.

Little does Ivy know that her future will all depend on her photographer, Davis Knight.  As she and Davis work together, Ivy realizes that–just like her–Davis has a broken past of his own.  He walked away from the kind of success that Ivy longs for to end up doing maintenance work at a local church.  Ivy becomes determined to get Davis to open up to her about the dreams he has given up, all the while Ivy works hard to keep her own past in the dark.

Do I recommend this book?  As a matter of fact, yes.  I really enjoyed the story.  The story is emotional and provides some heartfelt moments. I liked reading all about Ivy’s life and how she was coming to terms with her own past, as well as what really defines true beauty.  Although I’d recommend this book for fans of romance novels, I believe it’s worth the read.  This book is now available, which can be found here.

Author info: Katie Ganshert is the author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows.  She lives in Iowa with her husband and their son.  When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption.

FTC Disclosure: I received this free copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions are my own, based on my own experience.

“The Adversary”—A Review

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Spiritual warfare is real.

And we are all involved whether we like it or not.  The Bible plainly tells us that Satan schemes against humanity and wants to devour us.  Daily we struggle against Satan’s strategies and his desire to take over God’s kingdom.  This battle will not go away, and ignoring it could be disastrous…

The Adversary: The Christian Versus Demon Activity, by Mark I. Bubeck, discusses the conflicts that many believers face today.  Oftentimes, they’ve asked themselves questions, such as:

  • What is Satan’s strategy in spiritual warfare?
  • Can a Christian be oppressed by demons?
  • What are the symptoms of demonic activity in a person’s life?
  • Can demonic affliction be passed down through family lines?

Throughout the book, Bubeck discusses spiritual warfare, as well as how to defeat your own demons when facing everyday struggles.  In Chapter 6–Understand and Don’t Be Afraid–the author discusses the topic of demonic possession.  This includes topics on demonic oppression, demonic obsession, willing possession, and unwilling possession.  Many people do believe in demonic possession, and some do not.  As interesting as the topic was, there was a particular passage in the chapter that I didn’t really agree with, however.  It read: “It is my conviction that no believer can be possessed by an evil spirit in the same sense that an unbeliever can.  In fact, I reject this term altogether when talking about a believer’s problem with the powers of darkness.  A believer may be afflicted or even controlled in certain areas of his being, but he can never be owned or totally controlled as an unbeliever can.”  We all are entitled to our opinions, but how can a nonbeliever really be controlled by something that doesn’t exist to him or her?

I’m not here to argue about this topic.  Honestly, this book isn’t for me–I’m not a religious person–but I think this is a recommended book for those who are interested in the topic of spiritual warfare.  Also, it may be beneficial for those who are looking for a particular self-help book.  Feel free to check it out and post your comments.

FTC Disclosure: I received this free copy from Moody Publishers for an honest review.  The opinions are based on my own experience.

“Unstoppable”—A Review

Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving.  It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents, your purpose, and most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action, by Nick Vujicic, provides inspirational stories of Nick’s hardships.  Because he was born without arms and legs, he had to overcome the many obstacles and trials to get where his is today.  Just when he thought that he’d hit rock-bottom, he realized that having faith in himself was going to make him a stronger person.  Not only did having faith guide him on a daily basis, his passion for helping others made him a better person.

Throughout the book, Nick guides the readers on how to achieve their own success and happiness, as well as how to start believing in themselves.  He also discusses topics, such as:

  • Personal crises
  • Relationship issues
  • Career and job challenges
  • Health and disability concerns
  • Self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and addictions
  • Bullying, persecution, cruelty, and intolerance
  • Imbalance in body, mind, heart, and spirit
  • Feeling out of control

It was over a year ago that I was introduced to one of Nick’s YouTube videos and I really enjoyed his speech.  He was funny and I enjoyed his positive energy.  As for this book, I did enjoy reading it.  I, especially, was interested in the topic of bullying and the effects it can have on people, as well as the fact that awareness of bullying needs to be addressed.  Bullying not only occurs in schools, it occurs everywhere else, such as in the home and the workplace.

One of the passages that I really liked is where Nick says: “Many people struggle to find meaning and direction in their lives. They question their value because they aren’t clear on how they can contribute or make a mark. Maybe you haven’t identified where your talents and interests lie. It’s not uncommon to cast about trying one thing or another before identifying your life’s calling. Changing course several times is increasingly common. I encourage you to identify whatever it is that fulfills you and engages all your gifts and energy…Be patient if it takes time to find your way. Know that timing is important and that as long as you hold a true passion in your heart, it will not fade. Understand that even passions can come with risk.”

Nick’s advice is to always put your “faith into action” and to believe in the power of prayer.  Although I’m not a religious person, I do enjoy an inspirational story, on occasions.  I’d recommend this book for anyone who is looking for an inspirational story for self-improvement, success, etc.  The topics in this story can really benefit others.

For the author’s info, click the link Unstoppablebelow:

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/author-spotlight.php?authorid=107506

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books, for this review.

A Review of “The Dalai Lama’s Cat”

“I began to think that perhaps the time had come for me to write a book of my own—a book that would convey some of the wisdom I’ve learned sitting not at the feet of the Dalai Lama but even closer, on his lap.  A book that would tell my own tale…how I was rescued from a fate too grisly to contemplate to become the constant companion of a man who is not only one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate but also a dab hand with a can opener.”

The Dalai Lama’s Cat—by David Michie—15805413begins from a cat’s point-of-view.  In the slums of New Delhi, a starving and mud-smeared kitten is taken against her will only to be left for dead.  Fortunately, she is rescued and taken to a beautiful sanctuary with a view of the Himalayas, where her new life begins as the Dalai Lama’s cat.

The cat goes by many names.  For example, names such as Rinpoche, Mousie-Tung, including Snow Lion.  In the eyes of the public, however, she is known as HHC—His Holiness’s Cat.

From the perspective of His Holiness’s Cat, the reader is provided some helpful insights on finding happiness and meaning in today’s world.  What I did like was the story pointing out that we tend to focus too much on ourselves because of today’s, materialistic world.  Because of this, many people actually feel that they have unfulfilled lives.  There was a particular passage in the story that I’d made a note of for safe-keeping.  This person said:

“Everyone has the same basic problem.  Expressed in different ways.  Our main problem is that we are all ‘I’ specialists…We don’t stop thinking about ourselves the whole time.  Even when this makes us unhappy and uptight.  If we focus too much on ourselves, we make ourselves sick.  We have this constant inner chatter going morning, noon, and night, this inner monologue.  But paradoxically, the more we are able to think about making other beings happy, the happier we become ourselves.”

I enjoyed reading this book and I’d recommend it for anyone who is looking for an inspirational story, for anyone who is interested in reading about Buddhism and Enlightenment, or for those who are cat-lovers. The story is funny and inspirational and I believe that you’ll enjoy it.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.