Review – The Greatest Story Ever Told Journal by John C. Maxwell

Description

In 1976, John Maxwell was excited to receive a book as a gift. The title: The Greatest Story Ever Told. Imagine his shock when he opened it to find all the pages blank-except for a note from the giver that said, “John, your life is before you. Fill these pages with kind acts, good thoughts, and matters of your heart. Write a great story with your life.” This was John’s invitation to become proactive in writing his own life story. And it marked him. Now John extends that same offer to you and people you care about. It’s time to become intentional about writing your own story of significance. THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD is the perfect companion for every milestone:

  • Promotion
  • Graduation
  • Wedding
  • New Year

Begin writing your story today.

First impressions

I really, really, really like journals. I’m not sure where this love came from but I love getting new journals not only for the sake of, you know… using them. But also just for the sake of collecting them. This was a great chance since in this case this is a journal inspired by one of my favorite writers, John C. Maxwell.

Review

In reality there’s not so much to say about a journal, which is really a normal journal. The idea behind it comes from a gift Maxwell received and somehow changed the way he was living his life.

This journal has a handwritten note by Maxwell with many of the words used in the description above. An invitation to live with intention, an invitation to inspire others through words and deeds. There’s also a page dedicated to show the way you can start sharing your journey with others with specific steps.

The rest of the journal is composed by 247 lined pages ready for you to start writing your story. This is a hardcover journal, with a simple black cover with “THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD” legend printed in white letters. The “texture” you see in the picture is from the leather binding version. The one I got is different, I guess is because is a review copy.

Conclusion

If you love journals like me, this one is for you. It’s a good reminder of the great story each one of us is able to bring forth in our lives. This journal can definitely work as a gift and could be the push someone needs from you.

Rating:

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – The Magic Cup by Howard Behar

Book description

Vince Steadfast is the newly named CEO of the iconic glassworks manufacturer, Verity Glassworks. The firm’s artistic glory days are in the past and recent management and financial turmoil have thrown the company’s future in jeopardy. The task for Steadfast is to keep his bearings, confront his fears and weaknesses and complete a quest for the very soul of the company. Along the way, Steadfast encounters a motley but talented group of employees – from a mysterious elevator operator to the company historian to an elfin designer – who join him on the quest. They must learn to believe in one and other and to believe in the company they have nearly given up on, if they have any chance at all in succeeding. As they search together for the Treasure Beyond All Price, Steadfast discovers that only by filling his glass cup (a priceless gift from his mentor) with leadership actions based on universal values can he and his new team begin to steer the company into the future.

First impressions

I have read books about leadership, but a book about leadership in the form a fantasy/fiction story sounded great. I’ve read some they’re not so common so I decided to give it a try.

Review

The Magic Cup is a short book, but with a great insight about teamwork. If you’re the kind of person that usually reads works of fantasy or fiction then you’ll find this one will be perfect for you.

The story of Steadfast is one that starts as normal, but suddenly becomes an adventure inside of the building of his new job. Each of the characters involved represent a virtue or vice that help or obstruct the journey of our hero in his search to save the company on his first day.

Conclusion

I was expecting a difficult story with difficult terms, but The Magic Cup makes everything really accesible for anyone. It has a simple plot with deep truths about working with people. It doesn’t matter if you’re into business or not, this book is for everyone that works with any kind of people.

Rating

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

Review – Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Book description

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

Read the complete description here.

First impresions

When I knew that Blake Crouch was the mind behind Wayward Pines I knew I had to read Black Matter. I thought it’d have that mystery and intelligence just like the TV show (at least the first season) and I was not wrong. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Review

It wasn’t easy when I wanted to start reading Black Matter, actually it took me some effort to get along with the pace. The story starts giving you a detailed background about a couple of characters, Jason and his family among them, and then about some places and events as well . The best thing is that the action arrives just in time and then the pages start turning by themselves.

Dark Matter stretches the possibilities about the Schrödinger’s cat experiment and Quantum superposition, we’re introduced to Jason’s life, just as he experiences it and lives it. Jason it’s a scientist that put aside many of his dreams in order to search for a normal life with a family. We get a plot twist soon enough and then everything Jason knew to be true becomes a lie or you could say it becomes a half-truth.

The first part of the book focuses on the struggles Jason faces to understand what’s happening, which in the long term involves mental and physical suffering. In his fight to find the truth, he’ll be involved with people and places that have been part of his past but with a very different present. Yes, I know it sounds crazy… and it is.

The second half of the book is charges with action and adventure. It’s here when it’s almost impossible to put the book down. You’ll encounter places and landscapes that could belong to a futurist setting but also some that you could find a post-apocalyptic book. Then you’ll also find some situations that may give you a headache.

Conclusion

Dark Matter was among the finalists as the best book in the science fiction category in the last Goodreads awards and though it didn’t win, it’s definitely a very recommended reading for those looking for a good science fiction book with unexpected but creative plot twists.

Rating:

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Review – Shaken by Tim Tebow

Book description

Who are you when life is steady?
Who are you when storms come?

Most of us have been on the receiving end of rejection, a broken dream, or heartbreak. And while this is not an easy space to go through, when we are grounded in the truth, we can endure the tough times.
In this powerful book, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow passionately shares glimpses of his journey staying grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism, and intense media scrutiny. Following an exceptional college football career with the Florida Gators and a promising playoff run with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He was released after one season.
In Shaken, Tebow talks about what he’s learned along the way, building confidence in his identity in God, not the world. This moving book also features practical wisdom from Scripture and insights gained from others who have impacted Tebow in life-changing ways.

Though traveling hard roads is not easy, it’s always worth it!

Your Circumstances do not Define You,
Your Identity Does.

First impresions

I knew about Tim Tebow through Facebook, as many contacts started to share his participation on the Home Free TV show, I’m not a sport guy. Shortly after I was offered to join to his book release campaign and it seemed a good opportunity to know more about Tebow so I joined and yes, I am late.

My review

The good thing about Shaken is that it’s written from experience. Tebow shares his ups and downs through his life in the football world and is honest in the way he experienced each season during the past years.

Shaken offers practical examples of the struggles each one of us can live in the real life and how our foundation in God is the difference between living in victory or defeat. Sharing from his younger days, from biblical stories and from testimonies he has encountered while doing social work Tebow encourages and exhorts to stand for the right things and make a difference where we live and in our sphere of influence.

The book is written in a very simple language which makes it easy to understand. Actually I don’t get the need for the future Young Reader’s Edition to exist, the book is short compared to your average christian book and Tebow is really good at communicating practical truths with practical examples.

Conclusion

I’d recommend Shaken mainly to those who are familiar with Tebow and know what to expect from his writings and then I’d recommend it to those who want, or maybe need, a good dose of encouragement and hope.

Rating:

I received this book from WaterBrook & Multnomah in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Review – The Returning by Rachelle Dekker

Book description

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”—one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned—a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

First impressions

The time has come to review the last book in the Seer series by Rachelle Dekker. I’m thankful for the chance to participate in the blog tour for the book release, which just hit the shelves yesterday.

My review

The one thing different but interesting about this series is that each book is set in a different timeline, which means different characters and different stories encompassing one narrative. While I didn’t find any trouble with this, some people may feel disconnected from the characters from the first book.

The Returning feels different but in a good sense, there are some new characters but the essence of the story is still there. There’s plenty of action and political intrigue to keep you reading after midnight but also some touches of romance, and by that I mean just the necessary.

A recurring topic in The Returning (actually in the whole series) is identity, and Dekker did an excellent job illustrating deep truths with simple words. I loved the way redemption is shown not merely as a final step in the ladder but the beginning in the life of the believer. Experiencing the power of the light should be our normal.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an exciting reading for this new year, you need to add The Returning in your TBR. Not only is a great reading but one that truly shows the way the Father thinks about you, and He really thinks good and great things about you. Get the book here.

Finally I leave you with some interesting questions (and answers too 😉 ) about the final book in the Seer series.

Q. Set the scene for The Returning. What has happened since The Calling ended?

Rachelle. Well, it’s been nearly 20 years, and the world has changed. I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the first two, so I’ll just say the world is very different and much more dangerous than it once was. But something is brewing under the surface. Change is coming, and people know it.

Q. Aaron is a somewhat mysterious character throughout the series. What is he supposed to represent and what kind of spiritual leader is he?

R. I like to leave this one open, which I know isn’t really the answer you want. I want the reader to decide who he is to them. For me he’s a guiding light, an angel maybe, a representation of the spirit who communicates with us and leads us. He can be many things—mostly, though, he’s a great way to hear truth.

Q. How do you hope this book will resonate with your readers?

R. I hope, as with both of the other books, that the reader sees themselves in the characters and that the story causes them to look inward. To ask hard questions like, Who am I? What am I capable of? Do I see myself the way the Father does? Can I? I hope it challenges their idea of identity and then gives them hope to see themselves and others more clearly. Because that’s how these stories have impacted me, and we are all really just the same.

Rating:

 

Review – Ordinary by Tony Medina

Book description

What if the path toward an extraordinary life is becoming more ordinary?Ordinary is not a call to be more radical. If anything, it is a call to the contrary. The kingdom of God isn’t coming with light shows, and shock and awe, but with lowly acts of service. Tony Merida wants to push back against sensationalism and “rock star Christianity,” and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity.

Through things such as humble acts of service, neighbor love, and hospitality, Christians can shake the foundations of the culture. In order to see things happen that have never happened before, Christians must to do what Christians have always done­. Christians need to become more ordinary.

Let’s think together about how we, ordinary people, doing ordinary things, might turn the world upside down.

First impressions

I chose this book for three main reasons. First, I needed a short book to read in order to complete my book reading challenge. Second, the cover looks awesome (with the book in my hands, feels awesome as well). And third, the subtitle of the book sounded really challenging and honest for us as Christians.

Content

I’m not sure how to describe Ordinary, I wouldn’t say I’m don’t agree with the principles presented here: loving involves action. The book focuses in specific areas where everyone could get involved, going from thing, like feeding the poor, to adopting a child.

The thing I didn’t like was the way Tony wanted to force this issue on the readers. It’s difficult to put it into words, but I think that while it was an extensive “to do” list for Christians, it lacked the “why”. And by this I mean the book never tried to explore the the reasons behind “why” we as Christians should behave in a certain way besides the “just because”.

I think true loving actions come from a heart that already is in tune with God’s heart and not from a list of requirements in order to be in tune with God’s heart.

Conclusion

From my initial list, Ordinary just filled my first two expectations. It was a short book and it looks awesome. It’s a good reading but maybe not what you’re expecting.

Rating:

Review – The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

theshack

Book description

Mackenzie Allen Phillips’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note–apparently from God–inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.

First impressions

I read The Shack six or seven years ago for the first time. Shortly after I found several reviews pointing how theologically inaccurate the story was and somehow I thought maybe I’ve missed something. I wanted to give the book a new chance and decided to read it again. Also there’s a movie adaptation coming up, and wanted to refresh the story in my mind.

Review

There are two ways you can read (and review) The Shack: as a mere work of fiction and inspiration or as a theology work about God and suffering.

In the former, you have an amazing and emotional story that empathizes with almost every living soul on Earth. There’s something in Mack’s suffering that clicks with our personal daily struggles, making us part of the quest to find an answer and if possible, a solution. Then there’s the mystery behind the character (as in, the person) of God. How is He like? what does someone like God look like?  Is there a God? Does He care about us? The Shack responds some of these questions with a lot of creative freedom.

All this ingredients produce an exciting page turner, at least for those familiar or interested in these topics. There’s one issue that needs to be addressed and so the plot it’s clear from the very beginning making The Shack a fast reading.

In the later, you have an interesting view on God, the Trinity, the work of Jesus and its implications on humanity, and many other theological subjects you can think of (seminary, prayer, church, forgiveness, religions). The author (or should I say the author using God’s voice) didn’t just limited his views on the matters related to the story, but he also used The Shack as a way to express his disagreement with many practices and doctrines of Christianity unrelated to the story, but definitely a priority to Young.

This is where things could be confusing to some people. I had friends that would say something like: “It’s like Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit would say in The Shack…” giving a book the same value as The Book, maybe not out of rebellion, but out of ignorance of what the Bible says about God.

Conclusion

On the same note I hope my review is not confusing to some of you. I really liked reading The Shack for the second time, but encountered some theological issues that can by skipped if reading with a mentality of a casual reader. I’d recommend to read this book in the same manner you would read Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Rating:

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Becoming a Disciple Making Church by Neil T. Anderson

makingadisciple

Book description

Life-Changing Discipleship Can Be the Expectation, Not the Exception

As leaders, we want the people in our churches to become spiritually mature disciples of Christ, but so many remain stuck in struggles and sins. Personal and spiritual conflicts are holding them back from the true freedom that can be found in Christ alone.

Neil Anderson has been walking individuals through this journey for over a quarter century, but now he wants to teach pastors and church leaders how to do this for their own churches. As the culmination of his life’s work, Becoming a Disciple-Making Church shows you how to help your people resolve conflicts–from difficult marriages to unrepentant sin to church disputes–through genuine repentance and faith in God. Rather than giving up or simply referring people to counselors outside the church, embrace the fact that God through His Word has answers to problems of the heart and mind. And in this ministry of reconciliation, true discipleship will happen.

First impressions

Neil T. Anderson is the author of Victory Over the Darkness a really well known book among Christians, that I haven’t read. That was the reason I wanted to check Becoming a Disciple Making Church, which is a really good introduction to Anderson’s work.

Content

This is not an original work, in the sense of being new material. It’s a collection of different chapters from different books in the context of building a leadership capable of building disciples using the principles in each section.

It’s not that the book it’s not good for this reason, on the contrary, there’s a lot of subjects of interest for everyone and the best thing is that you can put them into practice right away. Some examples are, How to overcome:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sexual strongholds

Each chapter explains the meaning of each concept and its psychological and biblical background. Finally it gives you the tools necessary to deal with each issue using biblical principles.

Conclusion

Reading Becoming a Disciple Making Church it’s a good start if you want to get familiar with Neil T. Anderson or with his work. It’s a really worth reading.

Rating:

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.