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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Balance of April

During April I read/watched and reviewed the following:

Books:
- "Thriving at College" by Alex Chediak. Read my review.
- "The Final Summit" by Andy Andrews. Read my review.
- "When the Soul Mends" by Cindy Woodsmall. Read my review.
- "Max On Life" by Max Lucado. Read my review.
- "The Invisible World" by Anthony Destefano. Read my review.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book "The Invisible World" by Anthony Destefano



About the Book: Everybody has one. It’s called a "haunt detector." It’s the little alarm that goes off in our heads whenever we detect that something mysterious or supernatural has occurred. You could be sitting around relaxing one day at home, and for no special reason you start thinking about someone. Maybe you haven’t thought about this person in years. Then the phone rings; you pick it up, and amazingly, it’s that person! Many of us have experienced this phenomenon. What is it?
Anthony DeStefano answers this compelling question in his fascinating new book, The Invisible World. No matter how little we may understand or how fleeting such moments can be, he explains the reality of the spiritual dimension that surrounds us and shows how it is immediately accessible to everyone. All aspects of the spiritual realm are discussed, including the existence of angels and demons, the whereabouts of loved ones who have passed, and even the presence and activity of God in our lives. Written to be completely consistent with traditional Christian teaching, The Invisible World will help readers embrace a certitude that makes it easier to act according to their moral beliefs, give them a greater sense of the richness of life, and show them that no amount of suffering in their life — physical, mental, or emotional — will ever be able to destroy the profound sense of inner peace that can be experienced on a daily basis.
For those seeking reassurance about meaning in their life, nothing is more significant than to be reminded that no one is alone. In The Invisible World, Anthony DeStefano shows the truth of this in a captivating and inspiring way.

About the Author: Anthony DeStefano is the bestselling author of Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, A Travel Guide to Heaven, This Little Prayer of Mine, Little Star, and I Just Can't Take it Anymore. He has received prestigious awards from religious organizations worldwide for his efforts to advance Christian beliefs in modern culture.

My review: This is a wonderful well-written book by Anthony Destefano. He explains in all details the realm of the spiritual world, using a simple and direct language that even those who never have any contact with the supernatural will start thinking twice on his propositions on how things are organized and how they work. This is exactly my case. I have never heard nor seen spiritual entities of any kind, so for me their existence is just a matter of faith, and Mr. Destefano gave me a boost on my faith on their existence.
He divided his book in ten chapters, covering in progression the following topics: The Haunter Detector, The Invisible God, Invisible Helpers, Invisible Evil, Invisible Soul, Invisible Warfare, Invisible Grace, Invisible Power of Suffering, Invisible Destiny and Seeing the Invisible.
His explanation on why demons attack human souls for not been able to attack directly God convinced me that he is a serious writer and took an excellent care of covering every assumption with basis in the Word of the Scriptures.
I recommend this book for people of little or no faith  or even for people of more faith, but skeptical or with scientific minds like myself, with difficulty on believing on the supernatural world.

This book was written by Mr. Anthony Destefano and published by DoubleDay Religion in March 2011. B&B Media Group were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program. If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book "Max On Life" by Max Lucado


About the Book: We have questions. Child-like inquiries. And deep, heavy ones.

In more than twenty-five years of writing and ministry, Max Lucado has been the receiving line for thousands of such questions. The questions come in letters, e-mails, even on Dunkin Donuts napkins. In Max on Life he offers thoughtful answers to more than 150 of the most pressing questions on topics ranging from hope to hurt, from home to the hereafter.

Max writes about the role of prayer, the purpose of pain, and the reason for our ultimate hope. He responds to the day-to-day questions—parenting quandaries, financial challenges, difficult relationships—as well as to the profound: Is God really listening?

A special addendum includes Max’s advice on writing and publishing.

Including topical and scriptural indexes and filled with classic Lucado encouragement and insight, Max on Life will quickly become a favorite resource for pastors and ministry leaders as well as new and mature believers.

About the Author: In just under two decades of writing, Max Lucado has accomplished more than most writers hope for in a lifetime. Most of his books have appeared on one or more best seller lists, including those published by the "New York Times," "USA Today," "Publishers Weekly," and the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). Aside from hardcover books, Lucado's writings have also been published as children's books, videos, CD-ROMs, DVDs, music CDs, mass paperback booklets, apparel, giftware, bookmarks, calendars, study Bibles, workbooks, curricula, and plush products. In spring 2003, Hallmark/Dayspring Cards launched a new gift card line featuring excerpts from Lucado's writings--and has already sold more than one million cards.

All this success has drawn more than a little attention to a previously low-profile Texas author and minister. Lucado has been featured in a wide range of media, including "USA Today," "Larry King Live," and "NBC Nightly News." He has spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast before the President of the United States. He has traveled with internationally renowned musicians as a special speaker on their music tours, such as the highly successful "Come Together & Worship Tour" (sponsored by Chevrolet) with Grammy Award-winning artists Michael W. Smith and Third Day.

Journey to the Top
Lucado was born in 1955 in San Angelo, Texas, and raised in Andrews, Texas, the youngest of four children. His father was an Exxon oil field mechanic who, Lucado remembers, always smelled of grease cleaner. "It makes it easy for me to see a God who is loving and kind--because my dad was," he says. His mother was a nurse who grew up working in the cotton fields.

Lucado went through a period of rebellion against his parents' values and their God during his teens and into college. But it wasn't long before he found himself drawn back to his roots, back to God. He married, spent time serving as a missionary in Brazil, and returned to the States, where he began working as a church minister and writing on the side.

Secret to Success
From all accounts, Max Lucado is not a man consumed by sales, awards, and achievements. He often turns down media interviews since they impede on family and ministry commitments. He spends the bulk of his week serving as senior minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. And he is truly surprised by his own success--more impressed by his one-in-a-million wife and three amazing daughters than by his successful writing career.

My Review: This is not the first piece of work from Mr. Max Lucado that I read. As a matter of fact, I have read and enjoyed "Outlive Your Life", "You Changed My Life", "You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be", "Cast of Characters", and I watched "Who Is In Charge Anyway". I found out that this book is different. It goes deeper into his soul. On answering 172 general questions, he shows all his experience as minister and counselor.
He divides his book in seven major topics: Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-Nots and Hereafter.
Some of those questions, like #84, are relevant to any church and his answer is based as always on the Scriptures. Simply beautiful, from the bottom of his heart.
I recommend this book to any pastor or counselor who wants to have a good book for reference when he is called to extinguish a fire. But also is good to any reader whose morale principles are solidly based on the Word of God.
This book was written by Max Lucado and it was published by Thomas Nelson and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers Program.
If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book "When the Soul Mends"by Cindy Woodsmall



About the Book: Returning to the home she fled in disgrace, will Hannah find healing for the wounds of the past?
After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.
Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping him raise. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.
As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancĂ© Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah’s mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah’s absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life–and perhaps to her first love?
When the Soul Mends is the third and final book in the Sisters of the Quilt series.

About the Author: Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.
Her second book, When the Morning Comes, hit numerous best-sellers lists across the US, including edging into the extended list on the New York Times, coming in at number thirty-four.
Her third book, When the Soul Mends, hit the New York Times best-sellers list, coming in at number thirteen, as well as making the USA Today's best-sellers list.
Cindy continues to write and release best-selling works of fiction, and she's begun work on a nonfiction piece as well.
Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.
Though she didn't realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and caped dresses. Her parents didn't allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy's house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them--afraid that if they didn't, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann's because her family didn't own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults' disapproval and the obstacles in each other's lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy's family moved to another region of the US.
As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.
Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.

My Review: I did not read the first two books of the series "Sisters of the Quilt", and that did not compromise at all the story. The development of the plot can hold on its own.
The author has a sensibility that is seldom found on dealing with emotions of her characters. This is probably due to her deep knowledge of the Amish culture and tradition.
Plot is simple and straight forward. A seventeen year old girl is wrongly accused of breaking the traditions and is virtually banished from her Amish community. She goes away to live with a relative and finally finds a meaning for her life, taking care of a couple of kids in custody of a decent man that she falls in love with. But two and half years after leaving the community, she is called back by her sister and finds out that her sister needs serious psychological help. Dealing with the emotions of meeting again with her father and the church leaders that had banished her in the past, she needs to confront them in order to provide her sister with proper treatment. And in her return, she also meets the man she once loved, and a new set of emotions take place. This is a wonderful well written story and we stay the whole book cheering for our heroine to find her path in life. The author shows that healing is a process and all the Christian subtle messages are well placed. The title is very appropriate and the book has a very beautiful and well chosen cover. I recommend this book to any serious reader that wants a very well written story for a couple of entertained afternoons and nights. It took me a total of less then 12 hours to finish reading this book.

This book was written by Cindy Woodsmall and was published in September 2008 by WaterBrook Multnomah Books and they were kind enough to provide me a copy for reviewing through their Blogging for Books Program. Thanks, Mrs. Cindy Woodsmall, for such an inspirational book!

If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Go rank my review!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book "The Final Summit" by Andy Andrews



About the Book: David Ponder is back. This time the fate of mankind is in his hands.
This is mankind's last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.
With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history's best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.
Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler's Gift. Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don't know what to do.
Many years have passed since David Ponder discovered the Seven Decisions during a divine journey through time. Now 74 years old, Ponder has lost the one thing that mattered to him most: his wife, Ellen. Despite his personal and professional success, he now sits alone at the top of his 55-story high-rise contemplating the unthinkable, just as he did 28 years ago.
However, just as things are looking their darkest, Ponder is informed through divine channels that he is needed now more than ever. Together, with the help of hundreds of his fellow Travelers, from Winston Churchill to George Washington Carver to Joan of Arc, he must work to discover the one solution that will save humanity. Time is running out, and the final summit of Travelers must work quickly to avoid dire consequences.
The Final Summit explores the historically proven principles that have guided our greatest leaders for centuries, and how we might restore these principles in our own lives...before it's too late.

About the Author: What could this one man possibly have to say that is important enough for the Commander of the Allied Air Forces to ask his help? Why did every senior leader the United States Air Force has in Europe and the Middle East recently assemble in one room at one time to hear him speak?
Who is this man, that he would walk the golf course with Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez as she played her last tournament as a touring professional? Why was he invited to spend an afternoon with General Norman Schwarzkopf and his son, who was about to depart for college? What would he be asked to discuss with a ninety-one-year-old Bob Hope alone by the swimming pool in the entertainer's back yard?
Hailed by a New York Times writer as a 'modern-day Will Rogers who has quietly become one of the most influential people in America,' Andy Andrews is an internationally known speaker and novelist whose combined works have sold millions of copies worldwide. He has been received at the White House and has spoken at the request of four different United States presidents. His two-hour PBS special is entitled Andy Andrews: The Seven Decisions and is now airing nationally to incredible reviews.
Andrews' best-selling book, The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success, is an international sensation, remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for four and a half months and being translated into nearly twenty languages. Featured on ABC's Good Morning America as a book-of-the-month selection, The Traveler's Gift is the stunning story of one man's search for meaning and success in life by traveling back into time and conversing with seven historic individuals. Its message of hope, faith, and perseverance is transforming thousands of lives worldwide every day, spawning a teen version, The Young Traveler's Gift; The Traveler's Gift Journal; a home study audio program, Timeless Wisdom from the Traveler; and life-study curriculum's in high schools, mental-health organizations, and prisons nationwide.
Andrews lived a relatively normal life until the age of nineteen, when both his parents died, his mother from cancer, his father in an automobile accident. 'I took a bad situation and made it much worse,' Andrews says with a rueful smile, referring to choices he made during this tragic period of his life. Within a span of several years, the young man found himself literally homeless (before that was even a word!' he says), sleeping occasionally under a pier on the gulf coast or in someone's garage.
It was at that time when Andrews asked the question that would focus his search for what would ultimately affect millions of people. The question? 'Is life just a lottery ticket, or are there choices one can make to direct his future?' To find the answer, he first went to the library. There, over time, he read more than two hundred biographies of great men and women. How did they become the people they were? he wondered. Were they simply born this way? Or were there decisions made at critical junctures in their lives that led to such success? The young Andrews finally determined that there were seven characteristics that each person had in common. 'What will happen,' he mused, 'if I study these seven common denominators and harness them in my own life?
The rest is history. 'The Seven Decisions,' as he calls them, were the engines used to carry Andrews' life in a different direction. And twenty-plus years later, these same Seven Decisions became the outline around which he built the story of The Traveler's Gift and the basis of his PBS Special.
- Andy's Latest Work -
Since the success of The Traveler's Gift and Mastering the Seven Decisions, Andrews has released an array of well-received literature, including the New York Times bestseller The Noticer. Offering a fresh and insightful perspective on how people can change their view of the world, and their place within it, The Noticer has succeeded tremendously in furthering Andrews' prevailing message of finding hope in the face of adversity. Based on the remarkable true story of Andrews' own life, the book teaches its readers that, "Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective."
Released in the same year, Return to Sawyerton Springs features Andrews' trademark wit and humor as he weaves tales around an enchanting town that can be found in the hearts of those who long to take a deep breath, relax, and find time for the humor and meaning in everyday life. "I dare you to read the first chapter aloud to a friend and not fall on the floor laughing," said Mark Victor Hansen, creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. By reflecting on the seemingly ordinary aspects of everyday life, Andrews reveals them for what they truly are--extraordinary aspects of something much greater.
Andrews' newest book, The Heart Mender, has created a stir in literary circles. Elegantly blending a riveting story, extensive research, and a powerful message of hope, the novel is a true adventure set against the warm waters and white sand of the America's Gulf of Mexico during World War II. Lieutenant Josef Landermann is a German U-Boat officer betrayed and left for dead. When he washes ashore in a sleepy coastal town, he looks to a young war widow for survival. Robert Silvers, executive publisher of The Saturday Evening Post calls The Heart Mender an "unforgettable experience."
Fall of 2010 will bring the release of two new works, The Butterfly Effect , a book exploring a scientific theory based on physics within the context of our own lives, and The Boy Who Changed the World, Andrews' first children's book. The Butterfly Effect shows readers that every action, however big or small, matters. Andrews accomplishes this by introducing historical examples that illustrate how one person can set off a spark that, in turn, ignites the lives of unforeseen others. The Boy Who Changed the World illustrates this same principle to children, enabling them to see how they can have a meaningful impact on the world around them.
Driven by his own personal moving story, Andy Andrews communicates to his audience through the heart--an uncommon style in today's media-driven world. Arguably, there is no single person on the planet better at weaving subtle yet life-changing lessons into riveting tales of adventure and intrigue--both on paper and on stage.

My Review: I became a fan of Andy Andrew after reading "The Heart Mender". Then I read "The Butterfly Effect" and "The Boy Who Changed the World". But "The Final Summit" is yet the best I read from this author. It is truly an amazing book that captures the reader's attention from page one till the last. The storyline is simple: David Ponder is summoned to lead a meeting that will have to produce a correct answer to a question in order to save humanity. This meeting is organized by archangel Gabriel and David can count with the help of five famous predetermined people from the past that will reasoning together towards the requested answer. They have five tries to come up with the correct answer, and on each try they learn a principle that is part of the final answer.
Andy Andrew is a superb storyteller and although this particular story does not have that much theological bases in terms of its reality, the teaching of moral principles and attitudes that should guide anyone's life is priceless.
I would recommend this book to any reader that is willing to search for an improvement in his/her attitudes towards a better life. It deserves to be in the permanent library of any serious reader.
This book was written by Andy Andrews and it was published by Thomas Nelson in April of 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers Program.
If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book "Thriving At College" by Alex Chediak



About the Book: Going to college can be exciting, anxiety inducing, and expensive! You want your child to get the most out of their college experience—what advice do you give? Thriving at College by Alex Chediak is the perfect gift for a college student or a soon-to-be college student.
Filled with wisdom and practical advice from a seasoned college professor and student mentor, Thriving at College covers the ten most common mistakes that college students make—and how to avoid them! Alex leaves no stone unturned—he discusses everything from choosing a major and discerning one’s vocation to balancing academics and fun, from cultivating relationships with peers and professors to helping students figure out what to do with their summers.
Most importantly, this book will help students not only keep their faith but build a vibrant faith and become the person God created them to be.

About the Author: Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Alex Chediak earned a B.S. Degree at Alfred University in Ceramic Engineering and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Material Science & Engineering from U.C. Berkeley. From 2005-2007 he was one of about twenty four apprentices at The Bethlehem Institute, a masters-level theological training program overseen by Pastors John Piper and Tom Steller. Alex is now an Associate Professor of Engineering and Physics at California Baptist University.
He enjoys writing to young adult audiences, having written numerous articles for Boundless and Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries). As a professor, he wants to help students and young adults develop their God-given potential so that in all things Jesus Christ might be magnified in them. That passion gave rise to his most recent book, Thriving at College.
Alex and his wife Marni have three children, Karis, Jonathan, and Abigail. He enjoys reading, tennis, swimming, and spending time with wife and kids. Prior to becoming a professor, Alex spent a few years in the semiconductor industry in positions ranging from manufacturing to process development.

My Review: I wish I had read this book before I went to College. In many ways the author try to stress the importance of holding up with our faith. In a light an easy written style, Mr. Chediak shows in a Christian perspective which are the common errors that the student should avoid when entering into a College life, in order to succeed and live the best experience of his/her life, while getting ready for the real world.  
The book is divided in four main sections: College Matters, Relationships Matters, Character Matters and Academics Matter. On each one Alex goes deep in the analysis of the common mistakes, giving guidance and suggesting different approaches to overcome common situations. He speaks with the authority of being a professor and living in a daily basis observing the struggle of his students.
I have a fifteen and a thirteen year old daughters. The older is only talking about colleges now and definetely I will make her read this book. And the type of wisdom that is presented in this book can be applied not only for College situations as well as for many other situations in life, at any age we are. I definitely recommend this book to any Christian that wants to keep his/her standards according to the Word of God. It deserves to be in the permanent library of any serious reader.
Thanks, Mr. Alex Chediak, for such a masterpiece.

This book was written by Mr. Alex Chediak and published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program.
If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.