Book Review: Singer Weaves Emotions Into Life Story

Cover Photo by David Molnar Cover design by Edward Crawford

Christian singer Mike Weaver, along with Jim Scherer, brings a powerful story in their book I Am Redeemed : Learning To Live In Grace (Worthy Publishing, 2019) which will draw many emotions from the readers.

I will first say I am not familiar with Weaver’s band Big Daddy Weave, besides of the knowing their name, in the Christian music market. Although I am not blind to the Christian music genre; my favorite acts have been Al Denson and Rebecca St. James (St. James writes praise for the book in the opening with other artists), and have seen acts like David Crowder, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Matthew West, and others in concert in the past. I have not heard any songs from Big Daddy Weave, so I went into reading this book totally unaware of their work.

The book tells the story of how Weaver struggled with acceptance and anxiety as a young child, from being insecure in his youth, from schoolmates. He found a love for music , which lead him to forming a band with several college friends , which turned into the band Big Daddy Weave. While the band started getting successful by playing where they could (Weaver states that within three years of forming, they were playing almost 200 dates a year, without soliciting gigs), more struggles occurred; from his family losing their home in Hurricane Ivan, personal struggles with doubt and his place fitting in, to his brother dealing with several serious health issues, which created a major darkness within the family.

This is not a “woe is me” writing from a guy who has made a career in music that many have dreamed of. This is just an honest man looking, and many times questioning, God and his purpose in the ministry. His detailing accounts of his brother’s heath issues and his family’s struggles during this time, is very emotional and heart straining. Weaver’s own personal journey dealing with weight issues, brings more emotions to the writing.

There are several up lifting stories in here as well, from when Weaver meets his wife, and the births of his children, to some funny on the road stories and interactions with some friends in the Christian music scene. The book flows well in reading, with short chapters (most are only around 5-6 pages in length), in which I read the whole book within 2-3 days. The writer’s voice , along with the stories, will make the reader keep the pages turning. Even if you (like me) have never heard of the band, this is a powerful Christian book, detailing a life that is not all glamorous as a musician. There are Bible verses throughout the book, but some are at the end of the chapter that relate to what Weaver is writing about, but they are not in your face, nor is there a lot of preaching or discussions on the verses.

Weaver’s story is not only interesting and entertaining at times, but full of sensitivity, affection, sadness, and praise. This is a book that will bring out many feelings from the reader, while letting them know that even the so called Christian celebrities have their struggles and doubt in their Christian walk. Redeemed is a journey that will take the reader on many roads and paths until the last page.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of the publisher.

 

I Am Redeemed :Learning to Live In Grace by Mike Weaver and Jim Scherer (Worthy Publishing, 2019) ISBN: 978-1-5460-3358-5 (hardcover), 978-1-55491-8354-6 (downloadable audio), 978-1-5460-1499-7 (ebook) can be found at http://www.iamredeemedbook.com, and http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/imprint/hachette-nashville/worthy-books.

 

For information about the band , go to http://www.bigdaddyweave.com

 

Worthy Publishing is a division of Hachette Book Group, INC.

 

The Overall:

Pages: 224

Language: None

Geared For: Ages 12 and Up

For Fans Of: Christian Music, Religion, Christian Living, Personal Memoirs.

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Book Review: A Remarkable Creative Look At Hope

Cover Design and illustration by Connie Gabbert.

 

Shauna Letellier’s Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People (FaithWords, 2019) takes on a different and unique way of writing in the Christian Living/Inspirational genre.

The book looks at several people in the Bible who were faithful to Jesus, although they felt at the time, they were being disappointed in waiting for answers to their questions or events. The writing (separated by each person getting their own chapter) focuses on Simeon, John The Baptist, Jairus, Peter, Mary the mother of Jesus, and a few others. The chapters start off with the text from the Bible, along with a little back story of events going on in the character’s lives, and then a description on what happened and how they overcame their feelings of being let down.

The uniqueness of the book is that Letellier brings creative writing into the fold after the original text and background is discussed. After the reader gets a background of the events, she fills in some missing parts from the Bible, or gives her take on how things start to shape, by adding a creative flare to the tales. This creative aspect brings a more colorful, and sometimes powerful, take at ideas such as what the person may have been feeling before the events happen. The author lets us (at least from her opinion) into the minds, feelings, and attitudes of the characters that are omitted in the Bible. The writing is easy to understand, but yet creative enough to paint a picture of what was going on during these stories.

Some purists of the Bible may have a beef with this take on the stories, but it is not with merit. The author is doing nothing that normal preachers have done, trying to illustrate the events and mindset of the people in the events, so followers can better understand what learned lessons are trying to tell us.

Remarkable Hope has many things going for it: creativity, the actual Biblical text, and lessons to be learned all put into the under 200 page book. This is a nice concordance , with an add of fiction, to the parts where the Bible is missing some in depth detail. The writing is colorful and entertaining while giving the reader thoughts to ponder.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of Faith Words, a division of Hachette Book             Group, INC.

 

Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People by Shauna Letellier (FaithWords, 2019) ISBN: 978-1-4555-7171-0 (paperback), 978-1-4555-7170-3 (ebook) can be found at http://www.faithwords.com.

 

For information about the author, visit: https://shaunaletellier.com

 

 

The Overall:

Pages: 197

Language: None

Geared For: Teens and up

For Fans Of: Christian Living, Inspirational, Religion, Devotionals

Book Review: Wolfe’s Book Encourages Women To Sparkle

 

Cover photograph by Kate Moore. Cover design by Edward A. Crawford.

 

#Sponsored by Faithwords

 

Sometimes when I get emails from book publishers asking me if I’d be interested in some books to review, the list of books they offer may not seem to suit me , but the title brings something that I feel readers may enjoy. Kristen Dalton Wolfe’s The Sparkle Effect (Faithwords, 2018) is such a book.

I have never heard of Dalton Wolfe before this review, but the synopsis about a former Miss USA writing a Christian style book caught my eye, along with the title. What possibly could a former beauty pageant winner’s book geared to women have anything to do a male like me?

Surprisingly, I learned more than I thought in her writings.

Keep in mind, the book is geared towards young women (or women in general) and is designed as a devotional style writing, where the reader could read chapter a day (or several). The chapters has its commentary by the writer, along with a prayer and a Bible verses at the end for more insight on each topic she discusses. The main purpose of the book is to sparkle like God created humans to do, by using Dalton Wolfe’s life experiences as a background to encourage the reader to reach their potential.

The Sparkle Effect covers topics such as following your God-given dreams, know what your “style” is as a person (not just in fashion, but inwardly), making a goal list, and how a person’s speech and actions should reflect who they are in God’s plans for them.

Although there are many stories about Dalton Wolfe’s life in her journey of becoming a Miss USA winner, the book is full of references from the Bible, Disney characters, and other role models throughout her life, which is almost a guidebook similar to The Princess Diaries. One will not feel judged if they did not have dreams of beauty pageants or the national spotlight to enjoy this devotional.

Dalton Wolfe’s writing , and the layout of this book, is similar to another Christian writer (and artist) who I enjoyed reading in the 2000s, Rebecca St. James. Once again, just because I am a male, I took away several good thoughts from books by James, which one can do as well from Dalton Wolfe. Both James and Dalton Wolfe have an influence that can be achieved for women in the church (especially late teens and women in the 20s-30s), that can have a positive impact in society as a whole, not just in a church setting.

The positive outlook and encouragement that The Sparkle Effect provides is contagious and inspiring for women, not just those that have dreams in the fashion world. Dalton Wolfe’s writing is simple, honest, and exciting at the same time.

 

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of Faith Words books, a division of Hachette Book Group Inc.

 

The Sparkle Effect by Kristen Dalton Wolfe ( 2018, Faithwords ) ISBN: 978-1-5460-3176-5 (Paperback) , 978-1-5460-2717-1 (ebook) can be ordered at: http://www.faithwords.com .

 

For information about the author, visit: http://www.sheismore.com or at: https://www.facebook.com/KristenMissUSA and Twitter at @KristenJDalton

 

The Overall

Pages:320

Language: None

Geared For: Female Readers (especially Teens and Young Adults)

For Fans of: Devotionals, Bible Studies, Christian Living, Women Studies.

Book Review: Stone Writes About Angels Among Us

 

 

 

 

Jacket design by Bruce Gore/Gore Studios, Inc.

# Sponsored by FaithWords

 

Most people think of angels during the Christmas season, either in the gift shops or in holiday movies such as It’s A Wonderful Life, where Jimmy Stewart encounters the angel Clarence. Angels are seen hanging in the lobbies of churches and all throughout the television screens (usually on the Hallmark Channel) during this time.

Perry Stone’s book, This Season of Angels: Angelic Assignments During This Prophetic Season (FaithWords, 2018), takes a look at what angels are, their role, and their powers according to the Biblical texts.

The word season is defined as a “set moment in time” in the book, and uses this concept to take the reader through the different types of angels, what each purpose is for them, and also tries to answers the limitations of the power of angels. The back of the book features something that could be considered a “question and answer” segment in the Appendix section , where Perry tries to explain some of the myths about angels that may be construed throughout people’s lives. Perry also uses personal experiences, including stories from his father’s life, with their encounters of angels.

Stone writes how some of the angel’s roles are to bring warnings, use prophecy, and bring blessings to people, using stories from the Bible to show the roles , and the limitations that they have in spiritual realm.

The first part of the book started off confusing, where this reader seemed to be bombarded with information, wondering if the book was over my head (and I have spent many years in churches and reading the Bible), but once the first few chapters settle down, the book ends up explaining itself nicely, without tons of Bible verses that confuses people when some Christian writers release books. The writer explains his topic, while using the Bible and some Greek definitions to help the reader. Some Biblical books go overboard with the verses, along with in-depth Greek and Hebrew history, but Perry’s use of these definitions are just the right amount (there are parts where he writes that he will not bog down the reader with twenty more verses on the subject).

Overall, the book is an interesting read, and those that like the subject of angels will enjoy the book. The chapters are mostly short, and if you can get through the first chapter or so, the flow comes together (maybe it was just the day that I started reading it that made it confusing, which happens as well). The personal experiences from Perry through friends and family members add a nice touch to the reading, and is not just all Bible verses. Even if you are not a fan of Biblical preachers, this book is still a nice text to read for those that want to discover spiritual entities.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of FaithWords books, a division of the Hachette Book Group, INC.

 

            This Season of Angels: Angelic Assignments During This Prophetic Season by Perry Stone (2018, FaithWords) ISBN: 978-1-5460-3530-5 (Hardcover), 978-1-5460-3529-9 (ebook) can be ordered at http://www.faithwords.com.

 

For information about the author, go to: http://www.perrystone.org

 

The Overall:

Pages: 224

Language: None

Ages: 16 and up (depending on level of knowledge of the Bible)

Geared for: Christian Living, Spiritual, Supernatural, Religion

 

Book Review: Author Wants More Weirdos In The Church

                                                                                                                                                      #sponsored by Faith Words

 

C.J. Casciotta ‘s new book is full of weirdness.

This is not an insult, because his book Get Weird: Discovering the Surprising Secret to Making a Difference (Faithwords, 2018) encourages people to get in touch with the things that makes them considered weird in society and embrace it.

Casciotta describes how as a young child, the things that made people unique and “weird” define them until one day people suppressed these actions, and lose touch of what made them unique; things like coloring outside of the lines , and having structure throughout everyday life to the point that when someone was different, they were made fun of until they hid the things that made them different.

Get Weird has many humorous illustrations throughout, including the writer’s references to Willie Wonka, Charlie Brown, Jim Henson, and Walt Disney. Casciotta compares why he no longer likes the “Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer” TV show, and how Fred Rogers influenced him to accept the weirdness in himself.

The author discusses how being weird can start a movement, from communities and churches. He states by looking at Jesus Christ’s teachings to his disciples (all who were considered outcasts in society of the time), and the use of the Parable of The Lost Sheep, it shows how each person’s uniqueness can be used in society.

Casciotta’s humor throughout the book, along with the chapter titles, reminds me of the writing of musician David Crowder, where Crowder once wrote a chapter in a book about finding God in a Chick-fil-A sandwich (this was before Tim Hawkins’s famous song about the place). Casciotta tells stories of people he met in his life, such as a woodworker ex-sniper named Charlie, to his own train jumping experience, to drive home his points in the midst of the humor to tie his ideas together.

The book has three major parts: the first part of the book encourages people to embrace what makes them unique by not being ashamed of their “weirdness,” the second part discusses “What To Make of Your Weirdness,” and finally “How Your Weirdness Will Change Us.”

Although the overall theme is nice, where the writer encourages people to be different and embrace others who are not like them (one story involves a pastor struggling to decide if a woman is fit for church service due to her tattoos). The second half of the book encourages people to do things like speak up, step out of the norm, and challenge people and things to create a movement. While these are all creative in a way, there is also a time when order is needed (even in the church) and being a radical all the time leads to consequences in my opinion.

The author uses quotes and actions from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jim Henson, and Walt Disney to show how they paved their own paths when people thought they were weird. Jim Henson had to go to England to make his shows, because he was turned down in the United States by every television company. Using his life as comparison is different than, say a person challenging the local pastor on a dress code in the church or fighting the church leaders on things that go against Biblical principals. The writer does not encourage anarchy, but the Bible does talk about respecting and following church and local leaders and their rule. The book kind of gets lost in creating a movement that consequences are not discussed much.

This is a nice, easy to read book, with mainly short chapters. The author has a great sense of humor and nice Pop Culture references (his discussion on why albums are better than downloaded music and CDs is entertaining, which I agree with his logic). There are a few Bible verses in the book, but not much, and some references to Jesus, but it overall is not a normal religious book. The book entails more of embracing weirdness and using it to start a movement.

Just because my personal opinion at times varies with the book, the overall theme and entertainment of the writing makes it an pleasurable read. It has plenty of humor throughout , while stating the message the author is trying to achieve. Just because I don’t always agree with the writer does not mean that the book is not bringing out some nice, thoughtful ideas that need looked at. Maybe that is one of the things that makes me weird.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of Faith Words, an imprint of Hachette Book Group

Get Weird: Discovering the Surprising Secret to Making a Difference by CJ Casciotta (Faithwords, 2018) ISBN: 978-1-5460-3191-8 (paperback) , 978-1-54600-3190-1 (ebook) can be found at http://www.faithwords.com

 

For information about the author, go to https://www.cjcas.com .

 

The Overall

Pages: 217

Language: None

Ages: 13 and up.

For fans of: Christian Living, religion, humor.

Book Review: Nature and Unity Combined in Book

#sponsored by faithwords.com

Jacket design by Edward A. Crawford. Jacket photography by Getty Images.

The dictionary describes the word murmuration as a flock of starlings. Other science sites define the word by a bunch of starlings that flock together, darting through the sky in unison. However the definition is used, it is a unique site in nature, with the birds all together in the same direction.

“Designed For More” (FaithWords, 2018) by Lucas Ramirez with Mike Devito, takes the theory of murmuration and applies it as a symbol for the Christian church as a call for unity and direction.

This Christian Living book takes one of the fascinating parts of nature, and encourages Christians to be more like the starlings, mentioning that if everyone is united , like the starlings, the focus and goals can be achieved for a better church. The book also looks into how the starlings approach murmuration, in regards to all being on the same goal and being unified, which helps prevent predators from invading the group.

Other concepts that Ramirez uses in his writings is the theory that even though members of the church have different opinions, they can still be a united front in the overall goal of the church, without fighting amongst each other. He encourages others to use these tools in the local communities , using some business techniques like “creative tension,” along with discussing egos and competition that creeps into the church, which divides the overall goal. “Designed For More” then goes in depth on 7 Principals that will unleash the movement of the church to become more united.

Ramirez’s and Devito’s book is an interesting and educational read. The word unity is used so much in today’s culture, especially in politics, that I almost was going to skip over this book when I was approached to review it. However, the creative symbolism of using the murmuration by the writers made the book appealing to me. Although it is a Christian Living book, that included Biblical verse in it (both writers are in the ministry), there are ideas in here that could be used for organizations and businesses as well. There are many good ideas in this writing, including the writers explaining the differences between discussion and dialogue, and other concepts that a person can use in any aspect in life, without having to be a church going Christian.

The publication includes bold type sentences to enforce the main parts of the section, along with Devito’s contribution to the work in a separate box on the page (both are nicely packaged for the book to make it easy to read and understand). There is not a bunch of deep Bible jargon as well, which the reader easily can apply the suggestions (and remember them), without being boggled down with in depth religious text that by the time the chapter is done, the reader can’t remember what the points were.

The only suggestion that I questioned from the authors dealt with what they called “Creating Seven Influential Neighbors.” The total idea is not a bad concept, but the writers make it out that the reader has so much free time in their world throughout the week or month that this is achievable. I understand changing priorities to help make the church and communities a better place to create unity, but this section, the suggestions are not possible to achieve between a person’s work, family, and church life to have that much time to spend monthly-something has to give. This is not a knock on the idea or the writers, but when reading the suggestion, this reader was questioning “How can all of this possibly be done in a month?” However this small part does not deter from the point of view the authors try to convey.

“Designed For More” is a book that should be read by church leaders, and even community organizers. Although it is a Christian book, there is great sections in here discussing the science (along with interviews with people who study starlings) that make it educational. The reader can take many things from this book, especially if they are struggling with where the goal of their church is heading.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of FaithWords and Hatchette Books.

 

“Designed For More” by Lucas Ramirez with Mike Devito (FaithWords, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-5460-3298-4 ebook: 978-1-5460-3296-0) can be found at : http://www.faithwords.com, @Faithwords (Twitter), @FaithWordsBooks (Instagram), and Facebook.com/FaithWords.

 

For information about these authors, check out: http://www.Lucasramirez.org, http://www.DesignForMoreBook.com, and social media: @thelucasramirez @mike_d_devito, and @DesignedForMoreBook.

 

Book Review: A “Lovely” Look At The World by Designing And Faith

Cover design by Aaron Campbell & Faithwords. Cover photography by Trina McNeilly.

#Sponsored by FaithWords

 

Trina McNeilly’s “La La Lovely: The Art of Finding Beauty In The Everyday” (Faithwords, 2018) is a Christian Living book geared towards woman, filled with wonderful pictures and ideas about decorating and in life.

McNeilly is a blogger and decorator whose web page, “La La Lovely,” shows creative ways in designing homes. The creativeness is shown just in the book alone, which is beautifully put together, with glossy pages and artistic photographs throughout the easy reading. The writing encourages the reader to find beauty in everyday life, while McNeilly uses her past life experiences to help the reader go through their own dark times. She writes about trying to juggle motherhood while continuing her creative goals and dreams, her past heartbreaks in health related problems, and also discusses handling the divorce of her parents during another difficult time in her life.

“La La Lovely” gives decorating ideas throughout the book, as well as life lessons, where the writer uses symbolism of redecorating a living space with the human mind and body. A great story used by McNeilly is when she writes about how people in France used to walk turtles just to slow down their lives. Other interesting suggestions include people finding their own quiet place in their homes and asking God into that place, clearing mental clutter everyday (just like when a person’s home is filled with clutter) using bookshelves as a symbolic tool in dealing with past issues, and that a person must be “lost before they are found.”

Since the book is a Christian Living writing, McNeilly uses Bible verses and stories of her faith to help out in her journey. However, there is not much in depth detail in most of the Bible references, which is neither good or bad. If the reader is looking for detailed Biblical analysis, this book is not for them, however, if something lighter is wanted, along with down to earth examples, this is a good book for the reader. “La La Lovely” can be read as a whole, or as a devotional, reading one or two chapters a day. The writing is easy to read, with humor (at times), along with heart-filled tales added.

The layout of McNeilly’s book is artistic and creative. The reader can go back after reading and just look at the photographs throughout the book, or re-read the redecorating tips at the end of some of the chapters. This book is geared towards women, especially mothers. The Biblical aspect is not mind blowing academia based , which can be good for those looking for a lighter devotion. Overall “La La Lovely” is nice book geared for the specific audience it sets out to reach. Take the time to look for this book at the store, even just to admire the layout it.

 

 

Thanks to Faithwords Books and Hatchette Books for the reading copy.

 

“La La Lovely” by Trina McNeilly (Faithwords, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-4789-2076-2 eISBN: 978-1-4789-2077-9) can be found at : http://www.faithwords.com .

 

For more about the author, go to: http://www.TrinaMcNeilly.com or at             http://www.lalalovelythings.com

Book Review: Fields Tells a Blessed Story

In her book “Blessed Life” (FaithWords, 2017), actress Kim Fields ,with Todd Gold, discusses her career and life in Hollywood, having come to fame through television commercials that led her to the part of Tootie on the show “The Facts of Life.”

Fields takes the reader through a few stories on the set of the “Facts” show, where there were casting changes and mid season breaks during the first season, which eventually led to the show’s breakthrough. She tells about how in during Season Four of the show, a comment by Joan Rivers led to the show’s producers to start monitoring the weight of the cast members. The book walks through Kim’s career after the “Facts,” to getting a role on the show “Living Single,” to her work behind the camera and on reality shows and her love for spoken word poetry.

The book, at times, covers how Fields became a Christian at age 14, and how her faith helped her through some tough parts of her life, including bad relationships, and a time that she refers to as “The Dark Ages,” which a Liza Minnelli interview helped her get through this period of her life.

The book is a easy read and a quick read , which is good and bad. If the reader is looking for a bunch of behind the scenes stories about the “Facts of Life” times, they will not find a lot here. There are stories, but this period seems to be rushed through (either that or there was not much to tell on the set). Fields spends more time on her failed relationships (one interesting story involves having to choose between her church and her then boyfriend), along with her praises for African-American leaders like Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, and other social causes (which is not bad, it’s her book, but those wanting to hear more about the television career of hers may be let down a little).

There are some great stories in the book about her growing up with a young Janet Jackson and her family, and her career behind the camera with helping out other famous people with their acting, along with her thoughts on the TV Show “Friends,” which was being pushed by the same company that owned “Living Single,” which is very interesting.

This book is a different kind of Christian Living book, where although there are a few Bible verses put in the book, there are not many. The best part of the book is her discussing her “Dark Ages” period, which shows that even the people society builds up, have their doubts, fears, and disappointments.

Die-hard fans of Kim Fields will definitely enjoy this book. This is not a typical Christian book, nor is it a typical Hollywood tell-all biography, which each in their own right, has its unique qualities.

 

 

Thank you to FaithWords and Hatchette Books for the Review Copy.

 

 

“Blessed Life” by Kim Fields with Todd Gold (FaithWords, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4789-4754-7 eISBN: 978-1-4789-4755-4) is a division of Hatchette Book Group , Inc.

For more information, go to http://www.Faithwords.com or http://www.hatchettebookgroup.com .       For more on Kim Fields, go to twitter @KimVFields.