Book Review: Debut Author Geared For The Ladies

Kingdom Come: Finding Holy in the Here and Now by [Zaldivar, Melissa]
Cover Design by Jody Waldrup. Cover Copyright 2019 by Hachette Book Group, INC

There are many reasons why a reviewer may not like a certain book. For me, there are several, from just not being in the mood of the tone and style of the author, the topic sounded good at the time and then the writing goes into a different path, or it just doesn’t connect with the book at the time reading (there have been times that reading the same book later changes my view). I mostly read my books right before going to sleep, so whatever goes on during the day before that than can have an influence on it. Finally, reviews are just opinions, and I may just plain not like the book, but has nothing to do with the writing or author. I respect how hard it is to have the drive to not only write something, but find a way to put it out to the audience (either self publishing, or finding an agent and company).

Kingdom Come : Finding Holy in the Here and Now ,by Melissa Zaldivar, (Faithwords Books, 2019 ) is a book that did not resonate with me. The book seemed interesting to me at first, with the topic of looking at the Kingdom and Presence of God, how to find discernment between the two, and use it in the Christian walk.

The author defines the Kingdom of God as things that are under God’s rule, whereas the Presence is the reality of what happens when people encounter God. With that said, the writer takes the reader through certain aspects that are needed to know about the two, while encouraging the reader to dig deeper into their own hearts and embrace facts like learning to know God’s timing, the difference between kindness and niceness, finding time to seek the presence, and risk taking.

The writer gives great examples throughout the book (some Biblical ), such as asking how people in today’s society can get into God’s presence when we can’t get off our cell phones for two minutes without checking on it (even if it is on vibrate), using the examples of how blindness is symbolic in the Bible (both spiritual and physical), and how to view the fact that Christians do not let go of things; thinking the worst endings is the result, instead of trusting God.

While these are all great ideas, and written in ten chapters, the beginning several chapters were a struggle to get through, especially the first one, where I would keep staring at the words and wondering what it is I read. Zaldivar ‘s bio states she holds a Master’s degree in theology, which may present the first part’s problem of not being clear cut (at least to me) of the book’s goals. However, once the reader gets deeper into the book, the chapters and points flow nicely, such as the two chapters on risk taking (which is the best in the book), and the chapter on fear with an in depth look at Peter of the Bible, which was just as enjoyable.

Another problem for me is that many of the personal examples Zaldivar uses are vague and tended to turn me off. Maybe this book is geared more towards women, but after every other page of the examples such as ” I was dealing with something at this time of my life” (the quote is mine for example, not the hers), I got bored and agitated. I understand that the reader does not need to have total access about the writer’s life, and some things do not need to be known, which may be too personal for her to reveal, but other examples could be more entertaining and helpful in order for the reader to embrace the theme of the book. Also, after every situation, she writes that she would break down and cry, or give examples of “after this, I ended up crying” (again not actual quote). This may be where the female audience would get more out of the book, and this is not to sound judgmental of the emotions and passion the author has on the subject and her past experiences, but as a stranger reading the book, it, along with the vague examples, took my attention off of the points being made.

Zaldivar’s first book is for a select audience, and not for everybody. Her writing is down to earth and not over the head of readers (with exception of the first chapter which was a fight to get through). Her style is nice, and for a first time writer, she has some wonderful Biblical examples using Judas, Peter, Eve, and Ruth from the Bible, and would been better to use more of these , or use other people’s tales to help out with some of the points, instead of the vagueness of many of the situations. She knows her topic well, and at times, shows the emotion that she wants the reader to experience as well, which would be nice to see more of it to get her point across and add emphasis to the ideas being presented. Besides of these critiques, she will get her following with her writing style, and have a nice writing future if she sees fit.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of the publisher.

 

Kingdom Come: Finding Holy in the Here and Now (Faithwords, 2019) by Melissa Zaldivar ISBN: 978-1-5460-1083-8 (hardcover) , 978-1-5460-1081-4 (ebook) can be ordered at : http://www.faithwords.com

 

For more about the author, go to: melissazaldivar.com

 

 

The Overall:

Pages:213

Language: None

Geared To: Ages 15 and Up.

For Fans Of: Christian Living, Growth, Christian books, Spirituality, Women Studies

 

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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: 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.