Category: Books

Can You Hear Me Now?

Ever feel like you’re not being heard? Or perhaps not being listened to? If good communication is the glue that holds a relationship together, listening could be where it’s at to keep problems at bay.

Husband and wife team Steve and Becky Harling share their advice for “Becoming the Leader People Want to Follow” in their new book, Listen Well Lead Better. The Harlings share a very common story from early in their careers of how inferior listening ended a business relationship. This relationship, perhaps, could have lasted longer, or at least ended on less bitter terms, if good listening was there.

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Listen Well Lead Better is geared towards Christians who are open to a faith-based approach to improving their leadership skills. If you’re a fan of Stephen Covey, you’ll probably like this book. The Harlings don’t hesitate to share their own stories of discomfort throughout their careers, and the stories shared are realistic. Current and aspiring leaders in various settings will benefit from this book’s honest approach to the problems that can crop up when managing people. Good questions are asked of leaders to help them examine their own behavior, instead of just looking at those around them.

DISCLOSURE: I’m a Bethany House Influencer! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Minutes Matter by K.R. Mele (Book Review)

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Ever think about how you’re spending your time?

It’s easy for a day, a week, or even a year to slip away. We may wonder where the time went. Life can leave us feeling that there’s not enough time for all that we must do.

K.R. Mele takes a slightly different approach to time management. In Minutes Matter: Making Every Beat Count, he doesn’t ask us to plan for years, months, or even days. He urges us to examine how we’re using our minutes, those tiny pieces of time that can slip away so quickly we don’t even notice.

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This might seem like a strange way to approach time management, but it makes sense in the chapter  where he discusses the importance of exercise. K.R. doesn’t encourage us to exercise for three hours a week, or does he? He recommends 180 minutes of exercise per week. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, three hours of exercise may seem unattainable, but 180 minutes per week seems like a much more accessible goal. Making your “minutes matter” can pay off in many areas of life.

K.R. discusses some statistics of how a typical person spends their lives. This can cause some major self-examination. How many hours, how many minutes, of our lives are being spent on things that are truly useless? How are your minutes, my minutes, being spent on valuable things? How can we make our minutes matter?

Minutes Matter is a book that will be valuable for anyone who wants to lead a life that truly matters. K.R. lays out some principles that are easy to understand, and his writing has a voice that is encouraging, non-judgmental, and one that understands the struggles of everyday living. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to be a good steward of their time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Ambassador International, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed within this review are my own.

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Awakenings the Early Days by Ryan Phillips (Book Review)

Where and when have you felt most inspired?

For missionary and pastor Ryan Phillips, living in Hawaii was inspiring. Waking up to the sunrise, spending time in solitude with God, Ryan felt spiritually awakened, and he was inspired to journal his thoughts. Who wouldn’t feel energized, inspired, and refreshed by such a beautiful sight like this?

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You can just imagine the peace, quiet, and refreshment of your soul and mind in a place like this. Away from all the stress and cares that the daily grind would dictate.

Ryan’s early morning times of quiet may have first been self-published. They are now his new print book Awakenings The Early Days, published by Ambassador International. You can tell that Ryan has a desire to keep things Biblically correct, as every section of this book has sound doctrine. If the Bible is your boss, you may like what Ryan has to say. You can also tell that Ryan likes Old Testament stories, as he makes some references to Gideon, David, and Elijah – characters from the Bible that are real men’s men.

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Each page of Awakenings is similar to a devotion or a meditation. Overall, the book would have benefited from stronger editing, as some pages were completely full, while others were half-way empty. Was this out of a desire to just publish the first version of the writings as is, without changes? The result made the book look unfinished. There were also some sections where the meditation went over a page. The result was imbalance.

Ryan has a lot of positive things to say, but Awakenings could have benefited from a theme or a chronological order. Some devotions seemed to be going in more than one direction. The overall effect was that it seemed like a random collection of devotions put together, that still needed changes, before the final cut was ready to be released.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here within this book review are my own.

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Veteran’s Day Book Review: War Torn Heart by Allison Wells

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Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy.

It’s a classic story, but Allison Wells sets this story in America just before war breaks out. Her new novel is titled War-Torn Heart.

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War-Torn Heart highlights the angst of those suffering on the home front: those waiting at home to be reunited with their loves, and those wondering whether their family members will return. There are lots of moments that give this story a coming-of-age feel, as the young female narrator comes to terms with what it means to be a woman. Moving from being a girl to a woman, she faces her sensuality and her sexuality, as she progresses through friendship to romance with a young man. She is forced to reconcile how that relates to living out her faith in this relationship. War-Torn Heart remains a family-friendly read, but it shows how the protagonist faces her urges and is honest with herself about these natural longings. It doesn’t lack moments of cheesiness or sappiness, and these moments could have been cut. What the story does offer young female readers is the insight that they’re not alone in the universal, inner female longing to love and be loved by a man.

Just like Little Women, where the ladies band together to get through, this book focuses on the female perspective. In War-Torn Heart, the men have their own ideas and beliefs about war, while the women face their own challenges. Everyone’s attitude is focused on “bringing the boys home”, yet the women face things through their own eyes. In War-Torn Heart, there is undeveloped potential throughout the story that could have been better shaped. Particularly, in the last chapter, one of the characters faces a significant challenge that almost seemed added on, as if it was an afterthought. However, for young women (particularly teenagers) who enjoy historical fiction or romance stories, War-Torn Heart could be a rewarding read.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from this publisher, Ambassador International, in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no compensation for this review.

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Troubled youth meets mentor

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What happens when a young girl with a difficult past meets a retired woman ready to take on a challenge? That’s the plot of Grace & Lavender, by Heather Norman Smith. Readers will meet Grace, a youth with a good heart, who keeps getting in trouble at the group home where she lives. Colleen, who has retired from working in healthcare, has a strong propensity to help others and a desire to expand her own horizons. Colleen enjoys improving herself, setting goals, and taking on new projects. Colleen has a strong faith and good relationships with others. Colleen’s husband, Harvey, and daughter, Melody, also play their roles, as does an elderly American veteran.

If you’re looking for action or suspense, this is not the book for you. Readers should know that a lot of what takes place in this book could be described as snippets from ordinary life. Nothing would take your breath away or shock you in a dramatic fashion. However, this type of story does appeal to a lot of people, because it’s very realistic.

Grace & Lavender is published by Ambassador International, a company with a very strong faith-based mission. Norman Smith places footnotes of Scripture in her writing, and blocks of the Word within the story. If you don’t enjoy fiction that is written in this way, you may want to pass on this book.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, Ambassador International!

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