Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish

I'm always on the look out for good middle grade literature for my kids, which can be a daunting task because there seems to be a serious lack of good literature for middle school aged kids. So I was pleased to find Jennifer Holm's book The Fourteenth Goldfish to be a wonderful book for kids ages 10-14.

The main character, 11 year old Ellie is thrust into an adventure when her grandfather shows up in the body of a 13 year old boy. In the quest to retrieve his "fountain of youth" research from his lab, Ellie's grandfather helps her realize that science can be fun and interesting.

There are several things I really appreciate about this book. First, the author is not pushy about  certain scientific leanings. Several famous scientists and their accomplishments are mentioned with fairness - the grandfather, Melvin, shows them in a positive light, but Ellie does the research to see both the pros and cons of their accomplishments. Second, the author stays in character when presenting historical information - many books try too hard to be educational and veer away from what the main character would comprehend in the context of the story, but what Ellie learns about science make sense for her character and fits well in the story line. Third, this book deals with some of the tough relationship issues that preteens face in a way that's encouraging and enjoyable to read. As a bonus the characters are well developed and it doesn't have a cheesy ending. If her other books are of the same quality as The Fourteenth Goldfish, we will be reading more Jennifer Holm books in our family.
 *Special thanks to Random House Children's Books through for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: God's Story

Brian Cosby's God's Story: A Student's Guide to Church History is an excellent introduction to the good, bad and ugly of Christian history.

In the first chapter, Cosby make an important distinction between the visible and invisible church. The "visible church" often means that much of what happened in church history was the result of unregenerate people  having authority and influence in their historical context. But, Cosby reminds the reader that God has always preserved a remnant of faithful followers (invisible church) to Himself.

The following chapters contains basic historical information on each of the major time periods of Christian history. This book is designed to be an overview for students, so there are not a lot of details, but the author still covers all of the major people and ideas that have shaped the Church over time. Cosby consistently presents the information with a theologically reformed worldview and clearly shows how different leaders and ideas have helped or hurt that orthodox view.

Even though the book is targeted toward students, I think it would also be an excellent resource for every Church member, Sunday School teacher, homeschool family...basically anyone who would benefit from understanding how the past has shaped the present state of Christianity. This book is short, fun, to the point, and would be a great springboard for deeper study on a particular person or time period.
For a quick, fun promo of this book, check out the Book Trailer on

*Special thanks to Cross Focused Reviews  for sharing this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: The Word of the Lord

The Word of the Lord: Seeing Jesus in the Prophets is Nancy Guthrie's fifth book in the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series.

Guthrie spends a week on each of these books: Jonah, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Malachi. Her goal each week is to help the reader see the predictions Jesus fulfilled, the problems Jesus solved, the people that prefigured Jesus and the pattern that was superseded in each of theses prophetic books.

Guthrie assigns sections of each prophetic book and asks probing questions to get the reader thinking about the passage in it's historical context and in it's gospel context. She then explains what should have been found in the Scripture readings using anecdotes and examples that make sense to the modern reader.

One of the things I appreciated most about Guthrie's writing is that she is very knowledgeable about the Scripture while being genuine and honest in her assessment of it, all while addressing her readers in a personal, friendly way - drawing them into her passion for seeing Christ magnified in His word.

By helping the reader understand the prophetic writing in light of God's completed redemptive work in Christ Jesus, I think Guthrie accomplished her previously stated goals to show how all Scriptures points us to Jesus.

*Special thanks to Crossway through for providing this book in exchange for my honest opinion.