Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church by Reggie McNeal

Synopsis: In this provocative book, author, consultant, and church leadership developer Reggie McNeal debunks these and other old assumptions and provides an overall strategy to help church leaders move forward in an entirely different and much more effective way. In The Present Future, McNeal identifies the six most important realities that church leaders must address including: recapturing the spirit of Christianity and replacing "church growth" with a wider vision of kingdom growth; developing disciples instead of church members; fostering the rise of a new apostolic leadership; focusing on spiritual formation rather than church programs; and shifting from prediction and planning to preparation for the challenges of an uncertain world. McNeal contends that by changing the questions church leaders ask themselves about their congregations and their plans, they can frame the core issues and approach the future with new eyes, new purpose, and new ideas. (from the website)

Review: I did not like this. I thought his premise was a rewording of tired arguments, he preached to the choir, and it was full of inane advice the sounded good because it was different but that didn't make it good. In the end, I think the author's heart was in the right place, but his advice cliched and unhelpful.

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 4-8-2012
Pages: 152

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: No Children, No Pets by Marion Holland

Synopsis: NO CHILDREN! NO PETS! What can the three Sanders children and their cat do about a sign like that? Don and Jane and their troublesome little sister find their new Florida house filled with odd tenants - and strange happenings. Why did the superintendent leave in such a hurry? What happened to the missing ruby clip? And where did the homeless boy come from? Here are suspense and fun - the unexpected and the hilarious. Even the peculiar tenants wind up says, Yes Children! Yes Pets!

Review: Published in 1956, this is a flimsy paperback book with retro illustrations. The story is cute and cliched, but takes place in Florida, which I found marvelous. Holland nailed the quirky old people, the Florida weather, the gritty sand and the sound of wind through palms. This story is worth reading, if for nothing more then the vintage language and the funny characters.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 4-7-2012
Pages: 156

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin

Synopsis: When Danny Dunn tips over the mysterious jar of glistening liquid, he has no way of knowing that he will involved himself, his friend Joe and Professor Bullfinch in a wild flight between planets. But anything can happen when Danny is around - and practically does!

Review: Published in 1956, this reminds me of the dreadful science-fiction television shows from the same time. The story is improbably, the characters are flat and stereotypical, the humor is lame - but the retro feel and the hard science (aside from the anti-gravity paint) is sound and delightful and I'm glad I purchased this for my "Geek Books for Children" collection!

You will remember I read another of these stories a few weeks ago. This one is the first. The one I read then is the third, and introduces the Irene Miller - an smart-mouthed, intelligent girl - which is probably why I like that one better.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 4-3-2012
Pages: 154

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Synopsis: The story of how Queen Crosspatch and he band of faries rescue the Racketty-Packetty House and it's happy, delighfully carefree occupants form a terrible and unjust end!

Review: By the same author as The Little Princess and The Secret Garden, this is the darling little tale of the trials of the dolls who live in the Racketty-Packetty House. I had a dollhouse growing up and spent many hours lost in their world. And the idea that dolls move when people aren't looking -  well, I've always suspected them of such. The story was first published in 1906 and some of the language is from that era. My copy, printed in 1975, is illustrated in gorgeous color prints. I highly recommend and I can't wait to read this to my little girl!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 3-31-2012
Pages: 62

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin

Synopsis: Danny is left to care for the newest invention of his mother's employer - a computer. Instead, he and his friends Joe and Irene use the computer to complete their homework. But when their teacher finds out, the real troubles begin!

Review: Written in the 1950s, this is set in the early age of computers. I enjoyed to "blast from the past", watching people explain and interact with this new technology. The female character, Irene, is delightful - strong without being dominating, smart without being pushy and feminine without being girly. The story features real science, explained using science vocabulary and concepts. I highly recommend to read to kids  - learn some science and giggle over the archaic language!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 3-30-2012
Pages: 122

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: Sophie Simon Solves Them All by Lisa Graff

Synopsis: For a third-grader, Sophie Simon is one smart cookie. She enjoys teaching herself advanced calculus and has performed successful heart surgery on an earthworm. She's also very clever when it comes to dealing with her clueless parents. But Sophie is no genius when it comes to calculating the high value of friendship--until, that is, she has to use her incredible IQ to help out some classmates with their own parental troubles. (from the back of the book)

Review: I read this article and promptly purchase some of the books. This was one. It was delightful! Sophie is the smartest girl in the world, and all she wants is a graphing calculator - and it takes the friends she didn't want to help her get it. Sophie was a hoot (without meaning to be) and I liked the seeing the adults from the child's perseptive. I highly recommend this book for the nerdy child and the nerdy child-at-heart!

Note: This book is for middle grade - meaning kids age six to nine.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 3-30-2012
Pages: 103

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: Dying Wish by Shannon K. Butcher

Synopsis: Jackie Patton has been rescued by the Theronai from her captivity and torture at the hands of the Synestryn. All she wants is to be left alone, but that isn’t possible -- not when she’s a potential match for the Theronai warriors who need a woman to literally save their lives.
Forced to choose, she unexpectedly selects Iain, a cold-hearted warrior who doesn’t want to be saved. Iain is convinced that it’s too late for him -- that his soul is already as dead as his former betrothed, killed by the Synestryn. Still, he is the only man Jackie feels a measure of peace around, the only one she wants. But is Iain indeed beyond saving? (from the back of the book)

Review: Of the six, this is probably my favorite. Iain's character was easy to connect with, the ending was not what I suspected (but perfect) and several of the secondary stories moved forward in huge ways. Again, I recommend this series if you enjoy good characters, excellent story lines and intriguing world building.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 3-30-2012
Pages: 386