Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Review: Three Cups

Looking for a practical, long term teachable moment and implementation guide for money management in your children?  Three Cups by Tony Townsley and Mark St. Germain should be part of that solution.  Beautifully illustrated by April Willy, you are immediately captivated by a story of a young boy who receives an unexpected gift for his 5th birthday- 3 cups from the kitchen cupboard.  The story continues as the boy's parents introduce the idea of his allowance and how each cup serves a purpose.  The allowance would be divided into three cups a 'give' cup for giving to charity or back to God.  A 'save' cup for long term investing of sorts.  And the third cup is for 'spend'- money free to be spent as the child dictates.  The story follows the boy as he discovers putting the proceeds of the 'save' cup into the bank, accumulating the spend jar so he can buy the new baseball glove he's wanted, and how he uses the 'give' jar to buy food to participate in a charity cause.  The boy grows and continues to use his cups and then on his son's 5th birthday the cycle of the "great adventure" begins again.

What I loved:  The illustrations are outstanding, calm, and engaging.  I like the look and feel of the book- it has an antique feel which makes it seem more important than a typical fiction children's book.  I love the basic cup concept and how it is a great visual application of money management.  It is simple, direct, and productive.  While not a new idea to the world of money management for kids- this book does a great job at presenting the idea.  There is also a great parent's guide in the back.

What I didn't care for:  Being of a christian publisher, I was disappointed that the concepts of giving, saving, and spending were not backed up with the idea that these are Biblical principles and we do them out of obedience as God's Stewards and of his commands in scripture.  Beyond being a wise idea to give, save, and spend- it is also a spiritual issue and I feel this book would have been so much better and set itself apart from other books like it if it had included this.  I also wish they had shown less of the allowance aspect, and more on earning money to put in the jars.  I for the most part do not agree with allowances and would rather see kids see the value of work (another biblical concept) by earning money to put in their jars.  This book fell short in this area.

Overall this is a great tool to teach your kids about money, but it doesn't scratch the surface of what it means to be a wise steward.

I received this book to review from Book Sneeze and Thomas Nelson publishers, but my opinions are all my own.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review: The Doctor's Lady

I had the chance to review a new novel by debut Christian novelist Jody Hedlund called The Doctor's Lady.  Set in the 1830's, America is still fresh off its independence win over the British and is now stretching it's wings as they expand west.  The Christian community at the time is mission minded, though with little understanding of the harsh realities of foreign fields.  Priscilla is a young, rich, but independent minded lady from a prominent family in New York.  Medical woes have left her, in her mind, decidedly unmarried and suitable for the mission front.  Her mind is set on India- until an unexpected visitor and and an unexpected letter from the mission board throw her plans upside down.  With this visitor, a doctor named Eli, and her thrown by a decision out of their hands, they 'make do' and decide to attempt a marriage of convenience so they both can pursue their dream of missionary life- this time to the Nez Perce Indians on the uncharted West Coast of America. 

Hedlund tells a gripping tale which she gleans right from history- and diaries- from the real character Narcissa Whitman.  Historical accuracies down to the detail make this story even more engaging and heart wrenching.  As the story unfolds you find two people in an unexpected situation facing uncertain times and situations as they make their way across the plains, rivers, and mountains of a land only inhabited by the unknown and unpredictable Indian tribes. 

I found this novel to be a welcome twist on the traditional romance novel especially given its true origins and Hedlund's attempt at making it as accurate to the true story as possible.  I am not one to get emotional while reading, but found myself nearly laughing or tearing it up as I read the story of characters I came to love unfold.  The only downside of the novel was that I failed to understand and believe the Squire's character.  His actions and intentions didn't seem to add up given the background and information given.  Especially in the early parts of the journey west.  Hedlund would do well doing a part two of this novel as I am eager to find out how this 'fresh' pair do in the Nez Perce society in the hard west. 

A thanks to Bethany House publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.  I was given a copy of the novel in return for my review, but thoughts and opinions are all my own.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: The Love & Respect Experience

I am a huge fan of Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  It has been a great tool to enhance and improve my marriage.  It shed light on areas of communication and actions that I hadn't thought of before.  That is why I chose to receive the latest installment of the Love & Respect products from Book Sneeze and Thomas Nelson:  The Love & Respect Experience:  A husband friendly devotional that wives truly love.  I was given this book in return for a review, without pretense.

I was quite disappointed as I worked through the first few 'lessons' in the Love & Respect Experience.  I was hoping for a great in-depth BIBLE study on relationships, love, respect, holy matrimony, etc.  Much to my dismay this source falls into the category of 'thought for the day'.  Each chapter (there are 52 intended to be once a week) is maybe 1-2 pages with only 1 verse as its base.  The verse seems to be more of an 'add on' to make it qualify as a devotional.  The verse is followed by thoughts from Eggerichs(which I found essentially to be 52 concise portions of the book Love & Respect.  These thoughts were followed by a suggested prayer and an action point.  I felt let down for the lack of scripture in the devotional.  I felt as though I was reading just another version of his book (which I do love). 

The saving grace are the discussion questions that are tucked back annoyingly in the back of the devotional as some sort of appendix.  Why not include the questions right in the weekly study?  It encourages discussion rather than make it more difficult!  If you have a short attention span or limited time- this devotional will work quite well as the 'lessons' are no more than a few minutes long.  I could see it working as a couple shared a cup of coffee in the morning.

If someone is interested in Dr. Emerson's works I would point to the original hit- Love & Respect and not this devotional.  It is simply not deep enough, challenging enough, or scriptural enough to be worth the extra dime and time.