The Masterpiece (Book Review)

The Masterpiece Book Cover The Masterpiece
Francine Rivers
Christian Fiction
Tyndale
February 6, 2018
Hardcover
512

Roman Velasco is a successful artist. The book weaves his story with his personal assistant Grace Moore. It starts in the present and goes backwards through each character's childhood, weaving back and forth to the present day. It shows the pain each character experienced, the way they responded to it and ultimately the growth of each character.

My Thoughts

I have read Redeeming Love and the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers and I thought the books were engaging and thought-provoking.  The theme of The Masterpiece is strong, and I appreciated what she was trying to do.

I use a rubric to rate books I review. There are five categories each scoring between 2-10 points. (Warning:  There are spoilers in the rest of the review.)

How engaging is it? 6 points. I could put it down and do other things. There was more action in the second half of the book.

How do I feel about the book? 6 points.  Not bad. Not good.  Often a good book, just not the right one for me. Gleaned a few nuggets from it.

Style – 6 points. Wasn’t detracted or impressed. A chain-restaurant experience.   As a Christ follower growing up with a difficult childhood, I found many of her references both in Grace’s childhood and adulthood hard to believe. It is not the way I would talk (overtly using Christianese). I am passionate about my relationship with God and love to share how His love had made me whole with people who are interested. I would have preferred a book that layered in faith, abuse and everything in between instead of using direct words.  That being said, I recognize writing is subjective and I think this technique is common in Christian Fiction.  My opinion also seems to be in the minority, if you are interested in this book I would encourage you to check out the many positive reviews on Amazon.

Character, Theme, Plot, Setting 4 points.

  • A couple of times she retold a scene using the almost the same words. It was a long book, I would have preferred she used tighter writing.
  • The book starts with acknowledgments. I wish it would have been at the back of the book. It had spoilers.
  • In the scene in Italy, there were some errors that could have been easily fixed with an internet search.  Saint Peter’s Basilica does not require a hefty admission fee, it is a church and free to visit.  Also, the Sistine Chapel is at the end of the visit to the Vatican, not tucked away in the corner part way through the museum.
  • There was a scene where Grace gave the landlord her first and last month’s rent as a security deposit. A few chapters later when she left the house, she said she forfeited the security deposit and last month’s rent.
  • Rome was working on painting a rare landscape piece and the author spent a lot of time talking about how much it was going to mean to Grace only to have him sell it off to someone else. I would have liked to see the piece come back into play later in the book.
  • Given the irony of how closely their childhoods paralleled, I would have liked to see their reactions be more surprised.
  • About halfway through the book, I figured out how the book was going to end.  I wish it hadn’t been so obvious.
  • Both characters “pressed the heels of their hands against their eyes.” I would have liked to see the unique traits of each character.

Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation – 8 points.  Few to no errors.  Only subjective or preference issues.

  • She used the word sardonic four times. I realize this is a preference issue, but she used it so many times in Redeeming Love I’ve come to strongly dislike the word.
  • The writing wasn’t as strong as it could be.  For example, “Grace opened her locker, switched out her textbooks.”

Her other books were solid four stars. In my opinion, this book is a high three-star or low four-star book. The rubric agreed with me as came out to 30/50. That is a high three star. I am choosing to rate it a three star because I feel anything higher would disrespect her other books.

I would recommend it to someone who wants to know more about God’s redemptive love in easy to understand the language or someone who enjoyed this genre.

Summarize the book in one sentence. You are not defined by your past.

I have received a copy of this book from Tyndale House for an honest review of the product.

100 Days to Brave (Book Review)

100 Days to Brave Book Cover 100 Days to Brave
Annie F. Downs
Religion
October 24, 2017
240

You are braver than you know and stronger than you think.  In this faith-based devotional book, Annie Downs shares with honesty and humor, tips on how with God's help you can to show up and be the best version of yourself.  Is fear holding you back? Spend the next 100 days discovering how you can be brave.

This devotional book is divided into twelve sections.

Brave Enough to Start
Brave Enough to Be You
Brave Enough to Believe God
Brave Enough to Dream
Brave Enough to Work Hard
Brave Enough to Love Others
Brave Enough to Face Change
Brave Enough to Persevere
Brave Enough to Pursue Healing
Brave Enough to Serve
Brave Enough to Be Where You Are
Brave Enough

 

What I liked

The physical book – The book has raised lettering on the cover,  a bookmark and smooth, thick pages.

Layout – Each day has a Bible verse, a short bit of teaching, encouragement or stories from Annie’s life and a takeaway.

Content – I am glad I had the opportunity to read this book. It was encouraging as it kept being brave on the forefront of my mind each day.  I’m learning to accept life works out the way it was meant to and to be brave–do the thing while I’m still afraid.

Quotes

“While I am making mistakes, I am not a mistake.  Remind someone you love that God doesn’t make mistakes.”

“Speaking kindly to yourself will make you brave.  List three things you are thankful for about yourself.”

“God knows we need to dream in pieces because we would be too scared of the whole puzzle.”

I would recommend it to

Women who are looking for a Christian devotional book that will use Scripture, stories, and wisdom to encourage them to not let fear hold them back.  I plan to buy a couple of copies for friends, the book would make an excellent gift.

Summarize the book in one sentence.

“You are braver than you know and stronger than you thought possible.”


BookLook Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Wellness Revelation (Book Review)

The Wellness Revelation Book Cover The Wellness Revelation
Alisa Keeton
Health & Fitness
Tyndale Momentum
August 8, 2017
224

What would it take for you to make a change? Weight loss can sometimes be a very self-focused endeavor. Maybe you have struggled with your weight your entire life, riding a constant roller coaster of numbers that go up and down. Or maybe you are finding yourself more stressed out by the world and all its demands. Perhaps you just don't feel as well in your body as you do in your spirit. In The Wellness Revelation, certified fitness professional Alisa Keeton will challenge you to get fit with God so that He can free you to complete your purpose. She teaches that when we get fit physically as well as spiritually, we will be better equipped to love and serve others. The Wellness Revelation will change the way you perceive yourself and the way that you live your life. Each week in this eight-week journey includes a teaching from Alisa, weekly assignments, Bible study, small-group questions, and more. Alisa will encourage you to love God, get healthy, and serve others; and she will provide you with the tools to spread the gospel with courage, confidence, kindness, and freedom. It's time to make a change from the inside out.

My Thoughts – There is a lot more to this book than meets the eye.  It is full of ideas, inspiration, and encouragement.  Alisa keeps us focused on God’s perspective on our bodies and health throughout the course. The eight-week program includes exercise and nutrition training and Bible study. Each chapter is broken up into five sections.

Read – Each chapter is brimming with information on how to develop fitness and nutrition plans that work for your life.

Respond – Assignments to help you improve your health, including an online calendar with workout videos.

Renew – A Bible study section

Relate – Questions to apply to your own life

Reciprocate – inspirational story

What I liked – Alisa has an encouraging tone.  I enjoyed the extras. She has an online eight-week calendar with clickable links to workout videos for each day. The program is much more than just the book, and it’s well done.

What I didn’t like – I started this months ago and had a hard time staying on track when I was doing it on my own. She recommends going through the book with a group of friends. I can see why–I want to do it again with friends.

Quotes

“You will not move your body to pay off yesterday’s calorie intake or to pinch and prod your body into taking on someone else’s idealized image for you.”

“Show up, do the work, and be completely you. Don’t try and fake it for anyone else’s sake.”

I would recommend this book for a group of women in a Bible Study.

Summarize the book in one sentence. Be the best version of yourself inside and out.

 

I have received a copy of this book from Tyndale House for an honest review of the product.

Jesus, I Need You (Book Review)

Jesus, I Need You Book Cover Jesus, I Need You
Zondervan
Religion
August 29, 2017
224

When daily life threaten to overwhelm you, Jesus offers peace and rest. With prayers as well as journaling space, Jesus, I Need You grounds your faith in a Savior who can be trusted in all circumstances. This is an encouraging gift or a heartfelt starting place to deepen your prayer life. Jesus, I Need You is a prayer book for ordinary people seeking an extraordinary God.

My Thoughts – This book has 213 pages, each two-page spread includes a prayer, a Bible verse, a little devotional and space to write your thoughts or prayers.  It’s broken up into nine sections. (Guidance, Overwhelmed, Heartache, Comfort, Grace, Disappointment, Faith and Hope and Wisdom)

What I liked – The cover is beautiful and it feels nice in the hand. The book is about the size of a half-sheet of paper.

What I didn’t like – I have a journaling Bible and like to write out my prayers. While I love the concept of this book, the prewritten prayers didn’t resonate with me. I think it might just a preference in wording.  For instance, it says, “Dear Jesus, I’m frustrated…You mean so much to me….I pray you would renew my hope.”

I personally would have liked to see it focus on who God is–not on me. “Dear Jesus, Thank you for your power. Thank you for you renew my hope when my foot is slipping.”

I would recommend it as a gift. It’s a beautifully designed book.

Summarize the book in one sentence. A devotional book that gives you space and guidance to write your prayers.

 

BookLook Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Be Bold – a coloring devotional review

Be Bold Book Cover Be Bold
Ellen Elliott
Young Adult Nonfiction
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
March 1, 2017
80

Be Bold offers an outlet to simultaneously focus on God's Word and express creativity. Using scripture as the foundation for her designs, Ellen Elliot takes readers through a series of inspiring verses reinforced with short devotional writings. Topics include joy, hope, self-image, peace, and more. Each coloring page and corresponding devotional will help the reader develop a closer relationship with the Heavenly Father.

My Thoughts

This book has a month’s worth of 31 devotionals. On the right side of the page, there is a Bible verse, a theme and a short  5-minute devotional.  On the left side is a page to color.   Some of the themes are: Believe who God says you are, Choose joy, Jesus never changes, and Trust in the Lord.

The book is marketed to teens – but, I think it would be fun for any age. I thoroughly enjoyed it and my teen years are a very distant memory!  Coloring is a great stress reliever and I enjoy coloring pages where there is a focus on Bible verse. I find myself thinking about that truth while I color.

What I liked

  • At the back of the book are 12 blank pages to write prayers or notes
  • The coloring pages are bold and whimsical, not tiny details.  Fun to color!
  • The pages are a thicker paper.

What I didn’t like

  • The pages aren’t perforated. I often prefer to tear the pages out to color them
  • The pages don’t lay flat – not a deal breaker for me but could be a challenge if you are left handed.

I would recommend it to

I think it would make a great gift for a teen or tween.

I have received a copy of this book from Tyndale for an honest review of the product.