Thursday, June 24, 2010

You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado

You can Be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado is a repackaging of selections found in Lucado’s earlier book Cure for the Common Life. The text includes short chapters or selections that highlight Lucado’s ability to write theological concepts in an engaging manner. Lucado reinforces to his readers that they are uniquely made by God, suggests that the best way to live is to do is glorifying God by using one’s uniqueness. Lucado urges readers to understand their S.T.O.R.Y (Strengths, Topics, Optimal Conditions, Relationships, Yes!) in order to move into the sweet spot of life. These concepts are passed on within a book designed with a number of pictures and Biblical reflections which could be used for self reflection.

I really wanted to like this book, but it’s a mess. And from my read it appears to be the repackaging that has created the problems and not the text itself. I would like to have used this as a devotional type book much like Lucado’s Grace for the Moment since its clearly not the deeper dive of this material, which would be the full version in Cure For the Common Life. However the varying sizes of the chapters make it difficult to use the text for a devotional, with chapters ranging from one page, two if you count a title page, to five or more pages. Even more confusing are the use of different sized texts and colors which I am still not sure if they indicate a major point, a supporting point or are part of the general text as the beginning of a sentence. The content appears uneven and inconsistent, the presentation of the S.T.O.R.Y. concept for example includes chapters of various sizes and is introduced, built on later in the text, disappears and then returns. At one point in a story a character is introduced as Chief Wiggles and then later on the page it is explained how Halverson earned that nickname, but Halverson was never really introduced to us. I would have been less confused if the Halverson reference was just left out. And finally, Matthew 25:15 is given emphasis on two different pages, pages that only have a chapter title, the verse and a picture. It seemed odd to have the same verse used in such a way twice, but even more frustrating that the page 12 reference identifies the verse as 25:25. It really appears that editing has done this text no favors. The cover proudly displays a sticker that the book is perfect for a graduate. I think there are plenty of better graduation gifts including other books by Lucado.
Review Copy provided by Thomas Nelson

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances by Andy Andrews

The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews presents two compelling and engaging stories. The first story, which consists of parts 1 and 3 of the book, tells the story of Andrews’ discovery of World War II German U-Boat artifacts in his Gulf Coast yard and his own personal journey to uncover the origins of how these items got into his yard. The second story details the ramification of a chance encounter between Josef a German submariner who becomes separated from his German U-Boat while patrolling the Gulf of Mexico during 1942 and Helen a woman deeply hurt by personal loss leading to anger with God and everyone she is in contact with. Their story is one of grace and ultimately forgiveness allowing each to gain a fresh start on life.

I started this book expecting it to read much like Andrew’s The Traveler’s Gift which used an interesting story to present a number of principles. Instead, this book uses both stories to underscore one valuable lesson, the power of forgiveness and the freedom it gives the forgiver. The book itself and both stories within it are engaging. This combined with the fact that the story is based on real people, made it difficult for me to keep from peeking to the end of the book and where they are now section or searching the internet for information about U-166, Josef’s boat. The story of Josef and Helen combine elements that both men and women will enjoy, giving the reader images of both U-571 and The Notebook as they race through the text. If Andrews’s goals were to entertain and provide a valuable lesson about forgiveness, he has achieved his desire. The Heart Mender is a release of Andrews’ Island of Saints, which he notes had a vocal but small audience. This rerelease will hopefully expose more readers to this engaging tale.

Review Copy provided by Thomas Nelson