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Tuesday, February 13, 2018
A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949 by Kevin Peraino is an in-depth look at how American foreign policy in 1949 allowed Mao and the communists to defeat Chiang Kai Shek and the nationalists in the Chinese civil war that followed the end of WWII. Using many first person interviews and recently declassified American government documents, Peraino takes a look at both the personalities and the policies that shaped the world during this time.

It is astonishing how small the world was after WWII and how one nation's support or lack thereof can shape the destiny of another nation. The steep toll paid by China during WWII created a kind of vacuum that Mao was able to exploit. America's support for the nationalists, which had been strong during Truman's first term, was quickly withdrawn during his second under the direction of Secretary of State Dean Acheson. While there were many other factors that played into Mao's victory, this was a significant one. The subsequent policy of containing communism in the rest of Asia led to American involvement in two more significant conflicts.

Peraino does a good job of delving into these policies and the people behind them without getting bogged down in minutiae. A Force So Swift is easy to read and flows well. The balance between policy and personality is such that one doesn't get trapped in either. It is informative and somewhat entertaining.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence by Thabiti Anyabwile is a primer from an ex-Muslim on tips for effectively sharing the gospel with Muslims. The book is broken into two sections, one about the gospel and one called "As You Witness." Each of the eleven chapters are short and comprised mainly of practical tips, though there are some personal stories from Anyabwile.

While there are good practical tips, there is nothing new or super unique about this book, except for Anyabwile's personal experiences. The main components of sharing the gospel with anyone regardless of religious background, is knowing the truth and sharing it and depending on Holy Spirit to do the actual work in a person's heart. Almost all of the advice given in this book could be applied to sharing the gospel with anyone.

Overall, The Gospel for Muslims is a good resource, but not a great one. It is short and easy to read if one is pressed for time, or needs a quick boost of confidence.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, See Part 255
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman tells the story of what happens to the people left behind when those in the middle of domestic violence pay the ultimate price. The main characters are the victim's brother and the lawyer who was helping the victim get ready to flee.

Unbeknownst to me when I agreed to review it, Imperfect Justice is the second book in the Hidden Justice series. However, while I probably would have appreciated the characters more if I had read the first one, I wasn't confused or lost while reading Imperfect Justice, so it does work on its own.

Imperfect Justice has fast pacing and flows well. The characters are engaging and very relatable. Anybody who enjoys legal thrillers or just good contemporary fiction should enjoy this book. However, I would caution that Imperfect Justice does contain realistic depictions of domestic violence that may act as triggers for some.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Friday, January 5, 2018

Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life is Hard by Ashleigh Slater is an introduction to the power of community during times of sorrow. Slater uses both personal anecdotes and stories from friends and acquaintances to discuss the various ways community can provide a lifeline during various kinds of suffering.

Slater discusses how faith, community, and specifically a faithful and consistent community of faith can be life giving during moments of suffering in big areas of life such as health, family, and work. She gives practical ideas of what was helpful to her during a particular season of suffering. If Slater or her family had not experienced a certain trial, she had a friend who has speak to that issue.

There is nothing new or earth shattering in Braving Sorrow Together. Everyone knows that having friends and family or some other kind of support makes the tough times easier to bear. However, there are some good practical suggestions for those looking for a place to start. Those who lead some kind of group or oversee groups for a church may find this book especially helpful.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, See Part 255
Friday, December 22, 2017
Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines is the story of the rise of the popularity and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines written from Chips' perspective. Capital Gaines is written in Chip's unique voice that his fans will find very familiar.

The main theme of Capital Gaines is entrepreneurship. Gaines discusses the many businesses he and then he and his wife have started over the years. Gaines has been an entrepreneur since he was in college and has started a variety of businesses with varying degrees of success. However, the nitty gritty of business is not the focus. The focus is on taking risks, putting first things first, and hard work.

Gaines discusses the ebb and flow of all the businesses under the Magnolia umbrella as well as Fixer Upper and their decision to end the popular show. Fans of Fixer Upper will enjoy the behind the scenes details of the Gaines' life. However, this book isn't only for established fans. I have seen maybe two episodes of Fixer Upper and still enjoyed reading Capital Gaines. It is easy to read and flows well. Gaines' enthusiasm for life and helping others jumps of the pages and inspires the reader to do the same.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955) by Robert Lacey follows the first season of the hit Netflix series The Crown.

This is a true companion to the show, not just a show tie-in version. Sometimes when a movie is based on a book, the book publisher will release a new "movie tie-in" version. This is usually the same book with a few pages of pictures from the movie. That is more what I was expecting. Instead, The Crown, follows the show episode by episode. Each chapter is titled the same as the corresponding episode. There is some narrative that provides a bit more historical detail than the episode did, and if there is any discrepancy due to creative license, that is pointed out. Each chapter also contains mini-profiles of a prominent character in each episode. There are not just a few pictures, but dozens of pages full of stills from the show and the corresponding historical photo.

Someone looking for more of a conventional biography of probably needs to look elsewhere. However, anyone who is a fan of the show The Crown will love this companion book. Those interested in a cursory look at the royal family during this period of time will also find The Crown (both the show and this companion book) appealing.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love by John Eldredge reminds the reader of an often forgotten, yet essential, part of Christianity - the restoration and renewal of earth. As Eldredge puts it on page 16, "the thing you are made for is the renewal of all things. God has given you a heart for his kingdom - not the wispy vagaries of a cloudy heaven, but the sharp reality of the world made new."

Jesus speaks often in the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Knowing that it is both now and not yet, most of modern Western Christianity has relegated the "not yet" part to a concept of heaven that leaves many feeling unsatisfied. That is because the truth is far greater than anything we could ever imagine. It is this concept and its implications that Eldredge examines throughout this book.

Fans of Eldredge will find familiar themes in All Things New. Those who are not familiar with Eldredge will be introduced to his easy to read, flowing style of writing. All Things New is full of scriptures upon which the premise of the book is based. It also includes many excerpts from epic novels and stories from Eldredge's own life that illustrate his points. All Things New left me feeling refreshed and opened my eyes to the fullness of a truth that has largely been ignored. Hope is the cornerstone both of the promise of renewal in scripture, and in All Things New.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255