Category Archives: BOOK REVIEWS

Angel Song by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman

It’s time for more book reviews!

While I’ve grown to love non-fiction books in the recent years, I still turn to fiction novels every once in a while. On my reading list this month was Angel Song, a novel by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman. Women would love this book: it has the quintessential combination of heart, heartache, happiness, and hope.

In the book, the main character is Ann Fletcher, a typical New York career woman. She’s an in-demand home stager–a totally cool job, if you ask me–who takes a quick break from her cutthroat world to fly to Charleston to visit her younger sister, Sarah. She expected her sister’s graduation celebration–not a car accident that would lead to Sarah’s death. The tragedy turns Ann’s world upside down, and the woman who thought she could get through and succeed in life entirely on her own starts to find God, through the new friends she ‘inherited’ from her sister, and through some unexplainable events, which can only be attributed to God and His mysterious angels.

It won’t fall under my Best Books of 2010 list, but it was a good, beautiful read. I finished it in two days, which usually means that it wasn’t too heavy and it was entertaining enough to keep me hooked. The ending was somewhat predictable, but the journey was moving and satisfying. The evolution of Ann–from being hardened to tender-hearted–is a process that every woman has to face sooner or later. The story just goes to show how the evolution can be painful, but worth it in the end.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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It’s the best time of the year to buy books…and I can help you save money while you shop!

Ever since I was a kid, there were three events of the year that I always looked forward to: Christmas, my birthday, and the Manila International Book Fair. This year’s book fair begins today (Wednesday, September 15) and ends on Sunday (September 19) and in line with this, I’m so excited because I have some great prizes and special offers (w/something FREE) up for grabs! In a moment, I’ll tell you how you can avail of these.

The Greatest Advice
I was inspired to write this post, not because of the Book Fair, but because around a week ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Tripp Crosby, published a blog post entitled The Greatest Advice I Have to Offer. His advice is simple: When someone recommends a book to you, read it. (He goes on to explain his point, so I highly suggest reading the rest of the post!)

I think Tripp is right. For the most part, I’m really glad I decided to read the books that were recommended (or given) to me. Most of the books have been more than worth my while, with just two to three of them not really meeting my expectations. I like it when I hear someone passionately discussing a book because it tells me that the book is worth investing in.

My Recommendations
In the same way, I love sharing the books that I’m passionate about! So without further ado, here are some of the books that I highly recommend:

  • If you feel like you’re floating (or maybe a little emo): Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  • If you feel like you’ve been waiting forever: In the Meantime by Rob Brendle
  • If you’d like to boost your social skills: 25 Ways to Win With People by John Maxwell
  • If you’re married (or you think you’ll be married one day): Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
  • If you have communication problems in your relationships: The Five Love Languages (there are several different versions) by Dr. Gary Chapman
  • If you’re looking to grow in the area of public speaking: Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley & Lane Jones
  • If you feel the need to step out of your comfort zone: If You Want to Walk on Water, You Need to Step Off the Boat by John Ortberg
  • If you’ve been leading and you’re feeling the burnout: Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro
  • If you’re a woman, or you’re looking to understand women: Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge
  • If you’re a man, or you’re looking to understand men: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • If you want to renew your perspective on money: The Storehouse Principle by Al Jandl & Van Crouch
  • If you’re feeling like you’re at your lowest point: Plan B by Pete Wilson
  • If you’re feeling stuck in your career: Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado
  • If you need to find a way to effectively pass on your ideas: Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  • If you’re looking for a print equivalent of a big warm hug: God’s Blogs by Lanny Donoho
  • and of course, the one book that I highly, highly recommend above all else: The Bible (I like the ESV, NLT, TNIV, and The Message versions)

I’ve got more, but I’ll stop there! You can also check out some of the related links I posted at the end if you want more. And in case you were wondering, yes, I do prefer non-fiction books. :)

Ready for the Awesome News?
When I was writing this post, I got the idea to contact our friends from OMF Literature to see if they’d be willing to give away some goodies for you today. I’m thrilled that they agreed!

So first up, I promised something FREE: here’s the link where you can download OMF’s special Book Fair coupon set. Download it now and you’ll have the following:

  • a FREE TICKET to the Manila International Book Fair
  • 30% off on the following books: Back on Track by Ru dela Torre, The Attributes of God (Volume 1) by A.W. Tozer, and 10 Best Decisions A Woman Can Make by Pam Farrell (1 book per coupon)
  • 25% off on any OMF local or international book (1 book per coupon)

Awesome, right? BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

In addition to that, I’m giving away 5–yes five!–OMF gift certificates worth P500. Most of the books I mentioned on the list are available at OMF, so if you’re chosen to receive 1 of the 5 GCs, you can use your gift certificate to buy one (or more) of the books I mentioned above, or anything else that catches your fancy when you visit one of their bookstores located at Boni Avenue (this is one of my all-time favorite bookstores), Il Terrazo QC, Pergola Paranaque, and Greenbelt 1 (gift certificates are not valid at the Book Fair). Their books are pretty affordable, so you’ll be surprised what P500 can get you!

To get a chance to snag 1 of the 5 gift certificates, you must do BOTH actions:

  1. Leave a comment below and either a) tell me which book on the list grabbed your attention, or b) give me YOUR book recommendation.
  2. Tweet a link to this post. You can do it easily by clicking here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can post a link on your Facebook wall by clicking here.

It’s so easy to join! This is only open to Metro Manila residents. I’ll pick the 5 winners at random on Saturday, September 18, at 12 noon, and if you’re one of the people selected, I’ll send you an e-mail or a direct message.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll see you at the Book Fair!

Happy reading! :)

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If you liked this, you might be interested in these related posts:

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Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham + my Tell Me Thursday answers

Scroll down for the review!

Yesterday, I asked some Tell Me Thursday questions, which have to do with my book review for today (if you’re a woman, you definitely want to hear about this book). But before I get into that, I promised to share my own answers:

1) My favorite toy when I was a kid: My Care Bear Wish Bear. I loved the Care Bears and I thought they were real. Whenever I was on a plane ride, I would sit by the window seat to look for Care-A-Lot.

2) My second home: Like Cyndi, I like to think of the church that I go to as my second home. More than anything, it’s because of the wonderful people that I see whenever I’m in the building. Oh, and I love the food they serve for merienda (ginataan and turon!) at the basement cafeteria, too!

3) My comfort food: Breakfast food! I love waffles, bacon, eggs, cereal, muffins, and I can go on and on and on…

4) What I want to do if I could take a break from what I needed to do: I would escape to one of my favorite secret spots to get some peace and quiet. And just stay there, without worrying about the time. I would stay there and just think…pray…maybe read, too.

5) What makes me smile: Downtime with my nephews. I love that moment when they’ve stopped running around and they’re just sitting still beside me. It usually only happens when we’re watching TV or when they’re busy playing video games. My 2-year old nephew loves to crawl into my lap with his bottle of milk and lean his head against me. Happy times.

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Now the reason why I asked those questions was because thinking about what makes us happy–what makes us feel strong–is one of the key parts of living a strong life, according to the book Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by strengths guru Marcus Buckingham.

Most women I know (myself included) grew up with the illusion that we need to live “balanced lives”. The question is, what does that look like? Have you ever really, truly, felt “balanced”?

Buckingham says, “So often you’re told to strive for balance. But balance is the wrong target. Balance is almost impossible to achieve and not fulfilling when you do.”

In the book, Buckingham addresses the common problems that women have, and offers some mindset-changing insights on how to live differently. Watch this video to know more:

My verdict: I love Buckingham’s idea of living an intentionally imbalanced life. It’s such a refreshing and freeing perspective that makes so much sense. After reading this book, I was able to rearrange my schedule in a way that opened up time for more “strong life” moments, like spending time with my nephews, taking road trips, and enrolling in classes that I knew I would enjoy. This book inspired me to take a photography class! Whenever I find myself feeling weary again, I go back to the principles I learned in this book. When I think about it, the book can be summed up in just a few paragraphs. If you don’t have the time to read it, you can just skim through the important parts and you’ll pretty much get the gist.

Give it a try: Take the free Strong Life Test and browse through the book preview here. (By the way, I wouldn’t take the test as gospel truth, though. I took the test twice and had different results each time, both of which could apply to me. I  just read both profiles in the book and took the recommendations with an open mind.)

Think about it: What makes you feel strong?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Plan B by Pete Wilson

One of the best books I read while I was on this trip is a book called Plan B. At the end of this post, I will tell you how you can have a chance to get a copy of this book for free (if you reside in Metro Manila)!

Here’s the gist of the book:

I love how God’s timing is always perfect. When I first got this book, I wasn’t in the mood to read it, but when I finally did, I’m glad I got around to it.

Suffering and pain are both inevitable. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) Sometimes the trials and tribulations seem to turn my world upside down that I don’t know what to do, and I end up sinking into a dark and desolate emotional place. When I find myself in a place that I didn’t expect to be, a place I didn’t want to be, I search, plead, and beg God for answers. And when they don’t immediately come, I get frustrated and depressed. Does this sound familiar? Does this happen to you?

Pete Wilson does a great job capturing the emotions behind the so-called nightmares that we experience through his own stories, and other real-life stories of people who went through their own seasons of great difficulty–the ones they didn’t ask for and they didn’t expect. As I read them, I, too, wondered about the answers, explanations, solutions…

But what if we didn’t need answers? What if there was something better than getting easy answers and quick fixes? Jesus did say we will go through trouble in this world, but we often miss the second part of the verse: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The book goes into what that second part means for us and what it looks like and feels like in our lives. It isn’t one of those books that offers paint-by-numbers solutions to our problems, but it does go straight to the heart of who God is and what He has done and what He continues to do for us. It’s an easy read, and if I were you, I’d keep a highlighter within your reach. For many people, this book is an invitation to hope once again. I highly recommend it, and it’s one that I’ll be reading over and over again.

For more information on the book, go to http://www.planbbook.com. You can also download a sample chapter here.

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I’ve got one copy of the book to give away! To get a chance to snag it, leave a comment below and either:

a) Tell me why you want the book
or
b) Give me a topic that you want me to write about (or a question you want me to answer) on this blog.

On Monday, July 12, I will select one person at random to get the free copy, and I’ll notify the winner through email. It’s really easy! Sorry, but it’s only open to those within Metro Manila. And that’s because…I’ll be back home in the Philippines next week. :) More on that in my next post!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

BOOK REVIEW: Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

I haven’t read a devotional in a while, and I miss having one. One of the reasons why I was able to get into reading the Bible was because of reading devotionals. My first devotional gave me an introduction to God’s heart when my mind couldn’t quite process yet the words I was reading in the Bible. Ultimately, it led me to open up my Bible more and more until it became a habit I now can’t live without. :)

The devotional I’m reading now is called Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young. This devotional is unique because each entry is written as if Jesus himself was speaking to the reader. I can’t describe the devotional any better than what’s written in the Amazon product page: “After many years of writing in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she believed He was saying to her.  It was awkward at first, but gradually her journaling changed from monologue to dialogue.  She knew her writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but journaling helped her grow closer to God.  Others were blessed as she shared her writings, until people all over the world were using her messages.  They are written from Jesus’ point of view, thus the title Jesus Calling.”

God speaks, it’s just that some people don’t recognize His voice. Some think that He speaks like a killjoy of sorts, or someone who preaches haughtily to the world from a high seat of power. My experience of God speaking is completely different. I know Him to be warm, encouraging, passionate (especially if I’m drifting), but always truthful, and always loving. Of course, my ears weren’t always attuned to His voice. A combination of being still, desperate, eager, and expectant, coupled with times soaked in the Bible has helped me over the years to recognize the voice of God. And until this day, my ears still need fine tuning. Just like any relationship, there’s more to learn as time goes by. :)

This devotional is a great way to discover or rediscover what God sounds like, but just know that it can’t replace the Bible–the author says the same thing too. That being said, you can let the words from this devotional sprinkle your soul. To describe it one word, I’d say it’s refreshing. :)

If you’d like to preview the book, you can do so here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2 + 2: Two Books, Two Blog Posts

I like reading. Whether it’s reading a book or reading a blog, I eat up words the way I drink coffee. I don’t really know what I meant by that, but it makes sense to me. I love coffee.

That being said, let me tell you about two books that I’ve read recently.

1) Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s one of my favorite authors. He’s the New York Times bestselling author of Blue Like Jazz. Until this day, I still can’t decide which one of his books is my favorite (I’ve read Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years). So when I came across this book, getting it was a no-brainer for me. It’s a republished and retitled version of his first book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance.

It starts out a little slow for my taste, but then it’s a road trip memoir, so the pace ends up making sense, at least for me. In this book, Miller writes about a monumental interstate road trip that he takes with his friend Paul–a trip that takes them over mountains, down the Grand Canyon, and under their beat-up Volkswagen van (the latter, many times over).

I always wanted to go on an interstate road trip, and Miller does a great job of making the journey real to me. While it started out slow, I’m glad that I opted to keep reading as the story kept getting better and better. By the last couple of chapters, I was reading ever-so-slowly and taking down notes, as some lines went straight to my heart.

There are so many good parts and I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“I could not have known that everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it’s God’s way.” / “Everybody has to change or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not read the same page recurrently.” – Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

2) The Voice New Testament

Thanks to BookSneeze, I get to review books for free from time to time, and this was the latest one that I chose to review. The Voice is a new, contemporary translation of the New Testament. But more than just a translation, I consider it a repackaged version of the Bible. Instead of the usual paragraphs of text, the conversations are told in screenplay form. Innovative? Yes. Illuminating? Sometimes. Confusing? Unfortunately. The screenplay format and the commentaries within the text make my head spin.

I think that one of the best parts about reading the Word is you get to have a relationship with it. It becomes personal because you’ve invested time soaking in it, trying to understand it, reading between the lines, and even putting yourself in the shoes of the people in the stories. You get to use your imagination, you get to picture the scene and the emotions that are in the air. And sometimes I struggle with what I read, sometimes I wonder if I’m understanding it correctly and I wonder what it all really means. When that happens, I get to take the questions to God, and in my prayers I ask Him, “Why would that person do that?” or “Why would Jesus say that?” or “What do You mean?” And a conversation forms, and it’s a conversation that never ends.

That being said, when I hear too many voices (or read too many for that matter), I don’t get to truly hear what God is saying to me. So while this is a creative translation and effort, it won’t be taking the place of my Bible any time soon. Do I recommend it? Well, I like reading through several translations from time to time (I like the ESV, TNIV, NLT, and The Message translations), so having this one comes in handy. If you’re like me, go ahead and get yourself a copy, but I won’t suggest using it as your main source of scripture.

If you’re not into long blocks of text and would rather read some blogs, here are some blog posts that have touched me deeply this past week:

1) WHAT I THOUGHT I WANTED, WHAT I GOT INSTEAD by Grant Jenkins.

2) RELATIONSHIPS AND DIRECTIONS by Bianca Juarez

I don’t want to spoil these great reads, so you’ll just have to click on the links to read more. By the way, I just started reading Bianca’s blog a couple of weeks ago and it’s already one of my favorites.

So that’s it from me for now! How about you, what have you been reading lately? :)

Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, 3rd Edition

I am such a bookworm, I get excited every time I get a new book. This time around, I decided to review something that some people would view as different from my usual fare…but I just couldn’t resist. I think it’s the geek in me. :)

I love the Bible, and I love getting deeper into it by learning more about it. Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts got me excited when I saw it, because when I browsed through it, I saw that it was packed with all sorts of information about the Bible. Outlines, summaries, maps, charts, photos…you name it, the book’s got it. Do you want to visualize what Solomon’s temple looked like? Do you want to see what the hill of Bethsaida looks like? Do you want to see the maps of Paul’s journeys? Do you want a breakdown of all the events in the life of Jesus? All these and more, you can find in this book.

I love that it’s printed on nice paper and that it’s in full-color, but I’d like to see them create a more dynamic layout in the future editions. The book is so rich with Bible trivia, and the team that prepared this book did such a great job analyzing the books and making charts that explain the themes in the Bible, that it would be a shame to miss them. What’s great about this book is that it’s intended for nonprofit and noncommercial use in classrooms, seminars, and small group studies, so you can make copies (no more than 1,000 units in each setting and not to be sold) for your students or peers. If you have the book, you can also download the digital maps and charts for free on the Thomas Nelson site.

This book is not for everyone though, because the overload of information can be way too much for some people who are not all that interested or those who have short attention spans. Admittedly, I had a difficult time sitting through one chapter. But just like the Bible, this one’s meant to be read throughout one’s lifetime and serve as a reference book for years to come. I think it’s a must-have for everyone who teaches out of the Bible, whether you’re a pastor, Sunday school teacher, or small group leader. But even if you’re just curious and you want to know more about the Bible, I highly recommend it. I already know it’s going to be one of the most useful and important books in my collection.

NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible

If you ask me, as much as I love hundreds of books and movies, I still believe the Bible holds the greatest stories in history. The problem for me is that there are far too many stories for me to keep track of (I can’t remember where to find them all!). Enter the NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible collection. In theory, it sounded like a good addition to my little library: all the greatest stories of the Bible in a storybook format. So when I had the opportunity to review it, I welcomed the chance.

My first thought? I wish it had illustrations. Now THAT would really make it a storybook for keeps! Sadly, the entire book is just filled with text. However, I like the fact that the stories are easy to find, thanks to a simple but comprehensive index at the back of the book. Want to remember what happened to Daniel in the lion’s den but don’t know where to find the story in the Bible? Just go and check the index! Easy as 1-2-3. I like it. It’s also nice to open it up before I go to sleep, as if I were to read a bedtime story to myself. (And when I have kids one day, I’m sure I’ll do the same for them, too!)

However, I’m not a huge fan of the NKJV translation. While it’s essential for some people, I still need time to get used to it, having been used to the NIV/TNIV, NLT, and The Message. I like exploring different translations of the Bible though, so I’m still going to give it a chance.

I hope they come up with a small gift book or pocketbook version that can be carried around. Unfortunately, the bulkiness of this book ensures that it’s not leaving my room anytime soon. Here’s hoping I don’t forget about it!

Best books I read in 2009

What can I say, I love reading books! Last year, I did a list of the best books that I read in 2008, so I figured I’d do it again. And this year, I’ll add something extra…I’ll be giving away one book to one lucky winner! Find out how to join at the end of this post. So without further ado, here’s my list for 2009!

ONE MONTH TO LIVE by Kerry & Chris Shook

Why it’s on my list: At Victory churches all over the Philippines, we kicked off the year with a “One Life to Live” campaign based on this book. It’s always a good time to ask yourself if you’re making the most out of your life today.

Notable quote: “Performing to keep up an image and impress people requires tremendous energy and effort. It drains you of your true passion, diverts you from your God-given purpose, and robs you of personal peace. Frequently people suffer regret at the end of their lives because they know they have not lived consistently with their values and with the way God made them. They learn too late that the secret to passion is to being true to God’s design for them.”

Who should read it: Everyone who will die one day.  So that means…everyone. :)

FIND YOUR STRONGEST LIFE by Marcus Buckingham

Why it’s on my list: I’ve seen Marcus Buckingham speak (not live, but on DVD), and I’m a big fan. Apart from the fact that he’s very funny and entertaining, he’s a huge proponent (if not the biggest) of strengths-based leadership. When I found out he had a book specifically for women, I knew I had to get my hands on it, and I’m glad I did. I’d like to think it’s helping me live more purposefully and passionately, instead of just letting the days fly by and beat me down.

Notable quote: “A strong life is the opposite of juggling. Juggling requires you to keep everything at bay, up in the air, and away from you. The secret to living a strong life lies in knowing how to draw a few things in toward you. It asks you to be discriminating, selective, intentional. You can find energizing moments in each aspect of your life, but to do so you must learn how to catch them, hold on to them, feel the pull of their weight, and allow yourself to follow where they lead.”

Who should read it: All the ladies!

A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS by Donald Miller

Why it’s on my list: There are a lot of reasons why I loved this book. You can read my review on it here.

Notable quotes: “You don’t know a story is happening to you when you’re in it.” • “Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust rather than a master storyteller.”

Who should read it: If you want your life to be a good story, read this. If you’re a fan of wit, you’ll especially like Donald Miller’s writing style. I’m a big fan. (If you haven’t read it yet, do read his bestselling book, Blue Like Jazz. It was on my Best Books list last year!)

ALMOST EVERY ANSWER FOR PRACTICALLY EVERY TEACHER edited by Bruce Wilkinson

Why it’s on my list: As a teacher, it’s important for me to keep learning. This book is an excellent collection of articles about teaching from excellent educators, pastors, and speakers.

Notable quote: “Lead the march of learning! Transform your classroom into a busy life laboratory. Get your students thinking and discovering for themselves; make them students of life.” – Carl Shafer

Who should read it: Every teacher!

IN THE MEANTIME by Rob Brendle

Why it’s on my list: A book on waiting? I needed to read that. I am not a fan of waiting, and often times, I’m not very good at it, either. This book helped change my perspective on waiting by seeing it another way, through the life of King David.

Notable quote: “God’s idea is proactive waiting: trusting, seeking, and looking to him for the dream’s fulfillment while we seek to grow, stretch, and forge usable tools for the future from the raw iron of life’s unalterable seasons. As we do the stuff of life with the same vigor with which we cling to the dream God has given us, we’ll find ourselves growing ever more useful to him.”

Who should read it: Every person who is waiting for something–a breakthrough, a job, a spouse, financial abundance, etc.

IN A PIT WITH A LION ON A SNOWY DAY by Mark Batterson

Why it’s on my list: This was a book recommended to me by my friend, Ro. Lots of notable quotes in this one! The title refers to an incident in the Bible in the book of 2 Samuel 23, which tells of Benaiah’s courageous acts, like facing a lion in a pit in a snowy day. As it says on the cover, this is a book about surviving and thriving when opportunity roars. Clever. :)

Notable quote: “The genealogy of success always traces back to mustard seed opportunities. Make the most of them. For what it’s worth, I think many of us fail to seize the small opportunities because we’re looking for the big opportunities. But scripture says, ‘Do not despise these small beginnings.'”

Who should read it: Those who are tired of letting fears rule their lives.

LOVE AND RESPECT by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Why it’s on my list: Read my book review over here!

Notable quote: “Showing respectful behavior when we don’t ‘feel respectful’ is evidence of maturity, not hypocrisy.”

Who should read it: Married couples. If you’re still single but you intend to get married one day, reading this will be a blessing, because it’ll prepare you for what’s up ahead.

ONLY YOU CAN BE YOU by Erik Rees

Why it’s on my list: Last year, Erik Rees’ book S.H.A.P.E. was on my list. Only You Can Be You is like an updated version of S.H.A.P.E. that comes with a lot of online tools that complement the book.

Notable quote: “One of the coolest benefits of giving God the center place in our lives is his daily guidance. When God is truly the pilot of our lives, he grants us the guidance for living. This guidance comes in the form of perspective. Situations in life that never made sense, we now begin to understand.”

Who should read it: Anyone who is confused about their purpose and direction.

TOO BUSY NOT TO PRAY by Bill Hybels

Why it’s on my list: If there was a better way for me to make the most of my time with God, I’d want to know about it. This book helped address a lot of my questions. 

Notable quote: “The archenemy of spiritual authenticity is busyness.”

Who should read it: If you’re looking to get started on having quiet times with God or you’re looking to take your quiet times to a deeper level, this is an excellent book to read.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN WALK IN FAITH by Lisa Terkeurst

Why it’s on my list: Apart from the fact that I loved the cover art (haha), this book spoke to me on several levels. I remember shaking my head and sighing a lot, thinking, “Yup, that’s where I’m at!”

Notable quote: “I’m convinced breakthroughs come during this famine phase, not when we’re striving to make them happen. Breakthroughs happen when we get about the business of honoring God moment by moment, step-by-step, day by day by what we do and, more importantly, with the thoughts we think while we do.”

Who should read it: Every woman!

LEADING ON EMPTY by Wayne Cordeiro

Why it’s on my list: I’m a huge Wayne Cordeiro fan! He’s the senior pastor of New Hope Oahu church in Hawaii, and he’s an excellent speaker. If you get to hear him speak, you’d love him too. This book is mostly about experiencing burnout and how to deal with it. If you haven’t experienced it yet, this book helps you pace your everyday life so that you can prevent that big bad wolf called burnout from leaving you empty somewhere down the road of your life.

Notable quote: “Choose to live. Living well must become intentional.”

Who should read it: Every person who is prone to burnout and/or depression. Although the book is primarily for church leaders, the insights of Cordeiro on how to recognize and deal with burnout and depression are priceless.

THE BIBLE (New Living Translation)

Why it’s on my list: Last year, I wrapped up my list with the most important book of my life, and it’s only fitting that I end my 2009 list with this one as well. :) I like reading different versions of the Bible once I’m finished with one so I could have a extra fresh reading experience. A couple of months ago, I started reading the New Living Translation. I don’t have a preference; I love all the versions I’ve read (NIV, TNIV, The Message) for different reasons, so this one’s no exception. The Bible is the Bible, and it’s always beautiful. :)

Notable quote: Here’s one of my life verses for the year – “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

Who should read it: The Bible is food for the soul…I hope everyone gets to read it!

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Whew, that took some time to write! I want to hear from you, too! What were the best books that you read this year? Leave a comment and I’ll choose one at random, so don’t feel pressured to write a long or detailed list…although you’re welcome to write one if you’d like! If you’re the lucky winner, I’ll let you know and send you a copy of one of the books on this list (sorry, no requests though). You have until December 23, 12 noon to post your comment. By the way, this contest is open to Metro Manila residents only. :) But hey, even if you’re not from the area, please leave a comment too…I’d love to read your book recommendations!

I’m hoping I’ll still get to write some more blog posts before this year ends, but in case I forget, I’ll say it already: have a blessed holiday season! :)

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Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter

I love reviewing books, so I’m taking a break today from my “How to Love Your Life” series.

I used to love reading ‘chick lit’ (that’s ‘chick literature’, FYI). Back in 2002, when I would go through a new book every week, Sophie Kinsella (of Shopaholic series fame) was a staple on my bookshelf. Nowadays, my bookshelves are filled with Lucado, Maxwell, Zacharias—barely any fiction there at all. Do I miss it sometimes? Of course I do! So when an opportunity came to read a Christian fiction book, I jumped at it, because I don’t see a lot of those.

Seaside Letters is your typical love story, with a protagonist (Sabrina Kincaid) that most readers could relate to (i.e. awkward). She’s a waitress at a local cafe, and she happens to fall for one of her regulars, Tucker McCabe. She doesn’t fall for him because she sees him everyday, but because she’s actually the mysterious woman he’s been exchanging emails with–the same woman he’s been searching for. Of course, we’re all thinking that it would be great if she just came out and told him who she was, but she can’t, because that wouldn’t make a good story because of a secret from her past.

So you’re probably wondering, what makes it Christian fiction? Well, the story is about a woman who’s afraid that her past may have forever prevented her from being loved and accepted, and disqualified her from having a good future. Sounds like a lot of us sometimes, right? The story’s ending reminds the reader of God’s redemptive love. You have to read the book to see how it works out, but I think you can use your imagination.

It’s interesting to see how a love story written for Christians plays out. It’s not much different from your typical love story; it has a happy ending too, but unlike a lot of love stories nowadays, it’s clean, wholesome, and there are no big makeover stories that make you feel like you’re inadequate to begin with. It’s not exactly one of my favorite stories, but it’s a welcome break from my usual reading fare. More up my alley: Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham, which I’ll be reviewing soon. :)