July 10, 2014

2 for 1 Book Reviewing: Heart Wide Open & Dear Son

1 || Heart Wide Open: Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus, by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson. (Purchase / Author's Site)

For many, church remains simply just a cultural tie for a season of their life, which is the story of the author's faith journey. Shellie was raised in the Bible belt, attended church and Sunday school religiously, and served in many capacities for a great deal of her life. However, there came a time late in her life when she realized that what she was lacking was a deep meaningful relationship with Christ, and that really she had spent many years in church a hypocrite. Her book tells the story of how she came to trade in her "mundane faith" and seek out that vibrant love for the Savior, while sharing with the readers how they can do the same.

While I love many of the ideas in the book (e.g. what God is really after in our quite times and a desire to love Him more), I had a difficult time getting into Tomlinson's book. There are already many books out on the market with the similar premise and written in a similar vain (style). Having read a handful of them, this book just joins the ranks. Simply put, it didn't stand out to me; I didn't really learn anything new. This isn't necessarily a negative thing, it just didn't find it's intended audience with me, nor can I currently relate to the season of life the author found herself in. Much of the southern/down-home humor was lost on me, but may be appealing to many other women out there. I came away feeling the book was so-so, but I think in the hands of someone who finds herself in the author's same shoes, there could be much encouragement. It's written in an easy to understand manner and most readers will move through it quickly.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blogging for Books, as part of Waterbrook Multnomah‘s Book Review Blogger 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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2 || Dear Son: A Father's Advice on Being a Man, by Dave Bruskas. (Purchase / Author's Blog)

Dear Son was birthed out of the author's experience with the death of his own son as an infant, paired with his passion to mentor and pour into young Christian men as they grow. These two combined, bring about a book that's deeply personal (to the author, but then this is beautifully conveyed to the reader) and loaded with wisdom. Bruskas weaves into each chapter a letter that he's written to his son with the words he would've spoken in person to him in regards to various life stages and character traits (e.g. being a husband and father, a church member, a brother, provider, etc.). He then unpacks these topics as if he were sitting across from a young man from his church at a coffee shop to mentor.

To me, I felt like the book was Solomonesque, meaning that in some ways it was similar to reading books in the Bible like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes: A father passing down the wisdom that he has gained throughout his life to the next generation. While I'm probably not the targeted reading audience for the work, I still greatly enjoyed the conversational tone that starts on page one and flows throughout the whole book. The opening letters to Burskas's son in each chapter were touching and probably my favorite thing about the work. As a reader, I think you really get the feeling that Bruskas has a genuine affection for young men, and wants to see them grow in maturity in all areas of life while burrowing their roots into the gospel. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Tyndale, through the 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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