Category Archives: Relationships

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps by Guthrie

Timely advice, unfortunately.

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)
By Nancy Guthrie
Crossway
September 2016

I read this book a couple months after my father died and about the time that my wife’s grandmother died. I wasn’t sure how to respond and whether or not how I felt about how others responded to me was normal or not. This book answered those questions.

Guthrie does a great job of explaining why we should or shouldn’t say something or anything. Each section has details on why she is making the case for the response she recommends in certain situations and then she does an admirable job of sharing her own story of loss to bring the message home. While that would be the end of it in most books, Guthrie goes a step further and includes actual quotes from others who went through grieving and what worked for them and what didn’t. I found these parts the most eye opening. Some of the quotes seem reasonable but the way they came across to a hurting person was surprising and enlightening. They also served as a warning. I don’t want to make those mistakes when I’m speaking to friends about losses.

The only place I felt this book fell short was in the redundancy. I felt that after the first few chapters a lot of what Guthrie said was already said. I got the point early on and then felt it became repetitive to the point that I ended up skipping through the mid to end part, reading the examples but skimming the author’s content. This could have probably been an even shorter book that it was. Whatever the case, the beginning is worth the price of admission.

I used specific tactics learned here with my wife and also with a friend who lost his mother. They worked. They understood how much I cared and really opened up about their loss. This book will help you gain very effective was of communicating.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Cartmell

8SimpleToolsForRaisingGreatKids_3DWe all know how to be great parents, right? That’s why our kids are coming out perfectly and they never have any trouble. Oh, wait…

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids
by Dr. Todd Cartmell
Moody Publishers
January 2015

The title says 8 tools, but in reality the author includes 40 tools in 8 categories. Each of the 40 small chapters is about 3 pages long, many starting with an anecdote from counseling children or his own life and including simple ideas for overcoming the challenge.

In fact, my favorite parts of this book were the stories from his counseling. Listening to children say things that no parent would ever want to hear of themselves is motivating and convicting. Nearly every chapter I found something I should do better.

For that reason and others I highly recommend this ready to read and digest book.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage by Kimberling PhD

7secretsClear. Basic. Works.

7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage
Strengthen Your Most Intimate Relationship Paperback –
by Kim Kimberling, PhD
Abingdon
July 2015

How many relationship books are truly revolutionary? Not many. Love languages, the sexes are from different planets, love verses respect and so on are the ones that counselors and church leaders go back to again and again. Most of the rest are read and set aside as time goes on. This isn’t to say that they aren’t good, but that they mostly tell us what we already know – or what most other books already say. This book falls into that second category.

If you are newly married or have a marriage on the rocks, this book presents the right information that will help you. And, frankly, more people need to read books like this one. The 7 Secrets (paraphrased from the table of contents, no spoilers): The attitudes and behaviors that hold us back, putting God first, being present and listening, fighting fair, making time for our spouses, a higher view of sex, and teamwork.

Doctor Kimberling accurately discusses the basics of relationships that need to be followed in order to create a great marriage or to right the ship. But not a lot of it is new. There isn’t a quick take away or catchy new way of thinking of things. Again, this doesn’t equate with inaccurate or unhelpful, but – and I hesitate to say this, but honestly, it seems the right way to describe the book – forgettable.

As a reader of dozens of relationship books (both out of need and out of my role in my local church as a leader) what I really valued about the author’s approach was that he peppered in so many real life stories. Some of them don’t resolve, but these stories served to ground the messages in reality. It was easy to empathize with the couples in the book making following the author’s advice more relevant.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Never Fight Again . . . Guaranteed! by Hawkins

neverfightWhen you say something is guaranteed it really only promotes the sale if there is a chance that the thing for sale may not actually be – on its face – obviously going to work. But this book promotes as “Groundbreaking” common sense ways of dealing with conflict that will work. Without the need for a guarantee.

Never Fight Again… Guaranteed!
Groundbreaking Practices for a Win-Win Marriage
by David B. Hawkins
Abingdon
July 2014

This may seem to suggest that the book isn’t useful or good at doing what it promises. That’s not the intention in this review. Rather it’s a commentary on the sensationalism of the title and calling Dr. Hawkins “Your Relationship Doctor.” We get it, you want to sell this book. But when I’m looking for relationship advice I’d rather read about how the help is going to actually help rather than ad copy. Enough of this, how is the book?

The book will help you stop fighting if you actually change how you fight into one of not fighting. Circular, right? What Dr. Hawkins promotes is empathy, courtesy, charity and self control. Not groundbreaking, but perhaps not mentioned enough in books like these. I’ve read most of the big names in this industry and most relationship book focus on explaining behavior then responding to the behavior once you understand where it’s coming from. Men are from Mars so they act this way… Woman need love while men need respect… and so on. This book avoids dealing with the consequences of behavior by challenging the reader to change how they respond in a way that may be summarized as simply, “It’s not healthy to fight.”

So if it’s not healthy to fight then it’s not healthy to argue. It’s not healthy to let your emotions loose or vent. Instead, control your tongue and focus on loving your spouse. If this sounds familiar it really should be for buyers of Abingdon books because this is straight out of Proverbs and Jesus’ sermons. Love your enemies. Be patient. Return love for hate and so on. Which brings me to a concern. This is a “Christian” publisher and the author does quote the Bible at times but there isn’t a clear connection to the source material that if Dr. Hawkins were quoting ideas by any other author or book than the Bible you’d expect citations. There are very few quotes from the Bible here, but the ideas seem to be influenced heavily by them.

(One other thing: the initial quote in the book about how good and pleasing it is when “families” live together in harmony is a misquote. Only the CEB uses families. In all other translations this is better translated as “members of the community of believers” or “brothers and sisters [in the faith].” I had previously thought highly of the CEB but this is a red flag. What other small changes were made?)

Overall, any reader who listens to these words and takes them to heart wont fight. Because basically the book is saying to not fight, don’t fight. Not a bad message, but not groundbreaking. I believe the book over promises on an overly obvious principle. The Dr. is right, but you don’t need the book to know it in my opinion.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last by DeArmond

chooseyoutodayThe problem with marriage today isn’t any kind of external pressure. Instead it’s internal expectations. “Happily every after,” marriages of “my” dreams, and so on. We think the other person is automatically going to make us happy and meet our needs. We think that marriage is about what we get out of it. We count on our spouses to “complete us.” But that’s not how it works.

I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last
by Deb DeArmond
Abingdon Press
January 2015

DeArmond does a great job resetting expectations in this book. Love is a choice that has to be made every day by both spouses. True love is sacrifical, not selfish. And for those who want the best possible marriage, this is a great place to start.

I Choose You Today starts with choosing God, then moves into choosing our spouses. First in pursuit, loving and blessing then on to honoring, trusting, forgiving to finding our places in relationship by sharing burdens, submission to each other, service and then to fun things like intimacy, romance, laughing and so on. Each day we read about a topic with witty, charming illustrations, along with purposeful self discovery questions to consider, a Bible verse and a common sense quote and then a sample prayer.

I found that following through this guide helped remind myself of my responsibilities in my marriage. If you’re looking for something to remind you of the best parts of marriage and maybe give your marriage a boost this is a great place to start.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The 5 Love Languages for Men by Chapman

5-Love-Languages-of-MenThe newest books in the popular ‘Love Languages’ series by Dr. Chapman are out and they focus on their target audience: men or women. The question is, what makes this book worthy of your purchase rather than the original?

The 5 Love Languages for Men
by Dr. Gary d. Chapman
Northfield Publishing
December 2014

This is in fact a very good question considering there are other versions of this book that already cater to men – “The 5 Love Languages Men’s Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts” which came out in 2010. There are – and this is very surprising! – 128 total books available by Dr. Chapman on Amazon, the vast majority of which are derivatives of the original “Five Love Languages”. Interestingly, quite a lot of the books that are not specifically about the Love Languages deal with anger and apologizing. That is interesting because the only two sections that this book has that prior versions of the Love Languages are those two topics: how to deal with anger in a healthy way and how to apologize effectively.

I’m a fan of the concept of the Five Love Languages and I found value in reading two new sections (to this book). But I do wonder about the constantly produced “new” books when it seems like these few topics have been covered in detail quite a bit. And I wonder at why we would buy a book that focuses entirely on a single sex. Why not buy the complete version and get details for both sexes? In fact, this book at only 192 pages – and that was with large drawings inserted on dozens of pages – you aren’t getting as much as you could by paying less for an older version with all the info.

In the end, I can’t fault the publisher for trying to make more money on the concept (that’s what companies do) and I can’t fault any of the content of the book, which I found and continue to find valuable. I just don’t think we needed a new version. The only person I’d recommend this version to would be someone who had never read the concepts and is a male. Even then, I’d still recommend the original over this version.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know by Kampakis

10truths_rnd2Teens have it tough these days. I’m sure every generation says that, but how many generations have almost no privacy, the ability to be bullied from anywhere in the world at any time, and live in a world that is so overwhelmingly visual that almost all other aspects of our life take a back seat?

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know
by Kari Kampakis
Thomas Nelson
November 2014

In this world, it’s important to know the truth about yourself and the right and wrong ways to act. With relativism so prevalent it’s tough to sell “ultimate truth” but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that we shouldn’t try. And this author tries and succeeds on so many levels!

The 10 Ultimate Truths focus on 10 important ant issues that girls (and boys, to an extent) deal with:

Popularity
Confidence
Reputation
Interacting with Boys
Self Worship
Perseverance
Patience
Image
Inner Beauty
Self Talk

As I read the books – as a man with two teenaged daughters and two sons – I found that the truths here applied to boys as well as girls in most cases. The truths exposed were demonstrated and illustrated for girls but they apply to everyone. Consider the “Interacting with Boys” chapter, for instance, where the truth is “Chasing boys doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a nuisance.” While the illustrations may change the fact is that boys are at least as likely to annoy girls buy how they pursue girls as girls are buy how they pursue boys. I don’t believe the point here is not to show interest but a healthy way to show interest is the key. That’s a lesson everyone can learn from.

I loved that when you read through the book you don’t just get answers, you get questions. Self discovery is a key way to make learning stick. The author includes several important questions in each chapter to bring the topic home. Also included are relevant Bible verses that tie these current teachings to the timeless truths of the Biblical teaching. Verses like Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is greater than silver and gold” fits perfectly with the chapter on reputation.

Reading through the book I not only thought these were truths that my daughters should know but that I wished that I had known these things when I was a teen. These really are “ultimate truths” as they speak to who we are as created and loved beings and speak to an inner peace that just doesn’t come from any other source but the foundation of God. This is a must read for teenaged girls and their parents. I highly recommend it.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted Giveaway

Marriages either get better or worse.  They never stand still.”  -Dr. Gary Chapman

The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted
by Dr. Gary Chapman
Moody Publishers
2014

When my husband and I married 13 years ago, we were given a copy of Dr. Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages.”  While I’ve never really been a fan of self-help, psychology books, something about Dr. Chapman’s work struck me as open and honest.  So, when given the opportunity to review “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” I jumped at the chance.

Dr. Chapman’s work specifically details how marriages aren’t easy.  They don’t happen automatically, and they don’t happen without work.  In this book, he details through several chapters how we allow our marriages to drift apart and how we can then find out ways back together.  At the end of each chapter, Dr. Chapman takes readers through several introspective activities.   They are designed to get the reader thinking about their spouse and themselves, making the connection between the information he’s outlined in that chapter and the reader’s own specific situation.

What I like about Dr. Chapman is that he provides examples and anecdotes from both points of view: male and female.  Other books I’ve read by other Christian authors spend a great deal of time talking about how the source of the problem is a failure of the wife to take her more submissive role (Biblically) or the failure of the husband to  assert his authority on the marriage.  Instead, Dr. Chapman outlines key changes that BOTH spouses must make in order to strengthen the relationship.  He does so by also presenting key passages of the Bible for review and reflection.

Overall, I am as pleased as I was with “The 5 Love Languages.”    So much so, that I’m thrilled the generous team at Fly By Promotions has also provided a copy of Dr. Chapman’s book as a giveaway.

Interested?  Fill out the form below:  I’ll be drawing the winner by Saturday, 2/22.

This contest is over.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.

 

 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Hot Buttons Series by O’Dell

Hot-Buttons-booksParents of teens can use all the help they can get. That’s where this new series of topical help guides aims to fill those needs.

Hot Buttons Series
(Bullying and Image Editions)
Nicole O’Dell
Kregel
September 2013

Kregel sent two of the series to me for review: Bullying and Image Editions. (They also publish Hot Button books on other topics like Internet, Sexuality, Dating, 30-Day Challenge, and Drug Editions.) The books are written by a well known talk radio and author who specializes in parent/ child relationships. As if having six children of her own wasn’t enough reason to respect her opinions!

Each book in the series starts with exploring the issue (with chapters on Why, When and How) then moves in to particulars on how to reach and teach your child to respond appropriately in situations surrounding the Hot Buttons. Each book is timely and doesn’t feel dated (like so many parenting books do). We deal with real current even stuff like Cyberbullying, Self-Harm, Eating Disorders and such and then move in to part three of each book: strategies.

I really liked how relevant these topics are to today’s teen. Reading the strategies – filled with Biblical references and responses – came across as genuine and helpful not preachy or tired. And if you think your child isn’t going through these struggles then you need them more than most parents. These struggles are real and prevalent.

Each book is less than $10 on Amazon and well worth the price.


Scott Asher is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You by Murrow

When my husband first saw me reading this book, he told me he thought it would be full of lies and only makes men look horrible. I told him that wasn’t the case and throughout the story, would read specific facts in there and he told me they were right. One thing I learned throughout this book, was that it is the truth.

What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You
By David Murrow
Bethany House
October 2012

David explains things in the book that most people know but haven’t thought about. He uses real life stories and history to explain why men are the way they are. I truly enjoyed this book and I now understand my husband better than ever. You can know every fact about your husband but you will never understand why he does the things he does, says the things he says or vice versa, unless you read this book. Things that used to bother me about my husband were explained and now those problems just seem to fade away, thanks to my new found knowledge. My husband has even noticed how some of the little things don’t bother me anymore.

I would definitely recommend this book to any female seeking to understand men better. I grabbed it just out of curiosity and am very glad I did. If there are things your husband does, that upsets you and you don’t know why, give this book a try.


Brittney Dodson is a stay at home mom who also works from home. She find reading free her from reality and the worries it brings.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.