REVIEW: “StrengthsFinder 2.0” by Tom Rath

Most people and organizations believe that the ideal way to perform at your best is to find your weaknesses, and then work to improve them.

This book suggests, however, that you should focus on your strengths, and improve on them, instead, to feel more fulfilled, and to perform better in your chosen field.

This book came with a code to be used on the StrengthsFinder website, which unlocks the CliftonStrengthsFinder” quiz. Through taking this quiz, you discover your “Top 5” talents. You can then use the insights and action plans provided to help you improve on your current situation.

The author is careful to explain that this quiz measures your talents, not your strengths (despite being called the “StrengthsFinder”), as “the ultimate goal is to build true strength, and talent is just one of the ingredients in this formula.” (p.17)

I was thrilled, after taking the quiz myself, to find that one of my Top 5 is “Intellectual“… I am “instinctively attracted to the printed word“, and I “naturally gravitate to reading and discussion groups“. 😀

My only qualm with this book would be that I didn’t know it’s sort of a follow-up to the quiz-creator’s previous work, “Now, Discover Your Strengths” (Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton).

Overall, though, this is a really neat resource! I think everyone should take the quiz to discover their core talents. They can then use that information to improve their careers, or just life, in general.



Please note: The review for “The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer was written by MizB. The reviews for the other two books — “Courageous Living” by Michael Catt and “The Resolution for Men” by Randy Alcorn with Stephen Kendrick — were written by MizB’s mom, “OakMag“.

The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer

This is such a fantastic book, and so timely for this time of year, too! With “resolutions” on my mind, this book helped me to flesh out some other ideas of ways I can make 2012 one of the best years, yet! It has “resolutions” for your marriage, for your parenting, for singleness, for forgiveness, for integrity, and many other aspects of life.

I especially liked the chapter on Loving Your Children, as it was convicting and also had some interesting ideas that I’d like to implement.

I also found a verse, inside, that spoke to me in a new way, and that I think will be very helpful to me in this new year!

Overall, I’d highly recommend this book. I plan to reread this again, at some point, as it’s a good point of reference for how I’d like to live out my life of faith. [ ~ Review by MizB]

Courageous Living: Dare To Take A Stand” by Michael Catt

Bravo to Michael Catt on this no-holds-barred book! He sounds the clarion call to all men, women, and young people to stand up, be courageous, and live life the way Christ has called us to live — with bold faith, that does not back down when faced with adversity, criticism, challenges, or persecution.

By referencing strong and courageous Old and New Testament heroes of faith, the author challenges us to follow their examples, and make an impact in our world. He quotes a journalist who wrote, “We live in an age of spiritually timid and lackluster men, for whom the very concept of bold leadership is anathema.” Michael goes on to say that God is looking for men and women that “He can trust with great responsibilities” and that our current generation is in a battle that will be won by the world, if we as parents, and leaders do not step up, and model Godly virtues for them, now. Christianity has become luke-warm, and Christians are the “only believers on the planet who are afraid to stand up for what they believe.” We cannot afford to compromise, at this high price!

We need to light the fire again — the fire for holiness, truth, and an unapologetic faith. We have become a materialistic society, with a “watered-down gospel, and a compromised church.” We desperately need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to wage war against the thinking of this age, and dare to stand up and take responsibility for this generation and the ones to follow.

We need to be prepared, and this strength and courage can only come from God — by spending time alone with Him through reading His word, and prayer, and then refusing to live life on our own terms, but by surrendering ourselves totally to God’s will. It takes courage to make that decision, but the rewards are eternal. This book will challenge you, and will not let you go, without making a decision — as the author has spoken, DARE TO TAKE THAT STAND! [~ Review by OakMag/MizB’s mom]

“The Resolution for Men” by Stephen & Alex Kendrick with Randy Alcorn

If Christian men read only one book aside from the Bible, it should be this one!

I believe this amazing book is THE MANUAL (just like the required manual for every car) for every man, young to old, single or married, that will explain how to ‘do life’ God’s way.

So much wisdom is packed into every chapter, that it cannot and should not be read quickly, but must be digested slowly, and with extreme attention paid to every concept.

However, as the authors warn in the introduction, it is not for the faint of heart, and will most likely make men “feel overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy“, but to encourage you at the same time, the challenge to read it then becomes the hook/or the dare, and what man can overlook a dare? And an inspiring adventure awaits, so please do not be afraid to read it! It is so well written, and easy to understand, that I could hear myself being cheered on to get to the end, where I was imagining myself passing under an honor guard of godly men with their swords of truth raised high in victory as I came to the ‘finish lines.’

These authors have covered all the bases for men, from the age they should be considered ‘men’ at the Biblical age of twenty, taking on their full responsibilities for themselves, learning how to conduct their lives wisely, and making Godly choices. Also included are valuable insights on leading and loving their wives and families, blessing their children, learning to walk in integrity, with honor, pursuing peace and justice. It instructs one how to reconcile his past, and how to break the chains of historical sin. If all of these concepts are followed, we truly will have a whole generation of courageous men, who will not be ashamed to stand up for their families, leading them into God’s truth, and impacting their world, one family at a time, until the churches become full of Godly men, women and children, and God will be exalted and glorified as a result of the great transformation that will take place.

I will be buying copies of this book for my sons, and grandsons, and will urge my church and every man I meet to buy and keep a copy of this book for his personal library.

It is one small book but it contains a vast amount of Godly wisdom and is the most comprehensive book I have ever read on such a topic.

Thank you to the authors for their hard work, their dedication to excellence, and their obedience to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in writing such a timely and awe-inspiring volume of pure gold. Praise God for it, and may this book be the start of a new awakening for men everywhere.
[~ Review by OakMag/MizB’s mom]

“Books have been provided courtesy of David C Cook and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from B&H Publishing Group“.

REVIEW: “TEN: How Would You Rate Your Life?” by Terry A. Smith

This book was a bit different than I expected, but still a decent read.

It talks about creating and living your “preferred” life — one in which you feel fulfilled, and where you are enjoying the “abundant life” that God promised (John 10:10).

Parts of this book strongly reminded me of Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret“, yet without all of the hooey, “it’ll magically happen if you wish it” stuff. Smith is cautious to remind the reader that your preferred future won’t just happen to you… you still have to take action and help it come to pass.

There were times — especially in the first half of the book — where I felt uncomfortable with something of the theology. Little ‘red flags’ were going up, but I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on exactly what was bothering me.

I liked that the author encourages you to seek out the dreams God has put in your heart, and then take the necessary steps to see those dreams come true. Mr. Smith reminds us that, while we may not see answers or results immediately, we can rest assured that, if the dreams are indeed ones given to us by God, He will make sure they happen, given that we are willing to take action toward helping them become real — moving them from God-inspired ideas to physical realities in our lives.

The second half of the book talks, at length, about leadership, and I found this part to be very well done and insightful.

Overall, I found this book to be infused with a sense of hope, energy, and possibility. That’s what I liked about it, best of all.

I’d recommend this one, especially to anyone who needs an uplift in their spirits regarding their present or future realities.

[Thank you to The B&B Media Group for the complimentary review copy.]

REVIEW: “Fatal Loyalty” by Sue Duffy

This book could so easily be turned into a movie. I could totally picture it.

Description (from Amazon): Andie Ryborg is on the run. Her father’s campaign for governor and work against the illegal drug trade has put a target on her head. Hiding out in a quiet bungalow in Miami’s exotic Coconut Grove, she hopes to find a normal life removed from the treachery of her father’s world. But no matter how far she runs, she can’t escape the powerful Francini family.

A great mystery that I couldn’t put down from the very beginning. There were lots of twists, and things I didn’t see coming. I guessed at a few, but still wasn’t 100% sure.

The only thing I didn’t like was that there was a lot of backstory hinted at but not revealed, making me wonder if I missed a previous book, or something (even though I couldn’t find one via

Otherwise, great book.

REVIEW: “The Mailbox” by Marybeth Whalen

I absolutely loved this book, and couldn’t put it down from the very first page! I literally finished it in 2 days!

I could relate to so much throughout this book ~ not just from Lindsey’s viewpoint, but also from Campbell’s.

I was a bit disappointed, mind you, with how things played out with the mailbox’s Kindred Spirit. I guessed who the real Kindred Spirit was by chapter 14 (of 36). But, I still wish that things would have played out with her, rather than the way they did.

Regardless, I still found the ending satisfying, and I still totally loved this book. I’ll be keeping it to reread, later. 😉

Rated: A+
(and going on my Top 10 List, for this year!)

REVIEW: “Sing” by Lisa T. Bergren

Having not read the previous book, Breathe, I found myself a little lost at times. But not so much that it detracted from the story.

I was drawn right into the story, anxiously flipping pages to see what would happen. I was always left guessing, never having a clue at how things would play out. The characters were well fleshed-out and loveable, the ‘bad guys’ equally dislikable.

One thing I absolutely loved about this book were the ‘edgy’ storylines… one with Moira, and one with Odessa. This book depicted how things often play out in real life, and didn’t pussyfoot around issues — jus the kind of book I enjoy. 😉

Of course, the ending left me frustrated and wanting to know more. But, I suppose that just means I’ll have to read the concluding story, “Claim“, to find out what will happen! 😛

REVIEW: “Real World Parents” by Mark Matlock

This isn’t a book about how to fix your kids, or how to make them behave as good Christian kids.

Instead, this book’s focus is on the parents living out a godly example for their kids to follow — modelling the behaviors they want to see.

Full of practical tips, and soul-searching questions, this book is a great resource for all parents.

Rated: B+

For more, see the website:

[Thanks to Audra Jennings at TBB Media for sending me a copy of this book for review!]

REVIEW: “A Tailor-Made Bride” by Karen Witemeyer

 This is your typical Western, historical romance, with the two main characters at odds, yet strangely thrown together repeatedly. But the story was very sweet, and the characters were well fleshed-out and loveable.
Several of the plot points were easy to see coming from a mile away, but that didn’t detract from the enjoyability of the story.
I only wish the author had tied up the Cordelia and Ike storyline, as well as the main one — it only would’ve taken a few more pages.
Overall, though, this is a great, quick read, and I would highly recommend it. Being that this is the author’s first book, the few quirks are definitely forgiveable, and I will be looking forward to future books! 🙂 

Rated: B+

REVIEW: “What Happened to My Life?” by Danna Demetre

For those suffering from a spirit of discontentment, this book is a good pick-me-up. It’s not all roses, though… there is much conviction to be found here.

In the first half of the book, Danna talks about the importance of taking the focus off of your circumstances and putting it on Christ, where it belongs. She even shares six other womens’ stories in order to help you see that you’re not alone in your struggles, but also that you can rise above them if you keep your focus on God and His purposes.

The last half of this book is a 40-day devotional. Each day is focused around a particular Scripture, and then includes journaling space to record your worship, confession, gratitude, prayer requests, and more. The check-boxes and other questions guide you in replacing the lies you’ve believed with truth from God’s Word.

Overall, this is a helpful book. Recommended.

Rated: B-

REVIEW: “What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love & Marriage” by Amy Sutherland

[Description from Amazon…] “While observing exotic animal trainers for her acclaimed book Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, journalist Amy Sutherland had an epiphany: What if she used these training techniques with the human animals in her own life–namely her dear husband, Scott? In this lively and perceptive book, Sutherland tells how she took the trainers’ lessons home… What started as a goofy experiment had such good results that Sutherland began using the training techniques with all the people in her life, including her mother, her friends, her students, even the clerk at the post office. In the end, the biggest lesson she learned is that the only animal you can truly change is yourself.
My Thoughts: Amy’s style is fun, light, and engaging. She provides lots of applicable lessons, from rewarding behaviour that you want and ignoring what you don’t want, to taking baby steps in your ‘training’ approaches.
I enjoyed this book, and look forward to discussing it with my face-to-face book club on the 19th of this month.
Rated: B-