Monday, December 26, 2011

The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy...and a Giveaway!

Congrats to Lorraine! 
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Win a copy of this book!  Leave a comment and I'll use to choose a winner on Wednesday, December 28. (Note: This prize comes in the form of a gift certificate issued by the publisher that can be redeemed at your local Christian bookstore for the book, or can be mailed to Tyndale House Publishers to receive it directly from them.)

The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker, Tyndale House Publishers, $15.99 list price, paperback.

From the publisher:
"What does it take to live a life of significance? People around the world are asking this question all the time, wishing for meaning and purpose. But how many of us are honestly willing to do what it takes to create a life of influence—an uncommon life? Super Bowl–winning former head coach Tony Dungy invites you to stop wondering and start pursuing an uncommon life this year. How? By spending time every day with God. And a great way to do this is to join him in The One Year Uncommon Daily Life Challenge. Are you ready to focus on what really matters?  ...The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge contains 365 reflections from the #1 New York Times bestselling author on living an “uncommon life” of integrity, honoring your family and friends, creating a life of real significance and impact, and walking with the Lord. This year, step up to the challenge—and dare to be uncommon every day."

My review:
Although mostly geared toward men, the reflections can be applicable for every Christian, man or woman.  Each day offers wisdom and insight from scripture, followed by commentary by Dungy, to inspire readers to live out their faith in an uncommon way. The focus is on seven themes: core, family, friends, potential, mission, influence, and faith.  Some of the daily topics include breaking free from your past, the most dangerous emotion, grace is good, hidden toxins, loving the sinner, right over convenient, what others see in you, taking care of His treasures, keeping anger in its place, and standing strong on sexual purity, to name just a few.  The format is a daily reading for each day of the year, starting with January 1, but can be started at any time because the seven themes are covered every seven days throughout the book.  

I'm looking forward to taking this journey in the coming year.  I can recommend this book for personal daily devotions and think it would make a wonderful graduation gift for high school and college students.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book for review as a participant in the Tyndale Blog Network, but the opinion of if is my own and was not solicited, nor was a positive review required.)

Other links:
Tony Dungy Uncommon Life Daily Challenge video
Tony Dungy Website

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ultimate Prescription: What the Medical Profession Isn't Telling You by Dr. James L. Marcum

The Ultimate Prescription: What the Medical Profession Isn't Telling You by Dr. James L. Marcum, Tyndale House Publishers, $15.99 list price, paperback.

FROM THE PUBLISHER: "Would you like to discover the powerful ways God is part of the healing process? Do you think the media, the government, or your doctor is telling you the whole truth when it comes to health care? Are you tired of taking medications that really don't fix the problem? In The Ultimate Prescription, Dr. James Marcum, a board-certified cardiologist, in-demand speaker, and radio host, discusses these questions and many more from a biblical point of view. He encourages you to find the real answers about your health—and the health of your loved ones. Dr. Marcum explains what he believes is wrong with our current health care system, how to get back on track, and how the spiritual dimension of our health is often being ignored. Discover today the true path to healthy living in The Ultimate Prescription."

I found this to be a helpful book for common sense advice on getting healthier from a Christian perspective. It's often hard to sift through all the information about what is good or bad for health, what supplements to take, what foods to eat, etc., because the information seems to change on a daily basis. The author is a cardiologist and approaches the book from the perspective of what he does as a doctor and what he has seen work for his own patients. He addresses not only the physical side of health (diet, weight loss, exercise, etc.) but also the emotional and spiritual importance to well-being.

The fact is, according to Marcum, much of our decline in health is due to lifestyle changes in recent decades that have made us more sedentary while increasing stress levels, and simply overeating on a daily basis and ususally on foods with ingredients that our bodies were never meant to digest. In other words, some technology hasn't helped us but instead has enabled this unhealthy lifestyle.

But there is hope. Marcum outlines a simple plan based on the days of creation in scripture including a day of rest (Sabbath), eating a more plant-based diet, drinking water instead of other drinks, being physically active, focusing on positive relationships, and dealing with stress more effectively. He also outlines in layman's terms how modern medical technology can help diagnose and treat health issues such as heart disease, and points out that while some medication is helpful, it doesn't replace making lifestyle changes that can actually reverse some diseases.

I think this is a helpful book for anyone who wants a better understanding of what is really going on in the body when we live according to God's plan for health versus that of the modern world. It isn't preachy, which I appreciated, and is clearly written. My only (minor) issue is that it promotes a vegan diet as the Biblical standard and I'm not sure I agree with that. It's something I'll have to study some more but what this book has done is motivate me to take a serious look at what I'm doing that is putting my health in jeopardy and what I can do to create a healthier lifestyle.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Ultimate Casseroles Book by Better Homes and Gardens

The Ultimate Casseroles Book by Better Homes and Gardens, Wiley Publishing, $19.99 list price, paperback.

This cookbook is getting a lot of use in the short time I've had it.  I like casseroles and this book is full of great recipes that include the good old fashioned classics like macaroni and cheese as well as new ones that offer something different for comfort food meals.

My family likes Reuben sandwiches, so naturally I had to try the Reuben Sandwich Casserole and it got an enthusiastic thumbs-up.  I can always tell how much I like a cookbook by the number of post-it tags I use as I read through it.  This one has a couple of dozen and counting.  Some that I plan on trying in the next month include Creamy Artichoke Lasagne, Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, Artichoke Turkey Casserole, Chicken Chow Mein Casserole, and Bacon Asparagus Strata.

The recipes are easy enough for any cook, and most use common ingredients easily found in a local grocery store.  The nice thing about casseroles, and something this book encourages, is that substitutions are easy to make according to one's taste or what is in the pantry.  There is even a basic master casserole recipe that gives several ingredient lists to mix and match from to come up with your own dish.

Sections include the classics, hearty meat dishes, poultry casseroles, seafood, vegetarian, international, light and healthy, desserts, dips, and side dish casseroles.  Best of all, there are tons of color photographs to inspire.

I do like this cookbook and recommend it to anyone who enjoys one-dish meals and comfort food in general.

The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes, From Simple to Sublime by Tish Boyle

The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes, From Simple to Sublime by Tish Boyle, Wiley Publishing, $22.99 list price, paperback.

For cookie lovers, this is a nice collection of recipes that includes the classics such as chocolate chip, peanut butter, basic sugar cookes, oatmeal, etc., along with some variations on the traditional plus different ones like ginger fortune cookies, chocolate pretzel cookies, turtle bars, and almond java rounds.  There are also many international cookie recipes.

Because my husband likes ginger cookies, that's the recipe I tried and we did like it.  In reading through many of the recipes in this book, they seem to be easy enough for beginners and most use common ingredients. 

My only complaint is that there aren't very many photos.  There are two sections of photos in the book, each having three or four pages of pictures, but that's it.  There is one chapter of decorator cookies and some other recipes throughout the book involve special techniques, but photos aren't included so being the visual person that I am, I probably won't bother trying to work through the descriptions to figure it out. 

Just about every kind of cookie imaginable is included: rolled, refrigerated, drop, bars, filled and sandwich cookies, and even savory cookies and crackers.  There is a section that lists suggested cookies for various occasions that is also helpful.

Overall, I think this is a good cookbook for anyone who enjoys baking cookies and likes to come up with something different.  If it had more photos, I'd be even happier with it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Family Circle Healthy Family Dinners

Family Circle Healthy Family Dinners: More Than 200 Good-For-You Recipes by the editors of Family Circle Magazine, Wiley Publishing, $19.99 list price, paperback.

This is a great cookbook full of healthy and simple recipes for main-dish salads, pasta, meat, poultry, fish, vegetarian dishes, slow cooker favorites, and desserts. 

I've tried two recipes so far with good results, meaning that they were easy to make and my family liked them.  They were Tex Mex Chicken Cutlets and Penne With Sausage and Peas.  There are several more I will try, including Cobb Salad, Jerk Chicken & Rice, Baked Greek Chicken, Chicken Simmered With Mushrooms and Tomatoes, Beef Tostadas, and Frozen Tiramisu.  I liked the main dish salad section as a healthy alternative to other entrees.

There are color photographs for several of the recipes.  The format of the pages makes the recipes easy to read and also includes nutritional information per serving.  It's always a plus that the ingredients are those that can be easily found in a local grocery store.

Cooks of any level of experience are sure to find recipes in this cookbook that will become family favorites and I will consider this one as a wedding shower gift in the future.