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YA Friday: READ: Made to Crave for Young Women by Lisa TerKeurst and Shaunti Feldhahn

I admit it. I’m not one to follow the trends. If anything, I’m the one standing on the sidelines, smiling to myself. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean I have to buy/read/eat/sing/whatever it.That’s why when Lysa TerKeurst‘s Made to Crave (Zondervan, 2011) debuted and hit all kinds of best-seller lists, I waited. It’s probably not all that good. The author has a huge network. Gotta be a combination of savvy marketing and the right book at the right time.  Or maybe it’s biblical, contemporary, life-shaping, fresh, and poignant —like its younger sister. Today’s review covers the YA version of Made to Crave, written with best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn. As the mother of young adults and as someone who writes for them (often through the pages of SUSIE Magazine), I try to stay in touch with YA literature. I rarely see anything as well-written, targeted, focused, and practical as Made to Crave for Young Women: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God. Although the original book addresses the food cravings many of us battle, this version speaks to the physical, emotional, and material cravings that grip young lives in huge ways. Topics range from body image to inappropriate means of seeking approval to tough issues like promiscuity and alcohol abuse. Neither author is afraid of stark statistics or the kind of transparent sharing that breaks down walls. The book moves forward with just the right blend of biblical truth, personal anecdote, and directed challenge. Lysa and Shaunti are not finger-pointing church ladies but big sisters coming alongside to offer hope and help. The practical steps they suggest include directed journaling, Scripture memory suggestions, and wholesome activities that will help readers retrain their minds and reshape their hearts. I doubt I’ll ever leap onto the next trendy bandwagon, literary or otherwise. But a book that says more than, “Just stop it” in its effort to help young adults recognize their cravings as idolatry? That’s a trend to follow.  Right away. BONUS: I can’t let YA Friday pass without reminding you to vote to help put SUSIE Magazine on the shelf at Wal-Mart. The first round of voting is over, and out of 4,000 products, we made it to the Top Ten! Find directions for voting by Twitter and Facebook (once per day, each way) here. How do you choose your books? Have you read this one? Leave a comment and let me know. Find a local Christian bookstoreFind this book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at Christian Book Distributors (FTC Disclaimer: I received an electronic advance reading copy free from the publisher. I was not required to post a review or a positive...

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READ: Review, There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones (YA Friday)

I want to end my second year of READ.WRITE.PRAY and semi-regular blog posts with a bang and a blessing. Today’s book makes a great choice for both. I’ll add an additional blessing tomorrow. Disclaimer: I know some of the authors whose books I review. Jenny B. Jones and I were roommates this past summer on a SUSIE Magazine  missions trip. She sent this book as a gift to my teenage daughters and urged me to ignore the review invitation. But after all three of us loved the book, I had to disobey. I figure the worst Jen (a high school English teacher) can dish out is a detention. Unless she decides to mail me one of her cats.  And now, for your end-of-the-year pleasure, the review: I found plenty to love in There You’ll Find Me (Thomas Nelson, 2011) by novelist Jenny B. Jones. But I also loved it for what I didn’t find. Please indulge my explanation.             WHAT I FOUND:    Winsome Characters: I loved even the ones I didn’t like. From bit players (Sister Maria, piano teacher and part-time philosopher) to superstars (Finley Sinclair, exchange student and wounded heart) and Beckett Rush (vampire-portrayer and Hollywood hot topic), all added value to the story and helped keep me reading.   Humor: If Jenny B. Jones writes it, I’ll laugh at it. Awkward-but-true things happen to her characters. Because awkwardness overflows my own life, I can’t help but smile. I bet you will, too.     Compelling Plot: Finley’s on a journey that takes her further than her planned destination of Ireland. After the death of her beloved older brother, Will (read Save the Date for his story), she retraces his steps in search of personal healing. And somewhere in the process, she finds much more.   Layers of Meaning: This book reveals Jones’ growth as a writer. Perhaps no one would label it “literary fiction,” but the bursts of beauty that shone from its pages left me longing not only for my own trip to Ireland, but for more from this gifted author. WHAT I DIDN’T FIND:   Preaching: Throughout the book, Finley carries on a constant-but-interrupted dialogue with God. The faltering nature of her faith makes it all the more real. And in faith as in writing, real is good.     Lectures: Beckett, Finley, and the other characters have choices to make. Sometimes they choose wisely. Other times, not so much. Believable, real, and right. Period.     Final Answers: At the story’s end, Jones leaves us with more questions than answers. This again displays her skill as a novelist and sets the stage for what I hope will be more of Finley, Beckett, and the...

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YA Friday: READ Review, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis with Beth Clark

“Jesus wrecked my life.” These powerful words from Katie Davis provide a beautiful portrait in miniature of today’s YA Friday feature, Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption (Howard Books, 2011). Katie’s 22, which explains the “YA” connection, but her story has a much broader appeal.  Jesus wrecked Katie’s comfortable, loose-ends-tied up, American teenager life because she chose to listen—and obey. Like the biblical Philip on the way to Gaza, she took the road less traveled in response to God’s call. At first, that road led to a short-term missions trip in a Ugandan orphanage. Katie’s parents no doubt thought that would take care of her little missions kick. But they didn’t count on Jesus. And they certainly didn’t count on Katie. Kisses from Katie, like the author’s popular blog, details her adventures as first mission volunteer, then kindergarten teacher and ultimately adoptive mom of fourteen, founder of a nonprofit organization, and long-term missionary to Uganda. No, Katie doesn’t preach a social gospel. Instead, she lives the whole gospel, the one that compels us to wash our neighbor’s feet and to love those neighbors as we love ourselves. She lives out that gospel day after day amongst a hopeless people in a desperate place. You see, this isn’t a book you read. Collaborative writer Beth Clark combines a narrative thread and Katie’s journal entries with such skill that you experience Katie’s story alongside her. You pick hundreds of jiggers (burrowing insects) from a child’s inflamed skin. You prepare meals for your family without benefit of microwave or fast-food restaurant. You dance and hug and laugh at the center a circle of children who may never have known a loving touch. Above all, you hurt as Jesus hurts. You love as He does. And, like He does, you stay. You stay because you can do nothing else. Put this book at the top of your must-read list for 2012. People matter to Jesus. It’s our privilege, responsibility, and message to carry that message in ways that cost. Read it. Live it. And allow Jesus to wreck your life, too. Katie says it better than I do. Watch the trailer for her book here and feel free to leave a comment below. Have you served in missions? Did others’ stories help move you to go? Fill me in! CHRISTMAS CONTEST: Leave a blog comment and you’ll be entered in my drawing for a Christmas prize package. It contains several of this year’s review books along with a bonus or two. I’ll share more about this next week, but link or list your email address so I can contact the winnner. One entry per person per blog post, please; US...

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YA Friday–READ: Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer

Today marks the start of a new Read. Write. Pray. feature. Since much of my work involves young adults (teens and above), I’ve decided to focus Friday posts on their needs and interests. I’ll go for “occasional” right now and work toward “regular” as we go. Extra shoutouts and hugs to my Awe Star and Never the Same/SUSIE Magazine friends! My inaugural post is a READ review of an amazing new book by two of my favorite authors: Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. I chose to receive a free review copy of their latest title. Although I’d love to keep it, I want to share it. (See my note below to find out how.) Moms, dad, grandparents, and friends of either sex—this book makes a delightful graduation, engagement, birthday, or end-of-the-school-year gift. Check it out! Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His (Multnomah, 2011) presents a unique look at a crucial topic. Thousands of young women, including my four daughters, have grown up on Robin Jones Gunn’s novels. Imperfect-but-real characters like Todd and Christy, Sierra, and Katie have drawn many to relationships that reflect the purity of Christ. So why a nonfiction book with this subject? Because it’s needed. Because it’s necessary. And because Robin and Tricia present it in a way no one else could.  Both authors share their personal stories—including Tricia’s heartbreaking one of teen pregnancy—as a part of the prayer journey they travel alongside their readers. The adventure comes in short, reader-friendly bursts that explore the background for each of twelve prayer topics. Chapters such as “Pray He Will Be a God Lover” and “Pray for Protection” emphasize application to readers’ lives along with a sample prayer to match each topic.  I especially loved the book’s bonus features: chapter-ending questions suitable for journaling or small group discussion and a selection of Scriptures to pray for your future husband. Young friends, I believe in you. Your generation, surrendered to Christ, has the passion to change the world. This kind of transformation starts at home and in your heart. Buy and read this powerful book, but move beyond reading to prayer. You (and your future marriage) will never be the same. WIN  THE REVIEW COPY: Leave a comment on this review (or, if you have trouble commenting, via email through the “contact” link to the right) by midnight Sunday, May 15, and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win the book. US addresses only,...

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