What’s Happening to Grandpa? By Maria Shriver – Book Review

What’s Happening to Grandpa?

By Maria Shriver

Little, Brown, Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10020, 0316001015, $ 15.95, 2004,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Deeply Moved – Valuable Insight into the Dread Disease Dementia and Alzheimer’s

I am a grandfather. My wife has Alzheimer’s disease. I can only wish I had read Maia Shriver’s book “What’s Happening to Grandpa?” when it was first published in 2004. I watched as our children and grandchildren struggled through questions I hadn’t resolved myself.

Shriver’s insights into the mind of a child and understanding of the process of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s capture the emotions of the victim of Alzheimer’s, their primary caregiver, and the entire family impacted by the disease.

I was deeply moved by Shriver’s warmth and sensitivity. The unique use of the voice and viewpoint of Kate, a child, make this a valuable educational resource for children, K – 5th grade. The book can also serve to open conversations with older children.

The obvious love and patience Kate develops with her grandfather as she works through her feelings of hurt, sadness, and loss bear evidence of understanding as she takes on the project of savoring and saving Grandpa’s stories by making a photo album to insure that these stories live on as Grandpa’s memory continues to decline.

Sandra Speidel’s soft colored illustrations add a rich sense that creates the same warm feelings through Shriver’s word pictures and give an extra dimension of reality to the story.

“What’s Happening to Grandpa?”  is a wonderful tool for Alzheimer’s awareness, family comfort, and childhood education. Highly recommended.

Growing in Grace – Daily Devotions for Hungry Hearts By: Paul and Billie Tsika – A Book Review



Hungry Hearts – By Paul and Billie Tsika

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com

Inspiring Devotional Thoughts for Beginning Your Day – A Character Building Process

“Growing in Grace” concentrates on getting to know God more intimately to enable you to grow in grace and in likeness of Jesus. The book is uniquely designed to include a Scripture passage, a word of encouragement, an inspirational challenge and a prayer to start your day. Seven themes prepare the reader for a spiritual journey that infuses and imparts wisdom, transforms fear to fortitude, gives instructions for a balanced life, provides guidelines for commitment and choice, reveals secrets of the joy of praise and prayer, the benefits of blessing, and the reward of relinquishing control to rely and rest on strength from above.

I am deeply awed by the powerful prayers of praise, adoration, and worship; challenged by the soul searching prayers of confession; strengthened by the petitions for guidance, and understanding, and blessed by the prayers of thanksgiving for God’s love, gift of life, protection, grace, and faithfulness.

“Growing in Grace – Daily Devotions for Hungry Hearts” is an excellent model for establishing the discipline of spending an intimate time with God each morning. These short inspiring devotions are also ideal for adding a vibrant new freshness to an established devotional pattern; strengthened and empowered by a few quiet intimate moments with the heavenly Father.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publisher, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768409918, $16.99, 2016, 384 pages

Becoming His – Finding Your Place as a Daughter of God By: Jenny Erlingsson – A Book Review



Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com


Life Lessons: Discovering Direction, Fulfilling Destiny, and Finding Freedom


In her book “Becoming His – Finding Your Place as a Daughter of God” Jenny Erlingsson relates stories of women of faith, “a cloud of witnesses” who have gone before; women from the Bible who impacted history. The book is divided into four parts:


  1. His in the Beginning
  2. His in the Promise
  3. His in the Struggle
  4. His in the Freedom


Each fast moving chapter includes: A Profile introducing the background of the Biblical woman featured, a section labeled “Ponder,” a commentary on and scripture lessons from the life of the featured character , and “Press In,” made up of thought provoking challenges and self-searching questions designed for personal application.


Jenny’s writing style is a masterpiece of poetic prose, imaginative fiction, all woven into an interpretation of Biblical truth. Her work is skillfully organized, with deep spiritual insight, while using all the elements of a good story.


Jenny serves on pastoral staff of “Rock Family Worship Center” in Huntsville, Alabama.


“Becoming His” is ideal for personal reflection and application as well as for use in a small group setting. Although written specifically for a woman’s audience, this is a book that is filled with lessons for men as well.  Husbands will better understand their wives, build beautiful partnerships, and become better leaders in the home. Pastors and lay counselors can gain insights from Jenny’s message of restoration and hope in the midst of tragedy.

“Becoming His” provides a modern perspective on eternal truths. Highly recommended.

Destiny Image Publishing, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257

978-0768410723, $ 15.99, 2016, 198 pages

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




Set Yourself Free – Live the Life You Were Meant to Live – A Book Review

Set Yourself Free – Live the Life You Were Meant to Live!

By Jean Walters

Reviewed by: Richard R. Blake

A Transformational Journey – Principles from the Life, Teaching and Example of Jesus

In her book “Set Yourself Free – Live the Life you Were Meant to Live,” transformational coach, Jean Walters integrates principles from the life of Jesus, his teaching, and example to guide the reader into a spiritual journey of “surrender, love, and healing.”

Through stories of people who struggled for answers and turned their difficulties into opportunities; Walters weaves insight into a spiritual consciousness that frees from negativitya, sets in motion the law of attraction, which results in an action plan that leads to reaching goals. Walters dynamic teaching, can enable you the reader to overcome the negative results of fear, improve self-worth, turn desire to motivation, and provide a sense of personal security, made possible through your relationship with God.

I found the self-assessment questions and tools for freeing oneself from fear especially helpful and the process for change challenging. The stories of faith and the freeing power of the Gospel illustrate the importance of the disciplining the mind positively to our body and the resulting relationship to our  physical health.

“Set Yourself Free – Live the Life you Were Meant to Live” is or anyone looking for life change. Jean Walters provides the reader with and an eleven step process, suggested tools  and affirmations for freeing yourself self-doubt on a transformational journey to change that will result in a “new you.”

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 978-1944297039.  $ 15.95, 256 pages,




Lessons from Zachary – A Book Review

Lessons from Zachary – Turning Disability into Possibility

By Sandy Scott

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com

Engaging and Releasing Hidden Powers Within – Standing Strong Through the Storm

Just twelve days after his birth Zachary Scott was diagnosed as severely physically and intellectually disabled. This news began a journey into the uncharted territory of the unknown for Sandy and Jonathan Scott; a heart-rending journey plagued by unexpected disappointments and uncertainties. The daily stresses of hectic schedules, social pressures, and the demands created by Zachary’s disabilities became overwhelming.

Sandy was devastated and frustrated by an unexpected and unusual combination of strained relationships and in desperation was forced to look within herself and to choose a new perspective – one that unleashed in her the power of love.

Sandy reached into the resources of unexplored potential to become a leader in coaching leaders in healthcare, to parents of children with disabilities, and to train professionals in the healthcare and educational fields.

Sandy’s writing is authentic, genuine, realistic and relevant. Her premises are well thought out, her choice of words stir the imagination of the reader and enable them to relate personally to her journey through a complex set of circumstances. As the reader becomes deeply involved in Sandy’s story; her insights and the lessons she learned become personal and identifiable and provide a new understanding into the complications, experiences and unknown potential of their own lives. Dozens of well-chosen pictures and good photography add a whole extra dimension to the heart felt emotions of love, pathos, and positive impact of Zachary’s life.

“Lessons from Zachary” will resonate with readers who have been touched by the challenge of disappointment in broken relationships and other personal tragedy; readers in need of a message of hope, and a strategy for tapping into their unknown potential.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

International Publishing Works, P. O. Box 415, Bellevue, Colorado 50512-0415, 978-097759205, 1995, 2017, 264 Pages






Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – A Book Review

Think and Grow Rich

By Napoleon Hill

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

Thirteen Principles of Success –A Classic Model on Individual Achievement

“Think and Grow Rich,” written by Napoleon Hill is your passport to financial independence, personal growth, and peace of mind. Napoleon Hill’s thirteen principles of success are the result of 20 years of research. This edition is a reproduction of the unedited text of Hill’s 1937 original work.

These principles contain important philosophies that you will want to study, digest, meditate on, and absorb as you make them your own. Hill includes stories to illustrate his philosophy of the “Law of Success.” These stories include men like Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other leaders in industry.

The foundational principles of Hill’s “Law of Success” are the basic premise or substance of many success oriented authors, writing in the genre of visualization, positive thinking, and self-realization.

Personal treasures I gleaned from my reading include the wisdom found in these principles:

  • Faith, a burning desire, and persistence combined with a plan of action will produce miraculous results.
  • Every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage – handicaps can be converted into stepping stones.

Readers willing to commit themselves to Napoleon Hill’s thirteen steps to riches as found in his book, “Think and Grow Rich” can expect to find “abundant riches” in finances, business associations, family relationships, peace of mind, and a changed life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-1937879488, $ 27.95, 2017, 382 pages

Reinhabiting the Village, Co-Creating our Future, by Jamaica Stevens – A Book Review

ReInhabiting the Village, Co-Creating our Future

By: Jamaica Stevens

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Voices of the Village – Core Values and Common Purpose

“ReInhabiting the Village, Co-Creating our Future” is an amazing collaboration of talented visionary artists, skilled photographers, awesome graphic designers, and expressive writers, from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and collective intellect.

Awe inspiring graphics create a colorful collection of dramatic stories which exemplify the celebration of community projects going on around the world. I especially enjoyed the features on: Media and Story Telling, Transformational Technologies, and Community Land Projects, as they introduced me to the benefits of building community through growing ecological awareness into every aspect of my life. The book is made up of twelve themes designed to “empower the reader through practical wisdom and inspiring perspectives.”

“ReInhabiting the Village, Co-Creating our Future” helped me expand my world view, in mid- rural America, by introducing me to multi-platform narrative and world-building techniques, including: Health and Healing, Art and Culture, Learning and Education, The Urban Village, and, Holistic Event Projects.

Nearly every page is filled with quotable concepts worthy of thoughtful consideration, commitment, and interaction. “ReInhabiting the Village, Co-Creating our Future” will be valued by readers at every level community, individual, corporate, and government, by leaders in industry, education, religion, social, and medical.  Highly recommended for decision makers, innovators, dreamers, and community builders…change makers in every field of endeavor. An invitation to begin or continue in a pattern of life long learning.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P.O. Box 1992. Bandon, OR 97411, 978-19444297015, $ 34.95, 2016. 346 pages


Total Family Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra – A Book Review

Total Family Makeover – 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home

By: Melissa Spoelstra

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Basic Spiritual Practices for Nurturing Children and Transforming Families

“Total Family Makeover – 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home” provides a strong foundation for being intentionally authentic about transforming your life, your family, and your home.

The book is based on Scriptures Jesus modeled in the training of His disciples.

Each chapter features a section on modeling and another on training. Using this practical approach Melissa Spoelstra challenges the reader through:

  • Inspiring instructions on and suggestions for establishing principles of prayer in the lives of your children
  • Practical approaches to reading the Scriptures together and making application to daily family life
  • Comprehensive guidelines on the merits mentoring can have on your parenting skills
  • Building blocks instilling Christian character in your children through finding community in the church, by serving others, giving back to God, and sharing your faith

In addition to being active as a pastor’s wife and the mother of four, author Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, and Bible teacher. She speaks and writes from her heart and models the message she delivers.

“Total Family Makeover – 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home” is clearly must reading for parents from the crib through college. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Abingdon Press, P O Box 2809988, Nashville, TN 37228-0988, 9781501820656, $ 16.99, 2016, 256 pages


Creative Strength Training – Prompts, Exercises, and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius by Jane Dunnewold – A Book Review

Creative Strength Training – Prompts, Exercises, and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius

By: Jane Dunnewold

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Aids to Becoming the “Self-Actualized” Artist We Are Capable of Becoming

“Creative Strength Training – Prompts, Exercises, and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius” is designed to help the reader discover strategies that combine writing with hands on art and to develop a unique voice.

The table of contents reads like of a menu, filled with so many choices of mouthwatering delicacies and aromatic scents that it is difficult to know where to start. The catchy chapter titles grabbed my attention with key words and descriptive phrases that offer rewarding results and bright colored illustrations that offer irresistible prompts, and strength training exercises that focus attention on detail and cultivate imagination. Each uniquely formatted page contains a myriad of approaches that reinforce the theme of the chapter.

The exercises from How to Distill and Edit Your Story grabbed my attention. The suggestions on mining content, writing, distilling and editing your story are well worth the time and effort of implementing.

Jane Dunnewold understands all aspects of the creative process. Jane’s book “Creative Strength Training” will resonate with artists and writers alike.  The inspiring stories of artists, mentored by Jane, tell how they have benefited by applying Dunnewold‘s exercises and prompts in unique ways in their art.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

North Light Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 978-1440344954, $ 16.70, 2016, 144 pages



And It Was Beautiful – Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye by Kara Tippets – A Book Review

And It Was Beautiful – Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye

By: Kara Tippetts

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Gripping Message of God’s Grace in the Midst of the Uncertainties of Cancer

“And It Was Beautiful” is the third book in Kara Tippetts’ courageous story of living with the uncertainties faced while battling stage four cancer. Her first book, “The Hardest Peace” helps the reader understand the difficulties of dealing with motherhood in the midst of the expectations of being a pastor’s wife.

In Tippet’s second book, “Just Show Up” she collaborated with Jill Lynn Buteyn, a close friend. Together they inspire readers to be available to help with the everyday household tasks, and childcare, shopping and other simple errands. There are other times when friends are needed to provide quiet visits, comfort and understanding in a spirit of empathy.

In “And It Was Beautiful” Tippet tells of the heart-wrenching physical and emotional pain of losing her hair, recognizing the maintaining friendships, while facing surgery, radiation, and more uncertainty. She speaks of the “fragility of life” of adding another doctor to her team. She describes the “weariness of receiving,” when it is her desire to be there for her family, and to be the one caring for them.

Soon after  her diagnosis of cancer, Tippet started a blog Mundane Faithfulness. She wanted to share from insights she was learning with others who were also dealing with end of life issues.

“And It Was Beautiful” is made up a collection of these blogs formatted into short chapters, a beautiful story of a spiritual journey of a “Celebrating Grace in the Midst of a Long Good-bye.”  Kara Tippet’s writing is open, honest. She is willing be vulnerable exposing her struggles while find God faithful.

Throughout her writing she encourages her readers to recognize and reflect on God’s grace in every situation. Although written from a woman’s perspective, Kara’s example of faith in the midst of battling cancer will inspire anyone struggling with terminal illness: the victim, their families, and their caregivers.

David C. Cook. 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918 978-0781413527, $ 14.99, 2016, 248 pages