book review: Adventures Under the Mango Tree

Adventures Under the Mango TreeTitle: Adventures Under the Mango Tree: A Story of Hope in War-Torn Sudan

Author: Lillian Ann Klepp

Publisher: Creative Enterprises Studio

Complimentary Copy Provided by: The Barnabas Agency

Rating: B

Publisher’s Bio:

Hearing the tremendous needs of orphans in Sudan, an ordinary women in Wisconsin prayed, “Lord, what can I do?” His answer was life altering!

Adventures Under the Mango Tree is Lillian’s journal of touching stories with heartwarming photographs of the precious orphans they help, the dedicated people who love them, and the often life-threatening struggles they face together.

My Thoughts:

So, I have a confession to make. This blog review is way past due—as in embarrassingly past due. As in so past due I’ve received two review reminders! Life has been a bit crazy here with a job search and move coming up very soon. My apologies to the ever patient staff at The B&B Media Group.

Adventures Under the Mango Tree offers an overview of the author’s relocation from the midwest United States to rural Africa. Author Lillian Ann Klepp, affectionately referred to as “Mama Lilly”, provides a glimpse into the challenges of moving half-way around the world to engage in orphan care. I am always amazed and inspired by people who learn of a need and respond with action, becoming part of the solution and change-makers in the process. In the case of Dennis and Lillian Klepp, they sold everything, left their jobs, family, friends, and comfortable lifestyle in the States to start a ministry in one of the most volatile climates in Africa: southern Sudan. Since 2001, the Klepp’s have opened two orphanages, a school, and a hospital, serving more than 500 children and thousands of families through their ministry Harvesters Reaching the Nations.

I was most impacted by the strong Christian faith of Lillian and Dennis. Adventures Under the Mango Tree is a beautiful example of the myriad of ways God calls people to action and responds to needs in prayer. The Klepp’s have endured sickness, critical health conditions, funding shortages, invasions by rebel militia and so much more, but through it all God heals, restores, and continues to provide and expand the work.

As inspired as I am, I must admit I was left wanting a bit more. Adventures Under the mango Tree is a recounting of the author’s journey, outlined in short, chronological segments, which makes for a super-quick read that offers a general overview of experiences. A bit more depth would have been helpful for setting the socio-political context in Sudan, offering a bit more on the challenging cultural dynamics, and I wanted to know more about the children in terms of their personalities, interests, hardships, and agency impact.

Harvesters Reaching the Nations is a wonderful organization, impacting the lives of hundreds of children and thousands of families in Sudan, Africa. Visit their website to learn more about how you can support their critically important work.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evu_VjWaiG8

About the Author:

Adventures - Lillian KleppLillian Klepp, fondly called “Mama Lilly,” cofounded Harvesters Reaching the Nations in 2001—a nonprofit, nondenominational, Christ-centered ministry to orphans in what is now South Sudan. She and her husband, Dennis, with more than 100 local employees care for nearly 200 orphans, educate more than 500 school children, provide hospital care for thousands of women and children, and help hundreds more through their local church. To find out more visit Harvesters Reaching the Nations:  http://hrtn.org/

book review: Be A Changemaker

changemaker_jacket_r3.inddTitle: Be A Changemaker: How To Start Something That Matters

Author: Laurie Ann Thompson

Publisher: Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster

Complimentary copy provided by: NetGalley

Rating: A+ for content (C+ for formatting)

Release date: 9/9/2014

 

Publisher’s Description:

We’ve had the civil rights movement and the women’s movement—now it’s time for the youth movement.

When Divine Bradley was seventeen, he just wanted a safe place to hang out away from gangs and violence, and Team Revolution was born. At age eleven, Jessica Markowitz learned that girls in Rwanda are often not allowed to attend school, and Richard’s Rwanda took shape. During his sophomore year of high school, Zach Steinfeld put his love of baking to good use and started the Baking for Breast Cancer Club.

Gone are the days when kids were supposed to be “seen and not heard.” Today, youth everywhere are rising up, building new organizations, and creating the changes they want to see in their communities and around the world. Be a Changemaker gives readers the tools and confidence they need to affect real change. Readers will learn how to:

– Research ideas
– Build a strong and passionate team
– Create a business plan
– Enlist a savvy adult
– Plan events
– Work with the media
– And more!

Plus, profiles of youth-led social organizations show readers that it’s never too early to become a changemaker.

My Thoughts:

Another great gem from NetGalley! In Be A Changemaker: Start Something That Matters, author Laurie Ann Thompson encourages youth to engage the world by connecting with their passion and doing something productive with it, in this case, launching a social venture aimed at changing the world in some way. Love it!

The strength of this book is that it clearly communicates a positive message to youth. That message is twofold: your voice matters and your participation in creating a more just and positive world matters. The author guides youth through the process of identifying an area of passion and then walks readers through the steps of establishing a social venture business fueled by the identified passion based on a commitment to help others. From forming a Board, to marketing and fundraising strategies, to developing a business plan and forming a team, Ms. Thompson provides very practical advice and tools for turning passion into vision and vision into a social venture.

May this book spark a revolution in the youth of today to become activists in many arenas. May this book equip a new generation with the skills to engage the issues and challenges in the world with confidence and optimism. May this book provide an avenue for the next generation to fuel their passion for a more just world in such authentic ways that communities around the world are transformed through a myriad of social ventures that impact lives for the better.

(I received a complimentary copy by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Formatting Critique:

As a Kindle Paperwhite user, I encountered the following formatting issues (which may be addressed and corrected by the time this book is published in September 2014):

  • Letters are randomly missing (f, th, t, w, …) on every page. For the most part it’s simple enough to fill in the blanks but enough challenges occurred to cause frustration. I almost pitched the read based on the formatting, not the content. If I had been aware the review copy was an “uncorrected reader’s proof” I may have passed up the opportunity.
  • Initially I was unable to advance or return pages (it would skip entire chapters or two at a time) but this issue disappeared all together the third time I opened it to resume reading.
  • I am unable to view embedded images, pictures, charts or graphs.

About the Author

Laurie Ann Thompson cofounded a successful Internet start-up with her husband during the technology boom. She has volunteered with Youth Venture, an organization that supports teens with big ideas, and she makes time for other volunteer opportunities as they arise. Thompson has more than twenty-five published articles in Faces, Know, Kono, WeeOnes, ParentMap, and more. Visit her at LaurieThompson.com. – See more at: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Laurie-Ann-Thompson/414428270#sthash.PldbzOxs.dpuf

laurie-ann-thompsonLaurie Ann Thompson cofounded a successful Internet start-up with her husband during the technology boom. She has volunteered with Youth Venture, an organization that supports teens with big ideas, and she makes time for other volunteer opportunities as they arise. Thompson has more than twenty-five published articles in Faces, Know, Kono, WeeOnes, ParentMap, and more.

Connect with Laurie Ann Thompson on her website: http://lauriethompson.com

 

Laurie Ann Thompson cofounded a successful Internet start-up with her husband during the technology boom. She has volunteered with Youth Venture, an organization that supports teens with big ideas, and she makes time for other volunteer opportunities as they arise. Thompson has more than twenty-five published articles in Faces, Know, Kono, WeeOnes, ParentMap, and more. Visit her at LaurieThompson.com. – See more at: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Laurie-Ann-Thompson/414428270#sthash.PldbzOxs.dpufhttp://lauriethompson.com/

 

book review: 7 Ways To Be Her Hero

7 ways to be her heroTitle: 7 Ways To Be Her Hero: The One She’s Been Waiting For

Author: Doug Feilds

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Complimentary copy provided by: NetGalley

Rating: A+

 

Celebrating ten years of marriage this year, I committed to read one book each month for the next twelve months about marriage and relationships. What a great way to start my “marriage enhancing” journey than with 7 Ways To Be Her Hero by Doug Fields.

7 Ways To Be Her Hero is the reason I enjoy reviewing books. Fields has written a witty and insightful self-help ‘manual’ intended to act as a guide for men who wish to enhance their marriage.

Yes. I know. I am not a man. I admit my curiosity and I read it anyway. I am one of the “sneaky women” Fields refers to who picked up a copy in order to scope it out. As much as I wanted to see how “on target” the author is when it comes to marriage advice for men, I also hoped to glimpse into the male psyche to glean what’s occurring in the “man chatter” these days about marriage so that I may learn how to improve my relationship with my hubby. I was pleasantly surprised on both accounts. Fields is right on target and I walked away with a fun list of ways to improve my relationship.

With a great deal of humour infused, Fields’ conversational style is endearing and immediately disarms any potential prickles that could poke the reader by sharing so openly from his own mishaps and experiences over 30 years of marriage.

While 7 Ways To Be Her Hero can certainly be considered a quick read, I’d advise against it. Skimming through will defeat the purpose. The principles and advice shared are relevant for men in any season of marriage (or can be referenced for a genuine refresher).

My only critique is in regard to the formatting for e-reader devices. I use a Kindle Paperwhite and at times I found the formatting choppy and broken, especially around chapter transitions, which I found distracting.

(I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.)

About the Author:

Doug FieldsDoug Fields was a youth pastor for 25 years and has been teaching pastor at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church since 1992. An award-winning author of more than 40 books, Doug speaks regularly at Saddleback and other locations around the world. He and his wife Cathy have 3 children.

To find out more about Doug Fields visit: http://www.dougfields.com/