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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Brenda Warner, wife of famed football player Kurt Warner, shares her own story, first for her children, but also for the rest of us. Her's is a compelling story of both tragedy and triumph, pain and redemption.
Brenda's own summary tells it the best:
"I am a former marine. I have a nursing degree. I've lived on food stamps, and I've lived on millions of dollars. I have been divorced, and I've been married to the man of my dreams. I've watched my seven children grow and succeed beyond my wildest dreams, I've watched one baby suffer permanent brain damage and blindness and two babies dies before they ever lived.
I am not immune to grief, and every day I miss my parents more than I think is possible. I am not a crier or a whiner, and I would rather control my world than be controlled by it. I've been mostly faithful and trustworthy, yet I've been betrayed and I've certainly had times when I let down those I loved. If you are in my inner circle, I will have your back, and I know some, but not all, I let in will have mine. I love babies with tracheotomies, seniors in hospice, and the homeless who ask nothing from me."
Chapter 39

Just because tragedy may be a phone call away, Brenda helps the reader see that it doesn't mean we stop living. God gives joy and redemption. The book is a quick read. I was surprised how fast I flew the the pages. While not a football fan, warner's story intrigued me so much that I had a hard time putting the book down.

This book comes out Sept 6th

I received this book free from Book Sneeze and Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of this review.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading One Call Away by Brenda Warner, wife of Kurt Warner. I got it in the mail yesterday afternoon, started it last night, stayed up until 3am reading it, and finished it this morning. I literally could not put this book down, it was that good. This book is basically a memoir by Brenda Warner of her life from birth till the present day. She details all of the ups and downs that she has gone through in great personal detail, from growing up on a farm with her parents to living life as a millionaire married to a football star. The one constant in her life has been her unshakable faith.

Before reading this book, I really had no idea who Brenda Warner was, yet this book grabbed me from the very first page. Brenda went from being a child who grew up poor to being married to a philandering husband, to being a single mom on food stamps and welfare, counting every penny, to being rich and married to a wonderful and godly man. Her journey was one that was I could so relate to, having gone through many hard times myself. I found it uplifting and encouraging to read of how she held onto her faith even in the darkest moments of her life.

This story was so very encouraging, and I highly recommend it.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Brenda Warner, the wife of NFL star Kurt Warner, has recently penned this memoir detailing the trials and tribulations that she has faced in her life before and after she married the well known football player. The book opens with a gripping story of how her oldest son, Zack, through a terrible accident suffered and injury that forever changed his life while he was only an infant. The story is compelling and heart moving here as you read of how Brenda and her first husband Neil deal with this blow to their lives. I felt my heart strings tugging as I envisioned how Brenda must have felt watching helplessly as her son struggled for survival in the hospital and how hard it must have been to try to forge ahead with a child with special needs. I was sucked in to the book.

And then, I read further, and honestly, I lost the interest. This book was presented as a memoir to show how faith in God helped Brenda forge through the muddy waters, but in my very honest opinion, the book seemed to actually be a way for Mrs. Warner to air her dirty laundry and defend the actions that have been scrutinized by the media over the years(none of which I was previously aware of since I know nothing about football except that Hubs likes to watch it). I felt like there was too much time spent trying to justify actions that she knew were wrong (premarital sex for one) with a mention here or there of her praying. It gave the distinct impression that her faith was on the sidelines and seemed to only come into play when she couldn't figure out how to get what she wanted in her own way. About halfway through the book, I was really just plugging along because I had made a commitment to read it and give an honest review.

As far as this being a good book to classify under the "Christian Living" category, I have to say that I do not feel that is appropriate. The book brushes over things that are serious sin issues as if God has a carefree attitude about them, Brenda presents herself as overly preoccupied with her appearance, referring to herself as "the pretty one" too many times to count, and also shows how she balked when Kurt was saved and began to take leadership about things he felt the Bible was teaching against. She also seems to forget her roots(when family reached out to help her when she was a poor single mother living on welfare) when the wealth comes, actually complaining about how her family members looked to her for help. I was also not a fan of some of the graphic retellings of events that I feel are personal and should only be shared between a husband and a wife.

I really do not enjoy giving negative reviews. It makes me feel like I'm shaking my finger at someone and calling them names, but I also like to be honest, and this book just rubbed me the wrong way too many times to shrug it off. There are many out there whom I am sure would disagree with me, and that is absolutely fine, but for a conservative Christian like myself, I would look elsewhere for an inspirational read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
Brenda Warner, wife of football legend Kurt Warner, hasn't always led an easy life. From growing up on a farm in Iowa, spending time as a Marine in Japan, have a special needs child to having her first marriage end in divorce, Brenda's life has been filled with more trials than many will face in a lifetime. Brenda also stood by her man as his football career took many twists and turns eventually landing them in Arizona. Written as a memoir, One Call Away, shares Brenda's story; the highs, the lows and everything in between.
I was impressed with how open Brenda was in this book, from sharing her true feelings to telling stories about getting caught in an "intimate act" with Kurt on her parents couch. Some of these stories are definitely not ones I would share with my friends, much less the millions of people who will read this book! It is amazing to see how God has worked in Brenda's life and in her marriage. This book is definitely encouraging and eye-opening about some of the things the Warners have dealt with, I really enjoyed reading it.
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I chose to review this book because it involves a large family beset with challenges. It happens to be written about the wife of football star Kurt Warner, which means nothing to me, being the sports ignoramus that I am. Unfortunately, I can only give it two stars.

The book opens with a gut-wrenching tale of her brain-damaged baby who suffers an accident in the bathtub. As a nursing student and a mother, I found myself weeping along with Brenda as she shares her story. I wept for her first husband, who suffers greatly alongside her during this time.

The quality of writing devolves, though, so that the remainder of the book scarcely resembles the first portion. There must be a way to present Brenda Warner's often riveting story in a more skillful matter. Each chapter seems to end with the same flat note of predictable suspense. The descriptions fall flat as well, and the story is presented with too many details. A strong writer learns how to paraphrase and parse words so that the dialogue maintains the reader's interest. In this situation, while it did admittedly keep me reading until the end, it felt more like a guilty pleasure as opposed to something reflective and worthwhile.

The last couple of chapters improved its taste in my mouth, so to speak. It was a joy to read about Brenda and Kurt's involvements in their philanthropic organization "First Things First." I felt inspired. Prior to that, I read through pages and pages of memoir about Brenda's failed first marriage and her ongoing struggles to raise her children as a single mother in hopes of finding the life she had always dreamed about. She has certainly had enough struggle and life experience for several people. I admire her drive and tenacity.

Yet Brenda's Christianity falls terribly flat as well. I think this is the part that most disappoints me. I am not judging this based on the merit of her position as an Evangelical Protestant but simply the depth of its take-home message. Were I experiencing these kinds of challenges, would this book encourage me with a lively, faith-filled message? Not really.

I certainly can relate to her making immoral choices throughout her life. I have made my share. Yet she writes this book as an example of "answering life's challenges with unshakable faith" (sub-title of book), a Christian statement, so to speak, while her loss of virginity, for instance, is tossed out as casually as a piece of mail~~maybe a credit card offer that is opened and then thrown out.

In other words, she reflects momentarily upon these types of experiences without ever really judging them definitively, then somewhat gloats throughout the book about her strong relationship with Jesus. "Everyone was doing it." The sex doesn't thrill her, but it never seems to ultimately grieve her. She spends about 1 minute deciding to divorce her first husband after he cheats on her while she is pregnant (he had suffered a brain injury but this never seems to be worth pondering once she is wronged), and moves in and out of homes with her future husband until getting married to Kurt Warner, the NFL football star.

Her first husband is Catholic, and there is amusing commentary from Brenda about that here and there throughout. For example, she attempts to attend Mass with him but doesn't understand what's going on, so she spends about 5 sentences discussing how weird it is to her that Catholics need a "go between" in order to confess. (I didn't really see her doing any confessing in this book to God directly, so I'm not sure that would have been a bad thing for her.) She makes these kinds of statements without doing any sort of research or exploration in order to cogently mull over this in the book.

Then, she and Kurt explore the option of getting married in the Catholic Church (he is also Catholic) due to his mother's wishes and his childhood faith. The priest explains that her first marriage will need to be annulled in order for her to marry Kurt in the Church, and she rails about this. Even though she had tossed that first marriage out in a heartbeat, and even though she ultimately convinces that first husband to give up his parental rights so that her new husband can adopt their children, the idea that this first marriage should be annulled, "as though her children had never existed," is just too unreasonable. Again, with no further exploration of these conflicts, the reflection, if you can call it that, falls terribly short. I know these are very legitimate concerns and confusions that people have about the Church, but in a literary setting, it seems reasonable to attempt to explore these issues, rather than simply document a response of distaste and move on. Oh well.

In general, I appreciate Brenda's openness to share her life experiences. I loved reading about her relationship with her husband once she starts trusting him more. Kurt Warner seems to be a really outstanding person and they prioritize God in their marriage and lives.

~~

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to reading this book. As a football fan of Kurt Warner, I was very interested in his family's story. I thought this would be a book about faith and finding God. It wasn't.

Brenda Warner has indeed overcome alot of things in her life. She showed uncommon strength and courage in situations that were difficult at best. However, she also made many compromises and excused herself repeatedly for those compromises. I did not see this as a book about her Christian faith! Mostly, it was about her desire to get what she wanted without thinking about others.

Toward the end, she did write about her experiences with charity work. While I find that admirable, I found the rest of the book to be self-absorbed and whiny.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
Being the wife of an NFL star isn't all diamond rings and fast cars. In fact, Brenda Warner's tale is very different to the way we expect our football players' wives lives to be. Her story is one of fighting against overwhelming odds, courage in the face of mounting problems, but ultimately, in faith that the Lord will lead her and her family to a better life.

The story opens not with Warner's early life, but instead that of her young son, and the disturbing revelation that an accident by the father of her eldest two children has left her then months-old child disabled after slipping out of his grip while being bathed. Throughout "One Call Away", the struggles Brenda faces -- often alone -- in caring for son Zack are at the forefront of the reader's mind. Shortly thereafter, Brenda left her cheating husband, and at that time the support and light in her life comes from her parents, and her irretractable faith. That faith will be further tested later in the book.

A chink of light first arrives in Brenda's life when -- at a ladies night at a Cedar Falls, Iowa bar, where her eyes first light on Kurt, then a 20-year-old quarterback of Northern Iowa, and by our narrator's account the most handsome man in the bar. Soon, the two of them had become close, but it wasn't plain sailing into her heart -- unsurprisingly given the heartbreak that had befallen her in her last relationship.

Meanwhile, Kurt's own career is in need of help. The small school star finds a spot playing in the Arena Football League's local team after college, but the outlook is bleak for his dream of playing in the NFL. All that thought is sidelined, though, one day in 1995, when Brenda's parent are tragically killed in a tornado that decimated the small town of Mountain View, Arkansas. Once again, Brenda's faith is tested as the two physical rocks that had sustained her through her trials were literally whisked out of her life.

Fortunately, this time Brenda has another rock to lean on in the form of Kurt, and not long after the tragedy she is smiling again as the two of them get married, with her two children by her side. The Warner wedding coincided with luck for Kurt himself, first getting a shot to prove himself in the now-defunct NFL Europe League, and then earning a roster spot with the St Louis Rams. His own ascension from third-string QB to NFL MVP is a fairytale that has been told many times, but "One Call Away" lends an interesting perspective to the story, giving the point of view of two people that not long before had been scraping money together to pay the rent and were now in the national spotlight.

That attention provided another test for Brenda, sensitive to the unkind and unpleasant jibes of fans and media about her appearance. With Kurt by her side, though, this was something she was able to overcome. Even Kurt's patience may have been tested, however, when comments she innocently made on radio became the first seeds of discontent with the two-time NFL MVP in the city he had led to two Super Bowl appearances.

The Warner family has now extended to nine, with twins born to Brenda and Kurt after suffering two miscarriages once again tested the family's faith and resilience. Throughout all this, Brenda's toughness - perhaps a result of the two years she spent in the marines as much as he faith and belief in Gold - means she wants to defend her family from outside attention, and a moving part of the final quarter of the book is her apologies to friends and family that may have been caught in her desire to push away outside intrusion.

When I began this book I had preconceived notions of what it might be to be Brenda Warner, or indeed the spouse of any multi-millionaire athlete. "One Call Away" explodes the myth of easy-living and tells the story of a strong woman whose faith led her to greener pastures.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was excited to read One Call Away by Brenda Warner for two main reasons. The first is that Brenda's husband, Kurt, was the driving force behind the Arizona Cardinal's making it into the Superbowl. Being from Arizona, I was one of the many Arizonans that suddenly became a Cardinal's fan. The second is that Brenda's parents had been killed in a tornado in Mountain View, AR--where I now live. Somehow, I felt that connected us in some way.

I had mixed emotions while reading One Call Away. On the one hand, I felt a bit surprised by her early life, when her faith in Jesus and her actions didn't really seem to match up. On the other hand, it was refreshing to read the memoir of someone who wasn't always perfect. She made mistakes, and justified her actions at the time, but don't we all do that in some way? And then, the mistakes she made are not portrayed positively. They realized their mistakes and worked to correct them.

That said, the thing I liked most about One Call Away was that it was real. This is no perfect woman or warrior of the faith. Instead, she is someone just like you and me. Read it, but don't take it as a "how-to-live-your-life" book. Instead, take it for the authentic and encouraging story that it is. Be encouraged by the reminder that God is always there, even in unspeakable pain and hardship...even in normal, everyday lives
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
One Call Away is the memoir of Brenda Warner, wife of NFL football player Kurt Warner. Brenda's story is gripping. Throughout her journey are tragedies and triumphs. In addition to the stress of being a public figure and the ups and downs of Kurt's career in professional football, Brenda experiences a child being handicapped as a result of an accident, the devastating end to a marriage and the loss of her parents to a tornado While her story contains many trying experiences, the descriptions of the sad moments are neither overwhelmingly dark nor emotional. In the tragic moments, Brenda relies on her always faithful God. It is apparent that she has faith, but none of her intimate times with God are described in depth. She talks about the role God plays in her life, but she often relies on her own strength and principles. Brenda is mostly likeable; she is completely accepting of herself and her many uniquenesses. She is fiercely committed to her family and is strong in the face of public scrutiny. It is an entertaining read that feels like a conversation with a friend. Apparently she felt like she was having a conversation with a friend when she wrote it because she reveals details that are shockingly personal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was 351 pages long and it took me just over a day to read. It was that good and that easy of a read. Brenda had her life all planned out. She would join the Marine Corp, marry a Marine and make serving her country a life long career. But, after her son had an accident in the bathtub, her plans changed and her path would be a very rocky one. Brenda's faith in God kept her head above water (sometimes barely) during the trying and troubled times. She also shows us that being the wife of a superstar athlete is not always the perfect life you may think it is. When she tries to protect her family and straighten out misinformation, the backlash is tremendous. She will be quick to tell you she is not perfect and, if she could go back, she would do some things differently, but her faith in God and her testimony of what He can do is something she will not ever give up. This is a great book!

This book was provided by Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers) for review without compensation.
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