Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Forgotten God

(review by Julie)
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars)

I got hooked on Francis Chan's books after reading Crazy Love several years ago (which was also a great book!). He's so authentic and tells you exactly what's on his heart.  I was reading Crazy Love with a group and we watched his video clips to go with the book. Since then I've seen a few other videos of Chan, and they have all been so raw and real. Now, whenever I read something he wrote, I see his facial expressions and hear his voice in my mind.

In Forgotten God; Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, Chan once again lays it all out there. He lays out principles regarding the theology surrounding the Holy Spirit (which many of us haven't spent much time thinking about before), what a relationship with the Holy Spirit looks like, and then he imagines what the church would look like if we all got real and lived by the Spirit.  I highly recommend this book! It broke my heart and inspired me to go deeper with the Holy Spirit.

Draw the Circle

(review by Julie)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, by Mark Batterson is a follow up to Batterson's earlier book, The Circle Maker. While Batterson's emphasis remains the same: Pray the big prayers God inspires, there is also a lot of new material in the personal testimonies people have sent Batterson since The Circle Maker's release.  Since, Draw the Circle is set up as a 40 day prayer challenge, it's arranged into 40 shorts chapters that can be easily read in five to ten minutes each.

I enjoyed this book, and I found myself inspired to pray harder. I love Batterson's message and I applaud his work in teaching us all to pray. However, I was frustrated with all the short quips and cliche one liners. Since I also recently read Batterson's In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, it may be that I'm just a little burnt out on his writing style.

Overall, I like recommend Batterson's Circle books, but I suggest you pick either The Circle Maker or Draw the Circle to read, based on which style of book you enjoy more.  There is no reason to read the books in any particular order so, if you're really craving more when you're done, pick up the other and continue on!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not encouraged or 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.”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Heaven Is For Real

(review by Julie)
My rating: 6 out of 5 stars!!

This book was recommended to me by a friend who doesn't read a lot, but said she LOVED this book and everyone should read it. I thought that was a pretty amazing review for a non-bookie, so I reserved the Kindle edition of Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo at my library and had to wait several months for it. When it finally came in, I knew I'd never get to renew my library loan, so was on a strict 3 week deadline to get it read. (Don't you love how the simplest deadlines inspire you to get something done fast?) Well, it turned out there was no need for a deadline. I have a hard time putting my iTouch down as soon as I started reading.

Heaven is for Real is a wonderful TRUE story about a boy who almost died (or maybe did die for thee minutes). While his life was hanging on a limb, he had an amazing experience that could only be explained by the almighty God!  I don't want to ruin too much of the book for you, so I'll leave it there- just go read it! It was a fast, easy read and you'll be thinking about it for months afterwards.

Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Slave, by John MacArthur, is well-written blend of history and theology, combining a description of slavery in both Roman times and in colonial America with a fluid comparison to our lives as we move from slaves to sin, to chosen slaves of Christ, to adopted sons and daughters of the King!

While MacArthur writes in the typical tone of a theology text, quoting George Muller, John Newton, Andrew Murry, and a host of other great Christian writers throughout the centuries, he is also practical in providing applications of his ideas to our everyday lives as Christians.  

There were two points that I found myself thinking more about since finishing the book:

1.  “In the Roman slave market, decisions regarding the slave’s future rested solely in the hands on the purchaser, not the one being sold. Similarly, the Bible teaches that God has chosen His slaves by His own sovereign independent, electing choice.    He pursued us even though we did not seek Him, drawing us to Himself and snatching us from the clutches and condemnation of sin.” (p132) “In all of this, we as believers can take no credit.” (p148)

2.  “Whereas a master/slave relationship might be temporary, a father/son relationship is not. As Jesus told the unbelieving Pharisees, underscoring the axiomatic nature of this reality, ‘The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever’ (John 8:35).  … The doctrine of adoption establishes the reality that believers once save, are always saved.” (p170)

I’m not sure I agree 100% with everything MacArthur said in this book, but it was well-supported with scripture and presented in an understandable, although a little long winded, manner that made me think and had me praising God for his mercy and grace many times.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not encouraged or 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.”

Published by Thomas Nelson, copyright 2010 by John MacArthur.

ISBN: 978-1-4002-8111-4 (IE)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Circle Maker

(review by Julie)
 My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A good friend gave me The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson after she'd read it herself. She's an experience prayer warrior and she found it encouraging and challenging. Overall, I LOVED this book. I do have to admit though, that there were numerous times that I had to set the book down in the middle of the chapter and ask God, "Wow! Seriously? Do you work like that? Does prayer work like that?"  The book really challenges you to pray harder and longer for the promises that God gives you. It some ways there's nothing new about it, but in other ways, it's completely revolutionized my view of prayer.  In the end, I've experienced a metamorphosis in my walk with God and I believe he did part of it through this book. So, thank you Mark Batterson for your faith and your prayer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Name of the Wind was a really great book.  It is the fantasy genre story of Kvothe, the fierce hero and prodigy.  Much is told as his own recounting of his life story, but the frame story adds an element of ominous mystery.  It's so long (722 pages in the library version) that I wouldn't have read it except that it was chosen for my book club; I'm so glad it was.  Even though it was a big time investment, it was worth it.  The world in which it is set has depth and mystery, the characters are complex and intriguing; and the narrative is well-written and compelling.  It isn't dark, exactly, but it is weighty and original with a serious edge.

One thing that made the length manageable is that I was able to read a little at a time, at least for the first two-thirds of the book.  If I had done my usual I-can't-stand-it-I-just-have-to-read-constantly-til-it's-finished thing I would have had to seriously neglect my family!  As it was, it wasn't boring or frustrating, I just enjoyed a little piece each night... until it got really exciting, that is.

I will definitely be continuing to read the series.  The next book, The Wise Man's Fear, is already out but we have to wait for the third book of the trilogy.  I recommend it for anyone who enjoys full-bodied fantasy - you'll love this story. 

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Sunshine(review by Deanna)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was awful.  Wait, no, it was actually good but I'm mad about it.  Robin McKinley creates a fascinating world - set in modern America but with a grungy, paranormal twist on reality.  She discloses the world primarily through extended rambling by the main character.  The bright side of the rambling is that the heroine has a distinctive voice that remains consistent throughout the book.  The other side is that it's rambling, and a lot of it.  Through all this random thoughtfulness on the character's part, we learn a tantalizing amount about their world, but it raises more questions than it answers.  So much is left unanswered at the end of the book that it is only worth the trouble to slog through all the rambling if the book is the setup for a multi-book series.  However, the author is adamant that there is no sequel and probably there won't ever be.  Well, that's just wrong.  The is a promise of romance, but no romance, and implications of hidden identities, but no answers.  For a stand-alone novel, I found it unsatisfying.  It leaves so much open that it just feels sloppy.

If you find many unanswered questions to be tantalizingly mysterious, you would be much better able to enjoy the interesting world in Sunshine than I was.

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