Thursday, October 12, 2006


The Brethren (Annie's People #3) by Beverly Lewis

** Please Note: This review was written by my friend, Doris S.**

What woman doesn't want to have it all? Annie Zook, the Amish preacher's daughter sure does. Truth be told, everything she did now was either with her art or Ben in mind, and Annie could hardly wait to have both. No need to choose one over the other as she had with her former beau, Rudy.
"I can have it all." (Annie - p.306)

I found it tough to get into the book and looked for a way to start it more quickly and with more action. What I found was that, had chapters 1 and 2 been reversed, this may have been accomplished. Also, Zeke's character change/conversion was too profound and quick. His total reversal of thought patterns, behaviour, and treatment of his wife could have started earlier in the process.

Nevertheless, I liked that the book deals with issues relevant to today's reader, plain or fancy, and that Scriptures are woven into the text seamlessly. Also, how Beverly Lewis avoids "preaching" by recounting the thoughts, experiences, joys, grief, and decision making processes of the characters. She continues to explore and illuminate the ways and beliefs of the Amish in a respectful way.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


The Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg

I almost put this book down after only 32 pages. Borg tries to get you to deconstruct & redo your thinking about major foundations of the Christian faith. But, to suggest changing your thoughts about key points like God and the Bible is just pushing it too far, in my opinion.

I originally picked up this book because I'd heard that Borg was deeply entrenched in the "emerging church" conversation, and I had to see for myself. Now I'm convinced.

There were a few good points/truths that I took from the book, so it wasn't a complete waste of my time. But, overall, it's not a book that I'd recommend to anyone.

Rated: C

Monday, September 04, 2006


Blah, Blah, Blah: Making Sense of the World's Spiritual Chatter by Bayard Taylor

This was a very interesting book just packed-full with information! And, it was humorous, too, so not too heavy.

I loved that a lot of chapter titles & subtitles were names of books or movies that've been sometimes slightly tweaked: "Goodnight, Moon", "Where the Wild Things Are", "The Hitchiker's Guide to Atheism", "Clash of the Titans", etc.

The author talks of 6 commonly held worldviews:
- the Haunted Worldview
- Dueling Yodas
- Omnipresent Supergalactic Oneness
- Designer Religion
- Biblical Worldview

...and outlines each one. He shows how they can be similar to, and how they differ from, the Biblical worldview.

Written for the college-age crowd, this book is easy-to-understand, and would make a great study/discussion tool for Youth groups or Sunday School classes! Too often we're not taught about other worldviews, and therefore don't know how to intelligently enter into conversations with people who hold ones different from our own.

Rated: B

Friday, August 25, 2006


Relentless by Robin Parrish

Grant Borrows has been "Shifted" ~ given a new face & a new name, & some extraordinary abilities! And he immediately finds himself in danger. Someone -for whatever reason- is trying to kill him, and so he's forced to run.

This is a fast-paced thriller that didn't let up. There were so many twists & turns that I could never guess what was coming!

My only qualm with this book was that it could've used a better proof-reader/editor. There were quite a few instances where things didn't match up (character sat down on couch, and then three sentences later sat down on the couch...)

What really surprised me about the book was that, it's a Christian book, and yet God is really not mentioned at all! There's a brief reference to him almost at the end, but that's about it! I looked for an allegory of some sort, and I *may* have found one, but it was *that* difficult to discern, so anybody could read this book and enjoy it for the thriller it is -- even those who hate Christian fiction! :o)

Parrish has done an excellent job with this first book in his DOMINION TRILOGY. I certainly look forward to reading the others!

Rated: A

Sunday, August 20, 2006


The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Manning has written a great book that reminds us that God loves us and accepts us just as we are. God's gift of grace is for everyone, and all we have to do is show up and accept it. We don't have to be perfect, or have it all together.

Manning also talks about how we need to be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God. We can admit that we're "ragamuffins", that we may be saved, but we still struggle with the same old issues (lust, pride, anger, etc). We're "sinners saved by grace".

It was interesting to see that Brennan's thoughts often line up with those of the "emerging church", but most of it is put in a way that makes it not seem so bad.

Chapter 9 talked of a "second call", and to me, this seemed a bit "New Age"... I'm no expert in that, but he just seemed to lose me for a bit in that chapter. It felt a little "off".

Otherwise, though, this was a great book, and I took lots of notes!

Rated: B

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Everything's Coming Up Josey (Steeple Hill Cafe) by Susan May Warren

Josey Berglund knows she needs a change -- big time! Her ex has just married her sister, and her best friend has just announced his engagement. So, her friend, H's, suggestion that she "do something" with her life, coupled with a guest-preacher's call to service, has Josey packing her bags for ... Russia!

The people Josey meets in Moscow are quite the interesting bunch: Caleb, the grunge-boy; Auntie Milla & Vovka - her neighbors; and her roomate, Tracey, who's got plenty of boy-troubles of her own.

Between teaching ESL for Moscow Bible Church, dealing with her roomate, and trying to figure out why her love-life has gone so horribly wrong, Josey questions God about His plans for her life. She knows He has some, but she's very confused as to what they might be! Through it all, Josey realizes that she won't get far in life trying to keep the reins ... she has to "let go & let God" before her ride will smooth itself out.

I loved this book -- could hardly put it down! Josey is a very loveable character, with very real struggles. Auntie Milla is hilarious ... Vovka is persistent. And, Chase will make you drool. ;o)

The only complaint I had with this book (and I hate having complaints about a book by an author whose work I love!) is that it needs a better editor. There were spelling mistakes everywhere, and sometimes complete words were missing!

Otherwise, though, this is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it! Susan's writing is uplifting, and real. Great stuff! :o)

Rated: A

Saturday, May 27, 2006


The Gathering Place by Becca Anderson

Casey Ellis feels unfulfilled in her church. The sermons are used to "guilt" members into service; the members' prayers are self-seeking. Casey desires a closer walk with the Lord and realizes she won't find it there.

While browsing in the Christian bookstore, Casey meets Lydia Steele. Over coffee, Lydia describes her church, "The Gathering Place" and its members that call themselves "the Body". Casey's hopes rise as she wonders if God is leading her to seek Him through the Bodylife. The more entrenched Casey becomes in the Body, though, the more she realizes it isn't God calling her there at all!

Much of the book contains unbelievable situations, such as Casey's immediate trust in Lydia and the Bodylife members' financial support despite lack of employment. Yet readers will still relate to Casey's desire to walk closer with God. Those who have experienced spiritual abuse may find strength in reading of how Casey struggles to get free. [August, 307p., $13.99]

Monday, May 22, 2006


Stolen Lives by Brian Reaves

Robert Whitney has the perfect life until trucker Derek Morrison steals his family with one wrong move. Robert rages at God for the injustice, and is determined to get revenge on his own using his knowledge of hacking and social engineering.

Derek Morrison's life has never been picture-perfect, but he has his wife and son to make him happy. That is, until Robert steps in and starts to dole out his "justice". With the help of two private investigators, Derek finds out what Robert is up to and is determined to stop him before he goes too far.

Reaves' book has all the makings of an excellent suspense / thriller. The multiple viewpoints are handled well and keep the story interesting. The two budding romances add to the excitement, and readers will be kept on the edge of their seats wondering how things will turn out. Aside from a few ends that are tied up a bit too neatly, this book is well crafted and intense!

Highly recommended!

(To be published: August 2006)

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Rachel's Prayer by Leisha Kelly

Readers who are familiar with the Hammond / Wortham Family saga will be delighted in this latest addition from Leisha Kelly. Ms. Kelly shines a light of hope for those dealing with challenging and difficult circumstances.

Robert Wortham, along with Kirk, Willy and Joe Hammond, have signed up for service during World War II. Both families are proud of their boys' willingness to fight for their country. Though, as the war wages on, they find that it will take a tremendous amount of faith to wait it out.

A letter from Robert provides a lifeline as it contains a prayer written by his girlfriend, Rachel. As his family prays RACHEL'S PRAYER, they find the strength needed to trust God for His best.

Through hardships and trials, the Hammonds and Worthams come to discover the true value of friendship and family. It is this realization, along with a strong faith in God, which gets them through to the end.

Rated: C

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


The Hadassah Covenant by Tommy Tenney & Mark Andrew Olsen

The First Lady of Israel, Hadassah ben Yuda, is in danger. Someone wants her killed, but who? And, could it be linked to her family's story ... a story that details the friendship of the first Hadassah (otherwise known as Queen Esther) and her friend, Leah?

Ari Meyer is an undercover agent with the Mossad, a police unit within Iraq. On one of his missions, Ari uncovers a set of documents that could throw the whole nation of Israel into turmoil.

When Hadassah ben Yuda begins a search for her family's history, she is introduced to Ari Meyer, and the two of them become entwined in a life-threatening search, as well as a race against time!

This sequel to "Hadassah: One Night with the King" was excellent! The tension was high, and the sections of Queen Esther's journal that were interspersed with the modern-day story, made the book that much more compelling. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen!

Highly recommended!

Rated: A

Friday, March 31, 2006


He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown

This was an amazing book that really put into perspective, for me, the realities of the unseen spiritual warfare that takes place on a daily basis!

Occults are very real, and there is a lot that goes on all around us that most people never realize! The authors of this book give you a vivid insider's account, and it makes you really sit up and pay attention!


Rated: B+

Monday, February 27, 2006


Rekindled by Tamera Alexander

Larson Jennings doesn't feel he's worthy of his wife, Kathryn -- he feels he doesn't deserve her. These feelings are only heightened by his accident.

Not seeing her husband for over 5 months, Kathryn believes the worst, and attempts to move on with her life.

This story is a very well-written, beautiful tale that tells of how God can take tragedy, and make from it something beautiful -- far more beautiful and amazing than our human minds could ever imagine or hope for.

I loved how the author used each chapter ending to leave you wanting more. And, I loved how she also used humor to keep the story light.

Highly recommended!

I look forward to reading more by Ms. Alexander, for sure!

Rated: A (excellent!)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

REVIEW: GIFTED HANDS: The Dr. Ben Carson Story

Gifted Hands by M.D., Carson, Murphey

I've got a lot of "favorite" books, but one of my top ones is "GIFTED HANDS: THE DR. BEN CARSON STORY" by Dr. Ben Carson with Cecil Murphey. It's a memoir of how Dr. Carson grew up in a poor, African American neighborhood, and yet, because of his mother's love and influence, he went on to become head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. It's an amazingly inspiring book! I read it first as a teen, and then again a year or two ago, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It sends the message that you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to, despite your circumstances, if you really work hard, and put all you've got into it. :o)

Rated: A+ (excellent!)

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Finding Anna by Christine Schaub

Horatio Gates Spafford is a man driven to excel at what he does. He works for endless hours, and his wife suffers the consequences.
Anna Spafford is a woman with a quiet spirit. She often takes life as it is given to her, bowing to others' wishes, even if her needs and wants go unmet in the process.
And, God has a way of reaching these people, even through the shells they've built around themselves.
I was not completely taken with this book. I found it very frustrating that the author more often "told" rather than "showed", and this same frustration is the reason, I believe, why I didn't connect with the characters, or come to care for them. I felt very removed from this story.
Despite these flaws, the messages sprinkled throughout this book are quite powerful: strength and peace despite suffering, forgiveness when it's hardest, living a life of servitude, and leading others to Christ by example rather than preaching.
Not a wonderful book, but not a bad book, either.

Rated: C (average)

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Wow, what a powerful book! I think that this book was/is sooo popular because so many people could probably relate to it in some way or other. I found myself really relating to Scarlett in a lot of ways (I don't want to say in the *bad* ways, but I think we all have a little of that in us, no?). Anyhoo. It was oftentimes a very depressing book, and it's left me with a really melancholy feeling on putting it down -- partly because it wasn't a "happy ending" (and I'm a sucker for those), and partly because I'm sorry to see the book go. I was really enjoying it, despite its length! (This is the longest book I've ever read! Yay!)
I hated the descriptions of the war, as that is sooo not my cup of tea. I hate conflict in any way, shape or form. And, I cringed at the treatment of the African-American peoples... the slavery, the derrogatory terms, etc.
But, I loved all the rest -- Scarlett's determination and bullheadedness, and Melanie's forgiving, sweet spirit, and Ashley's honor, and Rhett's savage but loving personality.
I'll probably reread this book some day! :o)

As for now, I'm going to be getting the movie from the library and watching that to see how closely my imagination and the movie fit. ;o)

Excellent book! Highly recommended, if you've not yet had a chance to read it. :o)