Archive for ‘Book Review’

August 2, 2010

Fatal Convictions by Randy Singer


Alexander Madison is part lawyer, part pastor, and part con artist. When a Muslim imam is accused of instigating honor killings, Alex must decide whether to take the case that every other lawyer in town is running away from. He doesn’t realize until it’s too late that defending the imam may cost him the one thing in life he cares about most. Fatal Convictions is the story of a lawyer willing to risk it all and the women who must choose between faith and love.

Set in Virginia Beach, this book examines the stereotypes and misconceptions about faith. It traces one man’s race against time as he searches for truth in order to save another’s life. His search leads him across the ocean to the heart of Beirut. In the process, he is forced to question his motives and examine his values.

His faith is tested and the time comes when he has to decide what he stands for and if he is going to stand at all. This is typical of each and every one of us. We all get to the point where we need to know what we stand for and why we are standing. What our parents said or the Pastor (Imam) taught will no longer hold. It has to be a personal choice and a personal discovery.

The book is replete with several quotable nuggets of wisdom but one I particularly liked was

“The test of faith is not just whether it helps you live well; the real test of faith is whether it allows you to die well”

Death, or the willingness to die is a strong theme in this book. The women that were beheaded were willing to die. The Imam got to a state where he was ready to die. And Alex Madison committed to doing what he knew was right even when possible death stared him in the face.

This book was very well researched. Being a lawyer and a Pastor himself , the author was able to get into the DNA of both. What is truly awesome here is how he was able to present both religions (Islam and Christianity) with such objectivity and knowledge. Reading the book, you are left to make up your mind about a lot of things. If you are one of those readers who does not like being spoon-fed in a novel, this is definitely for you.

Fatal Convictions contains a really strong narrative, showing Randy Singer as a master story teller. He keeps you hanging at the edge of your seat till the very end. Even though I guessed whodunnit – correctly, I was still taken by surprise. There are some unexpected twists and surprises. It is definitely a book worth reading.

Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

July 17, 2010

Book Review: The Wolf of Tebron


The Wolf of Tebron

The book opens with a battered, wounded wizard, fleeing the forces of darkness. His desperate attempt to save his family from the invaders is only partially successful as his protective spell does not hold completely. He is able to save his son, barely, and hands him over to a bear for safekeeping.

We see the son, now a grown man. He is a young blacksmith and has the gift of mindspeaking to animals. We are introduced to Joran and we get a glimpse of his family, where he has always felt like an outsider. Two things seem to motivate our young hero: anger and a need to belong. With these motivations crystallized in our minds, the book begins.

Like all good epic fantasy novels worth their name, there is a journey. So our hero embarks on a journey into his dreams in search of the wife he sent away. At this point, enters the wolf of Tebron who before now was just a shadow, existing in the fringes of Jaron’s life. Jaron saves his life and gains a travel companion. Together they brave the elements and many times, Ruyah the wolf is what comes between Jaron and certain death.

His quest takes Jaron and his four-footed companion to the house of the moon where he meets the moon’s sister Cielle, who is not really the moon’s sister after all. She gives him a souvenir, which she claims will save his life and sends him on his way to the Palace of the Sun.

From there it is one adventure after another. They get to the Palace of the Sun and move on to the Cave of the Wind. Their final destination is the Sea. They face different trials on the way and both Ryah and Joran come close to death, which each needing to save the other. Eventually though, the wolf gives his life to save Joran’s.

This is a book about a journey and a man. But it is more that man’s journey into himself. Joran discovers himself. By letting go of his anger and bitterness, he finally becomes at peace with himself and finds belonging.

It is also a story of great love and how the power of love can cause deliverance. Love propelled Joran to keep searching for his wife, even though he had convinced himself that it was anger that drove him. In the same way, love saved him from death; love for and of the wolf.

The use of imagery and strong metaphor is gripping. The reader’s imagination is engaged and the plot is not predictable. Which is a good thing as we keep turning the pages to find out what is around the next corner.

This is a very good book from C. S. Lakin and already, my husband is quite hooked.

C. S. Lakin is a multitasker. While running a bed and breakfast inn and raising two daughters, Lakin wrote three novels and a cookbook. In addition to The Wolf of Tebron, her mystery novel, Someone to Blame, winner of the Zondervan first novel contest, comes out in October 2010. Born into a family of writers, Lakin is also a member of several writing groups including American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network. Now working on her ninth novel, Lakin also has experience developing television series and is a member of Christian Filmmakers. Lakin currently lives in California where she is a freelance copyeditor and writing mentor.

Title: “The Wolf of Tebron”
Author: C.S. Lakin
Publisher: AMG Publishers/Living Ink Books
Website: 
Category: Youth Fantasy Fiction
Publication Date: August 2010
ISBN-13: 978-089957-888-0
Page Count: 248

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publishers free of charge.

July 8, 2010

Priscilla Shirer – One in a Million: Book Review


Title: “One in a Million”

Author: Priscilla Shirer

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group

Publisher website: www.bhpublishinggroup.com

Book website: www.goingbeyond.com

Category: Christian

Date of publication: March 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0-8054-6476-4

Summary

In her latest book, Priscilla Shirer explores the plight of the Israelites through the wilderness and encourages Christians to stop limiting their faith to hearing God’s promises on Sunday mornings. She challenges readers to actually listen and make a conscious effort to experience God’s miracles in their day-to-day life.

About the Author

Priscilla Shirer, the daughter of well-known author and pastor Dr. Tony Evans, currently resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and their three sons. One of today’s most popular Christian speakers, she appears regularly with Beth Moore and Kay Arthur at Deeper Still conferences. She holds a master’s degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary.

My Thoughts

‘One in a Million’ by Priscilla Shirer explored the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the crossing of the Jordan River and in the process, gave a parallel exploration of the Christian journey and the many phases encountered.

It takes the reader step by step, from the parting of the read sea, to the meeting with God at Mount Sinai right through to Kardesh-barnea which she termed the ‘Oasis of Complacency’, so named because it was an Oasis where the Israelited decided to camp and roam around even though it was so close to the Promised Land.

The book examines our heart condition as we go through life as Christians. Her writing was both honest and emotional and made me search my own heart and my motivation in walking with God. My relationship with God came under a lot of questioning and scrutiny.

If you find yourself getting to a false start, do not let it discourage you. Keep at it. I found that I almost gave up reading the book in the first few chapters; it dragged a bit. But I kept at it and soon, it became almost impossible to drop. Yet, ‘One in a Million’ is not fast food; it certainly isn’t a fare to be rushed. Many times after reading something particularly thought provoking, I had to drop the book and just ponder. To get the most of this book, you need to take it bite size.

I found myself very reluctant to get to the end of the book because it did feel like I was on a journey with Ms Shirer. Her style was so personalised and the use of personal examples from her own life spoke loudest.

I definitely plan on reading this book again and again. It is a spark of revival which starts deep within the heart of the reader.

If I am to rate this book, I will give it 5 stars *****

Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge by the Publicists. I was under no obligation to give a good review

June 12, 2010

Book Review: Shattered by Frank Pastore


Title: Shattered: Struck Down, But Not Destroyed

Author: Frank Pastore; Ellen Vaughn

Publishers: Tyndale House Publishers

Category: Christian/Autobiographical

ISBN: 978-1-58997-611-5

Shattered is an autobiography or a memoir of Frank Pastore, a former professional baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. Although it is a coming of age story, in so many ways it is also a great love story. A story of the enduring love between Frank and Gina, a story of how the love of baseball brought a sort of redemption and a greater love story of how the love of Christ can change the identity of a man.

Raised in an abusive home environment, Frank was the awkward geek-child in school. He suffered humiliation from his peers and neglect from his mother. Baseball was more than just a sport, it was the passion which gave him a sense of belonging and an identity. The identity was distorted, but not for long. Through a teacher, his intellect was awakened and his confidence grew. Baseball was a lifeline, bringing many good things to Frank’s life, including Gina.

The book traces Frank’s struggles as he attempts to play baseball and obtain an ivy league education. It details his struggles as a young man with a conflicting sense of self. It also takes us through his elopement with the 16 year old Gina in a way that is both touching and humorous.

With the same touching humour, he recounts getting into the Major Leagues and all that came with it. Frank and Gina were living the American Dream. However, like all dreams, it all ended one day. This book deals with how Frank handled the end of his Major League dreams and how God used that to draw him close. Frank who was an atheist, finally embraced God. But even that came with its own heart break. Putting back the broken pieces of his life took the healing hand of God and it came in a way that was totally unexpected.

Reading this memoir brought a lot of encouragement to me. It made me realise that despite our pig headedness, God still finds a way to work out his beautiful plans for our lives.

I had a bit of a problem with the almost-18 year old Frank kissing a 13 year old Gina; that was just wrong in my mind and it kept popping up as I read through the book. Nevertheless, theirs is a sweet love story.

Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book and I enjoyed reading every aspect of it.

April 11, 2010

Book Review: Sleep, It Does A Family Good


Author: Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Publishers: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

This book was received free of charge from the Tyndale Blog Network. They requested a review in return for the book.

Sleep, It Does A Family Good by Dr. Archibald D. Hart takes readers on a voyage of discovery. It contains what you need to know about sleep; your sleep cycle and how sleep affects your family.

He started with a convincing argument on why the family needs sleep and went on to detail what sleep does for a person. He identified five stages of sleep and tied the importance of sleep to the health of the body.

Sleep has its patterns and those patterns can quite easily be interfered with. One of such disruptions for instance, is jetlag. However, Dr. Hart mentioned six ways to restore the body’s clock and these are:

    1. Going to bed at the same time every night
    2. Getting out of bed at the same time every morning
    3. Exposing yourself to lots of daylight as early as possible
    4. Darkening your home environment one hour before daylight
    5. If you have to stay up late one night, get to bed earlier the next night
    6. If you know your sleep will be deprived ahead of time, such as when traveling, try sleeping some extra time ahead.
The chapter which caught my attention was chapter 8: Sleep and Your Marriage. In that chapter, the author stated that sleep could make or break a marriage. He said

Sleep deprivation makes you cranky, irritable, angry and unhappy. How can you possibly communicate, listen or empathize? You become critical and judgmental, even depressed, and these all have an effect on the marital relationship.

He went on to examine ways in which sleep deprivation could affect a marriage and proffered some solutions.

Another fascinating concept was that of the ‘Sleep Bank’. It turns out that just like the financial bank account, there also exists a sleep bank and that sleep bank can be overdrawn or in the red. He suggested ways of managing the sleep bank so as to avoid a sleep deficit.

If you have a newborn in the house, this book is definitely for you. It teaches practical ways of managing your sleep bank even with the seeming sleeplessness of the baby and tips for getting back to sleep.

The book is fast and easy to read, I could barely put mine down. It contains a lot of real life examples with step-by-step tips and guides on acquiring a better sleep life. One unique aspect of the book is the way the author approached his subject from a Godly angle. Although the spirituality was not blatant, the writing was clearly God-centered.

A lot of families in the US are losing sleep every day due to one sleep disorder or the other. This situation is not limited to the US alone but is common in most urban cities.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a healthier life.
March 12, 2010

Book Review: A Multi-Site Church Road Trip


Title: A Multi-Site Church Road Trip

Authors: Geoff Surrat, Greg Ligon & Warren Bird

Publishers: Zondervan, 1 edition (October 1, 2009)

I received the book, A Multi-Site Church Road Trip free from Zondervan and they asked for a review.

A Multi-Site Church Road Trip by Geoff Surrat, Greg Ligon and Warren Bird is a book which examines the journey towards the Multi-Site Church. It follows the route traveled by several Churches and focuses on what worked for them and what did not work.

The book explores several ways of evangelism or Church planting and takes the time to distinguish between a Church with multi sites and a Church of multi sites. This difference seems to be relevant in that it affects the whole structure of the Church. A good example was the New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, which opened different campuses on different Islands. Their approach was varied; some of the campuses achieved full independent status while others remained tied to the mother Church. In contrast was the Little Rock Bible Church, Arkansas, which had three campuses located in the same Church premises.

The point here was the flexibility of the Multi-Site model.

Different location realities where examined with a focus on what was actually feasible and what was not. The internet as a virtual campus was also explored.

It seems the main purpose of the Multi-Site Church is dual: (1) To positively affect communities and (2) To give room for new emerging leaders to grow.

I grew up an MK (Missionary Kid) so I must say that I appreciate this book; It brings the work of evangelism and Church planting along practical and doable lines. It is a step-by-step handbook with the benefit of other Churches’ experiences to guide a Church wanting to go multi-site.

It is easy to read and the style of writing flows seamlessly. The use of stories of other Churches keeps the book interesting and the pages turning. I recommend this book for Pastors, Church leaders, Missionaries and anyone who is interested in ways of getting the gospel of Christ out.

You can purchase the book from Amazon.com