Friday, December 31, 2010

"Hope, Help & Healing for Eating Disorders" by Gregory Lanz PhD with Ann McMurray

I thought I've seen it all from Christian self-help books. There were the fitness ones, the relationship ones, the emotional ones, and more. However, this is the first book focusing on eating disorders that has Christian undertones. Well, judging from the cover--and even the back cover--readers don't really know this. Only those familiar with the WaterBrook name will have an inkling. Still, the bulk of the book has to deal with clinical advice from professionals. Only small parts at the end of chapters involve the Bible, Jesus, and prayer. The book doesn't shove religion in one's face, but readers may come to know God as He is integrate into their healing process. There is a "whole person" approach that incorporates the physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, and other aspects of one's persona into recovery. There are some stories that readers may relate to. There are also questions and prompts designed for a superfluous journal not included with this book. Much focus is on diving deep into one's own person and realizing how one was hurt as a child. Forgiveness is discussed. Men are mentioned, too, so this is not just a book for women. Some of the writing may seem a bit "shrinky," but, in the introduction, the authors warn the readers that the book may not be easy but it will help. My only criticism is when the authors mention learning to love one's body and open up again to physical intimacy. I can only hope they mean confined to marriage, but this was equivocal.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"The Snowglobe" by Sheila Roberts

This is a nice little book for the holiday season. Its main downfall, though, is all the rave reviews that are included on the first few pages. People say how fantastic this book is, and I get my hopes up. Granted, there were identifiable characters that readers can relate to and the story is well crafted, I wouldn't call this book fantastic or the best Christmas book. The first few chapters are a bit slow, and just when readers get attached to one character, a new character's story shoves its foot in the door of the novel. All in all, the main part of the story is that a snow globe predicts the future differently for each person who shakes it. There is an undertone assumed that characters celebrate Christmas and are by default Christian. However, this book is not really religious. There are a few swear words and one implication of pre-marital relations (no details or scene but unmarried characters saying a line or two of dialog that implies the notion).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Bridges on the Journey" by Busa, Fobes, Miller & Sanders

Some people are fans of devotionals that are as thick as the Bibles they cite. However, for those with less spacious schedules, smaller ones are sought. This book is split into 6 sections that deal with growing closer to God. Concise Bible quotations and leading questions condense loads of lessons into a small book. Diagrams and charts are alongside page art that makes the book seem fun. Also, its spiral binding and smooth clay-like cover make it seem like more of a personal journal than just a devotional. In the back, there are a few Bible verse note cards that can be detached for memorization; I like this. What's also great is that many parts of the book make the reader think of and relate to their friends. What do I like best about this book? It makes the devotionals personal without watering down the Gospel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Flight of Shadows" by Sigmund Brouwer

As a book reviewer, I tend to get books for free. Very rarely do I read a book that I like so much that I am actually tempted to buy other books by the author. This is one of those cases. Set in the future, this is a story of a genetically-engineered young woman fleeing for her life. Narrations change as readers are taken in the shoes of the hunters and the hunted. Enough thoughts are conveyed for readers to grasp characters, but not enough is given to make any of them predictable or unlikely to make drastic changes like betrayal or redemption. Angels and demons are conveyed metaphorically as a good versus evil plot goes on. With skill, Brouwer gets this across without merely spelling it out for the reader. This book is actually a sequel to another book, but readers can still read this and get the gist of what is going on. After becoming engrossed in the story and characters, readers will simply want to read the prequel. There are some religious undertones, which are thought-provoking. This book is not suitable for young readers because it has blood, violence, murder, and suggestive scenes (when evil character tries to attack a woman, it backfires on him). Also, each little chapter was never more than a few pages long, which makes this book great since it can be interrupted often with people's busy lives. Stellar.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Double Shot" by Erynn Mangum

This book is unusual in many senses of the word. From the cover, readers can be right in assuming the book is all about marriage. The protagonist Maya experiences weddings and births from friends and families. The book starts of with Maya being already engaged. Most of the book follows her relationships with friends and family, some interactions with her fiance, and planning her own wedding. The book is not graphic and ends right at the wedding of Maya and her groom. The only risque part is when it is mentioned how Maya's girlfriends buy her lingerie; I just think that's weird. Maya tries to discern God's will when it comes to moving. In the end, her decision is expected but not necessarily backed up fully. I wasn't too fond of the overly stereotypical woman who gets married and has to many hormones, but, the pages flew by. Also, there are some positive Christian undertones. I didn't even know this book was a third in a series until I finished and looked back at the first few inner pages.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Churched" by Matthew Paul Turner

I requested this book because I had read Turner's work before and was entertained. He writes with a sincere style that shows his childhood innocence. Nothing is held back. The book deals with Turner being brought up in the fundamentalist baptist church and being exposed to various rules and fire-and-brimstone preachers. He doesn't come right out and say that he felt his church rules more than Jesus' love, but Turner has a way of conveying ideas without always just putting them down plainly. The writing is humorous. At times, he does poke fun at other denominations, but he does not seem hateful. He talks of Catholics as not knowing Jesus and worthy of hell (obviously ingrained into him as a child) but later says he almost converted to Catholicism as an adult (except he didn't care for the sitting, standing, kneeling, and cross-gesturing). I'd recommend this book, as well as his "Hear No Evil," which I have reviewed before.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"On This Day in Christian History" by Robert J. Morgan

While this book is set up like a devotional, it is unique. Instead of just a Bible verse for each day of the year with an explanation, there is a historical moment captured on the page. Yes, there are Bible verses for each day at the end of the page, but they complement the stories more than just teach readers. Each reading is a page or less and is designated for a day of the year. It starts from January first and ends on the last day of December. What's really cool is that each historical reading actually took place on the day that is prescribed for the reader. To read history of Christians is one thing, but to have a significant date to read it is awesome.