Thursday, August 16, 2018

Can I Just Hide in Bed Till Jesus Comes Back?

Can I Just Hide in Bed 'til Jesus Comes Back?: Facing Life with Courage, Not Comforters by Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield

This nonfiction book from Tyndale House Publishers shares friendly advice for people who are overwhelmed by life.  It's primarily written for women, but I think men would find some of the tips useful as well. The light, direct style makes it seem shorter than 256 pages.  It has several personal stories, as well as amusing lists and Scripture verses. The chapters are short, perfect for reading in brief moments. 

While I appreciate what the authors were trying to do, the book wasn't quite what I expected. I have been dealing with depression for a few years. so when I saw this book, I thought it would be helpful. Maybe it's just my situation or preferences, but the lighthearted tone and humorous style didn't really fit well with the topic. It seemed too quirky and pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Maybe some people prefer it that way, but the tone felt like it wasn't taking issues seriously.  

I received a free copy from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Two of five stars.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

They Were Single Too

They Were Single Too by David M. Hoffeditz is an updated nonfiction book highlighting eight Biblical individuals.  It's primarily informative about the Biblical figures mentioned. The book has one chapter each on Paul, Anna, Martha, Jeremiah, Ruth, Joseph, Nehemiah, and John the Baptist. I really appreciated the variety of people mentioned--Anna's years of widowhood present an entirely different perspective than Paul's ministry or Joseph's temptations.The book is less than 150 pages long, and each chapter ends with a few brief questions for reflection.
I found this book quick and easy to read, with a good tone and perspective. It might be a good conversation starter for a a small group.It also has good historical context and background for the Biblical characters.
Some books meant for single adults are just aimed at 20-something year olds. The author of this book acknowledges that not all singles are that age. The examples cover a wide range of ages, so that singles of a variety of ages will find something useful in this book. I really enjoyed reading it and will probably read it again.  If you're looking for something addressing church culture and singleness, this is an okay place to start but not really sociology-oriented.
Three and a half of five stars.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Unreformed Martin Luther

Nearly 500 after Martin Luther (supposedly) nailed his 95 Thesis to a church door, his historical significance is undeniable. But just who was he? Over time, the truth has been clouded by myths and legends. Did his wife escape a convent in a herring barrel? Did he intend to create a new denomination?
In The Unreformed Martin Luther, author and theologian Andreas Malessa examines 25 of the most common "facts" about Luther, considering the historical context, Luther's own words, and more. At the same time, he reviews the basic history of Luther's life and provides a background for those who may not be familiar with early Protestant history.
This 160-page book is written in a conversational, easy-to-read tone.  Middle schoolers and older should be able to read this without too much difficulty, but interest will vary. It's a good introduction to church history for a variety of ages, but parents of younger children might what to skip over some of the chapters.  The author also does a good job of showing how Luther's influence impacts the church and society today.
I would give this book three stars out of five. I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Questioning Evangelism

Witnessing is hard.  Even if you get up the guts to start the conversation and it seems to be going well, sooner or later, there'll be a question you just can't answer.
But maybe that isn't such a bad thing. Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman, offers a different method for sharing the gospel. While there are many good Christian apologetic books, that's only one part of the puzzle. Sure, you can argue that the world is so complex it has to be created, or that the historical evidence supports the Bible's accuracy--both of which are true--but basic concepts such as absolute truth are taken for granted.
Instead, this book suggests starting with questions.
Answering a question with a question, then, often has significant advantages over using direct answers. It brings to the surface the questioner's assumptions. It also takes the pressure off you-the one being asked- and puts the pressure on the one who is doing the asking.
As well as asking questions, the book also encourages believers to listen during conversations.  Trying to badger someone into accepting the gospel with an overload of evidence can easily backfire. The book also includes several examples of how conversations could go when faced with common objections.  

I really appreciated this book because it seems like a more natural way of witnessing, and one where you don't have to have all the answers
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I was given a copy of this book by Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Befriend

Befriend by Scott Sauls is a 200-page nonfiction book exploring different aspects of friendship in the modern world. Each chapter focuses on befriending various groups, such as "wrecked and restless," "the ones you can't control" and  "bullies and perpetrators." The chapters each conclude with a summary, Scripture references, and questions to ponder.
While I admire the author's purpose, I found myself disappointed in the practice. While the book defends the institution of friendship and supports connections across a wide spectrum of people, it serves as more of an overview and defense than a guide.  For example, chapter 11, "Befriend the Children" is only five pages long. It has an introduction, a section headed 'shifting our priorities,' a section headed 'showing ourselves, showing the Father,' and the summary. Other chapters are likewise brief. That does help reluctant readers by condensing the information, but it doesn't address deeper issues. I was hoping for more information about building and repairing friendships, not just 'oh, you should have some.'
I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

The time Mom met Hitler, Frost came to Dinner, and I heard the greatest story ever told: a memoir

The time Mom met Hitler, Frost came to dinner, and I heard the greatest story ever told: a memoir by Dikkon Eberhart, is a 300-page memoir telling the story of Dikkon Eberhart. His father, Richard Eberhart, was a Pultizer Prize-winning poet, who also was the United States Poet Laureate from 1959-1961. Growing up, Dikkon frequently met literary and society icons around the dinner table. But being surrounded by these icons left him uncertain how to lead his own life.

I requested this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review, but I really wasn't quite sure what I was requesting at the time: short stories? Historical fiction? Memoir isn't a genre I read much anyway, so I had no preconceived notions when I read it.

The author has a clean, professional style and keeps the pace moving well, with plenty of interesting incidents and a good sense of what details to include in a story and which ones to leave out.  As an English major, I recognized most of the people mentioned in the story, but none of them really jumped out at me.

If you like memoir or the late 20th century, this is a good book, but I have no plans to reread.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Call the Midwife and plots

There are  (at least) two ways to consider any story: on the emotional level or on the structural level. At any given time, I'm probably analyzing both.  And with last night's episode of Call the Midwife, I set out to determine just how many heartbreaking storylines they can fit in 1 hour. Starting with the overall season arc, it goes as follow (spoilers):
The primary arc of Sister Ursula taking over Nonnatus was brought to a conclusion after the near-fatal accident that befell Lucy and Lin. I am always impressed by how the show develops one-episode characters, including backstory and the ongoing effects of said backstory. The backstory for Lucy's mother-in-law was well-done and realistically portrayed. Likewise, Sister Ursula's history explained her actions, but didn't excuse that. Also, I loved Nurse Crane's interaction with Sister Ursula, explaining Barbara's actions and the results....just, Nurse Crane seems to have taken over Sister Evangeline's role as resident hardliner.
The Turner's storyline about the mother and baby home was also well done, historical but relevant for many people. The ever-present trend of cutting local services can be seen in rural Midwest clinics as well as 1960s London.
Then you get the smaller, individual storylines: Trixie's return, Sister Monica Joan and the television, and Sheila's pregnancy. The later will continue into the next episode, from what I've seen online, but it's nice to have some lighter moments too.  The moment when the man carries out the bench and pulls back the blinds for Sister Monica Joan....hilarious and heartwarming at the same time.