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Friday, September 24, 2010

The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra

This book is similar to a devotional, except its focus is to encourage and inspire you. It contains the writings of many well known Christians who relied on Scripture during difficult times. This book is divided into easy to read and short passages by date, such as September 24. The subtitle accurately describes this book, "365 days of Inspiration and Wisdom for your Spiritual Journey". The book also provides insight to many topics, such as the depth of God's love and the difficulties of truly laying down your life to follow God. Each daily reading also includes a short prayer and a quote from the Bible.

Overall, I like it. The writings from well known Christians are helpful and encouraging. It, however, could be more useful if a topical index was included. It is difficult to find a particular daily reading that addresses a current struggle you face. While each daily reading is titled, the title does not fully describe the nature of the reading. For example, February 23, is titled "A Short Visit Here" and April 20, is titled "Into the Sunshine". Titles like these do not convey what the daily reading is about.

Although it does not have a topical index, I would still recommend it. Each day is new day with a daily reading that not only provides a source of encouragement, but gives insight into Scripture that can be enlightening. You may find yourself reflecting upon Scriptures in a different light, which could take your Bible study to a new level.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bleeder by John Desjarlais

This a a fictional mystery involving Stigmata and the death of a priest who was able to heal. Was the priest really able to heal? Did the priest really have Stigmata? Was the priest's death a miracle or murder? These are all mysteries and each have unexpected twists and keeps the reader glued to the book.

This book is page turner. The plot does not get boring. In fact, a new twist develops when you least expect it, making it suspenseful. The author's style of writing and his development of characters also kept my interest. The author is able to come full circle in unraveling a complex mystery that is solved by the main character, who was falsely suspected of murdering the priest. It was tempting to turn to the end to see who "did it"! It is highly entertaining and kept some mysteries open for your own thought and interpretation.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries - there is more to it than the who done it of a murder. It keeps you thinking long after about intriguing mysteries in the book that are not solved. For the author to leave some mysteries unsolved, makes the book very unique and thought provoking. This sets it apart from most mystery novels.

Sophia Institute Press sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Art of Being a Good Friend by Hugh Black

This is a book about realizing and cultivating true friendships. It's impressively thorough, meaning it's not just fluff. It describes various types of "friendships" - from acquaintance, other types of relationships to true friendship. It offers much insight into such topics as cultivating friendships and using discernment when choosing friends. In today's age of "friendship" this book demonstrates the benefits of true friendship and examines how to be a true friend. It distinguishes between one-sided friendships, using people, what can ruin friendships, and the limitations of friendship.

I really like the book. It does warn about being cynical about the possibility of true friendship, which is another way I can benefit from this book. One of my pet peeves is facebook and "friends". I do not take the word "friend" lightly and you cannot convince me that someone has over five hundred friends on facebook. The majority of these five hundred friends most likely are not true friends. (How can you even cultivate and maintain over five hundred true friendships?!).

That is why this book is so valuable in today's age. This book delves deep into the concept of true friendships and, in my opinion, facebook just serves to erode the concept of friendship. Maybe, this is part of being cynical, but with facebook being the huge social network it is, what are people really learning about friendship? I have to also note, this book was written well before facebook came into existence. I wonder what the author would say about facebook.

Sophia Institute Press sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.