Friday, May 27, 2016

People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
Surprised and relieved by turn, I stayed with this book until the last page.

Who would you be if everyone thought you were dead -- and you let them think that? If you walked away from your family and friends and made a completely new life for yourself? How would you reinvent yourself? Protect yourself from discovery?

This is a beautiful and terrible book of choices and consequences. I read Emily's story as if she was me ... or my sister. Hooper writes a journey of discovery, hiding, and hope.

Well worth picking up. You'll be sorry to see the final paragraph.

Friday, May 20, 2016

An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter

★★★☐☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
How important is social standing and ambition? This historical novel explores how our own expectations define our options and choices.

Hunter offers a good story. This historical novel showcases the limbing up the soclal ladder, restricting access to other people, and wanting to keep her high status, young Lady Hawthorne moves through society as an up-and-coming noble.

The tale helped me think about my own ideas of what is important. Am I behaving in certain ways to impress others? Or am I willing to be true to God's call for me, regardless of what others expect of me?

Easy to read and good fun on a lazy summer evening.

The House on Windridge by Tracie Peterson (Bonus: Lucy's Quilt by Joyce Livingston)

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
2 sweet stories that explore the challenges and rewards of living well.

Life can be a challenge. It's also filled with adventure as we learn to love others, learn to accept and pursue meaningful relationships, and care for those who depend on us.

Peterson and Livingstone give us two tales of women who do their best to be faithful and true to their families and communities, giving themselves to others. They are rewarded love and kindness.

If you need a good read to pass the time or relax, I recommend this!

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

★★★★★  The publisher provided a copy for review
Anne Tyler writes about the world in our heads. I look forward to reading her books, often more than once. I love the way she explores the interior life, full of mystery, hope, and puzzles.

Vinegar Girl explores family dynamics and the patterns that determine our behavior. Even modern women can fall into habits that define their lives.

Kate Battista is a brilliant and creative 20-something drifting through life, puzzled by the social and cultural expectations of others. She maintains life for her family, defined by her father, a researcher who typifies the stereotype of an "absent-minded professor." I laughed at Tyler's descriptions and fell in love with her characters.

Highly recommended. Will make you sigh, smile, and read it more than once.

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz

★★★★★  The publisher provided a copy for review.
Lotz challenges us to consider our role in God's plans by praying in the manner of Daniel. Rather than casually praying - now and again - or praying only in desperate times, the author asks questions like, "Do you have a time, place, and purpose for praying? Have you committed to pray? Are you disciplined about keeping your appointment with God?"

These are a few of many reflections and encouragements to pray with purpose and deliberation. I highly recommend this book, even though some may not feel called to be intercessors. The ideas will inspire anyone interested in a deeper relationship with God and those who are appealing to God on behalf of others.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Does God Exist? And 51 Other Compelling Questions About God and the Bible by Conway, Bobby

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
Conway is the pastor of a non-denominational church and founder of "The One Minute Apologist." This collection of questions offers viewpoints from the perspective of a conservative, non-charismatic Protestant.

Conway intersperses 52 theological questions like "God who are you?" and "Who is the Trinity" with social and moral questions like "Is it okay to smoke marijuana?" and Does the Bible approve of sex changes?" It explores social responsibility and hot-buttons: "Should Christians vote?" and "Did love win in the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage?"

I found the juxtaposition of topics strange and occasionally disconcerting. The scope of the questions is far-reaching. The number of questions makes this an interesting exploration, especially for inquirers who are new to Christian faith.

As a Pentecostal believer, I may disagree with some of the finer points of Conway's theology, but nothing here will undermine an honest quest for scriptural truth.

I liked the format of the chapter reviews: Thought to Ponder; a memory verse, a Question to Consider, and a link to a "One-Minute Apologist Video."

Recommended for inquirers. Also recommended for Christians who want to examine their beliefs today's climate of changing values ... in light of scripture and American Christianity.