Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sacred Meal

I found this book to be very disturbing. Author Nora Gallagher had been asked to write a book about communion – the sacred meal- as a part of Thomas Nelson’s Ancient Practices Series. I was eager to read this book as Communion is such an important part of our life as believers, and it’s so easy to fall into the routine of taking communion, while neglecting to reflect on the significance of it.

I expected this book to look to the Scriptures to see what God has said about the practice that He ordained. Sadly, this book is page after page of the author’s thoughts and feelings, both about communion and a myriad of unrelated things that really have no bearing on communion whatsoever. There is very little Scripture used, and when it is its misapplied or misrepresented.

Here is one example is found on pages 23-24. Gallagher is discussing the last supper and Christ’s words to the disciples, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

She says,
“Instead, I think Jesus wanted his disciples and everyone who came after him to remember what they had together. What they made together. What it meant to be together. How the things he wanted them to do could not be done alone. How the things he did could not have been done without them.”(page 24 - emphasis hers)

Clearly, there are many things wrong with just this one paragraph. For one, there is NOTHING that He could not have done without them. He was God incarnate. They were lowly men. But my point in using this paragraph as an example is to show how the author completely ignores what Scripture says about Communion. The Scriptures tell us what we are to be remembering, His death until He comes (1Cor 11:23-26). Not what they did together.

It really doesn’t matter what we think or how we feel about communion; all that really matters is what God has said about it in His Word.

I received a complimentary review copy of the book from Thomas Nelson, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Radical by David Platt

Subtitle: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

In “Radical” best-selling author/pastor David Platt calls American Christians to evaluate their lives and their finances in light of the teachings of Christ.

I must admit I expected this book to be the social gospel for the Twenty-First century.

I was wrong. This is not doing good works to earn salvation, but rather doing them because of our salvation.

The true gospel is clearly preached throughout this book – he is spot on in that regard. This isn’t about the social gospel, but rather examining where our treasure is. It’s a call to Christians to carefully consider what a need is and what is a luxury. How much more could we give if we cut out the extras? How big of a house do we need? How about our churches – do we need huge buildings with comfy seats while our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world suffer?

The author admits there are far more questions than answers. I appreciate that this was not written in a legalistic manner, and it doesn’t condemn. He is just asking valid questions; questions that we must all answer for ourselves.

My one big concern with this book is that it seems to almost bring good works up to gospel level; as if they are a second part of the gospel, rather than an evidence of our faith. Please notice I said almost. He does not claim this, but I fear that it could easily be interpreted that way and turned into legalism and/or the social gospel.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

You can read the first chapter HERE.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Amy Inspired

Amy Gallagher is a twenty-nine year old aspiring writer and teacher. Rejection letters are piling up while her roommate gets published. Her brother is marrying while she is still alone – and she begins to really examine herself and her past. At the same time, her roommate invites a very interesting but unavailable man to stay with them while he makes changes in his life.

This is an interesting book. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. It’s deep, somewhat melancholy, introspective, poetic, artistic, slightly romantic, reflective, sobering yet hopeful. The book deals with some very difficult issues – divorce, cancer, death, and substance abuse – but the author very carefully handles these issues from a biblical perspective and shows how these circumstances have affected the faith of the people involves.

Pair it with a comfy blanket and warm cup of tea and you have a perfect rainy day read.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Highland Blessings

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

-Scotland, 1473

The MacKenzie and MacPhearson clans have been warring for many years. Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie, the clan leader’s daughter, on her wedding day to keep a promise to his dying father.

Ten years earlier his father, the MacPhearson clan leader, had signed an agreement with Akira’s father to attempt to end the hostilities between the clans by arranging for Akira, then just a child, to marry his son. However, he was killed on his way back to MacPhearson castle, and only his sons know of the arrangement.

After Akira is forced to marry Bryce she chooses to act in accordance with 1 Peter 3:1,2 (Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives) and models exemplary faith and unites with her husband in an effort to end the bloodshed. However, someone appears to be trying to thwart their efforts, and they will stop at nothing, including murder.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The author has clearly spent many hours researching the era and the traditions of that time. The Scottish Highlands really come to life with her vivid descriptions. From looming castles to sword fights, family crests, and clan plaids every detail is brilliant. The author also accurately describes the problems that arose because Bible were scarce and the few that existed were in Latin.

It has both action and romance, but what I most appreciated about the book was how strongly Akira’s faith came through. It seems that so often Christian fiction are just books that mention God, but this truly is a God-honoring book that is full of faith and will encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

You can download the first chapter HERE.

Also, visit Jennifer Hudson Taylor's blog:

What Your Son Isn't Telling You

This book is a look inside the mind of a typical Christian teenage boy. The authors cover all of the teenage issues and offer sound, biblical advice on how to guide your teenage son through the difficult years of adolescence. The book includes many true stories and questions/comments that teenage boys have sent them.

If you have a son entering the teenage years this is a book I would recommend. However, if you have read other books on this topic, you may not find anything new here.

I have a teenage son who is really struggling and I was hoping to find help here. While there is some valuable advice here, most of it seems to be geared towards boys who have true saving faith. Just being raised in a Christian home does not mean that our sons have been converted and by the time they are teens they may have completely rejected our faith. If that is the case for your son, as it is with mine, there really isn’t much help to be found in this book. Having read several other similar books, I didn’t really find anything new in this one.

I must mention that I did receive a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.


Mystery, suspense, romance, intrigue, and double-crossing make this a read-in-one-sitting thriller.

Rylee Monroe is a dog walker in a wealthy Charleston neighborhood. She loves her job and her clients trust her. However a string of burglaries begin to plague the neighborhood and Riley seems to always be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Reporter Logan Woods is investigating the story and is intrigued but suspicious of Rylee. Though she claims to be innocent, she sure looks guilty.

This book is beautifully written. The neighborhood and the characters are described in rich detail. It is fast-paced and keeps you hanging on until the very end.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Hatteras Girl

By Alice Wisler

This is the story of Jackie Donovan a young woman living in the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. There are two things she most wants in life – to own a bed and breakfast, more specifically the Bailey House, and to marry a wonderful man.

But for now, she is a writer at the Lighthouse views while she lives with her recently widowed childhood friend and helps to raise her son.

While working on a story she meets Davis Erickson, a man who seems to hold the keys to both of her dreams, but all is not as it would seem.

Overall, I liked this book. It is written in the first person, which I found to be very frustrating for the first few chapters. After about five chapters it stopped bothering me, but at first it was very annoying. It is a bit slow moving, but that allows the reader to really get comfortable with the characters and ends up being part of the appeal of the book. The characters are very real and relatable. By the end I found myself hoping for a sequel.

There is one very unique feature in this book that I absolutely love - there are recipes in the back of the book for the different foods mentioned throughout. I love trying new recipes and I am so glad they were included.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.


By Nancy Moser

Masquerade is the beautiful story of young Charlotte Gleason, a very spoiled rich girl who has led a very privileged and sheltered life, and Dora Connors, her ladies maid.

Set in the Gilded Age, Lottie is being sent by her parents to marry a wealthy American heir to a department store fortune – one whom she has never met. On the voyage over, she hatches a plan to switch lives with Dora. She teaches Dora all the ins-and-outs of high society while she prepares herself to live a normal life in America, and marry for love.

A few twists of fate, and she ends up living in tenement housing in New York in extreme poverty, while Dora lives a life of opulence.

I loved this book! Both girls find themselves in many sticky situations while trying to maintain their life of deceit. Dora uses her wit brilliantly to cover for her many social blunders, while Lottie sees the harsh reality of how the other half lived.

The book was very clearly thoroughly researched. Those who are familiar with the Gilded Age will recognize some of the real life characters included in the story line. From the clothing to the social etiquette and roles and expectations of the servants everything is very historically accurate.

I would strongly recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of the book from Bethany House, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.