I have been given the opportunity to do some reviews on some books from a few different publishers. Some of them do not quite fit into the focus I have for Living Infuzion, but obviously have some good information. Here are some of my perspectives on some pretty good books! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When The Smoke Clears - Lynette Eason

When The Smoke Clears is the first book in the Deadly Reunions series by Lynette Eason.  It is a novel chocked full of suspense, intrigue and nail biting scenes.  Smoke jumper Alexia Allen is told to take some time after a near miss in a fire is being investigated.  She makes the decision to return to her hometown after a ten year absence.  Within hours of being back in town she is thrust into the middle of a murder investigation as a potential suspect when she discovers the body of an ex-boyfriend in her mother's house.  The story takes many twists and turns along the way and in the end while solving the murder, unveils many more questions and leaves you wanting more. 

I have never read one of Lynette Eason's novels before, but needless to say I am hooked.  Her ability to create tension and suspense is superb.  The struggles that Alexia has with her past and rectifying that with a loving God who cares for her are very real.  I loved the journey of Alexia's relationship with her mother and her struggles with forgiveness and letting go.

I cannot wait until book two comes out!!  I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a nail biting page turner.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Sixty Acres and a Bride - Regina Jennings

Widow Rosa Garner returns to Texas from Mexico along with her widowed mother-in-law Louise.  Upon their arrival, they come to find out that there is a rather large sum of money owed in back taxes. To make matters worse, they only have three months to pay it off or face losing the family ranch.  Rosa works hard to figure out ways to pay off the debt as well as adjust to the customs of her new country.  When the one honorable man she feels she can trust comes along her path she is torn between her feelings and repeating past mistakes. All is not easy for Weston either especially when his past is riddled with guilt that he cannot let go either.

From the very first words in the prologue, author Regina Jennings weaves a beautiful, different take on the biblical story of Ruth, Naomi & Boaz.  Rosa's Mexican heritage and free spirit often clash with her new home and the customs around her.  She is extremely passionate and her desire to save the land of her mother-in-law is incredibly noble.  Even at the detriment to herself.  The path towards love for Weston and Rosa is met with many obstacles including their painful pasts.  I devoured this book as soon as I opened it's pages. I found it hard to believe that this was Mrs. Jennings very first novel. I would highly recommend this novel and will most definitely read more from her!!!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Place at the Table By Chris Seay

Wow! This book is a challenge! Designed to work around Lent, this book calls the reader to fasting to stand with those that don’t HAVE. This is a 40 day devotional with readings each day that include a teaching portion, a specific prayer, and a short personal story from someone that lives in an impoverished part of the world.
Going through this book as someone living in Canada, having a job, and a car, and for the most part not having to worry about where the next meal is going to come from brings perspective. In my culture, I am by no means considered rich, but people in my culture need to be reminded that there is a whole HUGE portion of the world that has almost nothing… that has to walk miles to collect even dirty water, while people where I live complain that they don’t like the taste of just water. Even bringing the idea closer to home, there are people in my city, even my neighbourhood that struggle to make it.
This is an excellent call to fast. Seay allows the reader to come to their own reasons for the fast, but that it all be done to show solidarity with the poor among us. Jesus said that the poor will always be among us. We who are blessed should give, and share. The thing that stood out to me most in this call to fast was in whatever you fast, don’t keep it. Find a way to donate the food or the amount of money to help someone. Doing this fast will be a challenge, but very worth the spiritual growth that it bring.
I strongly recommend this book.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers & Skeptics Find Faith By Alister E. McGrath

I have been reading apologetics books for about 25 years.  I have always thought that it was a good idea to be able to answer people when they had questions about the Christian faith.  Some people listen, while other people are just plotting their next part of the argument. 

Mere Apologetics starts with section to just help a new reader understand what apologetics is.  He discusses some of the limits of the art (and science as he puts it), and goes over some of the keep ideas of how to apologetics can be applied.

This next section is where I found most interesting.  McGrath tries to show how there has been a shift in Western culture towards post-modernism.  Defining the term is difficult, but most people show how it tries to hold all perspectives as equal, and how it tries to avoid reason in favour of tolerance and story.  This was an excellent idea because most of the apologetics books I have read are well reasoned and very logical... but to the modern younger person, that makes them almost unpalatable.

There are discussions of adapting the method of delivering the message of the Gospel to the audience that it is being spoken to.  He goes to show a few examples from the Scriptures, especially from Paul speaking to different churches in different cultures.

Dr. McGrath discusses some things that he calls pointers to faith... those things that just sort of nudge us all towards the God of the universe.  He talks about some ways to discuss and demonstrate the reasonability of the Gospel in a postmodern culture.  Most communication is done in stories and images to demonstrate a point rather than to go through reasoned arguments head-on.

He addresses a few of the common objections to faith in Christ, and then he moves on to another section that I found helpful.  McGrath makes some suggestions as to how to become an apologist.  This section was great.

As Dr. McGrath says himself, this is by no means an exhaustive apologetics book, but if I was just starting out in the study, this would be an excellent first book to read.  I also noted that there are lots of quotations from books by C.S. Lewis.  When he was writing, it was the height of modernism.  It is amazing to see how his writing is still relevant now.

This is a book very worth the read.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Accidental Bride, A Big Sky Romance - Denise Hunter

Shay Brandenberger is living in Moose Creek, Montana trying to raise her daughter and keep her childhood ranch afloat.  She begrudgingly agrees to play the part of the bride in the Founder's Day wedding reenactment and is mortified to see that the groom across from her is her high school sweetheart Travis McCoy, who left her high and dry on the steps of the courthouse 14 years earlier. Suddenly the reenactment ends up becoming a legal marriage when a mistake with a marriage license occurs.  Travis comes up with a proposal that will save her ranch but may cost Shay her heart.  Can she learn to trust a man who once betrayed her? 

Shay struggles with trusting Travis with her heart after he abandoned her 14 years prior.  She also carries burdens from her childhood that she is inadvertently passing on to her daughter.  Travis struggles with trying to prove to Shay that he truly loves her and will not abandon her.  One of the main themes through the book is the question of whether you are trying to please God or please man and the effects that that answer has on your life and the lives of those surrounding you.   Denise Hunter weaves these elements seamlessly throughout the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely read more of  her Big Sky Romances.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson via the  B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, February 3, 2012

“Reasons for Hope” by Carl Kerby

“Reasons for Hope” by Carl Kerby is a really interesting book.  It has the subtitle “In the Mosaic of Your Life”, and I think this is the most appropriate way to describe the book.  Kerby makes the point early on describing how a mosaic is based on pieces of broken clay and glass being formed into a picture, and how our lives, and more specifically this current generation, are pieces of brokenness and colour that God fashions into the big picture.  We, in our place in life, do not see the big picture, but we should have faith that the God that designed the universe has us in mind.

This book is about the road that Mr. Kerby took to get to where he is now as the founder of Reasons for Hope, the ministry.  He talks about the trials growing up with a father who was a professional wrestler, and the moving around and the fact that his father was often on the road.  He tells stories from his time in the military, and the process where he met his wife in Japan.  There are a lot of teaching points drawn from his time working as an Air Traffic Controller.  He tells stories of how through God’s providence Mr. Kerby ends up working with some of the people in my favourite creation ministries, and eventually founding his own.

There are some discussions about defending the Christian faith, and more specifically about defending the creation account described in Genesis.  He has some words to say about the process of becoming a Godly husband and father which is always relevant.

Part three of the book goes through some of the common objections to faith and the bible that I have heard time and time again.  As a pastor, these kinds of sections are helpful in finding ways to help others overcome their intellectual issues and move towards faith in Christ.  He touches on “Why does God allow pain and suffering?”  There are sections that begin the discussion on Evolution and its results, Dinosaurs and the bible, Issues of racism, and some retorts from people that he has shared these issues to.  He closes the book by zooming out to try to take the perspective of how God sees things, and offers some final thoughts on life and faith in Christ. 

This is an excellent book to start the journey down the road of a creation worldview, and as a kind of biography, it was an excellent read.

I was provided a complimentary copy by the B & B Media Group for review.  I was free to review the book as I saw it.