Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review of “Saving Amelie”

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Saving Amelie, set in Germany during World War II, is a riveting and thought-provoking historical novel that introduces us to Rachel Kramer. The daughter of an influential American eugenics researcher, Rachel agrees to accompany her father to Germany in 1939 one last time, but when she receives a mysterious note from an estranged childhood friend, she embarks on an unexpected journey, fraught with danger, that challenges everything she believes.

Written from the perspectives of a wide array of characters, from proud, spoilt Rachel to obsessive SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, daring American reporter Jason, humble woodcarver Friedrich, and Bavarian housewife Lea, Saving Amelie is both heart-wrenching and inspiring.

Giving insight into the roles of the Eugenics movement and Darwinian evolution in Hitler’s Third Reich, Saving Amelie emphasizes that we do not have to agree with someone to protect their life. Exploring themes such as forgiveness and grace, Saving Amelie reminds us that even in the midst of unconscionable evil such as the forced sterilizations, euthanasia, and human experimentation that occurred, there were brave men and women such as Corrie ten Boom, Irena Sendler, Hugh O’Flaherty, Bernhard Lichtenberg, and Dorothea Neff, who dared to resist corrupt leaders and obey God (Acts 5:29).

By incorporating real characters such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dr. Josef Mengele, and Dr. VerschuerSaving Amelie has a very genuine feel, while being extremely easy to read. Overall, I found Saving Amelie to be a powerful, yet enjoyable book. However, due to the discussion of eugenics, rape, and torture in Saving Amelie, I would recommend it for readers over the age of fourteen. I would give Saving Amelie an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

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Review of “Worshipping with Calvin”

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In Worshipping with Calvin, Terry Johnson presents a scholarly study of what it means to worship in the legacy of Reformed Protestantism.

Addressing a wide range of issues in the early, medieval, and contemporary church, Worshipping with Calvin reminds modern Christians that our worship should never be based on our cultural tastes, styles, or preferences, but rather be rooted in Scripture.

Throughout Worshipping with Calvin, Johnson argues that we have corrupted the blessing of our freedom to worship into the freedom to worship however we please, resulting in the loss of a true understanding of worship.

While emphasizing the catholicity of the Church, Worshipping with Calvin focuses on the rich and vibrant heritage of Reformed Protestantism, particularly in the Presbyterian denomination. When addressing issues of concern in Reformed congregations, Johnson points readers to Scripture and Church History, encouraging us towards worship that is not only theocentric, but also filled with Scripture, Gospel-driven, and catholic (as in, universal; see page 251 for an in-depth explanation).

While I found Worshipping with Calvin to be an insightful and thorough book, it is not without fault. I found parts of Worshipping with Calvin to be repetitive, but my primary complaint was the overabundance of quotes from Hughes Oliphant Old, to whom the book is dedicated. While Old has wonderful insight, I found myself wishing that Johnson would write his own thoughts, rather than constantly defaulting to quotes of Old.

I would recommend Worshipping with Calvin to those who are interested in learning more about Reformed Protestantism, whether you are Reformed or not. I do forewarn my Baptist readers that Johnson is unabashedly Reformed, and you will encounter beliefs in Worshipping with Calvin with which you will disagree.

Overall, Worshipping with Calvin  is a valuable resource for anyone who loves or is interested in the Reformed faith. I would give Worshipping with Calvin a “B-“.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Reviews Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

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Review of “I Like Giving”

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Brad Formsma’s I Like Giving is a celebration of people giving and finding joy. Filled with stories from those who have given, and those who have received, I Like Giving encourages people to practice giving everyday, making it a lifestyle, and shares tips on how to share the joy of giving with your friends and family.

Throughout I Like Giving, I found myself inspired by the amazing and simple stories of people from all over the world who have learned to be generous with their money and lives. Yet I was also challenged to stop and think about how I might better give, and encourage giving in my home and community. It doesn’t have to be expensive– it can be as simple as taking a meal to a sick family, buying clothes for house-fire victims, sponsoring a child, supporting a missionary, or listening to the elderly tell stories.

My only concern with I Like Giving is that, while the author is a Christian and references God on occasion, the book does not point readers to Christ as the one who motivates us to give. While giving just for the pleasure of it is good, we are to glorify God in all things, and I found I Like Giving to be lacking an emphasis on why we should give. In Scripture, we find that God loves a cheerful giver, someone who gives out of love, because we have been given so much, giving always for the glory of God (2 Corinthians 9:6-8, 1 John 4:19, Ephesians 2:4-9, Deuteronomy 15:10, Deuteronomy 16:17, Proverbs 21:26, Luke 6:38, James 2:15-16, Matthew 25:40).

Overall, I found I Like Giving to be an inspiring and encouraging, yet flawed book. I would give I Like Giving a “C”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for Books Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

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Review of “All In”

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Several years ago, at an ATI conference, I heard Bill Gothard give a talk on why we should live our lives in “Total Surrender” to Christ. Lost in a sea of navy and white, I stood along with every other youth and prayed, “surrendering” my life completely to God’s Will. The problem was that I did not have a good understanding of what it means to live in “Total Surrender”, and my understanding of God’s Will for my life was blurry, at best.

So as I was scrolling through the books Moody Press offered me for review, Mike Guzzardo‘s All In: Finding True Life on the Path to Total Surrender, I was intrigued. Could this man I had never heard of shed more light on living in total surrender?

All In, written for teenage readers, encourages Christians to embrace the freedom and transformation God works in our lives, and rejoice in whatever circumstances God has us. Explaining how living in total surrender is a daily choice to obey the commandments of God found in Scripture, All In encourages Christians to do what God has called them to do– bring glory to God in all that they do.

Not a perfect book, All In has a strong emphasis on “meeting Jesus” and “choosing to follow”, rather than acknowledging that it is God who calls and saves us by His Grace (2 Timothy 1:9; Romans 8:29-30; John 6:44; Ephesians 2:8-9; Psalm 3:8). I also found the first chapter to be a bit slow and repetitive, though the rest of the book was an easy read. All In was a helpful book, filled with Scripture and personal stories, and I would recommend it for teenage readers. I would give All In a “C”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

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Review of “Love, Skip, Jump”

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I first heard of skip1 back in 2011, when Candace Cameron Bure mentioned it as one of her favorite charities in her book, Reshaping It All. So when I had the opportunity to read and review Love, Skip, Jump, written by the skip1 founder, Shelene Bryan, I was slightly familiar with her story and organization. However, I was completely unprepared for the hilarious and heartbreaking stories that would fill Love, Skip, Jump.

A gifted communicator, Shelene shares personal stories and reflections on Scripture in a way that will make you stop and think, but will also motivate you to show love to those around you. Through the silly and serious, Love, Skip, Jump gives a window into the soul of self-professed “Martha”, learning to sit at the feet of the Savior, live with hands wide-open, and love the invisible.

With a strong emphasis on saying yes to God, and putting feet to our faith, Shelene encourages Christians to make sure we don’t waste our lives succeeding at things that don’t matter. I found Love, Skip, Jump to be a beautiful testament to the faithfulness of God, and how He changes us into His image. Filled with Scripture, Love, Skip, Jump motivates the reader to genuinely care for those in need– whether they be the homeless or hospitalized, orphans or widows, in Africa, South Central LA, or your own neighborhood.

Love, Skip, Jump is an encouraging and inspirational read that will make you laugh and cry, and leave you changed. I would give the book an “A”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Blogger’s Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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