Elizabeth Musser, The Secrets of the Cross trilogy
I received free copies of each of these books through NetGalley in return for a fair review.
The trilogy (Two Crosses, Two Testaments and Two Destinies) chronicles the history of several generations of a family with French, American and Algerian connections. Based in Montpellier with brief interludes in Algeria, this story is one of great faith in a God who sometimes seems to lead his people into real danger for the sake of Muslims who don’t yet know him. The Midi culture and environs are powerfully drawn: knowing Montpellier quite well, I can almost feel the shimmer of the Mediterranean heat as the story weaves through the Place de la Comedie and the shadowed streets off to its sides.
I came across these books quite by chance at a time when I wanted some fiction to make light relief from my diet of endless how-to books on church, discipleship and leadership. I never expected to review these books as so much of the Christian fiction I’d read was not great. But this trilogy was a complete surprise, being both educational as well as having an engaging storyline.
Peter Longson, God in the Dark
Theology through the lens of personal experience can be very powerful stuff. This is the work of an anonymous author, writing under a pseudonym, presumably to protect the identity of his family, who suffered a terrible personal tragedy. It is this tragedy which seems to have powered this work on how God can be love and yet evil can exist.
Well-written and engaging, the book takes various angles in dealing with this question, including perspectives drawn from both science and music. The material is well-organised and it moves towards some coherent conclusions. I am in two minds about those conclusions: some of them I can agree with, others seem quite sweeping in their extent and less well-supported. However, this book deserves your time because of the honesty and rigour of its wrestlings with such a big question.
Ali Martin and Liza Hoeksma, Heart to Heart: Eight ways to understand and heal your vital connection to God
I received this book for review from UKCBD and you will be able to access it here shortly.
Our heart is the very core of who we are. Because of this, Scripture tells us to guard our hearts above all else. But how can we do this in the context of twenty-first century life? How can we understand what state our hearts are in right now and how can we bring ourselves to an attitude of honesty before God about the need for our hearts to be transformed and renewed?
You’ll find some answers in this great new book from Ali Martin and Liza Hoeksma. Although it’s not evident from the summary on the book’s cover or its opening chapter, Heart to Heart’s Soul Survivor provenance (both authors hail from the Watford church and the foreword comes from Mike Pilavachi) marks out this book as very clearly aimed at the young people’s market when it comes to popular Christian literature. It seems also from the range of real-life stories used in the book that its main market is intended to be female.
Chapters include reference to the trusting heart, the peaceful heart, the surrendered heart, the resurrected heart and much more. Whilst I don’t think it was clear why these chapter topics were chosen above any others, the content was good and relatively engaging. This co-write is well-blended and although it is clearly marked as to which author is writing each chapter, there was not a noticeable difference in tone. This made for a smooth read!
The book’s approach and style will definitely appeal to teenaged girls and perhaps some in their early twenties but, as one who is somewhat out of this age category now, I still found that it was a good read. In particular, I valued the honesty of the authors in sharing examples from their own lives as well as the inclusion of many short and three much longer testimonies of heart-healing from various young women. It was perhaps this most of all which will make the book attractive to a younger generation: the authors’ willingness to filter Scriptural truth and Christian wisdom through the nitty-gritty of real-life experience gives their message a persuasive quality.
This is one to consider giving to one of the young women whom you know and, at only 124 pages, it won’t be seen as too long or heavy yet it delivers a strong and helpful Christian message.