Reviews: September 2013

Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy

Crazy busy is how I define myself way too often these days.  People ask how I am and I don’t say ‘fine’, I say ‘crazy busy’.  I wish I didn’t because I tend to see it as a bad thing, the sign of a disordered life.  DeYoung, it seems, suffers from the same malady.  His writing is helpful and well-considered, as well as conveniently short enough for even the crazy busy to read from cover to cover.

I particularly appreciated the final chapter.  Here, having written challengingly about all of the things which can make us wrongly busy, DeYoung reminds us that for those who are faithful in gospel ministry busyness is to be expected because loving people is costly on terms of time and care.  In a Western context where busyness is sometimes demonised by Christians (including me), this message is deeply-needed.  Busyness is ok – even to be expected – in the pursuit of obedience to God’s call.  What matters is doing only what he leads us to instead of all the other good – and not so good – which fights for our attention.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.

 Jeff Nesbit, Jude

This is the story of twin brothers, told from the perspective of one of them as he watches his twin, Jude, succeed in business and economic arenas, to the degree that America starts to see him as their saviour.  Not overtly Christian, this story is also the account of the alliance which Jude appears to have made with darker powers whom the narrator identifies as ‘powers and principalities’.

This book held my attention for an hour or so and was relatively engaging.  However I couldn’t help but feel that the ending was disappointing and did not do justice to the strands of storyline incorporated in the text.  I don’t know whether the author plans to write a sequel but I have to admit that I came away feeling quite unsatisfied.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.

Jared C. Wilson, Otherworld

This story of aliens, UFOs and dead cows in small-town America turns out to be a reflection on what Christians will clearly recognise as the demonic.  It did hold my attention, perhaps in part because of the writing style which interspersed storylines, making the reader want to continue to read.  However, I don’t particularly like the style which, after a time, becomes a little frustrating – especially because you know what the writer is trying to do with this technique.  I wouldn’t buy this book but it did fill a couple of hours!

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.

Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett, The Prodigal

I very much enjoyed reading this work of fiction, which is subtitled ‘a ragamuffin story’ in continuation of the theme of much of Manning’s writing.  The story of a pastor who has lost his way and of the father who rescues him with a demonstration of unconditional love held my attention to the end and may speak powerfully to many pastors.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.

Emma Chapman, How to Be a Good Wife

This was yet another of my summer fiction reads.  I did not know what to expect but was soon drawn into this story of a wife and mother who is the book’s narrator.  The text is woven with intrigue and it becomes clear to the reader early on that there is something which this woman will not tell us – or perhaps does not know.  As the story winds its way to its conclusion, we begin to suspect something which we dare not voice and we wait for the narrator to discover this truth for herself.  In my opinion, this was worth a read.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.

Dabney Hedegard, When God Intervenes

At the age of 25 and six weeks pregnant, Dabney was diagnosed with a form of cancer but chose to postpone medical treatment until after the birth of her first child.  This is the true story of her decade-long battle against cancer, pulmonary embolism, acute pneumonia, multiple organ failure, infertility and depression.  After a list like that, many of us would have given up but Dabney testifies here to the grace of God in every situation.  On more than one occasion when she should have died, she has miraculously lived thanks to the intervention of God.  I did not expect this book to be significantly different from many of its genre and perhaps in many ways it is not, but it nevertheless captured my attention and held me until the end.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.

Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist

I must confess to not being an avid follower of Bessey’s blog, so feted in the ‘blogosphere’.  However, I was aware of her blogging when I picked up this book for review.  I think that she is a gifted writer and her blogging is rightly well-received.  It was therefore with interest that I began to read this book.

Bessey clearly knows how to read Scripture well and she also knows her audience.  This comes across clearly in her writing which is in her customary tone.  I do like this tone, although I can’t help feeling that the style may be better in shorter blog posts rather than a full-length book as its intensity did begin to wear on me a little.  However, I do tend to read books like this in one sitting whereas I recognise that most readers would probably only read one chapter at a time and therefore Bessey has probably pitched her writing style quite well for this kind of audience.

I liked this book overall.  I would not suggest it as providing a particular insight for a young woman into the debate on what it means to be a woman in Christ, as it does not contextualise Itself significantly in the wider debate.  However I don’t think that Bessey intended it to be such a book and, as a personal memoir, I think it reads very well and will be a great encouragement to many young women.

I received a free copy of this e-book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.

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