The Sunday Review (Mar.28)

This week’s edition features the book:

HAPPILY EVER AFTER
by Susan May Warren

Book Description (from Amazon) ~ God has answered Mona Reynolds’s prayers and given her the opportunity of a lifetime: she is about to open her own bookstore-coffee shop, the Footstep of Heaven. Now Mona has no time for love and no hope that a man can ever be the hero of her dreams. But when she hires mysterious drifter Joe Michaels to be her handyman, she discovers that it isn’t only in fairy tales that people live “happily ever after.”

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The Sunday Review (Mar.21)

This week’s featured book is…

Relentless” by Robin Parrish

Book Description (from Amazon) ~ “In the space of a breath, what he thought was his life.shattered. Grant Borrows has been Shifted- in the silence between heartbeats, his whole life fundamentally altered. There’s another man in the world wearing his face and living his life. What’s more, the man staring back from his mirror is a stranger. But the changes don’t stop at skin-level. Inexplicably, he’s able to affect objects around him by simply thinking about them. And as he soon learns, he’s become the central figure in a vast web of intrigue that stretches from an underground global conspiracy to a prophecy dating back over seven thousand years. Enemies and allies find him at every turn, but one thing they learn all too soon is that you don’t want to push Grant Borrows too far… Can destiny be undone? The players are ready. The game is in motion. And the pace is: Relentless. (The Dominion Trilogy Book 1)”.

My REVIEW:
Grant Borrows has been “Shifted” ~ given a new face & a new name, & some extraordinary abilities! And he immediately finds himself in danger. Someone -for whatever reason- is trying to kill him, and so he’s forced to run.

This is a fast-paced thriller that didn’t let up. There were so many twists & turns that I could never guess what was coming!

My only qualm with this book was that it could’ve used a better proof-reader/editor. There were quite a few instances where things didn’t match up (character sat down on couch, and then three sentences later sat down on the couch…).

What really surprised me about the book was that, it’s a Christian book, and yet God is really not mentioned at all! There’s a brief reference to Him almost at the end, but that’s about it! I looked for an allegory of some sort, and I *may* have found one, but it was *that* difficult to discern, so anybody could read this book and enjoy it for the thriller it is — even those who hate Christian fiction! :o)

Parrish has done an excellent job with this first book in his DOMINION TRILOGY.
Rated: A

The Sunday Review (Mar.7)

This week’s edition of The Sunday Review is featuring…

THE BACKWARD LIFE” by Jarrod Jones

 

Description [from Amazon.ca]: Jesus is totally backwards to the world. Rather than focus on his own desires, he lived to love others. He preached lessons that seemed contradictory: Die to live. Lose to gain. Love your neighbor as yourself. Is it possible to follow in his footsteps today? Can people live a faith that means something in a culture so focused on self? Meeting an MTV generation where it’s at, The Backward Life shouts ”YES!” In this provocative and challenging book, Jarrod Jones takes readers on a journey into a faith that dares members of our pop culture to live like Christ–to deny themselves and take up the cross. This kind of living may seem backward to the ways the world would have one find happiness and meaning, yet Jones shows how it delivers more fulfillment than anyone can imagine. Filled with real-life stories and honest teaching, The Backward Life offers a new look at a faith that will help readers discover who they are and who God is calling them to be.

MY REVIEW: When I first read the review of this book on the FaithfulReader.com website, I was intrigued. I had to read this book! So, I checked my local library — but they didn’t have a copy. I asked if they’d order one, and (thank the Lord!) they agreed to do so!

After waiting patiently, the book finally arrived, and I brought it home. I started reading right away… and then found that I couldn’t put it down! Right from the very beginning, you are drawn into the stories Jarrod shares from his own life. He then uses those stories to enlighten truths from God’s word. In so doing, Jarrod shows you how you can live a life that is “backward” to the world’s way of doing things… because we serve a “backward” God.

The back of the book says, “Discover how much fuller your life can be when you revel in living as Jesus taught: giving to gain, losing to win, and turning first and last around.

I especially liked the chapter called “Gloriously Ruined”. In it, Jarrod shares a passage from Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, “When God Weeps“, describing Jesus’ crucifixion in a new light. And, let me tell you… I have never been so moved by that story! It really did give me a new perspective!

And, it’s the same with so much of this book … I have come to view a lot of things in a new light, thanks to Mr. Jones!

Some of the other chapter titles are:
Me, Me, Me
Will the Real God Please Stand Up?
God Gone Public
Backward Loving
The Backward Mind

I can’t recommend this book highly enough … especially if you feel like you’re stuck in a spiritual “rut”. It is written in a down-to-earth, friend-to-friend style, with lots of humor thrown in for good measure. But, the truth is powerfully written… you can’t help but be changed! ;o)

Rated: A+

24 Verses in 2010

eLisa, of ExtravagantGrace.net, hosts this little event on the 1st & 15th of each month. You pick a Scripture verse to memorize and meditate on for the following two (2) weeks. I’ve decided that I’m going to play along, as I’ve recently come to the conclusion (thanks, Lord!) that I need to memorize more Scripture. 😉

Obviously, given that I’m starting today, on March 1st, it’s going to be more like 20 verses in 2010, for me! LOL. But, that’s okay. It’s still better than the “0 verses” I have had of late! 😉

So, my first verse is the one I’ve got over there in the left sidebar… Psalm 34:4… which says:

So often, I am fearful, and I know I don’t need to be; not with God standing by my side. But, for whatever reason, I still tend to let fear get the best of me.

This verse is a good one to hide in my heart, as it reminds me that God hears me ~and answers me!~ when I cry out to Him with my fears… and that He can rid me of them, once and for all. 😉

The Sunday Review (a new event!)

Introducing…

THE SUNDAY REVIEW!

This is going to be a new weekly event, here at Heaven Rules, where I share a Christian book that’s caught my eye.  

These won’t necessarily be books I’ve read — they could be ones that I’ve just come across online and added to my To-Be-Read list, or they could be ones I’ve read; it will depend, from week-to-week, which I prefer to feature. If it’s a book I’ve already read and am recommending, I will include my review. Otherwise — if it’s a book that I’m just adding to my To-Be-Read list — I will only share the title, author, and a description of the book from Amazon.ca.

So, to start things off, today I’m featuring a book I came across while browsing over at ExtravagantGrace.net:

DUG DOWN DEEP: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters
by Joshua Harris

Description:
What will you build your life on?
 
With startling transparency, Joshua Harris shares how we can rediscover the relevance and power of Christian truth. This is book shows a young man who rose quickly to success in the Christian evangelical world before he realized his spirituality lacked a foundation—it rested more on tradition and morality than on an informed knowledge of God.
 
For the indifferent or spiritually numb, Harris’s humorous and engaging reflections on Christian beliefs show that orthodoxy isn’t just for scholars—it is for anyone who longs to know the living Jesus Christ. As Harris writes, “I’ve come to learn that theology matters. It matters not because we want to impress people, but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. Theology matters because if we get it wrong then our whole life will be wrong.”
 
Whether you are just exploring Christianity or you are a veteran believer finding yourself overly familiar and cold-hearted, Dug Down Deep will help you rediscover the timeless truths of Scripture. As Harris challenges you to root your faith and feelings about God in the person, work, and words of Jesus, he answers questions such as:

  • What is God like and how does he speak to me?
  • What difference does it make that Jesus was both human and divine?
  • How does Jesus’s death on the cross pay for my sins?
  • Who is the Holy Spirit and how does he work in my life?


With grace and wisdom, Harris will inspire you to revel in the truth that has captured his own mind and heart. He will ask you to dig deep into a faith so solid you can build your life on it. He will point you to something to believe in again.

Adding this one to my To-Be-Read list! 😀

Faith n Fiction Saturday: What’s Your Line?

faith_fiction2 (Faith ‘n Fiction Saturdays are hosted by Amy!)

This week’s question asks:

 

Christian fiction is generally known for being clean and non-offensive, but lately there’s been a lot of chatter about edgy Christian fiction and the need for Christian fiction to be more realistic. Christian fiction has certainly changed and contains a lot more edge than it used to. This makes some readers uncomfortable and I was wondering what your line is? What would push the envelope too far for a Christian fiction novel for you? Language? Sex? Violence? Main characters who never believe in Jesus?
If you came across something that offended you in a Christian fiction book, how would you handle it?

I love “edgy” Christian fiction! I love it that the Christian authors are realizing that people/readers want stuff that more closely resembles real life, rather than some fantasy world where, just because you’re a Christian, everything is now “perfect”. That’s not true.

I don’t mind reading a little bit of language in a Christian book, although I’m very particular on this one. I don’t put up with the harsher words (the “F” word, or anything that takes God’s name in vain) in secular fiction, so I most definitely won’t put up with it in Christian fiction, either. But a**, s***, and hell are okay (I agree with Deborah’s post about this, basically). This isn’t language I use, myself (hence why I wouldn’t type out the full words here. LOL). But, I can put up with reading it. I hear it all the time, from friends, and extended family. It’s just the way most people seem to talk. I guess I’ve kind of become desensitized to that. But, not to the harsher/cruder words, or to people taking God’s name in vain — that still makes me cringe.

As for the intimacies, I think you can show the passion — as Marvin said — without going into full-blown details. I don’t want Harlequin-esque stuff in my Christian books. But I don’t mind when a book shocks me a little… goes further than the “old style” Christian books would. I even think it’d be realistic to show that some teens don’t wait… some mess up, even if they’re Christians. No one is perfect, so it happens. Yep, it happened to me. So I think a realistic portrayal of that, with the lessons learned, would work for a Christian novel. But, that last bit is the important part here — if the character doesn’t feel remorseful for having screwed up, and doesn’t change afterward (if they just keep doing wrong without repentance), then I don’t want it in the book. The point of having that in the book should be to show that Christians are just people, and that they screw up, too. But, that God offers grace and forgiveness to those who realize they’ve disobeyed Him, and need to make things right.

Now, violence is something I don’t like. I don’t normally read books with a lot of violence in them. I suppose some would be okay… but not blood-and-guts gory. There’s definitely a limit here.

And, as for characters that never come to faith in Jesus, that’s okay with me. Real life isn’t tied up so neatly with a big, pretty bow, so I don’t want the books I read to always be that way, either. Sometimes the characters realize their need for Christ’s saving grace, sometimes they don’t. That’s just more realistic. I’ve been working on a book that features a main character who isn’t “into” Christianity. I haven’t decided, yet, whether or not she’ll give her life to the Lord, but I’d be okay with it if she didn’t choose that route… if I left her “undecided” at the end. ;) We’ll see.

Overall, like I said, I like the “edgy” Christian fiction — stuff that portrays real life a little more closely. But, there are still limits to what I want to read in a book that’s labelled “Christian”. As Mimi wrote, we aren’t supposed to be imitators of the world…we’re to be set apart. So, if you’re reading a Christian book, but you can’t tell the difference between it and a secular title, then the author’s gone too far. Yes, it’s great if the author aims to write something that everyone can be comfortable (or, at least mostly comfortable) with reading ((grin))… but you still need to show that there’s a difference between Christianity and worldliness.

Lastly, if I came across something offensive in a Christian book I’ve read, I would mention it –kindly– in my review. Others have a right to know what they’re getting into, so I would say whether the book had too much of something (language, violence, sex) in it. But, I won’t bash the author, the publisher, or anyone else involved.