Christian Life

Book Review: Icejacked


Adrian L. Hawkes 

Publisher: iUniverse Publishing 

Pages: 220 

List Price: $15.95 

ISBN: 978-1462047116 

Icejacked is Rip Van Winkle sleeps for 2000 years. Gerhardt, graduate student and historian, believes he can further his education concerning prehistoric man when he learns of a man preserved in ice. He plans to join the study. But when he arrives at the morgue, he discovers that the man had a heartbeat and that morgue personnel transferred him to a hospital. Gerhardt thinks they have mistaken a recent tourist for a man from history.

Instead, he meets Leddicus, Roman citizen and member of the way—the earliest group to follow Christ—waking from a 2000 year sleep in a cake of ice. Gerhardt plans to become obscenely rich by presenting him to the world. 

Everything astounds Leddicus at first but he quickly learns to enjoy modern life. They travel around the country and world to tell Leddicus’s story. In the background, a group of sinister people makes plans to exploit Leddicus. 

The storyline would have benefited from more conflict. As demonstrated by UFOs and the moonwalk, people react in disbelief when something happens outside their experience. With one exception, no one questions that a man could live in ice for 2000 years. Newspaper stories all over the world would accuse Gerhardt and group of fraud. The British version of the FBI might visit (Adrian Hawkes lives in London) and investigate—especially considering all the money Leddicus makes for his sponsors. In addition, the bad guys should be woven in to the story instead of lurking in the background. I never know what connection the bad guys have to the protagonists. 

I believe Leddicus would have been physically more fragile after 2000 years in a huge ice cube. His physical condition could add to the conflict. And, where is the grief at the loss of his family and life? 

Leddicus and company are realistic and charming, and the daily life of their trips ring true. The story moves along smoothly, giving authentic hints of early Rome. Author, Adrian L. Hawkes did his homework.  

Book Review: Cooking the Books

Cooking the books for TYPEPAD

Bonnie S. Calhoun 

SubTitle:  A Sloane Templeton Mystery 

Publisher:  Abingdon Press 

Pages: 304 

List Price: $14.99 

Pub Date:  April 02, 2012 

ISBN:  978-1426733888 

Sloane runs the bookstore, Beckham’s Books & Brews, specializing in antique books, left to her by her mother. Fifi, business manager, and her pistol-packin’ group, the Granny Oakleys, ably assist her. Two men want one book in particular. Each is angry that the other knows about it. Meanwhile, Trey, well-muscled example of Sloane’s bad taste in men, terrorizes her. Though she said goodbye, he still considers her his woman. But she has Andreas. She doesn’t understand why her mother didn’t like him. Fifi also dislikes him. 

Aunt Verlene, worst chef in history, constantly commandeers Sloane for food tests. One day, while Sloane tries not to eat Verlene’s latest culinary delight, they find a cookbook by a famous chef with a wealth-building recipe formerly believed lost. Verlene, sworn to silence, only tells her beauty shop early in the morning. Working girls use it then. Would they mention it to their boyfriends? 

Meanwhile the manager of the real-estate company Rob Landry works for instructs him to play dirty to get Sloane to sell the bookstore. 

Cooking the Books delivers constant suspense well mixed with eccentric characters and humor. I enjoyed it.

Book Review: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Harriet beamer FOR TYPEPAD

Joyce Magnin 

Publisher:  Zondervan 

Pages: 320 

List Price: $14.99 

Pub Date:  May 01, 2012 

ISBN:  978-0310333555 

Seventy-two year old Harriet Beamer falls off a ladder. Her daughter-in-law, Prudence, makes a bet with Harriet. If the foot is broken, she must come and live with Prudence and Henry. “It was a suckers bet,” Harriet says as she plans her trip to California to join them. But she decides to take the long way by local transportation. A friendly stranger helps her find her Droid, Amelia, to plan each new course—deciding as she goes. 

Henry worries as she calls to tell him about her ride on a helicopter and her adventure with the snake-handler. He can only wait as she makes her convoluted way to him. Harriett encounters good and bad people. She gains celebrity when she stops a purse-snatcher with a well-placed rolling suitcase as the incident goes viral. 

The reader will smile more than laugh aloud, though the book provides a few of those. If you enjoy old people, who don’t believe life ends when you reach “maturity” you will enjoy this book. It may provide a pleasant Sunday afternoon diversion.

Book Review: Discerning the Voice of God

Discerning Voice FOR TYPEPAD

Priscilla Shirer

SubTitle: How to Recognize When God is Speaking 

Publisher: Moody Publishers 

Pages: 224 

List Price: $14.99 

ISBN: 978-0802450128 

Too often, Christians fret concerning whether they know the will of God. No trumpets blow. No burning bush stops them in their tracks. No angel knocks on the door with a letter from God. Priscilla Shirer, daughter of Dr. Tony Evans and a minister, tackles the problem of  how we may recognize the voice of God with certainty. This version is the eleventh edition of this book (revised and expanded). 

The first chapter pace moves a little slowly, but it picks up as the reader goes to the later chapters. The author mentions her experiences to illustrate, though often in general language. She mentions “a new ministry” for example. I wanted to know what new ministry. 

Discerning the Voice of God would work well as a study guide for a group--probably its purpose. The reader will enjoy the book more by reading a chapter at a time which would fit well as a daily addition to devotions. Most Christians will find something new, and feel more secure in making decisions. 

 I received this book from Moody Publisher. It is an honest review.

Book Review: Downtown Green

Downtown Green FOR TYPEPADJudy Christie 

Publisher:  Abingdon Press 

Pages: 224 

List Price: $13.99 

ISBN:  978-1426708992 

Lois Craig, owner of the Green News-Item newspaper, new mother, and proud citizen of Green, watches the downtown businesses wane without customers. Zach Price, her ex boss, wants to acquire the newspaper to merge with his large one. Major Wilson, newly released from prison, and Jerry Taylor fight to bring an industrial development to replace the main streets. Meanwhile, the scenic lake becomes not as scenic as the weed, giant salvinia, doubles, rapidly covering it. 

Lois and concerned friends struggle to bring business to downtown. She and her husband, Chris, buy an ice-cream parlor to prevent Jerry Taylor from buying the land. The town gathers to fix the dilapidated building. 

The large cast of characters becomes confusing. The book would benefit by a who’s who index to keep track. It doesn’t help that the dog has a people name. The reader may wonder whose child is that. A few of the background stories resolve themselves too easily. Vince should have tormented them longer. 

Despite these flaws, the reader will enjoy the people and small-town ambiance of Green—the sense that the town belongs to all of them. The pace of the story moves well. Worth reading.

I received this book from NetGalley. It is an honest review.



Book Review: The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club

Half-stitched FOR TYPEPADWanda E. Brunstetter 

Publisher:  Barbour Publishing, Inc. 

Pub Date:  April 03, 2012

List Price: $14.99

Pages: 320

ISBN:  9781602608115

Amish Emma Yoder didn’t like depending on her children. To earn some money, she advertised that she would teach quilting. She didn’t expect the motley crowd who stood on her porch for the first class—all suffering invisible hurts. The bickering couple, the biker whose parole officer suggested he find a creative outlet, and the African-American minister’s wife have little in common. Emma feels she might have more to give than quilting lessons. 

Emma Yoder and Ruby Lee ring true. I believed Stuart and Pam. But Jan, the biker, and Star, the Goth teenager weren’t quite believable. They should have had a few rough edges. I don’t know any bikers except the Christian Motorcycle Club, who probably aren’t typical. However, my impression is that though they might love their dogs, they might also have to watch their language (for example), and troubled teens aren’t this wholesome. They suffer from cutting, Bulimia, disrespect for adults, or other symptoms of their pain. 

This book is a pleasant read for a Sunday afternoon when you don’t want the world’s problems to disturb you. It also gives a peek in to the Amish life for those of us who wish we could live that simply for God. A phone shack? My grandson texts in his sleep.

I received this book from NetGalley. It is an honest review.


Book Review: Learning to Jump Again

Learning to jump FOR TYPEPAD

Anthony Weber

SubTitle: A Memoir of Grief and HOPE

Publisher: WestBow Press

List Price: $13.95

Pages: 164

ISBN: 978-1449721305 

Anthony Weber lost his beloved father when his father was fifty-five. In Learning to Jump Again, Anthony works out his grief and the blow it struck to his faith. Though a minister, he begins to feel an intellectual, more than a heart belief. 

People going through grief will recognize many similarities with their experiences with loss. The first part of Learning to Jump Again tells a poignant story of his difficulty letting his father go. He talks of helping his sons make sense of it when it made no sense to him. 

The book covers the time of the death up to five years later. The author includes sermons at the end that were more intellectual essays than the heart-felt grief-work of the first part. Scattered throughout the book, the author includes gray boxes with black text of comments and quotations. I found these boxes hard to read. The book would improve if the gray were lighter or white. In addition, the author might tell the reader where he got the excerpts that aren’t literary. Were they members of his congregation? Facebook comments? Both? If he gave this information, I missed it. 

I received this book from the author. We have not met. This is an honest review.

Book Review: The Mulligans of Mt. Jefferson


Don Reid

SubTitle:  A Novel 

Publisher:  David C Cook 

List Price: $14.99 

Pages: 336 

ISBN:  978-1434764942 

Mulligan means “do over” and it is the name of a Mt. Jefferson Restaurant.  

Harlan, Buddy, and Cal grew up as best friends—none of them named Mulligan. This story tells of their growing-up years in the thirties to fifties. The adult story takes place in 1959. It starts as Harlan lies in the hospital suffering from a gunshot wound from an early-morning intruder. 

As children, Cal kept them all in trouble. Harlan was the charmer and girl magnet.  Buddy fell in love with his future wife as she practiced the piano in their home. The early years echo Mayberry, RFD, but, in manhood, each man must face his sins and suffer the consequences of them. In one case, he suffers for another’s sin as his business falters. 

As men, Harlan runs a jewelry store, Buddy joins the police force, and Cal becomes a Methodist minister. He never tells us what happened to change him, keeping it as a mysterious secret. All three manage parental businesses as young men. Later, as a police officer, Buddy must be tough as he tries to get the truth from the reticent Harlan and his wife Darcy. Cal tries to comfort them all. Will their friendship survive this difficult period? 

The reader will find the characters likeable and the ending satisfyingly unexpected. The writing carries you along in a readable sequence. However, the long descriptions of their growing-up years slow the story. Perhaps they would fit better coming gradually throughout the mystery. At times, I forgot that Harlan lingered in a hospital.

I received this book from NetGalley. This is an honest review.



Book Review: Engaging Today's Prodigal, Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope

Engaging Today's Prodigal for TYPEPAD

Carol Barnier

SubTitle:  Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope 

Pub Date:  April 01, 2012 (Available for Pre-Order)

Publisher:  Moody Publishers 

List Price: $12.99 

Pages: 176 

ISBN:  9780802405579 

Carol Barnier left her Christian church and later became an atheist. She joined the American Atheists, organization of the infamous Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Later, she talks about her difficult son. She defines a prodigal as one who leaves the faith, as much as one who lives a riotous life. Though the original prodigal mirrored the addict of today, the author merely questioned herself out of the church. She blames misunderstood promises. Some churches claim some things as promises through misinterpretation. When we accept them as promises, it shakes our faith when the Lord doesn’t respond to our prayers as we believe He “promised”. 

Part One talks about parental guilt and how that affects behavior toward the prodigal. Part Two describes how we, and the church, should respond to the prodigal. Part Three tells the author’s story. Among other facts, she points out that she came from a Christian home with loving, well-intentioned parents. 

Parents will find encouragement in these pages. The load may become a bit less heavy. The author uses herself as a case study throughout. She writes intelligently and with humor. Anyone seeking hope in this trying situation will find a compassionate advocate in Carol Barnier.

I received this book through NetGalley. It is an honest review.



Book Review: Employed by God: Coming Through Job Loss

Employed by God for TYPEPADTracy S. Deitz

Subtitle: Benefits Packaged with Faith

List Price: $10.99

Pages: 160

ISBN: 978-1466370821

Employed by God talks about Tracy’s firing and the period of unemployment following it. She relives her grief and anger at the loss. 

I appreciated the moments of imperfection she shows as well as the times of courage. She snaps a few times. She loses patience. She gets discouraged. She finds herself angry with God. Her appealing transparency gives the reader a glimpse of a real person. In fact, she paints each person she mentions with a full brush. Everyone in the book could be someone you know. 

She makes good use of her time away from the work world. She tells of one harrowing mission trip, and a miracle she expected that didn’t happen. She felt she knew how God would act, and then, since His ways are not our ways, she felt cheated. How could He not intervene in a child’s tragedy?

She went with her Buddhist friend on a yoga trip, and, though she found some things meaningful, other things offended her and caused discomfort. 

Every experience builds her compassion and shows a new reliance and love for God. 

The reader will find courage, forgiveness, and spiritual growth here. Employed by God is well worth a reader’s time and money. 

I received this book from the author. We have not met. This is an honest review.