Tag: Book Reviews

Book Review: Jesus+Nothing=Everything

I recently had the privilege of reading Jesus+Nothing=Everything by Tullian Tchividjian. This book talks about how we too often place our hopes in Jesus and something else. This “something else” doesn’t have to be bad- it could be something good like family or a job- but if this “something else”  becomes so important to us that we think that we cannot go on without  Jesus and it, then it must be rooted out.

Mr. Tchividjian repeatedly talked about how we must continually rely on Jesus as our only means of support. He said that, not only should we think that Jesus+Nothing=Everything, we should think that Everything-Jesus=Nothing. This, he said, is often the most difficult part of our Christian lives, as we come to the realization that unless we have a vibrant relationship with Jesus we have gained nothing of true value.

Mr. Tchividjian quoted C.S. Lewis, when he said:

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is                          offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot                       imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

He said that often our sin is not that of expecting too much joy and fulfillment in Jesus, but it is the opposite: we are, as C.S. Lewis said, “far too easily pleased” by the temporary pleasures of this world.

I was greatly blessed by reading this book, and would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book review: Hearts of Fire

Hearts of Fire is a book that tells the story of 8 different women who lived during the 20th and 21st century, and who outspokenly shared the gospel with those around them, no matter the risks.
This book has many examples of people who stood up to their ungodly rulers, choosing the hard way of Jesus rather than the easy way of the world, but the story that struck me the most was the story of a young woman named Mai, who immigrated to Hong Kong to escape from communistic Vietnam, in hope that she would soon be able to go to “the West” to have a better life. She stayed in Hong Kong for almost 5 years, and was converted while she was in a refugee camp there, but just weeks before she was going to leave Hong Kong, she felt that God was calling her back to her homeland. All of those around her thought that she was crazy, as no one wanted to go back to Vietnam, only out of it, yet she stuck to her conviction, and returned to the troubles and, since she had become a Christian, persecutions of her homeland. I thought that that was amazing! How many people would go back to a place of suffering unless they had a good reason? Mai had the best reason of them all!
Hearts of Fire is a very convicting book, one that I would give 5 out of 5 stars for older readers.

Book Review: “Start Here”

Start Here is  the sequel of Do Hard Things, which I reviewed yesterday, and covers many of the same subjects that were covered in it, except in greater depth. It’s always hard to review sequels, as I find myself always trying to compare them to the original book without even trying to, but I guess I’ll just continue in and compare the two books anyway! This book focuses more on the practical side of doing “hard things”, and covers more real life examples, rather than Do Hard Things, which had a lot of examples, but wasn’t able to have as many as are in this book since not as many people knew about their concepts. I like this book almost as much as the original, but the fact that it does focus more on the practical means that it doesn’t have as many spiritual concepts, which were nice to read about in the first book. It also isn’t quite as original and groundbreaking as the first, so if you absolutely had to choose between one or the other, I’d say that Do Hard Things would be the best, but I would also  highly recommend Start Here as well, and I would give this book 4 out of a possible 5 stars.

Book Review: “Do Hard Things”

Do Hard Things is a book that was written by two teenage guys to encourage other teenagers like them to “do hard things”. These “hard things” could include anything, whether it be raising $30,000 to build a well in Africa, or simply doing your homework when you’d rather be doing something else, or choosing to be respectful to your parents and siblings, and that is their point- it doesn’t matter how “big” the thing that you set out to do is, it only matters that you set about it to the glory of God.

These guys have started a movement called the “rebelution”. The word is a mixture of the words rebellion and revolution and reflects what they want their movement to be about- it’s not just another way that teenagers can rebel against society, but it’s a way that teens everywhere can rebel against the extremely low expectations that society puts on them. They say in their book that the teen years of your life shouldn’t be a time where you just goof off and party, but it should be a time when you develop skills that you can use later in life, and work to make yourself a better person.

I really enjoyed how Alex and Brett Harris not only tell how we should go about rebelling against the low expectations that our culture puts on teenagers, but it shows how they and those they know have already gone out and put their principles into practice, showing that their concept isn’t just a nice idea that they came up with while they were sitting around with nothing to do, but a concept that, if used, can actually do things that can impact people.

I really enjoyed reading this book (3 times!) and would give Do Hard Things 4.5 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Tortured for Christ

Tortured for Christ.
The title of this book alone can tell you that you’re in for a read that’s not all feel-good and flowery.
This book was written by a man named Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor from Romania who lived under the cruelty and injustice of the USSR. Amazingly, even though he was brutally tortured, and saw many of his friends die because of the atrocious conditions in the jail they were in, he emerged from jail not with a hatred for communists, but with a hatred for communism, not with a hatred of the sinner, but of the sin. Although in his book he repeatedly denounces the evils of communism, he never once even hints that he has the slightest feeling of hatred towards the ones who tortured and imprisoned him. He thought of communism as a disease that destroyed a man’s senses of right and wrong, and said, “I am very sorry if a crocodile eats a man, but I can’t reproach the crocodile. He is not a moral being. So no reproaches can be made to the Communists. Communism has destroyed any moral sense in them. They boasted that they had no pity in their hearts. I learned from them. As they allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I would leave not the smallest place for Satan in mine.”
That quote alone is amazing and humbling, but so are many, many other portions of the book, as Mr. Wurmbrand talks about the state of religion in Russia. He said that, “A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for”, and repeatedly asked if we “westerners” would be willing to do as the Christians in the had done- lay down their lives for the gospel.
He told of how there was once a young man who served as a captain in the Russian military, who barged into a room where a pastor of the Underground church was praying. He asked him if he was a Christian, and when the pastor said he was, the officer said that if he didn’t denounce his faith and turn to communism, he would shoot him. The pastor, with a pistol against his head, said that he would never denounce his Lord, and the officer dropped his pistol and embraced him, saying that he wanted to be sure that Christianity was true, and the pastor, by not denouncing his faith, had shown him that it was truly a faith that was worth dying for.
Mr Wurmbrand asked if we would consider our faith worth dying for.

Although I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger readers, due to the graphic violence it depicts,  for older readers  I would give Tortured for Christ 5 out of 5 stars, and would highly recommend that you get it.

Series book review: Henty novels

I really enjoy reading novels written by G.A. Henty. He was alive during the late 19th century, and served as a war corespondent for the British in some of their wars with their rebellious colonies. All of his novels are written for boys, as their heroes are always boys, and Henty isn’t squeamish about delving into the “gory details” of fights and battles, but in each of the stories there is also a maiden in some degree of distress, who the hero loves and eventually marries, so there are a few “romantic” parts for any girls who like that sort of thing. The books are all pretty hefty, ranging is size from “small” (300 pages) to “large” (well nigh 500) but they are all worth reading, and make history seem very interesting and vibrant. They will make you expand your vocabulary a bit, as they use some older words and double negatives, but if you take the time to read a few of them, they will become much easier to read and understand, and much easier to appreciate. As I said, these books are all very good, and of the 99 that he wrote, I’ve read 70, but at times G.A. Henty’s theology can get a little bit off. All of his heroes from the 17-1800′s believe that Islam is exactly like Christianity, except that the Muslims believe in one extra great teacher, and when his heroes do discuss religion, they often talk of salvation that is based almost solely on works, and rarely discuss how Jesus has changed their lives, but, when faced with the decision of renouncing their religion or being killed, they always stick by their beliefs, even though doing so will result in their death (SPOILER: although in the end it never does!). Other than that, and the fact that Henty’s heroes are sometimes a bit too “perfect” at everything they do, I would give the 70 books of Henty’s that I’ve read 4 to 5 stars depending on the book. I am not ungrateful that Henty wrote these wonderful books!
Here are a few of my favorites (although all of them are worth reading):

In Freedom’s Cause, which is a story of a boy named Archie Forbes who helps William Wallace in his fight to free Scotland.

The Cat of Bubastes, which tells of a young man who was captured and taken to Egypt, where he meets Moses and learns of the true God.

For the Temple, which tells of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 72 and the events leading up to it.

In the Heart of the Rockies, which tells of the adventures of a boy who accompanies his uncle on a gold mining expedition, and ends up being chased by Indians and taking a trip down the Colorado river.

Beric the Briton, which tells of a young British chief who fights the Romans in the first century, and of the adventures he has in Rome, were he meets some of the early Christians.

And finally, if you’re looking for a really interesting read, you could check out True to the Old Flag, which is a story about the Revolutionary war- but the hero is British!

I’m going to stop listing my favorites, as if I kept going until I’d listed all of them, the list would be 70 books long, but I hope my review of this wonderful series has encouraged you to read at least one of these great, well written books! They’d all make great movies, but it’ll probably be a while before I undertake a project as enormous as turning a Henty book into a movie would be!

Book Review: Autumn Days With The Moodys

I was able to buy my siblings Autumn Days With The Moodys for Christmas.
Like the other five books in the series preceding it, it is very good, and while I don’t think that Tolkien or Lewis are going to have too much competition from Sarah Maxwell as far as writing style goes, I would still recommend that you take the time to read it.

This book is a good story about a Christian family as they go through everyday life, shining the light of the gospel wherever they go. In the process of the book, as in 4 of the other 5, one of their unsaved neighbors is saved. The chapter in which this book takes place has some good ideas on how to share your faith with someone, using the “good person” test developed by Ray Comfort.

My only real complaints about this book is that the children in it always act “perfect”. While this may make for a pleasant reading experience, it doesn’t really help children see how to deal with problems with their siblings in a constructive manner, as the Moody children hardly ever have arguments or fights. While the Moody books show how families “should” act, they don’t really tell how families that are having trouble with arguing or fighting can get to the level of “perfection” of the Moody family.The other thing about the Moody books is that the Moody family has kind of just sealed themselves off from “the world”, making it hard for “real” people to glean any information on how to live holy Christian lives while still having a few friends and going to a real church, rather than a nursing home where the children’s father preaches.

I might have made Autumn Days With The Moodys sound too negative, but it’s a very good book, which I would give 4 out of a possible 5 stars.

Book review: “Erasing Hell”

By Adam E. Heironimus

“Erasing Hell”, by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, is about what the bible says about hell. This book doesn’t try to sugarcoat any of the things God said about what will happen after we die, but merely presents what God said in the manner that he said it, in the light that, as God says in Isaiah 55:9,”As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” and he knows what is ultimately best. Francis Chan said that the fact that there is a hell and that many of the people around us will be going there should be a motivation to us to tell everyone we possibly can about Christ’s love, in order to save them from going there. I would highly recommend that you read this book if you have any questions about what happens after we die and what hell really is, and would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

You can buy “Erasing Hell” on Amazon.com

Book review: “Lies That Go Unchallenged in Popular Culture”

By Adam E. Heironimus

“Lies That Go Unchallenged in Popular Culture”, by Charles Colson, is a collection of short, 4 page devotions that deal with different moral, ethical, and religious issues facing our nation, and what we evangelical Christians can do to fix them.I was very encouraged by it and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book to help them combat the decay and decadence in our culture with the word of god. I would give this book 5 stars out of 5.

You can buy “Lies That Go Unchallenged in Popular Culture” on Amazon.com

Book review: “Redwall”

By Adam E. Heironimus

I recently finished reading “Redwall” by Brian Jaques. It was about the adventures of a mouse named Matthias as he tries to protect the abbey of Redwall from being destroyed by an evil rat named Cluny the Scourge and his army. It’s a wonderfully written and well crafted tale of  the struggle between good and evil, and I would highly recommend it  to anyone looking for an exciting fantasy novel, giving it 5 out of 5 stars.

You can purchase this book on Amazon.com

Book review: “Defeat of the Ghost Riders”

By Adam E. Heironimus

Today I started and finished reading my siblings “Defeat of the Ghost Riders” by Dave and Neta Jackson. It was about Celeste Key, a “negro” girl growing up in the early 1900′s, who, at the very beginning of the book, lives with her family in Statesboro Georgia. Trouble soon strikes, and after members of the Ku Klux Klan burn down her father’s blacksmith shop, they leave in search of a more friendly place to live, finally settling down in Daytona Florida, where her father finds work on the railroad that’s being built there. While she is living in Daytona, she meets Mary McLeod Bethune and becomes one of the very first girls to enroll in the school that Mrs. Bethune is setting up for “colored” girls there. By the end of the book, Celeste has learned to overcome her fear of the “Klansmen” and serve others, living Mrs. Bethunes philosophy of helping others and improving life for everyone around her. We all really enjoyed this book (as is evidenced by the fact that we read it in one solid 3 hour sitting!) and using the 5 star rating system I would give this book a 5!

You can buy this book on Amazon.com

Book review: “The Bandit of Ashley Downs”

By Adam E. Heironimus

Today I finished reading my siblings “The Bandit of Ashley Downs” by Dave and Neta Jackson. ”The Bandit of Ashley Downs” is about an orphan boy named Curly, who lives in London during the Industrial Revolution. One day Curly overhears a man telling a church congregation that there will be  £3,000 traveling by private coach to Bristol in several days to benefit the orphanage there, thinking no one outside of the small group of people overhears. Curly takes this bit of information to his criminal friends, and they make a plan to hold up the stagecoach, taking the money intended for the orphans for themselves. Their evil scheme succeeds, but after only a few weeks, they are found out and jailed. Curly, because he is so young, is taken to an orphanage run by George Muller called Ashley Downs, where he learns about God’s love and provision by watching God provide for the needs of all of the orphans there. The book ends in a somewhat surprising (and thoroughly good) way, and I would highly recommend it to you, giving this book 4.5 out of 5 stars

You can buy “The Bandit of Ashley Downs” on Amazon.com

Book review: “The Only Sister”

By Adam E. Heironimus

Today I finished reading my siblings “The Only Sister” by Dorcas M. Mast.

“The Only Sister” is about a girl named Carrie Seymour, who, although having 6 brothers, is, as the title says, “The Only Sister”. Carrie struggles being the only girl and often wishes that God had sent her family another girl, but in the end she finally realizes that God’s plan for her life is best, and becomes content with the situation God has placed her in. That’s not the whole book though! “The Only Sister” also chronicles some of the many adventures that Carrie and her 6 brothers have, frying eggs in the microwave (with disastrous results!), falling from horses (also with disastrous results!) and building, baking, and inventing all sorts of other things (with varying results). We would all highly recommend this book and using the 5 star rating system I’d give this book a 5!)

P.S. We’ve read this book aloud three times and Rachel has read it to herself an additional 7.- I hope that removes any of your doubts as to whether or not it really is a good book!

You can buy “The Only Sister” on RodandStaffbooks.com

Book review: “Jesus Freaks II: Revolutionaries”

By Adam E. Heironimus

Yesterday I finished reading “Jesus Freaks II: Revolutionaries” by dc Talk. It was a collection of short stories about Christians who were willing to be revolutionaries, people who went against the “norm” and were willing to be “Jesus Freaks”. I was really blessed by all of the stories, but  the story of an Indian believer named Sundar Singh, who was imprisoned, beaten and threatened multiple times and eventually disappeared on a missionary journey to Tibet in 1929, was one that really stood out to me. He said “The true Christian is like sandalwood, which imparts its fragrance to the ax which cuts it, without doing any harm in return.”  I was amazed by how many people were willing to be “like sandalwood”, and continued to pray for and share the Gospel with their enemies, even as they were being tortured in ways almost too horrible to imagine. I was very blessed by reading this book and would highly recommend it to anyone.

Using the 5 star rating system, I would give this book a 5, and I would highly recommend you check it out from your local library or buy it on Amazon.com!

Book review: “The Seventeenth Swap”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

I recently read “The Seventeenth Swap” by Eloise McGraw. It was about a boy named Eric Greene, who wants to get a pair of red cowboy boots that are on sale for $17.99 for only one week. But the problem is, he doesn’t have any money. So he starts swapping things. There are several times when he wants to give up, but at the end, he’s glad he didn’t. I liked it and would give it 4 out of an available 5 stars.

You can buy “The Seventeenth Swap” on Amazon.com

Book review: “Thimble Summer”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

I finished reading “Thimble Summer” recently. It was about a girl named Garnet, who lives on a farm with her father, mother and three brothers. One night, she and her oldest brother Jay are outside together, and Garnet finds a silver thimble. She thinks it’s magical. That night it rains, and ends the long drought. After that, many wonderful and exciting things happen to Garnet and her family. I liked it and will give it 4 stars.

You can buy “Thimble Summer” on Amazon.com

Book review: “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

I recently read “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson”. It was about a girl named Shirley Temple Wong, who recently came to America from China with her mother, because her father was in America already. She can’t speak English, and she doesn’t like America at first, but in the summer she hears about Jackie Robinson, and that changes everything. It was an okay book, so I’ll only give it 3 out of 5 stars.

“In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson” is available on Amazon.com

Book review: “Gone-Away Lake”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

“Gone-Away Lake” was about a girl named Portia and her little brother, who went to visit their cousin, Julian. One day, Portia and Julian decide to go exploring. They find a swamp, and on its banks, a summer resort! They also find two people still living there. I liked it a lot and would award it 5 stars!

You can Purchase “Gone-Away Lake” on Amazon.com

Book review: “All-of-a-kind Family”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

“All-of-a-kind Family” is about a family of five children, all girls. They have lots of fun together, going to the library, visiting the seashore, visiting friends, and much more, including lots of surprises. It was very good and I would give it 5 out of 5 stars!

You can buy “All-of-a-kind Family” on Amazon.com

Book review: “The Terrible Wave”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

I finished “The Terrible Wave” today. It was about a girl named Megan, who was the daughter of one or the richest citizens in Johnstown. She was one of the survivors of the Johnstown flood. It was very good and I would give it 4 stars.

You can buy “The Terrible Wave” on Amazon.com

Book review: “Old Yeller”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

Today I finished “Old Yeller” by Fred Gipson. It was about a boy named Travis, who’s papa had gone on a cattle drive to Abilene. They found a dog who had stolen some meat from them. At first, Travis doesn’t want to keep him, but the dog ends up saving his and his little brother’s lives. It was very, very good. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars!

I would highly recommend you check “Old Yeller” out from your local library or buy it on Amazon.com

Book review: “Shades of Gray”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

“Shades of Gray” is about a boy named Will Page. His father and brother were killed by Union soldiers, his two sisters died of sickness, and his mother died of grief. So he goes to live with his mother’s sister and her family. After a few months, he receives a letter from a friend back home, telling him that they would be happy if he would come back and live with them. At first, he is happy, and wants to go, because he thinks his uncle is a coward for not fighting for the Confederates. But then he realizes that you should do what you believe in. It was very good and I would give it 5 stars!

You can purchase “Shades of Gray” on Amazon.com

Book review: “Turn Homeward, Hannalee”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

“Turn Homeward, Hannalee”,written by Patricia Beatty, was about a girl named Hannalee, who worked at a mill in Georgia at the time of the Civil War. She, her brother, and a friend, were some of the two thousand textile workers shipped north to make Union uniforms. It was a good book, and I would give it a 3 star rating.

You can buy “Turn Homeward Hannalee” on Amazon.com

Book review: “The Perilous Road”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

“The Perilous Road” by William O. Steele is about a boy named Chris Branson who lived in the Tennessee mountains at the time of the Civil War. He never liked the Union soldiers, but never more so than when some of them took all of his family’s food they had stored for the wintertime, and their only horse. Then he sees that war is a horrible thing, no matter which side you are on. It was a good book, and I’ll give it 3 stars.

You can buy this book on Amazon.com

Book review: “Freedom Train”

By Rachel M. Heironimus

I recently read “Freedom Train” by Dorothy Sterling. It was a true story about Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman leads hundreds of men, women and children along the underground “railroad” and into freedom. “Freedom Train” was very good and I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.

“Freedom Train” is available on Amazon.com

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