Browse Category: Fiction

Review – Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne

Book description

When Molar Alan and his older brother, Aaron, fill out their Christmas wish lists front and back, the Santa at the mall informs the boys they won’t be getting anything they asked for. Instead, he says, they will receive everything they never wanted. This isn’t your garden-variety Santa, he’s Dr. Chris Ringle, a pediatric oncologist, and he enlists the brothers as Santa’s elves at the children’s ward for the holidays.

Each boy is charged with a very special assignment. Aaron will befriend Madhu, a fast-talking boy on an organ transplant list who, though not Christian, has an insatiable curiosity and wants to learn all about the holiday. Madhu is determined to be a wise man in the hospital pageant, despite the objections to his interpretation of the role.

Molar’s task is considerably harder, as he attempts to help a lonely little girl named Katrina. Katrina’s surgery has left her scarred, and she has shut herself away from everyone. But it is through her that the true spirit of Christmas will touch the lives of all those around her in a way none of them would have foreseen.

First impresions

I rarely read Christmas books, but this year I thought It’d be a good idea to start a tradition so I picked this one hoping for the best and fortunately I did the right choice with Paper Bag Christmas.

Review

I wasn’t sure I’d like the story considering that the main setting is a hospital, but as the story started to develop it made more sense. From the very beginning the story feels very real: a typical family in a mall for Christmas and the traditional letter from the children to Santa expecting the very best gifts available… for children.

The transition from the traditional to the not so typical is smooth and the introduction of the new setting and characters is great. Dr. Ringle and the rest of the staff and children from the hospital are very likable with distinct personalities, even those who are a little bit grumpy (a.k.a Katrina).

The story is filled with love, hope, and faith, interwoven in a way that results so pleasing to the reader. There’s a message of great value in the words and actions of the children that is useful for both kids and adult alike.

Conclusion

You must be ready to grab some tissues at the end of the story. This is a short book with an amazing story that can be read alone or aloud with the rest of the family. This edition is a beautiful re-release with an updated cover illustration and dust jacket.

Rating: 

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

theshack

Book description

Mackenzie Allen Phillips’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note–apparently from God–inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.

First impressions

I read The Shack six or seven years ago for the first time. Shortly after I found several reviews pointing how theologically inaccurate the story was and somehow I thought maybe I’ve missed something. I wanted to give the book a new chance and decided to read it again. Also there’s a movie adaptation coming up, and wanted to refresh the story in my mind.

Review

There are two ways you can read (and review) The Shack: as a mere work of fiction and inspiration or as a theology work about God and suffering.

In the former, you have an amazing and emotional story that empathizes with almost every living soul on Earth. There’s something in Mack’s suffering that clicks with our personal daily struggles, making us part of the quest to find an answer and if possible, a solution. Then there’s the mystery behind the character (as in, the person) of God. How is He like? what does someone like God look like?  Is there a God? Does He care about us? The Shack responds some of these questions with a lot of creative freedom.

All this ingredients produce an exciting page turner, at least for those familiar or interested in these topics. There’s one issue that needs to be addressed and so the plot it’s clear from the very beginning making The Shack a fast reading.

In the later, you have an interesting view on God, the Trinity, the work of Jesus and its implications on humanity, and many other theological subjects you can think of (seminary, prayer, church, forgiveness, religions). The author (or should I say the author using God’s voice) didn’t just limited his views on the matters related to the story, but he also used The Shack as a way to express his disagreement with many practices and doctrines of Christianity unrelated to the story, but definitely a priority to Young.

This is where things could be confusing to some people. I had friends that would say something like: “It’s like Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit would say in The Shack…” giving a book the same value as The Book, maybe not out of rebellion, but out of ignorance of what the Bible says about God.

Conclusion

On the same note I hope my review is not confusing to some of you. I really liked reading The Shack for the second time, but encountered some theological issues that can by skipped if reading with a mentality of a casual reader. I’d recommend to read this book in the same manner you would read Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Rating:

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Becoming a Disciple Making Church by Neil T. Anderson

makingadisciple

Book description

Life-Changing Discipleship Can Be the Expectation, Not the Exception

As leaders, we want the people in our churches to become spiritually mature disciples of Christ, but so many remain stuck in struggles and sins. Personal and spiritual conflicts are holding them back from the true freedom that can be found in Christ alone.

Neil Anderson has been walking individuals through this journey for over a quarter century, but now he wants to teach pastors and church leaders how to do this for their own churches. As the culmination of his life’s work, Becoming a Disciple-Making Church shows you how to help your people resolve conflicts–from difficult marriages to unrepentant sin to church disputes–through genuine repentance and faith in God. Rather than giving up or simply referring people to counselors outside the church, embrace the fact that God through His Word has answers to problems of the heart and mind. And in this ministry of reconciliation, true discipleship will happen.

First impressions

Neil T. Anderson is the author of Victory Over the Darkness a really well known book among Christians, that I haven’t read. That was the reason I wanted to check Becoming a Disciple Making Church, which is a really good introduction to Anderson’s work.

Content

This is not an original work, in the sense of being new material. It’s a collection of different chapters from different books in the context of building a leadership capable of building disciples using the principles in each section.

It’s not that the book it’s not good for this reason, on the contrary, there’s a lot of subjects of interest for everyone and the best thing is that you can put them into practice right away. Some examples are, How to overcome:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sexual strongholds

Each chapter explains the meaning of each concept and its psychological and biblical background. Finally it gives you the tools necessary to deal with each issue using biblical principles.

Conclusion

Reading Becoming a Disciple Making Church it’s a good start if you want to get familiar with Neil T. Anderson or with his work. It’s a really worth reading.

Rating:

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Light of the Last by Chuck Black

lightofthelast
Book description

After an accident left him temporarily blind, Drew Carter didn’t just regain his sight. He now sees what others can’t imagine–an entire spiritual realm of mighty beings at war.

Forget the gift, Drew just wants his life back. Part of that involves Sydney Carlyle, a woman he is inexplicably drawn to. When he’s offered the chance to become a CIA agent, it seems the way to redeem his past. The only problem–his visions of the supernatural realm are increasing in frequency.

It’s up to the warrior angel Validus and his hand-picked team of heavenly agents to protect the unbelieving Drew. Validus now knows that the young man is at the epicenter of a global spiritual war, and the angels must use a millennia of battle experience keep Drew alive, for the Fallen want him dead.

Surrounded by spiritual warriors and targeted by demons, Drew’s faced with an impossible decision that will forever alter the destiny of America…and his own soul.

First impressions

It was in 2014 when I started to read this series from Chuck Black, now with Light of the Last, everything comes to an end (right?) I was hesitant to read this one but I couldn’t just leave this series unfinished. Beware that the following review may contain spoilers. 

Story

Being honest I wasn’t sure I could follow or understand the story after book two. Book three seems to continue where book one left off, with Drew being the main character.

In Light of the Last humans and angels come together to face the world’s America’s greatest villains: demons Islamic terrorists.

I liked the story and character development, I liked the writing and fast paced action with great fighting scenes. I liked the freedom the author took about angels and their mission and intervention with humans.

I didn’t like the way the author changed the focus of the story as it began as an epic fiction about the end of the days, but suddenly everything was about the United States it politics and terrorism.

Maybe I’m alone here, but I also didn’t like the connotation Islamic religion was given. No I’m not muslim, actually I’m a Christian, but as if having Islamic extremists being the bad guys was not enough, the author also implies that there’s demonic activity surrounding them. Did Black ever mentioned demons being around Drew’s non-christian friends? I don’t think so.

Characters

Drew had an awesome improvement since book one. He didn’t get mature by magic, as sometimes happen, but as the story progressed it was believable how the events took him from one point to the other. His experience with the angels was the part I enjoyed the most, while his love story being the part I enjoyed the least.

Conclusion

Maybe I’m gonna sound contradictory, but Light of the Last is the best book of the trilogy to me. There’s a lot of action and mistery going on the whole time you never have time to get bored. Overall it was an interesting reading but this is maybe the last book I’m reading by Chuck Black.

Rating:

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.