Fiction Review for Bethany House — A Sensible Arrangement

On occasion, we are sent both fiction and non-fiction books to review. This one, from Bethany House, is by Tracie Peterson and is an historical fiction. The following is a copy of the review we wrote on Goodreads. We give it 4 of 5 stars.

For fans of the genre, A Sensible Arrangement is a book that will be well worth their time. Tracie Peterson has written a story with good characters, both main characters and supporting characters. As with all her books, there is always someone who comes to a realization of their need for God. This takes place when they hit rock-bottom in their life and this story is no exception. When one of the characters realizes the impact and hurtfulness of her lying, she begins to understand her sinfulness and comes to repentance and faith in Christ. 
The only quibble would be the way the book ends. It could have ended at the end of the next to last chapter. Instead, it ends focusing on the supporting characters, which could be the set up for a second book to follow. If not, the way it ends is not bad and the author may just have intended to tie up loose ends. 
Favorite quote: “I just thought maybe in the absence of love, that anger had created hate.” “No,” Marty said, shaking her head. “It’s not created anything. It’s left a void.” 
A copy of this book was received by me from Bethany House to review.asatp

Review of Exploring Christian Theology

I conducted a review of Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth and the End Times by Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel for Bethany House Publishing. I was given a copy of the book to review. This was written for the lay person, not the theology student and was, overall, an enjoyable read. Here is a copy of my review on Goodreads:

This was an interesting theology book. It was written for the average church member who wants to grow deeper in the faith, but doesn’t want to take a seminary theology course. For the audience it was written to, this book does an admirable job, especially in the first part on the church and spiritual growth. The second half of the book, on the end times, was not as clearly written and I fear it will just make people all the more muddled. Overall though, I must say I enjoyed the writing style. It was refreshing to see theology written in a relevant way, with a sense of humor thrown in. As a pastor, I believe that this book would be helpful to any congregation, especially as it would give me (or another pastor) even more opportunities to dialogue with our (my) congregants about why they believe what they believe.

While I have quibbles in some areas (who doesn’t?) I do appreciate the effort they made.The best part about the book? The quotes and shelf space sections where they list a library of books for further study. If this gets more congregants interested in theology I am all for it.

Tuesday Book Review — Listening Skills

Yes, yes, I know that I normally post these on Wednesdays, but due to a busy schedule we are putting it up early this week. This is a good read for all ministers and those who desire to become better listeners. I would recommend that everyone in a church leadership position be required to read this.

Listening & Caring Skills: A Guide for Groups and LeadersListening & Caring Skills: A Guide for Groups and Leaders by John S. Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A required read for a class I am taking this summer, I approached the book with some skepticism. I have been pleasantly surprised to find this book practical. While I might use different terms than the author to describe some of the skills mentioned, I have no real quibble with his observations. This book is good for both individuals and groups. What has been fascinating to me, is reading about a particular tactic used and thinking, “hey, that’s what I’ve been doing,” without knowing what the label was. Grab it, it will help you become a better listener.

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Wednesday Book Reviews

BetroviaBetrovia by Dave King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating read. The characters, the plot, the setting — it was quite the enjoyable book. The richness of the world Dave King has created is quite impressive. The depth and individuality of the characters not only bring them to life but they draw you into their lives. A good, clean read full of action and adventure- well worth your time

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The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your DoorThe Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good book that helps you come to realize how important it is to get to really know the people next door. If we truly are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must engage with them. A superficial knowledge is not enough to accomplish the ministry Jesus sent us to do.If we really cared about people we would want for them what we have for ourselves – a relationship with Jesus. I like the approach that we do not get to know them to try an put a spiritual notch on our gun but to seek to know their needs, wants and desires so we can help them where they are and model a lifestyle that they would desire to have. A very good read

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Wednesday Book Reviews – East of Ashes, Dirty God

East of AshesEast of Ashes by Gideon Nieuwoudt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Such a promising beginning. My favorite time period, a book with good, solid, believable characters, a clear Christian message – so why only three stars? Actually would be 3.5 if I could do halves. The ending for me seemed truncated, cut off too soon. Its not that I didn’t like the ending, just that there didn’t seem to be the attention to detail that there was in the rest of the story. That’s too bad because the book was well written and I was hooked from the first few pages. I would read other books from this author in a heartbeat and do recommend this as a good read, just not a great one.
It is well worth your time though and I do respect how the clear Christian message was approached and executed. That aspect of the book gets 5 stars.
Give it a chance – I believe you will enjoy it.

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Dirty God: Jesus in the TrenchesDirty God: Jesus in the Trenches by Johnnie Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book and how the author illustrates the grace of God. What keeps this from getting 4 or 5 stars from me is that the message seems to get muddled a lot on the way. While it didn’t seem cohesive to me – perhaps better editing would have helped – what he had to say was good. I can see this book being helpful but rarely does the author use inclusive language “we”, “our”, etc.. so it reads kind of like a pep talk and not a conversation. Very useful for those confused about grace, Jesus and salvation or for brand new Christians just exploring their faith.

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Wednesday Book Reviews

9 partsNine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic WomenNine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book lifts the veil, so to speak, on the lives of women in Islamic culture. Written by a veteran journalist, it is both fascinating and disturbing. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to understand more about a culture that is still seen as mysterious and exotic by many in the West. Since it is a secular book, this book avoids religious biases and gives a clear picture of what the lives of Muslim women are like in different parts of the Arab world. I highly recommend this as a good read for any who seek to truly understand what goes on in a world hidden from view.

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c through marriageC Through Marriage: Revitalizing Your VowsC Through Marriage: Revitalizing Your Vows by Jim Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a definite must for pastors, marriage counselors and couples. It will go on my shelf as a great resource for pre-marital counseling and yet it will also be used to counsel couples in crisis. The book covers many subjects that come up in a marriage and tackles them all with tact and solid information from a Christian viewpoint. The author has a high view of marriage and this book will help couples solidify their relationship with their spouse. This would also make a great gift for newlyweds. I know, they will most likely put it on their bookshelf and forget about it, but when the inevitable problems arise, they might just pull it down and use it to help repair their marriage. I highly recommend this a good read.

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Free Kindle E-book, Is Jesus Enough?

In honor of All’s Hallow Eve and All Saints Day, Ta Ethne is offering a free resource for you to enjoy and share. A Kindle (or Kindle for PC) version of our book, Is Jesus Enough?, is free to download today and tomorrow. If you would, after you have read it, would you post a review on Amazon? This will help others to be able to find this and other resources that we offer in their search engines. May God bless you as you read this wonderfully inspiring and challenging book.

Free PDF Resource Offer Program

In exchange for book reviews, Ta Ethne is offering a free PDF copy of any of our books. This is how the program works. You contact us with your email information and which book you would like to review. You may choose from:

Is Jesus Enough?

The Quest: Changing a Church’s Culture from Missions-minded to Missions-active

A Heart Hungry to Worship

We will send you a PDF copy of any (or all) of these books. In exchange for this, you agree to post a review (within 2 weeks) on at least 2 public forums, one of which will be  Other suggested sites include Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords or another prominent book review site or blog. In your review, you need to state that you received a free copy of the book to review, in the interest of full disclosure.

After you have posted your reviews, please email us a link to them so we can share it with others. Thank you in advance for helping Ta Ethne resource Christian leaders throughout the world.

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