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Profile for Pamela Simpson > Reviews


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Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us
Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us
by Joe Palca
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.37
118 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I found myself laughing because I found reading this book to be annoying. It drags, April 2, 2015
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After about 40 pages, I found myself laughing because I found reading this book to be annoying. It drags, spends too many sentences to explain insignificant ideas, and takes forever to get to the point. Speaking of the point, I also found it to be light on content. One of the few books I've bought lately that I abandoned without finishing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 21, 2016 3:26 PM PST

Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radical Faith
Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radical Faith
by Kris Vallotton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.56
75 used & new from $0.78

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life on the Edge, February 16, 2013
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Deep down inside, do you ever feel that you were called to live life on the Edge? That living life in the kingdom of God should mean more than mowing your lawn, paying your taxes, and showing up in church twice a week? Tracy Evans' story illustrates what a life can be when it is totally and courageously dedicated to following Jesus.

From the streets of LA to a small mountain town in Northern California, from the Philippines to Kiribati to the bush of Mozambique, Tracy Evans lives her life as an ambassador from the kingdom of God. She remains true to the values of that kingdom, no matter where she is or what circumstances she faces. God has redeemed her thoroughly, using even the difficult things from her growing up years to keep her fearless in the face of hardships and sometimes even life-threatening situations. Tracy is a physician's assistant who trained at Stanford, and she offers compassionate medical care for people in desperate need. But she offers them much more than that. She preaches the good news of Jesus with her words as well as the example of her life, and offers people an encounter with God that will change their lives forever.

Tracy oversees a ministry in Mozambique that includes support for almost 1000 orphaned babies per month. In a country where life expectancy can be as low as 38 years, where AIDS and other diseases often kill young parents way before their time, there are many orphans. This ministry encourages surviving family members to take in the orphans, and gives them the nutritional and medical support they need to do it. In this way the children remain in their home villages and are able to grow up into adults who are culturally and socially well-adjusted. Her ministry also supports two thriving prison ministries, where inmates who have no hope receive love, acceptance, and a new identity as children of God.

Tracy does all this yet remains down to earth and humble. She speaks to prisoners and tells them that the only difference between them and the people who are free is that the free ones have not been caught, that we are all sinners. She tells them that her earliest memory is of going to a prison to visit her own father, who was incarcerated for all of her young life. Though she is accomplished and skilled and full of the grace and wisdom acquired through following Jesus faithfully for most of her life, she reaches out to people by letting them know that she herself, just like the rest of us, needed a savior. Then she makes it clear that after a real encounter with God, we don't have to remain broken humans. There is a life of adventure and wholeness and joy available to anyone who wants it. Tracy is a prime example of this kind of life, lived on the Edge and to the fullest.

Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History and Future
Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History and Future
by Newt Gingrich
Edition: Hardcover
218 used & new from $0.01

23 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sins of Omission, June 18, 2007
Mr. Gingrich has carefully selected his quotes and photos to present a distorted view of the monuments. For instance, the book shows a statue of Moses and and an image of a Gutenberg Bible from the Library of Congress. He does not mention that the Gutenberg Bible is displayed under the feet of the false goddess of wisdom and war, Minerva, nor that it is steps away from a gold inlaid representation of the zodiac in the floor of the Great Hall. Interestingly, the Library of Congress Christmas Tree is set up each year right in the middle of this zodiac.

That's just one example. He sounds almost rapturous about the references to "the creator" from the base of the Washington Monument right up to the aluminum cap, but seems not to notice that the obelisk is an ancient pagan phallic symbol.

It is intellectually dishonest to present such a slanted view of the spiritual influences in our national monuments. It weakens the case for pointing out the legitimate Christian influences when authors insist on pretending the pagan idolatrous images aren't even there. As any parent knows, telling a little slice of the truth and omitting the parts of the story that incriminate do not qualify as telling the truth.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2007 11:30 PM PDT

The Poet of Tolstoy Park: A Novel (Reader's Circle)
The Poet of Tolstoy Park: A Novel (Reader's Circle)
by Sonny Brewer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.48
94 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Woven Story, January 20, 2007
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Sonny Brewer has written a captivating novel that stole my heart. I am a native of Alabama, though not of the coastal area, and I love the way this author presents the land, the people, and the story of this rather atypical community. Brewer conveys a sense of place through a keen description of the landscape, the creeks, the birds, the weather, as well as the eclectic mix of people who have found their way to the Utopian village of Fairhope. All of that adds to the rich warp of the story, then the piece takes substantive shape as the woof is added in the person of Henry Stuart. The effect that emerges as the layers pile up page after page is a mesmerizing tale of one man's struggle to make peace with his own impending death. In the process, he found healing and a new life at peace with himself, with his new friends (if not his sons) and with his adopted land. Brewer handles Stuart's rejection of the church with sensitivity, crafting his old friend Rev. Webb in a sympathetic light. Still, my one slight disatisfaction with the book was that I would have enjoyed a more in-depth exploration of Tolstoy's working out of Christianity, and of Stuart's somewhat parallel journey. There is an interview with Brewer at the end of the Ballantine paperback edition. I was amazed to find that two thirds of the story is completely fictional. So believable are his descriptions of Henry's spiritual journey, his thoughts, his prayers, his struggles, that I had assumed most of them came directly from the old man's journals. I was delighted to find actual photos of Stuart's hut as it looked in the 1920's and as it looks today on the author's website. Brewer found the hut in disrepair and restored it himself, as barefoot as the original builder. This lovely novel could be compared to one of Mr. Stuart's handwoven rugs-- each strand has been skillfully and lovingly spun, then the entire thing woven together with much patience to make a rich, sturdy work of art.


The Road
The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.36
366 used & new from $0.01

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Vial is Poured Out, September 29, 2006
This review is from: The Road (Hardcover)
In The Road, Cormac McCarthy uses hauntingly beautiful language to paint a tableau of utter desolation. His carefully crafted sentences are like delicate ice sculptures, splintering and shattering and revealing through their transparent loveliness indelible images of cold despair. Beauty in the face of hopeless destruction is often man's best attempt to preserve his dignity against the devastation of the Prince of Darkness. This post-apocalyptic look at the quest of Everyman and Everychild (their names are never revealed to the reader) to survive and carry the fire of civilisation even after civilisation itself has vanished demonstrates the inadequacy of beauty to override the brutal ugliness that has conquered the face of the earth. The father's love for his son is tenacious and moving. The innocence and goodness of the son is all that really offers hope, but that hope is as weak as the innocence is overdone. The fire of civilisation that the father wants the son to remember and carry into the future has been completely overcome by the fire of destruction. Not only that, it is ironically civilisation itself that gave rise to the technology that allowed the fire of destruction to take on such overwhelming power, which leads the reader to wonder if Minerva draws her flame from a less noble source than we are usually led to believe. No matter how many times they escape the marauders, no matter how many times they find one more miraculous cache of canned goods, the reader knows that it is only a matter of time before they are ambushed, out of food too long, frozen, sick, injured, infected-- the odds are too great. The ending is improbable, and even if accepted by the reader, still can be believed only as another stop gap. The Road paints as clear a picture as has ever been painted in all of literature of the futility of civilisation's attempt to disguise humankind's ultimate bankruptcy in the face of the Fall. Here is an ashen, horror-filled look at a world crying out for a Redeemer. The beauty of Cormac's breathtaking language only sharpens the dawning of the realization that the fire of civilisation cannot save us.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2006 8:40 PM PDT

Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting: The Astonishing Power of Feelings
Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting: The Astonishing Power of Feelings
by Lynn Grabhorn
Edition: Paperback
491 used & new from $0.01

33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Cosmology-- But is it true?, September 2, 2006
1. Each human being's feelings cause vibrations that act as a magnetic field, drawing things toward him/her.

2. Good feelings = higher frequency vibrations; bad feelings = lower frequencey vibrations.

3. Your desires--- everything from red convertibles to personal finances to career success to good relationships--- are satisfied or frustrated depending on the frequency at which you vibrate when you think about that desire.

4. Your vibrational frequency is the primary factor that determines what you get in life. Not how much money you were born with, not your talents and abilities, not your education, not your hard work or lack thereof. Those things might figure into it, but they are not the primary factors.

5. The free will of other humans is not a primary factor in what happens to you. If someone breaks into your window and rapes and strangles you, it is primarily due to your negative vibrations. The free will of groups of people, such as governments, is also not a primary factor. If another country declares war on your country and bombs your infrastructure, destroys your neighborhood, removes a couple of your limbs or maybe kills your mother, you can attribute this primarily to the frequency at which your feelings are causing you to vibrate, thus drawing these bad things toward you like a magnet.

6. You have an earthly, physical self, and a higher-level "true self" that lives in another dimension.

7. Your "true self" in that other dimension vibrates at a very high frequency, because it experiences only good feelings, or joy.

8. Therefore, when you have good feelings in your earthly self, you are literally "in tune" with your higher self, because your vibrational frequency is closer to that of your "true self."

This is just a sample of the tenets underlying the belief system in this book. Is it true that you can control everything that happens to you just by controlling your feelings? Is it true that the free will of other humans has no bearing on what happens to you? Is it true that if you are thinking positively and sending out good vibes that you will get everything, or at least most of, what you want in life, and the bad things will stay away? You decide, but be sure you are consciously in agreement with the beliefs the author is espousing before you choose to base your life on her plans.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 29, 2011 9:09 AM PST

Gilead: A Novel
Gilead: A Novel
by Marilynne Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.52
649 used & new from $0.01

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is a Balm in Gilead, May 8, 2006
This review is from: Gilead: A Novel (Paperback)
Gilead is a pristine, starkly beautiful book. As the main character writes his meandering memoir to his young son, we see glimpses of his life and the lives of his father and grandfather. With the news that he doesn't have long to live, death has caught Rev. Ames by surprise, even at age 77. His character is not given to panic, but this deliberately slow-paced epistle is a kind of last-minute attempt to convey his life to his six year old son before he dies. Although clearly a man given to serious, methodical study, his letter to his son takes on the role of personal journal as he tries to work through his feelings about an old conflict with his best friend's son.

Robinson has painted a painfully honest picture of fallen humans living their broken lives infused with grace. Rev. Ames loves the earth, the sky, pancakes, the simplicity of his old wooden church building as the sun comes up. He drinks deeply of the beauty and simple pleasures of the world, and he describes them so tangibly that the reader drinks along with him. At the same time, he doesn't shy away from the difficulties of human relationships. He describes, without ever fully explaining, heart-ripping conflict between his father and grandfather, himself and his own father, and his best friend, Rev. Boughton, with one of his sons. He is aware of his own failures and weaknesses, and aware of his need for redemption. He doesn't excuse himself, or anyone else, yet he has deep compassion for himself and the other struggling humans around him.

In a culture filled with shallow, simplistic representations of Christianity, it is incredibly refreshing to encounter a work of literary art that demonstrates the difficulties, the unanswered questions, but also the beauty and dignity of a follower of Jesus living in grace.

Nine Things You Simply Must Do: To Succeed in Love and Life
Nine Things You Simply Must Do: To Succeed in Love and Life
by Henry Cloud
Edition: Hardcover
207 used & new from $0.01

54 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Few Gems, March 5, 2006
I'm a big fan of Dr. Cloud's books, but I don't think this one is as good as his others. I don't have a moral problem with Christians observing principles that bring success, as long as those principles are biblical; Cloud is soundly grounded in scripture, even if his applications are occasionally a bit unconventional. His observations of the 9 things you must do to succeed are not entirely without interest, but I found myself skimming after about half way through. This book seems more like a quickly-written secular "how to succeed in life" book than like the profound guides to biblical personal growth I've come to expect from this author.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2012 7:59 PM PDT

Changes That Heal
Changes That Heal
by Lisa Guest
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.11
230 used & new from $0.01

116 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Image Bearers, March 5, 2006
This review is from: Changes That Heal (Paperback)
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? People sometimes say that it means we have free will, or we have emotions and intellect, or we have a spirit. In Changes that Heal, Cloud describes part of his own theory of what it means to bear the image of God on this planet. He describes four major areas that are involved in bearing God's image: 1. Bonding to others 2. Separating from others 3. Sorting out good and bad in ourselves and others 4. Becoming an adult. For each of these four areas, he points out the picture we have in scripture of God's nature as He operates in the specific area, then describes how this aspect of man was broken in the fall, and suggests ways to move toward healing. The book is especially helpful when it describes case studies from Dr. Cloud's practice and shows which symptoms, or life problems, may result from failure to grow up in each of the areas.

There are a few weaknesses in the book. He doesn't include enough practical how-to for someone seeking healing, possibly because this requires help from healthy relationships and/or professionals. Also, the writing style tends to ramble and get a little tedious. You have to be pretty dedicated to getting the information in order to plod through to the end. Although the subject matter is not exactly duplicated, for a book along the same lines I much prefer John Townsend's Hiding from Love.

How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding: With Your Spouse, Adult Child, Boss, Coworker, Best Friend, Parent, or Someone You're Dating
How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding: With Your Spouse, Adult Child, Boss, Coworker, Best Friend, Parent, or Someone You're Dating
by Henry Cloud
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from $3.07

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confrontation 101, March 5, 2006
Does the mere word "confrontation" give you a stomach ache? If so, it may help to know that, according to Cloud and Townsend, the word literally means to come face to face with another person-- in other words, it is a positive relational term. This book gives practical, step-by-step advice on how to have difficult but vital conversations with people you are in relationship with. It outlines strategies for how to prepare, how to remain loving, and how to keep the conversation on track. Although it focuses on "big" conversations about matters that may have been brewing for a while, it is also useful for smaller, day-in day-out kinds of confrontations. Some people grow up in homes that encourage this kind of interaction, and some people grow up avoiding such matters. Cloud and Townsend give a biblical basis for operating in both grace and truth, just as Jesus came full of grace and truth.

This book is best understood in the context of the book Boundaries, by the same authors. However, it can also stand on its own.

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