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Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.52
45 used & new from $7.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Baffling, Frustrating and Strangely Encouraging, March 24, 2015
This book drove me crazy. I couldn't put it down. I was, sad to say, prepared to dislike everything about Nadia Bolz-Weber and her ministry. The pretentious cover, the sarcastic title, the people quoted on the back cover all offended my sensibilities. But there it was on the shelf in the local library and I checked it out. The first word of the book is an expletive and the profanity hardly lets up from there. I don't agree with Bolz-Weber on many, many things. I'd probably be one of the people she would be tempted to hate and I have to say I was prepared to write her off as a fake. But somehow, the core of this book's message about truth and the humble work of Christ carried the ring of truth to me. I identified with her pastoral struggles and her desire to avoid exchanging authentic community for being the "it" church, with people there for the show or for the vibe rather than for the grace of God. So there is value to much that is written in this book, even if it comes through a mode of writing that would be unusual for many readers.


How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
by Scott Adams
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.06
53 used & new from $7.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, March 24, 2015
I loved this book. I have read Dilbert maybe twice in my life and have never read Adams' blog. What drew me to this book was its title. Most of us feel like we come up short in many ways. Adams' concept of picking failure's pocket is not unique but it was refreshing to me. His thoughts about systems over goals was likewise a valuable insight. The book is witty yet serious, help for every day problems we all face. Highly recommended.


God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World
God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World
by David F. Wells
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.64
46 used & new from $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthwhile Book for Thinking Through Christian Living in the 21st Century, March 20, 2015
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David Wells' "God in the Whirlwind" seeks to apply an answer to the problems in evangelicalism Wells has highlighted in his previous books. Wells is at his best as an analyzer of culture but his efforts at providing solutions are not as strong. In effect, Wells points to the need for the evangelical church to recapture God-centeredness rooted particularly in the holy-love of God. This book is filled with quotable sections and interesting thoughts. You will be rewarded by a careful reading. But in the end I felt like it fell short of presenting a comprehensive Christian worldview to strengthen the foundations of evangelicalism. This is what makes it a four star book to me.


You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television
You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television
by Al Michaels
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.59
113 used & new from $8.50

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read Recounting Great Moments from a Broadcasting Legend, March 9, 2015
This was a fun and engaging read. Al Michaels is a favorite announcer of many and this book is a great recounting of his broadcasting career. There is not an abundance of personal information in this book. Michaels says almost nothing about his wife or children and only has a brief section about his upbringing. The focus instead is on the games he's called and what he considers the highlights of his career. If you want to read about an announcer's perspective on some of the great sports moments of the last 40 years, you will enjoy this book. If you want to understand Al Michaels' broadcasting career, from college radio in Arizona to Hawaii to the Cincinnati Reds to San Francisco to LA and on to the national stage, you will enjoy this book. Michaels gives us some insights into personalities, like OJ and Howard Cosell, and the book is filled with accounts of people Michaels met who later became famous, from Bill Walsh to the Kardashians. Michaels is mostly positive about his colleagues and co-workers but is sometimes critical. This book does not have the feel of a tell-all book or a book intended to stir up controversy. So Michaels' criticisms tend to be measured. He does not want to come off as bitter. Broadcasting legend Curt Gowdy told him at the beginning of his career, "Don't get jaded." This book seems to be an attempt to show that Michaels has not become jaded but still loves his family, his life and his career.


The Way of Humility: Corruption and Sin; On Self-Accusation
The Way of Humility: Corruption and Sin; On Self-Accusation
by Pope Francis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.79
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interestingly Written and Insightful, February 23, 2015
This short book by Pope Francis is really like reading two essays. The first is a superior treatment of the subtle difference between corruption and sin. The biblical insights and meditations in this section are excellent and helpful. The second half of the book, on self-accusation, I found less helpful., mainly because it seemed to engage the Scriptural text less often than the first section. For a book of just 100 pages, there are lots of strong insights in both portions and this book is well worth reading.


Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully
Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $13.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Premise that Doesn't Quite Deliver, February 19, 2015
This book has an interesting premise: Allen Kurzweil chronicles his 40-year search for a bully who tormented him during a year he spent at a boarding school in Switzerland. The problem with the book is that it spends too much time after the bully is found chronicling all the nefarious dealings of said bully in adulthood. Much too much time is given to discussions of fraud and backdoor business dealings in which the bully only played a peripheral role. I would have enjoyed the book much more had this section detailing the crimes of the bully been cut in half. I also would have enjoyed more detail about Kurzweil's childhood and his time at the boarding school. Some criticize Kurzweil for harboring anger over seemingly minor bullying. I can see how some would see it that way. Many people have faced worse than Kurzweil. But the mitigating factor we must keep in mind is the death of Kurzweil's father. This is why the theft of the watch was so significant. It was his father's watch, attached to his most vivid memory of his father. This is why Switzerland held such charm to him, because his father had cherished it. Having his idyllic image of life in his father's beloved land taken from him through bullying was traumatic. Losing his only physical link to his father (the watch) was crushing. The events Kurzweil faced were magnified by the context in which they occurred. I just wish I would have heard more about this context. This would have been a better book had the author not become sidetracked writing about the details of the adult life of the bully.


Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks
Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks
by Dick Cavett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.71
64 used & new from $12.98

4.0 out of 5 stars A Brief and Interesting Read, February 16, 2015
This is a fun book. Not to be taken too seriously. Just the online ramblings and remembrances of one of the great talk hosts of the 60's and 70's, Dick Cavett. You'll enjoy many of the stories in this book, especially if you're over forty and remember some of the figures Cavett discusses. His politics are decidedly left-leaning, but if that's not your thing there are still lots of interesting items throughout the book about Cavett's experiences and the people he has met. One of the best things about the book is that each chapter is taken from a previously written online article so each chapter is a short, stand-alone piece which can be read quickly. This is an ideal book for a waiting room, break time, or other times you might have just a few minutes to spare. The anecdotes about Stan Laurel, Muhammad Ali and Groucho are particularly interesting.


Lila: A Novel
Lila: A Novel
by Marilynne Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.71
99 used & new from $12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Redeeming Love and the Scars We Always Carry, January 21, 2015
This review is from: Lila: A Novel (Hardcover)
I love Robinson's novel unfolding of the life of Lila, wife of the Rev. John Ames. The wonderful novel Gilead introduced us to these characters. In Gilead, Lila is an important character with a mysterious past. In the novel Lila, that past is largely explained and the focus becomes the grace both husband and wife give to each other as they enter into their most unusual marriage. In Gilead, there is the sense of sadness that comes from all that Ames will not experience since he is old and dying but in Lila the sadness comes from what Lila has experienced and how her horrific life makes her reluctant and fearful even when she is given the blessing of stability and love. In both novels there is a sense of unease over what is left unsaid and what cannot be resolved. In Rev. Ames we have a true literary hero: unendingly patient, enduring Lila's uncertainty, helping her learn and grow, nudging her to think without telling her what to think. Through the course of the novel, Lila comes to love the old man, yet still not enough to let go of her desire to flee and not enough to tell him her whole story.

The novel is not difficult to understand if you recognize that Robinson traces Lila's thoughts back and forth through three main periods in her life: her time under the care of Doll, her time in St. Louis, and her time in Gilead. If the reader keeps these periods in mind it is usually simple to understand what Lila is thinking of at a particular time.

I loved Gilead and I really liked Lila. Highly recommended.


ESV Reader's Bible (Cloth Over Board)
ESV Reader's Bible (Cloth Over Board)
by ESV Bibles by Crossway
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.98
12 used & new from $20.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ideal Choice for Bible Readers, January 1, 2015
I just finished reading through the ESV Reader’s Bible in 2014 and found it to be one of the best Bibles I have used for reading large portions of Scripture in one sitting. The Bible has no verse numbers and chapter numbers are in a faint red ink so that the focus is on the text. There are no translation notes or cross-references either. Now none of these things are wrong and they can be quite helpful if you are studying the text, but if your goal is reading the ESV Reader’s Bible is the way to go.

The Bible has the look and feel of a novel. It is a hardcover cloth over board and of a size that makes it easy to carry around. I also really appreciate that it comes with a slipcase, as it will help with durability. The Bible also has two ribbon markers, which is a nice feature.

The text is single column and in a clear, readable font. I appreciate the care that was given in aligning the text so that the text on one side of the page is aligned with the text on the next page. This prevents the reader from seeing text on the other side of the page when reading. I also really like the fact that each book starts on a separate page. For example, on the page where the book of Acts ends we do not see the book of Romans begin. Romans is given its own start on a new page.

There is great value in studying the Bible in depth and this is certainly something believers should do regularly. But there is also great value in thoughtful reading of large portions of Scripture as well. For this second purpose, you can’t do much better than the ESV Reader’s Bible.


Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley
Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable and Interesting What-if?, December 1, 2014
This is a fun, rambling fictional dialog on the other side of life by three men who died on the same day: JFK, CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley. JFK is the religious humanist, Lewis the orthodox Christian and Huxley the pantheist. Kreeft writes in a creative and engaging way and the book is short enough to read like you would read a play. It is, truth be told, not so much a dialog as it is an opportunity for the Lewis character to unfold Kreeft's apologetic arguments for the deity of Christ and the reliability of the New Testament. Huxley and especially Kennedy never really unpack their arguments in a detailed way. This is, of course, part of Kreeft's strategy, as his focus is on the reliability of orthodox belief, but it is not really intended to be a full discussion of the views of all three men. Understanding this, it is still a joy to read and imagine this dialog actually taking place somewhere between heaven and hell.


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