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The Fourth Fisherman: How Three Mexican Fishermen Who Came Back from the Dead Changed My Life and Saved My Marriage
The Fourth Fisherman: How Three Mexican Fishermen Who Came Back from the Dead Changed My Life and Saved My Marriage
by Joe Kissack
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough but not gripping, 1 Sept. 2012
I received a free e-copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in return for a fair review.

The Fourth Fisherman was easily readable in one evening and that's what I did. The writing flows well and the story cleverly integrates the author's life story - and particularly the personal transformation following his adoption of a Christian faith - with that of three fishermen cast adrift off the coast of Mexico who eventually survive nine months on the ocean with little more than a Bible and the survival skills of the three fishermen.

At first, I struggled to see how the two stories would intersect as no links were made until the latter half of the book where it becomes clear that it is through the author's own trips to visit the fishermen, seeking the right to tell their story, that we have all of the detail about what happened in that small fishing skiff. Because of this, I was somewhat sceptical as I read the book's first half; however, the second half does bring something of a sense of resolution.

This was a pleasant read, although honesty suggests I should admit that I am also not raving about how good it was.


Fourth Fisherman The HB
Fourth Fisherman The HB
by KISSACK JOE
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.92

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough but not gripping, 1 Sept. 2012
I received a free e-copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in return for a fair review.

The Fourth Fisherman was easily readable in one evening and that's what I did. The writing flows well and the story cleverly integrates the author's life story - and particularly the personal transformation following his adoption of a Christian faith - with that of three fishermen cast adrift off the coast of Mexico who eventually survive nine months on the ocean with little more than a Bible and the survival skills of the three fishermen.

At first, I struggled to see how the two stories would intersect as no links were made until the latter half of the book where it becomes clear that it is through the author's own trips to visit the fishermen, seeking the right to tell their story, that we have all of the detail about what happened in that small fishing skiff. Because of this, I was somewhat sceptical as I read the book's first half; however, the second half does bring something of a sense of resolution.

This was a pleasant read, although honesty suggests I should admit that I am also not raving about how good it was.


Viral
Viral
by Leonard Sweet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.26

2.0 out of 5 stars Good thoughts but disappointingly executed, 27 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Viral (Paperback)
I was excited by the title of this Leonard Sweet book. Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival has a real sense of promise about it. But I have to confess that I was disappointed, much as I was with another of his books, I am a Follower. I think at this point I need to admit that I am probably just not a Leonard Sweet fan. I find too much of his writing to be disjointed and circular; I also feel it slips into repetition.

Yet this is not to take away from the fact that there are some good ideas in the book, as he questions what it means to understand the Google culture now pervasive in the West. He suggests that this technological change, and its resulting cultural impact, is as significant as the introduction of the Gutenberg press in terms of how Christians might reach the world with the gospel. Thus, he claims, the key is for Christians to adapt to these changes, to learn from the `digital natives' who are confident in this new world of iPhones, twitter and Facebook, as they leverage networks as a means of relationship-building over the individualism inherent in the Gutenberg culture.

Honestly...? I think this is articulated better and, perhaps, with fewer generalisations by other writers I have been reading lately. It's a shame because I really want to like Leonard Sweet's work and I certainly am fascinated by the same kind of topics as he writes about, but I just can't get past his writing style. However, if you love Sweet's work and are unfamiliar with this kind of categorisation of culture within the liminality in which we currently find ourselves, then this might be one for you!

I received a free e-copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in return for a fair review.


The grace effect
The grace effect
by Larry Taunton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and readable, 27 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The grace effect (Paperback)
This is the story of Taunton's family's adoption of a little girl from the Ukraine called Sasha. Yet it is not just a personal account; instead it is interwoven with an analysis of the arguments of the New Atheists for a society which denies God.

Such refutation of atheistic thinking is Taunton's life work as both historian and Christian apologist and, at times, you might need a good measure of determination to sort through some of the more philosophical discussions in the book! But this is, by no means, all that this book comprises. The very human touch comes from his memories of the long adoptive process which required him and his family to spend weeks in the Ukraine. Skilfully, he interweaves both elements until the reader can see that he believes that Sasha, now his daughter, demonstrates the grace effect. By this, he means that she is the product of a largely atheistic state, treated as soulless. Sasha's life, as it was, had been formed by the secularism being championed by so many today in the West, as she was dragged from one hopeless orphanage to another, places where the children's food was rotten and some even lacked toilet paper. It was a world largely devoid of the common grace flowing from a Christian influence in society.

Yet, when brought into the Taunton family in a nation shaped by Christian values, a nation which is still enjoying the benefits of Christianity's contributions to its society, Sasha's life is utterly changed as she understands what it is to be loved, what it is to be cared for. She, says Taunton, is a demonstration of the grace effect as her life is transformed through grace.

I enjoyed this book and found it very readable, even where I felt momentarily out of my depth in the apologetics debates which Taunton records between himself and Christopher Hitchens. The description of the adoption process in an Eastern Bloc country was eye-opening and also a little horrifying and I suspect that, even if you did not connect with this book for its apologetics value, you would appreciate its honest account of life in a society which has largely abandoned God.

I received a free copy of Larry Alex Taunton's The Grace Effect from BookSneeze.com in return for a fair review.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2016 6:08 PM BST


The Grace Outpouring: Blessing Others Through Prayer
The Grace Outpouring: Blessing Others Through Prayer
by Roy Godwin
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb - read it and dream of what he will do!, 27 Aug. 2012
I came across The Grace Outpouring by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts recently. In fact, I managed to get myself a free copy of the e-book on NetGalley in return for a fair review. Goodness only knows what it was doing on there because usually the only books on there are ones which are pending publication. This one has been out for a while but I suspect it is something to do with a reissued edition coming out this October. Either way, I was pretty happy as it's one I've been aware of for a while but just not got round to obtaining!

My poor husband was trying to read another book at the time I was reading this one but he didn't get very far because I kept laughing out loud at the goodness of God recounted in the pages of The Grace Outpouring and then insisted on reading aloud to him pages at a time! It's the story of an unassuming retreat centre in Wales, a prayer house named Ffald-y-Brenin, and the couple who run it. In itself, it could have been a dull read. But, in fact, it absolutely sparkled with the presence of God, reminding me of the sense I got in my early twenties from reading books like Leonard Ravenhill's Why Revival Tarries, Arthur Wallis' In the Day of thy Power and Norman Grubb's Rees Howells: Intercessor.

The book is a cowrite which I presume means that Dave Roberts wrote it based on Godwin's conversations and subject to his final approval. I found it well-written, flowing smoothly and capturing something of what I can only assume is Godwin's sense of humour. It contains story after story of what God has done at Ffald-y-Brenin. There are stories of healings so dramatic that it sounds like fiction, as well as references to person after person - even hardened atheists - coming to know God in that place. There are accounts of people hearing God speaking with an accuracy which is almost shocking (though this perhaps is an indictment of my faith levels!). We read of farmers in the local valley experiencing unheard-of yields and blessings on their livestock businesses, whilst the local occult leader pays Ffald-y-Brenin a visit in order to recount the sudden and complete loss of power by all the local occult and pagan practitioners. And there are references to the presence of God that sometimes seems to root people to the spot in conviction of sin under the power of grace, a presence so heavy in a place that the Ffald-y-Brenin chapel was, on one occasion, filled with light in a way quite unexplainable save with reference to God.

It captivated me over the day and a half that I read it. It reminded me of the dreams I've carried for over a decade and it encouraged me again to dare to hope for a move of God right across this nation. Read it and let your faith be stirred.


Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart
Price: £6.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Good for girls in their teens and early twenties, 21 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Heart to Heart (Kindle Edition)
Ali Martin and Liza Hoeksma, Heart to Heart: Eight ways to understand and heal your vital connection to God

Our heart is the very core of who we are. Because of this, Scripture tells us to guard our hearts above all else. But how can we do this in the context of twenty-first century life? How can we understand what state our hearts are in right now and how can we bring ourselves to an attitude of honesty before God about the need for our hearts to be transformed and renewed?

You'll find some answers in this great new book from Ali Martin and Liza Hoeksma. Although it's not evident from the summary on the book's cover or its opening chapter, Heart to Heart's Soul Survivor provenance (both authors hail from the Watford church and the foreword comes from Mike Pilavachi) marks out this book as very clearly aimed at the young people's market when it comes to popular Christian literature. It seems also from the range of real-life stories used in the book that the its main market is intended to be female.

Chapters include reference to the trusting heart, the peaceful heart, the surrendered heart, the resurrected heart and much more. Whilst I don't think it was clear why these chapter topics were chosen above any others, the content was good and relatively engaging. This co-write is well-blended and although it is clearly marked as to which author is writing each chapter, there was not a noticeable difference in tone. This made for a smooth read!

The book's approach and style will definitely appeal to teenaged girls and perhaps some in their early twenties but, as one who is somewhat out of this age category now, I still found that it was a good read. In particular, I valued the honesty of the authors in sharing examples from their own lives as well as the inclusion of many short and three much longer testimonies of heart-healing from various young women. It was perhaps this most of all which will make the book attractive to a younger generation: the authors' willingness to filter Scriptural truth and Christian wisdom through the nitty-gritty of real-life experience gives their message a persuasive quality.

This is one to consider giving to one of the young women whom you know and, at only 124 pages, it won't be seen as too long or heavy yet it delivers a strong and helpful Christian message.


Missional Church in Perspective, The (Missional Network)
Missional Church in Perspective, The (Missional Network)
by Craig Van Gelder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable one to own, 18 Aug. 2012
If you feel lost in the missional conversation, this book will go some way to clarifying things for you! Thoughtful and informative, it traces the history and development of the missional conversation, revisiting the 1998 book entitled Missional Church (ed. Darrell Guder) and considering how thinking has progressed since. The taxonomy of approaches to missional church is particularly helpful in its breadth and depth of study. The second half of the book then seeks to develop the missional conversation in various ways: attention is given specifically to its theological frameworks, understanding of culture and congregational and leadership practices in the missional church. I very much enjoyed my readings in this book and expect to go back to it more than a few times for reference purposes. This one is worth buying.


God in the Dark: Rebuilding Faith When Bad Stuff Happens
God in the Dark: Rebuilding Faith When Bad Stuff Happens
by Peter Longson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, 18 Aug. 2012
Theology through the lens of personal experience can be very powerful stuff. This is the work of an anonymous author, writing under a pseudonym, presumably to protect the identity of his family, who suffered a terrible personal tragedy. It is this tragedy which seems to have powered this work on how God can be love and yet evil can exist.

Well-written and engaging, the book takes various angles in dealing with this question, including perspectives drawn from both science and music. The material is well-organised and it moves towards some coherent conclusions. I am in two minds about those conclusions: some of them I can agree with, others seem quite sweeping in their extent and less well-supported. However, this book deserves your time because of the honesty and rigour of its wrestlings with such a big question.


Two Testaments: A Novel (Secrets of the Cross Trilogy)
Two Testaments: A Novel (Secrets of the Cross Trilogy)
Price: £9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 18 Aug. 2012
The trilogy (Two Crosses, Two Testaments and Two Destinies) chronicles the history of several generations of a family with French, American and Algerian connections. Based in Montpellier with brief interludes in Algeria, this story is one of great faith in a God who sometimes seems to lead his people into real danger for the sake of Muslims who don't yet know him. The Midi culture and environs are powerfully drawn: knowing Montpellier quite well, I can almost feel the shimmer of the Mediterranean heat as the story weaves through the Place de la Comedie and the shadowed streets off to its sides.

I came across these books quite by chance at a time when I wanted some fiction to make light relief from my diet of endless how-to books on church, discipleship and leadership. I never expected to review these books as so much of the Christian fiction I'd read was not great. But this trilogy was a complete surprise, being both educational as well as having an engaging storyline.

I received free copies of each of these books through NetGalley in return for a fair review.


Two Crosses (Secrets of the Cross Trilogy)
Two Crosses (Secrets of the Cross Trilogy)
by Elizabeth Musser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 18 Aug. 2012
The trilogy (Two Crosses, Two Testaments and Two Destinies) chronicles the history of several generations of a family with French, American and Algerian connections. Based in Montpellier with brief interludes in Algeria, this story is one of great faith in a God who sometimes seems to lead his people into real danger for the sake of Muslims who don't yet know him. The Midi culture and environs are powerfully drawn: knowing Montpellier quite well, I can almost feel the shimmer of the Mediterranean heat as the story weaves through the Place de la Comedie and the shadowed streets off to its sides.

I came across these books quite by chance at a time when I wanted some fiction to make light relief from my diet of endless how-to books on church, discipleship and leadership. I never expected to review these books as so much of the Christian fiction I'd read was not great. But this trilogy was a complete surprise, being both educational as well as having an engaging storyline.

I received free copies of each of these books through NetGalley in return for a fair review.


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