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PRODUCT NEWS Book Reviews Book Reviews-January 2009
Book Reviews-January 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 January 2009 03:19 PM EST

Echo withinThe Echo Within
Robert Benson
WaterBrook Press
hardcover, 192 pages, $14.99

An acclaimed, contemplative writer, Benson gently dispenses wisdom like a modern-day Thomas Merton. In fact, Merton gets a nod in the form of a quote at the beginning of each chapter of The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling. While Christians often struggle to decipher the will of God for their life and work, Benson offers a more relaxed perspective: Trust your instincts.

The book’s smaller trim size, which limits the number of words on each page, coupled with its one-word chapter names (listening, waking, hearing, being, looking, waiting, living, knowing, choosing and dreaming), give an ethereal feeling better suited for reflective reading instead of practical self-help. This book inspires, but doesn’t instruct.

Benson spends most his space recounting his own journey—specifically how he ended up devoting his life to the craft of writing. For that reason, The Echo Within will appeal not only to people searching for purpose, but also to fans of the written word.

—Cara Davis

Questions of Truth
John Polkinghorne and Nichole Beale
Westminster John Knox Press
softcover, 194 pages, $16.95

Scientist-theologians Polkinghorne and Beale deliver apologetics from a highly scientific worldview in Questions of Truth: Fifty-One Responses to Questions About God, Science, and Belief. Though the book starts as a criticism of atheist Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, it quickly moves into Q-and-A format, with the authors posing and then answering some of the common objections raised by skeptics and seekers, such as “How did the universe begin” and “Can God’s existence be proved?”
Polkinghorne and Beale tend toward a scientific, allegorical interpretation of biblical events. They believe, for example, that evolution is a tool of God’s creation, that the Adam of Genesis is a metaphor for humankind’s initial consciousness of God and that an un-implanted embryo is probably not a person. Some readers may find their approach cold and impersonal, such as their view on suffering.

For readers comfortable with the authors’ nonliteral take on the Bible, Questions offers some resolution to the apparent conflict between science and religion.

—John D. Leatherman

Left At the Altar
Kimberley Kennedy
Thomas Nelson
softcover, 208 pages, $14.99

When the thirtysomething Kennedy, a TV news anchor, found her soulmate after years of searching, her life seemed complete. Little did she know that at the rehearsal the night before the wedding, her fiance would break the news that he couldn’t go through with the marriage and her life would be forever changed—a story she tells in Left At the Altar: My Story of Hope and Healing for Every Woman Who Has Felt the Heartbreak of Rejection.

Likening the experience to death, Kennedy grieved the loss of her best friend and the plans she had for her life. She describes the heart-crushing rejection and the eventual heart-healing transformation she experienced through her relationship with Christ.

While most of the book deals with her own journey, she often pauses for practical application for the reader, ending with a chapter of 10 tools for healing and moving on with life. Her mantra—“Man’s rejection, God’s protection”—applies to older singles as well as to women whose husbands have been unfaithful or have filed for divorce.

—Cara Davis

A Killing Frost
Hannah Alexander
Steeple Hill
softcover, 368 pages, $13.95

Believable characters, a compelling tale and nonstop action combine to make A Killing Frost, the third in the “River Dance” series, a book that’s hard to put down.
Dr. Jama Keith returns to River Dance to repay her debt for med school, but brings with her a secret from her past. She tries to avoid her ex-fiance Tyrell, but they are thrown together when his niece, 11-year-old Doriann, is kidnapped. The FBI is called in, but warns Jama and Tyrell not to interfere with the investigation.

Jama knows Doriann is resourceful, rebellious and brave beyond her years, but every hour she’s missing is critical.

A Killing Frost is about facing very real fears. Readers will enjoy the fast pace of the story and the underlying message of trusting in love enough to overcome those fears.

—Sandra Furlong

The Centurion’s Wife
Janette Oke and Davis Bunn
Bethany House Publishers
(Baker Publishing Group)
softcover, 384 pages, $13.99

Oke, known for frontier romance, has left the North American landscape to go  further back in time to first-century Israel in The Centurion’s Wife, the first in the “Acts of Faith” serires. Joining her once again is co-author Bunn.

Leah, who faces the fear and uncertainty of an arranged marriage, and Alban, the centurion to whom she is betrothed, evaluate the testimonies of those who follow Jesus and have witnessed His resurrection. They grapple with their own journey of coming to faith in this Jewish Messiah and the anxiety they feel while in the service of the very man that had Jesus put to death.

Sweet, mild and pleasant, the story steers clear of describing a darker, complex pre-Christian Rome. The struggle between good and evil is much tamer than it could  have been and difficulties are too easily resolved, yet it makes for an enjoyable read.

—Deborah L. Delk

Of Different Minds
Maren Angelotti
Regal Books
softcover, 272 pages, $14.99

Angelotti, author and mother of four—two with what have come to be called learning differences—wrote Of Different Minds: Seeing Your AD/HD Child Through the Eyes of God to encourage, educate and empower parents of children with learning differences. Inspired by the educators and parents who helped her understand her own children, Angelotti gathered stories about those who are learning to live and thrive with such differences.

Of Different Minds gives a broad treatment of ADD, AD/HD, dyslexia and related disorders. It covers everything a parent needs to know, from how to identify these disorders to the mystery surrounding them; God’s purposes for them; and their impact. The book provides lists of resources, plus tips, methods and Bible studies.
Angelotti, who also has her own practice dealing with children with these disorders, asserts that they can be successful. The message she gives in Of Different Minds is ultimately one of hope and encouragement.

—Deborah Finnamore

The Late Great United States
Mark Hitchcock
Multnomah Books
hardcover, 208 pages, $19.99

In The Late Great United States: What Bible Prophecy Reveals About America’s Last Days, author and frequent lecturer on prophecy themes Hitchcock provides a straightforward review of the many questions and concerns people have about America’s role in the last days.

The Bible doesn’t specifically mention the U.S. as having a prominent place in the end times, he asserts, which may indicate that America could fall from power in the last days. Hitchcock provides further evidence of the nation’s possible collapse with the current economic crisis, America’s reliance on foreign oil and the threat of Islamic terrorism.

While this may seem gloomy, Hitchcock says that Christians can find hope in knowing what will happen to them when they leave this Earth. He lists three things Christians should do to keep America protected and under God’s favor for as long as possible: Remain vigilant in support of the state of Israel, continue to spread the gospel, and do all they can to practice and promote righteousness.

With its personal yet realistic tone, this book is very informative and viable in a time where people want real answers.

—Jevon Bolden