|Book Reviews CR July 11|
|Tuesday, 28 June 2011 07:57 AM EDT|
Lion of Babylon
by Davis Bunn
Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group)
fiction, hardcover, 384 pages, $22.99
softcover, 384 pages, $14.99
Best-selling author Bunn takes readers on an entertaining, suspenseful, hopeful adventure in modern-day Iraq in Lion of Babylon.
Marc Royce is called away from his job as a forensic accountant to re-enter his life as a State Department operative. His best friend, along with two other Americans and one Iraqi, has gone missing, and neither the American nor the Iraqi government is offering answers. Marc teams with an Iraqi attorney, a former Iraqi special forces soldier and the nation’s top religious leader to uncover what becomes more than a kidnapping for ransom.
Faith, both Muslim and Christian, plays a big role as Marc and his friends come to understand that the kidnappings are tied to an underground movement created to build a new Iraq. Unseen enemies will stop at nothing to destroy the movement and install their leadership.
Bunn has created an Iraq that offers seeds of hope sown by the only Reconciler capable of bringing the sharply divided country—and region—into harmony. His writing is taut, his message clear: Hope comes from God alone.
—Ann E. Byle
Auto/BiographyGrowing Up Amish
Tyndale House Publishers
softcover, 288 pages, $14.99
More than a story about a Plain man and his primitive community, Growing Up Amish is a memoir of one man’s struggle with God. Born in an Old Order Amish community in Aylmer, Ontario, and later moved to Bloomfield, Iowa, Wagler had 10 siblings, a loving mother and a strict father highly regarded for his newspaper writings.
From age 17, Wagler came and went from home, unsettled and closed in even when he chose to join the church and become engaged. Drifting from place to place and living in rebellion, he always came back, mainly out of fear of eternal damnation.
An encounter with Sam Johnson—an intelligent young man born “English,” but who opted to join the Amish—led to Wagler’s new birth at age 26. Though finally at peace, he subsequently left his people for the last time, but this time without fear.
Growing Up Amish unveils what Amish life is like on the inside. Beyond that, this well-told story will leave the Christian rejoicing that a prodigal has come home.
—Christine D. Johnson
My Life and Lesser Catastrophes
Chosen (Baker Publishing Group)
softcover, 144 pages, $12.99
In My Life and Lesser Catastrophes: An Unflinchingly Honest Journey of Faith, Schofield shares the story of the motorcycle accident that left her husband, Allen, a quadriplegic.
With Allen, a campus minister, confined to a wheelchair, Schofield had to learn to care for him as well as their toddler. She also had to allow herself to accept help and to lean fully on God.
With scriptural references and anecdotes, My Life and Lesser Catastrophes showcases the author’s humor and wit. The book’s chapter titles also are a break from the ordinary—“Fried Chicken and Priorities,” for example.
Not just an account of a wife’s new role as caregiver, My Life is about a woman’s faith in God. This touching book is a reminder that even in life’s frailest moments, God is present to comfort and carry His children.
softcover, 192 pages, $10.99
In Face to Face With God: A True Story of Rebellion and Restoration, author Maxim tells how as a teenage alcoholic, he found himself face to face with God after a tragic auto accident—one that destroyed his looks, but renewed his life.
While in the hospital, Jesus appeared to him, Maxim writes. With little knowledge of God, he was headed to Marine boot camp when he found a Gideon Bible, its words satisfying his thirsty soul. He also developed a pattern of praying that God would help him make faith come alive in the hearts of others, accounts of which he shares along with key scriptures.
The military proved a testing ground for his faith, but also an opportunity to have his appearance restored through reconstructive surgery. Today, as a businessman, Maxim does his work as unto the Lord.
An evangelist at heart, Maxim urges readers to follow Christ. Christians will benefit from the book’s rich resources for those who want to share their faith.
Thor Ramsey’s Total Money Meltdown
softcover, 160 pages, $12.99
For many readers, wondering if the author is related to Dave Ramsey will likely be the first reaction to Thor Ramsey’s Total Money Meltdown—and he isn’t. After the author establishes that he has read the personal finance expert’s books, he shares his own story of loss, debt and renewal.
A Christian comedian known for his work on the “Thou Shalt Laugh” series, Ramsey uses humor to draw the reader and then explains how he overcame his own financial battles to finally succeed at reducing his debt level to zero by the time he finished writing the book. He found that what seemed impossible could only be accomplished through his understanding of God’s love and commitment.
Total Money Meltdown offers entertainment, yes, but more importantly, the tools for how to begin to hope again for those in debt. By disclosing his Starbucks addiction, then how his wife shredded his credit cards, Ramsey admits his own failure, but also shares his triumph, hoping to inspire readers on their own financial journey.
What’s Your Secret?
David C. Cook
softcover, 208 pages, $14.99
Sometimes it takes a light touch to tackle a potentially life-altering topic—a touch Stern, a college and twentysomethings pastor, employs in What’s Your Secret? Freedom Through Confession.
Acknowledging that everyone has secrets—which have the power to harm—Stern shares the fallout of his own secrets and calls readers to take the path to freedom, which starts with the act of confession. Encouraging readers through success stories, Stern also cautions them to admit their secrets to the right people—and offers guidance on how to identify the wrong people.
But, he writes, confession is only the start of the journey. In the book’s second half, he challenges the reader to see sin for what it is and repent instead of opting for a quick self-help fix.
Stern urges readers to keep only the good secrets—the secrets of their good deeds, building their treasure in heaven. What’s Your Secret? is applicable to the life of any Christian and offers an important corrective in this image-driven age.
Major Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky
softcover, 400 pages, $14.99
Black Hawk Down survivor Major Struecker lends his military knowledge to author Gansky for an engaging thriller in Fallen Angel. The title refers to an American Angel-12 spy satellite knocked from orbit by the Chinese, eager to seize and copy its military secrets.
Sergeant Major Eric Moyer leads a covert team into Siberia to retrieve the downed satellite and the first team that was sent in, captured and tortured into confession by a rogue Russian military squadron hoping the satellite would further their goal of restoring the Soviet Union. The Chinese deploy a secret salvage team as well.
Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Moyer’s teenage daughter, Gina, disappears, and ransom videos surface demanding Moyer’s mission be halted. As military and civilian police search for Gina, the president tracks the three-way race for the Angel, ready if necessary to launch a surgical strike to destroy it and everyone around.
Fallen Angel’s bicontinental intrigue engages the reader despite the lack of a consistent point of view. Struecker and Gansky also interlace the suspense with the spiritual inclinations of believing men sworn to protect their nation.