Best Friends for Life ★★★★☆

bestfriendsforlife (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Best Friends for Life
Series: ———-
Author: Michael & Judy Phillips
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The Phillips tell 4 different true stories (with particulars changed for anonymity’s sake) about young couples they knew and how they proceeded through their dating, into marriage and how those marriages turned out.

The Phillips are convinced that “dating” has such an abysmal track record when it comes to marriages that last after dating that they want to explore other avenues. Their suggestion? Marry your best friend. Basically, make being friends with the opposite gender a higher priority than romance and really know what you want in a spouse instead of letting it all hang on hormones and feelings.

What does God, through the Bible, say about what is important in a marriage? The Phillips use very few specific Bible verses but count on their audience already having a decent grasp of Scripture. They are writing for someone who already wants what is best according to God’s will and is searching that out.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this originally back in 2000. At the time, I had graduated from Bibleschool. Mrs B was still in highschool and we hadn’t a glimmer of the others’ existence. I was mad to marry and was reading all the advice books I could get my hands on. I wasn’t going to be an “old” man like my dad when he got married. For the record, he was married at 28. I ended up being 30. Ironic isn’t it? So I figured if I could get all that advice then Mrs Right would fall into my lap and whammo, we’d have the perfect married life because obviously we’d have BOTH read all kinds of these books and know exactly what to do and what things to NOT do.

The funny thing is, I actually was friends with Mrs B long before we ever were romantically involved. I met her on Xanga, a blogging site (not sure how much traction it still has any more). She’d written a post about going to a medieval wedding and ended her post with “Have a good Sabbath”. I asked her what she meant by “Sabbath” as I was a Saturday Sabbath keeper and it turned out she was a 7th Day Adventist so she kept Saturday as well. We were friends for a couple of years online but figured we’d never meet. She was in California, I was on the East Coast. I didn’t like to travel and she had nothing to draw her to the East. But then a friend of mine, who I’d gone to Bibleschool with, decided he was going to get married. In California. He was in the Navy and would soon be shipping out in a Sub (subbing out?) and I didn’t know when I’d see him next so a group of us all went to California. I informed Miss Librarian and invited her as my plus one. Her brother, Sir Grumpsalot, came with her to chaperone and my friends were at the wedding, so it was safe all around. After the wedding that night, I asked her if I could court her. I called her mother that week and a year later we were engaged and 6 months after that we were married. Now, 10 years later, we’re STILL happily married.

Now, when I read this book back in 2000, I couldn’t have predicted this set of circumstances. In fact, I didn’t WANT those set of circumstances. I wanted somebody else. She has since gotten married to a wonderful christian man, has a family and is a bedrock of Faith for her family. But she wouldn’t have been right for me nor me for her. It took God to bring the correct Mrs Right into my life. That is what this book is about more than anything. It isn’t a hard and fast set of rules that the Phillips promise will bring you the right spouse. But they give solid advice about involving your parents, your friends, and most of all, not letting your hormones and feelings be in control. They are right.

They also give several examples of how people have changed what they’ve suggested to work for their particular set of circumstances. Some of the things they suggest simply weren’t viable for Mrs B and I, such as having family time with each other’s families while we were courting. The Phillips are very open that what they are suggesting isn’t the end and be all but they do strongly advise young people and their parents to put much more effort into the whole process than just “Oh, we’re in love”.

Reading this again, for our 10th Wedding Anniversary, it is uncanny how much God drew us both down this path in our relationship with each other. I for one am thankful for that. Our marriage is strong, we are happy and content with each other and while our lives together haven’t been what we’ve expected (Mrs B was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in ’10), our foundation of friendship has taken us through the times of hospitalization, lack of work, etc.

The book is a bit dated in regards to things they call out in American Culture, ie, what they considered a cliff is only a mere step compared to the moral cliff America has chosen to step off of now. It was eye opening and a good indicator of just how fast our country has gone down the path of immorality.

But ultimately, God Himself is in charge. He has taken responsibility through Jesus Christ and one day He will return and make it right again. I want to be ready for that and I hope you will be too.

★★★★☆

 

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Play the Man ★★★★☆

playtheman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Play the Man
Series: ———-
Author: Mark Batterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Synopsis taken from the book:

“Somewhere along the way, our culture lost its definition of manhood, leaving generations of men and men-to-be confused about their roles, responsibilities, relationships, and the reason God made them men. It’s into this ‘no man’s land’ that New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson declares his mantra for manhood: play the man. In this inspiring call to something greater, he helps men understand what it means to be a man of God by unveiling seven virtues of manhood. Mark shares inspiring stories of manhood, including the true story of the hero and martyr Polycarp, who first heard the voice from heaven say, ‘Play the man.’ Mark couples those stories with practical ideas about how to disciple the next generation of men. This is more than a book; it’s a movement of men who will settle for nothing less than fulfilling their highest calling to be the man and the father God has destined them to be. Play the man. Make the man.”

 

My Thoughts:

I read this book over the course of July for our men’s group at church. One of the reasons there were so many “man” posts in July.

It started out a bit rough. I felt like it was an updated version of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and I didn’t find that particular book at all helpful. But once Batterson got into the 7 Virtues of Manhood, things turned around.

The specific 7 Virtues didn’t really enter into the equation. I was more encouraged in how Batterson showed that being a Man of God was something purposeful, something you had to set your mind to. It was goal oriented and something that will last for your whole life. Just because I’ve done X, Y and Z in the past doesn’t mean I get to slack off and coast later on. A Godly Man is always striving after God and since God is Infinite, our striving will never end. Some days I might have found that thought discouraging, but not during this book. It reminded me of just how great our God is and how much He loves us.

Batterson also goes into Jesus as Man a little bit and that was good too. Too often I think of Jesus as a superman just gliding through His life, snapping His fingers and making everything work. It was good to be reminded that He had to learn to read, that He pooped His diapers (or whatever the equivalent was in 4BC) and that He had hormones too. And yet through it all, He was Perfect.

The final thing that really made this work for me was that Batterson isn’t trying to change the whole culture with some “7 Virtues” program. He doesn’t say that this book will change the whole nation if only we all follow it. He presents it as something that each man must do on his own and must pass on to his sons. He makes being a Godly Man that individuals responsibility. He looks at the building blocks. If the foundations are solid, you can then build a good house. He also practices what he preaches with his kids and I found that immensely encouraging as well.

★★★★☆

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Mere Christianity ★★★★★

merechristianity (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Mere Christianity
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Theological Non-Fiction
Pages: 190
Format: Massmarket paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Lewis turns some radio lectures/talks into book format in which he talks about Christianity and humanity on very basic levels and very broad terms. It really does come across as someone trying to have a casual conversation about an important subject and it feels like Lewis gets the balance of casual and importance just right.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this completely because of my reaction to Toll the Hounds. I needed a good anti-dote to Erikson’s horrific existentialism and his debasement of Redemption. If any one could help, strengthen and encourage me in my Christian faith, Lewis is the man to do it.

I deliberately didn’t take notes and actually tried to read through this as fast as I could, kind of like chugging some medicine. Not because it tasted bad, but I knew if I stopped to taste it, I’d start eating it drop by drop to get the full taste and I needed a large dose of medicine NOW. It worked well. No man is sufficient to himself and we ALL need help and encouragement along life’s way.

This was not a heady and deep look into the various thoughts of Christian doctrine and how this church and that church have come to the conclusions they have, etc, etc. This was very much like Lewis having a conversation with you and much like any good conversation, if you aren’t ready for it or don’t want it, then it won’t work for you no matter how good it is. So I certainly wouldn’t just blanket recommend this to everyone. If you don’t know anything about Christianity and want to learn something without committing yourself or getting dragged into theological depths you simply aren’t even aware of, this is the book for you. If you are a Christian who needs some reminders and some encouragement, this is the book for you.

I COULD have taken notes. Pages of them. But that might just be me and how I deal with non-fiction. I go into a gear where I feel like I need to write a book report whenever I read non-fiction. However, I did underline one phrase that really stood out to me:

For mere improvement is no redemption, though redemption always improves people…”

Attaboy Lewis!!!

I am giving this a conditional “best book of the year” tag. Conditional because I don’t read enough non-fiction for there to be enough to truly choose from. Also, I really don’t like comparing escapist fare (no matter how enjoyable) with a serious book like this. Comparing them would mean they are equal and they aren’t and I don’t ever want to get into the mindset where they are.

★★★★★

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How to Survive and Thrive! In Church ★★★★☆

survivechurch (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: How to Survive and Thrive! In Church
Series: ——
Author: Doug Batchelor & Karen Lifshay
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 128
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Batchelor, a 7th Day Adventist pastor and author, writes this little book on how to survive various types of churches but also how to contribute and make your church a better place.

There are 16 chapters, each focusing either on a particular type of church [dead, big, little, divided, etc] or on a particular problem in church [scandal, gossip, doctrinal doubts, etc] and the final chapter entitled “Not Just Surviving – Succeeding!”

 

My Thoughts:

This is not a comprehensive help book. I read this in one sitting, one evening. It is a lightly humorous book meant to highlight some of the common problems in any and all churches and what you, as an individual, can do.

Basically, Batchelor boils it down to “don’t give up”. Like I said, I read this in one sitting and it was like a nice bottle of gatorade on a hot day while working hard. It’s not a meal but it refreshes you and allows you to keep going until it IS meal time. Batchelor also stresses personal responsibility in your spiritual life. You have to read your Bible and pray if you want to stay connected to God. Going to church once a week to get “fed” isn’t going to cut it.

Batchelor is unabashedly 7th Day Adventist and while this could be used for almost any denomination, it is aimed at SDA’ers. Many of his quotes are from the writings of Ellen White. If that would be a problem for you, then I would not recommend this book.

Anyone who goes to church could benefit from reading this book. Treat it like the word of encouragement it is and not as a theological treatise and you will be well served.

I do wish that there had been an “Interested In More…” epilogue. Could have pointed to some specific, deeper, more relevant books on particular topics. That would have been a nice springboard.

★★★★☆

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Porcelain: A Memoir (Non-Fiction) ★★★☆ ½

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

 

 
Title:        Porcelain: A Memoir
Series:     ——
Author:   Moby
Rating:    3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre:     Autobiography
Pages:     408
Format:  Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Moby, the music artist, looks back on his life from his late teens until the release of his album, Play, in 1999.

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed various songs by Moby, as I like the kind of music he puts out. I’m not his greatest fan, nor do I know all his albums or all his songs or anything like that. I’m a casual fan. At best. I knew that one of his songs was the end song for the movie Bourne Identity. I knew that he was a vegetarian [turns out he’s vegan] and I knew that he had, at some point, claimed to be a Christian.

Non-fiction is not the genre [notice how I lump it ALL together? That should tell you something] that I like to take long swims in. I prefer to let others have that privilege. But my recent read of Deadhouse Gates really left me needing something very different to get me back in the reading groove. This popped up at the library, I believe, so that is how I ended up reading it.

How do I review a book that is pretty much a journal? There is no plot. Moby goes all over the place even while keeping things very chronological. We might get introduced to Karen in one chapter and then he’s with Josephine in the next with no rhyme or reason. This was not an indepth, exhaustive look at Moby’s life. It touched on highlights that have apparently stood out to him up until 1999, when things started going his way?

3 things stood out to me. He had a very hard life growing up and overcame being the token poor boy where he lived. Relationally, he needs to grow up and make a commitment to one of the ladies and stop searching for “The One”. Love isn’t just a feeling and he chases the feelings, time after time after time. Finally, while he might call himself a Christian, I’d be forced to say he’s “spiritual”. He’s interested in “God” but it is apparent that while he’s read and even studied the Bible, he doesn’t think that the God of the Bible is the God he’s after. It is sad to see and he even acknowledges his gradual loss of Faith, but he never claims to have had Faith in Jesus Christ. So from my perspective, what has he really lost? A feeling.

This is definitely geared more towards those who are musicians themselves. When he starts talking about “the beatback interwoven with the attack high on his RGB-304” I have no phracking clue what he’s talking about, specifically. I can glean that he’s doing something musical with one of his instruments. In all honesty, that is enough, but it would have been nice to understand a little more sometimes. I felt like the dumb kid peeking through the window occasionally.

With all of that being said, I still enjoyed this read. I learned more about a guy whose music I like. I jumped the rut of SFF for a day and I learned that I am pretty damned satisfied with my life even if I’m not famous, making 100K a year or sleeping with pornstars. If Moby, whose real name is Richard Melville Hall, writes another memoir about later in his life, I’ll be reading it for sure.

★★★☆ ½

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The Great Controversy (Non-Fiction) (Audio) ★★★☆☆

gc-white (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

 

 
Title: The Great Controversy
Series: ——-
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: Lots of Minutes
Format: Audio Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

A history of the True Church, the Remnant, according to Ellen White. Also goes into the details of the Tribulation and makes plain the prophecies written in Daniel and Revelation about the end of the world and Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.

 

My Thoughts:

I suspect ones’ appreciation for this book will vary according to how much weight you put on Ellen White being a prophetess. If you believe that she was, you’ll take this book in the spirit in which it was written. Much like the Book of Acts, statements of fact. If you don’t believe she was a prophetess, you’ll have to dismiss much of this book. And if, like me, you’re ambivalent or on the line, there will be lots you agree with and lots you’ll dismiss.

I go to an Adventist church and I keep Saturday, the 7th Day, as the Sabbath. I also have no problems with modern day prophets. Revelations makes it clear that there will be 2 final prophets in the end days and layered prophecy about John the Baptist makes it clear that there will be a second “Elijah” to foretell about Christ’s second coming.

With all of that being said, I am not convinced that Ellen White was a prophetess with God’s authority inspiring her writings. She was a Godly woman who was smart and I don’t automatically dismiss her teachings, but much of what she writes can only be accepted if you believe that she had the authority to say it in the first place. Her re-interpretations of the Millerite calculations about the dates in Revelations leave a LOT to be desired [ie, they’re vague as all get out. Which is contrary to her claims of having worked it all out. If you can’t say when Christ is coming back, don’t say you can]

The good side of things is the emphasis on the Sabbath as the Commandment that most of the church has thrown aside. I’m a big Saturday Sabbath keeper, always have been and its just refreshing to hear someone say so without a lot of the flummery that modern protestants use to justify Sunday as the Sabbath [as opposed to the Lord’s Day].

I listened to the audio version put out by the Ellen White Estate, which was free at http://ellenwhiteaudio.org/great-controversy/ and narrated by Dennis Berlin. I put it on my phone and listened to and from work. So I’d get little chunks here and there. I started this last September. In another month or two I’ll probably download another of White’s books and start listening to it as well.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small #7) DNF@10%

a4d2fdca19c420a7af52de9c8d30aae6

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

 

 
Title:         The Lord God Made Them All
Series:       All Creatures Great and Small #7
Author:     James Herriot
Rating:      Unrated
Genre:       Non-fiction
Pages:       388
Format:    Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Even more stories from the Vet. And apparently he goes to Russia, or something.

 

My Thoughts:

I abandoned this at the 10% mark. I just couldn’t take any more cutesy stories about animals or the people. The people just pissed me off. So I endured for almost 40 pages. Then when he starts off about him going to Russia, and preparing his reader for that adventure, I just gave up.

Almost 400 pages was too much and I had really reached my limit of animal stories about 2 books ago. Nothing wrong with this book, hence the Unrated rating. I am using this as a lesson to teach myself when I need to abandon a series sooner.

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  1. Review of Book 1
  2. Review of Book 2
  3. Review of Book 3
  4. Review of Book 4
  5. Review of Book 5
  6. Review of Book 6