Call of a Coward

Author: Marcia Moston
Genre: Non-fiction, Missions, Memoir
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 184

I love missionary stories and devour missions books every chance I get, so naturally I jumped at the chance to read this one.
However, I was disappointed with Call of a Coward. The author, Marcia Moston, was an average Christian housewife until her husband decided that they needed to move to Guatemala to manage an orphanage for a year. The bulk of the book was taken up solely with her accounts of how hard it was for her to cope with the situation and deal with moving from the USA to a third-world country, and how afraid she was of this and that. It was like the ministry they were there to do was playing second fiddle to the hardships they were suffering to do it. Throughout the book I kept thinking 'Okay, when are we going to move on and talk about something besides you and how hard it is to go without your chocolate?' Honestly, aside from a few small mentions of projects here and there, I didn't feel like I got any real information about the actual ministry they were there to do. It was all focused on the author's personal struggles.
But then, after they had moved back to the States and had been called to a church in Vermont, the author suddenly starts talking about how much she doesn't want to go to Vermont and how much she does want to go back to Guatemala. And I, the reader, am left thinking 'Really? When did this sudden love of Guatemala come about? Last I checked you had spent three chapters complaining about how miserable it was.'
Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but I really did feel like the entire book was 'all about me' from the author's perspective, and I really have no use for that kind of a book.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my review.


Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters

Various Authors
Compiled by James Stuart Bell
Genre: Non-Fiction, Christian Life and Thought, Spiritual Warfare
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 240

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I first picked up this book. I've met more than my share of off-the-deep-end people in my short life, and I was somewhat concerned that this book might fall into that category, or turn out to be some sort of ghost story book finagled around to fit under a 'Christian' heading.
Thankfully, I was wrong. Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters is a lovely, encouraging compilation of true stories from people all over the world and in all walks of life. The nature of the stories varies widely, from casting out demons to quitting smoking, and from impossible rescues to miraculous healing. Not once did I feel like I was reading some televangelist's advertisement campaign. In fact, the book left me feeling refreshed, uplifted, encouraged, and in awe of the power of our God. It made a wonderful reminder of His constant protection over His children, the very real presence of both angels and demons, and the peace God's redeemed can experience and enjoy.
The book kept me turning pages from start to finish. I wouldn't recommend it for young readers, for obvious reasons, but I believe any Christian adult would enjoy it...even a Christian as skeptical as I tend to be. ; )

I received this book from the publisher free of charge in exchange for my review. A favorable review was not required.


Guardian of the Flame

Author: T.L. Higley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Seven Wonders
Publisher: B&H Books

For quite some time now, Shadow of Colossus has been my favorite T.L. Higley book. After reading Guardian of the Flame, though, I might just have to switch my sympathies. I mean, really - Egypt, the Alexandrian library and lighthouse, Cleopatra, the Antikythera mechanism... it's a recipe for a fantastic story. What's not to adore?
And adore it I did. Sophia, the main character, has been in charge of maintaining the lighthouse at Alexandria for the last twenty years after tragically losing both her husband and his world-changing life's work, the Proginosko. Sophia has let her loneliness make her bitter, ugly, and reclusive, and everyone under her authority is intimidated by her. Except of course, for Ares - her cheeky assistant. But when Caesar comes to Alexandria to settle the conflict between Cleopatra and her brother, the situation only becomes more complicated for everyone involved - especially when a sarcastic Roman centurion is assigned to take control of Sophia's lighthouse.
I don't know what more I can say. I loved, loved, loved this story. The complications, the twists and turns, the character developments, and T.L. Higley's signature gift of transporting her readers back in time and across the distance to the story's setting made this a read I absolutely couldn't put down. I literally slept with the book in my hands... after I fell asleep mid-page at one in the morning.
If you want a phenomenal historical fiction read, any of T.L. Higley's books would be an excellent choice. But Guardian of the Flame would be the one I most highly recommend.


Grieving God's Way

Author: Margaret Brownley
Genre: Christian Life and Thought
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 195

Having recently lost both of my closest grandparents in less than a year's time, I thought it might be interesting to get another Christian's perspective on the grieving process, so I picked this book up.
While the author does have some excellent advice for the grieving Christian, such as turning your focus onto others, keeping yourself active and healthy, dealing with survivor's guilt, and making a conscious effort to learn and grow in your faith through your grief, I have to say that I wasn't terribly impressed with this book.
Yes, grief is an ugly, brutal, complicated thing that doesn't go away over night and is tough to deal with. But there were several instances while reading this book when it seemed like I was being encouraged to dwell on my grief, analyzing and bisecting it rather than actually healing and moving on. The entire book wasn't that way, but a few sections of it definitely gave off that impression.
Some of the author's statements seemed overly poeticized, making grief and bereavement into some vague, almost mystical idea. In my experience, there is nothing mystical about grief. The writing was beautiful, but not always meaningful. There were several times when I felt like quoting Cap Rountree from The Sacketts: "Now ain't that purdy? I don't know what it means, but it sure did sound elegant."
"The stillness of grief is an invitation to sail into the inner self and explore the harbor of forgotten goals and still-cherished dreams..." (Pg. 4)
Lovely writing, I'll be the first to acknowledge. But someone please explain to me exactly what that is supposed to actually mean. My personality and upbringing are both very much geared towards keeping it real, and this book fell a ways short of that mark. I'm just not that touchy-feely.
As I said, there was some very helpful content in this book. I had been my grandmother's primary caretaker for seven months when she passed away, and I've struggled with survivor's guilt as a result. This book did offer some very practical advice on how to deal with that in a positive way.
But on the whole, it was just too poeticized and touchy-feely for my tastes.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my review.



Author: Eric Blehm
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography/Military
Publisher: Waterbrook
Pages: 253

As a patriotic, pro-military American and a soon-to-be military sister, I had high hopes for this book, but was somewhat worried that I would be disappointed. I wasn't. Everything this book promises, it delivers... and then some.
Fearless is the story of larger-than-life Adam Brown, a down-to-earth Arkansas boy whose surrender to Jesus - pointed out in the book as the only time in his life he ever surrendered - pulled him out of a vicious tailspin through drug addictions and everything that went with it. His remarkable character and personality, dominated by his compassion, protectiveness, and as the title implies, fearlessness, shine from every page. His journey was dark and frustrating at times, even for me as a reader. Honestly, there were times when I genuinely wished I could deck the guy for some of the things he did and the mistakes he made.
But the power of Christ was unmistakeably evident in this man's life. From the county jail he made his way step after dogged step into the ranks of SEAL team SIX - one of America's most elite fighting forces. His testimony as a Christian, his example as a husband, father, and compassionate human being, and his amazing commitment as a soldier are incredibly inspiring. I was literally in tears for the last 50 pages of the book.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. In addition to Adam Brown's incredible life story, Fearless is filled with amazing insight into the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, unflinching looks into the true nature of radical Islamic terrorism, eye-opening descriptions of the training and screening our soldiers go through, and inspiring accounts of the families who stand behind those soldiers. Every American adult should read this book. Period.

I received this book free of charge in exchange for my review, but a favorable review was not required.