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Mark Nenadov "arm-chair reader" (Essex, Ontario Canada)
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Dandelion Fire
Dandelion Fire
by N. D. Wilson
Edition: Library Binding
Price: CDN$ 14.67
15 used & new from CDN$ 12.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But I Liked The First Book Better, May 8 2013
This review is from: Dandelion Fire (Library Binding)
Back in the summer of 2012, I read the first book in this series, 100 Cupboards. I reviewed it very favorably.

I found that I enjoyed this book quite a bit less. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily saying this is worse, just considerably different. It is still very clear that N.D. Wilson is a brilliant writer.

Part of it may be that I was caught off-guard by the moods shift. Dandelion Fire is far more complex, dark, urgent, and moody. It departs from the simplicity and quiet intrigue of 100 Cupboards.

I found that 100 Cupboard's storyline caught me decisively. I followed it and very much felt part of the story. With Dandelion Fire, I enjoyed many individual twists and turns of the plot and I enjoyed Wilson's skilled imagery and technical skill with words, but I couldn't really "grab on" to the story line--I felt alienated from it for some reason.

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
by Timothy Keller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.81
36 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done!, May 8 2013
I enjoyed it quite a bit. I found it a very helpful treatment of the why, how, and whats of marriage from a Christian perspective.

In his review of the book, Tim Challies said "It must be intimidating to write a book on marriage". Challies is right. It takes a lot of guts to write a book on marriage. There are already so many voices out there speaking on this subject. And there are so many strong feelings and personal histories that people bring to the table when it comes to this subject!

Tim and Kathy Keller, who co-authored this book, are quite pragmatic in their approach. Their tone is personal and warm. They share a lot of personal anecdotes, but the book isn't "personal" in a gushy sort of way. They are very concerned to show the connection between marriage and something greater than themselves, the gospel. And it is this that makes the book so searching and challenging.

Overall, they do a great job of blending the theoretical and practical. The book is very readable and I highly recommend it as an important resource for those who are married or are pursuing marriage.

Crossbones
Crossbones
by Nuruddin Farah
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.38
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, May 3 2013
This review is from: Crossbones (Hardcover)
A complex, tragic account of life in modern Somalia. I loved it. Farah is a great writer and he's done a fantastic job of portraying his characters. The author bleeds both grief and love for his homeland. I've read this book as a part of my attempt to read a number of African novels this year. This is the first one, and I'm simply blown away! Even though this book weighs in at 400 pages, at no point did I find the narrative tedious or dull.

Passion: How Christ's final day changes your every day
Passion: How Christ's final day changes your every day
Price: CDN$ 9.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Good!, April 8 2013
A helpful tour of the crucifixion of Jesus and the moments leading up to it. I feel like some of the applications could have been fleshed out a bit more fully, but overall it is well worth a read.

Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew
Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew
by Brian Hicks
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.72
35 used & new from CDN$ 3.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It, April 5 2013
I came around to reading this book when my brilliant wife selected it for the book she chose for me to read in March. What a fantastic book!images

The book centers around the perplexing mystery of the Mary Celeste, a ship of Nova Scotian origin. It was found abandoned around the Azores Islands, which are on the way to Portugal. The ship showed no signs of struggle and little to suggest that the weather conditions were heavy enough to drive an experienced captain to lead his wife, young daughter, and crew to risk their lives on a lifeboat.

The author does a great job of building suspense and yet avoiding sensationalism. He skilfully navigates background material, historical data, press reports, and weighs prevailing theories. In general, he deals with these theories fairly, showing their plausibility, but also debunking them, or showing that they have already been debunked.

Eventually, at the end, and only after giving much space to some far-fetched theories, the author presents his theory. It’s quite a simple and yet plausible explanation and certainly satisfied me. I found myself launched back into my early days of reading National Geographic’s World Magazine, which, for a young audience, once in a while discussed things such as lost treasure, ships, and mysteries.

I found myself drawn into the life of the people involved. I felt a lot of sympathy for the Briggs family. Their story is an extremely sad story. And what was public charade and cause for far-fetched tales for some, was a serious, string of sea-born tragedies for others.

I did not find any “dry” spots in this book. It is rather exciting, and even in the rather belabored section covering the salvage trial, the antics of the crown attorney keeps the narrative on its toes. Another nice touch of this book is the way it connects the story to a broader story. You will find about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional tale based on the story of the Mary Celeste, which was often taken as a true account. There is also a discussion about how this story connects into a broader tradition of lore that includes the Bermuda Triangle. And the short anecdote about the Mary Celeste‘s final demise off the shore of Haiti is short, but fascinating.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants a delightful read about a true mystery.

Penguin Essentials Brideshead Revisited
Penguin Essentials Brideshead Revisited
by Evelyn Waugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.80
25 used & new from CDN$ 1.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, April 5 2013
This is the second Waugh book I’ve read, and once again I’ve found myself a bit impatient early on, but totally enthralled and captivated by the end.

Comparing it with “A Handful Of Dust”, which was written 11 years earlier, you can certainly see Waugh’s development as a writer. The plot is not necessarily as jarring it was in “A Handful of Dust”, but Brideshead Revisited certainly a better showcase of Waugh’s mastery of vivid prose writing.

The tone is very nostalgic. The prose is packed with rich settings, smells, and tastes. I imagine I never have and never will read a better “eating scene” than Charles Ryder and Rex Mottram eating at the restaurant in London.

However, it isn’t just a fluffy book of word-play. There are parts of this book that can hit like a ton of bricks. Through the characters, deep things are weighed. For instance, Julia’s realization is quite stark: “the worse I am, the more I need God”.

I will not provide any sort of further analysis of Brideshead. You can find that elsewhere. I will say, though, that this is a book that I think will stand up to a second reading, and I plan to re-read it at some point.

Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure
by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
30 used & new from CDN$ 9.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Feb. 26 2013
This is an extremely helpful classic from the 20th century Welsh pastor, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As is usually the case with his books, this is a collection of transcribed sermons.

There is a lot of fantastic insight and great gems are to be found here. Reading the book has personally been beneficial to me. Don't let the title fool you into thinking that this book is merely about "clinical depression". The term "depression" is used far more broadly here than we are used to hearing. The topic applies to Christians no matter what their temperamental tendencies are. Christians of all temperaments, including those with the most sunny dispositions, will find much that is helpful herein.

Lloyd-Jones was a medical doctor as well as a pastor and it shows in his approach here. He is not merely satisfied to lay out general theological concepts, he works very hard and systematically to work them out into practice. He presses to evaluate causes, diagnosis and treatment in a logical, ordered, and conscience way.

You probably should be prepared for some heavy sledding here. Don't get me wrong, Lloyd-Jones writes in a transparent and clear way that is very easy for a contemporary audience to understand. However, these are transcribed sermons and they are pretty searching. Be prepared to bite off small parts and chew on them a bit. There aren't any "sub chapters", so you sort of have to find good paragraphs to stop at. I found that I normally was best suited to doing about 10 pages at a time.

This book really showcases how much D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has influenced present-day Protestant Christianity. Suddenly, you realize that much of what contemporary figures such as Jerry Bridges have been saying is, in a large degree, repeating what Lloyd-Jones was saying. And, in turn, Lloyd-Jones is building on the works of others who came before him.

Another work worth exploring on this topic, written centuries earlier, is A Lifting Up For The Downcast by William Bridge. In that work, a collection of Bridge's sermons on one particular text from the Psalms is compiled, and he comes to very many of the same conclusions as Lloyd-Jones, and perhaps works out some of the points in a bit more detail. That said, Bridge would be quite a far bit more removed by time from the contemporary reader than Lloyd-Jones. And for that reason, this book is probably a better starting point than A Lifting Up For The Downcast.

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. by Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New England.
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. by Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New England.
by Phillis Wheatley
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.64
12 used & new from CDN$ 12.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, Feb. 8 2013
A wonderful collection of poems from one of the first "African American" poets. She was brought to America as child from Africa. It contains many lovely poems, including a moving elegy for George Whitefield.

Finding Faithful Elders And Deacons
Finding Faithful Elders And Deacons
by Thabiti M. "Anyabwile "
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.69
25 used & new from CDN$ 4.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Feb. 6 2013
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Thabiti has done an excellent work in putting together this book. It's a fairly quick read, and yet there is a lot of good stuff here. He basically goes through all the qualifications for the offices of deacon and elder. But it is far from a plain exposition of these qualifications. There is a lot of good practical advice here. The advice is profitable for church officers, those who are evaluating potential church officers, and, really, anyone who is a Christian and is a member in a church. As a lay person, I found it incredibly profitable.

Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe
Price: CDN$ 0.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Very Satisfying, Jan. 25 2013
This review is from: Daniel Defoe (Kindle Edition)
I'm afraid that all but the most serious Defoe nerds will be disappointed with this one. It gives some valuable historical contextualization and there are some golden moments where Minto shines, such as the last few pages, but all in all, it's tedious and doesn't give a very satisfying or thorough portrait of Defoe.

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