goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Breaking Free
Author: Beth Moore
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 289 pages
Date read: December, 2016

Do you want to know God and really believe Him? Do you want to find satisfaction in God, experience His peace, and enjoy His presence? Do you want to make the freedom Christ promised a reality in your daily life?

In Breaking Free, Beth Moore embarks on a study of selected passages from the book of Isaiah, drawing several parallels between the captive Israelites and today’s Christians, in order to show how to make freedom in Christ a daily reality. Moore teaches readers to remove obstacles that hinder freedom by identifying spiritual strongholds in their lives and overcoming them through the truth of God’s Word—truth that will set us free.


I've only ever heard good things about Beth Moore's books, so it was with high expectations that I approached this book. Unfortunately it couldn't live up to my expectations. I found her main points interesting and relevant, but unfortunately her examples and anecdotes were much too vague for me to be able to draw any sorts of parallels to my own life. Her reasoning was not to lock the reader into thinking those were the only situations relevant, but unfortunately it didn't work for me.

At the end of the day, I remember her main focus-point (escape satan's strongholds in your life, by seeing his lies for what they are, and focusing on Christ's truths instead) - which is the important thing, of course, though nothing I didn't already know - but nothing else... and I have no better understanding of how to apply that to my life than I did before reading this book.

So I guess I'd recommend the book to a new Christian - but "experienced" Christians (for want of better word) probably won't get much new out of it.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Cupid is a Procrastinator
Author: Kate Hurley
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 240
Date read: January, 2015

It's your eighth wedding this year. You are livening up the dance floor with a stirring rendition of YMCA when suddenly, the moment comes that separates the crowd. The slow dance. This one's for pairs. You are not a pair. You thought you would be married much sooner, but it hasn't worked out that way. You are trying to make sense of the unexpected single life.

Kate doesn't offer a magic formula that will bring your spouse to you, nor does she ask you to be content with your "gift" of singleness. With candid humor and refreshing honesty, she shares her own struggles and discoveries as a single person and invites you to come with her on a journey toward hope.


I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and especially by how relateable I found it. As an "old married woman" one could perhaps claim that I am not the intended target audience of this book, but even so I discovered that Kate Hurley had words of wisdom for me as well, and I found myself highlighting passages all over the place.

Because in the end, Kate Hurley's book is about "hope deferred" (Proverbs 13:12). For Kate Hurley, Cupid turned out to be a procrastinator. Others may be waiting on the stork, better health, a house, a job or any other milestone event. The "hopes" are different, but the way we can chose to respond and react really isn't, in the end.

"Cupid is a Procrastinator" is a refreshingly honest take on the issue of singleness, that doesn't offer platitudes ("Just wait! It'll happen when you least expect it!") but dares broach the subject of what to do if it never happens, and how to live a fulfilling life, even with a "hope deferred".

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Five Languages of Apology
Author: Gary Chapman & Jennifer Thomas
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 260
Date read: February, 2013

Just as you have a different love language, you also hear and express the words and gestures of apology in a different language. It's not just a matter of that you apologize but also how you apologize. By helping people identify the languages of apology, this book clears the way toward healing and sustaining vital relationships. The authors detail proven techniques for giving and receiving effective apologies.

The five languages of apology are: Expressing regret, Accepting responsibility, Making restitution, Genuinely repenting, Requesting forgiveness.

Unfortunately not nearly as good as "The Five Love Languages". I do think the authors have a point, that there are different languages of apology, but I found it a lot harder to relate to the differences between the languages, and I still have absolutely no clue what my primary language of apology is!

It's not a book I'd want to read in one sitting - although that's what I did with TFLL - because as it's a book about apology you're automatically made to think of times when you owed others an apology, or they owed you one. Made for rather depressing reading at times.

Gary and Jennifer do have some good points at times though, and while I still have no idea what neither my own nor my husband's language of apology is, I now know to rephrase my apology using several different ones. Besides, I do know one or two that it's definitely NOT, so that always helps.
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Title: Up from the Ashes
Author: Kenneth Walls
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 238
Date read: October, 2012

Ken Walls appeared to have it all... a happy marriage, loving kids, a great job as a Senior Pastor... What his friends and family didn't know was that Ken lived a secret life. He constantly had to fight his addiction to porn - a fight he insisted on fighting alone without even the help of God, and a fight he ultimately lost, as it led him to engaging in an adulturous relationship with his sister-in-law.

But God is gracious. Once He has called a person, He doesn't regret that calling. Once Ken was ready to repent, God was there waiting for him. Ready and able to shower him with His grace, and return His blessings to his life.

I'll be honest - this was a hard book to read and is an even harder book to review. With too many friends who've been the victims of affairs, I found it really difficult to read about Ken's travels down that road. Had it been a fictional account I would have disliked it intensely.

But it's not fiction. It a true story about a fellow human being - and just like you and me, a sinner, saved by grace. Ken is achingly honest in his way of relating what happened. He doesn't sugar-coat it, he doesn't make excuses for himself or try to explain it away. He just states what happened, and leaves it at that. I feel horrible for the people he hurt along the way, and find it almost wrong that he found happiness together with the person he cheated on his wife with, but that's because of my sense of judgement. Fortunately God doesn't work that way, and this just goes to show that God can make something beautiful out of even the worst mess we may have made of our lives.

I wouldn't recommend this book to non-Christians, as I think they might find many of Ken's experiences unbelievable and hard to stomach, but for a Christian it's an interesting reminder that a saint is just a sinner who fell down - and got back up again.
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Title: A Light in the Window
Author: Jan Karon
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 413
Date read: December, 2011

Father Tim, a lifelong bachelor, finds his heart distracted by his free-spirited neighbor Cynthia, but his stomach and the rectory cash box are distracted by Edith, a wealthy widow who is wooing the rector with love potion casseroles. At every turn, including when a brooding Irish cousin decides to move in, Father Tim must decide whether he will practice what he preaches.

This series is balm to my soul :-) I don't like this one quite as much as the first book, mostly because cousin Meg and Edith Mallory both BUG me. I know they're supposed to, but seriously! Father Tim needs a spine transplant, because that wet noodle isn't doing him any good.

But aside from that, it's a delightful read. It had me smiling and even laughing out loud on several occasions, and I closed the book with a happy sigh.
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Title: Can I Have and Do it All, Please?
Author: Christine Caine
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 153
Date read: October, 2011

More than ever before, women are navigating through increasing amounts of responsibility, activity, scheduling and multi-tasking...and we need some answers about how to have and do it all in life!

An okay book, but a bit of a disappointment as it once again reminded me that an incredibly passionate and inspiring preacher does not always make for an incredibly passionate and inspiring author, and at times it fell a bit flat. I'm afraid it's one of those books that in two days' time, I couldn't tell you which points she made.
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Title: The Year of Living Like Jesus
Author: Edward G. Dobson
Genre: Memoir, Christian nonfiction
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 288
Date read: November, 2010

Evangelical pastor Ed Dobson chronicles his year of living like Jesus and obeying his teachings. Dobson's transition from someone who follows Jesus to someone who lives like Jesus takes him into bars, inspires him to pick up hitchhikers, and deepens his understanding of suffering. As Dobson discovers, living like Jesus is quite different from what we imagine

I wavered between giving this 3 and 4 stars, so consider this a 3.5 star review.

I read The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs earlier this year, and was really taken by it, so when I heard about this book, I was interested in seeing how it would measure up.

Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations. It's not quite as interesting as The Year of Living Biblically, and Ed Dobson has a tendency to start sermonizing which is a bit frustrating, when you really just want to read about how his year is going.

All in all, I would have been more interested in reading about him trying to live a year of following the Gospels, than of following the Christian Jews. He even says himself that the traditions of Jews now are nothing like the traditions of the Jews of Jesus' time - so why even bother?

I still consider it well worth reading though, as Ed Dobson does bring up some good points - even if he approached the year differently from what I had hoped.
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Title: The Story of a Soul
Author: Saint Therese of Lisieux
Genre: Christian non-fiction, biography
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 166
Date read: November, 2010

St. Thérèse's autobiography was first published soon after her death in 1897 at the age of twenty-four. Combining charming descriptions of family and community life with a sense of humor and intense devotion to God, it desribes St. Therese of Lisieux's desire, not to be mighty and great, but to be a humble, little flower that would gladden God's eyes as He glances down at His feet.

I put this book on my to-read list after having heard and read Gretchen Rubin (of "The Happiness Project"-fame) rave about it in her book and on her blog. I was fascinated, and it was cheap, so I thought "Why not."

It was an odd book to read though, because though I found it extremely difficult to relate to St. Therese, I was still touched by her simplicity - for want of better word. I don't mean that in a condescending way. She was honestly satisfied with loving Jesus and asked for nothing more than His love in return. I could definitely benefit from trying to imitate her there. On the other hand, the book was not very well written - written, as it were, by request from her Mother Superior - as it jumps from topic to topic, leaves threads hanging all over the place and skips over what I would have considered important elements of her life.

It's very obviously the story of a soul, and not the story of a life. It's her autobiography as viewed from her way of thinking and of believing - not an account of how she lived. Since I expected the latter, I was disappointed. Had I known to expect the former, I think I would have been charmed.
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Title: The Love Dare
Author: Stephen & Alex Kendrick
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 222
Date read: October, 2010

Too many marriages end when someone says "I've fallen out of love with you" or "I don't love you anymore."

The Love Dare discusses how these statements reveal a lack of understanding about the fundamental nature of true love.

The Love Dare is a 40-day guided devotional experience that will lead your heart back to truly loving your spouse while learning more about the design, nature, and source of true love. Each reading includes Scripture, a statement of principle, the day's "dare," and a journaling area and check box to chart progress

A couple of years ago, I decided to do the 30 day challenge, and found it extremely satisfying. Somebody recommended this book to me as an alternative. I thought it sounded interesting, and got it out of the library about a month-and-a-half ago, deciding to read one chapter a day, and doing the challenges as they came.

It started out being very similar to the 30 day challenge, and I enjoyed following it (think my husband did too, even if he had no clue what was going on ;) ), but I quickly discovered that this wasn't nearly as well thought-through as the 30-day version. The authors made a lot of assumptions that made it less generally relevant, and many of the challenges couldn't be done just any day, but required a certain event taking place that day to even make sense (e.g. the challenge on how to make up after a fight - I'm not about to initiate a fight just in order to complete the challenge!). Also, they used not just one but three chapters on encouraging the reader to become a Christian. A worthy cause, to be sure, but not really appropriate as three challenges in a love dare (just to explain, the love dare is NOT about love in general - in which case these challenges would actually have been very appropriate - but solely about the love between a husband and a wife). Since it's a Christian book, I think it's okay to assume the reader is a Christian and just add an appendix with "If not..."

I finished it partly because I got stubborn and partly because some of the challenges were actually really good, but in general I'd recommend everybody do the 30 day version (even though that's aimed at wives and this book is aimed at both parts of the couple - just ignore any personal pronouns and you'll be fine ;) ) and give this one a miss.

I still want to see the movie "Fireproof" though, as it's apparently either inspired by this book, or this book was inspired by the movie. Sounds like it could be a very sweet movie.
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Title: Hearts of Fire: Eight Women in the Underground Church and Their Stories of Costley Faith
Author: Compiled by The Voice of the Martyrs
Genre: Non-fiction, Christian, memoir
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 333
Date read: September, 2010

Eight women from eight very different backgrounds. Yet the struggles they each faced rang with eerie similarity. These courageous women from across the globe-Pakistan, India, Romania, Former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia-shared similar experiences of hardship, subjugation, and persecution, all because of their faith in Christ. Yet all of these women have emerged from adversity as leaders and heroines.

A difficult book to review, because how on earth do I put into words the feelings this book woke in me? From Russia in 1945 to Indonesia in 2000 Christians have been persecuted for their faith, imprisoned, fired, tortured, abused, even martyred. I read about these people and marvel at their strength and dedication... and then I look at myself, and almost feel embarrassed for being so comfortable and safe in little old Denmark.

I'll try to make this a review rather than a testimony though, even though it's turning out to be more difficult than I thought. I've never felt called to be a missionary, but I've always been fascinated by their works, and by the fates of Christians in other countries.

These 8 accounts were especially incredible in their intensity and I very much appreciated the afterword following each chapter, as it brought us up to present day, and explained what had happened to the main character since the events of the chapter, and where she was now.
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Title: How to Respond When You Feel Mistreated
Author: John Bevere
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 76
Date read: September 2010

"Repay no one evil for evil" (Romans 12:17 NKJV). Easier said than done, right? But that's exactly what John Bevere recommends. We are all subject to some authority, and those in leadership often misuse their power and hurt others. But we as Christians are called to honor and submit to authority, even if it means accepting unfair treatment.

"'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:19 NKJV). God's justice often takes longer than we want to wait, but it does come. And our obedience in accepting suffering increases His work in the lives of others. Ultimately, our model for responding to unfair treatment is Jesus. And by enduring suffering as He did, we are made more like Him.

MUCH easier said than done, and I also felt the book lacked some concrete examples. When are we taking vengeance out of God's hands and when are we just refusing to be door-mats? Where does the line go? In some cases it's obvious, but in others not so much.

A thought-provoking book, but though short, it still didn't escape from being rather repetative at times. The first two chapters were definitely the best, and more or less everything in the rest of the book were expansions and elaborations of the topics raised there. I did appricate his chapter on authority though - even when we sorely dislike, or even disapprove of our head of state, God is still in charge. Who are we to say He didn't put that person in that position for a reason? He also made an excellent argument for why a wife submitting to her husband doesn't necessarily mean that she has to obey him, but merely that she has to respect him. Interesting thoughts.
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Title: Too Busy Not To Pray
Author: Bill Hybels
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 180
Date read: June, 2010

Somebody recommended this book to me many years ago. I no longer remember who, and I'm not even sure I got the right book, as Jo Carro has also written one with the exact same title. However, I'd been utterly unable to find that one, and the library had this one, so I'm going to claim this was it! ;)

Besides, even if it wasn't, I'm SO glad I've read it. Bill Hybels tackles some of the large issues about praying - how to pray, when to pray (scheduled prayer time is just as important as spontaneous prayer), why some prayers are answered and others aren't, and that listening is just as important a part of praying as talking is.

Very thought-provoking, very inspiring and very interesting, even if Bill Hybels didn't always touch on the topics that are most relevant to me: I have no doubt at all that God is able to provide whatever miracle I'm praying for - I wonder if he's going to. I know that listening is an important part of prayer - I just don't know how to, as my mind is always too busy with other things. He did have some practical advice though, which I'm going to try to follow.

A highly recommendable book, which I think I need to own for myself so I can underline stuff.
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Title: Be Angry But Don't Blow It
Author: Lisa Bevere
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 192
Date read: February 2010

Are you tired of anger destroying your life, health, and relationships? Or perhaps you're upset and have held it in for far too long. Guess what-you're not alone! A lot of women are angry, and they're blowing it! They vent it on the very ones they love the most and desperately want to stop but they don't know how.

This book interweaves powerful scriptural truths with practical, personal examples and prayer. Readers will learn to channel passionate emotions constructively. Anger is not wrong, it is how we express it and how far we take it that determines the outcome. For those really ready to be honest and get free, this book will light the way.

Difficult book to review because it was A) very different from what I had expected, and thus B) not very relevant to me, yet C) very well written.

I had assumed that it was a book on all aspects of being angry, meant both for those who got too angry and for those who didn't get angry enough. It turned out it was only aimed at the former, and as keeping my temper isn't really a problem to me, there wasn't much in the book I could use.

Lisa Bevere has an interesting and captivating way of writing though, and there were some chapters that were spot on - not keeping a grudge for instance, and giving an honest apology if you were in the wrong - so at the end of the day, I'm glad I read it, even if I didn't get as much out of it as I'd originally hoped.
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Title: Ateistisk andagsbog (The Atheistic Devotional)
Author: Leif Andersen
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 127 pages
Date read: December, 2009

An atheistic devotional sounds like an oxymoron, but Leif Andersen makes it work. He is an atheist by nature, and only started believing in a God because he became convinced that Christianity is the true religion. In this devotional he raises a lot of the questions and doubts a Christian might have: Does God listen to prayer? Why is there so much evil in the world? Does it really matter what you believe, as long as you are a good person? Does God ever leave us? Not all of these questions were relevant for, but enough of them were, that I felt I could use a lot of what I read. Definitely one of the better devotionals I've read.
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Title: The Power of a Praying Wife
Author: Stormie Ormartian
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 2/5
# pages: 205
Date read: October, 2009

The trials and pressures of modern life can make the prospect of a fulfilled, meaningful marriage seem impossible. According to Omartian, a marriage's success depends upon "laying down all claim to power in and of yourself, and relying on God's power to transform you, your husband, your circumstances, and your marriage."

Omartian attributes the success of her own 25-year marriage to dedicated prayer for every area--however specific--of her husband's life; from his finances and his work to his integrity and his temptations. Each chapter offers insight into areas that are especially important to men, followed by "power tools" (inspiring, topical Scripture) to guide one's prayer life and transform a woman's mind with regard to her husband.

This practical read will encourage women to trust God to change their spouse, and undoubtedly refocus one's perspective on God's power rather than one's own personal predicament.

For the first few chapters I was very impressed by this book, and I still think it's a brilliant idea, but I do think the author made some very troubling claims.

The first problem is that she assumes the husband is Christian too. Praying for your husband is even more important if he isn't saved, and Stormie Ormatian seemed to forget that aspect, which made me feel like I wasn't part of the target group.

The second thing I took issue with is in the chapter of praying for his sexuality. I have no problems with that, and agree with the importance of it, but Stormie claimed that if a wife didn't feel like having sex, she should just 'suck it up' (paraphrased), and if a husband didn't feel like having sex, there was a fundamental problem and they should seek councelling!!!

So a man is always a sex-fiend, and if he's not, there's something wrong with the marriage??? What a way to ruin a wife's self-esteem!

That said, praying daily for your husband (or wife) is not only a good idea, it's a necessity, and I liked Stomie's way of approaching it, by taking specific issues, specific aspects of his life and focusing on those. That's definitely something I'll continue to try to practise.
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Title: Pryaer: Does It Make Any Difference
Author: Philip Yancey
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 395
Date read: September, 2009

Philip Yancey probes the very heartbeat - the most fundamental, challenging, perplexing, and deeply rewarding aspect - of our relationship with God: prayer. What is prayer? Does it change God's mind or ours - or both? This book is an invitation to communicate with God the Father who invites us into an eternal partnership through prayer.

Interesting book about prayer. Yancey touches upon some important issues like why we pray and how we pray. Do we use God as an automaton and expect him to answer our every prayer as if he were fulfilling requests? Or do we pray in order to get to know God better and align our own thoughts with his?

But though I liked what the book had to say, and really enjoyed the small anecdotes he shared throughout the book, I'm not exactly sure that I learned anything from it. It did bring up some interesting points, but even here - just two days after finishing it - I'm having difficulties remembering what those points were, so they obviously didn't make too big an impression on me.
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Title: Bibelen fortalt for store og små
Author: Ingrid Schrøder-Hansen
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 436
Date read: May, 2009

The title literally translates to "The Bible told for big and small" and is a retelling of the Bible by a famous Danish story teller. She has an amazing talent for story-telling and it was extremely well done. Many of the old tales I suddenly saw in a completely different light, from the new way of telling it, and even the most well-known stories (like the Christmas and the Easter gospel) affected me more strongly than ever before. Gorgeous book.

The illustrations included are a bit 'over the top' at times, but then I've never been a huge fan of that genre of paintings.

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Title: The Coffee Mom's Devotional: A Rich Blend of 30 Brief and Inspiring Devotions
Author: Celeste Palermo
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 202
Date read: May, 2009

Celeste Palermo loves her coffee. Some might even say she's addicted to it. It definitely helps her get started in the morning, and gives her the 'kick' she needs to get on with her day. But coffee alone won't give Celeste the surplus she needs. She has to look elsewhere for that - not just to something else, but to someone else - the only One who's able to ensure that her cup runs over - and not just with caffeinated goodness either.

Fortunately Celeste knows exactly who to turn to for that, and through these 30 devotionals she encourages other busy moms do the same. Drawing on personal experiences from her career, her church life, and most importantly, her role as a wife and a mother, she shows that she's "been there, done that" and knows exactly just how difficult it can be for a busy mother to find the time to calm down and focus on God each day.

Because of this, Celeste Palermo timed the devotionals to last a cup of coffee. The coffee-break is already incorporated in many mothers' morning routine, and this book to allow the reader to have a spiritual and physical "pick me up" at the same time. It works too - each devotional took about 5-10 minutes to read, not counting the time spent in contemplation over the "Questions to STIR" and "Soul Sip Solutions" that conclude each coffee break.

I found The Coffee Mom's Devotional a refreshing change from many other devotionals I've been reading lately. It doesn't preach at the reader, but makes you feel like you've sat down to have a chat with a good friend. I found peace and comfort in the pages, and grew to care for both Celeste and her family, as I could recognize much of myself and personal life in their experiences.

There's no exegesis involved in the devotionals - instead they help you focus on God's blessings, and offer suggestions on how to continue spending your coffee break with God - even after the last page has been turned.

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Title: Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
Author: Anne Lamott
Genre: Christian non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 288
Date read: April, 2009

Summary: For most writers, the greatest challenge of spiritual writing is to keep it grounded in concrete language. The temptation is to wander off into the clouds of ethereal epiphanies, only to lose readers with woo-woo thinking and sacred-laced clichés. Thankfully, Anne Lamott knows better.

Whether she's writing about airplane turbulence, bulimia, her "feta cheese thighs," or consulting God over how to parent her son, Lamott keeps her spirituality firmly planted in solid scenes and believable metaphors. As a result, this is a richly satisfying armchair-travel experience, highlighting the tender mercies of Lamott's life that nudged her into Christian faith.

Review: This is a difficult book for me to review, because I had no expectations going in, and no real understanding of the authors intentions coming out. As a memoir it was brilliant - interestingly written and engaging. I guess the problem is that I'm too used to Christian non-fiction being meant as books of teaching - that I'm supposed to learn something new about Christianity from them. I didn't here, but that's not because it was badly written or too "simple", but because that simply didn't seem to be the purpose of the book.

It's a great story of one woman's walk with Christ. As it was I couldn't use or recognise too many of her experiences, but if my situation in life had been more like hers, I think it would have been a lot more poignant.

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Title: Boundaries
Author: Henry Cloud & John Townsend
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 391
Date read: March, 2009

Summary: In order to call themselves good Christians, many people have drawn overly flexible boundaries (unwilling to say no, always accommodating others' needs) or overly rigid boundaries (to the point of being righteous and judgmental). Psychologists and inspirational speakers Cloud and Townsend show readers how to set reasonable boundaries in order to follow the true path of Christianity.

Review: Well-written although just a tad too self-help'ish for my tastes. Still, it's good to hear that there's nothing 'unchristian' about saying "No" to other people's requests from time to time, and that "turning the other cheek" doesn't mean letting people walk right over you. I especially liked the chapter about forgiveness - forgiveness doesn't equal reconciliation. Forgiveness takes one, reconciliation takes two. Food for thought.

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