“Eyes Wide Open”, Ted Dekker

timthumb.phpTwo teenage friends, Austin and Christy, both with “forgotten” childhoods get accidentally lost in a mental hospital. You’d think once they could explain their situation, all would be fine and they’d leave and go on their way.

But this is a Ted Dekker novel.

The hospital authorities re-admit them both as Scott and Alice. So who are they? Are they Austin and Christy or Scott and Alice? Dekker weaves his clever story telling skills in a thrill-of-a-minute ride where even we the reader are unsure of the truth.

The truth? What is it? How can we be certain we know the truth? Why do our perceptions of our reality play such an important part in our understanding of our individual lives? Who can provide the truth, about who we are? about our childhood?

These are great questions which Dekker asks as we the confused reader try to understand what’s going on in the two protagonists lives. Are the doctors and even delightful psychiatrist Nancy really the bad guys?

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“Wonderstruck”, Margaret Feinberg

“God extends endless invitations to encounter Him, yet too often we sleep straight through.”

Well that sure grabbed my attention. God’s wonder surrounds us all day everyday. Wonderstruck is a manual for helping us find that wonder. And in Margaret, we have a mighty fine guide who’s passionate about enabling and teaching us in how to experience God more.

With sound Biblical instruction, some delightful stories that take across the globe via the Scottish highlands, Alaska, and the Colorado mountains, we get to see first hand how God’s wonder is all around us.

Whether it’s in nature, developing new friends, diving deep in prayer or observing the Sabbath, Margaret talks us through her own experience of learning to appreciate all God has already blessed us with. And how much more He has to share, if only we’d open our heart and eyes to receive it.

The book also comes with a Thirty-Day “activity guide” for reflecting on the ideas Margaret addresses to help embed the healthy habit of living with our eyes and hearts wide open.

If you’d like to experience God more, then this easy to read book is a great starting place for your journey to begin.

“Jesus Calling”, Sarah Young

This devotional was so good I didn’t want the year to end. I wish Sarah Young had an ongoing devotional we could continue to enjoy every day.

What was particularly great about this super book was that it taught me how to listen to Jesus. Too often in my prayer life I won’t sit and be silent. Each day’s reading forced you to do this as it’s written in the first hand of Jesus sharing with you.

I was continually amazed how many days the reading spoke directly to the state of my heart, that is, it captured an issue I was grappling with or was unwilling to let go.

If you’re looking for a powerful devotional, buy this and be ready to be transformed.

I’m sure I’ll use it again one year.

“The Still of Night”, Kristen Heitzmann

I was encouraged to read this by some new friends who are BIG fans of it.

This was a delightful surprise for me. I don’t typically read, “Women’s Fiction”, however, Kristen’s full-bodied characters and their development through the novel are tremendous. I now understand why my friends are so effusive in their recommendation.

In particular, Morgan Spencer, the male lead, is excellently portrayed and reflects a great understanding of the male psyche. He is both ambitious, selfish, blunt but also charming, chivalrous, extraordinarily generous and caring. I’d like to read the sequel just to see how Kristen further develops Morgan, especially his spiritual side.

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‘V is for Vulnerable, Life Outside the Comfort Zone’, Seth Godin

Photo Credit: Penguin Group USA

This is a very powerful little book.

Seth draws his inspiration for this little gem from Dr Seuss, who taught him to read. We’re told this in the short introduction that concludes with:

“I want you to do what you’ve you’re meant to do, what we’re all meant to do, which is the hard work of creating art. 

The artist wonders, ‘How can I break this?’ and ‘Is it interesting?’

Go break something.” 

This is an “ABC book for Grown-ups”. Two pages for each letter (except LMNO) illustrated in a wacky engaging manner by Hugh MacLeod.

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“A Man after God’s Own Heart”, RT Kendall

Photo Credit: RT Kendall Ministries

A fabulous biography of King David.

This is a book of sermons. RT Kendall delivered these sermons to his congregation over an 18 month period in the late 1980s.

Don’t be thinking they are stuffy or dull. Far from it. Kendall delves deeply into the heart and character of the key people in the 2 books, but particularly David. His style is always engaging using easy to understand language and plenty of examples from his own life.

Each of the 64 chapters is relatively short, focusing usually on one particular aspect of the story. It is in no way a verse-by-verse commentary. It reads like a biography.

What we see in David is a man, very human, regularly making mistakes by choosing his own way rather than seeking the Lord’s counsel. But there was this humility and adoration for the Lord that is hard to ignore. His faith is a great model for us.
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“The Prayer of the Lord”, RC Sproul

Photo Credit: Ligonier Ministries

A small book packed full of punch.

Jesus gave us the example for prayer by way of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke and Matthew. RC Sproul provides a powerful insight into each of the verses of this very short prayer. This insight has helped refine my prayer life.

Too often our prayer life can become very self-focused, however, Jesus demonstrates that it should be centred on the glory of God. Praise and adoration can sometimes be difficult. But I find when I start thanking and praising God my heart softens as I turn my attention to Him and off myself.

Then true relationship can commence.

Each verse has its own short chapter that is easy to read.

This is beautifully written and I’ll be encouraging friends to read it.

I rated it 5/5.

“Portrait of a Spy”, Daniel Silva

Photo credit: Harper Collins

I love the Gabriel Allon series.

And this one sure doesn’t disappoint. As other reviewers have stated, Daniel Silva has used the same formula with the other books in the series. This is now my third so I’m not tired of it.

I thoroughly enjoy Gabriel’s character, however, wish we’d see some development in Chiara, his wife. She’s obviously very smart but we seem to see her mostly presented as the gorgeous, young wife who is also an extraordinary cook.

Nadia who plays a critical role in this book is a strong character. Rich due to inheritance and desiring to make a difference in the Saudi world as a woman who cares, she is both captivating and very believable.
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“A Thousand Sleepless Nights”, Michael King

Photo Credit: www.christianbook.com

A beautiful story of forgiveness and reconciliation

This novel was a delightful surprise. Mike demonstrated he can move beyond the suspenseful thriller to crafting a heart-warming contemporary story.

Mike took me on an emotional roller coaster. I could identify with each of the key characters, feeling their pain and heart ache as well as their jubilation and desire to overcome. Jim, as a young man, fighting to save the woman, Nena, he fell in love with on first sight, from marrying the wrong guy. To Nena, as an older woman, who lives with such regret from neglecting her children as they grew up, due to her desire to fulfil a promise she made to her dying father.

The workaholic son, Ken, who cannot see beyond his pursuit of partnership in his law firm, even being prepared to sacrifice his family. To Roberta, the youngest, as she grapples with wanting to be cherished by her boyfriend who cannot meet that need. And Barb, struggling with her own cancer battle, whilst trying to keep a normal family life for her husband and children.
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“The Soul Saver”, Dineen Miller

Photo Credit: www.dineenmiller.com

There’s so much to love about this novel.

I found Dineen’s debut novel really hard to put down. It moved along at great pace plus a series of well managed conflicts (yes, there a few) made me want to get to the next page quickly.

The main storyline is powerful and compelling. And then Dineen overlays a spiritual battle to intensify the drama. It’s this spiritual side that particularly grabbed me. Starting with Lexie’s spiritual gift (you’ll have to read the novel to find out what it is) which I discovered is Biblical, I was fascinated how Dineen seamlessly wove the spiritual in and out of the ‘natural’.
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