Archive | August 2011

Nancy Drew

And for this week’s post…something completely different.

Let’s call it a blast from the past.

OK, enough already with the cliches.

As I was scanning my shelves for a book to review, for no particular reason, I thought back to the Nancy Drew books I read as a child.

Would they stand up to today’s standard of “good writing”? Probably not. But that’s not what I remember.

I remember the brilliance of the cliffhanger at the end of each chapter – long before I knew what to call it. It grabbed me by the throat. I had to turn the page. Just one more chapter…

Though I read many of the original 30+ volumes, did I get caught up on the repetition of details, the implausibility that one person could experience so much in just one year (she never aged), or the formula each book followed? Not on your life. It simply didn’t matter.

And I had some of my most hardy belly laughs because of Carolyn Keene, the authors’ pseudonym. My best friend and I would sprawl across my bed, each with a ND book in hand. We would open to page 1 and each of us, one after the other, would read a line…not a sentence, mind you – a line. Some of the resulting sentences made absolutely no sense. Others, however, were side-splitting. (I wonder if I’d think the same today.)

All in all, I largely credit my love of reading with the adventures of this young woman. And isn’t that what “the best” books do? They get us reading. They keep us reading. And they always retain a special place in our hearts.

So, what books grabbed your attention long ago?



Radical Together

If you haven’t read my review of David Platt’s Radical, I invite you to do so:

In my review I called it “the second most influential book I’ve ever read.” I consider it next only to the Bible. If you haven’t read Radical, I highly recommend it.

As with Radical, Radical Together is one of the hardest easy-reads I’ve ever picked up. It challenges churches – and individuals – to openly and honestly examine not only our theology, but our methodology. Do we go about making disciples and caring for widows and orphans as we are commanded? Do our programs do so in the most effective way possible?

According to the Book of James, “faith without works is dead.” Platt warns against Andys and Ashleys. Andys believe if they claim to believe in Jesus, it’s irrelevant how they live their lives. Ashleys feel if they do enough good works they can earn their salvation. Of course, neither is a biblical view of Christianity. We must show our faith by living out scripture’s commands.

Platt does not try to guilt anyone into living sacrificially, but he does challenge readers to live radically. To effectively make an impact on the world, we must do so in community. That community is most often our local church.

In many ways, this book would be most effective if read and implemented by leaders in the church, but they can’t do it alone. All of us can become leaders if we are willing to examine our lives, begin to live radically, and encourage others to do the same by our example and an explanation of what God is doing in our hearts, minds, and lives.

Both books receive a five out of five from me.

I received Radical Together free from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Since it was a book I intended to purchase anyway, I was thrilled to see it on their list.


The Canary List

I recently joined Blogging for Books. In exchange for reviews, I receive free e-books. (Residents of the U.S. can request hard copies of the books they would like to review.)

I read Sigmund Brouwer’s The Canary List and posted my review on Here is the link to that review:

The Canary List

Recently I signed up for Blogging for Books. The first e-book I chose was Signmund Brouwer’s The Canary List.

The so called “canary list” was created by leaders within the Roman Catholic Church and lists those who can sense the presence of demons. Therefore, they are used to determine if it is safe to proceed – much like canaries were used in the mines to determine the presence of dangerous gases.

If you enjoy a novel with believable characters, several intriguing plot twists, and a good blend of adventure and spiritual insights, you may enjoy The Canary List. I was impressed with the author’s ability to keep me off balance right up to and including the last chapter.

While I wanted to see how everything worked out, I did notice technicalities I would have missed if I didn’t write and edit. Brouwer’s tendency to repeat words, phrases, and information struck me almost right away. Unfortunately, I found it distracting.

Also, because I’m learning about “deep point-of-view,” I was surprised by the number of times Brouwer shows rather than tells. (I consider deep POV the classic show vs. tell – on steroids. Thoughts and emotions are revealed through dialogue and detailed description of the characters’ physical responses.)

And while the author delineates between the faithful within the Roman Catholic Church and those who strive for power and/or secretly worship the devil, some might find the fact that members of the Church play the role of protagonist offensive.

Still, if you enjoy Brouwer’s books, I don’t want to discourage you from reading The Canary List. And if you want to find out how one little girl can turn a schoolteacher’s world upside down, this would be a good book for you.

If I were to rate this book on a scale of one to five, I would give it a three.