Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: Hand of Fate

Hand of Fate, the second Triple Threat novel by Lis Wiehl (with April Henry), was a race-to-the-finish read for me. I was intrigued the whole way through. Not only does it have an intense murder mystery, but each of the three female friend characters brought her own story line to the pages as well. While telling these amazing stories, Wiehl explores social problems and issues including big government, free speech, terrorism, drug addiction, illegal immigration, abortion, assault, racism, domestic violence, and more. A reading group guide at the end of the book includes questions to help readers further explore their thoughts on these. Characters in the book form and offer their personal opinions, too.

I wouldn’t classify the book as Christian fiction, but one of the characters is a Christian. She and one of her friends wrestle with the question, “If God is loving and good, why does He allow suffering and pain?” Also, both of these characters found themselves in a crucial moment, simply praying, "Please." I thought that was beautiful. As you might have guessed by now, Wiehl has packed a lot of ideas into this one great book.

Of course, the biggest theme of the series is the friendship the three women share. They knew each other in high school, reconnected later in life, and hold jobs that coordinate and cooperate. They work together often, but also meet regularly to catch up on each other’s lives, support one another through life’s trials, and enjoy each other’s company. Their intertwined lives help solve the big and little mysteries of life.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending this book for my review!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review: Anatomy of the Soul

When I read the synopsis for this book, I knew it was a must-read. I could hardly wait for Tyndale to send it! And I wasn’t disappointed. The book was truly worth my time.

But . . .

It did take time. The book isn’t quite as layperson friendly as it claims to be—and this is coming from the girl who reads her husband’s professional psych and counseling books just for fun. To truly grasp what Curt Thompson, M.D. is saying, one has to read closely and carefully, bookmarking ideas to come back to later as new layers of thought are added and rereading puzzling paragraphs until they make sense. What’s more, Thompson often seems to take off down rabbit trails offering random information that doesn’t, at first, seem to relate. When he finally brings this information to his point, there’s a victorious ah-ha moment when it all makes sense, but waiting for that moment can feel confusing or frustrating.

I don’t offer that information to be negative, though—just to caution anyone considering this book. As I said, it’s worth your time, but be prepared to give it time.

Overall, I like what Thompson has done, showing how the science of our minds affects our spiritual lives and our relationships, showing how neuroscience, attachment theory, and Christian spirituality are meant to work together instead of always being at odds as our society seems to believe. As it says on the back of the book, “Insightful and challenging, Anatomy of the Soul illustrates how learning about one of God’s most miraculous creations—your brain—can enrich your life, your relationships, and your impact on the world around you.” I challenge you to give it a try!

This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for my review.