Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We Be Big, by Rick Burgess & Bill "Bubba" Bussey

We Be Big: The Mostly True Story of How Two Kids from Calhoun County, Alabama, became Rick & Bubba is an auto-biography written by both Rick and Bubba (with the help of Don Keith). The book is broken into 20 chapters, with each chapter alternating between Rick's and Bubba's perspectives. Early in their lives (before they meet in college), the alternating format is a bit confusing, but by the time they meet, the stories converge and the narrative is fluid. The book is an easy read, written on a popular level, and holds your attention well, especially chapter 8 and following (when they talk about the show).

The first seven chapters are about their early childhoods, their school experiences, their meeting in college, and their early (and separate) work careers. In chapters 8-20 the story unfolds with the evolution of their radio show. The two men's personalities come through in their writing, which makes the book a funny, yet thoughtful, read. They speak openly of their personal lives and their faith. Rick and Bubba's Christianity shines throughout this book, but especially in the last four chapters, which recount the events surrounding the death of Rick's child. Both Rick and Bubba highlight how God used such a tragic event to reach many people both inside and outside their radio audience.

The book could be summarized from a quote in the final chapter: "How we became 'big' is simple... we allowed God to guide us. We took what He gave us, and we ran with it. As long as we continue to do that, He will continue to bless us."

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, even those who have not listened to the show (like me). It's a great story about a couple of Christians living the American dream.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards--audio

A Tale of Three Kings, by Gene Edwards, is a book primarily dealing with the author's perceived proper response to attacks on your person or on your ministry. The audio version, which was supplied me from ChristianAudio for review, was read by Paul Michael, who does an excellent job narrating.

The book deals with the lives of three kings, Saul, David, and Absalom, and how they dealt with conflict in their lives. Edwards takes the framework of the biblical narrative and fills in the gaps with great imagination. Any time I encounter extra-biblical imaginative fiction, I cringe. The scene early in the book where David is playing his harp and kills the bear with his slingshot doesn't seem to fit the biblical description of David delivering a lamb out of the mouth of the bear. It just seems an inherent trap in biblical fiction to legendize elements of the story.

Where this book really fails is its attempt to flip-flop between fiction and exhortation. For example, chapters 1-3 are colorful fiction about David and his rise to Saul's court, but then chapters 4 and beyond try to take the spear-throwing episode and exhort the reader to apply the vague truth of spear-throwing. It's quite a stretch and really unclear. Chapter 12 starts the fiction-exhortation cycle again... It's a disaster. Edwards would have been better off to focus on allegorical fiction and allow the reader to draw his own conclusions. The back-and-forth throughout the book is distracting and really breaks the flow of the book.

Overall, I would NOT recommend this book to anyone.

The Radical Disciple by John Stott--audio

The Radical Disciple, by John Stott, is divided into 8 chapters covering different aspects of discipleship: non-conformity, Christ-likeness, maturity, creation-care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death. The audio version, which was supplied to me by ChristianAudio for review, is read by Grover Gardener. In my opinion, his narration style is perfect for this type of book.

Stott does a fantastic job of articulating real abandonment in the pursuit of Christ. His chapters on non-conformity, balance, and death alone made the book worth reading. The problem with listening to an audio version is that there are so many quotable sentences that I found myself wishing for a hard copy to refer back to. Because of Stott's style, there are also sentences where a hard copy would have been useful in order to stop and dissect sentences and spend some time contemplating them.

There are two critiques I would offer for the book. 1) The chapter on creation-care seems to push the limits toward environmentalism (though it could be just my reaction to our current culture's fascination with "global warming"). He makes some good statements, and I wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but the extent to which he takes the subject feels a bit too much. 2) The chapter on simplicity left me a little disappointed. He highlights materialism earlier in the book, stating that he'll deal with it more in-depth in the chapter on simplicity, but instead of some type of biblical exegesis (where Stott excels) he re-prints a statement from the International Consultation on Simple Lifestyle. Stott easily could have done so much more with that chapter.

Overall, I would recommend the book, if nothing more than for those excellent chapters I mentioned above.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Truth About Dating, Love, and Just Being Friends By Chad Eastham

The Truth About Dating, Love, and Just Being Friends, by Chad Eastham, is the best book on teenage relationships I've ever read! Candid, funny, and insightful, Eastham really knows how to connect with teens--and tell them what they need to hear. A proper view of God and self and relationships is SO important during the crazy teenage years, and this book gives just that without being preachy. Eastham challeges teens to use their God-given brains, explaining that people can do things well, or they can do them poorly. Dating is no exception.

As a twenty-something mother who
dated well, I still wish I'd had this book as a teen! There is so much helpful, insightful information here that I had to learn from experience. If only I'd had someone to share this information in such an open, friendly way when I was in the middle of it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Justified by Faith Alone by R.C. Sproul

Justified by Faith Alone by R.C. Sproul is a short little book, but packed with great insight and tight logic. It is written on a pretty high level of vocabulary, so I wouldn't recommend it to the person who is only casually interested in the subject. It is more like a college professor lecture than a devotional book written about faith. If you are looking for an academic look at the subject, you will not be disappointed.

The book is written as a recap of the struggle the reformers faced with the Roman Catholic Church. Although much of the book is rooted in historical arguments, Dr. Sproul mentions many contemporary issues that stem from the distinction evangelicals have in sola fide. It is not concerned with additional arguments, such as monergism vs synergism, so both Arminians and Calvinists would find it to represent their views.

Just over an hour in length, the audio is crisp and the narrator does a great job, even with the Latin phrases.

The christianaudio Reviewers Program ( provided me with a copy of R.C. Sproul’s Justified By Faith Alone. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Truth of the Matter, by Andrew Klavan

The Truth of the Matter, by Andrew Klavan, is a compelling, action-packed page turner. Charlie West is an ordinary high school student who woke up to find that he was in the clutches of terrorists and wanted by the police for murder. To top it off, he has no memory of the events of the past year. Having found the one person who can unlock the secrets of his past, Charlie begins the painful--and dangerous--journey to discovering the truth... and it is far more incredible than he could have imagined.

Written as an action series for teenage guys, Klavan's work is both contemporary and captivating. As a mother of two small children, I found this to be an easy read, and I would compare it to watching a season of 24 (minus the outrageous body count). The things Charlie experiences are outrageous, but then, this is fiction, isn't it? I felt like I was reading the mind of a teenage boy (which was an interesting thing to experience) as he struggled through weighty issues while encountering danger after danger. Charlie West is an unlikely hero, and his bravery (not bravado) is grounded in Truth. I had not read the first two books of the series, but Klavan gives enough background info that I was able to keep up with the story. I would highly recommend this book to any teen interested in thrilling action. Hang on tight, though, 'cause it's a wild ride from start to finish!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.