Sunday, June 16, 2013

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax (a book review)

Chris Walker is at a breaking point. He is a recent college graduate, is engaged to be married to the love of his life, and is soon to be a leader of a new church. But Chris is doubtful about it all. He doesn't know what he believes about life anymore. Breaking off the engagement and stepping away from all of his life plans, he goes to the only person that has ever been able to provide him clarity, his grandfather, a retired minister.

In one weekend together, Chris and his grandfather embark on theological discussions that cover most of the hot topics of the Christian faith and why many object to it. The grandfather, Gil, provides clear explanations of his Christian faith and gives Chris much to think about and chew on. Chris is confronted with himself and has to make decisions about who he is.

Clear Winter Nights, the debut novel of blogger Trevin Wax, is called "theology in story" (says so right on the cover). It is exactly that. When I first started the book, I expected it to be contrived and preachy. I was wrong. I could relate to some of the doubt of Chris and his frustrations with what he believes about Christianity and how it contrasts to what he sees in the lives of people professing it, like my own. I found myself learning the basics of Christian theology all over again while engaged in a story with doubts not unlike many we all share from time to time. Though the discussions between Chris and Gil felt rushed at times, the main points were still made.

This book will be good for people struggling with their faith. It is a quick read, coming in at 147 pages in an undersized paperback. It has a conversation guide with questions in the back as well.
This book will also be helpful for people with no faith but are wanting to at least understand where Christians are coming from. It will give them a more accurate picture than what they would see or hear on their television or favorite news program.Caution: this book is not intended to and will not replace the more comprehensive books on theology

I enjoyed this book, but I would have liked to know more about some of the story items that were left incomplete. Not sure if Wax has sequels in mind, but I want to know more about what happens with the father and girlfriend...and even the grandfather.

(I received this book from the Waterbrook-Multnomah Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

when mockingbirds sing by Billy Coffey (a review)

Leah Norcross and her family are new to the town of Mattingly and are not feeling very welcome, since people from Away are viewed with suspicion. Leah mostly keeps to herself and her stutter just adds to her lonely existence.  When Leah begins painting detailed pictures depicting future events, given to her by her imaginary friend, the Rainbow Man, the quiet community of Mattingly is plunged into chaos and confusion. Could the Rainbow Man be God or is he evil or does he exist at all? Does Leah have a special gift or is she crazy?  

Such is the basic plot of Billy Coffey’s latest novel, when mockingbirds sing (Thomas Nelson Publishers).  Being from a small town myself, I am a fan of stories that portray small town life. Coffey has accurately described the possibilities of what could, and would, likely happen when the normal is disrupted by the magical or supernatural in a small “leave us to our ways’ type of place. The reader of when mockingbirds sing will walk with a host of characters (including Leah’s spunky best friend Allie) through Mattingly and wrestle alongside them with the deeper issues of life, including relationships, priorities, friendship and family, faith and doubt, good and evil, and questions about the existence of the unseen. Along the way, you will laugh and cry and, in the end, you will be satisfied with a story well told.  When I turned the last page, I was somewhat sad to leave Mattingly, but I was pleased to find out that Coffey would return there with another upcoming novel.
If you want a good summer read, this is one you should pick up. I am confident you will be glad you did.

(I received this book from in exchange for an honest review)