Bergers Book Reviews

I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God


Author: Diane Stortz
Illustrator: Diane Le Feyer
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children / Bible stories
ISBN: 978-0-5291-2066-3
Pages: 224
Price: $16.99

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God is revealed in the Bible in the many names He gives us. Creator, Good Shepherd, I AM, and Immanuel are just some of the forty names of God presented in this storybook of the Bible.

Beginning with the Genesis account of creation and ending with a white horse in the book of Revelation, short segments of the Bible are paraphrased and illustrated. Each includes some thoughts regarding the story’s meaning, plus a bridge to the next segment. Kids are also given the Bible references if they want to read the actual stories in the Bible. Illustrations are done in a style reminiscent of today’s animated movies.

Paraphrases make me uncomfortable, since so much can be lost in the author’s attempts to make Bible stories readable for kids. Thankfully, most of these stay true to the intent of the Bible passage, except for the Last Supper. The author chose to insert the word “like” in the words Jesus spoke in instituting the Eucharist. Rather than the actual spoken words of Jesus, kids will see “This bread is like my body” and “this drink is like my blood.” A heavy-duty black marker quickly solves the problem, making this a nice Bible story book for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 2, 2017 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

Mary: Seeing God through the Eyes of a Mother (Drawn In Bible Study)


Author: Eugene H. Peterson
Publisher: NavPress
Genre: Bible Study / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63146-785-1
Pages: 96
Price: $7.99

Buy it at Amazon

Mary is the mother of Jesus, but the Bible is surprisingly quiet about her role in raising Him. However, the small glimpses we do have of our Blessed Mother are very illuminating. This Drawn In Bible study focuses on important moments of her life, such as the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Wedding at Cana, and the Crucifixion.

Using the Message translation, Peterson guides us to notice details in the story to ponder in our own hearts what Mary might have been thinking and feeling. Then we’re asked to see how these words affect our own lives today. Coloring pages are included so we can pause and contemplate the ideas we’re studying. A helpful guide to facilitating a Drawn In Bible study makes up the final chapter.

As a Catholic, I was immediately drawn to this book on Mary, and within the scope of an introductory four-week Protestant study, it delivered what it promised. Using the Message gives a slightly different perspective on the words we may have become overly familiar with, but the scripture references are provided if we want to use a more traditional translation for our study. The price is also attractive to small groups on a budget. After completing this study, Catholics who would like a more in-depth look at Mary might want to look at studies by Edward Sri or Scott Hahn.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Jesus Christ, Money Master: The Wisest Words Ever Spoken on Money


Author: W. Neil Gallagher, PhD
Publisher: Brown Christian Press
Genre: Christian / Finance
ISBN: 978-1-61254-220-1
Pages: 264
Price: $19.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Blessed are the poor… You cannot serve God and Mammon… The love of money is the root of all evils…” These and other verses imply that Jesus Christ frowns on money and would like his followers to be poor. But is this what He’s really telling us? Maybe not.

Using the Bible as a reference, W. Neil Gallagher shows us passages where Jesus teaches us about money. Using parables like the prodigal son, the dishonest steward, and the talents, as well as numerous other stories, he explains that Jesus doesn’t really want us to be poor. In fact, it’s only from a position of wealth that we can afford to be generous toward those most in need. Gallagher also explores various investment options and their pros and cons, and encourages us to look at our own financial planning to see if it aligns with our goals. If not, we need to take immediate action to correct it.

W. Neil Gallagher, PhD, is an expert in money management, as a former stockbroker now running a billion dollar investment practice. Aligning his expertise with the words of Jesus, he guides the reader toward better financial decisions. I highly recommend Jesus Christ, Money Master.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 16, 2017 Posted by | Christian, finance | Leave a comment

Guided by His Light


Author: Susan Jones
Illustrator: Pauline Siewert
Publisher: Good Books
ISBN: 978-1-68099-282-3
Pages: 64
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

A good book to read at bedtime can quiet and soothe a tired child. And what could be better than a gentle, rhyming prayer book? Guided by His Light is a collection of short poems that remind children of God’s love. Illustrations of happy families, animals, and the natural world accompany these prayers.

Each prayer has a title, and some of these include God’s Words Bring Comfort, God Gives Me Strength, My Heart Is Full of Joy, and God’s Love Is Perfect. Each is crafted to provide comfort and reassurance that God loves and forgives his precious children.

This hardcover has a special glow-in-the-dark cover to encourage bedtime reading. Kids and parents will love this sweet evening prayer book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 26, 2017 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

Stories on the Journey: A Homiletic Biography (Cycle A Homilies)


Author: Rev. Peter G. Jankowski
Publisher: Lighthouse Christian Publishing
Genre: Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1532765834
Pages: 292
Price: $11.95

St. Patrick’s Church of Joliet, IL
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During his 20 years as a parish priest, Father Pete Jankowski has faced his share of joys and struggles. Sharing these stories in the form of homilies, he encourages and educates his parishioners on a weekly basis. Now these Cycle A homilies have been compiled into Stories on the Journey

Each of the homilies includes the designated Sunday title, as well as the scripture readings for that Sunday’s Mass in Cycle A. Father Pete expands on the Gospel readings each week, sharing stories of his own experiences as priest, as well as his interactions with parishioners. These homilies are warmly written and encouraging in style, sometimes challenging his listeners to respond to the words of Jesus and what He demands of us. But they’re also down-to-earth and meant for the average reader who doesn’t have a theology degree.

There are several typos in the text, and a good proofreading would have helped prior to publishing. But if the reader can overlook this small flaw, the messages in each homily are really enjoyable to read. I will adding be adding this book to my reading list during each Cycle A year. This is part of a planned four-volume series, which includes Cycles B & C, as well as special homilies. Father Pete will be donating proceeds from the sales of Stories on the Journey to benefit St. Patrick’s Church.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | Leave a comment

Complete Guide to Bible Journaling


Authors: Joanne Fink and Regina Yoder
Publisher: Design Originals
Genre: Art / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4972-0272-6
Pages: 176
Price: $19.99

Joanne Fink’s website
Regina Yoder’s website
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At one time, Bibles were illuminated by professional artists who added beautiful artwork to hand-copied books. Since the modern printing age, Bibles have been mass-produced with little to no illustration. But God’s Word comes alive when accompanied by carefully crafted art, and Complete Guide to Bible Journaling shows us how to do this ourselves.

Adding artwork to our own Bibles might be a scary proposition, but it doesn’t have to be perfect – it only needs to come from the heart. The choice of medium can include colored pencils, markers, stickers, and even paint. Instructions for each of these techniques, as well as templates are provided. In addition to sharing their own work and techniques, many of the artists featured in this book share the reasons why they were drawn to Bible journaling and how it’s changed their lives.

Special journaling Bibles are available, but even if you don’t have one, you can still use these techniques. And if it really makes you uncomfortable to draw or write in your Bible, you can use this guide for outside-the-Bible artwork. This book is a wonderful resource on learning to immerse yourself in God’s Word through art. I highly recommend it.

April 20, 2017 Posted by | art, Christian | Leave a comment

Pray for Justice


Author: Lou A. Bordisso, O.C.
Publisher: The Apocryphile Press
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-944769-40-6
Pages: 150
Price: $16.00

Buy it at Amazon

Every day the world’s neediest go hungry, searching for a place to lay their weary heads. The rest of us simply go about our business, hardly noticing them. But what if we actively prayed for them and for a change in our own mindset?

Pray for Justice is a thirty day book that encourages us in caring for those who most need it. Each day’s section provides morning and evening prayers with a quote to guide our intentions. These prayers follow a simplified form of the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours that will take only a few minutes to complete. The reader is also encouraged to keep a spiritual journal while following this prayer regimen, and questions are provided to deepen our commitment to the less fortunate.

Those who already pray the Liturgy of the Hours will find this format somewhat redundant, so they may need to vary it slightly to incorporate parts into their normal prayer ritual. But all those who really ponder the quotes provided and ask themselves the hard questions will find themselves changed by their experience. This is a great prayer guide for Catholics and other peaceful people.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | Leave a comment

Inheritance

Inheritance
Artist: Audrey Assad
Label: Fortunate Fall Records
Genre: Christian
Price: $18.95

Buy it at Amazon

Inheritance includes a mix of classic Christian music along with some original tracks:

  • Ubi Caritas
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • I Wonder as I Wander
  • How Can I Keep from Singing
  • Oh, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
  • Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet
  • New Every Morning
  • It Is Well with My Soul
  • Even Unto Death
  • Abide With Me

These tunes are quiet, reflective, and meditative in nature, as Audrey Assad’s haunting voice is accompanied by gentle instrumental and electronic music. I found that this CD made me feel incredibly peaceful and conscious of God’s profound and wonderful love. “New Every Morning” is especially uplifting and is my favorite. I highly recommend Audrey Assad’s music.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Christian, music | Leave a comment

My First Book of Bible Verses


Author: Susan Jones
Publisher: Good Books
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-68099-281-6
Pages: 64
Price: $12.99

Buy it at Amazon

Children find scripture to be a great source of joy, and they love to memorize key verses. My First Book of Bible Verses shares 30 Bible verses for kids to learn and absorb, along with colorful illustrations and descriptions. A set of stickers is provided, and once they learn each verse, they can place a sticker in the spaces marked on the pages.

The Bible verses chosen for this book center on loving and honoring God, being kind and generous toward others, trusting in God’s goodness, living a moral and upright life, and praying. As they memorize these beautiful verses, children will naturally draw closer to God and their loved ones. I highly recommend this wonderful book for all Christian children.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 5, 2017 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

Journey to 50: How to Live with Gratitude, Grace and the Effects of Gravity

Journey to 50
Author: Laurie Russell
Publisher: Elevate Faith
Genre: Women / Health / Christian
ISBN: 978-1943425310
Pages: 272
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Turning 50 is not something most women would willingly choose, but the alternative just isn’t all that terrific. So the best thing she can do is accept it gracefully with a sense of humor. Journey to 50 is a lighthearted look at the “joys” of aging and how to cope with them.

Beginning with her thoughts on redefining aging, Russell guides the reader through family and health issues she can expect during these middle-aged years. Focusing on faith and having fun round out the five sections. Each chapter provides a series of mini-meditations of Russell’s own experiences and words of wisdom. Poking fun at herself and the aging process, she leads us on a journey filled with laughter.

Growing older will never be fun, but with friends and family as support systems, good self-care, and a positive attitude, women can conquer their fears in facing this challenging time in their lives. Journey to 50 provides an enjoyable guide to not only surviving these years, but even actually thriving.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 24, 2017 Posted by | Christian, health | Leave a comment