Bergers Book Reviews

The Listening Day Vol. 1


Author: Paul J. Pastor
Publisher: Zeal Books
Genre: Christian / Meditation
ISBN: 978-0-9970669-6-8
Pages: 112
Price: $8.99

Author’s website
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God’s voice comes to us through sacred Scripture, but many of us long to hear Him speak directly to us in our circumstances. Drawing on Bible quotes, Paul J. Pastor provides a simulated dialogue between God and the reader in a series of meditations.

These one page meditations resemble prayer, where the reader asks God questions and God responds. But rather than the harsh responses many expect, God reassures us of his love and care. Visiting topics such as pain and suffering, sin and repentance, relationships, and many others, Pastor shares the words God might say to us. The reader can enjoy them sequentially, or thumb through the book for the topic that speaks to him most in that moment.

In The Listening Day, God’s perspective is limited by our human understanding, as interpreted by Pastor. But these words are powerful and full of meaning for all of us. I highly recommend this innovative and inspirational meditation book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 2, 2017 Posted by | Christian, meditation | Leave a comment

Created for Connection: The “Hold Me Tight” Guide for Christian Couples


Authors: Dr. Sue Johnson with Kenneth Sanderfer
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Christian / Marriage
ISBN: 978-0-316-30741-3
Pages: 336
Price: $26.00

Author’s website
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Couples in thriving marriages have learned how to communicate in ways that are loving and constructive. Rather than tearing each other down in arguments, they know how to address issues without attacking the other person. But for many of us, this skill isn’t something we know intuitively – we need to learn how to communicate with our partner.

In Created for Connection, Dr. Sue Johnson explores the conversations a couple can have that are designed to bring them closer together, rather than pulling them apart. When troubled times arrive – and they always do – these conversations will guide the couple through them in a way that will not only leave their relationship intact, but also strengthen it. In recognizing old communication patterns that aren’t working, they can then move to sharing their old hurts and expressing forgiveness, bringing them closer. Physical intimacy is also a key form of communication in keeping marriages healthy and vibrant.

Johnson provides numerous examples of couples’ conversations that take place over a variety of difficulties, and the reader gets a good sense of how to apply these ideas to his or her own situation. Even if your marriage is not struggling, this book can help you make it even better. I highly recommend Created for Connection.

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Christian, marriage | Leave a comment

Stories on the Journey: A Homilitic Biography (Cycle B Homilies)


Author: Rev. Peter G. Jankowski
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1544933160
Pages: 344
Price: $12.95

St. Patrick’s Church of Joliet, IL
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Cycle B Homilies picks up in the second year of Catholic Church readings, and follows the Cycle A Homilies published last year. Following in the same pattern, each of the homilies includes the designated Sunday title, as well as the scripture readings for that Sunday’s Mass in Cycle B. 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.

Father Pete has no interest in portraying himself as perfect, and willingly shares his faults and foibles with the reader. I found myself chuckling at some of these stories, as I learned a bit about his service to his Parish and the surrounding community, and I will enjoy reading them during each Cycle B year. This is part of a planned four-volume series, which includes Cycles A, B & C, as well as special homilies. Proceeds from the sales of Stories on the Journey will benefit St. Patrick’s Church.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | Leave a comment

Poets & Saints


Author: Jamie George
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0998-1
Pages: 240
Price: $16.99

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In an effort to discover the histories of some of the more famous names in Christianity, Jamie George and All Sons & Daughters took an epic journey to Europe. While visiting the places these saints lived, they determined to create music to engage the listener in their visions, as well as tell their stories on the page.

Poets & Saints traces the lives of C.S. Lewis, Saint Patrick, John Newton, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint Francis, William Cowper, Saint Augustine, George MacDonald, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Saint Peter. These saints’ stories unfold, along with the author’s musings on how their teachings speak to him today. A related CD contains music that corresponds to the readings on each of these great Christians.

Studying the lives of the saints encourages us today as we deal with some of the same struggles they lived with back in their own times. Poets & Saints captures their unique essence while also reminding us of their humanity, and the music is a beautiful accompaniment in reading their stories. I highly recommend this book and music set.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Christian, music | Leave a comment

Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul


Author: Bonnie Gray
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4555-9820-5
Pages: 400
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
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[Jesus said,] “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NABRE) When the world tugs at us and life feels too stressful, it’s hard to remember these words of comfort. Whispers of Rest is just what the frazzled soul needs, providing 40 days of God’s love to revitalize us.

Forty daily readings are organized into six sections: Being the Beloved, Choosing as the Beloved, Dreaming as the Beloved, Healing as the Beloved, Daring as the Beloved, and Shining as the Beloved. Each of these readings shares Bible stories, personal reflections, and inspiration, as well as questions to ponder and a challenge for the day. We’re encouraged to pray and journal our responses to God’s loving messages to us. In addition, Bonnie Gray has set up a Facebook book study group and inspirational videos and coloring pages that can be accessed at her website.

In the hustle and bustle of daily living, it’s hard to get quiet and remember just how much God loves us. Whispers of Rest provides a wonderful daily reminder. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

#BEMORE


Author: Sandi Krakowski
Publisher: Fedd Books
Genre: Christian / Motivation
ISBN: 978-0-9894934-3-7
Pages: 200
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
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Sandi Krakowski already had a large following on social media when she decided to start encouraging, empowering and equipping others. With the help of God, she made the decision to show people how to BE MORE, and this motivational book was born. In five sections, she guides the reader to be more: connected to God, in tune with yourself, attentive to your relationships, engaged with your community, and mindful of your world.

Each section opens with an introduction before guiding us through a total of seventy-seven secrets. These are two page nuggets of wisdom that can easily be read every day with our morning prayer and meditations. And each ends with a summary quote we can take with us into our busy day.

#BEMORE is a bit light on substance and heavy on cheer-leading. Although this isn’t my personal preference, it does encourage us to get outside our comfort zone and really live our lives. Those who like this kind of motivational message will enjoy it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Christian, self improvement | Leave a comment

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 | 4 Comments

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

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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
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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

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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