Bergers Book Reviews

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
Buy it at Amazon

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
Buy it at Amazon

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

The Sisters of Sugarcreek

The Sisters of Sugarcreek
Author: Cathy Liggett
Publisher: Tyndale House
Genre: Christian fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0489-3
Pages: 400
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

A deadly fire strikes Faith Community Church in Sugarcreek, killing Henry, a young Amish husband, and Rose, the owner of Rose’s Knit One Quilt Too Cottage. Jessica inherits Rose’s cottage, but struggles to run the shop. Liz is mourning Rose, her best friend and co-conspirator in the Secret Stitches Society, and recruits Jessica to join her. Liz and Jessica figure that Lydia, Henry’s widow, will be the perfect candidate for their first mission.

Now Jessica suddenly finds herself with unexpected help in running the cottage, along with two brand new friends. Tragedy may have brought the three women together, but the bonds of friendship run deep, as Jessica sees just how far Liz and Lydia will go to help her. And as they all discover their changing roles in the community, they also find new opportunities for love.

The Sisters of Sugarcreek features great characters and an engaging plot, and will appeal to women of all ages. I highly recommend this enjoyable Christian fiction novel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Christian, fiction | Leave a comment

Finding God in the Ruins

finding-god-in-the-ruins
Author: Matt Bays
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7814-1383-1
Pages: 256
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Matt Bays had a very difficult childhood, suffering abuse by his own family members. When, as an adult, he suddenly finds himself unable to cope with life, he turns to substances to dull the pain. But as a church pastor, he knows this can’t go on, and finally finds a competent therapist to help him deal with his past.

As Bays works through the painful memories, he relives the feeling of being abandoned by God, the very One he expected to protect him from the abuse. His feelings lead him to search the scriptures for others who also felt abandoned, and he finds solace in some of David’s psalms. But first he needs to come to terms with his own expectations of God, trying to determine if God might have actually been with him throughout his troubled childhood.

Reading in many ways more like a journal than a spiritual self-help book, Finding God in the Ruins offers hope to others who have suffered from traumatic experiences. At times Bays expresses his anger with God, reminding us that God can handle our anger better than we think He can. But ultimately, he reinforces the truth that God is always with us, even when we go through trying times. We may never know why we suffer, but God never leaves us alone, and that’s good news we can all relate to.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Finding Calcutta: Memoirs of a Photographer

Finding Calcutta
Author: Marie Bissell Constantin
Publisher: Lulu
Genre: Memoir
ISBN: 978-1-4834-5478-8
Pages: 128
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Marie Bissell Constantin took the photograph of Saint Teresa of Calcutta that was unveiled at her beatification ceremony. One of may Constantin took, this one best captured the heart and soul of this great Saint. During three visits to Calcutta while discerning a possible vocation, Constantin had the opportunity to see Saint Teresa in action.

Opening with an anecdote from her school days, Constantin shares a moment in the convent and the life changes that came about as a result of her daily interaction with one of the Sisters. Having other religious relatives sparked her curiosity, and she spent many years attempting to determine if she shared a similar calling. These searches led her to Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity.

In addition to stories of her own volunteer service, Constantin shares some of the horrible treatment suffered by religious sisters as they work among the poor and marginalized in society. As they face persecution and the horrors of war, the habit is sometimes a shield and other times a target.

Although this memoir was written for family, those who admire this wonderful Saint will enjoy seeing snippets of her in real life, and not just as the woman who carried the dying home with her. Those who are attempting to discern their own vocations will also find Constantin’s honesty refreshing and may gain some insights in reading the author’s struggles. I highly recommend Finding Calcutta.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 13, 2016 Posted by | Christian, memoir, Saints | Leave a comment

Christmas Quiet: Receiving the Gift of His Presence: A 25-Day Devotional Coloring Book

christmas-quiet
Author: Maisie Sparks
Illustrator: Lauren Younis
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian / Christmas
ISBN: 978-1-4555-7108-6
Pages: 112
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season sometimes makes it difficult to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Taking a few minutes out of our hectic days can restore the sense of anticipation that Advent asks of us. Christmas Quiet provides a meaningful reflection for the 25 days leading up to Christmas, along with an accompanying coloring page.

For the Israelites, the hope of the Messiah began in the Garden of Eden, which is where this devotional begins. We visit with Mary, Anna, Simeon, the wise men, and the shepherds as we see snippets of the Christmas story throughout its pages. But we also read of impatiently waiting in line, dealing with holiday pain and grief, and wishing for wonderful gifts. Ultimately, though, we are guided to long for the true gift of Christmas – God’s gift of his only son, Jesus.

Each of the coloring pages contains a message relating to the devotional text, along with small pictures and doodles. In slowing down to fill them with color, we can absorb the message and ponder it in our own hearts, just as Mary did. Christmas Quiet presents a beautiful opportunity to slow down and savor this most wonderful of seasons, as we anticipate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Christian, holiday | Leave a comment