Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book with a View November 2012

Title: Family Likeness
Author: Dr. Wilson Awasu
Pages: 96
ISBN: 978-1-4327-7915-3
Genre: religion, Christian education
Published: Outskirts Press, 2012
Reviewer: Sarah Moore

I will start this review by offering a disclaimer. I sat down to read Family Likeness already a fan of Dr. Awasu’s work and the way in which he reaches out to his reading audience with an approach that is personal and inviting. I have had the pleasure of reading two of his previously published books, Kim’s Confessions and Kathy’s Good News, and both of them share emotion without filters so much that you feel as if you have stolen someone’s journal. But, as is also the case in the new release Family Likeness, the real intent of Dr. Awasu’s approach is to show readers the commonality we all have in our doubts and hopes when it comes to exploring notions of prayer, faith, and a connection to something greater than ourselves. Whether we have been sitting in a wooden pew every Sunday morning since childhood or we question if any higher power exists, the desire to understand our spiritual selves is there.

To be fair, Family Likeness is a book primarily designed for readers who accept the Bible as fact and who use the words of this holy book to guide their daily decisions and worship. Dr. Awasu encourages Christian believers by documenting numerous stories from the Bible and placing them against similar experiences held by people he has encountered in his many years of teaching and working in missions. From the struggle of Abraham and Sarah to have a child to Jesus’ disobedience toward his parents as a adolescent to God’s own struggles with prayer while in human form, Awasu selects relevant examples of issues over which we still worry in modern society and offers insight on how to approach these concerns in ways that line up with how Christians are taught to live. And, the stories that Awasu shares are breathtakingly powerful, including his conversations with a rape victim, a drug addict, and a man simply searching for his life’s purpose. He shows us that as family of believers, Christians are called to live with expectations no different than their brothers and sisters whose lives were on display in the Bible.

It must be said, though, that Family Likeness should not be pigeonholed as a self-help book for Christians. Whenever I am reading a book about theology, whether it claims Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or another belief system as its subject, I want to see that the text is strongly sourced. Go back to the writings that are holy to each of these groups and show me how your assertions line up with the specific philosophy. If an author wants to make the case that Islam is the most progressive religion for women, then I will want to read multiple passages from the Koran that support this perspective. And, in Family Likeness, Awasu makes Scripture his foundation. You rarely read more than a sentence or two before the author references a chapter and verse to corroborate his thoughts. So, even if you approach Awasu’s work as an academic and not as someone who necessarily embraces the theology, you will find rich content for reflection. And, perhaps allow yourself to open to a “heart encounter,” as Awasu hopes.

Family Likeness drives home the idea that what we face in our supposedly ordinary lives is not all that different from what the characters in the Bible encountered. We can use the Scripture as lessons upon which to model our own reactions to circumstances. In this new release, Dr. Awasu has created both yet another intimate exploration of emotion in life’s more personal moments as well as a great series of historical parallels to review and see through our individual lens. If you want to read a book written by an educated man who brings passion, knowledge, and a wealth of experience to each page, and if you crave more insight into your own spiritual walk, Family Likeness is a book to add to your collection.

Title: Shudderville, Part I
Author: Mia Zabrisky
Publisher: Mia Zabrisky Books
Publication Date: August 30, 2012
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

When I picked up the first installment of Mia Zabrisky’s Shudderville series, I fully expected a good read; after all, it had an intriguing name and an even more intriguing plot. However, I didn’t expect to be completely blown away. That was my mistake, and one I won’t be making again where Zabrisky’s concerned. Shudderville provides a glimpse into the darkness of the human spirit that’s eerily reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe. I apologize for the cliché, but it literally sent chills up my spine.

Since the tragic death of her beloved daughter, Sophie McKnight’s life has descended into a hellish blur of agony-filled days and alcohol-soaked nights. She has no social life to speak of; just her best friend Cassie and half-hearted fantasies about the odd next door neighbor Sophie knows as the “goateed man”.

Cassie also has another neighbor, the elderly, frail Tobias Mandelbaum. Mandelbaum seems harmless enough, but Sophie soon learns he is no ordinary man, for he knows details about Sophie’s past that she has never told a living soul. He also claims to have the ability to make any wish come true. When he first asks Sophie to make a request, she thinks the old man is crazy. But then she starts to wonder: what if he’s telling the truth? What if she can have the one thing she so desperately wants? Ignoring the goateed man’s warning to stay away from Mandelbaum, Sophie makes her wish and learns that one cannot bargain with evil without paying a terrible price.

Shudderville is a subtle yet profound story that will leave even diehard thriller fans open-mouthed and hungry for more. It also places Zabrisky in a small, elite group of literary suspense writers.

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