Category Archives: Diving Into A Sea of Books

Highly subjective book reviews

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Million Dollar Dilemma

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration, or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Million Dollar Dilemma by Judy Baer is a novel about a single woman who wins part of a multi-million dollar lottery drawing. She thinks she’s putting her money in the office kitty for another co-worker. The collection is really for a lottery drawing. The office wins, big time.

Most people probably would be extremely happy to win millions of dollars. Cassia Carr, however, considers it a huge aggravation. She tries to find a church to give it to, but runs into another problem with that idea.

As the novel unwinds, Cassia becomes increasingly attracted to the new neighbor with the feisty cat. She isn’t quite sure if he feels the same, and if he does, why does he? She still has the problem of what to do with all that money, and life seems more uncertain than it did before.

Her problems and questions are resolved in a surprising, satisfying way.

Note: Million Dollar Dilemma is in a genre known in publishing circles as Christian chick-lit. It is a romance, but “clean” in matters of romantic relationships and language. At least one of the main characters has a strong or growing faith in God, and that faith is central to how the character approaches life.

Million Dollar Dilemma is a fun read. Most of the time I don’t care for reading romance; this story has enough of a mystery in it to make it enjoyable for me. It’s a book I’ll read again.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Cat About Town

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration, or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Cat About Town by Cate Conte is an entertaining cozy mystery, first in the Cat Café Mystery series.

Main character Maddie James returns to the island town of her childhood for her grandmother’s funeral. Soon she’s “adopted” by a stray orange tabby cat. Maddie intends to go back to California, but after “Orange Guy” finds a dead body, Maddie keeps finding reasons to stay in town–among them an ex-boyfriend and a handsome newcomer.

Maddie finds townspeople she’s known all her life have their secrets. She realizes the town itself is changing, and not everyone is happy about it. These underlying factors heighten the sense of mystery in this story of a small town facing murders possibly committed by residents. As time goes on, Maddie discovers an increasing number of suspects, each with motive, and she puts herself in increasing danger.

Comment: I came across this book on the local library’s “for sale” shelves and couldn’t resist–mostly, I admit, due to the jaunty orange-striped cat on the cover. One day, in need of a mental getaway, I picked up the book and soon was caught up in the story. Maddie and “Orange Guy” are memorable characters and while Maddie is a bit on the impulsive side, “Orange Guy” (who gets a name change later)  acts as you’d expect a cat to. Cate Conte paints a realistic picture of small-town life where everybody knows everybody else, and the town itself almost becomes a character in the story, rather than just the setting. The author keeps the plot moving, with the pacing of a good movie. While a couple threads in the story toward the end were a little hard to follow, overall this was fun to read. I plan to look for the other books in the series.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–How to Live in Fear–Mastering the Art of Freaking Out

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

I first came across How to Live in Fear–Mastering the Art of Freaking Out in a Christian bookstore. I thought that was a little strange, with a title like that. “Fear” and “Christian”  don’t go together. But the longer I leafed through the pages, the more I realized the title fit perfectly with the theme: being able to live with faith in God while having anxiety/panic attacks.

Pastor Lance Hahn has experienced severe anxiety attacks since boyhood. For a few years the attacks left, then they came roaring back into his life. He describes what it’s like to be a Christian, and the senior pastor of a large church–a pastor who suffers from panic attacks. Continue reading

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Deeper Waters–Immersed in the Life-Changing Truth of God’s Word

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Deeper Waters–Immersed in the Life-Changing Truth of God’s Word by Denise J. Hughes is a guide to Bible study unlike any other I’ve read, mainly because of the honesty of the writer. Denise is a Bible study teacher and at the time of the writing of the book, an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University. She admits the doubts she faced in her relationship with God as she grew up due to heart-wrenching difficulties that hit her family. She doesn’t give any of the phrases Christians often say, such as “Have faith in God”, which sounds good, but when rough times hit, don’t offer anything to hold onto. She does write about how God brought her back to Himself.

Denise takes the life of Ezra, a scribe who lived hundreds of years before Christ, as the pattern for the kind of Bible study she sets forth in Deeper Waters. As scribe, Ezra copied and wrote records. Denise emphasizes the importance of writing down Bible verses–ones that speak to you.

One thing that bothered me was the way her family’s story was scattered throughout the book. Although Denise probably did this to illustrate the particular point she wanted to make in that chapter, writing this way threw me off a bit.

To her credit, the author never takes a self-righteous, patronizing tone. Instead she writes as a guide who’s been through turbulent times.

If you want a guide to Bible study which also acknowledges that life and the walk of faith is not always smooth and easy, read Deeper Waters.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–How to be an Imperfectionist

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise goes much deeper into perfectionism than I thought it would. Mr. Guise refers to studies by researchers about what perfectionism is vs. what it is not. The trait is hard for even scientists to pin down, which is probably why some believe not all perfectionism is bad, while others believe it’s all bad–that what’s called “healthy” perfectionism isn’t perfectionism, but rather striving to do the best a person can.

Mr. Guise writes as one who had a tendency towards perfectionism–and found it stifling for the growth of the mind and spirit. In How to be an Imperfectionist he gives ways to free yourself from that mindset, live with more joy and peace, less anxiety, and gain improved physical health as well.

Although the author writes about various studies, this book doesn’t come off as a “textbook”, which is a big plus for me. Mr. Guise gives examples from his own life, as to what worked for him and what didn’t. His tone is as a friend giving a heads-up to another friend.

Comment: This book is a keeper for me. Before I was a teenager, I decided I would avoid mistakes, and so made one of the biggest of my life in going down an unhealthy perfectionist road that only leads to more and more problems. How to be an Imperfectionist opens up a better, much healthier way of thinking.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–The Perfectionist’s Handbook

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

The Perfectionist’s Handbook, subtitled Take Risks, Invite Criticism, and Make the Most of Your Mistakes by Jeff Szymanski, PhD, a self-described perfectionist and clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is mainly for people who think their perfectionism generally works well for them, but want to know  when it may drift into unhealthy territory, and how to cope with any tendencies perfectionism brings that they don’t want to have.

Dr. Szymanski describes differences between “healthy” and “unhealthy” perfectionism. He gives the pros and the cons of perfectionism. When serving the person, perfectionism can be good, but taken to the extreme, this mindset can quickly become the master of the person, resulting in serious problems.

I like the way the author uses stories from his life to illustrate what he means. He never “talks down” to the reader. He does refer to a lot of studies, which to this layperson, grew tiresome to read. However, it shows he did his research.

To me, the author generally takes an optimistic view of perfectionism. For differing views of perfectionism, check out How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise and the BBC Future article, “The dangerous downsides of perfectionism” http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180219-toxic-perfectionism-is-on-the-rise). The article links the mindset to OCD, anxiety, self-mutilation, depression, and other problems, with the worst being early mortality and suicide.

As a person realizing the damage I allowed perfectionism to do, I didn’t find The Perfectionist’s Handbook as helpful as I thought it would be.  For my part, I see perfectionism as an enemy; it brings on low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Striving for excellence is good; beating myself up when I don’t reach my standards is not.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader, subtitled: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference by Mark Sanborn, grabbed me as soon as I saw the title, because I agree that a person can be a leader regardless of his or her official position. I worked with people who didn’t have a title yet clearly had knowledge, responsibility, and the ability to teach me what I needed to know to do my job. Some of those people, in fact, most of the individuals, had more of an eye for what was going on in the business than those who had official titles. So I was eager to read this book, to see what it could teach me.

However, I was disappointed in the examples Mr. Sanborn gave. The people certainly made a positive difference. But they became leaders and made a difference in their work or communities because they already had the respect and recognition of their potential leadership skills from people in positions of authority who were willing and able to give them a lot of support. The people didn’t do it alone; mentors stood by to give them advice, help them untangle red tape, donate money or time, or mention their names to other people who could help.

To me, this book showed that anyone can make a positive difference–the qualifiers being: if the person works for people who respect and value anybody’s ideas, regardless of his or her job, or if the person has a powerful mentor willing to step up to the plate.

I’m sure this book has value for many people. For me, it doesn’t, so it’s going in the donation pile.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–You’re Not Alone

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

You’re Not Alone, subtitled, Daily Encouragement For Those Looking For A New Job, by Richard Malone, is a helpful, useful book of meditations for those in the uncertain world of job changes. The book came about during the author’s own period of  unemployment when he looked for a devotional book and couldn’t find any.

Each day begins with Scripture, Mr. Malone’s writing, and then a short prayer. Mr. Malone points out that many of the people in the Bible dealt with a variety of situations that could bring on the powerful emotions a job loss carries with it–anger, fear, the desire for revenge, loneliness, and others. The author shows that God helped all those people, and He is more than willing to help people who’ve lost their jobs, for whatever reason.

At the back of the book Mr. Malone lists many books on the subject of work and handling emotions related to job loss.

Comments: This is the only book I’ve found so far which links unemployment and Scripture, and shows the help God offers through faith. While compassionate in tone to the job hunter, Mr. Malone also is realistic about factors that come into play in employment. He emphasizes that overall, no matter what, God is still here, and can be trusted. Given that a person cannot be sure of job “security”, this book is a valuable resource. To me, it’s a “treasure”. I want to start a job-search/support group in the future; this is one of the books I plan to use in the group.

©P. Booher

 

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–I Heard The Owl Call My Name

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven is a slice-of-life novel about a young Anglican vicar, unaware he has a terminal illness, sent to a remote parish of Native American villages on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The area is stunning in its natural beauty, but so remote that transportation–whether to get supplies in or people in or out–is via canoes, boats or seaplane–all subject to weather conditions.

The young priest commits himself to the task of ministering to the natives as he copes with loneliness, the insecurity of living in an unfamiliar culture, poor living conditions, and piloting a boat in the sometimes harsh weather and rough seas.

The villagers, who in the past sometimes dealt with priests who expected to be served rather than to serve, are polite but not friendly. They learn Mark is different from previous vicars as he helps the people any way he can, stands up for the needs of the tribe, attempts to learn the unwritten language, and respects the native traditions and beliefs, even though he doesn’t understand or agree with them.

As Mark rejoices with the people in their good times and suffers with them through their losses, bonds of deep affection grow until he becomes as one of them. When it’s time for the vicar to leave, the villagers ask the Bishop to allow Mark to stay.

Comments: I reread this book a few weeks ago. It’s one I don’t really want to give away. Without being “preachy” the novel shows commitment, humility, and giving oneself in service to others. For me, this book is a “treasure”.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–The Silver Chair

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

The Silver Chair is Book Six of The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia is the fantasy series Mr. Lewis wrote for children.

The Silver Chair begins in an ordinary enough setting–a schoolyard–and an all-too-commonplace situation: one of the main characters, Jill, is hiding from a group of bullies. Eustace, a classmate, comes along, and as they seek to get away from the oncoming bullies, they cry out for help. The two end up in Narnia, where Aslan, the ruler of Narnia, sends them on a harrowing mission, warning Jill to remember signs he gave her.

Jill and Eustace run into strange creatures and many obstacles on their mission. Their travels might have been a bit easier had they not lost their tempers with each other, and had Jill remembered the signs. They run into trouble around every corner, and late in the book the journey’s end was still in doubt.

Aside from the plot, for me The Silver Chair reads as a lesson in the marks of evil, showing evil, as represented by a beautiful lady Jill and Eustace meet, to be dangerously deceptive. Evil confuses not only Jill and Eustace, but also another character, as to what is true and what is false.

Author’s comment: Since I’d never read The Silver Chair before, I didn’t realize bullying is the catalyst for the story. To me it was ironic, because of the repeated stories in the news about bullying.  If I didn’t know better I’d think that C. S. Lewis wrote the story just yesterday, but the paperback edition I have was copyrighted 1953, and Mr. Lewis died in 1963.

I enjoyed reading The Silver Chair, both for the story and for the lessons it illustrates.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

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