(Review) Safe and Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles by David Powlison

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Publisher and Publication Date: New Growth Press. September 16, 2019.
Format: Kindle e-book.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Spiritual warfare.
Pages: 160.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Christian readers who want to learn how to combat spiritual battles.

For more information: New Growth Press.

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Author Information:
David Powlison, MDiv, PhD, (1949–2019) was a teacher, counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He wrote many books and mini-books, including Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context, Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken, God’s Grace in Your Suffering, and Safe and Sound. David was also the editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling.
Link for bio at The Journal of Biblical Counseling.

A video from one of my favorite interviews of Powlison. He is speaking on Borderline Personality Disorder.

Summary:
Safe and Sound by best-selling author David Powlison guides readers to see the normality of their struggles with themselves, the world around them, and the powers of darkness.
Counselors tend to be interested in what they can easily describe: psychological dynamics, social influences, and physiological givens. But how does the uncanny power of darkness fit in with the more accessible factors in a person’s life?
By carefully unpacking Ephesians 6 with vivid case studies and biblical wisdom, Powlison helps readers humanize those struggles and bear the relevance of the love of God in Christ for those struggles.
In this helpful guide, Powlison addresses many questions with gospel answers regarding the reality of spiritual warfare, including “What is spiritual warfare?” and “How does Ephesians disciple us in spiritual warfare?”
Safe and Sound presents Ephesians as a book about our conflict with darkness—within ourselves, with other people, and with the spiritual forces of evil. Powlison demonstrates how the message of Christ’s triumph over all that is evil, dark, and deadly rings true, and how spiritual warfare is our participation in the Lord’s cosmic war with darkness.
To stand up against evil, Powlison encourages readers to pray pointedly and listen to Scripture intently, standing with other brothers and sisters in Christ and relying on the strength God himself gives.

My Thoughts:
I’ve met people who believe every bad thing that happens in life is because of spiritual warfare. This includes physical battles like cancer or other diseases. I believe bad things happen because we are imperfect humans and live in an imperfect world. But to go so far as to say all bad things are because of spiritual warfare, I’ve paused at that. This has been a good book to read. It’s good, because it’s made me think and consider something I may have been wrong about.
This is the first book I’ve read by David Powlison. I’ve read short books written by him. I’ve watched videos of him teaching on a counseling topic. The first thing I notice is his humility. He is also a person who is wise and purposeful about his speech. I admire people with these character traits. It makes me want to lean in closer to listen.

Some examples of points he made that were important:
•Every moment of our life is spent in a battle for lordship of our lives. Who we will serve?
•Satan’s attacks are untruths about God.
•The main Bible passage is Ephesians 6:10-20, but other passages are used. For example, John 8:43-44; 1 John 5:19; Ephesians 2:1-3; Isaiah 59; 2 Peter 1:1; and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
•Anxiety is a lie. A lie about everything that we perceive as something to worry about.
•Thankfulness and gratitude is at the heart of the counterattack in spiritual warfare.
•A chapter on the occult and exorcism. “A person’s sins are dealt with through repentance.” He disagrees about the use of exorcisms. He believes in focusing on the heart of the person.

This book is deeply personal for Powlison. During the writing of the book, Powlison knows he has cancer. He doesn’t know how much longer he will live. In fact, he died this past June. He expresses that he had moments of escapism and he’s tempted to be discouraged. When a person is transparent about their struggles, we identify with them in some way, because we all have struggles in this life. I’m thankful for this book. I’m thankful for authors who share their tears.

 

 

 

(Review) The Batter’s Box: A Novel of Baseball, War, and Love by Andy Kutler

The Batter's Box Poster

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Publisher and Publication Date: Warriors Publishing Group. March 12, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Baseball.
Pages: 310.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers of baseball and World War II.

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

03_Andy Kutler
About The Author:
Andy Kutler is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. His debut novel, The Other Side of Life, was awarded a Bronze Medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards, and Honorable Mention from Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Awards. He has also authored a number of columns for the Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and spent more than a quarter century in public service, including with the United States Senate and the United States Secret Service, and as a consultant in the national security community.

Summary:
In 1946, a returning World War II veteran is determined to reclaim his place among professional baseball’s upper echelon and win back the woman he once fell for. Two months into the new season, at the top of his game, he abandons his team, casting aside his fame and riches and vanishing forever from the public eye. What drives a man to walk away from everything he cherishes, never to be heard from again?
The Batter’s Box follows the path of Will Jamison, a star player with the Washington Senators who enlists in the U.S. Army following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When the war ends, Jamison returns to Washington, a decorated hero tormented by deep emotional scars. Burdened with a crushing guilt and harrowing memories he cannot escape, Jamison’s life is consumed by an explosive temper, sleepless nights, and a gradual descent into alcoholism. Will he continue, alone with his anguish and misery? Or will he level with those around him, including the woman he loves, and seek the professional care he desperately needs, even at the risk of exposing his most closely guarded secrets?

My Thoughts:
I love reading stories about World War II. I love baseball. Reading a book that has both topics is a rarity, and this is just one reason this book is a gem!
The Batter’s Box is two time periods. The story begins in 2005 with a woman named Kay who is interviewed for a story about the 1945 baseball team, the Washington Senators. The team is now called the Nationals. Kay shares more than the information needed for the article. Kay shares about Will Jamison, a star player.
It is common in a fiction book to read dual time periods. This has become taxing for me. However, Kay is reminiscing. And, the story does not go back and forth with each chapter. I’m glad the more current time period is located at the beginning and the ending.
My dad was a veteran of World War II. He too had combat stress. Help for veterans suffering from combat stress or PTSD was not available. My son David is also a veteran. He suffers from PTSD. Help for him was immediate. I’m glad Andy Kutler has written this story. It helps readers understand what a veteran endures on the battlefield and afterwards.
For me, one of the best parts of a storyline with romantic partners is their dialogue. Does their dialogue show a chemistry between them or is the romance only physical? The Batter’s Box shows the chemistry in the romance from the start. They have chemistry in their words, mannerisms and physical expression.

Praise:
“We remember World War II as ‘the Good War, ‘ when right and wrong seemed so clear. We won, they lost, and our guys came home as heroes. But as gifted author Andy Kutler tells us in THE BATTER’S BOX, mortal combat is anything but good, heroism comes with a horrific price, and some of the most tragic wounds don’t bleed — and don’t go away. If you want to know what really happened at Bastogne in the terrible winter of 1944, read this powerful, haunting book.” — Daniel P. Bolger, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Ret.), author of Our Year of War: Two Brothers, Vietnam, and a Nation Divided

“Andy Kutler has the eyes and ears of combat soldiers and the heart of those who love them. The horror, courage, and camaraderie of battle rivals the grit of Once an Eagle, while the poignant authenticity of Will Jamison’s struggles with his hidden wounds highlight that, for many, the impact of war lingers far past the last shots of battle. THE BATTER’S BOX is a superb work of historical fiction that carries important lessons for today.” — William E. Rapp, Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Commandant, U.S. Army War College, and Commandant of Cadets, U.S. Military Academy

The Batter’s Box is a riveting read. It is a love story and a war story and a novel with far more truth than fiction. I’m a psychiatrist specializing in treating men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder. If you love someone with that invisible wound, read this book. If you are curious and concerned about the condition, read this book. Most survivors of profound trauma lack a language to convey their life stories because those stories include the unspeakable. When the hero of this compelling novel speaks, we listen, we learn and we are transformed. If you are currently struggling with the impact of major trauma, reading passages here may be disturbing and ‘triggering.’ But I believe it is worth the risk because this book affirms your reality and your dignity.” –Frank M. Ochberg, MD, Former Associate Director, National Institute of Mental Health

“Historical fiction, if it reflects careful scholarship, is a powerful tool in the hands of a gifted writer, and can deepen our understanding of real events and people. Andy Kutler’s THE BATTER’S BOX offers an impressive addition to World War II literature, bringing fresh attention to the adjustment struggle faced by so many returning war veterans. Kutler’s depiction of one of the more heroic small-unit engagements in US Army history is both compelling and long overdue.” — Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, President & CEO Emeritus, The National WWII Museum

I don’t host giveaways, but if you are interested in a paperback copy?
For the giveaway:
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
Direct Link: https://gleam.io/competitions/j8BQQ-the-batters-box

To read an interview with Andy Kutler: Passages to the Past.

(Review) The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

Light Over London

Publisher and Publication Date: Gallery Books. January 8, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Mystery.
Pages: 336.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers of World War II time period.

Amazon

 

 

 

Julia Kelly
About the author:
Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of books about ordinary women and their extra ordinary stories. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London. Readers can visit JuliaKellyWrites.com to learn more about all of her books and sign up for her newsletter so they never miss a new release.
Additional points of contact for Julia Kelly:
Facebook group
Twitter

Summary:
The Light Over London covers two time periods, 1941 and 2017.
In 1941, Louise Keene is age 19. She works as a bookkeeper for a grocer. She lives at home with her parents. They live in Cornwall, England. Louise is coaxed by her cousin to attend a dance. Louise meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton at the dance. He is the first young man to really notice her and they have a whirlwind romance. Louise’s mother is controlling and has already chosen Louise’s future life. Louise wants more in life than to settle.
In 2017, Cara Hargraves is a recent divorcee. She lives in Barlow, Gloucestershire, England. She works as a dealer of antiques. While sorting through antiques from an estate, Cara finds a journal from the early 1940s. Cara reads through the journal entries and begins to search for the mystery author.

My Thoughts:
I read The Light Over London in 2 days! I’m not a fan of dual time periods, because this has been done too much. I am a fan of World War II books. Adding other elements to the story: antiques, a granddaughter/grandmother bond, and a mystery to solve about the author of the journal. All of these reasons kept me glued to the book.
I think it’s fascinating Kelly weaved in to the story a common problem men and women have when they seek out a romantic partner. The attraction and involvement with a person similar to a parent. Another words, if a parent is controlling a child will often (but not always) become involved with a person who is controlling.
There is two mysteries in the book. The second mystery becomes apparent at the end of the book along with the reveal. This surprised me. I didn’t necessarily expect a happily ever after conclusion, but the ending was a surprise.
Both Cara and Louise are not strong-leap off the page type characters. They are average people who survive hard life struggles. This makes them believable. It makes the main characters easy to identify with.

(Review) Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family by Kathy McKeon

Jackie's Girl

Publisher and Publication Date: Gallery Books. 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 320
Source: Borrowed copy from granddaughter.
Rating: Good.
Audience: Readers with an interest in the Kennedy family, 1960s, and Irish immigrant.

Amazon

 

 

Summary:
In 1964, Kathy McKeon was a young woman of nineteen when she began working as a personal assistant for Jackie Kennedy. Kathy had not lived in the United States long. She was from a small village in Ireland. Jackie lived at 1040 Fifth Avenue in New York City. During the summer, Jackie and her children went to Cape Cod. McKeon worked for Jackie 13 years.

My Thoughts:
This is the first book I’ve borrowed from the bookshelf of my sixteen year old granddaughter. She’s an avid reader. We have similar tastes in books.
Jackie’s Girl is the first book I’ve read about the Kennedy’s. However, Jackie’s Girl is not a bio on the Kennedy’s, they are secondary characters in the book. Jackie’s Girl is the story of Kathy McKeon. It’s a coming of age story that is unique, because Kathy worked for Jackie Kennedy. Kathy’s perspective of Jackie is also unique. Kathy was not an American. She’s new to the American way of life in the mid 1960s. She’s new to living in a large metropolitan city.

My Thoughts:
Several things I liked about the book:
♦A unique perspective.
♦Written in a light-hearted manner.
♦Not an expose on the Kennedy family.
♦A solid introduction piece on the Kennedy’s.
♦Gave me an idea of what Jackie’s life was like.
♦A fresh look at Jackie’s personality.
♦A view of the relationship between Jackie and Aristotle Onassis.

What I didn’t like or wish had been added:
♦I still am not clear on what Kathy’s duties were for Jackie. From what I read, Kathy was to make sure Jackie didn’t run out of perfume and bath oil, and she was to entertain the children. Surely she had more to do?
♦Nothing is in-depth. Another words all the descriptions, thoughts, and perspective is minimal. I do not want to read a gossip book, but I do want to read a book that gives a strong and clear picture of the people and events.
♦The book left me wanting more, so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

(Review) High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life by Tiffany Jenkins

High Achiever
Publisher and Publication Date: Harmony. June 18, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Pages: 371.
Source: Self-purchase. Kindle edition.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: Readers who are curious about the lifestyle of a drug addict. Fans of Juggling the Jenkins/Tiffany Jenkins.

Amazon

For info on Tiffany Jenkins-Goodreads
Juggling the Jenkins
Tiffany Jenkins Live Tour (info)
Facebook

Tiffany Jenkins has a large following through Facebook (over 3 million) and her blog. She’s been able to create a large audience of fans through her blog and book.

Summary:
High Achiever begins with Jenkins being processed in jail. Later in the story all the steps that led up to the arrest and jail time is described. She was in jail 120 days and spent several months in a rehab treatment center. The last couple of chapters is life post recovery. Jenkins is the narrator, and this means she shares the thoughts behind the events. The tone of the story is light-hearted and sarcastic.

My Thoughts:
I’m glad Jenkins has been clean and sober for several years. I’m glad she has found a voice and platform to help others. I’m glad she has a successful business. But for me this book didn’t work. For some readers, they will like the light-hearted and sarcastic telling of the story. I don’t. It made it difficult for me to become invested in the story. I only felt a deep sadness.
I’m married to a man who at one time sold and used illegal drugs. I’m connected to other family members and friends who’ve lived this lifestyle. I don’t have positive memories of any of that.
What Jenkins helped me understand is the level of depravation a person will go to in order to get drugs. Things they’d never do before will now be done. The warped mind, because of drugs, doesn’t think logically or morally. The only need is to get high. In addition, people in Jenkins life used her need for drugs against her. All those in the drug abuser’s life are circling around each other (reminds me of vultures) each of them wanting something from the other.
It’s amazing Jenkins has told her painful story. I consider her brave. But the story still didn’t work for me.
I’ve read several reviews about the book, mainly on Goodreads. There have been reviewers who don’t understand the choices she made. Her brain was on drugs. How could she make solid, logical, moral choices?
What I’d like to know more about or what I wish the book had stated.
♦How did she become involved in drugs?
♦What was her childhood like?
♦What kind of relationship did she have with her parents?
♦When did her mother die and were they close?
♦I’d like to read more information about the treatment itself in a rehab center.