Into the Book

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Posts by Jasmine Ruigrok

  1. Twelve years old, a millionaire, a genius – and a criminal mastermind. However Artemis Fowl’s most dastardly plan is yet to be unleashed. After he kidnaps a fairy for ransom in order to get his hands on real fairy gold, Artemis finds out that fairies are not quite the pushovers he expected, and ends up with a challenge on his hands that transcends any plot he has ever put together.

    I was sceptical of this book, however I was pleasantly surprised by it. Far from the expected spoiled rich brat who just wants his own way in everything, Artemis is cool, smooth, clever, and doesn’t just want to please himself. His father (supposedly) perished at the hands of criminals after which they robbed him of his enormous fortune. Though not exactly out for revenge, Artemis wants to return his family fortune to its former glory – no matter the method. And this is where being twelve years old comes to his advantage.

    Young enough to believe most things, Artemis is convinced in the existence of fairies. After extensive research and globetrotting, he turns out to be correct. He locates the whereabouts of a fairy and steals the sacred book of their laws from her, with the design of kidnapping a fairy when one comes to the chosen place of renewing their powers. It is here he ends up kidnapping Holly Short, an LEPrecon officer, and that’s when all hell breaks loose below ground – the realm of fairies.

    The book is well paced, and kept me interested the whole way, which is a good thing. Reading about young criminal masterminds isn’t something that really grabs me, and good reasoning had to be foundational for me to like it. The author played the balance between guilt about what he was doing and passion for restoring his father’s legacy very well; it was subtle enough to pick up on but not in your face. I also loved the humour. Eoin Colfer’s good old Irish snark shone through with hilarious brilliance. The fairies were also incredibly well done. Most of the time when you ask someone, “think fairy”, the first image is something fluttery, twinkly and pretty. Not so in the world of Fowl. They are tough underground little people with quick wits, trim uniforms, and futuristic technology. Their high-tech weapons and flying machines makes them highly militarized, and I was impressed by the extent of their underground cities and “airports” to the surface. The world really was breathtaking.

    However it was not without flaws. I found some places to describe things a bit crudely, especially some of the underground creatures’ habits. The cast isn’t solely of humans and fairies, but a great many other mythical beings are included, and as such, aren’t all as “nice” as others. There was no bad language, however I did have a chuckle that Colfer had invented a fairy cuss word (D’arvit). That’s not something I’ve come across before, but I thought worked well in the setting.

    All in all, it was a fun read – high tech speculative fantasy has earned a win for me with Artemis Fowl. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

    ~Jasmine
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  2. What if they’d invented rock ‘n roll way back in the 19th century? What if it could take over the world and change the course of history?

    In the slums of Brummingham, the outcast gangs are making a new kind of music, with pounding rhythms and wild guitars. Astor Vance has been trained in refined classical music. But when her life plummets from riches to rags, the only way she can survive is to play the music the slum gangs want.
    A book that celebrates steampunk and music. Honestly, can it get any better?

    Having previously read Richard Harland’s Worldshaker and enjoyed it, I immediately latched onto this book when I saw it advertised at a book store. I was captivated by the title and theme, and curious as to how it could be pulled off. Steampunk and music, in a book no less? I was not disappointed. 

    When Astor, a young lady brought up in a well-to-do British home visits the powerful Swale family with her mother and step-father, she is under the impression that the intended purpose of their visit is to arrange a proposal for her to marry the youngest Swale brother. Not so. Her step-father has contracted her out of the house to become a governess to the Swale’s three bratty youngsters, and Astor is horrified that her position has been so drastically lowered. The children make her life a misery, and no amount of effort on her part can possibly make them learn, so Astor is reduced to trying to keep order whilst the young Swales make mischief out of everything. 
    The one comfort she was granted was a servant from home, however Verrol seems to be much more than he appears. After the two eavesdrop on an important political conversation between the older Swale brothers, Astor’s letter to her influential step-father warning him of the Swales traitorous dealings is intercepted and causes both Astor and Verrol to flee from the household into the dirty slums of the outer city. 
    It is here they come across “gang music” and its players, but it is nothing like the delicate harp and stringed music Astor has known. However it being their only hope for protection, Astor and Verrol join the band and before Astor realizes it, the music has captured her; and it may become the key to how they can fight back against the looming revolution.
    Though not a particularly fast moving book, this was one compelling read. My biggest concern was how well the appreciation for music would be portrayed, since the plot was so pivotal on this point. I needn’t have worried. There were so many moments throughout this amazingly fascinating story that stood out for me as a musician – the author knew exactly what he was talking about. The essence of the musical world was captured so fully, I found myself grinning with delight or laughing with the dialogue because I knew the feelings so well. 

    The whole band was as if bonded together in a single state of euphoria. When they started to speak, they all spoke at once.
     “I hit that note and just kept following it‒”
     “It was bouncing off the walls‒”
     “What about our fast version of‒”
    “How did it even manage to work?”
    “Remember that bit in‒”
    “That was you‒”
    “We were all waiting for that chord, and you kept holding it off‒”
    “The audience almost stopped breathing‒” 

     I also love the author’s recognition of the power music has. It’s not just a pretty noise, or a pointless art; music is a movement, and it can state a belief or conviction with more passion than words alone. Music is God’s gift to mankind, but like all His gifts, it can be perverted. We as Christians often need to be reminded to recognize what a powerful tool music is and be responsible stewards of it. Music can be the voice of God, or the voice of the devil.

    He stopped pacing and faced the group around the table. “It’s a power that can be used for good or used for evil. It’s our responsibility to use it for good. We choose. We can create feelings of joy and warmth, or we can create feelings of rage and revenge. It’s up to us.”

    Bang on, right there.

    The world and setting of the book is gritty and authentic; a very real, tangible depiction of what futuristic 1846 could well have looked like. The book – though not fast nor slow – moves through the story at a good pace, and the characters grow and mature over the way; not changing so fast that the facts are spat at you. The historical elements were also very believable, as were the political references.

    Content wise, there is nothing to speak of. The book is clean language wise, and although this could also be dubbed a ‘gaslight romance’, I feel that the romance is so well written that it is on a deeper level than today’s general romantic fiction. There are no kisses or anything physically romantic shared between said characters, but the heart of the matter was clearly visible. Definitely one of the more brilliant examples of romance in fiction that I have come across. This book is proof that a romance can be pure and simple, without anything physical shared or really even said. This is showing-and-not-telling at it’s best.

    In closing, I give Song of the Slums five very hearty stars out of five. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Mr. Harland’s steampunk works.

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  3. Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents’ insistence, he’s made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam. Now he has been invited to join an exclusive prep school, whilst also being followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he’s capable of – physical and mental feats that should not be impossible – and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that go way back before he was even born.

    This book was like several books thrown together – I Am Number Four, The Last Thing I Remember, and Alex Rider. Think a science fiction meets fantasy action/adventure rollercoaster. The opening chapter hits the ground running, taking off into the plot from page one. I will give it points for being a page turner, because at over 500 pages long, it’d want to be. If you like a good fast-paced story with colourful characters, clever plot twists, and mysteries that bend your mind, you can’t go wrong with this book.

    The upsides – From the very beginning, I had decided I would like this book, solely for the paragraph where Will describes his parents:

    All the kids he knew ripped their parents 24/7, but Will never piled on. For good reason: Will West had won the parent lottery. They were smart, fair, and honest, not like the phonies who preached values, then slummed like delinquents when their kids weren’t around. They cared about his feelings, always considered his point of view, but never rolled over when he tested the limits. Their rules were clear and balanced between lenient and protective, leaving him enough space to push for independence while always feeling safe.

    Pick up almost any other YA piece of fiction and you will have either A. a parentless main character, or B. an MC with parents that s/he hates. Will’s respectful and honouring relationship with his parents throughout the entire book was stellar. Add to the fact Will has a good character, courage, intelligence, humility, and super-human abilities and you have an all round awesome character in an intriguing story.

    As for the story itself, the plot is convincing; its mysteries and intricacies slowly unveil over the impressive length, yet it never lags nor gets bogged down over unnecessary details. I found it quite a pleasure to read such a long novel without getting bored with either the characters or story, or becoming annoyed by bad writing. The action scenes are believable, as are the chase scenes. One other big plus for me was the humour – honestly, this book cracked me up. I was laughing out loud to the point of tears at one stage, especially after my two brothers read it and we could quote pieces to each other’s amusement.

    “Amazeballs,” said Nick, astonished. “You know what this means, don’t you?”
    “No,” said Will.
    “The Village People are getting back together,” said Nick.
    “Apparently at a Renaissance fair,” said Ajay.

    Another bonus that the author included in amongst the story was “Dad’s rules”. Will’s Dad kept a list of rules and lived by them, and some of them reminded me a lot of the book of Proverbs. Some were funny, some were practical, and a lot of them held a goodly amount of wisdom. Every time one of the rules would come into play in specific situations, he would quote the rule. A few examples: Don’t confuse good luck with a good plan. Be quick, but don’t hurry. When everything goes wrong, treat disaster as a way to wake up. There are plenty more good insights to be find throughout the whole book.

    Now you might have noticed I have sort of avoided an actual summary of the main plot so far. Coming at it from a theological standpoint, it is definitely an interesting and pondersome one. After Will’s life is thrown into jeopardy, his “guardian angel” comes to him and tells Will that he is in the middle of a war between different worlds. Turns out, before humans walked the earth, there was a big mess of evil critters and creatures that Will’s guardian Dave and his gang had to remove because they were too wicked, confining them to a place in space called the “Never-Was” (does this backstory sound somewhat familiar?). Will has frequent encounters with these “fuzzies” (Dave’s pet name for them) and they aren’t very pretty characters. I believe they are loosely based on creatures from Greek myths, or other related fantasy beings. Depending on where your convictions lie, reading about creepy evil creatures that border on disturbing in certain scenes may not be your cup of tea. However they are clearly depicted as the “bad guys”, such is often the case in fantasy battles between good and evil. Theologically, normal books like this with so many fantasy elements either exclude God, or have a fantasy/sci-fi substitute for Him. However it is interesting to see that the plot of this book does not exclude God, nor has an equal fantasy counterpart for Him. When Will questions whether or not Dave’s realm is governed by God, Dave laughs and says “that one’s a thousand orders of magnitude removed from us”. It’s as though Dave’s realm comes somewhere under God’s, and they have been given the task of keeping the universe in order. It’s an interesting concept, not one I’ve seen before, but I think it was well executed.

    The one other downside to this book is the language. Though there are no uses of extreme profanity, there is a liberal amount of PG13+ swearing throughout the entire read. I personally did not have that big an issue with it, however it was definitely substantial enough to warrant a very obvious mention.

    On the whole, despite the language and creepy crawlies, I do recommend this read. The book ends tidily enough with a great set up for the sequel, and I am definitely looking forward to reading it. It’s a fun and thrilling read that I think I’ll definitely want to read more than once.


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  4. Following Jesus is more complex and challenging than anybody expects when they start out on the journey. It’s not just attending church, reading your Bible and minding your Ps and Qs; it is an adventure filled with wonder and difficulty, with unlearning and relearning. Rick Bundschuh shares in this book what he has discovered about shuffling after Jesus, and invites readers to wrestle, grieve, re-evaluate, redirect, focus, contemplate, be still and get real about living the life of a disciple. Rick’s “extremely profound thoughts” written in the form of story-like musings, are a contemplative look at the Christian way of life that warmly invites the reader to stride, stumble, shuffle or crawl in the footsteps of Jesus.

    I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book. More often than not, books written by pastors are generally very practical and instructive. And this is often necessary, since we frequently need good solid teaching on doctrine. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that, instead of teaching the reader, Rick Bundschuh instead relates what he himself has learned over the course of his Christian life. It was refreshing to read a book that was a peek inside someone’s heart, to be able to relate to so many different musings, and be encouraged by the lessons learnt by another. If you’re looking for some deep and solidly theological teaching though, you won’t find it in this book.

    Each chapter of the book covers some lesson the author has learnt, but they are written like short stories, rather than a book-long biography. Anecdotes and experiences fill the book with the essence of a scrapbook; snapshots of the writer’s life with a Biblical moral of the story as each one’s conclusion. The concept of how often we are reluctant to follow Jesus is explored throughout, and I love the encouragement that even though we have our days where we are only crawling towards the finish line, any forward motion is progress. Rick is quite a history buff, so he has woven in different facets of history and how they can be applied to the Christian walk (many Christians wear a metaphorical hair shirt, for example. Definitely one of the best chapters in the book).

    The span of topics covered are wide and varied. Whether it’s dealing with the annoying guy you work with, money and worth (the $3,000 handbag), holiness, loving your neighbour or prayer, it seems like you are seeing each lesson through the eyes of the learner, without feeling you are being taught. Plus, the author is a full on surfie that is big on practicality and does not have the air of an office writer, so the style is laid back and easy to read yet at the same time, full of clarity.

    All good points aside however, I would not suggest this book for younger readers. Content wise, there is one chapter solely based on his experience in dealing with homosexuals, and the difficulties he had having to work in such an alien environment. There are also several references to other maturer topics scattered throughout it, mostly in context with Bible stories. There are no crudely unnecessary or irreverent references, however I thought it would pay to mention.

    In conclusion, would this book change your life? Probably not. It doesn’t teach or preach, and doesn’t give heavy-handed advice or instruction on doctrinal matters. Would it change your thinking? I believe so. Sometimes looking into the heart and mind of another who has walked the same road as you can leave you refreshed, challenged, and encouraged simply by being able to relate to the person’s experiences. It’s a rare book where you can learn a lot from an author who isn’t out to teach you anything.


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  5. It begins with a book, the most boring book in the world, a book so boring no one could ever read it—the perfect place to hide a dangerous secret.

    That was enough to get me interested. A book so boring that no one could read it, a secret so powerful it could change the course of history, and a young man with a memory that never forgets. A combination like that could only ever be awesome.

    When a river floods and threatens the edge of town, best friends Luke and Tommy both volunteer to move books from the basement of their library to higher ground. During the crisis, they happen to discover the only surviving copy of the world’s most boring book: Leonardo’s River. Luke has an uncanny ability to remember everything he sees; his photographic memory constantly awes his friend Tommy. Since they had both been sentenced to research boring books as punishment for a school prank, Luke remembers where he has seen the cover of this book; he knows that it is the one that has been missing for over a hundred years, and the stakes are high for whoever finds it.

    With dollar signs in their eyes, Luke and Tommy brave the rising flood waters to return to the library and steal the book. However it doesn’t take long for them to realize that they weren’t the only ones who had this plan. On their quest, they accidentally stumble into a secret society that goes farther back in time than they could ever have imagined, and the most boring book in the world happens to hide a secret so amazing, so terrifying, that it could change their lives forever – and Luke’s impeccable memory holds the key.

    This book was gripping. It sucks you into the intrigue with the first chapter, and the first sentence captures so much more than what you first realize. It is an art of foreshadowing.

    This is not the most boring book in the world. This is a book about the most boring book in the world, which is a different book altogether. 

     It opens curiously enough, then progresses into the story; slowly but steadily peeling back each layer of the mystery, which keeps you eager to discover the outcome. Luke and Tommy are fun characters, and as the author is a New Zealander, he often throws in little quirks and references to his homeland in his character, Luke. His humour and accent often make appearances throughout the story, and as an Australian, I can appreciate the real sense of our neighboring country’s culture. Also another plus is the fact that so much history can be gleaned from the book, as the boys need to learn certain things from history in order to save the world.

    As for cautions, there may be some infrequent very mild language. Towards the end of the book there is some violence, do to the war setting the turn of events brings the characters to, however there is nothing overly graphic or disturbing. None of this detracts from the story at all. [mild spoiler] A pro to it would have to be the unique spin on time travel. There are many ways this topic is handled, but this one would have to be my favourite. It is new, refreshing, and fun to read. It definitely got my creative juices flowing and took me a while to stop pondering it when I finished. [/spoiler] Also, if you’re a fan of tidy epic endings, this book is definitely one you would want to read.

    So if you’re looking for an adventurous, witty, humorous, action-packed, explosion-riddled, fun read, you’ve found it. I give this book five stars out of five. Plus one.


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  6. Those extraordinary little events in your life happen for a reason. A coincidence – sometimes a silly little thing – changes the course of your day, or even your life. Is it chance, is it luck, or is God communicating with you? This book is filled with true stories demonstrating that God does communicate with us, making incredible things happen in our lives every single day. Through these tangible signposts from God, we receive personalized messages that reassure us, stop us from worrying, chart our path in life, and help us keep the faith.

    I love this book. Plain and simple. If I would have to name any book to get someone out of the doldrums; a book that would uplift and inspire someone, it would be this one. Sometimes there is nothing better to impact a person than a true account of the Lord’s goodness. It is a tangible proof that our Almighty God cares about us when He let’s us know through another’s life.

    So what’s with the title? I love how the author explains it –

    Every time you receive what some call a coincidence or an answered prayer, it’s a direct and personal message of reassurance from God to you – what I call a godwink. It’s similar to when you were a kid sitting at the dining room table. You looked up and saw someone you loved looking back. Mom or Dad or Granddad. They gave you a little wink. You had a nice feeling from that small silent communication. What did it mean? Probably – “Hey kid… I’m thinking about you right this moment. I’m proud of you. Everything is going to be all right.” That’s what a godwink is. Every so-called coincidence or answered prayer is God’s way of giving you His small, silent communication. A little wink saying – “Hey kid! I’m thinking of you… right now!”

    The subtitle may sound a little sketchy at first glance – How God speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence. It sounds like it could be a little spooky, a little “lining up the stars” sounding, however it isn’t at all. The author wishes to draw our attention to the smallest of blessings in life that we often palm off as a mere coincidence, or pure happen-stance. A phonecall from someone we had just been talking about, a note from an old friend when you recently thought of a shared memory, an unexpected gift, money at the right time; the stories begin so simply, yet they unfold into something that clearly demonstrates God’s loving hand.

    SQuire Rushnell writes this book in such a charming way. Filled with a warm familiarity in amongst the many real-life stories from countless people, he shares his own moments where God has “winked” at him. His confusions, disappointments and joys have such a personable feel to them that you identify with him as though you would with a good friend. It’s this type of feel the book comes with that sucks you in so quickly. Since I ended up sitting on the floor of a library corridor for fifteen minutes reading it after picking it at random, I can say from first hand experience, it is hard to put down.

    Though this book could easily have compiled all these amazing little stories at random, one thing I liked about it is that they have been categorized to chapters for what you need when you need it: hope & reassurance, comfort, prayer, family, and others make it a good encourager for whatever phase you are going through. Scattered throughout them are Scriptures and quotes that correspond with each story. You might find God speaking to you through one of them here!

    On the whole, this book is a clean, encouraging, inspiring read and I cannot think of anything negative to comment about it. It is one of those books that you keep on your coffee table to peek at whenever you get the chance, just to make you smile and feel God’s presence. It makes a great gift, and if I could, I’d buy a copy for everyone I knew. What more can I say about it? It’s a rare gem that I hope many more people discover and read.


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  7. Is the real you getting lost because the fake you is just so annoyingly impressive?

    Why do we fake it so much? Why do we spend so much time trying to please everyone else and make so little effort trying to please God? When Craig Groeschel asked himself those questions, he couldn’t come up with a good answer. So one day he decided to drop the act and start getting real. With that one choice, his life began to change in a big way. Yours can, too.

    Call it what you will: a pose, a mask, another someone else, either way – most of us have a multiple personality disorder where we have another “perfect us” to present to the world. You know who it is: the one who says the right things in the right company, acts in the most acceptable way, and does all the right things at the right time. Pastor Craig Groeschel knew this other self all too well, and after being convicted by God, he came to the point where he said “no more” to the pose, and said so in front of his whole congregation. What an act of courage to step out in faith and declare who you really are, no more deception, no more lies! The best part is, this book is like your how-to guide on doing the same thing. Are you finished with pretending? Had enough of being who you aren’t? Then read on.

    Craig does not mince his words about what a lot of Christians think deep inside but are afraid to say. He hits these common guilt-laced confessions head on with a chapter for each one: I had been living a lie, I can’t stand a lot of Christians, I have to work hard to stay sexually pure, most of the time I feel incredibly lonely, I hate prayer meetings, I worry almost all the time, sometimes I doubt God, I feel completely inadequate, I stink at handling criticism, I’m afraid of failure. Any of those sound familiar?

    Craig is bluntly up front and honest with each of his confessions, and how he struggled in each area. Believe me, this guy is a real person who has experienced the difficulty of every single one of these points. So much so, I would only recommend this book for those 18 and up because of his openness about his pre-salvation life covered in the third chapter. (younger readers would still benefit from the book if they skipped that one) He addresses all of those secret doubts that flit through your mind, worries, annoyances, anxieties, and tells you how he experienced them all. He says things with such a brutal honesty that, at times, I felt my hair stand on end at some of his outrageous opinions. (especially in the I can’t stand a lot of Christians chapter) But I love that the structure of every chapter followed a framework of – describing exactly how he felt about each issue, how God can change you, and how he became after God changed him. There is such an immense feeling of encouragement and hope found in hearing someone explain exactly how you feel, and then tell you how they overcame it.

    The book is well written with an easygoing air about it. As though you are sitting down to a good chat with Pastor Groeschel, he doesn’t constrain his opinion to people-please, and includes often hilarious anecdotes about his experiences behind the mask. You feel his pain every time he tells about his failures, but you can’t help but admire the courage it took to say. You laugh because you understand his humanness, and you smile because he tells you it’s okay, and how you can do better.

    This book is a risk, Craig says. But it is a risk that pays off far more than you could imagine. The freedom of living for God the way He created you without conforming to the chains of the world’s expectations is a liberty like no other. In his words:

    The more honest I have become with God, myself, and His people, the richer and deeper my relationships have grown. Before, I was always afraid of being found out. I lived in constant fear of exposure – but not anymore. I overcame my fear because I took a chance. And I’ll continue to take obedient, truthful chances. 

    Who wouldn’t want that fullness of life? From someone who knows what it is like to live behind a wall of fake personalities, I challenge you along with Groeschel: dare to walk on the wild side, and live life as you. After all, who better to be you, than you?

    I confess that what I wanted most to happen when I wrote this book was that you, too, would join me in taking the risk: to drop the pose, choose honesty, and get real with God as a way of life.

    Be honest with yourself. Are you tired of pretending? Living to please others? Acting a part? Doing everything to cover up who you really are? Stop hiding.

    Be who God called you to be. Live for an audience of ONE. 


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  8. Normal people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Many of their relationships are, at best, strained and, in most cases, just surviving. Even though we live in one of the most prosperous places on earth, normal is still living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead. In our love-starved world, lust, guilt, and shame are far more common than purity and a healthy married life. And when it comes to God, the majority believe in him, but the teachings of scripture rarely make it into their everyday lives. Simply put, normal isn’t working. Groeschel’s Weird views will help you break free from the norm to lead a radically abnormal (and endlessly more fulfilling) life.

    If you pick up this book, hang onto your hat, because it’s quite a ride. Craig Groeschel does not mince his words when he says that a “normal” life is a lousy one to live. You may look at your own life objectively and believe that you live a pretty abnormal life, however this book still showed up areas in my life where I lacked a certain “weirdness”. It’s so easy to be normal; so easy to “fake it till you make it” – live your life on the outside like it’s a dream with it’s normal little hiccups, when on the inside it’s really dying and you are asking yourself, “What is wrong with me?” Well, normal just isn’t working.

    In this book, Pastor Groeschel hits five key parts of every day life head on. Time, money, and relationships being just the tip of the iceberg; each chapter hits all the ouch points like a hammer blow (Especially in the Time chapter for me). To summarize quite simply, living a Godly life is not one that is meant to blend in.  In every single area of our lives from people to possessions, we should be radically… well, weird. It should be noticeable. Obvious, even. It’s this kind of epic God-weirdness that makes people ask, “What is it you’ve got that I haven’t?” Because as much as everyone strives to feel normal, behind the façade they wonder why everything feels fake. With stark practicality, Craig Groeschel gives you blinding insight into how you can avoid the normal in all areas of your life and take being weird to a whole new level. Awesomely enough, this book is not just directed at a single age group. Craig has masterfully constructed this helpful guide with chapters that pertain to both the youth and the adults, the married and unmarried of the world, so that any and everyone can gain useful insight from it to apply to their lives.

    All the way through the book, even though Groeschel is constantly stating the rights and wrongs of things, you don’t feel preached at. The author has lived everything he has learned, and has learned much of it the hard way. Craig’s imperfections are apparent in his writing, and he doesn’t hide the fact he has failed as often as the next person. The questions he asked himself as a young adult reveal what so many people are asking themselves today:

    For years I’d asked the questions normal people ask: Why won’t the head cheerleader go out with me? What class should I take? Should I change my major? Am I popular enough? Good enough? Successful enough? Can I get a good-enough education to land a good job and afford a good house and marry a good woman and have good kids, all so I can… what? Be normal?

    With a sometimes snarky, upbeat and genuine flavour of writing, Craig makes this book so easy to read. Even though he’s weird, he’s still human. Yet however much I love his practical advice and candidacy in most of the book, his blunt approach to the more adult topics in the “Sex” chapters I found a bit disturbing in places. Be forewarned, when I said he doesn’t mince his words, he doesn’t mince his words. His bluntness in covering issues in this area of life is almost cringeworthy in places – to the degree I had a bit of trouble picking the book back up again after I finished that section – and for this reason I would not recommend this book to anyone younger at 18, at the very least. Though this part contains a lot of sound Scriptural advice, I do believe it could have been put across with a little more discretion, which is my only blight on the otherwise brilliant read.

    In closing, I do highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to live a deeper, richer and more meaningful life, simply in the “normalcy” of everyday living. You will walk away inspired and uplifted, challenged and renewed. You will want to be weird; you will desire to carry God’s presence like a beacon, not hiding it under the veil of a normal life. In the words of Craig himself:

    If you let Him, if you choose not to coast along the world’s wide-open road but rather to blaze a narrow trail with Jesus as your guide, then you’ll never settle for normal again. You’ll want only one thing. The God kind of weird.


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  9.  ‘Dance like there’s no one watching,’ goes a line in Chris Tomlin’s song by the same book’s title.

    The Bible clearly shows that we have been uniquely created for a purposeful life, but it’s not meant to be about us, or our career, or our fame. It’s all about God, and His glory. That’s the purpose of Chris Tomlin’s first book—to get you to think of yourself as one of God’s fame builders. You and I are formed from the dust of His creation and given breath for this reason: to spread His renown to everyone we meet by what we say and do.

    It’s the way we were made.

    I bought this little book on a whim during my last trip to Koorong. I was looking for some insight into what the Bible says about praise and worship music in church, and since I was running out of time in the store, I saw this book had “Chris Tomlin” on the front of it so I snatched it off the shelf at the last minute. It did have a lot of insight into the world of music, yes. But wow, was I surprised by all the other gems this small book had to share!

    Chris Tomlin shares his God-journey in such a candid, thoughtful way. He covers so many different areas of Christian living such as ways to worship, ways to think when all things seem lost, reminders of God’s provision and plan for us, thoughts to build your faith, many inspiring and funny anecdotes from his childhood, and words of wisdom to encourage you on your journey. He tells a lot of the background stories to some of the songs he has written, and the way God shaped each song. If anyone is a fan of Chris Tomlin’s music, I would suggest this book to you for this point alone, as it gives his music a much greater depth and feel.

    The chapters on worship leading and music in the church I found very insightful. I was impressed by the fact Chris used so much Biblical evidence for his stance, and he explained it in a well studied and yet concise manner that made it a joy to read. Anyone with any interest in church music and/or worship leading would get a lot out of reading even just these chapters.

    But the biggest thing that sold me out on this book? Though it is only small, it points to God in the greatest way. It seemed all the way through this tiny little book I was peeking through the smallest window and catching a real glimpse of our biggest, awesomest God. Reading this book so encouraged me to see how awesome our God is, and that He has amazing plans in store for me even though I can’t yet see. Chris’ purpose for writing this book certainly says it all:

    I want to encourage you along your journey. I want to help you discover more about what God has uniquely made you to do and enjoy. And I’ve got a story or two that I hope will throw some light on the road you’re travelling…

     This book has definitely made it to the top of my list of Christian living handbooks. In a few words, uplifting, inspiring, encouraging, and motivating. You won’t be disappointed if you pick this book up. I give it a hearty five stars out of five!


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  10. To all you young adults, have you ever thought about how your life will look when you turn forty? It’s a long way off, and it is hard to get your mind around the idea of being that age, let alone what you might be doing and how you may be living then. But it’s not that far away. Forty is just around the corner, and if you want to know how to wake up with a fantastic life on that birthday, this book is for you!

    How to Ruin Your Life by 40 is a straight up-and-down, no nonsense and compact guide to the Christian race for those who are just standing on the starting line. It addresses the fact that for the first twenty years of your life, your parents made the major decisions for you. However from twenty years old and onwards, you’ll be making the decisions – and they are big ones. Steve Farrar goes deep into all the details of the biggest questions you will face: Who will you marry, what kind of job will you have, how can you know God’s will for your life, how do you handle doubt and temptation, what is your life’s purpose, what if you blow it, and other important questions that concern your life in Christ. The goal of the book is to open its readers’ eyes to the future. Many who begin strong with God in their twenties have fallen before the finish line. This book is a wake-up call by showing you exactly how you can ruin your life by forty.

    I found this a compellingly impacting read. It is blunt, and definitely not for the faint-hearted. It will challenge you. It will shock you. It will inspire you and encourage you to rise to the challenge of finishing strong. The statistics of how many people begin strong and yet fail the race by the time they reach forty is definitely a strong wake-up call to stick with our Saviour closer and closer over the course of your life. It includes basic and strong advice for living every day, and for discovering God’s will and destiny for you. It is chock full of wisdom from an author who has seen many walks of life, and does not disguise the facts. I would recommend that everyone twenty years and up read it.

    It does however cover a couple of topics that, though true, go a fair bit in depth in regard to the wrong side of the scale. It contains a goodly amount of adult content, mostly found in the “Whom Shall I Marry” chapters. There are many things a single young adult should avoid in this world where immorality is flaunted and extolled, and Farrar does not mince his words on some of the things you should definitely avoid both in the world and in romantic relationships. These few chapters and their contents is what causes me not to recommend it for anyone under the age of eighteen.

    On the whole, I would highly recommend this book to all young adults on the brink of adulthood, with a caution for the marriage chapters to anyone younger. If you read this book, prepare to be challenged! The age of forty is a long way down the road, but it is coming up fast. How do you want your life to look when you get there?


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