Mel’s Old Reviews

Peter —  March 1, 2010


Secret Believers, by Brother Andrew

Every Christian should read this book!  Based on several true stories, this book is a gripping novel that I found hard to put down.  With the rise of Islam in the world, Christians cannot afford to ignore this religion.  We must seek to understand Muslims and their beliefs, especially about Christianity.

This book pulls back the curtain on the Muslim world and shows what a Muslim experiences when they come to faith in Christ.  You will be shocked and also amazed at the great faith that so many Muslims have in the face of incredible persecution.  At the end of the novel part of the book, Brother Andrew gives an inspiring challenge on how to respond to the story.  This is potentially the best book I read in 2009!


Choosing to Cheat, by Andy Stanley

This book is written primarily (but not only) for men to help them learn how to balance their work and family lives.  It is short, easy to read but packed with thought-provoking points taken from the biblical story of Daniel.

Andy Stanley also addresses wives and encourages them to help their husbands face up to their family responsibilities.  I also found his comments to stay-at-home wives helpful too.  Even though I am at home with my children all day, I can still choose to prioritize household chores or other things, instead of relationships, which are the most important thing!

This is a little book but a powerful one – read it if you are a husband and read it if you are a wife (then give it to your spouse and have a discussion!).


Evidence Not Seen, by Darlene Deibler Rose

I admit that I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book.  However, I do NOT regret keeping on with it!  It is the story of a young American missionary wife who finds herself in a Japanese POW camp in Indonesia during WW2.

You will laugh and cry your way through this story of great tragedy but great faith and great miracles too. At the end of the book, I felt inspired to know and study Scripture more (Scripture sustained this lady in a beautiful way) and to really surrender all of my life to Jesus no matter what he asks me to do for Him.

If you’ve ever read and enjoyed Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, you’ll enjoy this book too.


Parenting By the Book, by John Rosemond

I saw this book on someone’s blog and had my aunt Carol check it out of the library for me.  After reading it, I knew I definitely needed to purchase a copy for myself!  I have since read another of Rosemond’s books, A Family of Value, and received a third one for Christmas, The Well Behaved Child. 

The author, John Rosemond, is a psychologist who became a Christian later in life, after he was already well known for his strong views on parenting.  His views are no-nonsense and he thinks we should be listening to “Grandma” (the older generation) rather than current advice from psychologists.  He points out that before the 1960s, when parents started listening to parenting “experts,” children were much happier and better behaved. (And parenting was not viewed as such a stressful, impossible task!)   His views are practical and based on biblical principles.  Plus, he uses a lot of humour in his writing.  I think his approaches to parenting are refreshingly simple, straight forward and they actually work when I’ve tried them.

I highly recommend Parenting by the Book for any parent, parent-to-be, and even for teachers or grandparents.


Authentic Beauty, by Leslie Ludy

I read this book quite a few years ago and recently looked for it on my bookshelf.  I must’ve loaned it out and not gotten it back, so I ordered another copy.  What a beautiful book this is!  It is written for teenage girls but it has been tremendously challenging for me, as I have read it again.

Leslie Ludy writes that every young girl dreams of a “prince” coming to love her and sweep her off her feet.  But guys don’t ever measure up to our dreams and as we become disillusioned, we often pursue love and security in all the wrong places.  Only in a relationship with our true “prince,” Jesus Christ, will we find fulfilment and unconditional love.  Every teen girl should read this book! (Note for mums: read it first to make sure your daughter is ready for it, as it contains some references to ungodly sexual experiences, etc.)

Ludy encourages girls to remain “lily-white” for their prince – to live a life of purity and deep devotion to Christ, leaving behind sin and impure relationships.  She talks about how to clean out the inner sanctuary of your heart, find forgiveness for past sins and then live a set-apart, authentically beautiful life for Christ.  My girls will be reading this book in a few years – or maybe we’ll read it all together!

(NOTE: The Ludys have also written many other books, including When God Writes Your Love Story which is wonderful.  Peter is currently reading Eric Ludy’s book Wrestling Prayer.  They also have a website: (with separate websites for girls and guys) and are starting a training program: that includes time spent serving orphans overseas.  Fantastic stuff!


Overload Syndrome, by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

Peter and I have been dipping into Overload Syndrome in the evenings over the past couple months.  It has been a great reminder of the fact that God has created us with limits!  After making the case for this idea of limits, the author deals with various aspects of our lives – activity and commitment, change and stress, debt, hurry and fatigue, possessions, work, etc. and gives ideas to help people reduce overload in these areas.  I have found it really helpful and thought-provoking.

It’s out of this book that my New Year’s Resolution was born – no hurrying in 2009!  I will write a post about this sometime.  I have also been reading another (probably more well-known) book of Swenson’s called, Margin.  It’s longer and a little less accessible than Overload Syndrome but an excellent read.  It starts by discussing the whole idea of “progress” in our society and how it actually has not helped us to advance in the areas that are truly important.  The chapter on finances alone is outstanding.  Reading either of these books would be a great way to start the year.

Both of them are full of practical ideas on how to bring simplicity and balance to overloaded lives.


Nurturing the Nations, by Darrow L. Miller with Stan Guthrie

Subtitled, “Reclaiming the Dignity of Women in Building Healthy Cultures.”  I’ll quote off the back cover . . . this book “deals with the intersection of three seemingly very different subjects: women, poverty, and worldview.”

The book is a heavier read but an outstanding study of why false beliefs about women lead to poverty in cultures.  If you want to learn more about what the Bible teaches about women, their value and their unique role, this is a great book for you!  I also have learned a lot about the suffering many women in the world face every day, simply because of their gender.  In this day and age, we can see most cultures either embracing the lie that men are superior to women or they are adopting radical feminism.

The author shows that actually, most Biblical truth (including the teaching about women) is found in the “radical middle.”  Yes, women are fully equal to men in value, but their role in society is very different from men.

Parts of the book that I haven’t got to yet . . . the Trinity as a model for male/female relationships, servanthood and submission, and a history of women in the Old and New Testaments.  Again a quote from the back cover, “Nurturing the Nations is written for anyone interested in studying the role of women in society and particularly for those concerned about poverty, such as social workers, missionaries and relief and development workers.”


The Shaping of a Christian Family, by Elizabeth Elliot

I picked this up off the shelf of a lady we were staying with a few weeks ago.  She kindly let me borrow it to take home and finish.  It is basically the story of Elizabeth’s growing up years.  Her parents were godly and loving and I learned so much from reading about how they raised her and her 5 siblings.

I skipped a little of the family history in the beginning but after that, I was really into the book all the way to the end.  I appreciated the excellent example that this family was, and still is, through the book.

Qualities about their family that stood out: orderliness, the prominence of the Bible in their home, consistent discipline, parents who lived what they taught and prayed diligently for their children.


A Charlotte Mason Education, by Catherine Levison

As I have written before, I am a big fan of Charlotte Mason and her style of education. We try to incorporate as many of her ideas into our homeschooling as we can – learning through living books, narration, copywork, music appreciation, just to name a few.

This is a very accessible book that I really enjoyed.  It has very short, but practical chapters on all of the different school subjects (math, science, copywork, etc) that combine to form a nice little homeschooling how-to manual.


Mistaken Identity, by Don and Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen and Whitney Cerak with Mark Tabb

Wow, I don’t know if you have heard about these two Christian families and their amazing true story, but this book is a great read.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but there was a terrible accident, and out of two families, only one had a surviving daughter and the title tells you the rest.

It’s of course, a really sad story but very neat to read how God can redeem tragedy and how He can bring healing and forgiveness in people’s lives.


Married for God, by Christopher Ash

This is a basic but very refreshing look at what marriage is, from God’s perspective.  The author is clear that this is not a “how-to” book but a “why” book.  He starts with the presupposition that we should care why God designed marriage, above anything else.  I think this is a great book for any married person to read, just to refresh your thinking about why marriage exists.

There’s an excellent chapter about why not to live together (either before or instead of getting married), as well as chapters on children, sex, marriage roles and faithfulness.  Oh, yes, there’s a chapter at the very end that presents the gospel for unbelievers.

I came away from reading this book feeling more motivated to serve in my marriage instead of trying to be served.  I also felt very thankful to God for creating marriage and felt even more confident that His design is the best in the changing culture that we live in.


Abram’s Daughters series (5 books), by Beverly Lewis

I got the first two in Oregon this summer and loved them.  My aunt brought me the next 3 from her library when she came in October and I read them while we were on vacation with her. (About the only time I let myself read fiction is when I’m on vacation, cause otherwise, I get too into the books don’t do anything else but read!)

I learned a lot about the Amish through these books and enjoyed the continuing love story and family drama that the author developed through the 5 books.


Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates

I spend a good chunk of my days reading to the kids.  So, I had to put a couple of kids’ books on my list!  This one made me cry at the end (always a sign of a good book!) and the girls too!  I think it’s my favorite Sonlight book we’ve read this year.  It’s about a little boy growing up with his pet lamb, Biddy and the adventures he gets into.

I loved the rich vocabulary and beautiful style of writing.  After reading this book, the girls and I decided we want to get a sheep!


Secret of the Fourth Candle, by Patricia St. John

I love everything I’ve read by this author and this book was no exception.  It’s a collection of three stories that take place in Morocco.  The author weaves together the themes of poverty, children and Christmas to create some very touching stories.  Beautiful.

We got a used copy on Amazon marketplace for 0.1 pence plus shipping.  Get a hold of a copy and tuck it away for reading aloud as a family next Christmas!

Oasis Book List: Click here.