The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

A review by Sophie Roque, Library Volunteer

The story of 12-year-old Christopher Boone is an unfolding mystery of a neighbor’s dog that soon pulls in all the biggest mysteries of his own life as well. Told from a first-person perspective, the reader gets full access to Christopher’s curious mind. Readers will be fascinated by his seemingly endless supply of obscure facts and astonishing mathematical skills. Christopher’s sharp memory also adds an amount of detail almost never seen in books, which is enhanced by the many graphics and illustrations included alongside the text.

Christopher’s narration fully displays unique way of thinking and seeing the world. While he may seem odd or eccentric, the novel endears us to him as he navigates the challenges sparked by the strange case. He must also learn to navigate the complicated relationships of the people around him in a way that he never had before. From the parts of his family life kept secret by his father, to the intricate connections he learns about in his own life, there are more mysteries in this book than the one in the title.

Christopher’s journey as a detective reveals parts of life that are messy, complex, and confusing, especially to his well-ordered and logical mind. These issues are usually the business of adults, like his patient father and various neighbors, but Christopher plunges headfirst into them as part of his investigation. The reader joins him as he gathers his courage and wit to unravel these tangled threads of life and finally set them straight.

Genre: Fiction, mystery
Content warning: Swearing, implied violence against an animal, death of an animal, vulgar reference to sex, mention of slurs against autistic people, mention of slurs against disabled people, mentions of infidelity, violence against children, mention of drugs, mention of porn Suitability for children: Suitable for older children and teens

Vintage Books div. of Random House Publishing: c2003, 226 p.
Pb., ISBN: 1-40007783-4.

The Vision of His Glory: Finding Hope Through the Revelation of Jesus Christ

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member & Contributor

If you think that the Book of Revelation has no value to today’s Christian, Anne Graham Lotz’s book will change your mind. This well-written and informative book is a practical application of the Book of Revelation to daily living. Lotz shares what she learned through her personal study of the book of Revelation – that the true meaning of the revelation of God’s glory is to bring us hope for the present as well as the future. The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation after the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a vision in the penal island of Patmos. He describes the greatest events of all human history that are now being seen on the world in which we live. Most important, St. John wrote it to give hope not only to the early church when Christians were tortured and died for Jesus Christ but also for the present and coming generations who will experience severe distress and challenges in their lives. The Book of Revelation emphasizes the authenticity of Jesus Christ. This book shows you how to have a personal encounter with God and discover the wealth of hope under five different circumstances: when you are depressed, when you are deluded, when you are discouraged, when you are distressed, and when you are defeated. It culminates with the hope that ignites our hearts, the hope for eternal life. Written as stand-alone chapters, each circumstance could also serve as a personal devotional, study guide or workbook for small groups. It is an enjoyable read because it describes the end times in understandable terms. It clearly explains some of the puzzling and complicated symbolism and numbers in the Book of Revelation and emphasizes that God’s boundless love and enduring mercy is the source of real, life-changing hope. A Devotional Guide on the Book of Revelation at the back of the book contains worksheets designed to help you communicate and develop a personal relationship with God. In the process, you may be blessed with the vision of His glory. A must reading for Christians and to those who want to learn and understand more about the end times. Highly recommended.

What You Need to Know About Healing: A Physical and Spiritual Guide

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

What do you do when you are faced with sickness and suffering? Does God continue to heal us today? How do we know God is healing us? Are special people and/or a special process necessary to heal us? Why doesn’t God heal the sick people in my church? An intriguing question on everyone’s mind is whether God continues to heal today. This book answers this question and more. Yes, God can and does heal. But not everyone is healed miraculously, even though we faithfully pray for it. Sala provides an overview of how God brings healing. He goes through the Bible, reviewing the accounts of God healing and providing Scriptures, which affirm God’s power and purpose in healing. He looks at the healing acts of Jesus and those recorded by the early church fathers. Does God heal everyone? God brings healing in different ways as part of His sovereign will to treat you as an individual. Sometimes, He brings instantaneous supernatural healing. There are times He uses the hands of skilled physicians. God may also bring healing though a combination of medical science and His grace in response to fervent prayers in faith. There are also occasions when God allows suffering. It is apparent, Sala writes, “that supernatural healing is not the way God intends to answer all our prayers to be healed.” He looks at Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” as pain, weakness and grace. The taste of His presence and goodness transforms pain to purpose. Sala calls this redemptive healing. He explains what the suffering person should do to turn pain and suffering into redemptive healing. Real life accounts of miraculous healings are found throughout the book: healings that are instantaneous, healings that have taken place over periods of time, and instances where healings, as we consider it, did not take place at all. And yet, through it all, “God was there and he was not silent” (Francis Schaeffer). Sala discusses healing as it occurred in the Old and New Testament, in the days after the New Testament, and in the modern times today. He addresses why believers are hesitant to believe God heals today. He also describes the misuse of the gift of healing. Anecdotes of the different ways God may manifest His healing in a person’s life are shared to demonstrate His sovereignty: immediate/ supernatural healing, integrative healing (healing through a physician), redemptive healing (spiritual blessing in the midst of pain) and ultimate healing (through death). God may heal through a combination of medical science and His grace in response to fervent prayer. We may not fully understand the outcomes of healing but God’s character and attributes remain unchanged, even when a man suffers pain. We are reminded that the Great Physician remains compassionate and loving to each one of us, especially when we are hurting. Highly recommended.

It’s NOT About ME

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor.

Are you wrapped up on your personal ambitions and goals such that your entire life revolves around you being number one in the workplace? That your aspiration to make a name for yourself takes precedence over spending time with God and your family? What happens when you continue to feel inadequate in spite of achieving your goal? What will you do when you realize that maintaining your goal requires more than 90% commitment to your work to the detriment of family and personal time? This book truly reflects its title, “It’s Not About Me”. If you have been wrapped up in your own struggles, read this book to remind you that God created us to bring other people back to Christ. Whatever we are going through has a purpose, which is discussed in detail in this book. This book is full of Biblical teachings which are easy to read, and provide us a fresh perspective on how to live for and be with Christ. It challenges us to model the life of Christ when we realize that we exist to live for God and not for ourselves. God plays a central role in the Bible, in our lives, in our work, and everything else. The keen insights on how to live a Christ-centered life make us more loving to others and lessen our focus on ourselves, especially on things that do not directly affect us. As we become less self-centered, God begins to play a more important role in our lives. We will no longer fear evil – indeed if God is for us, who can be against us. Joy, love, fulfillment, abundance, and holiness begin to fill our lives. This book allows us to view the Christian walk with a new perspective. Regardless of your life’s situation or circumstances, when we lay aside our personal goals and ambition and instead focus on God’s light to shine on us one day at a time, our spiritual understanding of God is strengthened. Does God love us? Behold the answer on the cross. However, since we live in a “me” centered culture, it may be difficult to accept that only God is to be honored and glorified, regardless of your life’s situation and circumstances. This book explains how the Bible (God’s Word) continues to be the single whole authoritative source for our lives. It reminds us that our life is about God and how He plans to use us for His glory. How sweet it will be to hear Jesus saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. A Study Guide found at the back of the book presents questionnaires for each of the 14 chapters. The questions are further subdivided into Beholding and Reflecting questions. Highly recommended.

Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

Does God speak to us today? How do I discern whether it is really His voice? What are the practical guidelines on how to listen to God’s voice? What if God wants to have that kind of a conversational relationship with us? What if God wants to give us guidance on specific areas of our life? This book acknowledges that God continues to speak to His people today and provides us a practical guide on how to listen and hear God’s voice. It brings clarity and Christ-centered wisdom to the matter and encourages all believers to live a life talking with God. Hearing God is about having a conversational relationship with God to seek guidance for very specific circumstances in our lives. Although the Bible is full of the wisdom of God and all the principles by which God wants us to live, the Bible cannot provide us specific answers on whom we should marry, the career to pursue, how many kids to have, and other areas where we could use guidance. This book connects many spiritual principles together. The first half of the book is mostly a defense of the idea that God continues to speak to His people. The second half of the book is a practical guide to hearing God. Why should God speak to us? Willard relates how most people find the idea of God speaking to us strange. However, when God speaks, He communicates with us. He expresses his mind, His character and his purposes. Moreover, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. The Bible is also God’s Words for us. Since we live in a world where exchange of thoughts and ideas are frequent and prevalent, it is quite easy to forget to spend time with God. Start now to talk with God until it becomes a daily habit. How do we know what we hear is not from Satan? The Bible is full of God’s wisdom that we never contradicted, even if the cultural aspects may be by-passed at times. Hearing God hopes to prove to us that we can surely count on the Holy Spirit (the still small voice) to speak to us whenever it is appropriate. It is thus important for us to cultivate a close, personal relationship with God and to rely on His divine guidance. God has given us His infallible Word, the Bible. All we need to know for life and godliness, and even how to make the most important decisions in our lives are found here. Spend time with the Bible. Highly recommended.

Prodigals and Those Who Love Them

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

Prodigals are often thought of as teenage boys when in reality, prodigals are not limited in gender, race, age, or color. Prodigals share one or two things in common: they spend money recklessly or leaves home and behaves abominably, but eventually, they repent and return home. However, some people believe that the prodigals’ uncontrolled actions do not happen in just one day nor because they don’t love us. Something happened in their lives that made them hate themselves and resort to drugs. Those who wait for the return of a loved prodigal are reassured by Bible stories, especially on God’s sovereignty, just like Bill Graham. Well known missionaries Bill and Ruth Graham raised and disciplined their children in love instead of spoiling them with bribes or gifts. And yet, when their son was a teenager, he got hooked in alcohol and drugs, eventually leaving home. Throughout this difficult period, Ruth kept on praying for him and encouraged everyone to pray with faith and thanksgiving for their wayward child. She learned to spend time worshipping God for who and what He is. She shared her heart with those who love someone who had gone astray. The mothers may not know where their prodigal children are but Ruth reassured them that God knows where they are and shall restore the prodigal child to his family at the right time. She also learned that “worship and worry cannot live in the same heart: they are mutually exclusive’’ (p.40). A mother wrote that her son has continuously been away for over 10 years now but he has never been considered a lost man by God. God knows where the son is at any moment. Another mother with a wayward child wrote that the book helped her pray with faith for her prodigal son. She never felt alone in her fear and grief. Before she finished reading the book, her prodigal son returned together with his girlfriend. This honest and down-to-earth book brings hope, encouragement and comfort to the parent with a wayward child. There is indeed a light at the end of the dark tunnel. Note: The name of Bill and Ruth Graham’s son was not mentioned in this book for his privacy and protection. In 1994, Bill Graham talked to his son about the direction of his life in 1994. Soon after, his son decided to be born again after reading the 3rd chapter of the gospel of John. He prayed for the attendees at the Republican National Conventions in 1996 and 2000. Highly Recommended.

The LEGO Principle: The Power of Connecting to God and One Another

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor.

How do you make a disciple? Connect people to God? Evangelize? Discipleship is relationship and when you approach a disciple through the lens of relationship, that is, connecting with God and connecting with one another, it will be easy. Discipleship is the core of ministry. The two most important commandments of all time are Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus made it clear to His listeners that life is all about relationships – a relationship between God and man, and a relationship with one another/fellowman. How is this related to a Lego piece? Regardless of the shape, color, or size of a Lego piece, each piece is designed to connect to one another at the top and at the bottom. Likewise, you can connect to the top with God and to the bottom with others. Thus, being a disciple and making disciples are both simultaneously possible. We all may have different personalities and yet, share something in common – the love of God and love for God. As a bonus, you will know how to find joy, fulfillment, and God’s blessings along the way. This book is neither a preachy nor an overly theological book. It is filled with engaging, real life stories from the author’s own life – including both serious and hilarious anecdotes about his three sons as well as great insights from his wife. This book reveals that “making disciples” can and should be both natural and doable as opposed to burdensome and impossible. This leaves us without an excuse for failing to make a disciple. A key point expressed by the author is that connecting to others in a crossgenerational manner is essential in discipleship. It is important that the older generation ensures that the next generation hears about the mighty acts of God, love, obey, and praise God. With his outside perspective and the Bible, the older person can help untangle some of the younger generation’s thinking about God, life, and how they fit into it. Highly recommended reading.

Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City Is the Greatest News of All

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

What are the questions being asked by churches in the face of rapid global urbanization? Why are we seeing an emphasis and a focus toward urban ministry? Is our view of cities simplistic? Will the urban generation rise up to the challenge of spreading the gospel in the cities? Will our proclamation of King Jesus serve to unite Christians? This well-written thoroughly Biblical book provides the answers to these questions and more. It highlights God’s special love for cities. It espouses that a new generation of Christians who are passionate about seeing the kingdom of God everywhere will take root and flourish. They will thrive in some of the darkest, yet most strategic places on earth. This book is divided into four parts: 1) Foundations of City Understanding, 2) God’s Heart for the City – How Cities Change, 3) Issues in City Living – Learning to Thrive in the City, and 4) Strategic Principles and Actions – Reaching the City. This book inspires the reader to be part of what God is doing in cities. It covers a wide spectrum of topics ranging from ambition and sex to ethnicity and children. All these are added together with Biblical insight and 21st century relevance. In this Gospel-centered book, Dennis combines the faithful exposition of central Biblical texts with wise pastoral guidance. His goal is to help people who love, work, serve and worship in urban communities to honor God’s redeeming purposes for the city. Is our view of the city simplistic? Is it overly positive or overly negative? Dennis helps us answer these questions with clear Biblical discussions and straightforward applications. This will encourage us to have Godly aspirations and zeal for the Gospel. In Christ + City, he calls the church not to an Exodus (out of the city) but to a Gospel -driven Eisodus (back into the city). His years of experience, knowledge of the modern city, and the writings of urban philosophers allows him to give us a book that is radically Biblical, prophetic, and visionary. This book contains the essential strategy for world evangelization as an answer to the cry of global urban Christians. They desire a radical, Gospel-centered Christianity to spread from city to city and to unreached areas beyond. Highly recommended.

Through The Eyes Of A Lion

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

Why does God allow suffering? Are tragedies and other life’s challenges inevitable part of our journey in life? Are we supposed to find meaning in tragedy and rationalize why it happened to us? Why should the godly people suffer more than anyone else? Where is God when we really need Him? Her parents called her Lenya Lion with her ferocious personality and thick, long hair like a lion. Her unexpected death five days before Christmas after an asthma attack devastated her parents. Her father, Pastor Levi Lusko, wrote this book to teach us how to look beyond the grief, how to hurt with hope, and look at the things we cannot see but will last forever. It is an amazing testimony on faith, hope and love, and how to live each day with hope because Jesus rose again. It was both a painful and cathartic experience for Levi to write about love, life, death, and God. Their faith strengthened the family, drawing them closer during the painful time after her death. The insights he gained from this tragedy will both inspire and challenge you. Ask Jesus to turn off the dark (sins) in your heart and be transformed from the inside out. The book talks about the way he handled his trials. His journey to set up a church in Montana was against the advice of his friends but he felt he would be disobedient to God if he did not preach the gospel there. Looking back, it was easy to see the fingerprints of God as He unfolded his plan to bless him and the Fresh Life Church. By seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, his church is blessed a thousand fold (Mt 6:33). This book changes old acronyms to something else for believers. For example, “Rest in Peace” or RIP over a grave takes a new meaning as “Raised in Power”. This book is not only for those who have lost a loved one but for all who have suffered some loss and are now walking without God beside them. It is also for those who feel truly happy and fulfilled in their lives to prepare them for the inevitable challenges that will come their way. Highly recommended.

Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe

A review by Daisy Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

Are you willing to suffer and live for Jesus? Would you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Are you experiencing frustration in your faith? Is your life centered on following Jesus and nothing else? Are you on fire for Jesus? Muslim converts in Africa, Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries have answered “Yes” to these questions knowing the cost to themselves and their loved ones: persecution, torture and sometimes death. They deemed it an honor to have been chosen by the Lord to spread His Word. This book relates true stories of survivors who underwent tremendous suffering for their desire and willingness to spread the Word. They endured the unendurable by clinging to Christ in the midst of their brutal persecution. Every miracle, every answered prayer, every miraculous escape, each torture session and (for some) painful death was an everyday reality for them as new Christians. Yet, they persevered and shared the gospel joyfully and prayerfully with those who had no hope within the Muslim faith. They chose faith over survival in spite of the terrifying circumstances. Persecuted believers see Jesus Christ reaching down to the hurting, the desperate, the forgotten, and all those who suffered. Jesus is also reaching down to us when we are affected by the pervasive evil in the world and when there are attacks on Christians online or in print media. Killing believers has not stopped people from believing the Gospel. Rather, killing believers has emboldened them in their walk with the Lord, accelerating the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church. May our faith in Jesus in the free world be as strong as these persecuted believers.