Category Archives: Books

Charles Spurgeon Prince of Preachers, a book review by Joel.

Christian Focus 4 Kids kindly sent me an e-book of ‘Charles Spurgeon Prince of Preachers’ which I have reviewed for them.  

Charles Spurgeon Prince of Preachers is a very well written book of historical fiction on the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, possibly one of the best preachers of all time.

Charles is a 15 year old boy on his way to church when a blizzard strikes he ends up in a small country church the stand in minister gives a very powerful message which would change Charles’ life forever. Charles grows up meeting many people, changing many lives and making history. Charles Spurgeon died in Meneton, France with gout.

I was interested to read this book because I have watched a film about Spurgeon and know a little about his life, also I have read about him in other books. I expected this book to be easy to read because I have read other trailblazer books from the series, it was indeed an easy read.

I liked the way the author wrote the book in a way that you felt you were the character and it was your life, also the author described the situations in Spurgeons life well.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to know about Charles Spurgeon and the main events in his life, though as always with historical fiction it’s good to remember you are reading a story based on the history not ‘actual’ history.

Thank you Christian Focus for giving me the opportunity to read another book in this series.

Joel Wallace (age 11)


Elizabeth Prentiss information.

Further to our ladies evening at church some further information and links about Elizabeth Prentiss.

If you missed our night last night you can read a brief biography of Elizabeth at Wikipedia.

Most of the information presented came from this book by Sharon James, More love to thee.

You can also read  her husbands biography of her The Life and letters of Elizabeth Prentiss, or on a kindle here for free.  Or a Kobo here for free.

Stepping Heavenward is available for kindle here for £0.77p and here for Kobo for free.

The other books I mentioned last night were

Aunt Jane’s Hero.

The Home at Greylock

(both of these can be downloaded free at this site).

Another book I mentioned  was How sorrow changed to sympathy.

You can also listen to some of Elizabeth Prentiss works at this link.

Hope this is helpful…..

Book Review “Aunt Jane’s Hero – by Elizabeth Prentiss

I’ve been reading a lot in relation to Elizabeth Prentiss over the past few months in preparation for our upcoming ladies study on her book “Stepping Heavenward“.  (We’ll be using this study guide).

I just finished reading another of her novels “Aunt Jane’s Hero”.  The good thing about many of Prentiss’s works is they are available for e-readers.  (Paul got a Kobo for Christmas so I think we nearly all have a book on the go on it now).  Many of her works I have looked at are free for e-readers.

Aunt Jane’s Hero is a novel telling the story of Aunt Jane and her influence in Horace’s life.  Horace isn’t actually Jane’s nephew but it turns out Jane is of such a loving character that most people call her “Aunt”.  She is a typical Titus 2 woman who you can learn much from.  Aunt Jane lovingly steers those around her to seek God’s will in all they do.  She advises and challenges mostly in areas concerning courtship and marriage.

I enjoyed reading this novel of Elizabeth Prentiss as I had only ever read “Stepping Heavenward” – certainly it does read as another “Prentiss” work and while it could be said that the heroine Maggie was beyond perfect I really appreciated many of the lessons found in the book.

I think I appreciate these novels as I find ‘modern day’ Christian Fiction too wishy washy – Elizabeth Prentiss has a gift of telling a nice story while convicting you of your sin and showing you Christ along the way.

I’m looking forward to reading more of Prentiss’s work.

What the Bible means to me.

Thanks again to Christian Focus for sending a copy of “What the Bible means to me” for review.

Due to the season and some family illness, I’ve not had a chance to complete this book,  thankfully (as is normal when a new book arrives), my husband snapped it up for a quick read.

He very kindly did this review for me……

One of the defects of the post-modern mindset that permeates our world is that tendency to individualism, that absolute commitment to a lack of absolutes. This mindset has permeated the Church too, even in its approach to the Bible. The question so often asked in the small group Bible study is that which is related (vaguely) to the title of this book, “What does this verse mean to you?”. The answers given can be many and various, and in opposition to each other. Thankfully ‘What the Bible Means to Me’ is not like that at all. The book is a collection of answers to the question “What does the Bible mean to you?”, but the answers given are not a post-modern jumble of subjectivity but a unified appreciation of the Word of God as the inspired, living, life-changing book that it is. 
At the same time as their being great unity however, there is as much variety in the responses to the question as there is in the people who have written them. There is absolute agreement on everything, yet amazing variety in the phrasing of that agreement. As the four Gospels describe the same person and work of Christ in different ways, here 40+ different people describing the same Word of God from their life perspective; variety yet unity.  This underlines the permanent applicability to us in all conditions and states of life of the Scriptures. In this excellent little book we have the responses of the seasoned mature theologian, the pastor, the housewife, the artist, the multiple sclerosis sufferer, the missionary, the author, all agreeing that in their varied circumstances the Bible has been, and is that powerful, sanctifying, vivifying, comfort-giving, guiding Word.
This book is highly recommended, it is one of those books that is hard to put down, but more importantly it is a book which will make you want to read God’s Word more. Between its covers you will find sentiments that you have felt, yet never voiced, or even logically collected in your mind. Here you will find warm reminders of Gospel truth. Here you will find encouragement to press on in daily reading, even if it is apparently fruitless. 
I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, I guess my concern was that it might be have been a mild post-modern fog. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Really, I should have known better, Catherine Mackenzie has always been a ‘safe pair of hands’ and she continues to be in the concept and editing of this little book.

Pages: 144
Trim: Large trade paperback
Isbn 13: 9781845507237
List Price: £7.99

We received a copy of this book from Christian Focus in return for a review the opinions are those of Paul Wallace.

(Paul Wallace is the Pastor of Magherafelt Reformed Baptist Church, Northern Ireland).

Grieving, Hope and Solace, (When a loved one dies in Christ) by A N Martin.

My husband attends the Pastors’ conference in Trinity Baptist church on an annual basis now.  He appreciates the fellowship with the other men as well as the excellent speakers they have every year.  It truly is a special week of the year for him.  For me, there is always the thought of a few new books coming home and this year he didn’t disappoint.

Pastor Martin is the former Pastor of Trinity  Baptist Church and I’ve appreciated his 0n-line teaching for many years.

His recent book (August 2011), published by Cruciform Press, is his first written work for the lay person and I value this book and it’s contents so much I hope and pray Pastor Martin puts pen to paper again.

In this book Martin recounts what he experienced and learned through the death of his wife, Marilyn at age 73, after nearly 50 years of marriage.  After laying his foundational perspectives Pastor Martin opens up the subject of grieving by helping us to understand the Intermediate State and therefore better understand what has happened to our loved one, then he opens up some Focal points for Biblical grieving namely:

*What Christ has gained through our loss.

*What our loved one has gained through our loss.

*The shared hope of Christians.

*God’s purposes in Us through This Death

*What we have gained.

At 116 pages this is a brief book, certainly easy to read and could also be of use in guiding our children through a grieving process.  I earnestly recommend this book to you, as my former Pastor used to say “to be forewarned, is to be forearmed”.

Grief is never an easy stage in life, but it is surely a reality in life, as Christians we have a responsibility to grieve to the Glory of God, in this book Pastor Martin has given us the Biblical basis to do just that.

Having already experienced the loss of a loved one in Christ, I believe this book has truly prepared me much more for a similar experience.

A few of the commentators have said “Whether you are a pastor or counsellor, one who is experiencing the pangs of grief, or a member of the church who wants to be useful to others, you need to read this book”.  Joseph Pipa

“Al Martin weaves together personal tenderness and biblical teaching in this sweet book of comfort.  Buy it and give it away, but make sure to get a copy for yourself, too.  We can never be too prepared for the trial of losing a loved one” Dr Joel Beeke.

(Another very helpful book on preparing your family for grief and for eternity is Homeward Bound by Ed Hartman – thoroughly recommended).

Enough – Dr Helen Roseveare

Having recently completed Dr Helen Roseveare’s  trilogy of autobiographies (Give me  this mountain, He gave us a valley & Digging Ditches), I was not only delighted to know that she had again put pen to paper but gladly received a copy of her latest book Enough from Christian Focus to review.

Enough is a thorough but  concise look at how in our every day lives, through joys and trials as Christains we need to see that indeed fullness in Christ really is enough.  An excellent read which isn’t time consuming, this work would make for an excellent gift or addition to the church book table.

Dr Roseveare illustrates again from her own experience that wether it’s our Salvation, Assurance, happiness or contentment Christ shall fill all our needs and He will be enough.  One of the most striking features of her writings is her ability to show you Christ even if she is relating her personal experience.  This gift alone (which comes across also in her teaching ministries) makes her writings Christ centred as they ought to be.

In one chapter of the book Roseveare describes how God used situations where she became reliant on others for her basic needs (after having served many years with others relying on her)  to teach her thankfulness and contentment.  While this was a hard lesson to learn she relates it as God being “so patient and kindly as he seeks to lead us on and teach us deeper truths”.

It’s brevity commends this book to the ‘non-reader’.  When I finished reading Digging Ditches I found myself wondering if Dr Roseveare would write again – Praise God she was given the ability and now in her latter years she can look back and say that Christ alone was indeed and is Enough.

Dr Helen Roseveare went to the Congo in 1953.  She has dedicated her life to serving others even in the deep trials of life.  She pioneered vital medical work in the rain forests in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is an internationally recognised speaker with WEC ministries.  She resides in Northern Ireland.

I received a copy of this book from Christian Focus in return for a review – the opinions are my own.

Book List available!

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So our next session of our Reading Roundabout starts in October.  

This year we will have 16 ladies taking part and so believe it or not it will run through until January 2010 – if we are spared.

 Does that not seem like forever away?

This is the largest number ever, which made for the largest number of books to be found.

Thanks to all those who helped out in the comments of this post, as you will see from the list your suggestions really were helpful.  If I haven’t used your suggestion this session don’t worry we’re hoping to continue with our Reading Roundabout and will therefore be glad of all recommendations in the future.

On to the business.


Books marked with  * are the ones I purchased with the RR funds this year.



The first two books are commentaries and could easily be used for devotions,

1.  String of Pearls by Richard Brooks.

2.  Shining in the Darkness by Michael Bentley.


The next few books fall into a history/biography category,

3.  Ladies of the Reformation by  J.H. Alexander  Review

4.  The Nine Day Queen of England, Lady Jane Grey by Faith Cook  Review

5.  Give me this Mountain by Dr Helen Roseveare *   Review

6.  Evidence not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose *  Review

7.  Stepping into the Shadows by Rosemary Sookhedo *   Review

Practical Christianity

8.  Instruments in the Redeemers Hands by Paul Tripp *  Review

9.  Humility: True Greatness  by C.J. Mahaney  Review

10. Growing up Christian by Karl Graustein *   Review

11. Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges   Review

12. Shopping for Time by the Mahaney’s  Review

13.  Overcoming the World by Joel Beeke  Review



14.  A Path through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot.  Review

15.  How to get the most from God’s Word by John McArthur   Review


16.  In the grip of the Druids by Beth Combe Harris


I’ll shuffle the books so we don’t get similar themes coming for months in a row.

God willing we’ll have a ladies night about the 3rd week of September to give the books out.

If you are interested in reading reviews on these books I have included some links just click on the word review beside the listing.

If any of the links aren’t working just let me know.

Happy clicking and reading.

Reading Roundabout.

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First can I just say a great big thankyou to all who took the time to comment on my request for help with next years reading roundabout books.  I really didn’t expect to get so many good recommendations and now I have more than enough ideas for the next few years 😆

If you would like to recommend any further books it may be best if you leave your details at the original post, it keeps all things together in one place for me.   Thanks. 

I will be sure to post a list of all the books here as soon as I have finalised the list and also purchased the new books.  

Ladies from church any of these you like the sound of just let me know asap, before I go ahead and buy!  Be sure to check the comments section as the majority are listed there.


Some of you have asked exactly how the reading roundabout works and so I thought I would try to make it clear in this post.

How to set up a Reading Roundabout/Reading Group in your church.

Work out how many are going to be involved. Our first year we had 12 ladies, which made for 12 books in 12 months.  That keeps it simple. 

Whatever number of readers you have, you need the same number of books, this is the most work, thinking out the various books.  I try to stick to 4 broad categories  Biography, Practical Christianity, Theology and Devotional.

Once the books have been chosen, pile the books in an order which doesn’t have books from the same category together.  

Make a Bookmark for each book listing the Months of the year on one side and the ladies names on the other.  So if you start in January just list Jan – Dec on one side but on the other move the ladies names down one on each bookmark so each lady has a different book each month.

We simply attach a plastic corner pocket into the inside cover of each book and insert the relevant bookmark in each.

The books are given out along with a list of guidelines.

Here are the guidelines we use    

For the reading roundabout to be a success please keep to the following guidelines:

Pass  your book on to the next reader on the list as close to the end of the month as possible. 

Keep the bookmark with the book at all times.  

The books all belong to either our church library or church members – please look after the books. If you finish a book  in good time – pass it on early to give the next reader some extra time with the book.

Remember if you fail to pass a book on in time it will effect everyone not just the next person on the list. 

Please be faithful to others even if you haven’t finished the book.  (Especially during holiday periods).

If you have already read the book , see it as an opportunity to review, it could only be edifying to read any of these books twice!!

Go on  treat yourself to a new notebook, after reading each book consider and take notes on the following:

Note what you found helpful about this book 

Note anything you found controversial within the book 

Note any challenges you received while reading this book  Note any other thoughts that may be helpful for future discussion 

Interact with others regarding the reading roundabout – use it as a tool for edifying conversation.

Remember it’s not a test but a means of learning more together. 

Please pray to this end.

At the end of the roundabout please return all books to Elaine.      


We don’t put any pressure on our ladies to show that they have read the books.  Not every lady reads every book but they do receive one each month and generally all are read.  The Roundabout is a tool to help others not only to read but to read a wider range of books than they may choose to read themselves.  We discuss the book during private conversation and also informally during our ladies nights at church.  It would be possible to have more formal discussions about the books but we are happy with a relaxed approach.    

Each year we ask for £2.00 for each reader towards buying new books, these along with our church library and our personal collections make up the chosen books.  The new books we buy are dontated to the church library after that session of reading is over.

I hope these simple guidelines are helpful, let me know if you decide to host a reading roundabout in your church or group.

All credit for the Reading Roundabout idea goes to a dear sister and Pastors wife in the  Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids Michigan.  (Titus 2:3).




Reading Roundabout….help!!!

** This posted has been up-dated due to more recommendations coming in and there are many more suggestions in the comments – Thanks – Keep them coming!! **


I’ve blogged plenty about our church’s Reading Roundabout.

The concept is a number of ladies, a number of months and a number of books.

The books we are reading in the current year are listed here.

It appears I’m going to have more ladies involved for the next years reading and so I’m going to need 15 books.

I’m trying to come up with some books for the next year which although doesn’t start until October, will no doubt be upon me quickly.  

I was wondering if any of you could advise me on your top few books which come into the Reformed Christian category.

This is only our third year of the Reading Roundabout and while I do use the church library and our own books we also buy a few copies each year.

The list so far which is open to change is something like this,


Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.

Overcoming the World by Joel Beeke.

The Nine Day Queen of England Lady Jane Grey by Faith Cook

Is God past his sell-by date?  by John Blanchard

A path through suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahanney


other possibilities which I won’t buy all off,  are…..

Stepping into the Shadows by Rosemary Sookhdeo  (I’m not familiar with this book but it was recommended by one of our deacons, you can read about it here).

Heaven at Home by Ginger Plowman

A Chance to die The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael  by Elisabeth Elliot

In my Father’s House by Corrie Ten Boom

Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper


So can you offer any suggestions?  I normally like a variety of Theology, Biography, Practical Christianity.   

I’d appreciate any help you can give.



(Note to our own ladies:  If you have any suggestions or own any of these books please let me know.  It really would be a pity to use our funds to buy books which are sitting on shelves 🙂  Thanks)


** updated to add **  A few suggestions came via private e-mail, I’m adding them here to keep them together.  Mrs B in Sacramento recommended Humility by CJ Mahanney.  Mrs J in GR recommended Lost in the Middle by Paul D Tripp, Free Grace and Dying love by Susannah Spurgeon and Too wise to be mistaken, too Good to be Unkind by Cathy Steere.

**updated 30th May to add,

Humility by Andrew Murray, The rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by J Burroughs (good one) and War of Worlds by Paul David Tripp were all suggested by contacts on facebook.

Mrs J in the Grand Rapids church who incidentally started the Reading Roundabout concept has suggested a few more, she has just finished Love your Muselim Neighbour by Edward Challen and also suggests God Knows My Size by Silvia Tarniceriu and also The Peacemaker books by Ken Sande.**

Any more?




Spiritual Disciplines within the church.

21k1wvrzx1l_aa115_.jpgWe’ve just finished working our way through this book in our Adult Sunday School class at Church. Donald Whitney in his book Spiritual Disciplines within the Church opens up many questions Christians may have especially in the realm of searching out a church to attend.

Some of the chapter headings include:

Why go to Church?

Why join a Church?

Why worship with the Church?

Why witness with the Church?

Why serve in the Church?

Why give to the Church?

Why attend the ordinances of the Church?

Why fellowship with the Church?

Why learn in the Church?

Why research the Church?

In a world committed to self-seeking and the thirst for individual rights, it is hard to create a genuine community based on self-sacrifice and mutual commitment – but that is just what the church must do.

Don Whitney shows how the local church can build a sense of community and turn church people from passive attendees into active participants.

I can thoroughly recommend this book to any searching for their place within a church or searching for a Biblical church to attend.