My Review of Jim Turner’s The Disconnected Man: Breaking Down Walls and Restoring Intimacy With Him

“You’re not listening to me…do you hear what I am saying…I need you to understand my feelings…”

Common phrases spoken in many marriages, often by frustrated women who believe and feel that their husbands are not truly connected to them in a meaningful way and who are starved for attention and validation.

How do the walls come down in such a relationship? Why are the walls there in the first place?

How do wives, and families, re-connect with disconnected men?

Jim Turner, who once considered himself a disconnected man, offers both men, and the women who love them, some ways and hope that a disconnected man can meaningfully reconnect with those who love him, and whom he loves as well.

The Disconnected Man: Breaking Down Walls And Restoring Intimacy With Him (Faith Works, 2017) is an intense book which reveals the journey of a man, who considered himself faithful and loving, finding that his wife viewed him as distant and unreachable and, as a result, left him. But in the midst of the pain of the divorce, Turner began to reconnect, with God and others, and as a result offers readers, especially the wives of men, faithful and loyal, who are disconnected in relational ways, the hope and a path toward re-connection.

As I read this book, I at first had trouble grasping what Turner was trying to say. But as I continued to read, I began to think of men that I have known, who were faithful and loyal men, but were disconnected from their wives in a manner which, unfortunately, caused a separation and divorce.

Turner speaks passionately and deeply to this issue of disconnection and I believe offers, because of God’s power and ability to help, hope for wives and their husbands.

I gave this book a four-star rating on Goodreads.

Note: I received a copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.


My Review of Grant Corriveau’s Uplift: A Pilot’s Journey

Growing up around an Air Force base (my father was a civilian employee) airplanes were part of my life from the very beginning. I am still an airplane fan to this day and am always willing to spend time at any active airport which has a viewing area. I am also a flight simmer (Microsoft FSX) and have been for nearly two decades. (I am also writing this review as I listen via an aviation website to HF Oceanic traffic!)

So when I saw Grant Corriveau’s book of his experiences as an airline pilot in Canada on NetGalley, I requested a copy to read and was graciously granted that request by the publisher, CWR Press. Thank you CWR Press!

Uplift: A Pilot’s Journey is a wonderful memoir about one man’s love of aviation and his career as a pilot in now legendary aircraft which I had the privilege of flying when they were in active service – the DC-9 and the Boeing 727 (which was the first passenger jet I first flew in over 40 years ago)

Uplift is a simple but wonderful telling of the personalities and planes of one pilot’s career. It is not melodramatic narrative but it does include some stressful moments when the control of an aircraft requires a sixth sense, based on experience and an intuitive feel, is needed. It is not a ‘kiss and tell’ book but it does include Corriveau’s assessment of passengers and cockpit crew who challenged his sanity and patience at times. If you are looking for more drama in the skies, this is not the book for you. But if you, or someone you know, loves aviation, Uplift is a great book which gives a detailed but varied view of life in the cockpit of a commercial airline pilot, who loved his job.

I really enjoyed this book as it was a simply wonderful book to read abut a pilot who enjoyed flying and yet looked beyond his job and gave thought to a view that life has a spiritual dimension that we need to consider.

I gave this book a four-star review on Goodreads.

Note: I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Quick Review of Alan Jacob’s How to Think

When I saw a link a few weeks ago to an article by Austin Kleon regarding this book and having both “like hearted” and “like minded people” in your life, I had to get the book and read it.

What a great book on good thinking it turned out to be.

Jacobs makes a solid case about good thinking which challenges our comfortable and deeply held assumptions.

I am going to read this book a second time!


Note: I chose to read this book and got it through an Inter-Library Loan and offer this short review.

My Review of Abbas Amanat’s Iran: A Modern History

For a generation, the word Iran has conjured up a variety of images and thoughts here in the west some filled with hope and others of a more pejorative nature. As a college senior, this reviewer remembers the frustration, futility, and anger, of America and the West, during the events of 1979 and 1980 when the United States embassy in the capital of Tehran was overrun and the staff taken hostage for over a year.

Since then, Iran, as an Islamic Republic, has been much maligned and disregarded by the America and the West in the forty years since the fall of perhaps the last of Pahlavi Shah. It has also brought turmoil to the American political scene since the late 1970’s (the Iran-Contra scandal, aka Irangate, of the mid-1980’s for instance).

But when the opportunity to review Abbas Amanat’s new history of his native country Iran: A Modern History (2017, Yale University Press) was made available to this reviewer, I eagerly began to read it with the hopes of understand the events of 1979 and the history of the nation and people who were behind them.

I was not disappointed. What I found was the history of a proud and resilient people with a dynamic and turbulent past and present.

Amanat’s book begins in 1501 with the Safavid Dynasty and ends with an insightful analysis of why the nation of Iran has been able to exist. But there is more to this book than the historical narrative of the seven dynasties through which Iran has passed to the current Islamic Republic. This is a book in which the cultural history of Iran is also told – architecture, literature, music, and from the mid-20th century to today – film. It is also book in which the depth and tenacity of the Shia branch of Islam is shown and has been a major part, according Amanat, of Iran’s survival, thriving, and identity.

Iran: A Modern History, is a history that has depth and breadth to it. If you are a first time reader of Iranian history, this book will challenge you, as it did this reviewer, with a scholar’s, and a native son’s, understanding and analysis of Iran. But you will discover a perspective, a very long perspective, on a nation who has sat astride history of both the east, and since the 18th and 19th centuries (and before, really) the west. A position that created external tensions with Russia and England and internal tensions between the Muslim clerics, the progressive element seeking democratic forms of government, and the deeply rooted supporters of monarchy.

I really enjoyed this book. I helped me to understand the turbulent nature of contemporary Iran as well as the reasons behind much of what has happened since 1979.

It is a book that would be great for book clubs, as well as probably upper class history classes as well as graduate level history and perhaps in Christian seminaries as part of the study of Islam and the Muslim world.

I gave this book a five-star rating on Goodreads!

Note: I received a kindle copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

My Review of Natasha Crain’s Talking with Your Kids about God

Having been in ministry for over 30 years first as a youth pastor, then a youth and Christian Education pastor, and finally as the lead pastor of my present congregation, and, having raised two boys who are both attending Christian Universities, and who are making their faith in Christ their own now, I was both asked for and a seeker of books and other resources on raising kids to embrace Christ and live for Him. Now that I have read Natasha Crain’s book Talking with Your Kids About God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have (Baker Books, 2017) I will gladly recommend it to parents who are wanting to have helpful and essential conversations with their kids about the core beliefs of Christianity.

Talking with your Kids About God is as an immensely practical book in which Crain offers a process to discuss the thirty topics presented in the book:

Open the Conversation

Advance the Conversation

Apply the Conversation

and, as she notes in the introduction this book

“is designed to equip you, the adult, with the knowledge you need to have these conversations with your kids. In other words, don’t hand this book directly to your kids-it’s not written for them! This is your guide!

The five areas covered in this book are ones which kids raised in the Christian will face as they navigate through their childhood,  adolescents, and into adulthood:

The Existence of God

Science and God

The Nature of God

Believing in God

The Difference God Makes

A strength of this book, is that while Crain presents material, well rooted in the Christian faith, to assist the parent/adult in the discussion, she does so to facilitate the discussion rather that tell her audience what to say and how to say it. Such an approach respects the parent and the child and allows for discussion of (and the often times painful wrestling with) the questions and issues. And she presents the material in a fair and even-handed manner.

Talking to Your Kids About God would be a great resource for a Sunday School class for parents, from elementary through college, quite frankly, to use as a way to encourage the members to have the conversations and hear how they went. It would also be a helpful resource for undergrad and graduate courses in family ministry, educational ministry, children’s ministry, and youth ministry classes.

I liked this book and gave it a four-star rating on Goodreads.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Baker Book Bloggers in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.


My Review of Anne Bogel’s Reading People

Not long after arriving at seminary in 1983, one of my professors, as part of his modus operandi for both coursework and for the “brown bag lunch” small groups he created each year, told me to go to the seminary bookstore and buy the scoring key to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. And this was my introduction to the world of personality inventories, something that I have been fascinated with since that August 1983 introduction. Since that time I have taken, and studied, several different inventories for both personal and professional reasons. And I have engaged in discussion with those who find such tests a bore, unnecessary, and irrelevant.

So when I had the chance to read Anne Bogel’s Reading People:How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything (Baker Books, 2017),  I did so because of my own journey through the various tests and because of the discussions I have had about personality and behavior (something that Anne addresses in the book.) in light of the Christian faith.

I found Bogel’s book to be helpful and informative especially as she unpacked the “cognitive functions” of the MBTI which gave me a fresh, and very helpful,  perspective on this well-known inventory.  In fact, Bogel’s perspective, early on in the book, is a key point about determining the validity of these inventories  for ourselves when she writes of her pre-martial and early marital experiences with one regarding marital communication and conflict-resolution:

“I hadn’t been seeing myself as I actually was but as I wanted to be.”

Bogel’s experience is good advice, in this reviewer’s perspective, as one seeks to understand oneself better through the use of these popular and well-used instruments.

This book focuses on the following inventories: the MBTI, The Five Love Languages, the Clifton Strength Finder (a favorite of this reviewer), and the increasingly popular Enneagram.

And she concludes with an excellent chapter on the much discussed and debated issue of “How much can people change?” with a discussion about the differences between personality and behavior and a great piece of advice:

“Self-discovery and self-formation are lifelong processes. No one is ever going to have all the answers.”

I believe that Reading People is an excellent resource for those who use them to help people: counselors, clergy, teachers, human resource people, etc because it provides a helpful perspective on these inventories.

I liked this book and gave it four-stars on Goodreads

Note: I received a copy of this book from Baker Book Bloggers in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

My Review of Ryan Coughlin’s Right Handed Lefty

Ellis Sayre has lived quite a life when we meet in him 1983 Wisconsin. At the age of twelve he has endured a failed adoption as well as facing the possibility that his current parents may be divorcing.

Of Native American descent, Ellis is a outsider in the southwestern town of Boscobel, Wisconsin and forms a relationship with George Stigerwald a local native of Norwegian descent, and Mason Neng, of Hmong descent in the midst of the teenage angst that seems to be deeper because of their outsider status.

As they struggle to survive, especially Mason and his family, they find themselves in the fight of their lives as they witness the murder of a man at the hands of a local crime boss, whose connection runs deep in the community and…law enforcement.

Ryan Coughlin has given us a collection of characters who can, and does, draw on the sympathy of the reader, as they struggle to prove that what they saw and heard was true, though they are not believed, especially by local law enforcement.

Right Hand Lefty is a novel about overcoming the challenges of growing up not just as a teen but as a teen who is considered an outsider whose word is doubted. It is also a novel about claiming one’s heritage and living in that heritage with dignity and pride.

I really enjoyed this novel. It has characters that reminds me of SE Hinton’s The Outsiders and the current TV hit series Stranger Things. 

This novel would be a great addition to High School and College contemporary literature courses.

I rated this novel four stars on Goodreads.

Note: I received an ebook copy of this book via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.