100 Word Book Reviews: June 2020

Sanderson, Brandon. The Hero of Ages, Tor Books: New York, 2008. 760 pages.

A:. In a world of mist and ash, metals grant power. After the events at the Well of Ascension, Vin has unleashed a power that may lead to the end of the world. Vin and Elend race against the falling ash to discover in search of salvation. Even if they find it, will there be a world left to save? Sanderson presents a gripping story while inviting us to explore questions of tyranny and government, love and sacrifice, and just what it means to be human. Hero of Ages is a fitting, twist-filled end to the Mistborn trilogy. 

Sanderson, Brandon. The Alloy of Law, Tor Books: New York, 2011. 332 pages.

A-: Hundreds of years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Waxillium Ladrian has been called back from the capital after the death of his uncle. After twenty years hunting criminals as a lawman in the outskirts of the empire, Wax must rehabilitate his family’s reputation and financial situation. However, Wax, his sidekick Wayne, and the awe-struck Merasi are quickly sucked into a kidnapping conspiracy at the capital that will bring back old friends and enemies alike. Full of epic action and clever humor, The Alloy of Law is a worthwhile addition to the Mistborn universe. 

Sanderson, Brandon. Words of Radiance, Tor Books: New York, 2014. 1087 pages.

A: When a sword is broken, the metal can be reforged. Can the same be said for a man? A woman? In the second book of the Stormlight Archive, Sanderson shows us heroes born of suffering. A countdown scrawled on the wall by an unknown hand tells of an impending cataclysm. Dalinar, past bathed in blood and division, now seeks to unite instead of conquer. Shallan, whose past is one of truths buried beneath lies, seeks to uncover the truth of the past to save the future. Kaladin, constantly betrayed and beaten down, must now protect even those he hates. 

Hyatt, Michael. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 2019. 250 pages.

B+: Almost all of us have succumb to the myth that to get more done we simply need to work longer and harder. However, the secret is not to work more hours, but to work with more focus. Hyatt presents a three stage system to help increase focus on the right things so that we can move forward at work and still be committed to the most important relationships in our lives: Stop, Cut, Act. By stopping to get clear on our goals, then cutting out distractions, we will be free to do the important work that connects with our passion. 

Smith, James K. A. On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts, Brazos Press: Grand Rapids, MI, 2019. 256 pages.

A+: Every page pricked another hole in me. In college, I had examined postmodernism and found the bankruptcy of its answer, but Smith caused me to revisit the force of postmodernism’s very ancient questions. Taking Augustine as a traveling companion, Smith explores the saint’s life and work as an invitation to consider the deep questions of our own existence and all the places we look for love, identity, justice, and more. We say ‘the road is life’ because we fear there is no home left for us. What if, instead, there was a loving Father standing on road welcoming us home? 

Sanderson, Brandon. Shadows of Self, Tor Books: New York, 2015. 385 pages.

B+: If you spend your whole life wearing the faces of others, what is your true face? Can any face ever become your own? In these continuing adventures of Wax and Wayne, the detective duo are tasked with protecting the mayor of Elendil from a deranged assassin. When a kandra, one of the faceless immortals who can mimic the appearance of others, loses her sanity, Wax must discover just how deep her plot goes before it is too late. Shadows of Self combines mystery, humor, and subtle social commentary with a surprising twist that changes how you see the whole series. 

DeGroat, Chuck. When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse, Intervarsity Press: Downer’s Grove, IL, 2020. 192 pages.

A-: For most of us, the descriptions in this book will feel all too familiar. The bite of narcissism is vicious, deep, and sadly all too common in the church. DeGroat highlights the various faces narcissism wears and the wounds it inflicts in the church. Though it may look different, all these forms stem from a similar, underlying desire to protect oneself and to disconnect from others. Hauntingly, this desire to protect and disconnect can live in each of us. Demonstrating compassion without excusing narcissistic behavior, DeGroat opens up a pathway for healing for the victims and even the narcissist himself.

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