A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis by Devin Brown

Reporting this review because the kindle version is in sale for $2.99

A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis by by Devin BrownTakeaway: Lewis really was a gift to the church as a whole.

This year is the 50th anniversary of CS Lewis’ death.  So there have been several new books on Lewis.  Alister McGrath’s new biography was excellent.  But there were two places where I wanted more from McGrath.  One was more about Lewis’ relationship with his two stepsons (Douglas Gresham introduces the book).  The other was more about Lewis’ spiritual development, the focus of this book.

The format of the book is to use a rough outline of Lewis’ two most biographical books, Surprised by Joy and A Grief Observed. Lewis wrote Surprised by joy as a spiritual autobiography.  But it only goes through Lewis conversion to Christianity.  He lived another 32 years after that.  And A Grief Observed is his raw journals after the death of his wife near the very end of his life.

The middle of his life, in between his conversion and his marriage to Joy is really what I wanted most.  There is the chapter on the Inklings, Lewis and Tolkien’s literary club and circle of friends.  And Brown talks about Lewis’ commitment to his local church, not the university church.  In passing, it is mentioned that Lewis had a single spiritual director throughout his life, but only in passing.

Brown resists moving beyond what Lewis actually says about himself.  And mostly I appreciate that.  But it leaves large gaps in the story.  Because Lewis did not write a lot about his Christian life, Brown does not write a lot about his Christian life.

5 Free Christian Kindle Books – April 20

Soul Tattoo: A Life and Spirit Bearing the Marks of God by Samuel Kee

242 pages, 6 of 6 reviews are 4 or 5-star

You may not have a single tattoo on your body—or you may have run out of space for new ones. Either way, God offers something far more permanent than ink on skin. In Isaiah 43, God declares eternal promises of His love … four tattoos for your soul:

  • You Are Mine
  • I Will Be With You
  • I Love You
  • I Created You for My Glory

Engraved by the hand of the Master, these soul tattoos will never fade.

Christianish: What If We’re Not Really Following Jesus at All by Mark Steele

289 pages, 63 of 75 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Previously Free

It may feel like authentic faith. It may even look like the real deal. Yet it’s often easy to settle for the souvenir t-shirt—the appearance of a transformed heart—instead of taking the actual trip through true life-change. We find ourselves settling for a personal faith that’s been polluted by culture, and diluted by other people’s take on spirituality.

Amazon Fire HD 6 Initial Review

The HD 7 (internally the same machine) is on sale today only for $79 for the 8 GB or $99 for the 16 GB (configure the size in the checkout page). That is a very good price, but it is still a weak machine. If you are considering I would recommend the 16 GB.

Note: after several months, I really cannot recommend this tablet. It crashes almost daily. The storage amount is so small it is almost unusable because I can only keep about 6 to 8 apps loaded at a time. And it is frustrating that Amazon blocks the standard Google App store (I know you can get around it, but I should not need to do that). So good apps like the Kids YouTube app are not accessible. If I had it to do over again, I would buy an iPad mini, even an older refurbished version would be better than this. If I only used it for Scribd or video streaming, which still works fine, I would probably be happy.

However, if I had the option to return for a full refund at this point, I would.


Original Review

Summary: If your expectations are not an iPad, this is an acceptable tablet, especially when you find it on sale.

A couple weeks ago when the Amazon Fire HD 6 (Kids Edition) was on sale for $119 I picked one up.

I had a couple of use cases that I was interested in. Primarily, I wanted to use it for myself with Scribd (review) for audio and ebooks. But I also was interested in the Kids Edition because I have a one year old. (And frequently visiting nieces that are 6 and 7).

After almost 2 week’s use, I am mixed on the Tablet as a whole, but less negative about it than I was initially.


I really like the size. It is roughly the size of my Kindle Paperwhite, and fairly light. My 13 month old daughter has no problem at all carrying it around. The case that comes with the Kids Edition seems like it is a bit cheap but it really is really protective. It is made of foam and stands up to the one year old frequently throwing it on the floor. And because the Kids Edition includes 2 years of accidental damage warranty, I really don’t have to worry about it. The cases only come in Green, Pink or Blue, the Fire HD 6 Kids Edition itself only comes in Black (the standard HD 6 comes in Black, White, Pink, Blue and Green). The one negative of the cover is that it can get a little warm if used for a long time.

The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate by John Walton

Summary: An extension of Walton’s earlier work to Genesis 2 and 3.

I wish I could say everything that is important is also interesting. But I cannot. There are a ton of interesting books that have no importance whatsoever. And there are also a ton of important books that are as dull as dirt.

John Walton is doing important work. In his earlier book The Lost World of Genesis 1, Walton laid out a case for the creation story being focused not on physical creation (the how) but on functional creation (the why). But possibly even more important, he made a case for Genesis 1 being primarily concerned with the creation story being actually about the dedication of the earth as a temple to God, and the placement of us humans as God’s priests in that temple.

The main weakness of that earlier book is that Genesis 2 has a second creation story and even if Walton is right about Genesis 1, Genesis 3, the story of the fall is theologically seen as just as important to many Christians.

The Lost World of Adam and Eve is the next step in that puzzle. Walton’s method, in this book and the last, is to make a proposition and the defend that proposition and then move to the next. So in the earlier book he had 19 chapters slowly making the case bit by bit for why so many have misread Genesis 1 for so long.

In this book there are 21 propositions about the purpose and meaning of Genesis 2 and 3 and how they theologically matter to Christians today. One of those chapters is largely written by NT Wright about how Paul understood Adam. And while that is not one of Wright’s clearer works, it really stands out in the book because Walton can be so dull. I don’t want to harp on boringness of the book too much, but it is a real problem.

Eight $1.99 Sale Christian Kindle Books

Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible by Richard Schultz $1.99

160 pages, 10 of 13 reviews are 5-star, Lending Enabled

Are you guilty of interpretive malpractice? Here’s how to prevent it from happening again.

Although 92 percent of American households own at least one Bible, only 59 percent read it occasionally, and an even smaller percentage actually study it. It is no wonder that even those of us who value the Scriptures often don’t understand them!

In Out of Context, veteran Bible professor Richard L. Schultz uses contemporary examples of “interpretive malpractice” to explain how biblical interpretation can go wrong–and how to get it right. He introduces you to the important concepts of context, word meaning, and genre and the differences between the world of the Bible and our own. With the expert help in interpreting and applying Scripture shared in this book, you’ll find your Bible reading more rewarding than ever before.

Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe by Tom Doyle $1.99

207 pages, 49 of 51 reviews are 5-star

Could you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Your family’s lives?

To many Christians in the Middle East today, a “momentary, light affliction” means enduring only torture instead of martyrdom. The depth of oppression Jesus followers suffer is unimaginable to most Western Christians. Yet, it is an everyday reality for those who choose faith over survival in Syria, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries hostile to the Gospel of Christ. In Killing Christians, Tom Doyle takes readers to the secret meetings, the torture rooms, the grim prisons, and even the executions that are the “calling” of countless Muslims-turned-Christians.

Each survivor longs to share with brothers and sisters “on the outside” what Christ has taught them. Killing Christians is their message to readers who still enjoy freedom to practice their faith. None would wish their pain and suffering on those who do not have to brave such misery, but the richness gained through their remarkable trials are delivered—often in their own words—through this book. The stories are breathtaking, the lessons soul-stirring and renewing. Killing Christians presents the dead serious work of expanding and maintaining the Faith.

Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes by Shelene Bryan – $1.99

237 pages, 122 of 128 reviews are 4 or 5-star

Every significant event in the Bible happened because someone said yes to God. Start living the adventure of yes today!

In this whimsical yet inspiring book, Shelene tells the stories of real-life paths God took her on to learn some simple truths that changed everything in her life—everything for the better.

6 Free Christian Kindle Books – April 19

Mercy Springs by Jennifer Osufsen

312 pages, 24 of 24 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled

In the wake of the economic disaster known as The Collapse, two countries rise from the ashes of the former United States: Unified Socialist America and The Republic of Texas.

After personal and professional tragedy, physician midwife Cora Thomas flees the Missouri District of America, seeking asylum and safety in the idyllic Texas town of Cotton Springs. She hopes the quaint community is a new beginning, a place to heal and plant roots. A home where she is not an underground Christian living in fear for her life.

A logging accident leaves Cotton Springs’ prodigal son, Ben Tucker, in the care of the feisty new red-headed doctor. The attraction is undeniable and bewildering. But his rejection of God’s existence and Cora’s steadfast faith collide, leaving him with more questions than answers. And a heart desperately in need of healing.

Missouri District deputy Gordon Wilkes is on a witch hunt. He holds Cora accountable for the death of his wife in childbirth. And no border will stop him from exacting his revenge.

MERCY SPRINGS is a love story blooming beneath the towering trees of east Texas, under the canopy of grace and mercy, and in the shadows of lurking danger.

Renewing Your Heart Daily: 120 Days With Jesus by Adam Houge

347 pages, of reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled

Jesus is always speaking to you. Quietly He shares His heart with you throughout the day. But are you listening?

This box set is an invitation to a deeper intimacy with your loving Savior. As a devotional each day is written as if from Jesus to you. So listen to His voice and you will be challenged to increase your faith and renew your heart daily.

This boxed set contains the following devotionals: Quiet Moments with Your Loving Savior, Under His Wings -a 30 Day Devotional, At the Feet of Jesus, In the Father’s Arms

Also Free from Adam Houge: What a Man Can Learn from the Bad Boys of the Bible

Doesn’t She Look Natural by Angela Hunt

354 pages, 127 of 149 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled, Previously Free

How do you cope when God asks you to bury a dream? In this new series by best-selling author Angela Hunt, readers will meet Jennifer Graham, the no-nonsense chief of staff for a Virginia senator who quits her job after a divorce and finds herself an unemployed single mom. Forced to live with her mother until she can find work on Capitol Hill that does not involve her gregarious ex-husband, her efforts are stymied until she learns that she has inherited a funeral home in picturesque Mt. Dora. Jennifer journeys to the small Florida town with her two sons and her mother, never dreaming that within a mortuary she will discover she has inherited a rewarding career that teaches her far more about life than death.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Book and Movie Review)

Insurgent is the second novel in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. The second novel shows what life is like for Tris and the other survivors now that their faction system is falling apart. Whereas before the factions were created so that everyone could coincide peacefully utilizing their natural talents, now one faction is trying to take all of the power and control the others. Tris and Four along with some others are known as divergent because they don’t fit in to just one faction. The divergent are hunted down in this novel because the faction that wants to rule over the others discovers that they can’t be controlled. Tris leads the movement to try and stop the controlling faction.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and I didn’t quite experience that same enjoyment with the second novel. The first novel was exciting because here was this new society and their unique traditions. Tris was doing her best to navigate her way through the training in the faction that she had chosen, which was different then the one she had grown up in. In this novel, all of the intrigue of the new exciting faction is gone and we are left with the aftermath. I feel like the reason I liked this novel less than the first is the same reason that I liked the third Hunger Games novel least of all. It was too different from the first two novels that included the excitement and intrigue of the actual games. I am hopeful that the third novel will provide the reader with similar enjoyment as the first novel.

9000 New Audiobooks at Scribd

Scribd just added about 30% more to their audiobook library. As I glanced through their library, I think roughly half of the books that Bookwi.se has reviewed in the last five years are now available at Scribd in audiobook and/or ebook. (I just added 45 books to my wishlist in a quick browse of the new books.)

Here is a link to all of the books that have been reviewed on Bookwi.se that are available through Scribd prior to the new books being added.

I have been a subscriber to Scribd for nearly 5 months now and I have read about 25 books, either audio or ebook with my subscription. I have not used it quite as much the last month, with the birth of my son and because I have been trying to catch up on other books that are not available on Scribd. But I will continue to subscribe to Scribd for the forseeable future.

If you are an audiobook fan and/or if you have a tablet or phone that you use to read ebooks, Scribd is the best of the three big book subscription services. It is $8.99 a month to read or listen to as many books as you can.

My full review of Scribd is here. If you are interested in subscribing, this link will give you a free two month trial.

9 Free Christian Kindle Books

Thou Shall: Freedom to Strip Away the “Nots” and Discover What God Really Wants by Jamie Snyder

194 pages, 8 of 8 reviews are 5-star

THOU SHALL NOT. The Ten Commandments are vital pillars of Christianity, but building a life entirely on not doing leaves much of God’s purpose for your life undone. A fresh look at the Bible reveals significantly more “Thou Shall” callings from God than “Thou Shall Not” directives.

A vibrant Christian life is far more about active faith than passive avoidance of sin. The biblical God is defined by movement and action. Jesus’s life teaches engagement, sacrifice, and service. God calls us to go, act, advocate, and serve. THOU SHALL.

Chosen: The Losts Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett

307 pages, 78 of 86 reviews are 4 or 5-star

Wrenched from a simple life for her beauty, Esther finds herself at the mercy of King Xerxes. Leaving behind her only relative, her cousin Mordecai, and her first true love, Cyrus, she is thrown headlong into the unrestrained extravagance of palace living.

Quick of mind and strong in spirit, Esther refuses to suffer the fate of her harem sisters and boldly challenges Xerxes to give of his heart before taking his pleasure, thus sealing her place beside him as queen. While conspiracy spins its diabolical web, Esther’s mind and spirit waver, and she is forced to confront the past in order to save her future–and thus an entire nation.

False Identity: A Romantic Suspense Novel by Jennifer Youngblood and Sandra Poole

294 pages, 100 of 106 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled

Chancy Hamilton can’t bear the thought of spending the holidays without her late husband Max who died in a plane crash. When Chancy and her teenage son, Travis, have an argument, Travis storms out of the house and ends up in the wrong part of town where he is attacked by a group of thugs. When a homeless man comes to his rescue, he invites the man home to have a meal with his mom and little sister. Gabe Jones is not like any other homeless man Chancy has ever seen—he’s confident, intelligent, and devastatingly handsome. Jake, Chancy’s boyfriend, takes an instant dislike to Gabe and warns Chancy to stay away from him. Nevertheless, their lives become intertwined, and Chancy is soon thrown into nightmarish events caused by a chilling deception where nothing is as it seems, bringing a terrifying aftermath that threatens not only her but the lives of her children.

Sale Christian Kindle Books ($0.99 to $2.99)


Postmodern Pilgrims: First Century Passion for the 21st Century Church by Leonard Sweet – $2.99

236 pages, 13 of 16 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled

There is a legend of a Welsh Prince Madoc whose ship became stuck in Chesapeake Bay. After trying unsuccessfully to escape, he had his men row out with the anchor, drop it as far into the sea as they could, and then the ship winched its way forward. The image of the church as a boat and tradition as an anchor is prevalent in Christian art. If we examine the biblical view of an anchor, we find, like Prince Madoc, we are to cast our anchor into the future and pull the church forward. Postmodern pilgrims must strive to keep the past and the future in perpetual conversation so every generation will find a fresh expression of the Gospel that is anchored solidly to “the faith that was once for all delivered.”

Augustine as Mentor: A Model for Preparing Spiritual Leaders by Edward Smither – $2.99

272 pages, 14 of 15 reviews are 4 or 5-star

“Lauded for his thoughts, Augustine of Hippo (354-430) has influenced virtually every philosopher of the last fifteen hundred years. But his personal character and ministry are even more remarkable, for in a time when most monastery dwellers sought solitude, Augustine was always in the company of friends, visiting disciples and writing mentoring letters to those he knew. Augustine as Mentor is written for modern day pastors and spiritual leaders who want to mentor and equip other evangelical Christians based on proven principles in matters of the heart like integrity, humility, faithfulness, personal holiness, spiritual hunger, and service to others. Author Ed Smither explains, “Augustine has something to offer modern ministers pursuing authenticity and longing to ‘preach what they practice.’ Through his thought, practice, success, and even failures, my hope is that today’s mentors will find hope, inspiration, and practical suggestions for how to mentor an emerging generation of spiritual leaders.””

The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and the Future of Discipleship by Brad Waggoner – $0.99

337 pages, 4 of 5 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled

Various studies suggest Christians in North America are not qualitatively different in their character and practices than non-believers. While some churches are growing numerically, many wonder to what impact. Can we determine if our churches are producing Christians who look, think and act like true followers of Jesus Christ?