Monday, April 21, 2014

A Shining Light by Judith Miller

This book is the third in the Home to Amana series. This one is about a woman who grew up on a farm next to one of the Amana colonies. She returns as a widow with a small child to live with her father on his farm and finds that the farm was sold to the Amana Colonies and her father is dead. The colonists take her in and she finds a place for herself and her son in the fabric of life there. Her past comes back to haunt her for a while but all eventually works itself out as in all good stories.

The author obviously did a lot of research and I think it is interesting to see what life in these colonies was like in the late 1800s and get a glimpse of their religious beliefs and day to day ways. I like the idea of every individual working for the good of the whole much like in the early church when all put their assets into the group and everyone worked to that end and widows and children were provided for.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House for the purpose of reviewing it. All comments and ideas are my own.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Echoes of an Angel by Aquanetta Gordon and Chris Macias

Aquanetta Gordon is a lady who has overcome a lot of obstacles in her own life and then had a son, Ben Underwood, who had his own trials to face. Ben developed tumors as a toddler that led to losing his eyes. And then as a teenager, they returned and ultimately took his life. But the story of his life is the subject of this book and it was a joyful, triumphant life. Ben taught himself to navigate by sound (echolocation) and miraculously seemed to actually see even though he had prosthetic eyes. He "saw" so well by sound and his other senses that many people did not immediately realize he was blind. He was a video game whiz and he taught himself to know what the action would be of the character by the sounds he heard. Ben also loved the Lord with all his heart and perhaps was able to be even more spiritually inclined due to his supersensitive senses.

This book was co-written by Chris Macias, who helped Aquanetta put her life and Ben's life down into a very enjoyable story. I read late into the night to continue reading this fascinating tale. Ben left a legacy for his family and friends and for disabled people in the world to strive for the very best for themselves and not be satisfied with the status quo or the low expectations of others. His mother still lives as a testimony to the ability of humans to overcome obstacles and forge ahead.I loved this book!

This book was given to me by Tyndale for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

For Such A Time by Kate Breslin

What a wonderful book! I don't normally enjoy WWII novels all that much because they are sad and depressing but I was intrigued by the parallels to the Book of Esther in the Bible. That is my granddaughter's favorite story and she has read all the novels and watched all the movies made on the subject. I will now pass this book on to her and also to my daughter whose favorite thing is WWII stories. The best of both worlds. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It would be a great book for a homeschool reading list about WWII and the Nazis' death camps. I learned a lot more about some of the things I saw in Germany and Poland and more than I remembered from my history books. The author's notes at the end are most helpful too.

The story is about Hadassah Benjamin aka Stella who is rescued from a concentration camp and taken to another camp by the new commandant to be his secretary. As it turns out, her Uncle Morty is in that camp. The story unfolds as Stella does everything she can to make the prisoners' lives easier and to protect a young boy in the commandant's household. As she spends time with the commandant, she is drawn more and more to him as she sees the things that haunt him and the Christian qualities he has. As he draws closer to her, he questions what he is doing as the commandant of this camp. It is a story you won't be able to put down. You will want to continue reading to see what will happen next. Although it is just fiction, it is a gripping and compelling story that will make you want to know more.

I highly recommend this book to young and old alike. It is a history lesson we don't want to lose sight of. We need to remember that this happened and pray that it never happens again.

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

This is the essence of who I am

I decided a long time ago that either the Bible is 100% true or it is a waste of time. After much study, it is my considered opinion that it is 100% true. Therefore, I am bound by its precepts and commissions. The entire book is the story of God seeking relationship with the people He created and providing redemption to make it possible after those people failed miserably right out of the starting gate. The one commission given to us as Christians is to witness to everyone else and try to bring as many others along with us as we can.

My impetuosity and Type A personality make me want to just purchase copious amounts of duct tape and drag my family and friends kicking and screaming into eternity with me but unfortunately, God doesn't operate that way and it's not legal for me to use those methods either. So I'm left with persuasion, cajoling and a host of other relatively ineffective methods of bringing them along. Through God's providence, however, I am not required to devise those plans on my own. I just have to be the willing conduit for the Holy Spirit to use. And He loves these people even more than I do.

Even as a very young child my main focus was digging up any and all truth. I wanted to know who, when, where, how etc. And my other focus was soaking up love wherever it was offered. I have pretty much devoted my entire life to both pursuits. Love was pretty hard to find in the human realm but once I tasted the Love of my Heavenly Father, I was in the everlasting arms of El Shaddai -- the God that is more than enough.

Truth is elusive too with so many different voices trying to indoctrinate us into their pet beliefs and ideologies. I don't take anything on face value. I won't build my worldview on 20 minutes of some professor's rant or even some preacher's rant. I want the fact, the truth behind what is being said. I will dig until I find it. Science is much touted but a closer study will find that much of it is theories and ideas, not proven fact. History is purported to tell us all sorts of things, but does that history stand up to scrutiny? I have to know. Even as a very small child it needed to make sense. Some things still don't and I'm still searching. But the one thing that makes perfect sense is that I know Jesus personally and He is my best friend. I have a personal relationship with Him. I am an eyewitness to the extravagant love, protection, provision and peace He has provided to me day in and day out since that relationship was established. Just as the disciples were willing to die rather than say His resurrection wasn't real because they knew, that they knew, that they knew that He had risen from the dead, I am willing to go the distance and not forsake my relationship with Him for any kind of expediency or due to any type of coercion. He is mine and I am His. And that is the sum total of it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Heart Wide Open by Shellie Rushing Thomlinson

This book is a little treasure trove of helpful advice about deepening your relationship with Jesus. Through stories and anecdotes, the author chronicles her own journey into a deeper relationship with her Lord and Savior. She has the same struggles most of us have as we strive to draw closer: feelings of inadequacy, frustration that we aren't doing enough, etc. And she mentions spending more time in the Word and prayer. These are things that are difficult for many but crucial to the process. All in all, a very thoughtful book that will be of value to many.

This book is well written and keeps the reader engaged which providing helpful tips. Highly recommend!

The author has a contest you can enter. Just fill out this FORM. The giftbasket contains:

A beautiful wallboard inscribed with these words from the Song of Solomon, "Come and awaken love and when I find him I won't let him go."
A beautiful coffee mug bearing this sentiment, "Heart you to the moon and back."
A Bird of Paradise heart shaped candle
A Heart Shaped Keepsake Box
A Red and White Chevron Design Scarf
A Heart Wide Open T-Shirt (winner to designate size)
A $50 Amazon Gift Certificate
And, of course, a copy of Heart Wide Open

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Minding Molly by Leslie Gould

Molly Zook has recently lost her father and her mother and she are struggling to save the farm where they raise flowers, trees, shrubs and herbs. Her mother thinks she can best make this happen by getting Molly to marry their neighbor Mervin Mosier. Molly, however, has falled in love with an Amish man who is working in the neighborhood but whose family home is in Montana. Complicating the issue is that her best friend, Hannah, has eyes only for Mervin Mosier but thinks Molly is sabotaging her future with him. A camping trip of Molly and her friends in the Poconos only complicates the situation.

This book is #3 in The Courtships of Lancaster County series. I read the first two when they came out and was eagerly awaiting this one. Leslie Gould always keeps you wanting more. I really enjoy these books and they are full of interesting observations about the Amish but more than that, they are just a really good story! There are several more couples that need to get together in this group so I am hoping this is not the end or near the end of the series, but it's OK with me if she starts a new series as long as she keeps writing these great stories that I love to read!

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

This is a sort of Victorian / Gothic / Jane Austin / Bronte type of story. It is very complicated with lots of twists and turns and you spend most of the book wondering what is really going on. It is the story of Julia who has been appointed a guardian after her parents' deaths only the man is remaining anonymous. She is supposed to go to Scotland to attend an elderly lady but ends up with her mother's friend and her daughter that Julia spent much time with as a child. Her friend Elizabeth is in love with the local gentry's oldest son Henry and Julia is in love with the younger son Edwards -- all fast friends from childhood. When she arrives she finds that Edward has become a vicar since she last saw him and since her father was an avowed atheist and she had taken much abuse from clergy during her childhood, this was a deal-breaker for her. The plot thickens and thickens and yet again thickens after this. All I can say is you need to read it yourself and plan on saving a big block of time for this because you aren't going to want to put it down until you find out what happens next.

Although this is a Christian book that aspect is woven in rather sparingly in my opinion. I would have like to see at least one or two of the characters' faith in action but what was most evident was Edward's embrace of social causes.

The book was well-written but almost too suspenseful for me. I like a good mystery but it seems like the author was very miserly with her clues and information and it took a very long time to get any tidbits and then you were off in search of another tidbit to make that one make sense. And the author left the end of this one hanging so now we must wait for the next one to come out which is due later on this year. I will definitely be watching for it to arrive so I can get the next part of this story!

This book was given to me by Tyndale for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.