Monday, October 20, 2014

(Review) To Everything a Season: Song of Blessing Book One by Lauraine Snelling

Publisher: Bethany House, October 14, 2014.
Genre: Fiction, 1900s, North Dakota.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 353.
Rating: 2 Stars for okay.
Source: Free copy from Bethany House and An Open Book in exchange for a review.

The book is available @
Amazon

Summary:
1905, Blessing, North Dakota. Blessing is an emigrant town. People from Germany, Russia, Norway, Ireland, and England live there. A new hospital is built. Two female physicians are in charge of the hospital. A group of nurses arrive from Chicago in order to have further hands-on experience. One of the nurses is Miriam Hastings. After her training, she plans to return to Chicago in order to provide financially for her mother and siblings. While living in Blessing, Miriam warms to the idea of small town life.

My Thoughts:
I've discovered, To Everything a Season is a first book in a new series, but it is related to at least three other series of books located in the town of Blessing.
I did not enjoy the book until mid-way when I was introduced to Miriam Hastings. Her quandary of furthering education and experience, versus responsibility in providing for family is a tearjerker.
She is the only character I felt drawn to.
I felt the story skimmed across situations and problems. It needs a defined plot that will draw the reader into the depth of the story.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Miracle in a Dry Season, Appalachian Blessing Book One by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Publisher: Bethany House, July 29, 2014.
Genre: Fiction, Southern Story, 1950s.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 305.
Rating: 3 Stars for good.
Source: Free copy from Bethany House and An Open Book in exchange for a review.

Book is available @
Amazon

Summary:
Casewell Phillips, 35, is a single man. He lives in the rural area of Wise, West Virginia. His parents live nearby. Casewell builds furniture, he also built his home.
Perla Long, 24, is a single mother of Delilah. She moved to Wise from another town in West Virginia, in order to escape her reputation and begin a new life. She and Delilah are living with an aunt and uncle. Perla is an exceptional cook and baker.
The people of Wise love Perla's skills in the kitchen, but gossip fills their minds more than their stomachs. There are a few people of Wise who see past Perla's past, and see their present need for her help.

My Thoughts:
Miracle in a Dry Season is a well-used story with simple characters.
It has elements that I've heard all too often. People who do not see their own sins; however, they pick and pluck another for their sin. Gossip is often information that is incorrect. It is speculation. I feel Miracle in a Dry Season gave a solid story with teachable subject matter.
The strength of Miracle in a Dry Season is its themes.
The weakness of Miracle in a Dry Season is the characters. I felt the characters needed to be developed stronger. I saw just the surface of their abilities.
I'm going to step out on a limb. Christian fiction is (not always) too clean. I'm not referring to morality, but reality. Life is sometimes ugly, raw, rough, gruff, and mean. There is nothing wrong with presenting Christian characters who are these traits. The more real a character, the more impact the book will have on the reader, because the reader can identify with the character. The character will have a vivid dimension and definition. When I think about the apostle Peter, in the beginning he was a rough and gruff man. In Scripture I see him at his worst and at his best. I am aware of readers who do not want to see these developments in a Christian fiction character, and for them I am glad there are books like Miracle in a Dry Season.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Video of The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken

Published by B and H Publishing January 2014.

Review: Holman Rainbow Study Bible King James Version Edition

Publisher: B and H Publishing Group, October 1, 2014.
Genre: King James Version Bible.
Format: Mantova Brown Leather touch.
Pages: 1632.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Free copy from B and H Publishing in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own opinion.

Link for more information at B and H Publishing. 

The Bible is available at Christian Book,
Amazon.

Summary:
The Rainbow Study Bible is known for its color-coded system. All of the verses in the Bible are highlighted by a particular color, based on whether the verse is one of twelve subjects in the Bible. The twelve subjects are: God, discipleship, love, faith, sin, evil, salvation, family, outreach, commandments, history, and prophecy. When "God, the Father; the Son, Jesus Christ; or the Holy Spirit" is speaking, the words аге highlighted in purple. When the verses pertain to discipleship, the verses are a salmon color (orange-pink). 
The editors stated they had to make a choice at times on the subject the verse "most strongly related to", because there are verses where "more than one color is applicable." 
Twelve subjects and colors were chosen, because "twelve is a number of completeness in the Bible, as evidenced by the twelve tribes of Israel in the Old Testament, and the twelve apostles in the New Testament." 
The colors are representative of the subject. The color purple is "assigned to God because it is a royal color." "Blue assigned to Salvation because it has a heavenly or eternal connotation." 
The positions of the colors according to the number preference is important. God is first "because there is Оne God." "Evil in the sixth position because of the significance of 666 and the mark of the beast in the book of Revelation." 
The Bible is distinguished by "Bold Underlining" of "all spoken Words of God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) throughout the text."
There are 98 "in-text maps, in-text illustrations, and back maps." The last eight maps are included in the back. The majority of the maps and illustrations are dispersed through the Bible.
Each book in the Bible is given an introduction page. The introduction is one page identifying: "author and theme," "background and content," "key words and themes."
Reference verses are in the center margin.
Study aids are the last section in the Bible. Examples of study aids are: "Table of Weights and Measures," a chart of "Ancient Versions of Biblical Text," "100 Popular Bible Passages," Bible verses to memorize, a Bible reading chart; and my favorite section is "A Harmony of the Gospels." A concordance is included.

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." 1 Peter 1:24-25. 

My Thoughts:
When I was a child growing up, the King James Version is all I had available to read. Most people I knew, only had a King James Version Bible. In our modern age there are many choices in Bible translations; however, a survey was conducted in 2013, and the King James Version Bible is still the most widely read Bible version.
What I loved about the Holman Rainbow Study Bible King James Version:

  • The print is bold and in a type-font size that is easy to read.
  • The pages are a matte finish and easy to turn.
  • The color-coded system makes Bible reading systematized. 
  • The Bible is light-weight and easy to carry. 
  • The Bible "feels" personal. 
  • There is not a glare from the usual white pages in a Bible. 
  • The seven page "A Harmony of the Gospels" section is significant for reflection and study.  
  • The maps and illustrations add a stimulating visual quality.
  • The Bible pages and illustrations are beautiful.  

I read the book of Jeremiah from the Holman Rainbow Study Bible King James Version, as apart of my goal of reading through the Bible in a year. I plan to read Proverbs (the last book to read for 2014) from this Bible.

The Holman Rainbow Study Bible King James Version, is not a study Bible heavy with material like in the Crossway ESV Study Bible, or the Zondervan NIV Study Bible. The Holman Rainbow Study Bible King James Version is a basic study Bible for laypeople of any age. I highly recommend it for its content, function, and daily Bible reading.

The survey on Bible reading in American society, is a pdf by the American Bible Society, Barna Group. It is 82 pages in length.

Bible verse link courtesy of Bible Gateway. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Keepers of the Covenant, The Restoration Chronicles Book Two by Lynn Austin

A Kindle HDX giveaway:
https://www.facebook.com/LynnAustinBooks/app_181492755297047
Lynn Austin can be found @
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Publisher: Bethany House Publishers, a Division of Baker Publishing, October 7, 2014.
Genre: Historical fiction, Old Testament.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 480.
Rating: 5 Stars.
Source: Free copy from Bethany House in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own opinion.

Available @
Amazon,
Christian Book.

To read my review of the first book in the series, Return to Me.


Summary:
Keepers of the Covenant, is a Biblical historical fiction story from the Old Testament books of Esther and Ezra.
In the opening pages of Keepers of the Covenant, a decree by King Xerxes, and planned and promoted by Haman, state that all Jews will be killed on the 13th day of the 12th month. Xerxes is king of the Persian Empire. Haman is Xerxes second in command.
The first group of Jews left Persia and returned to Judah, and they worked to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The prophets leading them were Haggai and Zechariah. A second group will be led by Ezra. Later, a third and last group will return led by Nehemiah.
Keepers of the Covenant is the story of the second group, still living in Persia, but will later leave and return to the Promised Land. It is also the story of the first group of Jews living in Judah.
The time period begins in 473 BC.
Ezra is a young unmarried man studying the Torah. He is serious and studious. His brother is Jude. Jude is a married man. His wife is Devorah and they are expecting a baby.
When the decree for all Jews to die is heard, the Jews living in Babylon and surrounding areas are shocked and fearful. Their first response is to pray, but they are planning to defend their families.
In Judah, the Edomites are happy the Jews are to be killed in all of the Persian Empire. They want "their" land back. The men make plans to kill, steal, and plunder the Jews.
Two young Edomite girls live in Bethlehem. Their father is an abusive man. He is eager to kill and destroy the Jews. The girls are named Sayfah and Amina. Amina is the youngest at age eight. She has been crippled since birth. When she hears the men speaking in angry voices about their plans, she thinks of her friend, a kind Jewish woman named Hodaya.

My Thoughts:
When the story began I was not sure if I'd love it. In the beginning I had a difficult time becoming invested in the story. In the fourth chapter I was introduced to Sayfah and Amina, and they became endearing to me. I feel it is their stories that swept me away and changed my feelings. Sayfah and Amina gave an added dimension, they were not Jewish, they were girls, and Amina had a crippled foot. They were considered the "least of these." Amina had a character of humility, gentleness, and kindness; and these qualities shined bright like the sun. Their relationship and choices reminds me of the Gospel message. I'm pleased Keepers of the Covenant includes this important aspect and symbolism through the girls stories.
I believe the Old Testament history of the return to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon, is not as well-known as other stories from the Old Testament. I often hear the stories of Genesis, the life of Moses and the Exodus, the books of Psalms and Proverbs, but the history of the Jewish people from the books of the major and minor prophets are often pushed aside.
Keepers of the Covenant, even though it is historical fiction, encourages deeper study of this time period, and reminds me of God's continuing work in and through His people.