Monday, November 28, 2016

(Review) The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey Through Pearl Harbor and the World of War by Jim Downing with James Lund

Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: NavPress
Genre: Nonfiction, autobiography, Pearl Harbor, World War II
Pages: 224
Source: I received this book free of charge from the publisher.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

For more information at Tyndale.

Amazon













Summary:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation the day after the Pearl Harbor attack stating it was, "a date which will live in infamy."

16.1 million Americans served in World War II. Jim Downing's story is one story among so many stories. However, his story represents those who both gave their lives, and were willing to give their lives in service, honor, and duty.
The Other Side of Infamy is the story of Jim Downing's life, with an focal point on his experience at Pearl Harbor.

My Thoughts:
The focus of the book is on Jim Downing's experience during Pearl Harbor. However, the book tells the story of Downing's life, from his childhood through to current life.
I enjoyed reading about Downing's beginnings in small town mid-America. His family life, schooling, activities, and character set in motion a man of determination.
Downing became a Christian as a young man, after he joined the Navy.
His transition from a lone young man who did not know the Lord, to a young man who loved the Lord and dedicated his life to serving God, showed me a strong testimony of faith. I loved reading about his transformation from "little depth" to a growing Christian.
I'm amazed at the courage Downing displayed at Pearl Harbor. He is a hero, an inspiration. I'm proud to have read his biography.
The feelings, thoughts, and responses of Downing and other survivors are described.
December 7, 1941 was a horror filled day. It was a day of peril and death. It was also a day when people displayed great strength and heroic acts.
Downing's marriage was a testimony. They were newlyweds when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. This experience was a testing point in their early years. Downing traveled and was often absent from the family home. The couple relied on God as their anchor.
Downing had a successful career in the Navy, and other government branches. After retirement he became involved fulltime in the Navigators. He felt his career in the Navigators, "was probably the most rewarding time of a life filled with adventures and unexpected blessings."

My favorite quote:
What I've learned from that experience and others since is that God does not respond to false alarms. If I feel he's not paying attention, it's because I'm not in any real trouble. And if I am in real trouble, I don't have to worry about it. I know he's there. He may not handle things the way I would prefer, but I recognized he's got things under control. Pg. 189.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

(Review) The Book of Uncommon Prayer edited by Constance Pollock and Daniel Pollock

Publication Date: 1996
Publisher: Word
Genre: Nonfiction, collection of poems and quotes
Pages: 224
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

The hard copy book is currently available from 3rd party sellers.
The Kindle version is available for $4.99.

Summary:
Sixty contributing authors are found in this book gem.
Examples of authors: Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, William Blake, the Bronte sisters, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Victor Hugo, Soren Kierkegaard, Christina Georgina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, Francis Thompson, Walt Whitman.
The collections are devotional in nature. Subjects written about are prayer, love, belief in God, trusting in God, adversity, mercy, Creator, redemption, the Virgin Mary, and a vision of heaven.

My Thoughts:
This is the second time to read this book. Many of the authors are favorites of mine. I love poetry and reading poetry is a joy. I especially love to read them aloud.

Some of my favorites:

Faith
Teach me, O God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith.
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

Prayeth, Loveth
He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast;
He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

My Days Go On
I praise Thee while my days go on;
I love Thee while my days go on:
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
I thank Thee while my days go on.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)



Sunday, November 13, 2016

(Review) NIV Bible for Girls, Journal Edition by Zondervan Publishers


Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Zondervan/HarperCollins
Genre: NIV Bible
Pages: 1408
Source: I received this Bible free of charge from the publisher
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

Length for more information from the publisher: Zondervan

Christian Book, excerpts of the Bible are included

Amazon

Over all summary of the Bible:

  • Front and back cover is turquoise, with gold and blue flowers. 
  • Turquoise ribbon marker. 
  • The pages are as thick as the ESV journaling Bible. 
  • The pages are crisp white.  
  • The Bible is not a red letter in Christ edition. 
  • There are no introduction pages for the books of the Bible. 
  • The Bible does not have a reference system. 
  • A "How To Use This Bible" is located in an opening page. 
  • A four page preface. The preface explains the translation, texts used, footnotes. 
  • 2011 NIV translation.
  • A "Table of Weights and Measures" is included. 
  • Lines are included on the outside of all the pages where the Bible is recorded. The lines are of lighter color than the words. 
  • Height is 8.38 inches. The width is 6.50 inches. 
  • The print is 8 point. 
  • The print is bold for easy reading. 
  • The age range is 8 and up. 
  • Hot pink elastic band enclosure. 
The NIV Bible for Girls by Zondervan is almost identical to the ESV Journaling Bible by Crossway. I have both Bibles and have compared the two. The exceptions are the translations, and an included Bible reading plan in the back of the ESV Journaling Bible. Other notable exceptions are the difference in the color of pages. The NIV Bible for Girls by Zondervan has crisp white pages. Whereas, the ESV Journaling Bible has vanilla colored pages. Both have the same lines on the outside of pages. 
The NIV Bible for Girls is a perfect gift for Christmas. I plan to give the NIV Bible for Girls to my 13 year old granddaughter for Christmas. 
I know there are readers who are not happy with the 2011 NIV translation. It is to the discretion of the parent or gift giver in regards to this Bible. 
I believe the gift of a Bible is the most precious and important gift one can give. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

(Review) Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund


Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Biographical fiction, historical fiction, love story
Pages: 400
Source: I received this paperback book free of charge from WaterBrook and Blogging for Books
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

Amazon
Christian Book





Link for more information about WaterBrook: Newton and Polly. 


Jody Hedlund is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author of more than a dozen books. Among a variety of genres, she especially loves bringing long-forgotten women of history to life. She is the author of Luther and Katharina, which was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award in Fiction. Her other novels have won the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christy Award. She resides in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

Website: http://jodyhedlund.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJodyHedlund
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JodyHedlund
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/jodyhedlund/


Summary: 
1742, England
John Newton is a young man, a sailor who has spent time aboard merchant vessels. After a long absence, he has returned home to England. He makes a stop to visit relatives, and is taken with an angelic voiced young women named Polly. Through his father's connections, John has a new job waiting for him in the new world. John delays his departure to be near Polly. John and Polly live in different worlds. She is a devoted Christian. He is an independent man of the world. 
Newton and Polly are an unlikely love pair. They are people from opposing views of religion, politics, culture, and standards. 
John Newton is the author of the penned hymn, Amazing Grace. The story Newton and Polly, share the lives of this unlikely pair the years before the hymn.  

My Thoughts: 
I love this story! Several reasons led me to give Newton and Polly 5 stars for excellent. 

  • I loved it that the story is not rushed. Hedlund allows the story and characters to unfold in their own time and way. 
  • The characters evolve. Who Polly and Newton are in the beginning of the story is not who they are by the last page. The characters are chiseled and molded through hard life experiences, sometimes bitter trials, but the master craftsman has a plan. 
  • Tender moments are exchanged between the pair. Even though love is a theme, it is not the dominant theme. 
  • The dominant theme in Newton and Polly, is God is at work in the lives of this pair. His ultimate plan is to bring Newton to a saving faith by believing in Jesus Christ. 
  • A secondary theme is the testimony of Newton and Polly. Their testimony, especially John Newton's, will resound through the ages. 
  • The later half of the book has scenes of ship life. I love reading about life at sea.
  • The vile world of the slave trade in Africa is explored in brief. I am not surprised, and it does not take away from the review, but this part of the story is not described in depth. No, it is not glossed over. It is not downplayed. This is a Christian fiction story, the words and scenes are G rating.  
Links of interest:




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

(Review) Rewriting Your Broken Story: The Power of an Eternal Perspective by Kenneth Boa


Publication Date: June 12, 2016
Publisher: IVP Books
Genre: Christian life
Pages: 216
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

For more information @ publisher: Rewriting Your Broken Story. 

Amazon

Summary:
All humans have struggles and hardships. However, the life we are living on earth "is not all there is." Kenneth Boa reminds us we can focus our tragedies in life, or we can shift our focus to an eternal perspective. Having an eternal perspective helps us reevaluate our thinking and motivates us to have a greater understanding of our lives.

Temporal Perspective: 
This world is all there is.
There is no life after death.

Eternal Perspective:
Life on earth is important, but there is more than this world has to offer. We were made for eternity. 

Contents:
1 Your Broken Story
2 Investing in Eternity
3 The Reversible Paradigm
4 Defining Life Backwards
5 Trusting Eternity or Cursing Time
6 Poets, Saints and Heroes
7 Inside Out, Upside Down and Talking to Ourselves
8 Flight Plans, False Goals and a Life Uncommon
9 Out of the Woods and Into the Light
10 What Do You Seek? (Your Heart's Intention)
11 Becoming a Permanent Marker
12 From Theology to Doxology 

My Thoughts:
I love it when a book comes along and is just what I needed to read. It is like medicine. It is an answered prayer.
I know from experience the pains of life can become a stumbling block. The focus is completely on the pain, and not on God's work in my life working through the pain. My focus is on the ouch, and not on how God uses those painful times to develop my faith, character, or build a testimony. It literally is, God "Rewriting" my "Broken Story."
Several reasons led me to give Rewriting Your Broken Story 5 stars for excellent.

  • It is a thinking book. Several times while reading, Rewriting Your Broken Story, I had to pause and think. 
  • The focus is on the eternal perspective and not on the transient time on earth. 
  • It is written with a tone of mercy and grace. Boa understands the readers who may be in the midst of tragedy; yet, with grace and mercy he shifts thinking to eternity with God.
  • It motivates and encourages. 
  • We can not have worldly goals and have our hearts satisfied.
  • It asks important questions. For example: "We are living in His story now. What will we do with the chapters He is giving us?" 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

(Review) None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin


Publication Date: April 30, 2016
Publisher: Crossway
Genre: Nonfiction, Christianity, Attributes of God
Pages: 163
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

Amazon

Chapter One---Infinite, The God of No Limits
Chapter Two---Incomprehensible, The God of Infinite Mystery
Chapter Three---Self-Existent, The God of Infinite Creativity
Chapter Four---Self-Sufficient, The God of Infinite Provision
Chapter Five---Eternal, The God of Infinite Days
Chapter Six---Immutable, The God of Infinite Sameness
Chapter Seven---Omnipresent, The God of Infinite Place
Chapter Eight---Omniscient, The God of Infinite Knowledge
Chapter Nine---Omnipotent, The God of Infinite Power
Chapter Ten---Sovereign, The God of Infinite Rule

Summary:
The introduction begins with an emphasis on being a "God-fearing woman," and Wilkin's never thought she would write an intro piece on this subject or on Proverbs 31. It's a chapter of the Bible she has steered clear of because it has been zealously taught in the church in reference to being a Christian woman. Nevertheless, Wilkin's began to look at this verse not from the perspective of what it states about women but what it says about God. It was a light bulb moment, and it is the start of a remarkable book on God's attributes. 
When we fear God rightly, we recognize him for who he truly is: a God of no limits, and therefore, utterly unlike anyone of anything we know. This is the start of becoming wise. Page 13. 
Several attributes of God are taught in None Like Him, and they are outlined in the chapters section. God is alone is worthy of all praise, all glory, and all honor.

My Thoughts:
This is the third book I've read from Jen Wilkin.
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with all Our Hearts and Our Minds 
1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ

Several reasons led me to give None Like Him 5 stars for excellent:

  • Jen Wilkin is a teacher who is concise. I've never had to try and figure out what Wilkin is teaching. Her statements and points are understandable. 
  • She speaks direct and with conviction, and this comes through to the reader. For example: "When we ask another human to be unlimitedly trustworthy in any area, we are asking someone who is only human to be God." Page 27. 
  • She pushes my mind to reflect on things I'd not considered. For example: "If God needed anything at all outside himself, he would be capable of being controlled by that need. A need is a limit, and as we have seen, God has no limits. Because he needs nothing outside himself, he cannot be controlled or coerced, manipulated or blackmailed by another who possesses what he lacks...We humans know well the relationship between need and control." Page 61. 
  • Chapter Five held wise advice for me. I am to live in the present. How often I've thought of regrets and the changes I would make differently. For example: not become involved in an abusive relationship. But I am reminded to live in the present, live for this day. Don't think about past failures. Don't worry about tomorrow. Just deal with today. 
  • On page 103, Wilkin expresses: God does not need to be invited into our day, whether the day is good or bad. God is with us. He is with us in our pain and He is with us in our joy. 
None Like Him is one of the best Christian nonfiction books I've read this year. I want to encourage you to invest in this gem! 



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bible Reading Update

http://www.crystalsutherland.org/
The last Bible reading update was posted June 24, 2016. 
Since then, I've read:
Job chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42.
Isaiah chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66. 
Jeremiah chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52. 
Romans chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. 
1 Corinthians chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. 
Revelation chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. 
All the above Scripture read from the NKJV.

Acts has been read 4 times in 4 different translations: NLT, NIV, ESV, and NKJV. 

Are you looking for a Bible study? Join Bible Study Fellowship.


Scripture links are courtesy of Bible Gateway.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

(Review) The Things We Knew by Catherine West

Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Fiction, family secrets
Pages: 352
Source: Free copy from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review
Rating: 4 stars for very good

Amazon

Author Info:
Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Visit her online www.catherinejwest.com 
Facebook: CatherineJWest 
https://twitter.com/cathwest





Summary:
Lynette Carlisle still lives in the family home with her aging father. They live in Nantucket. Her older siblings have moved away from the island. Lynette is left to care for their father who is not in good health. The upkeep of the family home is expensive, and she is left to deal with how to pay for its cost. Their mother's death is a mystery. 
Nick Cooper grew up in Nantucket. He has recently returned to work for his father. Nick and Lynette have a connection going back to when they were kids. Nick remembers the events of her mother's death and is hiding them from Lynette. One by one all of Lynette's siblings return to the family home, each with their own current problems to deal with; however, the past must also be reconciled. 

My Thoughts: 
I was drawn to the story because I also took care of my father. We shared the same home for over 11 years. So, any caregiver story attracts me. Further, Lynette is the youngest child in her family of five siblings. I am the youngest child in my family of five siblings. 
It is common, I'm told, for one sibling to become the caregiver or responsible party for aging parents. I have found this to be true in many families, it is a rare exception when all of the siblings take turns caring for parents. There are various reasons for this, but the most common reasons are distance from the parents, career and family duties, and problems with childhood memories. All of these reasons are portrayed in The Things We Knew. It is also common for the caregiver to feel isolated, anxious, and overwhelmed. They can also feel they are being left to carry the load without help from other family members. I feel, The Things We Knew, is excellent in representing a caregiver, both in the feelings a caregiver has and the dynamics of a family. 
Lynette is a young woman, she carries hopes and dreams for the future; however, she has taken on the responsibility as caregiver to her father and managing the home. Through the story I see her maturity, she still has girlish attributes, but the result of her duties have matured her mind and spirit. 
Nick is a young man who is also an evolving character. He left the island but has returned. He has returned a different person; through the story he matures, and learns to defy the things he's been taught.  
Lynette's brother Gray has a strong story-line. I believe his nemesis is the pulling point. 
The Things We Knew has multiple characters who each have their own story inside the main story. 
They are characters who show me where they were in the past, how they deal with present problems, and how they plan to move forward to the future. 
The ending of the story, or the mystery concerning the past is predictable. I did not feel this part of the story is a strong point. It's easy to weed out the possibilities of what happened. This is an element that led me to give The Things We Knew 4 stars instead of 5 stars.