Thursday, February 23, 2017

(Review) Child of the River by Irma Joubert

Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 395
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: Excellent

It has become rare for me to read Christian fiction books. I came across this book while browsing through the book display at Target. What caught my attention is the front cover. Most Christian fiction covers feature a beautiful young woman. No matter the time period, her hair will be sculpted to perfection, and she will have an airbrushed made face. Child of the River features a girl in a simple dress. Her hair is pulled back loosely. The emphasis is not on how lovely she looks, but on where she is walking-her environment. I recognized the publishing company, Thomas Nelson. I'm glad Target features their books.
Persomi is the main character. She is a young white girl living in the South African Bushveld. Her family is dirt poor. They are sharecroppers on the Fourie farm. Persomi is an intelligent girl who loves school, but she lives in a family that would prefer her to become employed so they will have a dependable paycheck. She has an older brother, Gerbrand. They have two brothers and two sisters. Their parents are a sad tragic couple. Boelie Fourie is a friend of Persomi and Gerbrand. He will inherit the farm. World War II begins and the men of South Africa are called to serve. There are opposing views on the war, not all South African people are in favor of fighting in the war.
Child of the River begins in 1938. The story ends in 1968. This time period will begin at pre-World War II.  It will cover the actions of the National Party: the Asiatic Land Treaty, Immorality Act, and other apartheid ideologies and actions. The main character, Persomi, has a role in the political operations of South Africa. The story will cover her personal life: schooling, and relationships.
I love this story and read the book cover to cover in a couple of days.
I was drawn into the world of Persomi out of the desperation of her life. She is a character who I felt an immediate investment in her welfare. She is intelligent and independent minded. I love her resilient nature. I love her tenacity.
South African history, in regards to politics, I knew almost nothing about. Through secondary characters I learned what life was like for people living in South Africa who were not white. I also learned about the men who fought in World War II. I did not know there were South African's who resented battling Hitler.
Persomi's character deals with grief. I can relate. Grief is a hard experience to endure.
Persomi's mother is probably one of the saddest characters I've read in a fiction book.
Irma Joubert is an expert of drawing me in with strong characters. Characters who are not necessarily battle ready, but they have scars to prove they have withstood life's battles.
Even though this is a Christian fiction story, it did not have Bible verses. I've heard the term preachy used for Christian fiction books. No preachiness in this story.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

(Review) Oswiu: King of Kings,The Northumbrian Thrones III by Edoardo Albert

Publication Date: January 27, 2017
Publisher: Kregel
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction, early part of the middle ages
Pages: 560
Edition: Paperback
Source: Free copy from Kregel
Rating: Excellent

Kregel link for more information


Links for further information on the historical Oswiu:
Early British Kingdoms

Edoardo Albert's website

My previous reviews of books one and two:
Edwin: High King of Britain
Oswald: Return of the King

Supplement information included in the book includes an introduction to the characters. An explanation is given for those characters who are historical and those who are fiction. A glossary of Anglo-Saxon terms. A Pronunciation key of the language. A four page synopsis of the previous books in The Northumbrian Thrones.

The story is divided into four parts.
"Part I: Raid
Part II: Family
Part III: Strife
Part IV: Reckoning"

When the story begins it has only been one season since Oswald's death. Oswald had been the king, and older brother to Oswiu. Oswiu is now king of Bernicia and king of Northumbria.
Oswiu and his men approach a town asking to be let in. They are refused. An awkward situation arises for this new king. He has been disrespected and rebuffed. The town of York has been told there is a different king, and Oswiu is not their king. They believe the king, determined by the witan, is Oswine, son of Osric, the Godfriend.
Later, the two kings have a tense conversation. The scene ends with Oswiu being reminded of the resemblance between Oswine and Oswald.
This first scene grabbed my attention. It is not a predictable scene for a king. It is a scene filled with the errors of humanity. I wondered how the new king, Oswiu, would handle this situation. I wondered if he would learn anything from this encounter. I wondered if this situation was a dark cloud that would hang over Oswiu the rest of his life: his worthiness to be a king.
Oswiu's grieving mother asked him to retrieve the remains of Oswald. The journey to retrieve the remains is dangerous. The synopsis on the back cover of the book explains this mission.
The book is filled with other missions, dangers, battles, marriage problems, betrayal, disunity in families, and disunity among the people.
Oswiu has inherited a realm fraught with tension and peril. His anxiety is apparent. This is just one of the reasons I love his character. He is a dimensional person. I see his positive and negative character traits. He makes mistakes. He wrestles over these mistakes. And hovering over Oswiu and the story is the memory and spirit of Oswald.
Several additional reasons of why I loved Oswiu:
  • The prickly marriage alignments. They do not always work out. How the women felt, as political pawns, are explored through the story.
  • Dialogue. I loved the dialogue between mother and son, between wives and husbands, between children and fathers, and between the kings and their men at arms.
  • Scene descriptions. I was given just enough information to form my own picture of the scene in my mind. The scenes are crisp, clear, and vibrant.
  • Oswiu's love for his brother. He idolized Oswald. He wished to be like him but fell short. He wrestles with the strong memory of Oswald. He wrestles with his grief.
  • England is not a united nation. Several domains align and then break. Intermarrying does not always work. The battles always come. It was a way of life. Bleak. However, it is an unspoken way of life.
  • The two religions. One is Christianity. The other is pagan. The styles of worship is portrayed. The people depend on a higher power for everything, from domestic to war.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

(Review) The Screwtape Letters by C.S.Lewis

Publication Date: 60th anniversary edition 2002-
Originally published 1942
Publisher: HarperOne
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 209
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 4 stars for very good

There are several edition choices at Amazon for this book. The link above provides a 2015, paperback choice. It's possible to find a free ebook copy online.

The following link, C.S. Lewis, is an excellent site for  biography and book selections.

The Screwtape Letters is considered to be a satirical story about a demon named Screwtape, and his letters to a nephew named Wormwood. Screwtape, encourages Wormwood, to interfere and destroy the life of a human.
The human is referred to as "the patient."
They are written with cynicism, apathy, and coldness.
The goal is to hurt humans and alienate them from God.

My Thoughts:
Not every reader likes C.S. Lewis nonfiction books. Is it an acquired taste? Maybe. Does it require different thinking skills? Yes. Does C.S. Lewis use a different writing method to reach his audience? A definite yes.
The Screwtape Letters is considered satire. The book is not meant to be a comedy. It is not meant to make fun of or minimize demons. It is meant to provoke the reader to think and make changes.

Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement.[1] Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

In The Screwtape Letters, the 31 letters have one purpose: Screwtape encourages and advices Wormwood, in various ways to destroy the "patient."
Some examples of these ploys and plots:
  • In prayer, focus on what is made and not the Creator
  • Focus on material objects and possessions
  • A person who prays for their family yet is abusive
  • Worry
  • Focus on the current state of mind and not God
  • Absorb with the things of earth
  • Regret
  • Fear of future
  • Lust
The number one ploy that I found disturbing is the subtleness of temptation. Temptation is not necessarily a one time big moment, but is instead a slow moving and slippery enticement.
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human to live in the Past...It is far better to make them live in the future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time-for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Page 76.
I am so glad I read, The Screwtape Letters!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bible Reading Update

My first Bible reading update for 2017!
The Bible I am reading through the Bible this year for daily readings is the NKJV Chronological Study Bible.

This link will give you the ability to see several pages.

Since January 1, I've read:
Genesis 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.

Links of interest:
9 Tips for Studying the Bible, from Lifeway Women
References for Scripture Engagement, from Bible Gateway
Daily Bible Reading Plans, from Bible Gateway
One Year Bible Online
My Favorite Bible Reading Plan by Tim Challies
Olive Tree Blog, Bible Reading Plans
Ligonier, Bible Reading Plans---This link shows a long list of various choices in plans
Resolutions for the New Year, from Blue Letter Bible

Are you interested in a new journaling Bible. I hear good things about this one.
The One Year Chronological Bible Expressions

A free Bible study on The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp is on Facebook. The Bible study group, Faith Gateway, is offering the study series. The ability to watch the video sessions is free. You will need to purchase the work book. The Amazon price is cheaper than what the study group offers. The study group provides a link and code for $4.00 off, but the price on Amazon is cheaper at $7.39.

Bible links courtesy of Bible Gateway.

Are you reading your Bible?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:14 ESV

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

(Review) Life Lessons from the Hiding Place: Discovering the Heart of Corrie ten Boom by Pam Rosewell Moore

Publication Date: 2004
Publisher: Chosen Books
Genre: Biography
Pages: 232
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 5 stars for excellent


Life Lessons from the Hiding Place was written by the last companion and caregiver of Corrie ten Boom. During the years Pam Rosewell Moore was with Corrie, she observed Corrie's faithfulness to mission work and her declining health.
In Life Lessons from the Hiding Place, an examination of the ten Boom family members is shown; and through Corrie's experiences we are given a strong testimony of her faith in action.

My Thoughts:
The Hiding Place was published in 1971. It was written with an emphasis on the ten Boom family's experience of hiding the Jews during World War II. And it was written with an emphasis on a willingness to sacrifice their lives for what they believed in.
In The Hiding Place, Corrie comes across as stoic; however, this is not the case. She grieved over the deaths of family members. She had a difficult time forgiving her perpetrators.
In Life Lessons from the Hiding Place, several strong points help to fill the gap on Corrie ten Boom.
  • A dimensional Corrie.
  • An examination of the ten Boom family. This includes a brief sketch of the positive and negative aspects of the family.  
  • Corrie's life after the war: mission work, books written, and speaking engagements.
  • The difficult progress of forgiveness.
  • Corrie's developing trust and dependence on God.
  • The strong teachable spirit of Corrie.
  • A closer look at Betsie ten Boom.
If you have read The Hiding Place, I encourage you to read Life Lessons from the Hiding Place.
It is a second look at Corrie's story, and it fills the gap on so much of her life and the ten Boom family.

A favorite quote:
It is going to be a harder winter than we have ever had before. We must show through our joy the worth of being a Christian. We should already be doing this, because seeing the dark clouds approaching is often harder than being covered by them. Betsie ten Boom. Page 91.