Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: The Saga Continues to My Delight

     Bethany House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of Taming the Wind in exchange for an honest book review. Tracie Peterson has wowed me again with the third installment of the Land of the Lone Star series. The Civil War is still fresh in the minds of many folks out in the west. Tensions are high between the opposing Union and Confederate soldiers and the citizens out in Texas are on edge. This volume picks up shortly after Brandon and Laura had moved out of Corpus Cristi to establish a ranch and a family of their own.  Widowed Carissa Lowe joins her pregnant sister and brother-in-law at the ranch with her two-year-old daughter, Gloria, to help out.
     Tyler Atherton, a friend of Brandon, periodically pops up at the ranch for a visit. It soon becomes apparent Carissa has captured his heart. However, Mr. Atherton is a man of his word and doesn't want to promise a future to anyone, especially to Carissa and Gloria, if he is uncertain he can deliver. Carissa keeps a guarded heart after the abuse she suffered at the hands of  Malcolm Lowe. As she allows God's love to fill her heart, He opens her heart to new possibilities. While Tyler and Brandon are out on a months-on-end cattle drive up north both, Tyler and Carissa acknowledge their growing love for one another. Just when Tyler thinks he will be able to proclaim is heart to Carissa, she goes missing.
     It is no wonder Peterson is such an accomplished author. Her stories are complicated and intricate without losing focus on the character development and main plot line. She carries the characters from one saga to the next seamlessly while allowing Carissa's story to step into the foreground and Laura's to the back. We first met Carissa as an immature teen wanting to play in a grown up world in Touching the Sky. In this volume, the reader witnesses Carissa crossing the threshold into womanhood. The emotions are tangible and real that all can relate to in some manner. Nothing is written so fanciful or unrealistically that you know without a doubt this is a work of fiction. Rather, the reader will be captivated with each facet of the story and entangled that it is hard to put the book down.
     In fact, I read the first fifty pages in one sitting and I was so much enamored with the story, the next sitting I read through the end, page 324, closing the book at 3:30 in the morning. So, I recommend you pull out your copy of Taming the Wind before dusk. One thing is for certain, I must get my hands on the first installment of the series. If the story of the Marquardt girls continue I will definitely be following their journey.

Here is the link to the review of  book #2, Touching the Sky.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Review: Stabilize Your World

    BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing provided a complimentary copy of Globequake: Living in the Unshakeable Kingdom While the World Falls Apart in exchange for an honest review. Author Wallace Henley provides guidance to find stability and comfort for the reader in the midst of turbulent times. Looking at the headlines of the nightly news one is submerged into insecurity, insanity and instability. Businesses are collapsing, morality is plunging into the depths of darkness and deceit and families are being ripped at the seams. The changes around us are coming so rapidly that it is hard to make heads or tails of as many current events. What can one make of this? Is there any place to find solace and refuge?
    Many people seek comfort in the material wold, turn to drugs and alcohol or other deadly vices. Henley offers the reader the only lasting  source of comfort that can be applied in every domain and sphere of life: the life of Jesus Christ. The earth can quake, the floor can slip beneath our feet, all else can crumble around us, while the Kingdom of God will stand firm and steady. Henley paints a grim picture of what is happening around the world that can lead to confusion and fear. Further into Globequake he then breaks down the problems that beset our days and then in subsequent chapters gives biblical counsel to steady our gaze and plant our feet on terra firma. People need to live intentionally and have clear cut visions, values and missions in view for various avenues of life, hopefully all of which head in the same direction.
     This book was not what I expected. It was better and more concrete.The suggestions made are biblical, wise and practical. Henley doesn't provide a list that seems impossible to implement. What is your vision? What are your values? And what is your mission as a family? a person? a church?
    As a mother, I appreciated his sage advice that stability begins in the home. It starts with the individual. Our children's schooling and training is an integral part to stabilize our changing society. Instead of feeling hopeless and desperate as we look around at the crumbling pillars of society, we gain hope as we look to our Savior. He alone can hold us up. Nothing can conquer His Kingdom. That message permeates Globequake.
     Globequake is enjoyable to read, not that the news isn't discouraging at times. The delivery of the bad news is written in such a personable manner, the impact of the punches is tolerable. That and hope is quick to follow. Whether Henley is speaking of the person, the church, the family, education, government or the business market he brings stories throughout history to back his thought process and provides clear vision throughout. In about 250 pages, one can grasp the hope we have in God alone and gather valuable input to make their world a lot more sturdy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: Your New Bible Companion

     Recently I had the privilege of reading a complimentary copy of 90 Days Thru the Bible: A Devotional Journey from Walk Thru the Bible from Tyndale Momentum in exchange for a review. 90 Days Thru the Bible will guide the reader to a better, overall understanding beginning with the book of Genesis through Revelation. How would one compile the gist of the Bible within 216 pages to be read in 90 days? To begin with, very precisely. Remember your days in high school and college and you ran out of time to read the assigned reading in its entirety? A student could run to the book store and grab the book's accompanying Cliffs Notes and get the rundown of the story. Ninety Days Thru the Bible is the biblical equivalent to Cliffs Notes with heart, for the Bible. I loved it!
    Walk Thru the Bible with Chris Tiegreen has truly brought believers a book that grasps the scope and breadth of the Bible within relatively a few short pages. Every day's devotional is two to three pages in length and can be read in under ten minutes (that would be a slow, perusing pace). Some books of the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, can be hard to ingest with various foreign names and customs,whether one is a new believer or a seasoned Christian.  Not only does the day's reading bring stories to light, but 90 Days Thru the Bible lays out doctrine and personal application.
     I remember when I was a young believer and sat in the pew wondering whom some of these characters were that were new to my ears. Soon I became acquainted with my Bible, however this devotional would have been  a greatly appreciated companion to explain what I was reading and trying to learn. No doubt the learning curve may not have been so steep. For example, looking at the books of I and II Kings at first glance is like learning a foreign language and history at once between the names of kings and their reigning dates. How great it is to read a summary of the books in 90 Days as a preface to the Bible.
     Again, most believers will gain a better grasp of God's Word in this precise, concise, condensed book. Every devotion is enjoyable and informative. At the end of each day a question or two is posed to the reader to internalize what was just read and to derive practical application from the selection. Included in the back of the book is a 13-week study guide which could be used individually or in a small group setting. I would personally use it as a guide as I read my Bible to truly penetrate God's Word. No matter if you are on a short- or long-term quest 90 Days Thru the Bible  will be a welcomed companion for  your journey.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Fearless if You Dare

     Chosen Books provided a complimentary copy of Fearless Daughters of the Bible in exchange for an honest review. Author J. Lee Grady wants to empower women in the church. Through the biblical accounts of women who fought for something they passionately believed in to modern day women pioneers Grady shows that women are not meant to be relegated to the corner of the room. Some of these women stood steadfast against tradition, their past or injustice. Others went on to protect their people, live with courage or worship freely. The message is: you can, too.
      Grady is discontented with nature of women's role within the church today. Whether it is due cultural mandate or religious indoctrination he feels women have been told to be passive, quiet and  timid. Miriam's worship is anything, but passive. It is passionate and uninhibited. Ruth's move onto Boaz's threshing floor was bold and risky. So, why are women told they cannot take the lead? Here is where I had a little trouble swallowing this author's theology.
     A fine line distinguishes leadership and brazen disobedience. I do not believe women should pastor, however he does as he mentioned some women who do lead churches as examples. Here's my suggestion, Read at your own discretion. There are many perfectly biblical examples that are kosher with my doctrinal views. I do think some of  Grady's empowering encouragement could be contorted in some reader's minds and be taken to an unbiblical application. Frankly, some may categorize this as feminist propaganda.
     With that said, I did enjoy some of the chapters in Fearless Daughters of the Bible. He does give some good pointers to overcome some of our past issues that may be hindering us from living fully for God's kingdom. The questions posed to the reader are thought-provoking and interesting. I appreciated that lesser known women of the Bible were included and expanded upon.
    Fearless Daughters of the Bible may be a great fit for you. This book wouldn't stand well with reformed or evangelical audiences. However, if you dare to pick this one up may you will become fearless in your faith and stand beside some other fearless female saints.