Thursday, April 27, 2017

#REVIEW: Alabaster by Chris Aslan

Title: Alabaster
Author: Chris Aslan
Series: none
ISBN: 978-1782642282
Pages: 208
Publisher: Lion Fiction (Kregel)
Published Date: March 28. 2017
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: Maryam is stuck in an abusive marriage, living with her in-laws in a conservative, toxically religious village. A few years back, her father was given a jar of priceless perfume by a dying leper and it seemed as if their fortunes would improve, but then Maryam's father contracted leprosy and was exiled from the village. Maryam and her siblings, Eleazar and Marta, experience the shame and ostracism this brings. The precious jar that was meant to bring them freedom has only brought destruction. But rumors abound concerning a new doctor; perhaps hope is on the horizon. . . .
Alabaster brings a first-century Middle Eastern village and its culture to life for modern-day readers.

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is one of my favorite stories within the gospels. I love to see anyone attempt to fictionalize this and flesh this woman out. And this book did an amazing job.
Once I started it, and thankfully I did it on one of my days off, I couldn't stop, I couldn't tear myself away from this haunting and beautiful story of first century Middle Eastern culture. The heroine's tale is so well-written, I found myself right next to her in her pain, shame and grief. And when hope came along, I was right there with her, my heart soaring along with her.
You have to read it to understand how rich and captivating this story is, words just seem shallow in comparison to reading this book and being transported there.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

#REVIEW: Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top by Susan K Marlow

Title: Andi Saddles Up
Series: Circle C Stepping Stones #1
Author: Susan K Marlow
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Published Date: March 28, 2017
ISBN: 978-0825444302
Pages: 112
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: Andi Carter has just turned nine. She and her palomino, Taffy, are old enough to be a real horse-and-rider pair at last! With a beautiful new saddle, Andi's sure she is ready to learn to trick ride like her friend Riley used to do before he left the ranch.

Sadly, big brother Chad knocks down any trick-riding plans, but Andi cheers up when she discovers a new friend at her special spot. Her fun with Sadie is soon threatened, though. They are caught in the middle of a boundary quarrel between the two families. Both Sadie's pa and Chad are stubborn as mules and neither will back down.

Can Andi and Sadie hang on to their friendship while the adults are fighting?

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book stars a young girl, Andi Carter, in the 1800's . It starts out on Andi's 9th birthday, where finally she can ride her palomino, Taffy, all by herself. During the book, Andi is confronted with how to face disappointment as a growing young lady, and not a child, as well as watching how adults handle their differences. Unfortunately, learning how adults settle their differences wasn't exactly a pleasant experience for Andi, and nearly tears apart a budding friendship with their neighbors, with whom they now have a boundary issue.
In the end, Andi sees that boundary issues can be complicated, but only as complicated as you make them. It is more important to help those in need than to stick with your pride.

Title: Andi Under The Big Top
Series: Circle C Stepping Stones #2
Author: Susan K Marlow
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Published Date: March 28, 2017
ISBN: 978-0825444319
Pages: 105
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: The summer after Andi Carter turns nine the circus comes to town. She can't wait to get in line to see the elephants, acrobats, and--most of all--the champion bareback rider. What could be more thrilling than riding your very own horse under the big top?
When the Carters see the show, Andi meets Henry Jackson, a small boy selling concessions. Andi thinks his job must be perfect, hanging out with happy clowns, exotic animals, and excited visitors. But it's not all fun and games. Henry shares a secret with Andi: he ran away from home to join the circus--and now he's trapped. Andi wants to help him get free. But helping him may mean losing something very special to her.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a continuation of the previous book, Andi Saddles Up, and stars a 9 year old girl, Andrea, nicknamed Andi, in the 1800's. How exciting can a circus coming to town be for a 9 year old in the 1800's?! She can't wait! When she finally does see the circus she meets a young boy about her age, named Henry. How much better and more exciting must his life be, in the circus, travelling around the country, than her own? Instead, she learns a much darker side to the flamboyant and colorful circus. Trying to help her new friend escape the circus could mean disaster for another friend even dearer to her.
This book is a great read for children in middle elementary school (my 8 year old loves it!) with a gentle undertone of Christian historical fiction.

Friday, March 24, 2017

#REVIEW: The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

Title: The Elusive Miss Ellison
Series: Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace #1
Author: Carolyn Miller
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Published Date: February 27, 2017
Buy It Link: Amazon

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
After having just completed a Regency time period book, it was easy to jump right back into that time period. However, this book was so different than the other Regency books I have read, in the fact that it's not centered around the Season and multiple balls, and stolen kisses in dark and shadowy alcoves.
This book is a refreshing change into a country scene where balls don't matter as much as pulling up your sleeves and helping those that need the help and can't fend for themselves.
Faith is a big thread throughout this book, having the main character be the town's minister's daughter, it could go either way. But it's that faith that ends up bringing the two main characters together and changing their preconceived notions about each other.
I really enjoyed reading this book and watching as the characters slowly evolved as the storyline progressed.

Friday, March 3, 2017

#REVIEW: Would You Lile To Know? Collection

Title: Would You Like To Know Collection Gift Set
Series: Would You Like to Know Boxed Set
Author: Various
ISBN: 9781781283271
Pages: 168 total
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Published Date: February 27, 2017
Buy It Link: Amazon | Kregel

Synopsis: In this new addition to the fantastic Would You Like to Know? series, six little books are featured in one boxed gift set. Each book offers a starting point for young children to explore some of the key points of their faith and gain a greater understanding of Christianity. Each title has accessible illustrations, an inscription page, and notes for parents. A wonderful gift for those getting to know the church.

Would You Like to Know About God?
Would You Like to Know How to Pray?
Would You Like to Know Jesus?
Would You Like to Know the Bible?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Christmas?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Easter?

My rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of these books in exchange for an honest review.
This is a great boxed set of short stories for pre-school kids. The language is easy to understand for them, it doesn't go into a lot of details, and the illustrations are colorful enough to grasp their attention. For these reasons, I think this is a great addition to any Sunday school classroom.
However, I would like to say that I don't believe these would stand up very well to handling by younger hands. Yes, the pages are thicker than normal pages, and the books are presented in a wonderful glossy boxed set. I still don't think they are sturdy enough to handle the rough treatment that some kids can give them.

Friday, February 24, 2017

#REVIEW: Control Girl by Shannon Popkin

Title: Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible
Series: none
Author: Shannon Popkin
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Published Date: Jan 27, 2017
ISBN: 978-0825444296
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: Little fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don't match your version of perfect. Tension, anger, fear, anxiety--it all begins with a heart that craves control. When your perspective of how life should go replaces God's, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts.
Thankfully, there is a better way.
Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve's desire to know instead of trust, Sarah's inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah's controlling hand on her family's future, each of these women's stories contain warnings and lessons for us today.
Learn how you too can lay down this burden of trying to control everything and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ever heard of a worrier? Yeah, I take that to an art form, along with probably 30% of the American population. I have worried about conversations I had years ago and actions I should or shouldn't have done because of those conversations. So do a lot of other people. And people who are worriers are ultimately dealing with control issues. When things seem out of control, that is when I worry the most.
From these seven women of the Bible, I found that I am probably most like Eve, in her need to know instead of trusting in what others tell me. But whether I am like Eve, or Rebekah, or Esther, I have been able to learn lessons from each of these women. At the end of each chapter are Bible verses to reflect on and questions to answer as you work your way through the book.
One of the quotes from the book that struck me was “If it’s hidden, it’s out of our control.” In a way, I can agree with it, in another way, my job requires me to dig deeper, look at details. It's a struggle for me to dig for details, and to trust at the same time.
Overall, I found this book to have a lot of good advice to let go of the smaller worries that I really have no control over.

#REVIEW: The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

Title: The Dog Who Was There
Series: none
Author: Ron Marasco
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published Date: January 31, 2017
Pages: 272
Buy It Link: Amazon | Thomas Nelson

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.
Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.
On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was interested to see a dog's perspective of Jesus and first century Jerusalem. However, the book itself took a very long time to actually get to the action, and because of this, it was very hard to keep going in the beginning. This came a lot from backstory, flashbacks, etc.
Before starting this book, I was hoping to see a more up close storyline to Jesus, and the fact that it was so far away from ground zero was disappointing. On the other hand, it was refreshing to see how far outwards Jesus' influence went even during his life. And, of course, the end of the book was fantastic in how it brought the beginning of the book all the way to the end. A thread of a storyline I didn't realize was running through the book until I saw the end.
Overall, the author's writing is just okay for me, but the book is built on a great premise.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

#REVIEW: Achaia by Ronald Beckham

Title: Achaia: The Days of Noah
Series: none
Author: Ronald Beckham
Publisher: WestBow Press
Published Date: December 20, 2016
ISBN: 978-1512750010
Buy It Link: Amazon

Synopsis: Technology–it’s about OUR generation, isn’t it? Or is it? Could it have happened long before the stone, bronze and iron ages we think of as the dawn of modern technology? The Bible tells us something of Cain, the second man, who “was building a city” (Genesis 4:17 & forward). Within a short time, we find tent making, the creation of harps and flutes, and the making of sophisticated bronze and iron tools, thousands of years before such things were supposed to exist. “Achaía, The Days Of Noah” presents a high technology on a unique basis, a world filled with underground and above ground cities, laser weaponry, electrical and nuclear energy, modern warfare and space travel. Genesis 6:11-13 is God’s view of the world at that time: “corrupt…and full of violence.” The earth was to be destroyed by an immense flood with earthquakes and volcanism under the waters that destroyed the world, its civilization and ended for a time our violent tendencies. What was that world like?–Read “Achaía” and find out.

My Rating: 2 stars

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I really struggled to read this book. The basic characters weren't so bad. Reading the book, sometimes I could understand the inner workings of the characters and wanted to know them more, other times the utter strangeness of the whole book swallowed me up. There is a huge leap in technology to go from the Iron and early Bronze Age and then to suddenly be in something that is more futuristic than our own modern day life, and then knowing that somehow we end up going back to the Stone/Bronze Ages, all within a few hundred years. This disparity is what really threw me, and didn't allow for an enjoyment of the book.
Even as a steampunk and fantasy reader, I felt this book had far too much imagination, with not enough facts to ground it into a believability. Now, if this were a whole different world, it would be so much easier and more enjoyable to read.