Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#REVIEW: The Complete Gospels edited by Robert Miller

Title: The Complete Gospels, 4th edition
Series: none
Author:  Robert Miller, editor
Published Date: Jan 1, 1995
Publisher: Polebridge Press
Format: paperback
Pages: 480
ISBN: 9780944344491
Genre: biblical scholarship
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: The Complete Gospels is the first publication ever to collect the canonical gospels and their extracanonical counterpoints under one cover. The selected extracanonical gospels date from the first and second centuries, are independent of the canonical gospels, and significantly contribute to our understanding of the developments in the Jesus tradition leading up to and surrounding the New Testament gospels. Two additional texts, the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of the Savior, and a new text of Q are found in this fourth edition. Each gospel begins with an introduction that sets the text in its ancient and historical contexts and discusses the overall structure and central themes. Cross references point out the numerous parallel passages, intratextual indicators, and thematic parallels so the reader can see how the individual passages of a gospel fit into the rich tapestry of Jewish and early Christian texts. Notes explain important translation issues, supply necessary background information, offer guidance to difficult passages, and honestly indicate problems in the text or in our understanding of them. This volume is the premier publication of the Scholars Version translation of the gospels a fresh translation from the original languages into living American English that is entirely free of ecclesiastical control. The Scholars Version intentionally drops the pretense that academics have all the answers. It strives to avoid both talking down, and over the heads of readers. The goal is to make these fascinating texts intelligible and inviting to all who want to study them.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A long time ago in a far away land, a bunch of men got together and determined which gospels would go into the Bible…and which wouldn’t. And that has been a problem for me lately, as I wonder what we are missing. Surely the others weren’t completely trash, surely there was something in it that fleshed Jesus and his teachings out more. Then I found this book.
The Christian geek in me really enjoyed getting and reading this book. It has all of the known gospels together, from the accepted 4 gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, to the lesser accepted, but still very interesting gospels, like the two Infancy Gospels of Thomas and James, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, the text of Q, etc. I love reading the outside gospels because they give me more, more insight into Jesus, more insight into the characters surrounding him. The best part is that it is all in one place.
The gospels in this book are translated into the Scholar’s Version which is introduced as a “a fresh translation from the original languages into living American English that is entirely free of ecclesiastical control”. I will say right now that I wish we had more than just this translated into this version because it was so easy to read and comprehend. This is really what you need when you are intellectually trying to delve deeply into the gospels. You don’t need to be caught up in the flowery languages, the thee’s and thou’s. You need to focus on the best, most understandable translation from the original text.

This is exactly what this book gives, all in one place. So if the Christian geek in you, is like the Christian geek in me, and wants to delve more into ALL the gospels, you need to check this book out.

Monday, June 29, 2015

#REVIEW: A.D The Bible Continues Miniseries

I don't think I have stopped talking about this miniseries since it first came out. It is amazing! It is touted as a continuation of The Bible miniseries, but it is so NOT. It is continual, it is in-depth, it goes into characters. I'm rambling, that's how much I love this miniseries!
Let me backtrack a bit. This series goes from the trial and crucifixion of Jesus to the blocking of the statue of Caligula in the Temple at about 40 AD, so about 7 years. It doesn't feel like 7 years pass in the series, I would have liked that a little better explained or shown somehow. There is a lot of the history that is glossed over, or just ignored for the continuity of the series. The series works well, as long as you don't start digging deeper into it.
The characters are amazing. Peter is a father, and we get to meet his daughter, and see the struggle between his divine calling and his paternal side. This paternal side of Peter also sets up a very deep hatred between him and Saul. I loved seeing Peter evolve during the series and truly embrace his appointment. I finally got to see how hard this must have been for Peter, to be responsible for this fledgling church in such a politically and religiously tempestuous place as Jerusalem. Saul (he hasn't changed his name yet in the series) is one of the most hated characters for me, and when the showdown between Saul and Peter happens at the camp, I don't think I have yelled so much at a television. I have never been a fan of Paul, and this series just made me love Peter so much more. There is an incredible underlying dynamic between Leah, the wife of Caiaphas, and Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate.I could just go on and on about the characters.
If you really want to get into the feel of what it was like in the decade following Jesus' birth, you have to see this miniseries. It's just amazing.

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Watch Now: Google Play | Amazon

#REVIEW: The Bible MiniSeries

I finally sat down and watched this miniseries after I checked it out from the library. When it originally came out, I was still far too new and raw in my faith to enjoy it. I was still on very shaky ground with my relationship with God, and I just couldn't watch it. However, I have been watching A.D.: The Bible Continues miniseries on NBC and have been absolutely blown away by it. I knew this was the time for me to sit down and watch the other miniseries by Roma Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett.
I was hoping it would be like A.D., where it was one continuous story line, but I was very disappointed. I understand that we are trying to put thousands of years' worth of stories into a miniseries, and you can only do so much. Some things were glossed over, Abraham was introduced as Abraham, instead of Abram, which may seem like a small insignificant detail, however, I have found when God changes names in the Bible, it's usually a turning point for that person.I loved the first episode with the Flood and Noah. I loved how the creation story was introduced as just that: a word of mouth story that was used to explain the beginning, not a hard and fast doctrine that is taken literally. It had the same feel as the myth of Athena, how she came out of Zeus' head.
The special effects were spectacular throughout the entire series. From the very beginning with the flood, to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, all the way to very end with the crucifixion of Jesus. The miniseries won an Emmy for their audio/visual and they deserved it.
This miniseries is a great miniseries but I'm not sure I would have my kids watch it. As a parent, I think I would like to see a little less gruesome violence if I would let a 9 year old and 6 year old watch it. 

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

Watch now: Google Play Store | Amazon

Sunday, June 28, 2015

#REVIEW: Post Traumatic Church Syndrome by Reba Riley

Title: Post Traumatic Church Syndrome
Series:  none
Author:  Reba Riley
Published Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Howard Books
Format: ebook
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9781501124037
Genre: nonfiction spirituality
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Reba Riley's twenty-ninth birthday was not a good time to undertake a spiritual quest, but when chronic illness prompted her to focus on one thing she could fix - her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome - she undertook a challenge: Visit thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. This was transformation by spiritual shock therapy. Reba would find peace and healing ... if the search didn't kill her first. 
During her spiritual sojourn without leaving home, Reba: Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple; Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement; Was interrogated about her sex life by Amish grandmothers; Got audited by Scientologists, mobbed by NPR junkies, and killed (almost); Fasted for thirty days without food - or wine, dammit!; Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom; Learned to meditate with an Urban Monk, sucked mud in a sweat lodge with a Suburban Shaman, and snuck into Yom Kippur with a fake grandpa; Discovered she didn't have to choose religion to choose God ... or good. For everyone who has ever needed healing of body or soul, this poignant, funny memoir reminds us all that transformation is possible, brokenness can be beautiful, and sometimes we have to get lost to get found.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
For anyone who has been so hurt by the church they were raised in that they ran away, or were kicked out, or were rejected, for anyone who believes if they walk even into the shadow of a church God will smite you down with lightening and thunderbolts, or swarms of locusts, this book is for YOU. For anyone to whom the idea of going to church sends you into cases of body hives, panic attacks and nausea, this book is for YOU. For me, who even after 18 years after the fact, wanted to reflex-throat-punch any Roman collar I saw, this book was for ME. I had a bad case of PTCS (Post Traumatic Church Syndrome), sometimes even now, my fellow church-goers will look at me knowingly if a certain subject comes up, knowing that it is certain to set me off.
The author’s Thirty by Thirty challenge was much more in-depth than the one I had done when I was rejected. It was both amusing and heart-breaking to read someone else’s journey into the depths of PTCS hell, but it helped me to see that I wasn’t the only one walking around, suffering from PTCS.

Overall, this is a wonderful, must-read for anyone, no matter what religion or non-religion you practice. I know I have been transformed by reading this book. You will be too.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

#REVIEW: Permission Granted: Taking the Bible Into Your Own Hands by Jennifer Grace Bird

Title: Permission Granted: Take the Bible Into Your Own Hands
Series: none
Author:  Jennifer Grace Bird
Published Date: March 27, 2015
Publisher: Westminster John Knox
Format: ebook
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9780664260408
Genre: nonfiction
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 2 ½ stars

Synopsis:  Millions of people around the world look to the Bible as a source of encouragement and faith formation, a reminder that God is love and is in control, and a guide to living one's life the way God desires. But this treasured book has also been misused and manipulated by many, placed on a pedestal of untouchability, and protected from questioning and honest engagement. In 'Permission Granted', Jennifer Grace Bird encourages people of faith to explore the texts on their own, freed from long-held myths and misconceptions.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was truly looking forward to this book. I thought, “Wow, a book that gives me the power to make the Bible my own, to be able to question and examine, and think for myself!” When I started it, I was in love with the book.
And then I started delving deeper into the verses that she quoted, especially one that she quoted multiple times, in fact used for one of her sections. Her section says: 1. What scripture does 1Timothy 3:16 refer to? 1 Timothy 3:16 says, “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”
What verse she is really referring to is 2 Timothy 3:16, which is “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” I would be totally nit-picking if this only happened once, and I would look like a fool, but she has done it 6 times in the book.
I loved the fact that she used people like Bart Ehrman and Rachel Held Evans, but she’s nowhere near their caliber. It only seems as if she copies what they are saying, then says it at a slightly different angle, to create a book out of it.

There are much better authors to read than this one if you really want to start chewing on the Bible’s words and making it your own.

Friday, June 26, 2015

#FF: Feature and Follow Friday: June 26, 2015


To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn't have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
  6. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  7. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Question of the Week: Is there a book that you were required to read in school that you actually loved? - Suggested byNatalie Hearts Books
I think an easier question would be, was there a book you were required to read that you hated?I mean, seriously...we are all readers here, right? We are more likely to like required reading than dislike it. The books I loved that have stayed with me are: 
  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
There is a book I disliked that I still dislike...A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The line "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Still makes me want to run and cower. There are not many Shakespeare plays I do not like, but I still don't like reading Julius Caesar. 

Amy books you remember hating or loving? Any books still stay with you years after you read it?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Feature and Follow Friday: Tattoos

Question of the Week: If you were to get a tattoo, what would it say or what would the graphic be? Or if you have a tattoo, share a picture and its meaning. 

I have one tattoo, a triquetra, that I got when I was a practicing Wiccan. For me, it represented the Triple Goddess as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Now, it represents the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to me. you have any tattoos? Any Christian symbolism?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#REVIEW: NIrV Study Bible for Kids by #Zonderkidz

Title: NIrV Study Bible for Kids
Series: none
Author:  none
Published Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Format: hardback
Pages: 1792
ISBN: 9780310744030
Genre: study Bible
Age Range: 7-10 years old
Purchase: Amazon | Zondervan |

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: The bestselling NIrV Study Bible for Kids starts early readers ages 6 to 10 on the rewarding path of reading and studying God's Word. This Bible uses the complete text of the New International Reader’s Version® (NIrV) which is written at a third-grade reading level and is perfect for those learning to read. With colorful artwork, easy-to-read Bible text, and fun features, kids will engage with the Bible in a way that makes it stick.
Features include:
•Presentation page—for personalization and gift giving
•32 full-color pages—includes illustrations to bring Bible characters and events to life plus helpful study information about the Ten Commandments, how to become a Christian, prayer, and more.
•Check It Out—sketches and descriptions of what life was like in Bible times.
•Brain Game—questions to help kids remember important Bible themes.
•Soak It up—key verses highlighted for kids to memorize.
•Book Introductions—brief overviews of each book with an outline of key events.
•Dictionary—key Bible words for quick reference.
•Map section

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This Bible makes it very easy for kids between 7 and 10 years old to read God’s Word and be able to understand it. It is written in shorter sentences and an easy to read language that is at their level of comprehension. Usually when reviewing a Bible, I read the book of Ruth, since it is one of the shorter books. This time I chose Esther, and was able to read the book in about 15 minutes. The best part was that I was able to put it down and truly understand what I was reading. The cover is very colorful and looks like it could withstand a fair amount of damage, water not included.
The pictures in the Bible depicting some of the more famous scenes are colorful and interesting for a child to look at. My personal favorite is Elijah and the Fire From Heaven.
Each of the books has Brain Games interspersed throughout the writings, which give the children questions covering the section they just read. It helps so much in comprehension, instead of the child just reading through it blindly and not remembering anything but the basics. It helps them to pause for a moment and think about what they just read.
Another cool feature is the Check It Out boxes, where the customs of the times are explained, with a picture illustrating it. And then there is Soak It Up: a neat feature that isolates one verse for memorization.

This Bible has so many aspects to it that makes it more understandable and enjoyable for children to not only read the Bible, but come away understanding and remembering it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#REVIEW: The Unveiled Wife by Jennifer Smith

Title: The Unveiled Wife
Series: none
Author:  Jennifer Smith
Published Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Format: paperback
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781414398044
Genre: memoir
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:As a young bride, Jennifer Smith couldn't wait to build her life with the man she adored. She dreamed of closeness, of being fully known and loved by her husband. But the first years of marriage were nothing like she'd imagined. Instead, they were marked by disappointment and pain, as Jennifer and her husband struggled to become physically intimate. Trapped by fear and insecurity, and feeling totally alone, Jennifer cried out to God: "What am I doing wrong? Why is this happening to us?" It was as if a veil had descended between her and her husband, and between her and God--one that kept her from experiencing the fullness of love. How did Jennifer and her husband survive the painful times? What did they do when they were tempted to call it quits? How did God miraculously step in during the darkest hour to rescue and redeem them, tearing down the veil once and for all? "The Unveiled Wife" is a real-life love story; one couple's refreshingly raw, transparent journey touching the deep places in a marriage that only God can reach. If you are feeling disappointment or even despair about your marriage, the heart-cry of this book is: "You are not alone." Discover through Jennifer's story how God can bring you through it all to a place of transformation.

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The author puts it all out there in her memoir, and it’s done in such a way that I finished it in less than 24 hours…once I could get into it. Once I did however, I couldn't put it down. This book is a candid look at her marriage and the problems that she has come across. The end of each chapter has questions for you to focus on with your own relationship or marriage. Depending on your relationship, they may or may not be pertinent.

This book truly shows you that if you just have faith, and trust in God that He can help heal a very broken marriage. However, having been through abusive relationships in the past, I need to say that if you are in an abusive relationship, get out of it, don’t hope for God to heal your partner. Don’t even walk away from it, run away as fast as you possibly can. God doesn't want his beloved creation to suffer abuse in the name of a relationship.
I truly enjoyed reading this book, and I hope that the questions in each chapter can make me take a good hard look at my own marriage and see where I am at fault as well, and where healing can help make our marriage stronger.

Friday, June 12, 2015

#FF: Follow Friday June 12, 2015

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If you can step into one characters shoes (in a book) and be them for a day who would it be and why?Also if you want to be creative what scene? via Seeing Night Book Reviews
 I think I would want to be Veronica from Doon by Carey Corp. She finds out that the boy she has been dreaming about her entire life is a prince from another, hidden land, the land of Doon. Who wouldn't want to find out that the one you've been dreaming of your whole life actually exists and is a real life prince? Not saying at all that her life suddenly becomes easy, it definitely doesn't!
I think, with the same sort of faith that Veronica has, that it is very possible to get past all of the hard situations that life throws at us.

Monday, June 8, 2015

#REVIEW: Her Brother's Keeper by Beth Wiseman

Title: Her Brother’s Keeper
Series: Amish Secrets #1
Author:  Beth Wiseman
Published Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: ebook
Pages: 320
ISBN: 140168596X
Genre: Amish fiction
Add to: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon

Rating: 4 ½ stars

Synopsis: Charlotte’s heart has been hardened by personal tragedy, but now she has the chance to find peace in a place she didn’t expect.
Charlotte Dolinsky arrives in Lancaster County with brand new Amish digs and a renewed purpose. It doesn’t take her long to fit into the close Amish community. She might not know how to cook, sew, tend a garden, or milk a cow, but she knows how to lie. And she is a woman on a mission—to wreak havoc on the Plain people and seek revenge for the death of her only brother. But a quiet stranger throws a kink in her plan not long after she arrives. As she delves deeper and deeper into what makes this handsome Amish man tick, she begins to wonder about her intentions and the direction her life is taking.
At twenty-four, Isaac Miller is still unmarried and doesn’t see his status changing anytime soon. The Lord has blessed him with above-average physical attributes, but his awkward shyness keeps him from pursuing a relationship with anyone. When Charlotte—or "Charlie" as she calls herself—arrives in Paradise, she steals his heart, and he longs to be a different man.
Can Charlie get past the resentment she feels and open her heart? What happens when Isaac comes out of his shell, drawing attention from all the available women in the area? Will Charlie be able to hold onto him? And will he still want her when he learns the truth?

My Review: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by NetGalley.
I walked into this book expecting sparks between Isaac and Charlotte, and the author didn’t let me down. Between the grief of Charlotte for her dead brother and her “cousin’s” grief over her dead fiancĂ©e, there are plenty of moments for sadness in this book. But also, there are moments of hilarity: the skunk and the green hair for instance.
At the end, I was able to say this book was nothing like I expected, and yet, so much more. It introduced me to the Amish lifestyle without an overflow of romance and sappiness.
Without this overflow of romance and sappiness, the book was really able to delve deeply into the heart of a woman who refused to have anything to do with a so-called God who would allow horrible things to happen in the world, and see how it changes as she allows a relationship with God to start. Having been there myself with no relationship with God, and gradually evolving into having a relationship that has grown and evolved into something so much more than I would have expected, this book really held onto me as I walked with Charlotte in her struggles with her belief in God.

I feel the author has done a wonderful job of having an Amish book without having the romance that seems to be so prevalent now in these books.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: June 3, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Today is Wednesday and that means new books over at BookLook Blogger. There are a few new Bibles I was eyeing over there but that means that if I'm going to get them, I need to get up early to request them!

Also, there are a few books I am anticipating:

I got a New Revised Standard Edition Bible I plan on reviewing sometime this weekend from the library.