Monday, April 30, 2012

Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

When I requested to review this book from Blogging for Books, I wasn't aware that this was the third book in a series - the description from the blogger site was unclear in this.  I usually avoid reviewing books in the middle of a series, unless I've read the others, as often times the story line just picks up and takes off without much back-tracking to catch up readers who haven't started with the first book of the series.  It took me a while to get into the swing of the book - which wouldn't have happened had I known more of the story and characters from the previous books.  With that said, this is an action packed story, that was well written.  My only suggestion would have been to make it a little easier for those of us who came in during the middle, so to speak.  There is something about small towns - personally, I love them (and yes, I live in one too).  They seem safe, a dot on the map that most people have no clue about, but in this story terrorism hits this small town and it's unnerving.  In small towns everyone seems to know everyone else, so to have a situation like this in a small town and not knowing who is behind it leaves the residents wondering if this is an inside it someone among them?   Overall, not a bad story...

Thanks Blogging for Books for the opportunity to review this book.

As One Devil To Another by Richard Platt

As One Devil To Another by Richard Platt we get to peek into the diabolical correspondence between Scardagger and his mentor, Slashreap.  The book is written in the tradition of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, only Platt doesn't hold back punches.

While reading many of these letters between the up-coming Temptation University student and his uncle/mentor can be unnerving, in many ways it's nice to get some 'insider knowledge' into the ways, thinking and schemes of our enemy, Satan.

While this is a work of fiction, the premise is very real - there are evil forces working against God and they truly have a real plan to keep people as far away from God as possible.  Through a series of letters between devils, senior devil Slashreap trains his young protégé, Scardagger, to win an individual soul away from Heaven and into their clutches. As the devils plot their way to triumph, they reveal the spiritual dangers and risks we face in today’s society. Their frighteningly accurate perspective on issues such as contemporary technology and sexual mores is interwoven with timeless matters such as the power of prayer, the purpose of suffering, and the promises held out by Heaven . . . and Hell.

The most disturbing part of reading the book for me was seeing the references of God and Jesus listed as the "Adversary" between these two demons...despite the fact that this is the way the real Satan sees God and Jesus...I guess just seeing it in black and white was what disturbed me most.

It's important as Christians to be armed for all the attacks the enemy has and this book is a good way, through fiction, to understand more of the ways that the enemy can invade lives.  It's important to approach this book with prayer - spiritual warfare - all readers should be well armed and equipped as they read through this book.

Thanks to the Tyndale Blogger Network for supplying this complimentary copy for my review.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Benedict Arnold: Legacy Lost (A Ghost's Story) by Will Martin

Do you remember the facts learned about Benedict Arnold from school history class?  When you mention the name, the first thing you think of is traitor, right?  In this historical fiction work, author Will Martin, who has spent 10 years researching Benedict Arnold's role in American history, sheds some interesting new insights into who Benedict Arnold really was and why he would betray his country.

 Arnold struggled with President George Washington, as well as family and friends, to change the traitor tag, that ended up sticking with him throughout the annals of history.  As the first elected president of the newly formed United States, George Washington faced many struggles, one of which was keeping secret the true motives of Benedict Arnold.

The book was well written, with a lot of mystery and intrigue.  The plot moves along well. As the mystery unfolds, it shows that Arnold didn't act alone in his treasonous act.  Through the reading of this story it was easy to see that there was more to Benedict Arnold's total story than what was covered in most American history books. This story is much more than just a retelling of history, it's telling the journey of a soul - including two chapters of Arnold's recollection of his listening to Handel's Messiah and the effects it had on him spiritually. 

If nothing else, after reading this historical fiction, you will wonder "what if"...maybe you'll even have a different opinion of Arnold's legacy. I know that I'd like to believe that Arnold had different motives than what I was taught about in school.  Even those who aren't big history buffs, will find the story line fascinating. While a definite answer to why Arnold did what he did lies only with those involved and have now passed on, this story at least gives some other insights to consider.

I wish to thank the author, Will Martin and the publisher, Legacy Lost for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review.

You're My Miracle - Samantha Morgan

In her newest book, teenage author, Samantha Morgan has a hit on her hands.  In "You're My Miracle", Morgan tackles a very mature subject matter, cancer, and she does it with an understanding that is far beyond her 14 year old reasoning.  She draws readers into the story of two young adults who are weaving their way through life, one as a newly reborn Christian, when tragedy rears its ugly head.  She leads her readers on a journey of emotion, as one of the main characters struggles with diagnosis and treatment of cancer.  As the story progresses, the characters mature and their relationship grows.  She weaves a tale of true fears with compassion and understanding.  The end of the story will leave you uplifted, as she shows that despite the twists and turns of cancer, life still moves on.

As part of a group that has read this book, we were all amazed at the maturity shown in the author undertaking this topic and handling it with such insight and understanding.  Many in the reading group stated that had they not previously known the age of the author, they wouldn't have believed that she was only a teenager.  All readers in the group gave two thumbs up!  Keep yours eyes on this talented young author!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Illusion By: Frank Peretti

Frank Peretti has a way with words that are truly amazing. He pulled me right into the story and I just could not put this book down.  I was always trying to figure what was going to happen next, where the author was going and how in the world will it end!

Dane and Mandy are married for forty years and have been magicians by trade. Mandy is killed in a car wreck-or is she? Mandy awakens in the present and is nineteen just like she was in 1970.

I don't want to tell too much about the story because you need to read for yourself how the mystery continues!

This was one superbly crafted story that showed love, loss and restoration. The ending was just perfect. Please pick up a copy and see for yourself.

Thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means for You By: Catherine Hickem

I enjoyed this book very much, it made me look at my role as a mother in a deeper way - it helped me see God's desire for me and my relationship with my children.  It's made me draw deeper into knowing 'who I am in Christ'.  Pondering and deeper thought recurs often throughout this book.

I also enjoyed digging deeper into Mary - not just the Mary of the Christmas story - but how Mary should be our role model for womanhood.  Hickem takes the Scriptures we know of Mary and digs deeper - showing that she wasn't just a character in a bible story, but that she was a real person, with real fears, real emotions, real struggles, real questions.  The author did a great job in not only introducing Mary to the readers, but helped detail her inner thoughts and struggles that shaped Mary, so that we could see the incredibly important role she played in shaping Jesus as her son and as the Messiah.

Before reading this book, I hadn't thought too deeply about Mary and her role before, but after reading this book, I see that God is using this as a way to teach women today powerful lessons to be the women He created us to be.

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION: Jesus is Mary's son and Jesus is the Son of God. The God of the universe hand picked Mary to raise His Son!
Mary was there the day Jesus was born and she was there the day he was crucified. Her story is deep and rich and has myriad lessons for any woman-mothers, daughters, sisters, friends.
Mary's story reveals that a woman's heart is important to the Father.
When God selected Mary," Hickem says, "He was looking for heart. God set out to find the precise woman who would give her heart to Him, completely and wholly. He wanted a woman with whom He could entrust His perfect Son. This was going to be no ordinary woman."
Heaven in Her Arms will touch your heart if you are facing fear and uncertainty, wondering about leaving your plans behind, feeling a need for community and the support of other women, or wanting to deepen your life of faith.
Hickem reflects on Mary's story and offers practical applications, as well as inspiring real-life stories from contemporary women. With a six-week Bible study for individuals or small groups, Heaven in Her Arms shows the life of faith Mary exemplified and God's tender heart for His daughters.

Thanks to BookSneeze for the complimentary copy for my review.

Pilgrim's Progress in Today's English by John Bunyan; Retold by James Thomas

John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's Progress was first published in 1678 and has had tremendous popularity with Christians ever since - in fact, it's the second leading best seller of all time, right behind the Bible. In this wonderful retelling of the Bunyan classic, James Thomas, has rewritten the classic in modern English, making the allegory much easier to read and understand.

In both versions, the allegory is of a Christian's pilgrimage from his realization of his need for Christ to reaching Christ's heavenly city.  The allegory serves as a launch pad into scripture and a frank and sincere discussion of the struggles that are common to all who seek to follow Christ. The modern English is helpful to today's readers, but, in my opinion, doesn't detract from Bunyan's original tale.

I wish to thank Moody Publishers for supplying me with a complimentary copy for my review.

Little Pilgrim's Progress: From John Bunyan's Classic by Helen Taylor

I chose this book as part of our home school curriculum because it retells Pilgrim's Progress in an easy-to-understand fashion, in words that children will understand.  My daughter and I truly enjoyed traveling to the Celestial City along with Little Christian, seeing the kinds of troubles he met along the way.  This book is an excellent retelling of the original and really gives everyone who reads it a taste of what John Bunyan wanted to bring to life.  While I feel the book would be best utilized with younger readers in having it read to them or read with them - not to let them try it on their own.  Readers aged 10 and up would have little to no trouble reading it on their own and it's a great way to prepare them for reading the unabridged version when they are older.  Reading this book as a family makes for great, quality time together.  

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION: Your 6- to 12-year-olds will enjoy this journey to the Celestial City in this special version of Pilgrim's Progress adapted just for them! Featuring child-friendly vocabulary and simplified concepts for young readers, Helen Taylor's abridgment leaves Bunyan's unforgettable story line intact. Now fresh illustrations bring the classic to life for contemporary "travelers."

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Helen L. Taylor has carefully rewritten a centuries-old tale in order that children might be able to grasp the truths set out by John Bunyan in 1678. JOHN BUNYAN after years of dealing with his own inner struggles, gave his life to the Lord and spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching the Truth without fear. Perhaps his greatest legacy, is his work, Pilgrim's Progress.

I wish to thank Moody Publishers for sending me the complimentary copy of this book for my review.