Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Journey to the Well -- Diana Wallis Taylor

This is the first book I've read in a long time that I did not read because I needed something from it, other than entertainment.  I was not given a free copy by a publisher upon agreeing to review it.  I read it for pure pleasure.  I read it because I felt I had to read it. And I'm glad I was led to read this book.

Before I read this book, I found stories about the Woman at the well in many other books I was reading. In fact it seemed as if she just kept popping up all over my life. I figured maybe I needed to better understand her. Then this book popped up on the free e-book list. So I downloaded it. 

The writing was splendid. I was grabbed immediately and never let go. I had to finish this book, I felt compelled to keep reading long after I should have been in bed. The character development was incredible, none of the characters were flat, and Marah was strong and beautiful inside and out. She had dreams of meeting Jesus long before the encounter at the well and those dreams kept her hanging on, and kept her strong. 

Her five husbands were dealt with in depth and you saw clearly how she came to be where she was. From a historical perspective, it was also clear how she could have had five husbands and a live in lover and yet still not really been at fault. Many women in that time were not in control of their own fates. 

I'm not a biblical scholar, so I don't know how closely this may or may not follow the stories of her in the Bible. I have read as many accounts of the interaction she had with Jesus as I could find in the Gospels. I found nothing in this book that contradicts those accounts. Mostly though I found myself looking at my life and thinking about how it would have felt to be her sitting there knowing the man you are talking to knows all about you and loves you anyway. I thought about how it would feel to stand before Jesus and feel that unconditional, complete and total love. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone. It's a beautiful story of how God takes our brokenness and makes it something beautiful.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forever After by Deborah Raney

I loved it!  This book hooked from the first chapter and never let go.  It is a beautiful love story, of God's Love for us all.  Jenna is trying to find her life after her husband's death but doing so only highlights how much she doesn't even know who she is.  Lucas thought he knew who he was but a fire took his entire Life's Purpose away.  They stumble into each other then deny the magic between them selves for quite a while.

This book has finally done Christian fiction right.  It is most definitely Fiction and it showed God's love and relationships all the way through.  I've had trouble lately finding fiction that wasn't afraid to show God.  This book, is unapologetically Christian.

There wasn't a moment of slow story.  So many plots intertwined with each other something was always happening.  I loved the way Deborah switched back and forth between Lucas and Jenna as the narrator.  This book was just fantastic and such a breath of fresh air for me.  I can't wait to read more of her stuff!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Max on Life by Max Lucado

Max Lucado never disappoints.  From Hermie to Six Hours One Friday, Max Lucado delivers his topic in a touching heartfelt way.  Max on Life is no different.  He tackles the tough issues with Love and Admiration.  As all Christians are called to do. This book is the conversation we've all wanted to have with Max.  I've trusted him for advice on living a Christian life for many years, and now I can go to an indexed topical book and flip right to a quick answer on my question.

What does God think about Divorce? Page 146
What does God think about homosexuality? Page 132
Which religion has it right?  and why? Page 224
How do I control my temper? Page 45
How do I stop worrying? Page 192
Why doesn't God Heal me/my loved ones? Page 82

I really enjoyed this book, much like I've enjoyed every other book I've read by Max Lucado.  I will recommend it to all my friends and family however I will keep my copy for myself!

I was provided a copy of this book by the Publisher, I was not required to write a favorable review.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Divine Appointments by Charlene Ann Braumbich

I really loved this book.  It was such a new spin on the chick lit genre.  The main character, Josie was a lot unlikeable at first.  She seemed cold, harsh and alone.  I couldn't get her.  But then as the book unfolded, Josie opened up and the reader realized she longed to be a part of something just like everyone else.

The water symbolism through out the book was a great play on ideas.  God is often seen as quenching a thirst and an eternal spring.  It was weird to see this play out as a Christian looking in because I already knew what it was all about and Josie seemed to have no idea.

The relationships at Diamond Mutual were illustrated nicely.  You could feel the camaraderie.  Especially with Barb's interactions with Lyle, Marsha and some of the others. Barb was the opposite of Josie.  She had so many relationships and active encouragement you could see her life overflowing.  The firings hit home for me as I experienced a similar layoff while reading the book.  It is a very humiliating and dehumanizing experience.

I did not enjoy reading Marsha's fiction.  While I understand the logic for it's existence in the book, I found it to be very vindictive and vengeful.  It just wasn't my taste.

All in all I really loved the book and all the changes the characters made as they grew in their lives and careers.  I would highly recommend this book to a friend and in fact already have!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Treasure of God's Word: Celebrating 400 Years of the King James Bible

Absolutely gorgeous gift book for a King James Version Bible Lover. It has a leather-appearance Binding with gold leaf on the edges. The book is divided into different subjects with each major section sharing history of the the version. It begins by introducing the KJV Bible and giving the initial history. 

The KJV of the Bible is the most popular version and some feel the most closely related to the original intent. The verses for each section are woven together and support each other well. This is a small book and by no means an exhaustive concordance. It's intended to be a gift for perhaps someone for Christmas or graduation. 

The cover and pages have been treated to look older and this adds to the charm of the book. It is a beautifully bound gift book and I highly recommend it. 

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher to write a review. I am under no obligation to write a positive review.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

Save the Date is a quick, funny, light, beach read. I enjoyed it for those qualities. The characters were developed and while stereo-typical not cardboard cutouts. I liked that this book was set in my hometown of Charleston, SC. I did not like the virtual absence of setting description. Charleston is known for it's beautiful settings, I cannot understand why more of it did not make it into the book. 

The plot was predictable, they fall in love while pretending to be in love. It wasn't a great shock. There were some shocking revelations, however Lucy and Alex falling in love is not one of them. Over all the book was a nice read. 

In this genre, I am finding lately a lot less Christianity in "Christian Fiction". I'd like to see more from the Christian authors. More overt Christianity in the Christian characters. More church attendance. More praying over decisions. Just in general Christians acting more like Christians. This isn't a condition limited to Jenny, I just noticed it while reading her book. There were times when I felt reading this that it was not very Christian-like. Yes, it's cleaner than the typical romance or chick lit novel, but I did not find myself coming away with any revelations or Christian behaviors I wanted to emulate. 

All in all I'd recommend this book to a friend, but not as a Christian book.

I was provided a copy of this book by Booksneeze.com to write a review.  I am not expected to nor do I feel obligated to write a positive review.

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

The Pirate Queen sucks you in right away and doesn't let go until the last page.  As a matter of fact I reached the last page and looked for more.  I have already recommended this book to others!

Saphora the main character decides after 30 years of her husband Bender's infidelity she is done.  She packs her clothes and readies herself to leave.  She wants to live for herself for once.  Just before she walks out the door her husband comes home and tells her he's dying.  Suddenly her plans and her world are turned upside down.  This amazing book is the beautiful story of them both finding the loves of their lives again. She remembers all the reasons and moments of her life that made her love him.  He finds God and in that his love for her and shame over his awful treatment of her.

This book is about the long road to forgiveness and how sometimes receiving it is harder than giving it.

The supporting characters were well-developed, well-researched and integrated into the story.  The childhood friend of Saphora's grandson, Tobias was a nice foil to Bender's old persona. Tobias had been mistreated and dealt a really crappy hand from birth, and still he was considerate, loving and giving. Bender on the other hand seems to have lived a charmed life and was awful in the way he used and discarded people.  Saphora seems to think she offers nothing and yet she is the glue that holds them all together.  She is thread for all these disparate characters.

I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more from Ms. Hickman.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook publishers as part of its blogging for books program.  I am not expected nor obligated to write a positive review.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Living in the Overlap: How Jesus' Kingdom Proclamation can Transform Your World by Steve Schaefer

This book was difficult to get into. I was provided this book by Glass Road PR to participate in a Book Tour. If I hadn't had to read it for the review, I might have put it down and walked away. 

I'm glad I kept reading, I would have missed a great book and a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be a Christian. The classic questions posed to every Christian by every atheist, agnostic and even weakened Christian are addressed here, in the book. While nobody can know for sure why for example, God heals some people and not others, we can know that when Christ returns and the full glory of God's kingdom is set up here on earth, we will all be free of disease and suffering. I was raised Southern Baptist, like the author and found myself nodding along to the rules of the Baptist Church I grew up in. His line about Baptists being against premarital sex because it leads to dancing was classic and made me laugh. I also understand much better the Baptists philosophy of being your brother's keeper. 

I was saddened to read about how most evangelizing doesn't mention the costs of being a Christian. I've been a Christian for over 25 years and I just thought you asked for forgiveness and promised not to do the sin again, and repeat, each time you break that promise. But looking at it from the true Marriage perspective, you must change. You must quit sinning, you must change your life. And you must be willing to give it all up. To follow where ever God may Lead. 

The author's frequent, fully footnoted, use of many respected Christian authors and indeed the Bible itself, led strong credence to the explanations put forth. I was provided a free copy of this book by Glass Road PR. I am not obligated to write a positive review in return for the book.