Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Queen's Handmaiden by Tracy Higley

This is the best historical Christian fiction book by Tracy Higley to date! What a lot of historical research went into this. I couldn't put this book down until I read the last precious page.

Lydia is a servant to Cleopatra in Alexandria when the story begins. She soon is passed on to the visiting Herod who wants to take her back to be the personal servant to his bride-to-be. On the way to Jerusalem, they stop in Rome where for a brief time she is the personal servant of Octavia, wife of Marc Antony. This story takes place in the decades immediately before Jesus' birth. An old Jewish man who has been Lydia's mentor entrusts her with some scrolls from the Prophet Daniel that need to be delivered to a certain person in Jerusalem on a certain date. This story has many twists and turns and it makes all the historical figures included much more real than the history books. But the most compelling part of it is Lydia's growing faith, her quest to find out who her parents were and the faith of the followers of the One True God that she meets along the way. I was especially interested in getting a better picture of all the machinations and political intrigue that went on in the Sanhedrin and between the Pharisees and the Saducees, as well as all the manipulations done by the leaders of Egypt, Rome and Judea.

Tracy gives us a little teaser in her remarks at the end that the next book will follow this one chronologically. I can't wait!!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Shining Light by Judith Miller

This book is the third in the Home to Amana series. This one is about a woman who grew up on a farm next to one of the Amana colonies. She returns as a widow with a small child to live with her father on his farm and finds that the farm was sold to the Amana Colonies and her father is dead. The colonists take her in and she finds a place for herself and her son in the fabric of life there. Her past comes back to haunt her for a while but all eventually works itself out as in all good stories.

The author obviously did a lot of research and I think it is interesting to see what life in these colonies was like in the late 1800s and get a glimpse of their religious beliefs and day to day ways. I like the idea of every individual working for the good of the whole much like in the early church when all put their assets into the group and everyone worked to that end and widows and children were provided for.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House for the purpose of reviewing it. All comments and ideas are my own.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Echoes of an Angel by Aquanetta Gordon and Chris Macias

Aquanetta Gordon is a lady who has overcome a lot of obstacles in her own life and then had a son, Ben Underwood, who had his own trials to face. Ben developed tumors as a toddler that led to losing his eyes. And then as a teenager, they returned and ultimately took his life. But the story of his life is the subject of this book and it was a joyful, triumphant life. Ben taught himself to navigate by sound (echolocation) and miraculously seemed to actually see even though he had prosthetic eyes. He "saw" so well by sound and his other senses that many people did not immediately realize he was blind. He was a video game whiz and he taught himself to know what the action would be of the character by the sounds he heard. Ben also loved the Lord with all his heart and perhaps was able to be even more spiritually inclined due to his supersensitive senses.

This book was co-written by Chris Macias, who helped Aquanetta put her life and Ben's life down into a very enjoyable story. I read late into the night to continue reading this fascinating tale. Ben left a legacy for his family and friends and for disabled people in the world to strive for the very best for themselves and not be satisfied with the status quo or the low expectations of others. His mother still lives as a testimony to the ability of humans to overcome obstacles and forge ahead.I loved this book!

This book was given to me by Tyndale for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

For Such A Time by Kate Breslin

What a wonderful book! I don't normally enjoy WWII novels all that much because they are sad and depressing but I was intrigued by the parallels to the Book of Esther in the Bible. That is my granddaughter's favorite story and she has read all the novels and watched all the movies made on the subject. I will now pass this book on to her and also to my daughter whose favorite thing is WWII stories. The best of both worlds. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It would be a great book for a homeschool reading list about WWII and the Nazis' death camps. I learned a lot more about some of the things I saw in Germany and Poland and more than I remembered from my history books. The author's notes at the end are most helpful too.

The story is about Hadassah Benjamin aka Stella who is rescued from a concentration camp and taken to another camp by the new commandant to be his secretary. As it turns out, her Uncle Morty is in that camp. The story unfolds as Stella does everything she can to make the prisoners' lives easier and to protect a young boy in the commandant's household. As she spends time with the commandant, she is drawn more and more to him as she sees the things that haunt him and the Christian qualities he has. As he draws closer to her, he questions what he is doing as the commandant of this camp. It is a story you won't be able to put down. You will want to continue reading to see what will happen next. Although it is just fiction, it is a gripping and compelling story that will make you want to know more.

I highly recommend this book to young and old alike. It is a history lesson we don't want to lose sight of. We need to remember that this happened and pray that it never happens again.

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

This is the essence of who I am

I decided a long time ago that either the Bible is 100% true or it is a waste of time. After much study, it is my considered opinion that it is 100% true. Therefore, I am bound by its precepts and commissions. The entire book is the story of God seeking relationship with the people He created and providing redemption to make it possible after those people failed miserably right out of the starting gate. The one commission given to us as Christians is to witness to everyone else and try to bring as many others along with us as we can.

My impetuosity and Type A personality make me want to just purchase copious amounts of duct tape and drag my family and friends kicking and screaming into eternity with me but unfortunately, God doesn't operate that way and it's not legal for me to use those methods either. So I'm left with persuasion, cajoling and a host of other relatively ineffective methods of bringing them along. Through God's providence, however, I am not required to devise those plans on my own. I just have to be the willing conduit for the Holy Spirit to use. And He loves these people even more than I do.

Even as a very young child my main focus was digging up any and all truth. I wanted to know who, when, where, how etc. And my other focus was soaking up love wherever it was offered. I have pretty much devoted my entire life to both pursuits. Love was pretty hard to find in the human realm but once I tasted the Love of my Heavenly Father, I was in the everlasting arms of El Shaddai -- the God that is more than enough.

Truth is elusive too with so many different voices trying to indoctrinate us into their pet beliefs and ideologies. I don't take anything on face value. I won't build my worldview on 20 minutes of some professor's rant or even some preacher's rant. I want the fact, the truth behind what is being said. I will dig until I find it. Science is much touted but a closer study will find that much of it is theories and ideas, not proven fact. History is purported to tell us all sorts of things, but does that history stand up to scrutiny? I have to know. Even as a very small child it needed to make sense. Some things still don't and I'm still searching. But the one thing that makes perfect sense is that I know Jesus personally and He is my best friend. I have a personal relationship with Him. I am an eyewitness to the extravagant love, protection, provision and peace He has provided to me day in and day out since that relationship was established. Just as the disciples were willing to die rather than say His resurrection wasn't real because they knew, that they knew, that they knew that He had risen from the dead, I am willing to go the distance and not forsake my relationship with Him for any kind of expediency or due to any type of coercion. He is mine and I am His. And that is the sum total of it.