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review 2018-10-17 01:59
Take Every Thought Captive
The Cumberland Bride - McNear, Shannon

As the Daughters of the Mayflower series unfolds, paralleling America’s history and English colonization, the stories become more compelling and thought-provoking. Several readers have commented on not caring for the first book in the series, but I would encourage them to try the books that follow because they were, in my opinion, more interesting. Also, any of these books can easily be stand-alones. “The Cumberland Bride” takes place in 1794 along the Wilderness Road that ran from northeastern Tennessee to the western Kentucky frontier. That fact in and of itself was enough to garner my interest, since literature focusing on this specific time period and region seems few and far between, at least in Christian fiction.

The story itself is captivating and full of complexities that embellish the plot. McNear does not shy away from supplying details that immerse the reader in the experience, which I appreciate; it is refreshing to read a Christian story that acknowledges the rough side of life and does not hide behind rose-colored glasses, yet remains clean content-wise. The threat of Indian attack and the horrors of such are discussed, but not graphically. Likewise, the deprivation and difficulty of traveling and living in the wilderness forms a large part of the narrative, a stark reminder as to what our ancestors survived. The conditions seem unbelievable now, and I find myself wondering if people 200 years from now will look back and think the same of our lifestyle.

Another aspect of this novel that really shines is the presentation of the characters. Katarina Gruener, the heroine, has obvious flaws and fragility, which makes her truly come to life on the page. I felt added kinship with her in her affinity for writing and recording stories. Her naivete enhances her relatability, and the awkwardness of the burgeoning romance throughout the novel is endearing and true to life. Indian-settler relations are explored from both sides, with Thomas Bledsoe playing a leading role due to his shadowy past, and I valued how the Native American perspective is respectfully offered. The character dynamics are excellent. For anyone who enjoys a historical jaunt full to the brim with adventure and faith, “The Cumberland Bride” is not to be missed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-10-11 17:39
Bright Lights, Dark Skies by Jess Hanna
Bright Lights, Dark Skies - Jess Hanna

 

A very well written "alien abduction" story from a Christian point of view. The author did a fantastic job in describing that feeling of foreboding that one gets when you know something is there, but you don't want to look. I just thought he did a great job in describing the main character and how his life slowly spirals out of his control because of his close encounter.

Really good book with a great message that is worth consideration when it comes to the subject of UFO's.

Definitely recommended!
 

 

 

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review 2018-10-11 03:22
How the Mighty Have Fallen
Imagine. . .The Fall of Jericho - Matt Koceich

This third installment in Matt Koceich’s Imagine series is my favorite so far. It handles issues pertinent to both Biblical and contemporary society, such as child exploitation and not fitting in, with grace, adding in just enough detail to make sure that young readers understand the situation without it being overwhelming or too frightening. Jake Henry makes a laudable role model, and his situation of feeling alone and unwanted resonates with readers of all ages. His experience in the world of the Biblical Jericho vividly demonstrates a lesson from which we can all benefit: “It’s like God is using this to show me I’m never alone, and I always have a job to do no matter what I feel inside or how crazy the situation is on the outside.” Undeniably, such an outlook on life helps all of us to face our fears and to fully rely on God even when our walls—literal or figurative—are crumbling down around us.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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text 2018-10-10 18:40
Baby trees -- but I don't need another hobby!
Bonsai Basics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing, Training & General Care - Christian Pessey,Remy Samson
Bonsai: Illustrated Guide to an Ancient Art - Sunset Books,Buff Bradley

I'm not sure when I bought these books, but it was probably around 2002 or 2003.  They've been in a box out in the workshop, untouched since at least 2006.  They may never have been opened or read.

 

Believe it or not, one of the reasons in favor of my staying in Arizona is that I don't want to leave my ironwood tree, especially after it bloomed so spectacularly last spring.  I had to leave a magnificent white oak tree when we moved from Indiana, and I'm just not sure I can uproot myself -- pun intended -- from another beloved tree.

 

It's possible, from what I've seen online, to grow desert ironwood trees as bonsai.  I think I can still find some seeds in the yard, but I'm not sure how well they sprout.  I haven't seen any seedlings in the yard, though we've had quite a bit of rain lately that has other little plants shooting up.

 

So, I gotta think about this.

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review 2018-10-05 21:49
Love One Another
Marked by Love: A Dare to Walk Away from Judgment and Hypocrisy - Gareth Stevens Publishing

“Stop telling people they need Jesus, and instead show them they matter. Stop using fear or scare tactics and start loving. Stop talking and start showing. When the people God brings into your life begin to experience a truly giving, sacrificial, unconditional, authentic, and vulnerable love from you, it will have an impact.”

Not your typical Christian nonfiction book, “Marked by Love” truly stands out in the genre. I went into this expecting to glean information about how Jesus expressed His love for us and how we, in turn, are to demonstrate that love to others, but wow, this turned out to be so much more! Many of the points that Tim Stevens articulates are anticipated, and yet he takes them further and stretches them in a way that is honest and raw and, yes, sometimes uncomfortable. An apt description for this book would be eyebrow-raising. Stevens explains that we should move past using the title of “Christians” because it has taken on such a negative connotation over the centuries and is more often than not offensive and use instead a term such as “Christ follower.” At first I was taken aback at this; however, as with so much of this book, I found that when I put aside my initial reaction and considered what Stevens was saying, I understood his point.

The best aspect of “Marked by Love” was that it was thought-provoking. It was an immersive reading experience; it didn’t just reinforce my theological views and ideas but rather challenged me to look outside the box and consider aspects of my faith and life in general in ways I hadn’t before. Stevens doesn’t purport to have all the answers, and although I didn’t always completely agree with him 100%, he expressed and explained his views logically, reaching out to the reader and drawing them in instead of just preaching to them. Many of the Scriptures used throughout the book were taken from The Message, a translation which I have not used before and which offered a new perspective on otherwise very familiar passages. Overall, I found “Marked by Love” to be radically countercultural, especially for conservative, traditionalist Christians (I should say Christ followers!), and doesn’t that also describe Jesus’ ministry during His time here on earth? Breaking down barriers and meeting people where they were with compassion, shattering hypocrisy and judgment by extending love and leaving an example for us to follow so that we can choose to be marked by love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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