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review 2018-08-21 01:09
Who Was David?
Kingdom Files: Who Was David? - Matt Koceich

Marketed as a “biblically accurate biography”, I had some issues with this particular installment in the series. Although I understand the author’s intent to portray David as the “man after God’s own heart” role model that he was, I felt that there was not enough acknowledgement of his mistakes. For instance, the entire episode with Bathsheba and Uriah and the fact that David had many wives were both left out entirely. While these are not necessarily age appropriate fodder for 8-12 year olds, I think that some sensitive mention could be made regarding David’s struggle with sin; it seemed that David was written too idealistically. The biographical section of the book was, in my opinion, a bit confusing and dry for adolescents; the “clues” contained details critical to the story rather than shedding additional light on the narrative, and there was no real tie-in between David’s story and the reader until the power-ups section at the end of the book. Engaging the reader in David’s life story would have made it more appealing and interesting, and including some basic maps along with the nicely-done illustrations would have dispelled some of the confusion of David’s often nomadic life. With all of that being said, however, I honestly did not entirely dislike this book. I think that with a few tweaks it could be as wonderful as some of the others in this series. As it is, I would highly recommend that adults read this story with their kids to answer questions and make things more clear, as well as to help with name pronunciation. This would make a nice study for Vacation Bible School or Sunday School, especially by using each of the ten “power-up” lessons and each one’s accompanying Bible verse as a guide and structuring in the relevant parts of David’s story with each.

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 2018-08-21 01:05
Who Was Esther?
Kingdom Files: Who Was Esther? - Matt Koceich

“Who Was Esther?” proves to be a delightful resource and introduction to this influential biblical figure for those aged 8-12. Esther was a great choice to include in the Kingdom Files series because she is very relatable. She was an orphan raised by her older cousin Mordecai, and she did not come from a particularly high station in life. Furthermore, she was Jewish, and the major backdrop of her story revolves around the persecution that her people faced. Despite all of this, she acted courageously and trusted God, making her an incredible role model. This is underscored throughout the narrative with pertinent Scripture that is infused into the writing, and with tie-ins to Jesus and to God’s role in Esther’s story despite His not being explicitly mentioned in the biblical book. Clues scattered throughout the biographical section offer further explanations and insights, and cute illustrations help bring the account to life. The story itself is followed by a section of ten “power-ups”, each with a memory verse, which includes lessons to learn from Esther’s life and how it relates to how God is working in our lives. This would make a very nice study for Vacation Bible School or Sunday School. My only criticisms are that a pronunciation guide is needed for the names of some of the people, and a kid-friendly Bible translation would be much more appropriate for the verses that go along with the power-ups.

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 2018-08-20 07:40
Dracula: Prince of Many Faces by Radu R. Florescu & Raymond T. McNally
Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times - Raymond T. McNally,Radu Florescu

TITLE:  Dracula:  Prince of Many Faces (His Life & His Times)

 

AUTHORS:  Radu R. Florescu & Raymond T. McNally

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  1989

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780316286565

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From the blurb:

"Dracula: Prince of Many Faces reveals the extraordinary life and times of the infamous Vlad Dracula of Romania (1431-1476), nicknamed the Impaler.  Dreaded by his enemies, emulated by later rulers like Ivan the Terrible, honored by his countrymen even today, Vlad Dracula was surely one of the most intriguing figures to have stalked the corridors of European and Asian capitals in the fifteenth century.

 

Vlad Dracula aslo served as the inspiration for Bram stoker's classic vampire tale.  However, as this biography proves, "the real Dracula is far more interesting than the fictional vampire created by Bram Stoker" (Houston Chronicle).  Covering Vlad Dracula's entire life and subsequent legend, this book includes "a fascinating chapter on the mystery of Dracula's empty grave" (New York Time Book Review)."

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Florescue and McNally have written a a biography about Vlad the Impaler that is interesting, rich in detail, even-handed and circumspect.  The book does a wonderful job of weaving together Dracula's personal life and ambitions with the cultural, social, political and military realities of the time.  The authors also manage to separate fact from speculation without ruining the flow of the narrative.  They were also at pains to separate the myth from the man.  The book also examines Bram Stoker's Dracula novel in light of the real Dracula and his country.  Dracula:  Prince of Many Faces examines who Dracula was to various people - his family, his countrymen, the neighbouring states and his Ottoman enemies. Overall, this is one of the better biographies I have enjoyed.

 

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text 2018-08-18 15:47
Reading progress update: I've read 147 out of 190 pages.
The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim

"A man once made it a reproach that I should be so happy, and told me everybody has crosses, and that we live in a vale of woe. I mentioned moles as my principal cross, and pointed to the huge black mounds with which they had decorated the tennis-court, but I could not agree to the vale of woe, and could not be shaken in my belief that the world is a dear and lovely place, with everything in it to make us happy so long as we walk humbly and diet ourselves. He pointed out that sorrow and sickness were sure to come, and seemed quite angry with me when I suggested that they too could be borne perhaps with cheerfulness. 'And have not even such things their sunny side?' I exclaimed. 'When I am steeped to the lips in diseases and doctors, I shall at least have something to talk about that interests my women friends, and need not sit as I do now wondering what I shall say next and wishing they would go.' He replied that all around me lay misery, sin, and suffering, and that every person not absolutely blinded by selfishness must be aware of it and must realise the seriousness and tragedy of existence. I asked him whether my being miserable and discontented would help any one or make him less wretched; and he said that we all had to take up our burdens. I assured him I would not shrink from mine, though I felt secretly ashamed of it when I remembered that it was only moles, and he went away with a grave face and a shaking head, back to his wife and his eleven children. I heard soon afterwards that a twelfth baby had been born and his wife had died, and in dying had turned her face with a quite unaccountable impatience away from him and to the wall; and the rumour of his piety reached even into my garden, and how he had said, as he closed her eyes, 'It is the Will of God.' He was a missionary."

Quintessential Elizabeth.  And yet, her own cross amounted to vastly more than mole hills, too, in fact.

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text 2018-08-18 15:37
Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 190 pages.
The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim

"All those maxims about judging others by yourself, and putting yourself in another person's place, are not, I am afraid, reliable. I had them dinned into me constantly as a child, and I was constantly trying to obey them, and constantly was astonished at the unexpected results I arrived at; and now I know that it is a proof of artlessness to suppose that other people will think and feel and hope and enjoy what you do and in the same way that you do."

True. But then, you also had the courage to defy convention, Elizabeth ...

 

And I still think at least when it comes to cruelty vs. common decency, there is something to be said in favor of "don't do to others what you don't want to have done to yourself."

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