Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

First of all I want to thank the author and publisher for making an Advance Reader Copy of this book available to me for a review. The book will be released on May 1, 2016. Go to your favorite book distributor and reserve a copy.

This is quite frankly one of the best historical novels that I have ever read. I think what makes this so good is that Tessa Afshar was born in Iran, grew up in a nominal Muslim Family and later moved to the West and came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

She brings a very fresh look at Biblical stories and also brings a great understanding of Anthropology and Sociology in regards to the Biblical Times when Jesus Christ walked the shores of Galilee.

In this story we trace the life of a young girl, Elianna, and her life with her Jewish family in Roman Occupied Jerusalem. She and her family must deal with the hardship of heavy taxation, bribes, thieves and the general hardships that the Jewish Religion placed on their people in regards to customs, laws, sacrifices, etc.

Elianna has a tragic situation in her young life when she takes her brother to a hillside to look at the flowers and has the unfortunate issue of his being stung by a bee and discovering (although she wouldn’t know this) that he would go into anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction. He dies and sets the course of her life on a path of feeling rejection from her father instead of love and acceptance.

The story weaves through her young life, through meeting Lydia the dye maker of the New Testament and how she works to bring about success to her families business while hiding the fact that she is the driving force, because Jews would never buy from a woman.

At first I thought this was going to turn into a so / so romantic period piece, but then it takes a turn at a little over the halfway mark. This turn sets the course of the whole story and ties it into a Biblical Character that you will be familiar with from the New Testament.

I don’t want to divulge who the individual is because it kind of would be a spoiler to the first part of the book. But I think you will like where Tessa Afshar takes the story.

This book would truly be great for a church book club or even better as a dialogue starter for the Gospel with someone who doesn’t know Christ or is a bit turned off by religion.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Joshua's Mission, by Vannetta Chapman

I want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for making a review copy of this book available to me. The book will be released on February 1, 2016, you can pre-order it on Amazon.

There are lots of “Amish” novels out on the market and they all seem to get a bit formulaic in the way they are presented. So it is with joy to find one that has a good twist of the story to make it fresh and enjoyable.

Joshua finds that his brother Alton is causing quite a bit of trouble during his “running around” phase of teenager years. He has bought a truck, taken up smoking and often times drinks and gets drunk, even though he is underage.

Joshua is the much older, more conservative, normal Amish boy that has deep ties to his family, to his church and to the farming life he leads. He doesn’t need distractions. So much so that he has yet to marry even though he is approaching thirty years of age.

But in a twist of fate his parents and the Bishop ask him to go on a “Mission Trip” to a small island off the coast of Texas where a hurricane has torn up the town and most of the island and people need help rebuilding their homes.

The catch is this, they are sending Alton and they want Joshua to go as his chaperon to keep an eye on him.

But also going on the trip is Becca Troyer, a nice young Amish girl that Joshua has noticed but never really made any effort to get to know her.

Now, the other side of this story is the parallel story of Charlie, his dog Quitz, and a grandmother and two children who have lost their home to the hurricane. Their lives will intersect with those of Joshua, Alton, Becca and another young girl Sara who come to help through Mennonite Disaster Relief.

The story is very good and touches on several subjects, such as;
Profiling of others
Eating disorders
Substance abuse
Commitment and Loyalty

The way they all come together is really quite well done. Then the reading guide at the end of the book will allow Book Clubs to have a great time of reading and talking through what they learned.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Good Girls, Bad Girls of the New Testament, by T.J. Wray

I was given an advance readers copy of this book. It will be released on March 2, 2016.

T.J. Wray takes us into the New Testament and non-biblical historical works to give short bio’s of twelve women of influence from the time around Christ’s life on earth and the times of the early church in the Middle East.

Each chapter will delve into the history of one or two women and give details about their lives as well as dialogue about the Scriptural texts that they are a part of. The work is not to heavily academic for the average lay person, it is well written and interesting for those wanting more detail about the women of Christ time.

Unfortunately for me I do not think that T. J. Wray gives the Biblical text the credit that it is due and that she does not take it as scared scripture of God’s word. Why, do you ask? Because I think that she makes some assumptions that the text does not always give.

There are details that are not supported by Biblical text. Such as her claim that Simon the Leper is the father of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. No where in Scripture is that fact given, nor is it a fact given by the Jewish historian Josephus. So, this leads me to believe that Ms. Wray takes some liberties with her interpretation of scripture.

Scripture should speak for itself and not be made an assumptive process.

So, with that said, I did enjoy reading her detailed script of the lives of the women, but I did not allow her discussions of non-Biblical facts interrupt my enjoyment. I have studied scripture and historians and thus have formed my own opinions. Thus they are mine. Thus I must allow Ms. Wray her opinions. But for my loyal readers I will just give this disclaimer to not accept assumptions that Ms. Wray makes to take the weight of fact without your own research into the historical texts of the time.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Undercover Bride, By Margaret Brownley

Maggie Cartwright is a detective for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. She and her partner have been sent to Furnace Creek, Arizona, to find evidence to convict Garret Thomas of the Whistle Stop Train Robbery. He fits the general description of the man seen robbing the train, killing a guard and riding off with $70,000.00 in cash.

The Pinkerton's have had Maggie pose as a mail order bride and correspond with Garret in an effort to embed her in his life and get the evidence needed to convict the man of the crime.

Unfortunately when she meets Garret who knew that she would fall in love with him. Who knew that she would be taken in by his two children and his kindness. This complicates things as she has a job to do but in doing that she is lying to a man that she is developing strong feelings for and desires to actually become his wife.

Margaret Brownley develops the characters well and develops the plot line of the story very well. She builds on the plot from one chapter to the next while all the time building the 'backstory' of the characters involved. In the midst of this she also weaves through the story the theme of forgiveness, a need for God, trust in the Almighty as well as in your fellow human.

Side plots involve Garrets time in the Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. It also involves Maggies growing up in an orphanage because of a terrible family background.

Can the two find love? Can Maggie find the robber? If it turns out to be Garret, can she bring him to justice? All good questions and woven well in a fun story.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Come Rain or Come Shine, by Jan Karon

First of all I would like to thank Net Galley and the Publisher for making a review copy of this book available to me for review.

It has been some time since we have visited with the good people of Mitford, a lot has happened. Father Tim has retired and lives a quiet life. Dooley has been going to college and then on to Veterinary school. Lace has finished up her studies and is waiting for Dooley to finish his.

This story will take us to the next level. Dooley and Lace will become man and wife. Dooley will also graduate Veterinary school and start up his own practice at Doc’s old place and live at the Farm.

Our cast of characters that we have come to love will all make their appearances in this novel as they come together for the celebration of the marriage of Dooley and Lace. We will also meet a couple of new people. The most important new face is Jack Tyler who is a little boy that Dooley and Lace want to adopt. He will come to the farm just a short time before the wedding and have to learn that there is more love in this place than he has ever experienced, and that love will last ‘forever.’

The story is not complex, it is not deep, it is not trying to make a statement of any kind. It is just the story of two young adopted children who have grown up and are now on the doorstep of marriage to each other. The people that they have come to love and care for are there to encourage them and celebrate with them.

Reading this book is like slipping on a pair of old slippers that you have grown comfortable with. It just feels right.

If you are a Jan Karon fan and a lover of the Mitford series then this is the must read novel for you this fall.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Vinnie's Diner, by Jennifer Allee

Jennifer Allee gives us another wonderful story that is heart warming and so very real to true life. In our story a young woman, Alexandria, is in a terrible car accident. She is rescued by a man named Vinnie, who pulls her out of the car and walks her across the road to his dinner. When they reach the diner Allie is in for the surprise of her life.

Allie is a trivia buff and she had been on her way to a Trivia Context in Las Vegas when she had her accident. When she gets to the diner she is taken back by the people that are in the diner. They all seem to resemble people from history, famous people whom she knows because of her studies of trivia. But why are they here.

Then there is Vinnie, he is warm, caring, gentle and such a Good Samaritan. He has taken care with Allie to pull her to safety and now brought her to his diner so that she can have something to drink, sit and relax and regain her strength.

But really what is all this? Bottom line is that Allie is in a place where all the people there have died and shouldn't be anywhere near Allie or this diner. So, why are they here? That is the question of the story.

Allie is facing a test, a test about her faith in God and how she has viewed him poorly because of the bad things that have happened in her life.

This book is one of those stories of a person who meets Jesus and comes to terms with her life's turmoils and struggles and discovers that she has to make a decision. Will she accept God for who He is or will she choose to ignore him and let her life spiral down to the depths of hell?

The story is well written, the characters are developed superbly and the plot is so interesting that you won't just read and enjoy, but you will stop and contemplate the truths that are being expressed. You will find yourself examining your beliefs in God and why it should make a difference in your life.

I believe that this book would be best to be read as part of a book club so that you can sit and talk about the story line, the truths detailed and how they are affecting you.

What a wonderful book.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Why Trust the Bible, by Greg Gilbert (a 9 Marks Book)

First of all I would like to thank Net Galley and the Publisher for making an Advance Reader Copy of this book available to me. You can Pre-order the book on Amazon, it releases on October 15, 2015.

Once again the 9 Marks Book series delivers to us a simple, well explained and easily readable book on a subject that many church members need to read, understand and then be able to use the information in discussion with their family, friends and colleagues.

While there are many well written Theological Books on the Subject of the Bibles Authenticity, this little book provides a great tool for the layperson who does not have the desire to wade through a 500 page text on trusting the Bible. This short 9 Marks Book gives them the proper tool to read, digest and use as a reference with people they are talking with.

The book is easy to give to an individual you are sharing with or with a Book Club at church whom you would like to dialogue about the subject of the Bible and why we can trust that what we have in our hands is a worthy and reliable translation of the original texts.

I have enjoyed every 9 Marks book but this one really struck home. In a time and age where people mock the Bible, laugh at those who believe it and live by it or just flat out dismiss it as non authoritative or reliable text we get a great apologetic book by Greg Gilbert. He is very knowledgeable and could write a much more in depth theological treatment of the subject but he knows that what the church truly needs today is a book that everyone can read and understand.

I’m sure that his hope is that this book will ignite in the layperson a desire to know even more about the authenticity of the Bible, but better yet that it will ignite in the layperson a desire to share these truths with those who think the Bible is out dated and not reliable.

Thank you Greg for giving us a tool to add to our pouch for when we go out to do battle with a world that mocks us and dismisses our claims about the Bible.