Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: REMARKABLE FAITH by Shauna Letellier




Hebrews 11:1 
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

PUBLISHERS DESCRIPTION


This book will draw you into the
Word of God where you
will find rest for your
weary soul.
This collection of inspirational vignettes, based on eight of the Bible's unlikely examples of faith, will give readers a fresh intimacy with Jesus.

REMARKABLE FAITH tells the stories of people whose faith was of such quality that Jesus himself marveled at it-people who were broken, needy, and dependent. These eight inspiring vignettes weave history, theology, and fictional detail into their biblical accounts to bring relief and a new perspective to those whose faith feels unremarkable. Written to encourage and relieve discouraged Christians who wonder if their faith is a disappointment to God, this book will demonstrate that remarkable faith-the kind Jesus marveled about-isn't about achieving or performing. Readers will discover they can exchange their performance-based evaluation of their faith with a fresh, life-giving intimacy with the Jesus who delights in transforming inadequacies into irrepressible affection.

MY PERSONAL REVIEW

Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier is a touching book filled with Biblical truths and written with deep conviction. It's an encouraging read for both the Christian and non-Christian alike.

As described in the previous publisher's description, Remarkable Faith highlights eight unnamed figures in the Bible whom the Lord defines as having amazing faith. At first glance, these people may appear to have an insignificant part of the Bible story, but Letellier contends that their lives are marked by an outstanding belief in Christ that sends them running to Him with open arms. After reading and pondering each of their stories, I would absolutely agree.

The book is very thought provoking in that it makes the reader stop and analyze each of the actions and presumed motives of the chosen characters. As your imagination flows thinking about each day that the characters come in contact with the Lord, much is revealed within their hearts, as well as our own. 

Each chapter is devoted to the story of these individuals and ends with a meaningful prayer that begs reflection. The author is continually thankful throughout the book for Christ and the gift of worship, the ability of the Lord to hear us, and His exchange on the cross for us to be given new life. The assertion that "remarkable faith is often grown in the broken soil of desperation," is made clear by her eight illustrations. 

This is truly a wonderful read filled with hope and encouragement, in addition to the word of God. Remarkable Faith is a must read for anyone who is searching their heart for the true meaning of Christianity or struggling with their sense of significance. Letellier doesn't shy away from tough questions as it relates to suffering or rejection and the role each of these play in our lives as Christians. As is stated within the pages, "Remarkable faith is not an archaic memory. It is a present reality. Will Jesus find faith when He comes again? Yes, He will."

Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier will be released July 11, 2017. This great book can be pre-ordered by clicking here. Thank you to FaithWords a division of Hachette Book Group Inc for this review copy of Remarkable Faith. I was not required to write a favorable review, but only to give my honest opinion of this work. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Book Review: Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray

Jeremiah 31:3
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."

PUBLISHER DESCRIPTION


Life is noisy. But what would happen if every day - for the next 40 days - you soaked in God's love as He intimately whispered words of rest just for you?

WHISPERS OF REST is a 40-day devotional detox for your soul, a spiritual journey to refresh you and guide you to greater peace, while helping you discover who God truly made you to be: His beloved. Renew your spirit with powerful affirmations of God's love with uplifting words of Scripture, journaling prompts for reflection, and practical challenges to spark joy. Bonnie will lead you to places of rest, where you can deeply experience the Savior's presence in your everyday life.

This beautiful guidebook will create space for your soul to breathe:

Soul Care Tips & Trail Notes - Reduce stress and nurture your body and spirit.
Daily Beloved Challenges - Brighten your day by taking simple soul care actions.
A Simple Prayer Practice - Deepen your intimacy with God through easy-to-enjoy prayer prompts, inspired by classic devotional practices.

A lot can happen in 40 days. A new rhythm. A new heart. A renewed faith.
Transform your life as you take the journey to say yes to God, embrace your true identity, rediscover your dreams, and begin your healing. Dare to enjoy each day fully and celebrate your calling as the beloved.


MY PERSONAL REVIEW

Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray is a beautiful forty day devotional organized in an easy to follow format. The book draws the reader into a more active awareness of the Lord's presence and encourages a deeper relationship with Christ. It is a work designed to be lingered over and journaled through, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and quiet your heart to experience the truths found in the Word of God.

This journal/devotional is arranged in a forty day sequence rather than the popular 30 day readers, because as the author points out "there's something special about forty". Bonnie Gray explains that "in forty days, Jesus found His voice in the wilderness intertwined with God's words. In forty weeks, the seed of life in a woman's womb transforms into flesh, a baby with a heartbeat and a name. For forty years, God whispered 'Good morning' by sending manna falling like dew, nourishing the body and soul." This concept of the significance of the number forty has always intrigued me, and therefore, this book was an automatic draw. I was not disappointed.

Whispers of Rest is meant to be read on a daily basis. The idea is to develop (or redevelop if you've gotten out of the habit) a quiet time with the Lord whereby you will hear God's personal words to you. The book also instructs the reader to take time for Him to hear your expressed heart in return through  "private conversations" with God. The author also challenges the reader to work through the devotions with friends.

The daily reading of scripture, reflecting on where you are with God through journaling, praying, and resting enough to refocus on Christ are the model Gray provides. She uses inspirational quotes and scripture, prayer prompts, a daily prayer, a one word prayer (to be a touchstone from Scripture throughout the day), a soul care tip and practical suggestions to decrease stress in your life.  

My takeaway from this 40 Day Devotional is what you would expect...and then some. In a noisy world of hurried, worried, competitive, social media frenzy this book will give you permission to stop and shut the door on all of it...if only for 30 minutes a day. During this time, you will be transformed; you can not help but be changed as you quiet your heart and mind and openly come before the throne of God. The scripture that floats into my head from Romans 12:2 seems ever so fitting to describe this book.

Romans 12:2(NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This book is a winner! In fact, I liked the book so much, that I ordered an extra copy to give a friend so that we can experience the closeness of Christ together. Bonnie Gray has successfully managed to communicate who we are as a child of the most high King. We are BELOVED. We are Christ's BELOVED sons and daughters and as such, we have the distinct honor of abiding in that love. While dwelling in the love of Christ, it is there that we will learn to live as a beloved child of the Lord. Taking this 40 day journey through Whispers Of Rest by Bonnie Gray has the potential to rekindle a flame in your heart, renew and refresh a latent passion, and to "dare, dream, and shine" as Christ whispers His good, pleasing and perfect will into your life! 

Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray will be released on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. If you would like to preorder at an amazing price, you can do so by clicking here.

Thank you to Faith Words a division of Hachete Book Group, Inc for this review copy of Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. I was not required to write a favorable review, but rather to give an honest evaluation of the work.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

Just in time for Easter, this endearing read
will capture your heart.

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.


MY PERSONAL REVIEW

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco is a creatively sensitive work that will capture your heart. This quick read is filled with beautifully descriptive writing and well written narrative. It's an excellent choice to devour on a relaxing and reflective weekend. 

The main character, Barley is a sweet and loving dog. Hearing the interpretation of life through the eyes of a canine, in and of itself would be entertaining enough, but because the book is set in the Judean countryside during the first century, it adds yet another layer of interest. The instant attachment to Barley begins within the first few chapters of The Dog Who Was There and grows as the pages proceed. 

What I love about this read is the ability of the writer, Ron Marasco, to draw you into each moment of the dog's experiences. From the beginning of Barley's journey until the end (which is a fantastic surprise, I might add), I felt like I was there with him. The depiction of the "greatest story ever told", being the crucifixion, is a very touching and insightful fictional narration which closely parallels the gospel story in the book of Matthew. The overbearing theme throughout the book is one of forgiveness. At one point, the question is posed..."How do we overcome evil? The answer: "Look for the good and forgive." 

This is an excellent read. I would highly recommend it! Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing through the BookLook Blogger program for this review copy of The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco. I was not required to write a favorable review, but only to give an honest opinion after reading the work in it's entirety. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: Child Of The River by Irma Joubert

Publishers Description

Child Of The River is riveting!
A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune—are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life—and every life—matters.

The English language publication of Child of the River solidifies Irma Joubert as a unique and powerful voice in historical fiction.

International bestselling author IRMA JOUBERT was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing fiction. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She is the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.


My Personal Review

Child Of The River by Irma Joubert and published by Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc) is a wonderful story of perseverance and hope. The author, Irma Joubert has published eight novels to date, one of which I have read (The Girl From The Train) and thoroughly enjoyed. The author's writing is extremely detailed and historically accurate as she uses events from the past to create a canvas for intriguing storylines and endearing characters.

Child Of The River is laid out in an easy to follow format complete with a very helpful glossary of African terms in the beginning and ending with discussion questions at the conclusion of the book. The main character, Persomi's narration is flawless as the reader travels with her throughout three decades of her life. She is raised in a very rundown South African home located in the bushveld. Persomi is surrounded by poverty, dysfunctional family relationships, and conflict. Despite these uncontrollable circumstances, and in fact probably because of them, she manages to become an intelligent, empathetic woman with a strong conviction of the sanctity of life. Her personality draws the reader into her heart of emotions and intelligent logic. Found within the pages of this work are beautiful descriptions of the natural beauty of Persomi's homeland. 

I was not only entertained by this novel, but as with any good historical fiction book, I learned from it. I had no prior knowledge of the post World War II time period as it related to the political climate in South Africa. My eyes were certainly opened to a country in civil unrest and cultural division that was brought about by the segregation of non-European and nonwhite people. Several of the legislative acts that were used to advance this social system, that is referred to as the Apartheid, are seamlessly woven into the action of the story. 

Child Of The River is a riveting book that stirs a compassion and understanding for the delicate balance of the human heart and demands attention to the uniqueness of each life. It draws attention to a time, not so very long ago, when racial tension led to decisions that had devastating consequences. This book has much to offer in terms of educating the reader about the past, present and future. It is definitely a book that I would highly recommend to all readers, but especially those with a special interest in history and sociology. 

Thank you to Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc.) for this review copy of Child Of The River by Irma Joubert. I was not required to write a favorable review, but to simply give an honest opinion of the book.  

 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Book Review: Indigo by Krista Wagner

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139: 1-2 (NIV)




This book addresses some very important
themes and leaves the reader with a sense
of hope.

Publisher's Description

When emotionally driven Indigo falls for flirtatious Brian, her senior year quickly spirals out of control. Faced with the afflictions of her cruel peers, Indigo is quickly becoming numb to the world, and if she doesn’t start to care about herself soon, she will be dead.



My Personal Review


Indigo by Krista Wagner and published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 10, 2016) is a page turning novel that covers a lot of heavy subjects in a small amount of space. 

This newly published book by Krista Wagner is very consistent with the author's previous works, in that the subject matter is always informational and one of depth and conviction. If it's entertainment you're looking for, you will find it too, as Indigo is a fiction read and is full of surprises. The important lesson to learn about the necessity of making good decisions in life is loud and clear. There is also a prominent message about suffering consequences when we make bad choices. The significance of our relationships with God, family and friends will linger long after the reader has put this work down.

Indigo manages to quickly connect the reader with the main character, Indigo Star Rush. This vibrant deep thinking young lady is in the midst of her senior year at her local high school. As the story progresses, the reader hears the voice of Indigo as she experiences some difficult times with relationships and the roller coaster of emotions that quickly follow. 

Indigo is classified in the Young Adult genre. It reads like a diary and could most certainly help struggling upper teens (16+ due to heavy themes) approach subjects such as bullying, premarital sex, lust, unhealthy family relationships, suicide and insecurity. This novel could potentially open dialogue between a parent and child in situations where conversation has been limited. 

You will definitely be left with a sense of hope for the future upon completion of this book. Psalm 139 came to mind after reading Indigo, as the Lord really does know our every thought. We are never alone in our struggles, because Christ is with us. Another clear point taken from this work, is the powerful reminder that it is our responsibility to treat others with kindness and respect. We never know what careless words or hurtful actions my compound another's suffering.