Friday, May 5, 2017

Spending Time with The Women of Easter

     While many people are familiar with certain aspects of the Crucifixion and even that the word excruciating was created in an attempt to explain the pain of the execution, many may not be aware that the family and friends of the one crucified may be targeted to be tortured or executed as well just for being there.  This is something Liz Curtis Higgs claims in the book The Women of Easter and this light makes it all the more impressive for those who gathered near the cross and stayed with Jesus in those last hours and even minutes.  John is known to be there and Mary the mother of Christ, but Higgs' book delves deeply into the women that were there as well as the time leading up to Good Friday.  Higgs starts with Mary of Bethany and Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life and continues all the way through the resurrection with all the doubts, questions, blindness, and resultant joy.

     On the whole this book was vastly deep, entertaining, and it drew the reader in in unexpected ways.  Looking at Easter and everything leading up to it through the eyes of these women revealed new angles to consider and helps the reader to connect emotionally in a new way.  However, toward the end, while discussing the importance of God using women (considered so unimportant at that time) to announce the resurrection, Higgs gains a tone that hadn't been apparent until that point. "Can a woman spread the good news? Oh yes she can!" (187). While this is important to know the point that Higgs makes of it throughout this last chapter is almost to the point of insulting.  In Biblical times this may not have been an accepted fact, but to think that this needs to be said (and more than once) with such fervency as if she is saying something new and unthought of seems to put women back a hundred years or more.

     With the one questionable point where Higgs seems to almost put the negative idea back into women's head, the book is otherwise stellar.  And perhaps, the benefit of the doubt should be given on that one point.  Maybe Higgs is simply speaking to those who take Paul's words about women teaching and speaking out of the context of the time and place.  Anyone looking to study women in the Bible or go deeper into the emotional context of Easter should consider reading this book.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Whovians and Golfers Unite

Interested in enjoying The Doctor off the screen? Well, here's a book for you. Doctor Who: The Drosten's Curse by A.L. Kennedy.  My friends will tell you that my Doctor is Chris and whovians who aren't my friends will point out that I'm not a true fan as I haven't seen much of  Dr. Who, but I've been in a play about the Doctor, I've dressed up at Disneyland as Amy (I left Rory at home), and I have plans to secretly frighten my friends with Weeping Angel statues on RC cars dropped in their gardens.  That aside, I may not know all of the ins and outs like a whovian would but I enjoyed this book greatly.  It had the quirky feel of the Doctor and it had many twists.  Some twists I saw coming and some surprised me, but in all it was just a very good story.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bright Thoughts on Tales of the Bright Realm

         M.W. Sonier's Tales of the Bright Realm: The Peril of Astriel is a refreshingly light adventure book that deals with heavy subjects in beautiful way.  The narration reads so that the young can understand it but the young at heart will be swept away with it as well.  From a good King and Prince to an evil warlord this book has everything a reader needs to spend an enjoyable evening in another world.  There is beauty and wonder, there is danger and suspense.  There is a father-son relationship that is healthy and to be sought after and loyalty as used to be found of old but is sadly lacking in this day and age.  It is a strong book and a deceptively simple one. The sequel can not come quickly enough. It should be read in schools!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Pharaoh's Treasure

     Mesu Andrews' The Pharaoh's  Daughter was an unexpected treasure.  Starting off with a text peppered with so many foreign terms from Egypt was daunting but the further the story progressed the less the terms stopped the flow and the more hard it was to put the book down. Each chapter began with a piece of scripture that set the tone for the coming chapter.  This story was full of pain and torment, and yet there was something so rich and endearing about the characters that no matter how sad the plot was there was still hope.  Starting from Judges 13:18 "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding." to the continuous theme of names and their meaning, The Pharaoh's Daughter deals strongly with identity and where one finds their meaning and worth. The plot is full of turns that propel the reader on and on until a huge twist that was completely unseen changes everything and leads to a brilliant ending that brought tears.  Having a free reviewer's copy from Waterbrook Press allowed this treasure to be unearthed and greatly enjoyed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dried Out Bones

          The song Dry Bones by Gungor can't help but play on repeat while finishing this latest masterpiece by Katie Ganshert.  The Art of Losing Yourself is a novel that is both painful and enriching. I am not normally a person to read books that will bring me to tears.  I don't need catharsis as so many people claim to need.  When I read, I read for enjoyment and to escape from the world of reality and into something lighter, better, uplifting, and exciting.   Ganshert took me through raw emotions and situations like I never wanted to feel and like I have always feared feeling.  The very interesting thing that she did was that each chapter, and sometimes within chapters, she gave a heading of one of the two sisters' names and told the story from their POV.  This helps readers to become greater connected with the characters and their emotions.  From a young girl who has never had hope or care to a woman who can no longer feel hope or care, this tale travels loss and a just plain sad reality (or several of them) that so many people are forced to walk.  What is truly amazing about Ganshert is that, as in other novels, The Art of Losing Yourself is not a novel where she skirts the dark parts of life and shows characters following God; no, she shows these darkest moments in characters' lives and allows readers to see (even if it takes looking backward on it) God walking through those times with them.   I was able to read this book thanks to receiving a reviewers' copy from WaterBrook and Monmouth Press.
It is impossible to recommend this book enough: it has slow moments, and moments you have to struggle to get through because of the nature of those moments--you will cry but in the end it will leave you thinking, searching, praying, and waiting, not because you are expecting a sequel but because you see God beginning to work in the characters' lives, beginning to pull them out, and it makes you wonder, just maybe if He is beginning to work in yours too and you have yet to notice it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Season to Close the Seasons

          "Through the years, love and faith would do far more than just see them through the good times and bad.  It would rise to meet every challenge with joy and hope" these words echo a lesson that permeates the entire series of Cindy Woodsmall's Amish Vines and Orchards series.  Though the series went through twists and turns that were sometimes well done and sometimes felt entirely too author imposed, it ended well.  It still ended in a way other than hoped for and I, for one, wish I had stopped at book one.  The first book was amazing; however, after reading book two and just getting through book three, book four--Seasons of Tomorrow-- was very well crafted.  Having similar points of view shifts to Breaking Dawn, this books changed who was seeing the story unfold in a masterful way so as to take the reader along the trials, the joys, and the questions with the characters in a wonderful manner.  Jacob returned to more of the character denied to him in book two and completely taken from him in book three, and was a very enjoyable part of this book.  Woodsmall took the reader through some horribly dark times in such a way as to let the reader morn with the characters for their lives, but also for their own personal life, and then brought them into the joy in such a way as to give the reader hope that even in their own dark hours God does have a greater joy in store for them.  Steady on.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

More than the Fallen are Rising

     The second in Chuck Black's War of the Realms trilogy, Rise of the Fallen, was nothing short of page turning, encompassing, and amazing.  Book one, Cloak of Light, set the stage and was good in its own way, but where it left questions and sadness (plot wise) Rise of the Fallen brought fulfillment and excitement.  Black painted beautiful scenes of Heaven pre-Earth creation and the lives of angels, thrilling images and emotional pictures of how it might have been to have lived in Heaven during the fall.  And the feelings that Black built into the angels at the betrayal of one of their own joining the Fallen was palpable.  This spiritual world is built on scripture and a lot of supposition but Black was able to bring to is  a feeling of realness and vividness that made it come to live.  After receiving a free reviewer's copy of this from Monmouth publishing, there are two things that must be said: this is a book for all ages and is the best yet of the War of the Realms series. Go ahead, pick it up and become engrossed in the two realms.